Category Archives: Dunnellon

The Front Porch

Heading up to Marion County this morning.

Dunnellon’s got a lot of great things to know about it. It won a Rural Community award in 1998. There’s Boomtown Days. And then there’s this shop. A re-purposed gas station that is a bait shop AND bakery. “Pint of night crawlers and a dozen muffins, please. No, that’s alright, just put them all in one bag.”

We re-visited the Front Porch at 12039 North Florida Ave, Dunnellon, on 23 December 2012. We’ve been here maybe a jillion times, give or take a billion. It’s just Ivo and Andy today. Marek’s home being lazybones with mom.

Seems like new menus. Not new stuff in them, just new menus. Part of the major overhaul the Front Porch did after being in a bit of a traffic accident.

For all you new fathers out there, here’s a tip: Give your kid strong black coffee early in the mornings.

And then they’ll smile at you like this. Think about it, don’t you smile with your first jolt of joe in the morning?

The Front Porch also got new cups. Nicely done cups, at that.

The side porch is refurbished and looks like a pleasant place for a meal in good weather.

The professional food critic, already taking notes. (He’d draw a little line and say, “look, dad, it’s Marek!”) Also note, he seems to favor that left hand. I’d give my right arm to be ambidextrous.

These pancakes are the size of hubcaps! Much larger than I remember them being, before the rebuilding.

Bacon and eggs. Good bacon, nice and crisp without being burnt.

Julie wasn’t our waitress, but she remembered us from earlier visits. So we took her picture, since she was so nice as to remember us.

And in return, she took our picture!

Ever wonder what a pancake looks like when a two year old is busy chewing it? Here’s another mystery solved. Your Tampa Bay Breakfasts Science Department at work.

“Cheers, dada, cheers!” OK, son. You’re going to be a good bar buddy when you get older. A man could wish worse for his son than to be quick with a toast.

The bill tallied up nicely, under $10 green-backed American dollars.

Ivo had to be cajoled, shamed, and dared to go back and get the change. Finish the job, kid!

After the bill was settled, we relaxed and finished our coffee.

Heading back out to the car, Ivo took time to practice his Olympic balance beam routine.

On our way west towards Grandma’s house, we had to stop and take a picture of this fine bit of custom Dunnellon pickup truck. The Scion FR-S seems to be smaller than usual here.

This just begs for a caption competition.

Look at Ivo around the back side, like a little mouse.

The wheels were surprisingly cozy for a kid.

We’re going to upgrade the Front Porch from our last visit of 4.5 pancakes to a full-on Tampa Bay Breakfasts five pancake rating. Great chow. Friendly people (who recognized us!), super prices, and just everything you’d want in a proper country diner breakfast. Tell’em Andy and Ivo sent you!


Front Porch Restaurant & Pie on Urbanspoon

The Front Porch

It’s us three boys today: Andy, Marek, and Ivo. Ivo appears here in the Parenting Magazine-recommended sack-o-taters hold.

We re-visited The Front Porch in Dunnellon at 12039 North Florida Avenue in Dunnellon on 4 June 2011. We’ve been here bunches of times, most recently back in November 2010. We’ve always loved The Front Porch as a classic example of a well-run small-town diner.

They have a kids’ menu. Even so, Marek says, hey, can I get some help here? I’m only four. I can’t read!

Our very nice waitress was able to help him out.

The Front Porch tables surely come with a dizzying array of condiments, including two types of salt, just in case.

As you might guess from a standard-issue Tampa Bay Breakfast, out came the cars. That’d be Doc Hudson in the foreground. You may remember him from the movie Cars. Marek can recite it from memory. So can I. But I can ALSO recite Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Marek can not. And Ivo, bless him, he can’t recite anything at all.

Even Ivo got to play some cars!

But only after getting training on how to play with cars correctly.

Marek is a calm and patient teacher.

And I’m the Empress of India.

Of course, we had coffee. This is classic diner coffee. Hot, black, and bottomless.

