Friday, May 25, 2018

In Sarasota, an outpost of Amish comfort food

It's 2:30 p.m. on a Saturday in October — well past lunch, and the slowest time of year in Sarasota, where the beautiful Gulf Coast beaches are most crowded in winter and spring.

But the line for "homestyle Amish food" at Yoder's Restaurant is out the door, with a 45-minute wait for a table. Customers snake past a sign listing varieties of pie as waitresses walk by carrying trays heaped with fried chicken.

Yoder's is located in Pinecraft, an Amish-Mennonite neighborhood that swells in the cold months as buses bring visitors from Amish and Mennonite communities in Ohio and Indiana. Its comfort-food menu reflects traditional Amish home-cooking with yummy staples like noodles, pot roast, meatloaf and mashed potatoes. But the food is prepared with a light touch, avoiding the oversalted goo and blandness that gives this type of cooking a bad name.

The menu is also sprinkled with surprises you don't expect to find at an Amish restaurant: Asian chicken salad, "Amish quesadillas" (chicken, cheese and mushrooms) and a salad of mixed greens, crumbled gorgonzola cheese and dried cranberries. Breakfast includes a veggie Benedict — spinach, tomato, and avocado with hollandaise sauce and fresh fruit on the side.

No meal is complete without trying Yoder's pie, which comes in two dozen varieties. The most popular flavor is peanut butter, with layers of crunchy peanut butter topping and vanilla pudding. Also popular are coconut, banana cream, strawberry and chocolate peanut butter. Some varieties are offered seasonally, like mincemeat.

In some parts of the country where the Amish spurn modern ways, you'll find horse-and-buggies plying the roads, but here the only horse and buggy is a model in Yoder's parking lot. Local adherents of the faith instead get around on three-wheel bikes, which form a virtual parade in some parts of town in winter.

Pinecraft is also famous for its post office, which the Amish community bought from the Postal Service after the branch was scheduled to close, and for its simple church, called the Tourist Church.

Both are just a block or two from Yoder's.

The TLC network has even filmed some of its Breaking Amish episodes in Pinecraft. The reality show looks at young people who were raised Amish and Mennonite as they experience life outside those communities and decide whether to go back to them.

Yoder's, which opened in 1975, has a gift shop and produce market onsite as well. The restaurant seats 130 people but on a busy day in peak season routinely serves 1,500. Customers are a mix of locals and tourists, and only a few are Amish.

It's not unusual to hear all kinds of languages spoken on the line to get in; some vacationers will drive an hour from Tampa-St. Petersburg or even two hours from Orlando.

And after putting away all that fried chicken, noodles and pie — or, if you must, a salad — there's no better way to enjoy the rest of your day in Sarasota than at Siesta Key beach, just a short drive — or three-wheeled bike ride — away.

Comments
He is accused in 13 Gulfport vehicle burglaries. An ankle bracelet tipped police off.

He is accused in 13 Gulfport vehicle burglaries. An ankle bracelet tipped police off.

GULFPORT ó An 18-year-old man, wearing an ankle bracelet, was arrested Thursday after he was accused of breaking into 13 cars in a one-block radius over the last week.Benjamin Langkamp Jr. faces 13 charges of vehicle burglary ó each of which occurred...
Updated: 24 minutes ago
Warrant issued for Tampa suspect in January slaying

Warrant issued for Tampa suspect in January slaying

TAMPA ó Hillsborough County deputies have identified the suspect in the fatal shooting of a man in January.Deputies are searching for 23-year-old Javon Rakeem Turner, who is wanted in the death of 22-year-old Elijah Moore on Jan. 17.According to depu...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Willy Adames goes back to AAA, leaving Rays with ďa lot to be excited aboutí

Willy Adames goes back to AAA, leaving Rays with ďa lot to be excited aboutí

Willy Adames' first stint in the major leagues ended as planned Thursday night when he was optioned back to Triple-A Durham at the end of his planned three-game cameo filling in for new father Joey Wendle.Adames said going back down was "tough" even ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Steve Yzermanís summer plans: Make the Lightning better

Steve Yzermanís summer plans: Make the Lightning better

TAMPA — Captain Steven Stamkos said the Lightning's window for contending for a Stanley Cup championship is not closing."I think it's wide open," he said one day after the Lightning lost Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final to the Capitals.Ge...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Hurricane hunters to investigate potential tropical system that could drench Tampa Bay

Hurricane hunters to investigate potential tropical system that could drench Tampa Bay

TAMPAó A hurricane hunter plane will investigate the area of low pressure in the Caribbean this afternoon as the likelihood increased that it will become the hurricane seasonís first tropical system.The reconnaissance plane will fly over the area to ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Ron DeSantis lives in government housing (when heís in Washington)

Ron DeSantis lives in government housing (when heís in Washington)

One recent night in the glamorous life of a congressman in Washington:U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, the leading Republican candidate for Florida governor, is in his office sitting on a black, faux leather couch in T-shirt and gym shorts, a fuzzy grey blank...
Updated: 1 hour ago
The Latest: Trump says US now 'talking to' NK about summit

The Latest: Trump says US now 'talking to' NK about summit

President Donald Trump says the United States is "talking to" North Korea after he canceled a planned summit with leader Kim Jong Un. He told reporters Friday that "everybody plays games."
Updated: 1 hour ago

AP Top News at 9:37 a.m. EDT

AP Top News at 9:37 a.m. EDT
Updated: 1 hour ago
Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy on the ropes over party graft case

Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy on the ropes over party graft case

Spanish opposition parties launched Friday a fierce campaign to end the conservative government of Mariano Rajoy after courts ruled that his Popular Party profited from a large kickbacks-for-contracts scheme
Updated: 1 hour ago
Putin says sanctions cause the global economy to suffer

Putin says sanctions cause the global economy to suffer

Putin says politically motivated sanctions cause the global economy to suffer
Updated: 1 hour ago