If you part the fragrant, fruit-heavy branches of Mixon Fruit Farms’ citrus trees, you might spy an unusual sight: Burmese pythons and African land tortoises basking in the sunlight, surrounded by cages of roosting falcons.
The farm that began in 1939 as a 20-acre roadside fruit stand has stayed true to citrus farmer Willy Mixon’s vision of showcasing the region’s natural splendor. But in addition to an extra 250 acres of fruit trees, the farm has expanded its focus to include a wildlife refuge, where rescue volunteers nurse injured animals back to health and educate visitors on native and exotic species. The farm also hosts an on-site tropical garden along with dazzling koi ponds, and has a magical maze open to kids of all ages.
Along with daily tours of the grove and sanctuary, Mixon Fruit Farms also spotlights Florida’s bounty with citrus-infused ice cream, salads, and festive hats made of fruit at Groveside Café. Homemade fudge and orange juice also populate the 14,000-square-foot gift shop
In the back corner of Le Souk Florida, a large, tiled bar draws visitors’ eyes into the restaurant. It beckons them inside, where they’ll see tables lining both walls, and a plush white couch in the back where patrons can puff fruity hookah flavors from 11 a.m. until 3 a.m. seven days a week. Exotic, homemade appetizers with Middle Eastern flair lure fingers into platters of hummus and stuffed grape leaves, and cocktails, wines, and beers splash across palates late into the evening. Underscoring Le Souk’s international vibe, belly dancers perform on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night, demonstrating moves that guests can imitate when shimmying out of sleeping bags in time with the morning bugle call.
Stucco walls and Spanish tiles line the former hotel that houses Ciro's Speakeasy & Supper Club, swathing guests in the exotic aesthetic of the early 1920s. Inside, festivities unfold in private suites enveloped in beaded curtains and candlelight. Groups gather around nesting tables to nibble on savory snacks such as cheese fondue, lobster bisque, and black-truffle popcorn, all while drinking in the sultry jazz of Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong. For the entree course, chef de cuisine Mary Paff sears diver scallops in succulent juices and crusts racks of lamb with crunchy cashews. Layered between belgian waffles and topped with bacon, orange zest, and Valrhona chocolate, her hand-spun Newcastle-ale ice cream sates cravings for sweet, tart, and salty.
At Datz Delicatessen, a deli, wine bar, bakery, and food market are combined to create an exciting establishment of culinary specialties. Today's deal is for a three-course interactive lunch experience ($20) known as The Lunch Box, held from Monday through Friday from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. and hosted by a Datz chef. Lunch themes change every day, so budding hash slingers and gourmands can choose the most appealing menu option and relax in a fun culinary setting as an experienced chef demonstrates the proper spicing and dough-romancing techniques, all before eating something much tastier than another microwave astronaut meal. Past Lunch Box themes have included classes such as Secrets of Stir-Fry—which paired pork with leeks, eggs with tomato, mushrooms with bok choy, and stirrers with fries—and Bacon-Mania, an admittedly odd name for a class that taught alimentary artists how to make bacon coffee, candied pistachio bacon, and bacon cupcakes.
The newly opened wine bar offers a rotating selection of wines by the glass, along with wine flights, and cheeses, charcuterie, and desserts. Absorb the warm and inviting atmosphere while enjoying a glass of crisp pinot grigio ($6) or fruity and spicy syrah ($8) paired with a combination of cheese and charcuterie selections—varieties of cow, goat, sheep, or blue cheese, served with triple-berry jam, caramelized nuts, and a baguette ($4/one selection, $11/three selections). Or placate a nagging sweet tooth with the decadent Viktoria Richards' Chocolates such as chocolate coconut ($7). The wine bar's welcoming and experienced staff will help patrons select a pairing that suits each diner's patented taste preferences. Post-wine bar, head to the wine shop to peruse a selection of hard-to-find small production wines, featuring more than 50 varieties playing limbo beneath the $13 mark.
Splitsville appeases appetites for flavorful fusion cuisine while satisfying fun glands with ample bowling and dancing opportunities. Among racks of vibrant, multicolored bowling balls and one of the world's largest pins, bowl over taste buds with an eclectic menu of contemporary cuisine. Sample a fresh selection from the sea with an array of artful sushi favorites, including california, volcano, and spicy-tuna tempura rolls ($7–$13). Those who wish to exercise their landlubbing legs can stay dry with saucy pizza delights ($9–$12). Educate tongues with one of Splitsville's specialty pies, such as the Island Club or Big Fat Greek, or build your own with an adequate supply of dough blocks, cheese cement, and pepperoni nails. To fully satisfy cravings for fancy fare, sink incisors into a signature plate, featuring the mahi-mahi tuna with voodoo shrimp to enchant molars and the chicken pinot grigio to intoxicate tonsils ($8–$19). While exploring the culinary possibilities, sip from a selection of specialty cocktails served in fishbowl-style stemware, in case you want to replenish the goldfish residing in your pocket that were pawned off the neighbor's kids.