Florida restaurants are killing it these days! Many of Florida’s cities are being increasingly recognized as major food meccas, with new restaurants that are getting international attention. Some of the best of those restaurants have become larger chains, available throughout the state. These are some of the Florida chains that are currently expanding and making the biggest waves in Florida’s food scene. Find them in your city, and if they aren’t there yet, they might be there soon!
Domu is a rapidly growing ramen restaurant that opened it’s first restaurant in Orlando in 2016. After taking Orlando by storm, they expanded to Jacksonville and are planning an additional restaurant in Orlando’s Doctor Phillips area later this year. Nothing on the menu at Domu disappoints, so try something familiar or venture outside your comfort zone, either way you’re sure to be impressed. They offer delicious dinner, brunch, and a stunning bar that will make you more than happy to wait a while for your table.
Nothing kicks off your morning right like southern comfort food and biscuits cooked to perfection. That’s what Maple Street does better than anyone. Come for the spectacular food, stay for the friendly atmosphere. The first Maple Street opened in Jacksonville in 2012, and dozens of additional restaurants have opened in North and Central Florida since. They’ve also expanded to Georgia, North and South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas, with further expansion planned for the future. So if there’s not already a Maple Street in your neck of the woods, there might be one there soon.
Celebrate Florida’s Spanish heritage at the state’s oldest restaurant. The first Columbia opened in 1905 in Ybor City, Tampa. It has been owned and operated by the same family ever since – 5 generations! You can now find Columbia in several Tampa Bay locations as well as Orlando and St. Augustine, all with the same historical ambiance. But history isn’t the only reason to love Columbia Restaurant; the authentic Spanish food also makes it more than worth a spot on your bucket list. Don’t leave without trying their Sangria!
Jeremiah’s Gelati is practically a way of life in Central Florida. Layers of ice cream combine with layers of Italian ice (available in dozens of flavors) for a sweet treat children and adults love in equal measure. The first Jeremiah’s opened in Winter Park in 1996. Pushcarts found at community and school events quickly made it a beloved tradition for families all through the area. Jeremiah’s didn’t expand outside of Central Florida until 2014, when the Orange Park location opened. Since then, the Italian ice shop has been rapidly expanding throughout the state, and can now be found in many of Florida’s cities.
Let’s be real who doesn’t love Mac & Cheese? It’s a pretty solid concept to start a business on, and I Heart Mac & Cheese took that and ran with it. Here you can get specialty mac & cheese made to order with all kinds of specialty toppings. It doesn’t get much better than that! I Heart Mac & Cheese began as a single restaurant in Fort Lauderdale in 2016, and has been rapidly expanding since then. They now have 9 Florida locations and several more outside the state.
Inspired by one of Florida’s most famous former residents, Santiago’s Bodega is named after a character from Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. Fittingly, the first restaurant opened opened in Hemingway’s beloved adopted home, Key West. It has since expanded to two additional locations in Central Florida. Here you’ll find amazing tapas style Spanish food that you can enjoy with family and friends. The interior of each Santiago’s Bodega has a special kind of ambiance that will somehow make you feel at home and like you’re going on a new adventure all at the same time.
It’s true that salads are healthy, but often boring. That’s not the case at Giardino’s! Here, the salads are the stars, and they shine bright with tons of fresh ingredients that you can even use to create your own salad however you like. Giardino Gourmet Salads started as a small restaurant in Miami in 2004, but now they have a dozen locations throughout Miami Dade and Broward counties as well as one in Naples and a couple out of state. They have even more expansion prepared for the future, so watch out for them in your neighborhood coming soon!
If you love Asian food of all kinds and eating with friends, Hawkers is definitely the restaurant for you. Inspired by street food sold at hawker stalls throughout Asia, Hawkers takes visitors on a tour of Asia through traditional street food recipes served tapas style. The dishes are meant to be shared with loved ones in a high-energy environment that’s welcoming to all kinds of people. The first Hawkers opened in Orlando in 2011 where it drew in huge crowds of people hungry for something new. It now has expanded to locations in Jacksonville, St. Petersburg, Delray Beach, and two out-of-state locations are planned to open this year.
Taco Bus was a food truck taking over the scene before food trucks were cool. It started out as a converted school bus serving authentic Mexican food to the people of Tampa. Now-a-days most Taco Bus locations are brick and mortar, and they’re spreading rapidly across Central West Florida towards Orlando. If you love Mexican food, you should definitely be crossing your fingers that one comes to your neighborhood soon. This is authentic Mexican food at its best and most accessible. You don’t want to miss it!
Bolay is where delicious and healthy meet for a meal unlike any other. At Bolay you can create your own bowl with unique ingredients that combine for a perfect flavor. You start with a base, then add veggies, protein, extra add ons, and sauce, so there are an endless number of combinations for you to try. Bolay is a South Florida based restaurant with multiple locations throughout South Florida. It is now breaking into the Central Florida Market. In the next year, Bolay has plans to double its number of locations, so if it’s not near you now, it probably will be opening near you soon.
Florida might not be the first state that comes to mind when you think of barbecue, but if there was a Florida-style barbecue, 4 Rivers would be it. 4 Rivers got its start as a garage cookout fundraiser that impressed people so much it expanded to become the biggest barbecue restaurant in Florida. It can now be found in many cities throughout the state. The 4 Rivers menu is so packed full of delicious options, you’re sure to find something here for the whole family to love.