Great food and drinks served with stunning views in Minneola.
Photos: Douglas Tyler
Waves crash against a sandy shoreline. Rays from a beautiful sunset reflect off the water’s surface. Spanish moss dangling from oak trees blows gently in the wind. Bright tiki torches light up the atmosphere and infuse a tropical vibe.
All this creates the perfect stage for an enjoyable meal at the Tiki Bar and Grill.
The old real estate rule of thumb—location, location, location—does not just apply to homes and commercial buildings. It’s equally important in the hospitality industry. The Tiki Bar and Grill, situated on the banks of Lake Minneola, offers something most local restaurants don’t: Key West-style atmosphere with gorgeous lake views and opportunities for a little fun in the sun.
Visitors can swim at a beach area, feed a school of giant catfish or simply sit back and watch boats gracefully glide across the lake. For many, an outside bar and restaurant with no walls and no roof—just familiar faces, good food and shady spots to watch waves roll in—is akin to paradise. Air conditioning addicts may disagree, but there’s no reason to argue. Picnic tables under ancient cypress trees and umbrella-covered tables on a wooden deck help fend off the hot Florida sun.
Regulars can’t seem to get enough of the Tiki Bar and Grill. That includes manager Sydnee Torre. On her days off, she brings her family and friends there. Seriously, how many people bring their loved ones to their place of employment for a day of fun?
“My daughters love to come here and swim,” she says. “We all just love the atmosphere here.”
Mike Dinkins, of Mascotte, visits six days a week. He cozies up to the bar and, without fail, orders his favorite drink—Yuengling.
“I love the staff here,” he says. “They’re personable and friendly.”
And this tiki bar doesn’t skimp on good food. Each meal is meticulously crafted by Chef Tony, who has worked at the Tiki Bar and Grill for 25 years.
As Jimmy Buffet-style music plays in the background, diners might be inspired to find their cheeseburger in paradise. They’re in luck. The Premier Cheeseburger, Bacon and Swiss Cheeseburger and Mushroom, Onion and Swiss Cheeseburger all consist of a half-pound of Angus Beef on a toasted brioche bun.
Heat seekers should consider the Smokin’ Jalapeno Burger. The fiery combination of jalapenos and melted pepper jack cheese leave a bit of a kick in the throat. There’s a hint of smoke from the slightly charred edges of the brioche bun, which is dense enough to hold the toppings perfectly without falling apart.
Seafood also goes well with waterfront dining. The blackened Mahi Mahi, sometimes offered as the market fresh fish of the day, is a real catch. In fact, it’s a moist, flavorful hunk of fish heaven. This generously sized piece of fish features a firm, melt-in-your-mouth texture with only a mild fish taste.
The real stars of the menu are the chicken wings. The Tiki Bar and Grill’s wings won first place in the South Lake Chamber of Commerce’s 2020 Best of South Lake awards. Rightfully so. The wings here are large and very meaty and come with Chef Tony’s homemade sauces: garlic teriyaki, sweet mango and tangy barbecue.
For sides, consider beer-battered onion rings or golden tiki tots, better known as tater tots. Diners cannot go wrong with either. The onion rings have a crisp, golden brown breading that doesn’t crumble at first bite. Similarly, the tiki tots feature a special but secretive seasoning that leaves the taste buds satisfied.
“People love our tots,” Sydnee says.
While other area restaurants provide lakeside dining, none offer an outdoor tiki bar experience quite like this. After the sunset fades, tiki torches are lit, lighting a path to the lake and making visitors feel as if they’ve been transported to a remote island.
Visiting the Tiki Bar and Grill is certainly worth the drive, even for those who reside in north Lake County.
After all, a great meal, a few drinks and a side of beautiful views are hard to beat.
Tiki Bar and Grill
503 S. Main Ave. Minneola // 352.394.0134
Hours: 11:30 a.m. to midnight seven days a week.
Bar drinks include beer, craft beer, wine, seltzers, malts, Dos Equis, chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, cabernet and merlot.