I will admit it: I don’t like Florida. Growing up in the Sunshine State hasn’t been the vacation that people who aren’t natives think it is.

The weather is actually unbearably hot and humid, and it rains every afternoon for the entire summer. There are no seasons, and everything dies when fall rolls around. There aren’t many activities when you’re trapped in an ultimate suburbia, and going to the beach doesn’t have the same relaxing effect after 10 years.

Needless to say, being in Boston has been absolutely amazing. I love the vibe of the city, the availability of activities, and of course, the FOOD. I am sure that many others who’ve left Central Florida and gone to bigger cities for school feel the same.

However, there are some southern chains, local joints and downright classics that even I find myself missing. I never thought I would miss anything about my hometown, but it is safe to say that all Central Florida residents have a soft spot in their hearts for these 11 killer spots.

1. Chick-Fil-A


Photo by Jesse Palma

Being from the south (technically), I know good southern food. For a kid on a budget, Chick-Fil-A‘s biscuits always hit the spot. While this fast food chain can be found outside of Florida, there are none within a reasonable distance from Boston, and I miss it dearly.

2. Jeremiah’s Italian Ice


Photo courtesy of @jeremiahsice on Instagram.

I will never understand how Jeremiah’s came up with the name gelati to describe their signature dessert (layers of homemade soft serve and italian ice) but I love them for it. With over 40 flavors of italian ice, you can find a flavor for every palette. There is nothing as light and refreshing as a Jeremiah’s gelati.

3. Tijuana Flats

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Tijuana Flats is my go to place for endless queso and giant burritos. It’s casual, inexpensive, and definitely delivers when you’ve had one too many Chipotle bowls and need something fried.

4. Publix Subs


Photo courtesy of buzzfeed.com

For those who have never experienced the magic that is a Pub Sub, you have my deepest condolences. I also suggest you get yourself down to the nearest Publix to enlighten yourself. No combination of Boarshead meat and cheese, fresh vegetables and bread (baked daily) has ever let me down.

5. Black Bean Deli


Photo courtesy of @blackbeandeli on Instagram.

All Florida natives have an appreciation for authentic Cuban food, and Black Bean Deli is my favorite for a hearty Cuban sandwich. I know that other cities around the country have Cuban spots, but I doubt it will compare to the made to order food at Black Bean Deli.

6. Steak n’ Shake


Photo courtesy of @steaknshake on Instagram.

I know what you’re thinking: Steak n’ Shake, really? The answer is yes, but mostly for nostalgic purposes. Most people have a go to place for when the drunchies kick in, and for many Floridians, that’s Steak n’ Shake. Open late, incredibly fast, and oh, those freaking awesome milkshakes.

7. Bluebird Bake Shop

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Bluebird Bake Shop has the best cupcakes on Earth. I would put them up against Georgetown Cupcakes or any other nationally recognized cupcake shops. Bluebird not only has rotating flavors for the season, but scones, muffins, tarts and brownies as well. As it is the only one, the staff really takes the time to get to know you, making the visit that much sweeter.

8. Keke’s Breakfast Cafe


Photo courtesy of @amyjeanie1 on Instagram.

All Central Floridians miss Keke’s, no matter what breakfast spots they might encounter on their travels or while away at school. This is because of one very special dish: the Florida pancake. Pictured above is the Florida waffle, and you can get Florida french toast if you so desire. Strawberries and blueberries on top are always grown in Florida.

9. Eden’s


Photo courtesy of @edensfreshco on Instagram.

Eden’s is an awesome place to get freshly made salads and wraps and they have several locations in the Orlando area. You can get one of their signatures or create your own. All the ingredients are super fresh and perfectly refreshing for the miserable Florida summers.

10. Pei Wei


Photo courtesy of @peiweiasian on Instagram.

Pei Wei is a casual Asian restaurant that also happens to be the offspring of P.F. Chang’s. You order at the counter and the food is brought right to your table minutes after you sit down. Their secret is ultra-hot woks. They cook your noodle or customized meat entrée to steaming perfection.

11. Infusion Tea


Photo courtesy of Orlando Magazine.

Infusion is an adorable vegan and gluten free cafe and teahouse. They a have seasonally rotating tea menu to go with the classics, and the eats range from gluten free baked goods to vegan quesadillas. If you’re skeptical about vegan/gluten-free dishes, Infusion will make you a believer.