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

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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.

The Yearling restaurant near Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Cross Creek home.The Yearling restaurant near Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Cross Creek home. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

Almost next door to the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings state park is The Yearling restaurant, 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.

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

Interior of the Yearling restaurant is full of vintage items and antiques.Interior of the Yearling restaurant is full of vintage items and antiques.Interior of the Yearling restaurant is full of vintage items and antiques.</span (Photo: David Blasco)

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.

The Yearling 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.”)

Sour Orange Pie at The Yearling restaurant in Cross CreekSour Orange Pie at The Yearling restaurant in Cross CreekSour Orange Pie at The Yearling restaurant in Cross Creek (Photo: David Blasco)

The restaurant is open Thursday to Sunday from noon to 8 p.m.

It was famous for 18 years for legendary blues singer Willie Green. Green, son of Alabama sharecroppers, was a recording artist who has opened for many music great, including Eric Clapton. Willie Green passed away in June 2021.

The Yearling restaurant 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 the Yearling restaurant and Cross Creek

Nearby in Ocala and Ocala National Forest

A note from the editor:

The information in this article was accurate when published but may change without notice. Confirm details when planning your trip.

This page may include affiliate links from which we may earn a modest commission if a purchase is made. More often, we include free courtesy links to small businesses, such as kayak outfitters, from whom we receive no compensation.

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Bonnie GrossBonnie Gross

The author, Bonnie Gross, travels with her husband David Blasco, discovering off-the-beaten path places to hike, kayak, bike, swim and explore. Florida Rambler was founded in 2010 by Bonnie and fellow journalist Bob Rountree, two long-time Florida residents who have spent decades exploring the Florida outdoors. Their articles have been published in the Sun Sentinel, the Miami Herald, the Orlando Sentinel, The Guardian and Visit Florida.

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