If you are staying Southwest of Orlando, maybe in the Kissimmee area, maybe out towards Davenport or Poinciana, or know a bunch of folks who have visited the greater Orlando area, we expect you will eventually hear about the restaurant Cherry Pocket.
If you get the opportunity to visit, the Cherry Pocket restaurant experience is one you will likely remember for some time.
Cherry Pocket is a boat launch, a cabin rental, an RV park, renter of empty lots, fishing tackle sellers, purveyors of seaplane tours, and on top of all that, Cherry Pocket is unique restaurant in what was originally an old time fishing shack.
Cherry Pocket Restaurant Shak (their spelling) is located in a pocket of water that may have been owned at one time by a guy named “Cherry” and as a result the locals called the location Cherry Pocket.
The restaurant Cherry Pocket is located on the North shore of the “Cherry Pocket” which is, in itself, located on the North end of beautiful and quite large Lake Pierce, South of Orlando Florida.
As you may be able to tell from the sign in the photo above, the owners – for more than 20 years now – work hard to foster an aura of old-time, unsophisticated, backwoods, fishing camp Florida. The Cherry Pocket restaurant building compliments that impression quite nicely, as you can see from this next photo.
Inside is an air-conditioned dining room. With Florida weather being typically wonderful in late February and during March, you may want to sit outside on the wharf overlooking the pocket, the docks, and part of the RV park. Watch out for the hot sun though as not all tables are shaded and sometimes shade is necessary.
This next photo has the outside Cherry Pocket deck to the right just out of frame and we are standing at the boat launch. The pocket is straight ahead leading out to Lake Pierce. Part of the RV park is visible to the left.
The restaurant and outbuildings of Cherry Pocket are rustic to the extreme.
The servers in the restaurant are an interesting group, a statement you’ll understand when you visit.
The guests, while we were there, varied in demographics from quite senior folks to very young children, yuppies (gosh, is this term still used?) to motorcycle club members interspersed (we think) with fishermen, and locals – all just normal folks from varying walks of life and all there to sample the Cherry Pocket ambiance and food.
Atmosphere on the deck – and we expect inside though we sat outside – was colorful, ripened by the odd obscenity and, unfortunately for non-smokers, flavored with wafts of cigarette and cigar smoke from adjacent tables.
The next photo shows much of the landward side of the restaurant deck. Lots of room and lots of folks enjoying a hot Florida afternoon at Cherry Pocket.
Inside, the walls of the bar are festooned with dollar bills, placed by folks making their mark by writing on a bill and stapling it to the ceiling, walls… anywhere they can find a spot.
Directly to the back in the photo below you can just see that the bar opens onto the outside deck. This is the deck overlooking the pocket of water after which the restaurant is named and is where we were fortunate enough to sit.
Cherry Pocket has a rep. As a result, it’s a very busy place. The parking lot was full to overflowing and BMW’s parked adjacent to sub-compact cars, interspersed by motorcycles and golf carts. Lots of folks come here. We expect some because they hang out at the bar, some because they have heard about this unique eatery and want to take it in, and others come back more than once as they have really enjoyed the food on previous visits.
How was the food at Cherry Pocket?
For me the reputation of the restaurant was sullied by the poor quality of the food I had the day we visited, and the extremely poor service we experienced, a service level that left a worse taste in my mouth than the food itself.
To be fair, our group of seven persons had four that said their meals were good to quite good. Two of us were unhappy, and one was noncommittal.
My dish was the Bayou Platter, a catfish filet, with three servings each of shrimp, oysters and scallops, along with french fries. All of the fish was heavily coated with a thick layer of batter, which in itself was not terribly tasty, and the taste was worse off due to it being served on the cool side when it should have been piping hot. The scallops were hard to find, the oysters were chewy, the shrimp were OK, and whatever they had coated the fries with was thick, cold and horrid. As a result, much of my meal remained uneaten.
Then, when were all done we waited, and waited, twice chased down servers to ask for a bill as our server had disappeared, and ultimately we had to wait more than 1/2 hour after we had completely finished our meals for our checks so that we could leave. That despite the fact that there were quite a few less persons there than when we had arrived – and when we arrived we had received almost instant service. Go figure?
It was an experience, yup, but not all bad. Quaffing a cold beverage with a bunch of good friends on a deck overlooking a pocket of water on a hot Florida afternoon, with a talented singer crooning recognizable tunes in the background and an air-boat arriving in the background for entertainment, nope, not all bad at all. Just wish the food had been better. I did note that they were advertising for cooks, so maybe their main-chef had left?
Will we go back to Cherry Pocket?
Unless we have some visitors that have heard of and want to experience Cherry Pocket then probably not. There are hundreds of restaurants in the greater Orlando area that offer extraordinary food and service. We’ll take our custom to another of them.
Where is Cherry Pocket?
If you are downtown Orlando, the route is West on I-4 to highway 27, and then south. It’s about 50 miles (80 kilometers) total from the center of Orlando, and the drive-time estimate, assuming I-4 is cooperating, is about 1.2 hours.
3100 Canal Road
Lake Wales, FL 33898