At 11 a.m. each day, the scents of fresh-brewed coffee and blueberry french toast begin to shift to those of homemade meatloaf and mashed potatoes at Café Perks. The quaint, country-style eatery churns out hearty meals to keep bellies warm and pleasantly stuffed all the way up until dinner, with egg and cheese sandwiches and platters of biscuits and gravy preceding lunch options such as club sandwiches and pork chops. Six types of salads satisfy lighter cravings.
Café Rouge sprinkles worldly charm all over its selection of salads, sandwiches, and house-made entrees. Culinary concoctions, such as a warm poached egg and crispy bacon salad ($9) and olive-oil-baked garlic and chili shrimp ($10), prepare flavor savorers for main dishes, including crispy salmon on sautéed asparagus with lemon and tarragon mayonnaise ($17), and shrimp and scallops over honey Sriracha fettuccine ($17). Just like the young substitute French teacher, Café Rouge is upscale and European, but at the same time, laid-back and soothing.
Stone's Throw Bistro's menu features fresh, seasonal cuisine complimented by a warm atmosphere and fine wine and beer pairings. Starters range from light spinach salads with goat cheese, balsamic watermelon, bacon, and an onion drizzle ($7), to decadent dishes like seared beef tips ($10), or shrimp and horseradish-cheddar grits with bacon hollandaise ($10). Entrees exhibit an equal fondness for elegance, inventiveness, and down-home comfort, from belly-warming seafood pasta with chorizo, smoked poblano, chipotle, and garlic butter ($19), to pork tenderloin with smoked corn, tomato and chipotle potato salad, and citrus cilantro butter ($18). Filet mignon ($23), NY strip steak ($22), and sirloin ($19) are prepared to order with your choice of sauce, side, and cool sunglasses. Each night, the chef whips up an Italian dinner special using fresh ingredients from the market (price varies). The friendly servers at Stone's Throw undergo rigorous taste-bud Pilates training, and will happily share their expertise to help you make core menu and drink pairing decisions.
Riverwalk Pizzeria, located next to the Sanford Marina, touts a multifaceted menu of pizzas, calzones, and traditional Italian-inspired specialties. Demanding diners can customize hand-tossed pizzas (starting at $7.29) with a variety of pie-packers such as bacon, eggplant, pepperoni, pineapple, and broccoli arranged to resemble the mysterious right ear of the Mona Lisa ($1–$2 each). Opt for a prearranged marriage of flavors with the River Spice pie, decorated with hot sauce, mozzarella, red onions, tomatoes, jalapeños, and chorizo ($10.49–$20.49), or the Bianco, a delicate three-tiered tango between mozzarella, ricotta, and fresh garlic ($8.99–$16.99).
Aromas laced with hints of creole cuisine ricochet off expanses of polished tones and drift across Monroe's Restaurant's panoramic view of Lake Monroe. Appetizers lure taste buds with a choice of morsels, including fried green tomatoes and salmon croquette, and duos can submerge spoons in piquant soups to unearth shipwrecked watercress. Cooks load entree plates with options including the sirloin steak buried in grilled red onions and chimichurri sauce. The house specialty platter presents a culinary puzzle as challenging as the Hamburglar's hedge maze by allowing diners to pair fish, chicken, or cornish hen with toppings including seared leeks, parsnips, and roasted lemon. The kitchen's epicureans also construct unique sandwiches and accent meals with á la carte sides such as roasted pumpkin with rosemary and walnuts. Displaying sweet treats tableside, the in-house pastry chef meanders around the picturesque restaurant searching for full stomachs in need of whipped-cream belts.
Overlooking Lake Monroe, Efes Turkish Cuisine delivers a menu of Mediterranean flavors to the shores of Sanford with a combination of generous portions and attentive service that won praise from the Orlando Sentinel. Hearty, authentic dishes include the karisik izgara for two, featuring chicken and lamb prepared in the doner, adana, and sis styles garnished, like a bribe left for the Easter Bunny, with a mosaic of red onions, cabbage, and carrots ($31.95). Manti packs homemade dough with seasoned lamb dolloped with garlic yogurt ($17.95), and the karisik mezze assembles a platter brimming with Mediterranean-styled fried eggplant with tomato sauce, tabbouleh, hummus, whipped caviar, haydari yogurt dip, stuffed grape leaves, and baba gannouj ($24.95). Transition smoothly from savory to sweet flavors with desserts such as the kunefe, a dish of shredded pastry filled with soft cheese ($4.95–$6.95).