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Focus Stories

Fred’s Market Restaurant

by Laura Breen Galante

Featured Photo from Fred’s Market Restaurant

Looking for an authentic, Southern-style, home-cooked meal, but not in the mood to actually do the cooking? Head over to Fred’s Market Restaurant in Lake Mary, where you’ll have your choice of all your favorite Southern dishes, slow-cooked to perfection, and served in heaping quantities.

“Slow food, fast” is the motto at Fred’s Market, where diners feast on tall plates of tasty Southern comfort food. Tables are arranged under party lights draped from the ceiling amid rock interior walls decorated with rustic, farmhouse-style artwork. This all sets the stage for three buffet tables – appropriately named the MarketTable, SaladTable, and VeggieTable – all lined with tempting offerings. 

Start with the salad bar, or peruse the soups (two per day), check out the grilled vegetables, and then... plan your attack. Sure, you’ll make a second trip, but a carefully executed first visit to the buffet is crucial. On the long, packed MarketTable, you’ll find fried catfish, smoked pork, fried chicken, ribs, and beef tips, with mouthwatering side dishes the likes of mac ‘n’ cheese with sharp cheddar, velvety mashed potatoes with just the right amount of pepper, corn casserole, lightly fried green tomatoes, collard greens, creamy grits, and black-eyed peas. Did we mention the fried chicken? Real fried-chicken lovers will appreciate the crispy coating and oh-so-juicy, fall-off-the-bone meat. 

Depending on the day, specials run the gamut from chicken pot pie, sirloin tips in gravy, chicken and dumplings, country-fried steak, pot roast, meatloaf, and turkey with dressing. Is your mouth watering yet?

After a few trips to the buffet, stop at the DessertTable to select from peach cobbler with ice cream, or red velvet and Italian cream cakes piled high with decadent cream cheese frosting.

What we now know as Fred’s Market began in 1954 at a Plant City gas station kitchen where locals knew to stop in for some good, old-fashioned Southern cooking. The word spread, and the Johnson’s Family Restaurant took up residence in Plant City on the site of the state farmer’s market. It later evolved into Fred’s Market, a well-known spot for Southern hospitality that now has locations in Plant City, Lakeland, Riverview, and here in Lake Mary.

Dining at Fred’s Market is much like attending a family reunion, where everyone brings their best recipe to the table, and you grab a plate, dig in, and have a great visit with friends and family.

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