When you ask for a high chair in this place, you’ve got to be sure you’re very clear on what you mean.

We got Baby Ivo’s food factory moving. Here’s a delicious spoonful of baby goop being jammed into his bottomless maw.

We’re all about conveying a sense of wonder in our food writing here at Tampa Bay Breakfasts.

We got a massive breakfast delivery! Marek likes dining with me because I hand him a knife and wish him well in his life. Much like I imagine I’ll do when he’s 18 and I release him into the wilderness to fend for himself.

These are some big pancakes. At least 7.5 inches in diameter. A radius of 3.75 inches. An area of 3.75*3.14 = 11.78 square inches. They were at least a quarter inch deep, giving a volume of 11.78 * .25 = almost three cubic inches. There were two, with a total of 6 cubic inches of delicious. Check my math!

Marek didn’t want pancakes, but he DID graciously volunteer to take care of that whipped cream for Ivo.

Ivo had his first ever own full pancake. He enjoyed the blueberry eyes. Presumably because they were blueberries, not because they were representations of actual human or mouse eyeballs that he was imagining actually consuming, because that would be creepy.

In fact, both boys were quite happy with this breakfast. As folks with kids know, getting everyone happy at the same time is a trick skill, and it never lasts.

Marek took this picture. He’s pretty good with that camera!

We all paused for a good dose of breakfast java. Ivo’s is con leche, natch.

The bill came. That was a lot of chow for about $11 bucks.

Marek paid the bill!

And he even brought the change. Check out the folks on the left watching him. The dining area was quite impressed with Marek’s mad skillz.

Consistently great chow here. Folks even remembered us, and almost everyone is a regular. Price is right and it’s always a lot of fun. We’re pleased to confirm The Front Porch’s Tampa Bay Breakfasts rating of four and a half pancakes.


Front Porch Restaurant & Pie on Urbanspoon

Rise and Shine

The sun rises from the East. Another lovely day in Central Florida.

Must be time for breakfast.

We visited Rise and Shine at 20430 East Pennsylvania Avenue in Dunnellon on 29 January 2011. We’ll drive hundreds of miles for breakfast. We’re that kind of dedicated.

A special treat today: Favorite Guest Reviewer Mom is with us. You know a beautiful young mother of two is hungry when she’ll give up sleeping in on a Saturday morning so she can go have breakfast.

The savvy Tampa Bay Breakfasts reader is feeling odd. Feeling like all this has happened before, maybe in a parallel dimension of time and space. Well, your feelings are well founded. Rise and Shine recently replaced Local Legends, which we visited back in March 2010.


For being more-or-less a breakfast-themed place, we found the menu to be sort of short. Not bad, just one page of large type and the first reaction was “short.” The other side of the menu was lunch.

If this were an album cover for Mötörhead, I’d be Lemmy.

Mom and Marek and me, we got some coffee.

We got Ivo ready for the conveyor belt of food he requires. Yesterday he ate a jar of food. The whole jar, it wasn’t even open. It was just sitting on the high chair tray, I turned to get a spoon, and it was gone. The metal lid was hanging out his mouth and he was munch-munch-munching away like a goat.

This is Marek. His hair is turning darker. Soon, time will ravish him like it has his old man. But for now he’s still a cute little kid.

Breakfast came for Ivo early. And I know you’re all jealous, but I paid extra for this haircut. And now I wear Lightning McQueen t-shirts. I used to wear Mötörhead t-shirts, but then I had kids.

Breakfast came on time for Marek, Andy, and Mom I’ll get to everything else in a moment, but I can’t hold out on this: These home fries were the worst I ever had, there, I said it and I feel better.

Marek put the kung-fu-grip on some bacon before teaching a pancake a lesson.

Favorite Guest Reviewer Mom had some French toast. She did not, however, say, “Oh lah lah, mon petit dejunes.” So it wasn’t really all THAT French. She got grits for Ivo, but he was ambivalent about the concept.

