A List of Florida's 10 Favorite Comfort Foods
In times of crisis like the current COVID-19 situation, comfort food is often desired. In fact, it's been widely documented that our country is turning more and more to comfort foods to help us navigate through these tricky times with just a little more enjoyment.
In Florida, we enjoy a wide range of comfort foods that are unique to our state and our heritage. Like Florida itself, the foods we love are influenced by a multitude of cultural influences. Popular dishes in Florida range from Latin and Caribbean influences to classic southern and even the northeast.
With such a wide variety of foods enjoyed here in the Sunshine State, the task was difficult to narrow down just a few of our favorites. Instead, we thought we'd throw together a more comprehensive list, compiling 10 of the most sought after foods that Floridians turn to when seeking some comfort.
1) Key Lime Pie
The classic Key Lime Pie finds its roots in the Florida Keys. This is the ultimate Florida comfort food, combining key lime juice, egg yolks, sweetened condensed milk, and pie crust, and it's one that is really predicated on the one ingredient pretty much unique to Florida - the Key Lime.
2) Conch Fritters
Floridians love both southern cooking and seafood. With conch fritters, you get the best of both worlds. Like oysters, conchs are mollusks that must be extracted from their shells. To make conch fritters, you fix them in a delicious batter, deep-fry them, and then dip them in creamy tartar. Like Key Lime pie, enjoy them at the southernmost point in the United States, the Conch Republic of Key West.
3) Grouper Sandwiches
Grouper is a type of fish found right off the coast of Florida. Grouper sandwiches are a popular Florida comfort food, whether the fish is fried, grilled, broiled, baked, or blackened. The Gulf Coast is recognized as one of the world's great group hotspots, and residents in places like Pinellas County can get heated as to which establishment serves them the best.
4) Cuban Sandwiches
The Cuban Sandwich or Cubano is especially popular from Miami to Tampa. Many regard the Cubano as the unofficial official state sandwich. Miami Cuban sandwiches are filled with roasted pork, ham, melted Swiss cheese, mustard, pickles, and served on toasted Cuban bread. In Tampa, they add salami. Combine the Cubano with potato chips, fries, or plantain chips, and you have yourself the ultimate Floridian comfort meal. Which is better? Again, people in Miami and Tampa are fiercely loyal to their different styles.
5) Fried Green Tomatoes
In Florida, you can't go wrong with Fried Green Tomatoes. This comfort food consists of green tomato slices, dipped in batter, fried, and then seasoned. They are delicious alone, but even better when dipped in blue cheese, ranch, spicy mayonnaise, or mustard. You'll feel like you're in a movie.
This traditional Spanish-inspired dish has become a staple in Florida. The empanada consists of dough made from scratch and a filling generally consisting of either fish, chicken, or beef. They exist in many Latin and South American cultures around the world, so in Florida, the styles will vary just a bit depending on the ethnicity of the establishment. Jamaican beef patties are kind of an extension of this style, too.
North Florida is home to many popular barbecue chains. As the saying goes, the farther north you get in Florida, the further south you are. North Florida is heavily influenced by Southern culinary style, and with Florida barbecue, you'll enjoy all the comforts that come with Southern fixins like corn fritters, green beans, coleslaw, and cornbread. Some Floridian-style barbecue will contain spillovers from other influence such as the citrusy Cuban mojo sauce. The beautiful thing about pulled pork is it transcends cultures.
8) Minorcan Chowder
Minorcan chowder is a local specialty in St. Augustine, the oldest city in America. Minorcans first settled in the area back in 1777, and the recipe has been carried down through generations. Minorcan chowder consists of clams, onions, tomatoes, green peppers, garlic, potatoes, and a variety of spices.
9) Shrimp and Grits
Shrimp and Grits is a popular Southern dish that comes from Creole culinary tradition. This comfort dish combines fresh seafood with grits, creating a one of a kind Florida taste. Nothing says Florida Sunday Brunch like shrimp and grits with a glass of fresh squeezed OJ.
10) Gator Tail
We saved the most unique comfort food for last! With over one million alligators in state, you can't come to Florida without tasting a gator. Gator tail is deep-fried alligator tail, think half-chicken meets half-fish. This dish is a popular appetizer or entrée here in Florida. Some of us won't eat it, though, as it's kind of sacrilegious to eat your own mascot.