From gulf to field, Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach dishes up food and drink that will tantalize your taste buds. Savor the local flavor with these must-tries:
1. Alligator Bay Distiller's Cane-to-Bottle Rum
While rum and hooch whiskey are not technically food, they are quintessentially local to Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach. Alligator Bay Distiller's rum offerings include the multi-award winning white, gold medal-winning dark and spiced, sun gold, and Saba treasure, which is available only at the distillery. Free tours and tastings are offered daily!
It’s a wee bit chewy and despite what “they” say, it doesn’t taste like chicken—and by some accounts it’s even lower in cholesterol. Gator meat, usually battered and fried, is just one of those foods you’ve got to try. Hey, it’s our chance to bite back. Enjoy great gator bites at the onsite restaurant at Babcock Ranch Eco-Tours, either before or after an entertaining tour.
3. Blue Crab
Pulled right from the Peace River to serve fresh, local establishments like Peace River Seafood and Botanicals will steam and season—or make an extraordinary She-Crab soup—with this local treasure.
4. Harbor Scoops Ice Cream
With 47 flavors of hand-crafted ice cream and an amazing view, Harbor Scoops is the place to go for cool treats. They periodically feature limited-time special flavors, and some, like their Cinnamon Toast Crunch, are so popular they're added to the full menu. You can also enjoy milk shakes, sundaes, floats, banana splits, vintage sodas, and more, right on the Punta Gorda Harborwalk.
5. Stone Crab
Harvested right from the Gulf just one claw at a time, stone crab is borderline exotic, beating out lobster during the Oct. 15 to May 15 season. Steamed fresh to a brilliant red and cracked by an expert, these claws are best served chilled with mustard sauce, although melted butter is perfectly acceptable.
6. Gulf Shrimp
Pink and sweet, these plump beauties come right from the Gulf to your table. Cocktail sauce optional.
Gulf-caught grouper is considered the premium fish in these parts, revered for its mild flavor and moist white meat. Prepared blackened, grilled, Cajun, fried and just about any way you can dream up, grouper is great as an entrée, on a salad and as a sandwich with tartar sauce or Rueben style.
8. Key Lime Pie
Never trust a Key lime pie that isn’t yellow. Green is simply a wannabe. The ultimate Florida dessert is a creamy mouth-puckering tangy treat with no hint of sweetness if it’s made right. Purists will insist on a graham cracker crust; but coconut macaroon is also delish.
Charlotte County is moving up in the ranks of statewide producers of this Florida icon with just-picked Valencias, navels and tangerine varietals available from late October to about March. Look for juicy, sweet honeybells, the cream of the crop, in January.
A "Melon 1" sticker on the supermarket seedless watermelon means it was harvested locally. Florida is the number one watermelon in the country and you’ll find it fresh here from late fall through Memorial Day.
Now that you have a checklist, get out and try everything!