Historic Downtown Sanford: Craft breweries, restaurants, gastropubs, events, tours, things to do in Sanford, FL

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Rachel Sammons

Reviews on Places

  1. Rachel Sammons Ellen's Wine Room
    Overall Rating:
    5
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    I love going to this place! It feels like stepping inside someone’s living room. The staff treat you like family and, in addition to the array of wines, there’s sometimes a crock-pot cooking. The first time I came here, my friend and I sampled port and got to sing karaoke with the acoustic guitarist. (I have great memories of singing “Linger” by the Cranberries with my friend.) Another night, my friend and I took a bottle of red wine home.
    Overall, this is THEE place to go and try something new. The staff is always happy to give recommendations on their wine selection. I love coming here to expand my (drinking) comfort zone.

  2. Rachel Sammons Tuffy’s Bottle Shop & Lounge
    Overall Rating:
    5
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    I LOVE this place! The setting is super nice and their beer and cider selection is wonderfully expansive. The outside seating is excellent too. There’s a camper, a fire pit, a BOAT, and a poke bowl food truck. Tuffy’s right down the road from the coffee shop I barista at so me and my co-baristas go all the time. I like to peruse the colorful beer bottles/cans in their refrigerator and try something new. My favorite so far has been a smoky milk stout. Occasionally I get a gin n’ tonic which they serve with a striped, paper straw.
    Tuffy’s also hosts a lot of really cool events. Sometimes we catch a live band that plays old 80’s classics or new, original folk music. They also sometimes have Sunday night movie nights where they set up a projector outside and screen a movie. You can bring lawn chairs or a picnic blanket and chill out. This weekend, I’m excited for the Sanford Indie Market which Tuffy’s is hosting! Not to mention, their tiki bar is in the making and I can’t wait!
    Overall, my favorite thing about this place is the sense of community. I’ve met some cool new people at the fire pit and seen familiar faces from around the neighborhood. Tuffy’s is truly where the locals go.

  3. Rachel Sammons Luisa's Cellar Wine Bar
    Overall Rating:
    5
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    This is one of my favorite places in Sanford. Luisa’s has got it all! Cozy gourmet coffees, wines to impress the sommeliers, desserts for the sweet-tooth, Sunday-afternoon mimosa happy hour for the 21st-century Sabbath-observer, a bookstore and games for the “good, innocent fun” kind of people, and a hidden speakeasy for the adventurous. (That’s me…just ask the bartender for the password.)
    I love how versatile Luisa’s is. I can bring underage friends in the afternoon for a coffee, my “of-age” friends in the evening for wine, and anyone else for cheesecake. They also host a lot of creative drinking events that you can’t find anywhere else. For example, they have a popular, recurring Girl Scout and wine pairing class!
    The owner is super nice. I asked if I could buy a glass that my friend’s rose was served in and he sold it to me at a VERY good price! (He’s also having a birthday party coming up so keep your eyes on that because that’s bound to be fun.)
    Lastly, Luisa’s has the nicest setting. Indoor, everything feels regal with royal-red tablecloths and old-fashioned bar stools. Outside, twinkly lights adorn the patio.
    Go, go, go to Luisa’s! It’s such a lovely place.

  4. Rachel Sammons The Imperial at Washburn Imports
    Overall Rating:
    5
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    Imperial was the first bar I went to in Sanford and it was the perfect place to introduce me to downtown’s eclectic nightlife vibe. This place has a lovely, quirky setting. By day, it’s an artisan furniture store so by night, you can bliss out on old, painted stools or giant, oak benches. I go here with my friends if we want a bright, lively place that serves good cocktails. One night, my friend and I shared a charcuterie board with my friend and everything–from the bread to the olives–was fresh. Plus, it paired well with the wine.
    The bartenders are friendly and always up for a conversation.
    I’m a gin-lover so my favorite drink is the Gin Smash: gin, sugar, fresh lemon, fresh orange, fresh mint, and Peychaud’s bitters.

  5. Rachel Sammons Buster's Bistro
    Overall Rating:
    5
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    This place has got the friendliest bartenders and the chillest, coolest vibe. At first glance, it seems like your standard Belgian beer place (which, by the way, it does have some nice Belgian beer). But there’s some major hidden treasures here.
    For one thing, my first drink was off the “secret menu.” My friend is buddy-buddy with a bartender so they concocted a Butterbeer drink which is basically a fizzy cocktail of whiskey, bitters, and lemon extract, served in a chilled mason mug. It was delightfully sweet and smooth–my kind of cocktail.
    My second time at Buster’s, the jenever (or genever, as they call it) menu caught my eye. Genever is a juniper-flavored Belgian liquor from which gin evolved. They had different flavors like chocolate orange and lemon but I got the “oude,” which is allegedly the less sweet one. It wad SO strong that the bartender served a bottled water with it. It’s also probably one of my favorite drinks in Sanford. I will definitely be going back to order it again. Warning: it is VERY strong!
    I haven’t tried their food here but I hear it’s tasty. Definitely go here for the atmosphere, the traditional Belgian drinks, and the food.

