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Fishing in Charlotte Harbor

Florida

10 Essential Eats in Charlotte County

By: Samantha Crespo

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  • States:
    Florida

Savor the local flavor with these must-try foods.

From the Gulf of Mexico to sun-kissed fields, Charlotte County — located on the southwest coast of Florida — dishes up tantalizing tastes.

1. Stone Crab

Harvested from the Gulf of Mexico only one claw at a time, stone crab rules local menus during its Oct. 15-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.

2. Key Lime Pie

The ultimate local dessert is a creamy, 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 delicious.

The creamy, tangy filling of an authentic Key lime pie will be yellow, not green, reflecting the color of the namesake ingredient.

The creamy, tangy filling of an authentic Key lime pie will be yellow, not green, reflecting the color of the namesake ingredient.
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3. Oranges

Charlotte County is among the top producers of this Florida icon with sweet Valencias, navels and tangerines available late October through March. Look for juicy Honeybells in January.

4. Fat Point Beer

Many area restaurants serve this beer crafted in the Charlotte County town of Punta Gorda, but the opening of the brewery’s tap-room lets you try small-batch introductions and order tasting “flights.”

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5. Grouper

Locally, Gulf-caught grouper is considered premium fish, revered for its mild flavor and moist white meat. Blackened, grilled, fried, dusted in Cajun seasonings — this fish is prepared and served many ways, whether as an entrée, atop a salad or as a sandwich.

6. Cubby’s Homemade Ice Cream

Locals love Cubby’s pressed Cuban sandwiches and extra-large scoops of 20-plus traditional and exotic ice cream flavors (imagine coconut orange pineapple and caramel cashew). Cubby’s quaint building in downtown Punta Gorda feels like a trip back in time.

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7. Gulf Shrimp

Pink and sweet, these plump beauties come right from the Gulf to your table — cocktail sauce optional.

Plump, sweet Gulf shrimp and succulent stone crab make a delicious combination here.

Plump, sweet Gulf shrimp and succulent stone crab make a delicious combination here.
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8. Gator

Gator meat, usually battered and fried, is just one of those foods you have to try. It’s chewy with a taste of its own (and some say, low in cholesterol).

9. Watermelon

A “Melon 1” sticker on your watermelon means it was harvested locally by Punta Gorda’s C&L Farm and Packaging. (Florida is the top watermelon producer in the U.S. — you’ll find it fresh in Charlotte County late fall through Memorial Day.)

10. Bison

Three Suns Ranch’s all natural, grass-fed bison is featured in the savory burger at the Curve Restaurant located in the Wyvern Hotel in Punta Gorda. You’ll taste the difference in this lean and healthy meat.

Local bison is featured in the savory burger at Curve Restaurant.

Local bison is featured in the savory burger at Curve Restaurant.
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