Accommodations and Food
The large Lakeside Inn (100 N. Alexander St., 352/383-4101, www.lakeside-inn.com, from $139 d) overlooks Lake Dora and boasts a century-plus history to go along with its commanding views. In addition to historic guests like Thomas Edison and Calvin Coolidge, who dedicated the Gables and Terrace buildings the year after he retired from the White House, one of the oddest visitors to the hotel was an elephant brought in and trained to water-ski for a scene in John Schlesinger’s 1981 film Honky Tonk Freeway. While some of the 86 guest rooms justifiably creak with age, the trapped-in-amber charm of the Inn is undeniable and irresistible to the antiques shoppers who descend on Mount Dora.
The six-room Simpson’s Bed & Breakfast (441 N. Donnelly St., 352/383-2087, www.simpsonsbnb.com, from $130 d) is in the heart of downtown Mount Dora. There are two three-room suites and four two-room suites; all the suites have mini-kitchens and are decorated simply, though a bit heavy-handed with the floral patterns. Still, the location can’t be beat, as you’ll be within two or three blocks of almost everything Mount Dora has to offer.
The Beauclaire (100 N. Alexander St., 352/383-4101, 7 a.m.–10 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 7 a.m.–2:30 p.m. Sun., main courses from $19) acts as the main dining room at the Lakeside Inn, but its Southern charm and easy elegance make it a local favorite. The traditional American fare of steaks, chops, and poultry is far from adventurous, but the sunset views are tough to beat.
True adventurers should head for the Frosty Mug (100 E. 4th Ave., 352/383-1696, 11 a.m.–9 p.m. Sun.–Thurs., 11 a.m.–10 p.m. Fri.–Sat., main courses from $12), a Viking-themed restaurant in the heart of downtown. Yes, Viking-themed. Although only a few dishes—haddock, smoked salmon—reflect the Icelandic implications of the name, the menu is rounded out by steaks, meat loaf, chicken, and a handful of German specialties (schnitzel, bratwurst). Upstairs is the Viking Lounge, which is really just a nice bar with a Viking helmet or two.
The fresh salads and piled-high sandwiches draw a lunch crowd to the Goblin Market (330 Dora Drawdy Way, 352/735-0059, lunch 11 a.m.–3 p.m. Tues.–Sat., noon–4 p.m. Sun., dinner 5–9 p.m. Tues.–Thurs., 5–10 p.m. Fri.–Sat., main courses from $10), but it’s the European-inspired dinner menu—escargot, shrimp, and scallop fra diavolo, Gouda-stuffed chicken breast—that’s worthy of a late-evening look. The dark and labyrinthine dining room feels more like a quirky salon than a four-star restaurant.
© Jason Ferguson from Moon Florida, 1st Edition