  6. Rachel Sammons Celery City Craft
    Overall Rating:
    5
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    I celebrated my birthday here! With outdoor picnic tables, ping-pong, cornhole, and a full menu, this bar is the perfect, chill place to bring friends who may not drink or may not be into the traditional bar setting. It feels just like a community pub.
    Their beer selection is huge and always changing.
    I’ve also gone here for lunch and had their beer cheese soup, grilled cheese, and subs. I loved it! It’s total comfort food and super gourmet. At night, they have live music and sometimes performers. Definitely come here when you’re in the mood for a chill night.

  7. Rachel Sammons Sanford Brewing Company
    Overall Rating:
    5
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    I recently came here with my friend on a Sunday night and absolutely LOVED it! Mac n’ cheese lovers, this is your place. You can build your own mac n’ cheese or choose from their combo options. I ordered the Taco Mac which consisted of pepper jack cheese, Velveeta, Pico de Gallo, and taco-seasoned beef, all of it sprinkled with Dorito crisps and sour cream dollops. Hands down the best mac n’ cheese I’ve ever tasted. My friend also ordered a mac n’ cheese combo, opting for the Tuscan Chicken Mac–a gooey delight of gouda and parm mixed with grilled peppers and chicken. (I got to taste hers and it did not disappoint.)
    Sanford Brewing Company also, obviously, has a plethora of good beers which you can sip on while you watch the football game, a live band, or even sometimes an illusionist.
    Overall, this place is a great Sanford Ave. staple. Definitely come here to try the Sanford brews but also the food too. You cannot miss out on the food. I can’t stress that enough.

  8. Rachel Sammons Hollerbach's Willow Tree Cafe
    Overall Rating:
    5
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    I like going here, especially because one of my closest friends can only have gluten-free/vegan food and Hollerbach’s offers just that in your traditional Bavarian style. Their menu is HUGE and it educates you on German culture, German food, and the story behind Hollerbach’s.
    I love getting their large pretzel for a starter. It comes with sweet mustard and “obazda,” a cream-cheese-like spread that has notes of beer and sweet paprika. It pairs well with a beer which, as you can imagine, is highly renowned at this place.
    Overall, Hollerbach’s is a great contributor to the Sanford community, hosting Oktoberfest and flooding the streets with the sound of laughter and traditional German music. I SO appreciate this place’s presence in the downtown area and smile to myself whenever I see it thriving on a weekend night.

  9. Rachel Sammons Wop's Hops Brewing Company
    Overall Rating:
    5
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    My friends and I came here and it was so much fun! The last time I went, I guzzled a pint of Ode To Joy, a chocolate-coconut-almond porter that was on tap at the time. (They change up their beers from time to time, like the trendy microbrewery that they are.)
    You can tell Wop’s Hops cares about its Florida heritage because they began hosting a Florida Tale Through Ales series which involves sharing with the public a specially-brewed beer inspired by Florida’s history and archaeology. You can have a “taste from the past” and learn from an archaeology expert about Florida’s first peoples. What can I say except that what other microbreweries do that?? Needless to say, while Wop’s Hops loves Florida, Florida loves Wop’s Hops back (especially this Sanfordian).

  10. Rachel Sammons The West End Trading Co.
    Overall Rating:
    5
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    I joke with my friends that West End Trading Co. is the closest thing I’ve had to experiencing an American house party. But in all seriousness, this is a cool place to go if you’re in the mood for an upbeat bar with light-up beer pong, a DJ who without fail always plays “Uptown Funk,” and the best part of all, LIVE MUSIC.
    I love going here for free concerts, whether it’s Ska night or a local reggae band. Not to mention, the walls are tatted up with stickers and street art. The wings are wicked-good here and their drinking menu includes everything from Bud Light to local Sanford brews.
    Definitely come here for a fun night. Take on the 90’s-esque arcade games. Meet someone new. Or two-step to Bruno Mars. Anything is possible at West End.

