Florida’s summer season is rolling full-steam ahead – by which we mean the heat and humidity feel like a literal steam bath. Last Thursday was reported as the hottest day of the year, with the real-feel heat index clocking in at 102° Fahrenheit!

As temperatures continue to rise, we surveyed our staff to find out just what these experienced Floridians enjoy during the summer months to beat the heat. Check out their top picks for food, drinks, and experiences in downtown Dunedin.

Shardai Chaput – Café Alfresco Manager

Summer Food Favorite: Café Alfresco’s Chicken Stir Fry

“You can’t go wrong with this one. For many of our regulars, it’s one of those entrees that they order at least once or twice a week.” Loaded up with fresh veggies like sauteed broccoli, baby corn, and zucchini, the entrée is framed with a fried wonton wrapper and topped with crunch water chestnuts.

Summer Drink Pick: Whiskey Smash

“This is my year-round favorite, but it’s especially nice in the summer sitting by the pool,” explains Shardai. The full bar at Café Alfresco is the perfect spot to grab something strong to sip on! You can even get it to go so you’ll have something refreshing to take with you.

Drew – Café Alfresco Assistant Manager

Summer Food Favorite: Grouper Francese

“I think our grouper Francese is the best thing on the menu, personally. It’s the perfect dinner to celebrate summer vacation, so it’s become an annual tradition for me.”

Summer Drink Pick: Grey Goose Espresso Martini

An indulgent dish like the grouper Francese pairs perfectly with a fun cocktail like the espresso martini. “I drink 7 or 8 cups of coffee a day,” Drew reveals, “this is a great martini.”

Summer Fun Activity: Hiking the Pinellas Trail

A New Jersey native, Drew was excited to discover the Pinellas Trail when he moved to the area from the topologically diverse New England region. “I like to get out and hike. It’s just a great way to stay active, get outside, and enjoy the community.”

Julio – Host

Plate of chicken parmesan

Summer Food Favorite: Café Alfresco’s Chicken Parmesan

“The chicken parm is pretty much my go-to whenever I’m at Café. Lately, I’ve been doing double-chicken for extra protein,” says Julio. This savory, saucy selection is the perfect blend of melted cheese and Italian flavors!

Summer Drink Pick: Pepsi (light ice)

When you need cool refreshment, Pepsi is the drink for the job, according to Julio. “I pick Pepsi over Coke when it comes to flavor.”

Summer Fun Activity: Football with Friends

“I’ve got my friends here, so during the summer we’ll usually get together and find a field to play football on. I’ve been eating chicken parm like crazy trying to keep up with work and friends.”

Kaveh – Waiter

A plate with a New York strip steak with butter, a handful of fries and mixed vegetables

Summer Food Favorite: Steak or Prime Rib

“Whenever I have a Sunday off I’m at Café Alfresco for dinner eating one of two things: the steak, or the prime rib.” Many of his fellow diners, who rave about Café Alfresco’s New York Sirloin, echoed Kaveh’s sentiments.

Summer Drink Pick: House Cabernet Sauvignon

For Kaveh, a glass of wine is a rarity, so he enjoys making the most of his Sunday indulgences with a glass of our house cabernet. Its full-bodied flavor offers the perfect complement to either the steak or the prime rib entrées.

Summer Fun Activity: Exploring Dunedin

“I moved back to Dunedin from Iran in 2018, and I was amazed by how many people remembered me from my time in the community. The other week I went bar hopping downtown for the first time in forever – so many people stopped me to say ‘hi,’ it was crazy!”

While there’s little question that we love our tropical paradise… almost all the time… a veteran Floridian will tell you that the heat is not something to trifle with. Planning a trip to the beach? Getting ready to ride the Pinellas Trail, or walk through town to visit your friends at the Café? Here’s some advice you can use to stay cool, calm, and unmelted:

1. Hydrate

This is, by far, the best thing you can do to avoid a heat stroke or heat exhaustion. Your body is mostly made up of water, which acts as your internal and external cooling system. Drinking water throughout the day ensures that you won’t overheat.

2. Hydrate (again!)

It’s so important that we listed it first AND second. By the time you feel thirsty, your body is already dehydrated. Hydrate proactively and you won’t have to worry!

3. Dress for Success

You’ve always heard “dress for the job you want,” and during the Florida summer, your job is to stay alive and unmelted! Consider wearing comfortable, breathable clothes that allow air to circulate. One of the true Florida treasures is experiencing a gulf breeze amid the pounding sun – a t-shirt and flip-flops allow you to do just that.

4. Vitamins and Minerals and Calories, Oh My!

Eating the right foods is a great way to ensure that you have steady energy that lasts throughout the day. Avoid eating fast food and overly processed food – a good meal, like our blackened chicken walnut salad or chicken stir fry, breaks down slowly while providing all the energy you need to enjoy our beautiful downtown! Check out the full menu at CafeAlfresco.com/menu!

5. Stay Cool

Summer is the season for tanning on the beach and playing in the park – just make sure you know where to go to cool off afterward. Taking a trip out to Honeymoon Island? Stop by one of our two beach cafés, Café Honeymoon and the South Beach Pavilion, to pick up the essentials, grab a bite to eat, and step into the shade. Traversing the Pinellas Trail? Stop by the “Best Restaurant on the Trail,” Café Alfresco! Our climate-controlled, indoor patio is the perfect place to enjoy the sights and sounds of the community in 77° Fahrenheit comfort.