A Little Bit Florida, A Little Bit Cuban, A Whole Lot of Delicious

Good Bite

JR's Old Packinghouse Cafe 987 S. Packinghouse Rd Sarasota, 941-371-9358.

“If I’m going to get fat, I atleast want it to be from the good stuff,” jokes J.R., chef and owner of the aptly named JR’s Old Packinghouse Cafe.

At first glance you might write this off as classic Florida fare, but a look further into the dishes and a few bites of anything you order will quickly change your mind. Everything J.R. does has a quirky twist to it. The menu you’ll find at the Old Packinghouse Cafe isn’t skimping on the deliciousness or the calories, but it’s all housemade from scratch or as J.R. put it “the good stuff.” 

For the January menu, J.R. knows several customers will have made the yearly promise to get fit, so he whipped up a Packinghouse friendly version of a salad.  “Oh, it’s totally calorie free. It’s on a bed of romaine,” he jokes again. It’s a playful mash-up of several scrumptious items: bow-tie noodles, grilled shrimp, romaine, feta and kalamata olives. It might be best described as a greek pasta salad.

The January burger? Smothered in homemade queso and tortilla strips served alongside sweet tangy coleslaw and crispy thick cut fries. The wings as well get a unique upgrade: covered in a garlicky sauce and topped with shredded cheese with diced red onion and tomato - you know, for health. 

The cheeky menu, with new specials every month, describes Basa as “grouper’s first cousin,” and advertises their blackened shrimp with garlic toast, “like Mom never made.” 

With all that to choose from, don’t forget J.R.’s Cuban and Spanish heritage means he’s whipping up some seriously authentic plates from melt in your mouth Ropa Vieja to Pica Dillo Cuban Beef to Mojo pork. Their Cuban Sandwich was even nominated as the best in Florida by USA Today - quite a feat in the sunshine state. 

Whatever you’re in the mood for, J.R.’s Old Packinghouse Cafe is bound to have something to tantalize your taste buds. Open Monday through Thursday 11am to 9pm and Friday and Saturday 11am to 10pm. They are closed on Sundays.

JR's Old Packinghouse Cafe 987 S. Packinghouse Rd Sarasota, 941-371-9358.

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