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Sep 10, 2014

Old Florida Kitsch at its best - The historic Linger Lodge in Bradenton, Florida

The Linger Lodge got its start as a campground in 1945.  Frank and Elaine Gamsky moved to Florida from Wisconsin, and purchased the Linger Lodge in 1968.  Gamsky was an amateur taxidermist, and filled the restaurant with all sorts of local creatures like snakes, coyotes and alligators, just to name a few.

The Linger Lodge is perhaps the most eclectic and off the wall restaurant I've ever eaten at.  That being said, I enjoyed the experience immensely, and am glad I got a chance to dine there during my recent trip to the Florida gulf coast.  Down home southern cooking dominated the menu, and everything my family ate was superb.

The restaurant made it to the list of the "5 weirdest restaurants in America" and you'll soon see why.   I don't even know where to begin when describing the Linger Lodge, so I'll just jump into it with pictures..

The Linger Lodge is located in Bradenton Florida, and backs up to the edge of the Braden River.  The restaurant is flanked by a campground and RV park, and is enveloped by palm trees and huge oak trees draped in Spanish moss.

 
These little guys greet you upon entering the Linger Lodge, and set the vibe in motion that you're going to enjoy for the remainder of your visit.


We visited the Linger Lodge on our first day in Florida.  We arrived well after the lunch rush, so we had the run of the whole restaurant which made for some great photo ops.  We got a choice table situated right next to a fireplace, with a 15 foot Gator mounted directly above.




 
 Hush Puppies and Fried Green Tomatoes

For me.. I wanted nothing more than to enjoy some good Southern cooking, and that's exactly what I got. Appetizers of fried green tomatoes and hush puppies started us off, and fresh caught local gator with ice cold beer was the icing on the cake.  I also sampled some wonderful pulled pork that my bride ordered, which was the best I had eaten in quite some time.  All of the food was freshly made, full of flavor, and superb.

 Deep Fried Gator, Fresh cut fries, and rice







 I haven't seen a bonafide bear skin rug since I was a wee lad!


 The stuff $2500.00 Gucci shoes are made of


 Yup.. those are snakes that this sign is made with.  Which reminds me.. if you have an aversion to snakes (even dead ones) the Linger Lodge may not be the place for you..


This guy will keep you company at the corner of the bar




Huge Snake Skin lacquered into the bar top

 
This Diamond Back Rattler apparently got a piece of the person who caught him, and there's a picture of the hunters bitten hand to prove it!


  
Views from the bar

 
The incredibly welcoming staff actually encouraged me to go behind the bar to look around and take pictures.





Some more pics from around the restaurant..














After we finished our meals, and thoroughly walked around the restaurant to investigate all of the great conversation pieces, we decided to take a stroll outside to get a closer look at the campgrounds and property.





If you can take the Florida heat and humidity, there is a beautiful view of the Braden river from the back patio.  However, the deck is screened in and ceiling fans are moving plenty of air.  Plus.. don't ever underestimate the cooling power of beer!


Kayaks are available for the "adventurous"


 
 Heed the signs if you don't want Fido to become Gator Bait








I'm so glad I got the chance to visit the Linger Lodge with my family.   Not sure if I'd ever go as far as kayaking there, but we all had a blast, and will definitely be back.



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