65 North Main Street
High Springs, Florida 32643
Great Outdoors is highly rated by all of the major restaurant review sites. It has also won Florida Trend magazine's Golden Spoon award. This is definitely a place to go if you are looking for great food.
I recently had lunch there during High Springs Pioneer Days. The place was crowded, but service was still great and most servers were wearing pioneer costumes in keeping with the street festival outside. The first thing that struck me when I walked inside is the question: "how can a place this size survive in High Springs?". I can only surmise that this restaurant draws people from all over the area, not just High Springs.
The restaurant is in a beautifully restored two story opera house. In more recent years, it was an outfitter store known as Great Outdoors. We were given the choice of sitting inside or outside on the patio. We chose inside, but I took a peek at the outside dining area and it looks great too. I also noticed that the second floor, called the Opera House, is available for wedding receptions and other large party events.
The ground floor dining area is beautifully rustic with a separate cozy bar and the outside dining is either under the stars or in a more protected area called the Boat House. The entire operation gives a first class appearance.
We started our adventure with delicious conch fritters as an appetizer along with Margaritas on the rocks. I don't usually order drinks with lunch, and I probably won't do it again in Great Outdoors. My two Margaritas cost $10.50 each. That's a new record for me, so I recommend you ask your server in advance how much your drink will be.
That was the only downer, however, as the food was great and the ice water was free. I ordered fish tacos with lightly breaded mahi-mahi and crispy shells along with a spicy veggie filling. There were three of them and they were great. My companion had clam chowder and a grouper Reuben sandwich. She pronounced both of them excellent. The menu runs the range from high cuisine to more modest fare like hamburgers.
I can visualize spending a few days in High Springs just to eat all three meals in Great Outdoors. But if the Margaritas are any indicator of the price of their other drinks, I'll probably stick to water in my future visits.
Great Outdoors is open from 11am to 9pm Tuesday through Thursday and Sunday, and is open until 10pm on Friday and Saturday. Closed on Monday.