  11. Rachel Sammons Deviant Wolfe Brewing
    Overall Rating:
    5
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    My beer-cicerone friend says that Deviant Wolfe Brewing is one of the best microbreweries in Central Florida. And I believe him! This place is always brewing something that appeals to my darker, porter-y taste as well as my friend’s lighter, more pineapple-y taste. It’s also a very friendly place for the more “geek-like” crowd as they host BYO game nights and screen movies like Monty Python and the Holy Grail. They also have yoga sessions and jogging nights.
    My friend and I came here one time, sipped on beer, and played Candy Crush and Jenga.
    Overall, I love how this place is more than a bar with all its different activities. It helps build a community and, in Sanford, I’m all about that.

  12. Rachel Sammons The District Eatery, Tap & Barrel
    Overall Rating:
    5
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    The District is the reason why I changed my opinion about tuna. I used to hate tuna. Then I had their tuna tacos and…it was love at first bite. They were perfectly Asian-esque with daikon, sesame seed oil, and wasabi ponzu.
    I came here with my girlfriends for my 22nd birthday and, for a starter, we shared the pulled chicken dip, towards which I had to exercise self-control to save room for my entree. I also got to taste my friend’s braised short ribs which were fall-off-the-bone tender and juicy. Lastly, the cheesecake was simple but exceedingly appetizing.
    No doubt, the District is for the foodie.

  13. Rachel Sammons The Tennessee Truffle
    Overall Rating:
    5
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    I brought my uncle from Portland here (he’s majorly hipster) because I knew he’d love the Southern food with a gourmet, gastropub-esque twist. We came for brunch and I enjoyed their French Toast which is made of potato-chive bread with butternut-squash butter and smoked maple syrup. Their drinks are served in mason jars and their front counter looks like a little, twinkly-light-strewn shack (only very nice looking). I also have served their staff at the coffee shop I barista at and they’re all super nice.
    Overall, this is a sweet, unique place to go for a taste of something different.

  14. Rachel Sammons Shantell's Soul Food
    Overall Rating:
    5
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    I love this place! I especially love going at 3:00 am after a night out drinking. Their wings slathered in Shantell’s sauce is the best way to end a night out. I also love their chicken and waffles which are the perfect balance between crispy and juicy.
    Food aside, this place has the BEST staff! Their servers are sassy and accommodating, always up for a debate or a cordial conversation. Shantell herself is the sweet, cool mother you never had. Plus, the late-night crowd is so fun. Last time I came here, they had a karaoke night on Friday and were singing Frankie Valli tunes.
    Go to Shantell’s! I promise. It’ll be fun.

  15. Rachel Sammons Fuel BBQ
    Overall Rating:
    5
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    Fuel is excellent! Their traditional BBQ food options are affordable and delicious. I work at the coffee shop across the street and every Saturday morning, around 7 am, I can smell the sweet brisket cooking. It’s my favorite Saturday morning aroma (next to freshly-brewed coffee). My favorite thing to get here is the sweet potato fries dusted with brown sugar. Rodney, one of the staff and a super cool guy, doesn’t even need to ask what I want because he already knows and he’s sure to prepare it tout suite. They also have complimentary soft-serve ice cream for customers. I can’t complain.

  16. Rachel Sammons Palate Coffee Brewery
    Overall Rating:
    5
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    Palate is hands-down the best coffee shop in Sanford! Plus, all their profits go to their parent non-profit organization, Love Missions, which fights to end human trafficking locally and abroad. Specifically, their profits have recently been going to a safe house in Guyana which offers a sanctuary for girls who have been rescued out of the sex trade. Meaning your coffee goes to that cause! It’s enough to make you never step foot in another coffee shop again.
    All the baristas are volunteers and they’re super friendly and banter-y to customers. My favorite drink is the Americano which is a double shot of espresso topped up with hot water. You have to have it black. The taste is un-matchable.
    Palate also hosts open-mic nights every month which are the perfect, low-pressure kind of events to showcase your musical or poetic talent.

  17. Rachel Sammons El Zocalo Mexican Restaurant
    Overall Rating:
    5
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    I love going here! The first time I went, my friend and I shared the queso fundido which puts any other queso you’ve had to shame. This one’s filled with gooey mozzarella, chihuahua cheese, and chorizo. Let me tell you: it’s to DIE FOR. I have also enjoyed their pastor tacos which are juicy and so flavorful. El Zocalo has a lively dining vibe with a mariachi band on Sunday nights and a full house on the weekends.
    Is it authentic Mexican food? Probably. I’m not an expert so I can’t speak to that. But when you’ve tasted the quality of their food, it doesn’t matter. Your palate will be satisfied beyond measure.