From Gulf to field, Charlotte County dishes up foods that will tantalize your taste buds. Savor the local flavor with these must-try foods.

Stone crab

Harvested right from the Gulf just one claw at a time, stone crab is borderline exotic, trumping lobster during the Oct. 15 to May 15 season. Steamed fresh to a brilliant red and cracked by an expert, these claws are best served chilled with mustard sauce although melted butter is perfectly acceptable.

Key lime pie

Never trust a Key lime pie that isn’t yellow. Green is simply a wannabe. The ultimate Florida dessert is a creamy mouth-puckering tangy treat with no hint of sweetness if it’s made right. Purists will insist on a graham cracker crust; but coconut macaroon is also delish.

Oranges
Oranges from Punta Gorda, FL

Charlotte County is moving up in the ranks of statewide producers of this Florida icon with just-picked Valencias, navels and tangerine varietals available from late October to about March. Look for juicy, sweet honeybells, the cream of the crop, in January.

Fat Point beer

Many area restaurants have served this Punta Gorda-brewed beer for several years now but the opening of the Fat Point brewery’s taproom on Charlotte Street lets us try small batch introductions, taste test flights and even take home a growler or pre-bottled pint of Bru Man Chu and others. 

Grouper

Gulf-caught grouper is considered the premium fish in these parts, revered for its mild flavor and moist white meat. Prepared blacken, grilled, Cajun, fried and just about any way you can dream up, grouper is great as an entrée, on a salad and as a sandwich with tartar sauce or Rueben style.

Cubby’s Homemade Ice Cream

Locals love Cubby’s pressed Cuban sandwiches and extra-large scoops of 20-plus traditional and exotic ice cream flavors like coconut orange pineapple and caramel cashew. The quaint downtown Punta Gorda building is a trip back in time.

Gulf shrimp

Pink and sweet, these plump beauties come right from the Gulf to your table. Cocktail sauce optional.

Gator

It’s a wee bit chewy and despite what “they” say, it doesn’t taste like chicken (by some accounts it’s even lower in cholesterol). Gator meat, usually battered and fried, is just one of those foods you’ve got to try. Hey, it’s our chance to bite back.  

Watermelon

A Melon 1 sticker on the supermarket seedless watermelon means it was harvested locally by Punta Gorda’s C&L Farm and Packaging. Florida is the number one watermelon in the country and you’ll find it fresh here from late fall through Memorial Day.

Bison

Leaner and healthier than its cow cousin, you’ll taste the difference in the all-natural, grass-fed bison at Punta Gorda’s Three Sun Ranch, Florida’s only large-scale bison producer.  To try this first hand, grab the bison burger (you’ll need both hands) at the Curve restaurant in the Wyvern Hotel.