Historic / Northeast Florida / Unique Eats

The Yearling: At restaurant near Ocala, eat like a cracker


The Yearling restaurant near Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Cross Creek home.

When you visit Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park or the Micanopy and Gainesville  area, the best way to get the most of the experience is to eat like a cracker.

Fortunately, it’s easy to do.  Almost next door to the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings state park is The Yearling, a  restaurant founded in 1952, when Rawlings was still alive and writing.  The restaurant celebrates the Florida cracker culture that so enchanted Rawlings when she came to Cross Creek.

Interior of the Yearling restaurant is full of vintage items and antiques.

The Yearling serves Rawling’s legendary sour orange pie, as well as frog legs, catfish, venison and the best cheese grits I’ve ever had.

The ambiance of the place, which looks like a weather-beaten shack, is old Florida hunting lodge.  It’s decorated with antique outboard motors, old guns and enough memorabilia to stock a store. Stuffed fish and mounted deer heads abound.

Sour Orange Pie at The Yearling restaurant in Cross Creek

The restaurant has been recognized as one of Florida’s best restaurants by Florida Trend Magazine for a decade, although if you read reviews on Yelp or TripAdvisor, you’ll find it has its critics. (Comments include “over-priced” and “food was nothing special.”)

The restaurant is open Thursday to Sunday from noon to 10 p.m. and often features live music by the legendary blues singer Willie Green. Green, son of Alabama sharecroppers, is a recording artist who has opened for many music great, including Eric Clapton.  After alcoholism and some hard living, he ended up on the streets, where the Yearling’s owner found him and offered him a gig 10 years ago. This short video tells the story and gives you a sample of Green’s talent.

The Yearling is located 14 miles from Gainesville and 25 miles from Ocala, right on Cross Creek, which connects Orange Lake to the south and Loclossa Lake to the north.

Planning your visit to Cross Creek:

 

 

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4 Comments

  1. Are you open on Feb 14 if so will the blues singer be there

  2. Pingback: Migrating sandhill cranes in Florida: Quite a sight, sound | Florida Rambler

  3. Pingback: Cross Creek: Magic world of 'The Yearling' and author | Florida Rambler

  4. Pingback: Historic Florida restaurants: A meal with a story to tell | Florida Rambler

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