Tucked away, in a shady nook in Sanford is a brand new place called the Route 46 Entertainment District. When you come in to the District from the parking lot, you might think you’re in one of the local theme parks. There aren’t any rides, or walking stuffed animals in sight, but it has that sparkling-clean, wide-walkway, themed feel to it. Except instead of long lines and talking rodents, there’s an automotive, old town sort of thing going on.
Naturally, if you’ve driven any distance to get there, you may be thirsty and the first place you will be drawn to is the Garage Bar. When you walk in the door, you’ll see an old Model-T on display, and depending on the schedule of events, you may also see a World War II truck and a collection of absolutely gorgeous vintage cars. The place really does look like a (very big, very clean) garage, complete with shiny grills, hood ornaments, mufflers, hub caps and of course the requisite can of WD-40. There’s even a big set of garage doors that open to a courtyard where the live entertainment rocks the house. After you have a minute to take it all in, more than likely, the first thing you’ll say is, “Cool.”
Across the way from the Garage Bar, is the Smokehouse. It’s like an old country store, complete with rocking chairs on the porch. Inside, there’s a menu on the wall where you can order some outstanding barbecue. (The best items are also available to go, by the pound, for those special events at the house.) If you’re staying in-house, have a seat in the large dining room or on the back porch, where your food will be served. The Smokehouse is also open early on weekends, so you can satisfy those Saturday/Sunday morning cravings for an excellent, old fashioned breakfast.
Of course, what entertainment district would be complete without a dining room? Monroe’s, right next to the Garage offers “upper casual” dining. It’s like a fine, formal restaurant, without the formal part. Their menu ranges from rib-eye to seafood, from pasta to pork. They’ve also got a very complete wine list and a host of friendly wait staff to take care of your every need.
With all of the choices available, you might have a hard time deciding where you’d like to sit down for dinner. In that case, head on over to The Saloon. A beautiful, old fashioned bar, set between Monroe’s and the Garage, it’s exactly what you’d expect from a really nice saloon; swinging doors, a stamped metal ceiling, complete with large fans, and a big ol’ bar with a friendly bartender ready to take your order. From your place on a stool, or one of the large, comfortable booths nearby, you can order from The Saloon menu, or Monroe’s (and the barbecue food available from either place is prepared by the same folks who work their magic over at The Smokehouse, so it really is the best of all worlds at Route 46).
As you would expect, The Saloon has a wide selection of wine and beer. If you can think of it, they probably have it. They’ve even got a wide variety of special, hand-crafted mixed drinks, so relax for a bit and enjoy a libation while you study the menus.
And the food? Absolutely outstanding and in very generous portions. Some highlights include the garlic toast points with scallops and crabmeat dip, the surf and turf combo, Sugar Mill Shrimp, chicken duet, ribs, pasta, seafood; pretty much whatever you want. There are also some very distinctive side-dishes, including their Seafood Gumbo and a delicious White Bean Chicken Chili that has just the right amount of kick. You’ve also got to check out the Tangles; though it looks like a pile of them, it’s actually one, very long, thinly cut French fry, hand carved from a single, whole potato. Very unique, very tasty.
While the dinner will undoubtedly satisfy even the most voracious appetite, don’t forget to leave room for desert. The Crème Brule cheesecake is so delicious it should probably be illegal and the peanut butter pie is obscenely scrumptious.
Throughout your stay at the District, you’ll find friendly staff, providing excellent service. In fact, high quality is reflected in every aspect of the venue. Owner (and avid Harley rider) Don Hachenberger says, “Here at Route 46 we under promise and over deliver. We believe the quality we provide will bring a better result than a cheaper price.” And with all of that quality, the prices are still very reasonable. Most items at the Smokehouse are less than ten bucks; an average dinner at The Saloon is about twenty and at Monroe’s it’s right around forty.
While the food and atmosphere alone are enough to bring you to Route 46, don’t forget about the entertainment. Not only do they have live music three to five nights a week, there are some special events coming up, that you’ll want to put on your calendar. During the Sanford Bike Fest in early October, Route 46 will be the title sponsor of the Molly Hatchet concert and will host the official after-party for the concert, featuring special guest,Trans Am. (See their ad in this issue.) They also sponsor car shows, bike rally’s and they serve as the start/end site for poker runs on a regular basis. You’ll even see them at Biketoberfest in Daytona this year.
So, check out their website at www.route-46.com and by all means, make the trip to the Route 46 Entertainment District in Sanford. You’ll be glad you did.