Old Spanish Sugar Mill Restaurant

One of Central Florida's Sweetest Treats

One of our most recent botanical journeys was to the Old Spanish Sugar Mill Restaurant in DeLeon Springs State Park.

According to a friend of mine who lives in DeLeon Springs, this place is a must do for anyone visiting Central Florida. In 20 years of residing here, I had never heard of it.

I didn't really want to go.

The idea of going to a restaurant and cooking my own food did not appeal to me. It sounds gimmicky and it is but after hearing how many visitors to our state make a point of stopping there every time they are in the area, curiosity got the better of me. I had to see what it was that caused people to return to this place again and again.

The Sugar Mill Restaurant is a working mill that was converted into a restaurant in the 1960s. It has an interesting history. It has been destroyed and rebuilt at least twice. Once during the Second Seminole War and again during the Civil War.

It was originally built to process sugar cane. Then the mill was pressed into service to grind corn for Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. In 1961, grist miller, Peter Schwarze leased, restored and turned it into a restaurant and bakery.

Today, the mill serves breakfast all day (8:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.). There are lunch offerings as well.

The tables are picnic tables with built-in griddles. If you order pancakes (and who wouldn't?), the waitress will bring you 2 pitchers of batter. One is plain white flour pancake batter. The other is a mixture of 5 fresh flours which are stone ground on site.

The pancakes are all-you-can-eat for less than $5 per person but any sides are extra. An 18% gratuity will automatically be added to your bill so do not tip.

If you order eggs, they will bring you raw eggs still in the shell. It you want meat with your breakfast, they will cook that for you. They are not taking any chances of anyone eating any undercooked meat here.

I suggest you order the bacon. It is thick, perfectly fried and delicious.

The pancakes were pretty good too but I've had better and I didn't have to make them myself.

Tiny and I chose a corner table near a window with a view of the spring-fed pool. This is 1 of the few unairconditioned buildings in Florida so I suggest you visit during the cool season (November-May) and sit under 1 of the many ceiling fans. The windows also open and they are screened.

We opened the window near our table and were rewarded with a cooling breeze. It gets hot over that griddle.

The restaurant and the spring are inside DeLeon Springs State Park. There is a $6 per car entrance fee to get into the park which allows you to park, hike, swim and picnic all day.

There is a long hiking trail and a short nature trail (about a mile or so long). Tiny and I walked the nature trail. We are not big on raw nature. We greatly prefer cultivated gardens but we needed to walk off those griddle cakes.

The spring here is reputed to be Juan Ponce De Leon's fountain of youth. Lots of senior citizens were testing this claim out on the day we visited. I did not swim in the spring so I cannot either confirm or deny the youth restoring reputation of these waters.

Bring a bathing suit when you visit and see for yourself!

There is a Fountain of Youth boat tour you can take which lasts about 45 minutes. It is educational. If you want to know more about the native plants, animals and history of this part of Florida, you will find it worthwhile. Boats leave on the hour between 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.

You may even spy some of the wildlife for which Florida is so well known. The are gator in the swamp and hundreds of different kinds of birds. You may even catch a glimpse of a manatee.

If you want a more active experience, there are canoes and kayaks you can use to paddle down Spring Garden Run on your own.

All-in-all, this was an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon.

The Old Spanish Sugar Mill Grill & Griddle House

Inside the DeLeon Springs State Park
DeLeon Springs, Florida
601 Ponce DeLeon Blvd.
P.O. Box 691
DeLeon Springs, Florida 32130
(386) 985-5664

Fall Planting Reminder

September is the month for northern gardeners to dig, divide and transplant any hardy perennials you wish to move before spring. If you live in the south, you can wait until October.

If the time slips past you, it is safer to wait until spring than to move plants too late into the fall.

Your Plant Guide,

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