by Thomas Miller – Food Blogger / Restaurant Critic for Vero Vine
Once again I head back to historic downtown Vero Beach, this time to the arts district for another tasting at a cozy little cafe that has quite the following. They are located off of 14th Avenue and in the Theatre Plaza. Owners Steve and Lisa Horn are very passionate about serving great food at fair prices. From breakfast items, to tasty soups, crisp salads, and freshly made wraps, they definitely have you covered no matter what you are hungry for.
I arrived downtown shortly before 10:30am and did not have a problem finding an open parking spot. If you come later you might, as busy as this place was during my visit. There are two cafe style tables out front if you wish to dine outside, or plenty of high tops and seating at the bar inside to sit and enjoy your meal. As you enter the restaurant, you are instantly transported to the islands. With large murals of tropical scenes, bright, colorful artwork and walls, a thatched roof over the bar seating area, and reggae music complete the laid back island atmosphere.
Lets dive right in and see what this place has to offer and what I had to eat and drink!
Southwest Chicken Chowder – ($3.25) – Lisa started me out with a couple of their homemade soups. Steve makes these soups daily from scratch. This chowder is loaded with chicken, peppers, onions, garlic and corn in a chicken stock base. It has a nice blend of southwestern seasonings, yet is not spicy. It was really good!
Bohemian Seafood Chowder – ($3.25) – The second soup I tried was this wonderful seafood chowder. It has lobster, shrimp, dolphin (mahi), scallops, red potatoes, carrots, peppers, onions, and bacon in a tomato base. Chock-full of seafood, this chowder is very hearty. The tomato broth is rich and delicious, and the bacon gives it a slightly smoky flavor.
Tuscan Shrimp Wrap – ($9.50) – When Lisa said she was bringing out a wrap for me to try, I was not expecting something like this. This wrap is made with shrimp (chicken also available), provolone and parmesan cheese, sun dried tomatoes, marinated artichoke hearts, fresh spinach and basil. The wrap is then grilled on a Panini press to melt the cheeses and bring all the flavors together. The grilling also gives the tortilla a satisfying crunch when you bite into it. The shrimp were perfectly cooked, the cheese was gooey and delicious. The coleslaw was perfect, creamy and sweet, just the way I like it.
Meat and Potato Hoagie – ($9.95) – This sandwich is the Thursday special and it is fantastic! Its made with thinly sliced beef sirloin, sharp white cheddar cheese, horseradish sauce, brown gravy, and served on a toasted hoagie roll, finished off with potato sticks. The sirloin was very tender and seasoned to perfection, and the sharp cheddar cheese was the perfect match for this sandwich. Hiding in the back is some of the best potato salad I’ve ever tasted. It’s one of their grandmother’s recipes and they would not share it with me no matter how much I begged them. However I did learn a little secret of what makes it so good, but unfortunately I was sworn to secrecy and cannot share it with you.
Cajun Chicken Wrap – ($7.75) – Once pressed, these wraps are almost like a quesadilla that is just overloaded with ingredients! This wrap has blackened chicken breast, grilled peppers & onions, pepper jack cheese, and calypso sauce. It was nice and crunchy from being pressed, the chicken was moist and delicious, the pepper jack cheese added a little bit of heat, and the calypso sauce tasted similar to a chipotle sauce. The macaroni salad is also made in house and is as good as the potato salad. Here is an insider secret that I can share with you. If you cannot decide between the potato or the macaroni salad, Lisa said they can split it and give you half of each with your sandwich. Win-Win!
Pumpkin Pie Smoothie – ($4.25) – The season for Pumpkin Spice everything is coming up and its starting a little bit early at The Barefoot Cafe! Lisa makes her own pumpkin pie filling from scratch, then blends it with ice, and milk for this decadent treat! Topped with whipped cream and a dusting of nutmeg the flavor was perfect, with just the right amount of sweetness. I took mine to go and as the ice melted it only got better with each sip.
I definitely enjoyed my time at The Barefoot Cafe and had some really great food too. Steve and Lisa are owners that care and put their heart and soul into what they make and serve every day. If you become a regular here, they will definitely get to know you and address you by name when you come back. Next time you are downtown stop by and see them. Or better yet, make a special trip, I know you won’t be disappointed.
Have you tried The Barefoot Cafe? What has your experience been with them? Sound off in the comments below and let me know your thoughts, or feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions or comments.
Atmosphere – 5 Forks
Service – 5 Forks
Food – 5 Forks
Ratings Scale Legend:
1 to 5 Forks – 1 Bad to 5 Excellent