While I was busy setting up the above shot, taking an Ansel Adams approach to composition and framing, Ivo yoinked my pancakes.

Who likes to ham it up at breakfast? Mom does! Mom does! You’d expect Marek to be saying “take my picture dad!” But it’s all mom doing that.

Ivo gets a top-off of baby-juice. That would be pancakes, bacon, eggs, and milk, blended together. As you can see, the inside of Rise and Shine is shiny, clean, and doesn’t look at all like a sports bar.

What do you do after that kind of breakfast? If you’re Ivo, you just turn out the light and take a nap.

After we have breakfast, we usually have the Tampa Bay Breakfasts review pow-wow. Here, Mom, Marek, and Ivo are discussing the finer points of yoink.

The bill came. $22 and change for two large breakfasts (with an extra plate to split with Marek) is OK. Not super-cheap, but not terrible. Excepting that we’re in Dunnellon, not Tampa, so I’d sort of think it could be a little cheaper.

Marek paid the bill and came back with change. Note for the record books, today is The Day, the first day in two years of breakfasts, that Marek said for the first time that he was keeping some of the money. He gave me the bills and shoved the coins in his pocket. “What are you doing, Marek?” “I need money to buy a parachute, dad.”

A parachute.

No kidding, that is what he said.

And while he’s doing that, Ivo’s sucking a lemon. You probably have two questions going through your mind: “What?” and “Hunh?”

We wrapped up this morning’s breakfast and headed out to visit grandparents. The pancakes were quite good. The eggs were really wonderful, the strongest point of the breakfast. Bacon was OK, but odd, with some pieces slightly overdone and some slightly underdone, like the oven was unbalanced. Favorite Guest Reviewer Mom was not in love with the French toast (“mais, nous ne parlon pas François”). Marek seemed happy enough.

But the home fries.

Let’s be serious for a moment. I eat Army food on a sort of regular basis. It’s actually really good and tasty and well-prepared these days so that doesn’t count. I also eat bachelor-chow when I’m by myself at home, which consists of expired corned-beef hash poured on top of a $2 frozen pizza and washed down with Pabst and Tabasco. I went to many heavy metal concerts in my youth, and so my taste buds aren’t what they used to be. I give everything at least a few bites, “just in case” a taste-problem is me. I did not try a second bite of these homefries. I don’t like to disparage food, especially breakfast (heck, I don’t even complain when I’m sort of thinking we’re going to get shot at when we have breakfast in the hood in Tampa), but this was Not Good. I could have complained and sent it back, but with two kids we simply don’t have time for that sort of thing. These boys are like hand grenades where you pulled the pin and started counting and then got distracted by some Lady Gaga song and lost count — you don’t just sit around waiting for new homefries or you start getting kid-shrapnel flying.

Rise and Shine, you’re doing OK as a new breakfast place, but the home fries need some serious QC. We give the Rise and Shine a Tampa Bay Breakfasts three-pancake rating.


The Front Porch

We re=visited The Front Porch restaurant at 12039 North Florida Avenue in Dunnellon on 26 November 2010. This was our 79th visit to the Front Porch and our second official Tampa Bay Breakfasts visit. I did grow up here, y’know.

We always love coming here. It’s a perfect family diner in a nice small town.

The menu is extensive and has all the right stuff on it. Today our favorite guest reviewer, Mom, and our new sidekick, Ivo, joined us for quality morning chow.

Favorite Guest Reviewer Mom obviously had her hands full there. She does things the “mom way,” which usually means being warm, loving, and inconveniencing one’s own self for the love of the child.

Dad’s just plop the kid down and jam in a bottle. Wham. Done. Next problem. With my other hand I’m actually changing the oil in Mom’s car.

Here’s how you know we’re not in the city. There aren’t any breakfast joints in Tampa that have shotgun shells on display at kid-head-level. At least, there’s not any place in Tampa that we’re aware of, and so far as I can tell, no one in the history of Tampa has ever visited as many breakfast spots as we have. We are the Benevolent Breakfasters, the Masters of the Morning Munch, the Perfect Pancake Posse. Oh, and also, we are Awesome Alliterators. And back to the shotgun shells, I think we heard someone say that it was the start of “gun season” ’round here. You know you’re back home when it’s gun season.

