CUISINE AND ATMOSPHERE: If you're looking for fabulous décor, scratch Charlie's Family Diner from your list. The place looks drab. The tables and chairs look like they've seen better days. The most colorful thing inside Charlie's is the bubble gum machines. But somehow Charlie's manages to overcome this not-so-good first impression — and do so in a big way.
CHARLIE'S FAMILY RESTAURANT
2614 Lakeland Hills Blvd., Lakeland 863-683-2999
Open 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily, except for 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday.
WHAT'S NEW: Starting in November, the all-you-can-eat Friday fish fry will last all day rather than just until 2 p.m.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Nibbles recently ordered two meals, a breakfast and a lunch. Both were outstanding. For breakfast, we ordered bacon, scrambled eggs, French toast and a side of hash browns. The four strips of bacon were perfect and crispy, not greasy or torched. The scrambled eggs were moist, not dry. Charlie's serves a lot of French toast, and the reason is obvious. Our toast was perfectly seasoned, a bit crispy and not moist. And the hash browns were super crispy and just right. Lunch started with a bowl of tasty broccoli-cheddar soup. Charlie's makes a different homemade soup every day, and if the rest of them are anywhere near this good, order the soup. We also got a huge double cheeseburger with fries, and both were far above average.
PRICE RANGE: One of Charlie's biggest lures is low prices. Two eggs with bacon or sausage are $4.99. Omelets are from $4.50 to $6.99. Sandwiches and subs from $4.50 to $5.99.