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HUNGRY LIKEĂ&#x;THEĂ&#x;WOLF Mount Dora Sanford



Altamonte Springs




Winter Park


Lake Buena Vista



Winter Garden







................... “How’d you get so sweet, Mom”

“Chocolate fondue.”...................

Show Mom you really love her. Bring her to the Melting Pot in Orlando on this Mother’s Day


Sunday May 9, 2010 Special Hours 12pm-9pm Please call or visit our website to view our special Mother’s Day Menu

7549 W. Sand Lake Rd., Orlando 407-903-1100

Reservations recommended Fondue coast to coast Locally owned and operated





BREAKFAST CLUB The name’s changed a few times, but the recipe for healthy morning chow – be it when the rooster crows or after morning talk shows – remains much the same: creative omelets, pancakes, salads and sandwiches. 63 E. Pine St., 407-843-1559. $. Breakfast. CAFE ANNIE Revamped and relocated one door over, the long-standing breakfast and lunch staple Cafe Annie returns, serving Greek and Middle Eastern food that is long on flavor and thankfully bereft of gimmicks. Try a pressed chicken sandwich or the truly impressive garlic mashed potatoes. 131 N. Orange Ave., 407-420-4041. $. Bar/Pub, Greek, Lebanese, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern. CAFFE RITAZZA The new kid on the downtown block is an international chain that offers efficient service, a vast menu of everything from Mexican fare to salad bar to baked goods and free Internet access. It’s only open Monday through Friday, and it’s very popular with the business-casual set. 200 S. Orange Ave., 407237-6780. $. Deli/Sandwiches.

DOWNTOWN 310 LAKESIDE 310 Park South’s sister restaurant eschews the trendy, people-watching scene for a more understated, leisured pace. Well-executed dishes like pan-seared snapper with a magnificent fennel and olive tapenade garnish and beef tenderloin flatbread are as much a draw as the large outdoor patio. Burgers can be a letdown, but desserts are revelatory. 301 E. Pine St., 407-373-0310. $$$. American, Café/Bistro.


gives an updated look and feel to this downtown establishment hidden away on Church Street. Blissfully undiminished is the quality of the food – seaweed salad that crunches just right and sushi so fresh it needs no adornment (though the elaborate rolls are delicious). 54 W. Church St., Suite 170, 407-316-8500. $$. Japanese/ Sushi. ANTHONY’S PIZZA CAFE Located in historic Thornton Park in a former car-repair shop that’s been washed with bronze colors and a Tuscan atmosphere, the cafe’s two dozen tables – inside and on the courtyard – are a comfortable spot to enjoy traditional Italian subs, pizzas and pasta entrees. 100 N. Summerlin Ave., 407648-0009. $$. Italian, Pizza. THE BLACK OLIVE Pine Street resto serves up a winning combination of uncomplicated pan-Mediterranean fare and polished, attentive service. Pistachio-crusted lamb chops atop flawless fennel risotto are a revelation, and Sambuca-flamed grape leaves incorporate a little food theater. The olive flight is a must, as are the zeppole – fried dough balls served with a warm hazelnut-chocolate soup. 22 E. Pine St., 407-849-1689. $$$. Wine, Italian, Mediterranean. THE BOHEME Opulent surroundings designed as an interpretation of Europe’s Bohemian grandeur, with a menu featuring Angus beef in several incarnations, seafood and some wonderfully executed entrees. The pricey menu changes with the season. 325 S. Orange Ave., 407-313-9000. $$$$. Continental, Seafood, Steak.

