Quick Bites: ‘Forgotten’ Astor, Part Two

In the last issue, I covered four of six restaurants in the forgotten town of Astor, “forgotten” because few remember that while Astor is located in Volusia County, it’s also located in Lake County. The town is far away from the more popular Lake County towns of Mount Dora, Lady Lake, Leesburg, and Clermont to the south, and most people scratch their heads when you tell them that some of Astor is indeed in Lake County.


I feel it’s my duty to shed light on the good cookin’ in this part of the woods that many readers might not even know exists!


There are six all together, three on each side of the St. Johns River. In my October column, I mentioned Blackwater Inn and Williams Landing, Sterling Restaurant & Lounge, Essex Seafood, and the newest, Sparky’s Place. The other two must-visit eateries are O’Brien’s Café and Castaways Bar & Grill.


Opened in 2001, O’Brien’s Café is about a half-mile east of the bridge on SR 40, on the right. Owner Linda Amazeen, who once was the food and beverage manager at the LPGA International Golf Course in Daytona Beach, says she’s open every day of the year, including all holidays.


“I take pride in serving everything fresh,” she stresses. “We don’t use bagged lettuce or frozen chicken. All our chicken is hand-cut and hand-breaded. Our customers say it’s the best around.”


Open for breakfast and lunch, O’Brien’s offers great daily specials, such as fish and chips for only $5.95 and All-You-Can-Eat Fish, among others. Other items include seafood, Phillies, wraps, salads, chicken, and burgers. Beer and wine is also available. Call (386) 749-1999 for hours and ask about the Thanksgiving Buffet.


Castaways Bar & Grill is owned by Pam and Brian Martin. Located on the St. John’s River and also on the east side of the bridge, the restaurant is open for lunch and dinner. Enjoy specials such as All-You-Can-Eat Wings for only $8.99, the largest appetizer menu in the area, steak, seafood, salads, and burgers.


“We serve nothing but home-style food here,” says Pam. “Even our fries are hand-cut.”


One of the big favorites is the Seafood Platter, which comes with shrimp, scallops, deviled crab, fish, fries, and hushpuppies for $17.95.


“It’s more than enough for two,” Pam adds.


Call Castaways for hours at (386) 749-0187, and enjoy drinks at their full bar.


Nibbles:Don’t miss this year’s Taste of Tavares, Thursday, November 12, at the Eustis Elks Lodge (see story on page 40). There will be twelve food vendors, two wine vendors, live entertainment, and a silent auction. Yours Truly will help judge best appetizer, entreé, and dessert. Call the Tavares Chamber of Commerce at (352) 343-2531 for more information.


What do you do after you’ve made a breakfast-and-lunch restaurant extremely successful? You sell it to your employees and open up something five times larger that’s half sports bar and half fine dining. That’s what Suzanne Holmes did at Midtown Grill in Leesburg. More on her story in the next issue.


Up the Creek in Sumter Landing has closed and coming soon in its place is Cody’s Original Roadhouse Grill. Gator’s Dockside, a casual sports-themed restaurant known for its grilled wings with special sauces, has opened in Spanish Springs.

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