Mom and Marek get in a morning toast. You’d like to think that they’re toasting how much they love dad. I’d like to think that, too, but I know better.

Favorite Guest Reviewer Mom likes the hot chocolate. Marek does too. She shows her motherly love by spoon-feeding him. As the dad, I’m required to counter this behavior by making him make his own hot chocolate. Step 1: Go to South America and start picking cocoa leaves and make your own chocolate. Oh, and also, walk to South America. It builds character.

There’s a reason why little boys love moms most.

Today’s the Yankeetown Arts and Crafts Festival. I dressed appropriately. I was the only person I saw all day wearing one of these high-quality custom t-shirts. I did get some compliments on my ability to keep milking a political issue that is effectively yesterday’s news.

We got saved from hearing more about grassroots political activities and open source software, because here came breakfast!

Bacon. Good bacon, too. And pancakes. Good pancakes. Notice how the Front Porch also brings you honey. I like honey. Buzzzzzz.

Marek dug on into these pancakes, and the bacon too. Did you ever wonder, dear TBB fans, how I get such good action shots of Marek eating? It’s because I send him to bed without supper the night before, to ensure he’s going to be hungry the next morning. Did you ever wonder about the difference between “ensure” and “insure?” Did you ever wonder about which is correct, to put a punctuation mark inside or outside the quotation marks when a sentence ends in a quotation mark, like the previous sentence did?

You can see his joy at being the star of the show this morning. What a good attitude … it’s like he’s 3 going on 17.

About 12 clams for breakfast for three. The price is right down here in Funnellon. Marek declined to pay the bill. More of that 3 going on 17 thing. We’ll grow out of it. Won’t we? I hope?

The Front Porch remains one of our all-time favorites. It’s very local. The food is consistently good. It’s a classic small-town, home-town place. The price is very right. And also, they have good pie. We’re pleased to confirm The Front Porch’s Tampa Bay Breakfasts rating of four and a half pancakes.


Front Porch Restaurant & Pie on Urbanspoon


We went to Bed on 17 October 2010. We’ve gone to bed many times in our lives (me vastly more times than Marek, of course), but we’ve never been to the Bed Restaurant at 11582 N Williams St in Dunnellon. The morning actually started with Marek arguing that he wanted to wear his pajamas all day and me fighting him out of them. If I’d known what we were getting into, I’d have let him wear Buzz Lightyear all day.

When we sat down they promptly handed us some little muffins. I’m always a fan of any place that hands me muffins when I walk in. Restaurants. Funeral homes. Flower shops. Bait and tackle shops. There’s no place that’s so good that it can’t be made better by being handed muffins. Except maybe a muffin shop. That’d just be too much muffin.

Marek agrees. My main man knows his muffins.

Today’s a special day for several reasons. These may be the same reasons that your days are special, too, dear reader. First, we woke up to this lovely, enormous, wicked brown widow in the bathtub. (Sorry for the lousy photograph! My mobile camera doesn’t do things like f-stops and manual focal lengths. It also never rings with a call from President Obama, which just compounds my disappointment in this phone.)

The other thing that makes today special is this hat. If you’re wondering if I’m singing while wearing it, the answer is, yes. Yes, I am.

Marek has the exact same hat, a fact that will surely astonish even the most jaded of our readers. I call this his lucky red hat, though in all honesty, his luck appears to be about the same whether he wears it or not.

Inside Bed you find not only groovy guys with lucky red hats (sombreros rojos con suertes beuños for our Spanish-speaking readers), but you’ll notice that the booths are decorated as four-poster beds. And, in what makes Bed really nifty, the staff all wear pajamas! So you get this sort of weird little voyeuristic titillation. This is the exact same feeling that Manet invoked in people when he unveiled Le déjeuner sur l’herbe.

