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Photo by Erica Sterling.

Strawberry Szechuan Peppercorn Soda

Recipe courtesy of the Lunchbox

Once it was a gas station. Later, a post office and a ticket depot. Now we know the little space in the heart of downtown to be the Lunchbox, an outdoor café serving up some of Gainesville’s most unique grub.

Owner Tate Clair has a specially crafted approach to food that he has developed through years of working in fine dining, everywhere from Sydney to San Diego. With the Lunchbox, Clair makes flavors and elements of fine dining accessible to the general public of Gainesville. He says the restaurant operates under the rule: “If you wouldn’t serve it to your mom, don’t use it.”

The Lunchbox’s food is made fresh with ingredients that often come straight from the local farmers neighboring the café every Wednesday afternoon at the Union Street Farmers Market.

The menu always has new and interesting homemade sodas to try, constantly pairing unique flavors together. As we come up on the cusp of strawberry season, the Lunchbox is trying out its Strawberry Szechuan Peppercorn soda. Pick one up for a sweet and flavorful way to celebrate spring, or try out the recipe for yourself!


  • 1 quart of strawberries
  • 1 quart of sugar
  • ½ gallon of water
  • 1 tablespoon of Szechuan peppercorns (sold in any Asian market)
  • seltzer water


  1. Cut off the tops of the strawberries.
  2. Put the strawberries, sugar, flat water and Szechuan peppercorns in a pot and bring to a boil.
  3. Let the mixture cool.
  4. Puree or blend the mixture, then strain it.

(Ta da! This is your syrup base.)

Fill up your cup with ice and mix together the seltzer water and syrup
Side note: Mixing the syrup with champagne instead of seltzer water is a great substitute.

What’s in season?

Strawberries, tomatoes, yuca/cassava,radishes,cauliflower, lettuce, shiitake mushrooms, peppers, beets, carrots, broccoli, kale.