Quick Bites: Familiar Franchises Land In Lady Lake

They’re new to the area but not to most diners. Recently, a few familiar franchises have opened in Lady Lake. Ay! Jalisco, on the corner of Main Street and Paige Place, is now located where The Main Street Bistro used to be. Owners Gloria Huitron and Pedro Nevarez renovated the store to look like their six others in the Sunshine State. Splashes of bright color, Spanish roofs over booths, a new 35-foot bar, colorful furniture, artifacts from Mexico, outdoor dining, and newly built arched walls make you truly feel like you’re south of the border. Once located on Pine Avenue in Ocala, Ay! Jalisco was one of my favorites.

“We reluctantly closed the Ocala location and moved it here,” Bar Manager Joseph Garrow says. “It was a good move, business is much better here.”

That’s a comment I often hear.

Ay! Jalisco features a two-for-one happy hour on wells, drafts, and wine. The menu features steak, seafood, pork, chicken, and all the traditional Mexican dishes, including burritos, enchiladas, chile rellenos, and chimichangas. Contact Ay! Jalisco at (352) 259-6582.

Cody’s Original Roadhouse, known for its outdoor antique gas pumps, hubcaps, and old trucks, opened in October where Up The Creek Fish Camp & Grill used to be on Lake Shore Drive. But more well-known than its memorabilia are the delicious steaks, ribs, salmon, humongous onion rings, and buy-one-get-one-free Wednesday night fajitas.

Owners Alan Muskikantow and John Demetriadis, both with extensive restaurant backgrounds (Demetriadis owns the Ocala Cody’s), teamed up for this venture. Here, they keep the prices reasonable and the quality high. In fact, on the Villages Gourmet Clubwebsite, local diners have given the restaurant high marks, with every reviewer indicating they would return for another meal. Visit codysoriginalroadhouse.com to view specials or call (352) 259-8500.

Five Guys Burgers and Fries opened in the Village Crossroads, across from Home Depot. A growing franchise with 450 stores in 30 states, Five Guys features award-winning, homestyle burgers that are never frozen. On its website, fiveguys.com, the company boasts that no freezers are even on the premises! All burgers are hand-formed and the fries are fresh-cut potatoes cooked in pure, cholesterol-free peanut oil.

If you like your burgers well done, then Five Guys is the place for you. All of the burgers are cooked thoroughly to “ensure a consistent product” and “to meet or exceed health code standards for ground beef.” A bit of advice—the smaller hamburgers are large enough for a normal appetite. So start small and if you’re hungry, you know to move up in size next time.

Gator’s Dockside, one of my favorites with its awesome nachos and award-winning grilled wings, opened across from the Rialto Theatre on Main Street. This pub/sports bar has an extensive menu that includes the famous Turkey Muffalatta and Gyros. Also on the menu are salads, chicken, ribs, seafood, and more. Happy hour is two-for-one from 3-–7pm. For the sports enthusiasts, large screen TVs are everywhere, including the restrooms. You’ll never miss a play!

Gator’s Dockside offers divided dining areas, including an L-shaped, outdoor area that wraps around part of the restaurant. Some will remember this location if you’ve ever dined at Emmett’s Steakhouse or The Copper Pot. The last restaurant to inhabit the location was Amigos Original Tex-Mex Restaurant and Cantina. Fortunately for us, though, this one looks like it’s here to stay. Gator’s Dockside was bustling on a weekday around 3pm, usually one of the quietest times of the day for a restaurant.

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