Coffee? A perfect refreshment while enjoying this live-action Manet tableau. This is our kind of coffee. You can stand up a fork in it. Also, this is the first breakfast we have visited where coffee came with saucers. Who can argue with saucers?! Not pictured here, for some reason, is Marek’s saucer. I’ve now said “saucer” three, no, four times, which is about four times more than I usually do in any given month. Breakfast in Bed pushes the envelop like that.

As you might imagine, Ivo tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Oh father, the hunger ravages me so. By which I mean my empty belly, not the 1980s movie with David Bowie and Catherine Deneuve, which also ravages, but not in the same way.” I was quite surprised, as I didn’t ever peg Ivo for an 80s cult flick kind of guy, but I fed him anyway.

This is Chuck and Boomer. You probably already knew that.

We had breakfast! Delivered in Bed! By a pretty girl in her pajamas! We wore a lucky red hat! What more do you want in a breakfast, hmm?

This is my artful rendition of bacon. I’m inspired by Manet this morning. And also Chuck Close.

The eggs were nicely done also. We haven’t been getting eggs lately, but we were hongree, which is how we say “hungry” when we’re really hungry. Also shown here: saucers.

Marek and I split some pancakes. So here’s the funny thing. These were good pancakes. Very tasty, served in bed, it’s all good. But they had an interesting consistency, almost like injera.

The bill rolled in at about 12 clams. Not bad for all this good chow!

Marek took on the task. He’s got mad skillz!

He got a little lost and trespassed. The Bed Military Police had to escort him out of the defensive perimeter.

We had a great time in Bed. Good chow, great folks, and a cool theme idea. We’re pleased to give Bed a Tampa Bay Breakfasts four and a half pancake rating.


Bed Restaurant on Urbanspoon

The Front Porch

We’re taking a road trip today! First we need some PANCAKES, then we’re going to visit grandma and grandpa (also known as Huppa for some reason only Marek can fathom). In order to get our minds ready for this adventure, we tuned in to WTRS. This is the only radio station from which I ever won anything by calling into a contest. The question was, “what is the capitol of Alaska?” I says out loud, “Juneau.” My buddies around say bull-poop, it’s Anchorage. I say bull-true, it’s Juneau. Bull-poop. Bull-true. I called and won two tickets to some circus. Kids these days are no better. They’d just think it was Wasilla instead of Anchorage.

I wonder if they have pancakes in Alaska.

So we’re driving 100 miles to get breakfast. I’m listening to “Thunder Country” and hoping to win another contest after my last great radio contest success 30 years ago. Marek is reading Green Eggs and Ham. What? I bet you thought that all this breakfast expertise came naturally. Let me assure you, we have to study to maintain currency in our profession. Marek and I, we’re no different than your average small engine mechanic or vascular surgeon. We even have to study the psychological and social implications of breakfast.


We visited The Front Porch at 12039 North Florida Avenue in Dunnellon on 24 April 2010. And here’s something funny. I growed up ’round these parts and I never knowed that this was “North Florida Avenue” until just now. Until this very moment, to me the official location of The Front Porch was “just over the bridge, it’s on the left.” Here at Tampa Bay Breakfasts, we always bring something new for everyone, even ourselves. I’ve been to The Front Porch more times than I can remember.


The Front Porch has been here a while. It’s been one of the most stable, long-standing, loved places in Dunnellon. It’s the kind of place where you’ll find things on the menu named after customers. It’s that kind of home-town. And there’s even an actual front porch.


I asked Marek if he was ready for some green eggs and ham. He assured me that he would not, could not, not even in Dunnellon, like green eggs and ham.


Let’s get inside! First thing we did was get coffee. I bet you didn’t see THAT coming!


And then there were crayons. You know it’s a good place when they automatically understand the mind of a three year old. And they understood Marek pretty well, too.


The Front Porch is a nice, homey, old-timey sort of place. So we brought an old-timey car with us.


