It seemed like an eternity – kind of like waiting for Christmas when we were little, minus the fact that in this case you didn’t really know when exactly Christmas was actually happening – but the time has finally come: The Old Jailhouse in Historic Downtown Sanford is now OPEN to welcome new “inmates” (or visitors if you will).
Compared to your traditional jailhouse though, you may want to actually “serve” some time in this one of a kind restaurant and bar! I mean, who wouldn’t want to be a jailbird and dine behind bars for a night in this beautiful historic building? We can 100% guarantee you lots of Instagram worthy shots inside this marvelously restored gem (be sure to use #theoldjailhouseSanford).
Even though the restaurant and bar can accommodate up to 151 guests, we definitely recommend for the following weeks that you make a reservation if you are a party of 8 or more, or arrive early because for everyone else it’s first come first served.
Jessica and I were lucky enough to attend The Old Jailhouse official media preview events and to say we were impressed is almost an understatement!
Every little corner of this place shows the attention to detail, love and care that was put into restoring this building to its old glory (if that can ever be said about a jailhouse?). The walls are lined with historic images and in order to document the long process the owners also hung before photos on the now exposed brick walls (from the original build in ca. 1890), and a slide show which plays on a flat screen right next to the bar. But even without that, it would be hard to not breathe history the moment you step into the Old Jailhouse. Everything has been meticulously restored in order to showcase the jailhouse the way that it once was (notice the signs above each room – yep, those are the original uses for each room), so you get to experience the original layout, including the booking room (that’s were inmates were taken in) and the visitation room (now a glorious private dining room with two posh chandeliers that create the perfect contrast). There are two dining areas were your party can be “locked up” during dinner – this is “Eatertainment dining” (yes, that’s a thing – google it!) at its best, right here on Palmetto Avenue in Historic Downtown Sanford!
But let’s talk drink and food! The names of the drinks are pertinent to a Jailhouse: take the drink “Life” for instance! You can get “Life” in the Jailhouse – but you’re going to love that! It’s the type of drink you can sentence me to anytime: Calvados, Coffee Liqueur, Chile Liqueur and Creme de Cacao. The Jailhouse can also give you a Hard Thyme: Thyme infused Bourbon, Pear Brandy, White Vermouth and Lemon. Other creative cocktail names include “The Yard”, “Cukes of Hazzard” and “Birdman of Alcatraz”.
Some of the Sanford365 gals’ favorite dishes were…
Oysters Sanford: a baked celery gratin paying homage to Sanford’s “Celery City” past and gulf oysters in their shell. And this is coming from two gals who don’t even love oysters…
Waterkist Farms Tomatoes: Ode to the Heirloom Tomato! I never knew I could love a tomato that much – and they’re locally sourced. This dish is served with delightful avocado mousse, toasted cashews and house ricotta.
Low Country Shrimp and Sausage Skewer: Get out your smart phones to document the presentation of this delicious dish as your friendly server pours the gravy slowly over the giant skewer of gulf shrimp and country sausage before it drips onto the warm cheese grits and collard greens.
Check out our pictures of the official Old Jailhouse menu below and better yet, go out and try for yourself so you can be the judge! Very soon you will know what the whole town is buzzing about and can chime in and say that, you too, served some time at The Old Jailhouse – and join all the others who are merely on parole until their next stay…
Other useful things to know about The Old Jailhouse:
It’s dog friendly (on the front piazza)!! Who wouldn’t want to bring their best friend to join them as they serve some time at The Old Jailhouse?
It’s kids friendly (there’s a kids menu available!) – and MOM friendly, because, get this: there is a changing table in both the ladies’ AND the men’s restroom! So no more excuses dads when it time to do THE task.
The gorgeous courtyard, “The Yard” is the perfect spot for al fresco dining (and intimate events) under the stars and market lights.
Brunch will be available in the Spring!
The Jailhouse is available for buyout if you are planning a big event.
The “Visitation” dining room which seats 8 and the “Booking” dining room (which holds a 60 inch tv) are both private rooms and available for reservations.
Hi, my name is Claudia! I live, work and play in Sanford, FL. To top it all off, I am also totally in love with Sanford! My husband Jose and I are Realtors in Sanford, FL and help people realize their dreams of home ownership. We have two sons, Nicolas (2011) and Lukas (2013).
I am originally from Germany, moved here in 2004. In 2008 I started Sanford365.com.
I love everything that says creativity. Design is my passion, no matter if Graphic, Web or Fashion Design - and I am also into photography :) I'm also very social and love to hang out with my family and friends, be it for a kids play date or a fun night out ;)