FIRST LOOK – Florence & The Spice Boys
Can A Mobile Restaurant Make the Transition to Brick and Mortar?
Growing up in the Chicago suburbs in the 60s and 70s was not a diverse culinary experience. It was pretty much the polar opposite. Ethnic cuisine choices were not something you were confronted with on a daily, or even monthly, basis. The options were closer to meatloaf or patty melt. OK, maybe not that mundane, but damn close.
We had a couple of Chinese restaurants nearby. These spots had menus that seemed to all have been written by the same person. Where you ordered from was mainly a customer loyalty thing. It would nearly be a capital crime for a Dragon Inn regular to be seen leaving The Rickshaw or the Golden Buddha with a paper carryout bag in hand. Serious stuff here.
Of course, we had Italian. American-style Italian, but still, it’s something. There was a little bit of access to Greek cuisine. If you wanted the REAL thing, you would have to drive down to Halsted Street in the city. That’s where Chicago’s Greektown is located. A gyro was definitely achievable without the 30-minute car ride.
We had a Lum’s, a Dog’ n Suds, an Arby’s, one of the very first Taco Bells, and of course, Aurelio’s Pizza. I would venture to guess that if a place like Florence & The Spice Boys (4990 S Tamiami Trl., (941) 405-3890) had opened there, they would have had a lot of culinary education to do.
I don’t know a ton about Middle Eastern cuisine. That part of MY culinary education may be a bit lacking. I do know that it’s delicious, and I also know that I’m a more than willing student! 🧑🎓
In a smallish corner unit in the still-evolving dining destination better known as The Landings, sits Florence & The Spice Boys. Yes, this is the very same Florence of local food truck fame.
With its super large glass doors, it casts a REAL Florida feel. A lot of places in Sarasota have an outdoor dining setup of one kind or another. This one feels like something totally different. Very casual, very relaxed, very easy.
There are tables arranged inside and out. It’s not a ton of seating, but enough where everyone has a place to be. Their counter gives a little visual clue of what you can expect on your tray. Lots of ethnic cuisine cookbooks. These books contain the spices that make Florence’s food sing! 🎶
The Food. It’s not a large menu by today’s restaurant standards. But in this case, it doesn’t need to be. Smaller seems to work better here. Lots of vegan/veg choices populate the list.
Even with limited choices, the decision seems hard. Just too much good food to pick from. They have a kiosk ordering system. I know that its intent is to help speed up the process. It may require a little community orientation to meet that goal. It’s easy enough to navigate. It just may take folks a couple of visits to get up to speed.
Your order comes out pretty quickly. They’ve only been open for a short time, but they seem to have figured out a great workflow for putting those orders together. I’m sure the food truck experience is paying dividends here. YOU CAN START AN ORDER VIA THE WEBSITE HERE.
Today I went with the Chicken Shawarma Salad (Chicken thigh meat, mixed greens, pickled slaw, mild banana pepper, egg, tahini, zhug, and amba).
This salad is bursting with all kinds of flavors (yes, I gave you a link above to find out what zhug & amba are. There is some amount of education taking place here!). It’s got a nice heat level, just enough to get your attention but not so much as to switch off your taste buds for the rest of the day.
I “paired” my salad with a light and refreshing agua fresca, a nice berry limeade. They have some local craft beer if you’re in the mood for that. I was there for lunch, so, alas, no beer. 😢
If you can’t have a proper meal without dessert, you are in luck. You can finish off your meal with a Spice Boys Date “Snickers” or a Ritzy Corn Blondie. 🍪
BOTTOM LINE: If you were a fan of the Florence & The Spice Boys food truck, you will not be disappointed. If you’ve never experienced Israeli cuisine, this is your BIG opportunity. The whole experience is very low-key and comfortable. This place is pretty busy during “prime” mealtimes. That’s a good thing!
If you’ve been to the brand-new Florence & The Spice Boys, leave us a comment so other Sarasota diners can learn from your culinary wisdom! 🦉
🗓️ SARASOTA FOOD EVENTS 🗓️
Here are some upcoming local food events that we think you might find interesting. All you need to do is make that reservation. We’ve provided you with a link to more info. (If you have an event, send us the details! (EMAIL IT)
ALL DECEMBER – Epicurean Menu, Tuscany – Michael’s On East
WEEKLY POP-UP KITCHEN EVENTS – 99 Bottles Taproom & Bottle Shop
DEC 31 – NYE Candlelight Dinner – Ortygia
DEC 31 – NYE Beach Bash! – Sharky’s on the Pier
DEC 31 – New Year’s Eve Dinner – Madfish Grille
DEC 31 – NEW YEAR SOIRÉE – GROVE Restaurant
DEC 31 – NYE Dinner – Mademoiselle Paris
JAN 7 – Open House Wine Tasting – Michael’s Wine Cellar
JAN 14 – 4th Annual Sarasota Beer & Burger Festival – INFORMATION
JAN 28 – Italian Wine Tasting – 99 Bottles Taproom
APR 20 TO 24 – Forks & Corks Food & Wine Festival – INFORMATION
🧑🌾 FARMER’S MARKET INFO 🧑🌾
EVERY SUNDAY – Siesta Key Farmer’s Market – DETAILS
EVERY SUNDAY – Farmer’s Market at Lakewood Ranch – DETAILS
EVERY SUNDAY – The Meadows Farmer’s Market – DETAILS
EVERY WEDNESDAY – The Phillippi Farmhouse Market (Oct-Apr) – DETAILS
THIRD THURSDAY NIGHT – RADD Night Market – DETAILS
EVERY SATURDAY – Sarasota Farmer’s Market – DETAILS
EVERY SATURDAY – Downtown Bradenton Public Market – DETAILS
EVERY SATURDAY – Venice Farmer’s Market – DETAILS
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