Here are the rules to the game. You may try this at home, but please, kids, only with adult supervision. First, roll the car to dad.


Next, dad hides the car. Marek laughs and laughs and laughs.




That was a close one.

Let’s have breakfast. What you see here is Marek saying, hey long-chops, where’s my pancake?!


Great eggs, pretty good bacon, very nice pancakes. These are the same sort of pancakes you’d get at The Dome in St. Pete, great flavor and consistency. No blueberry pancakes, though, which always seems, well, to be an oversight, like forgetting to compliment your wife’s new hairdo (I LOVE it, darling! It’s the real you! What’s different?) or not sending flowers to your neighbor’s cat’s funeral. But even with a dearth of blueberries, these are still top-notch pancakes.


When we were done, Marek and I argued over who would pay the bill. We ended up doing it together because, well, he’s three and can’t really be argued with successfully because he can bring on a serious filibuster of crying if he wants to block any legislation. But for just over 10 clams, this is a reasonable breakfast.


The dining room was packed, full of locals and tourists (we counted as both, in my opinion. While we DID drive all the way from Tampa for these pancakes, I AM also a Dunnellon High School graduate). We paid the bill, collected our full tummies, and said adios to our friends at The Front Porch.


Good chow. Good prices. The epitome of local flavor. Great people. No blueberries. 100-mile-drive. This is a great breakfast and one of our consistent favs. We’re pleased to give this Tampa Bay Breakfast a four and a half pancake rating.


The parking lot was full of caterpillars! How neat is THAT?


Front Porch Restaurant & Pie on Urbanspoon

Local Legends

We’re taking a long ride today! We’re ready!


We visited Local Legends at 20430 East Pennsylvania Avenue in Dunnellon on 20 March 2010. Local Legends is a new place in town and has the distinction of being owned by Marek’s first cousin once removed, Tommy. Betcha didn’t know how to do cousin math until you larned it here at Tampa Bay Breakfasts, now didja? Just a little extra syrup with your pancakes this morning, folks.


You walk in and find a nice and cheery bar. That’s right, it’s a bar that serves breakfast. And you’re surrounded by these red and black colors. You may find yourself wondering, why is this place all red and black? What are these legends? Is it some sort of tale of swamp monsters causing havock?


A closer look reveals the obvious answer. These are Dunnellon Tigers colors and the legends are star football players from over the years. That’s pretty nifty!


No pictures of math nerds or drama geeks like me, so let’s look at a menu. Prices are pretty reasonable for the area, though there’s not a huge selection. We brought our own yellow school bus to commemorate the DHS theme. I AM class of ’88, after all!


We had to get into some coffee in a hurry, after that long ole ride. This is us doing “cheers!”


Marek liked him some coffee this morning!


While we were waiting for breakfast, we had a chance to check out some of the neat pictures on the walls. Here’s a rowdy looking group.


And here’s some younger lads, including Tom, Marek’s uncle.


And the place has home-made Bar-B-Que sauce. Now how cool is that?


We got some time to goof off while we waited.


Check out my collector’s edition Yankeetown Sand Gnats t-shirt. Am I a paragon of style or what?


We had a chance to play bus races, too. This is one awesome little school bus. Probably driving the route on Highway 40 from Yankeetown to Dunnellon High.


And then … breakfast came!


These are some whopper pancakes. They were pretty good, and the eggs were fine, too.


I wasn’t a super fan of the bacon, but Marek took care of it all for me without really letting me have a chance to make an opinion.


We ate our fill but didn’t see any cousins on this trip. Being as we’re professional reviewers, we didn’t announce ourselves. But since this place is in the family, we’re not going to be giving a review for fear of appearing biased. We got out of there for about 11 bucks, which isn’t bad for two hungry kids like us eating a full belly’s worth.

We were pretty sleepy on the way home.


I mean REALLY sleepy.


But we made it home. Thanks, Tommy, for a fun and nostalgic breakfast!