Day 6: Ocala, Tampa

Monday,  September 9, 2013

The Lunchbox is a cozy diner just off the square in Ocala.

The Lunchbox is a cozy diner just off the square in Ocala.

We go back to the square in Ocala to wander the shops before leaving.  Just off the main street, we see a little diner called the Lunchbox.  Kids’ metal lunchboxes are displayed and locals fill the tables.  The wait staff is friendly and give good recommendations.  My fish sandwich is delicious.  The broccoli is buttery and gently seasoned.  Haleigh, our server, says that customers tell her if they had had Lunchbox’s broccoli when they were growing up, they’d have eaten it.  Haleigh says, “Eat your broccoli!”

After lunch, we drive down the street to the Ocala Stud Farm.  We had wanted to visit a horse farm or ranch that gave carriage rides or guided horse rides.  When I ran across this listing, it sounded interesting.

Leon holds on to a playful nipper

Leon holds on to a playful nipper

So down the road we go! We find a groom, Leon, who makes time to take us around. Petting the velvety soft muzzle of young thoroughbreds is a memorable experience. To me, horses are the most beautiful of animals.

We get into Tampa in time for dinner.  The Sheraton East Tampa is nice and spacious.  It’s a conference center and the staff is efficient and friendly.  Two complimentary bottles of water greet us as we step into the room.  When asked for the name of a good local restaurant, the hotel front desk says that Jesse’s Steak & Seafood in Brandon has been around for years and that’s where locals go for good steaks and seafood.  The décor is somewhat dated, but it’s been there a long time and seems to do well.  Our waitress is friendly and helpful.  When we say we’d like to share the 16 oz. prime rib, she suggests that for $5 more, a second baked potato and salad could be served.  The prime rib comes au jus and with mushrooms.  The chef was kind enough to cut the steak in half.  It’s tender and flavorful.  We agree and later realize that we should have split the 12 oz. portion as there would have been plenty to eat!

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