CEVICHE TAPAS BAR AND RESTAURANT The seductive interior alone makes this Church Street joint worth visiting, though the whopping selection of small plates is what keeps patrons coming back. Refreshing ceviche de atun segues nicely into Iberico ham; creamy tres leches meringue cake with fresh berries is as savory as it is siesta-inducing. 125 W. Church St., 321-281-8140. $$. Tapas. CHAMP’S DELI A phone-booth-sized establishment with Chef George serving his famous pulled-pork sandwiches. The cold-cut selection is pretty ordinary, but where else can you get a decent chicken-salad sandwich and a cup of soup for $3.95, or a hot breakfast sammich for a buck-fifty? 132 E. Central Blvd., 407-649-1230. $. Deli/Sandwiches. CITRUS Slick and boisterous Orange Avenue sup-spot offers expertly prepared dishes like lobster fritters spiked with jalapeno and red snapper with lobster risotto cake, proof positive of the kitchen’s competency. The din can be deafening, but the joint’s got that asphalt-jungle verve that trendsters dig. 821 N. Orange Ave., 407-373-0622. $$$. American. CITYFISH Enjoy some quality catch in the graffiti’d environs of this neighborhood seafood joint. Fish and chips are good enough to make Maritimers swoon with nostalgia, while the peppery tilapia fillets in the tortilla salad are about the finest you’ll have. Parking can be a hassle. 617 E. Central Blvd., 407-849-9779. $$. Seafood. THE DESSERT LADY Cafe Patti Schmidt, the “Dessert Lady,” serves up seriously seductive sweets in her red-velvet lair in Church Street Station. Buttercream-frosted carrot cake with rum-soaked raisins on the side is a standout among the addictive offerings. 120A W. Church St., 407-999-5696. Sweets.

DEXTER’S OF THORNTON PARK Spacious, light and airy, with seating at the bar or on bar stools at elevated tables. Sandwiches and pastas are staples, but you’ll also find the citified clientele ordering wines both by the bottle and “on tap.” 808 E. Washington St., 407648-2777. $$. Bar/Pub, American, Café/Bistro, Wine, Hamburgers.

EMPIRE SZECHUAN A storefront-takeout kind of place that belies the fact that there’s good food coming from these humble surroundings. A long list of the usual Szechuan and Hunan suspects joins traditional Cantonese fare, but everything is cooked as if the kitchen staff cares about the food, and they do. 341 N. Orange Ave., 407-839-1236. $. Chinese. EOLA WINE COMPANY A true and very welcome wine bar that offers its wares by the glass or in 2-ounce sampler flights. If something grabs your fancy, racks of bottles line the walls. Eola Wine hops until 2 a.m. most nights, with a menu of grapes and brews that changes, along with desserts. 500 E. Central Ave., 407-4819100. $$. Wine, Sweets. FAT DADDY’S GRILL The effort they put into preparing the chicken right shows in every tender, flavorful bite. If you like meals where everything gets pushed together and shoveled in, you’ll love the “chops”; for a simpler meal, go for the quarter-chicken. Don’t miss the fresh side dishes, especially the balsamic tomatoes, and the house-made sauces: curry mustard, orange sesame, chimichurri and more. 63 N. Orange Ave., 407-246-8000. $. American, Mediterranean. FIFI’S PATISSERIE 100 S. Eola Drive, Suite 104, 407-481-2251. $$$. Club, Café/Bistro. GINO’S PIZZA & BREW III Small but full of action, and open from 10 a.m.-4 a.m., Gino’s is a downtown stage for pizza-making perfor-

THE HARP Downtown gastropub oozes a rustic charm and class; Cordon Bleu chef Cody Patterson shines with such dishes as luscious rack of lamb with saffron risotto and “stoplight prawns,” served with a trio of red, yellow and green sauces. 25 S. Magnolia Ave., 407-4812928. $$$. Café/Bistro. HUE It’s hip, it’s as urban as Orlando gets, and it’s in Thornton Park Central, where the black-clad and hungry gather. The lure of good food can appeal to anyone, and Hue is serving up fabulous seafood, steaks and poultry with a soupcon of Asian flair. 629 E. Central Blvd., 407849-1800. $$$. American, Café/Bistro. ICHIBAN The clamor is for its skillfully prepared selection of sushi, from cliched California rolls to artful delicacies like “dancing eel.” They may not break culinary ground, but it’s good food, served with attention and a sense of fun. 19 S. Orange Ave., 407-423-2688. $$. Bar/Pub, Japanese/Sushi. JAVA LAVA This downtown stop subscribes to the more-is-more philosophy. The simplest menu item has five elements, and one actually has 11. The mojo pulled pork is a winner: chunks of tender pork, grilled red onions, Jack cheese and a sweet Caribbean sauce on a baguette. They take the same kitchen-sink approach to their coffee menu. 47 E. Robinson St., 407-770-1888. $. Deli/Sandwiches. ★ JOHNSON’S DINER In its expanded digs, Johnson’s continues to provide soulful

WA Restaurant Photo by Jason Greene

mance art. Nearly a dozen choices of pizza are on display at any given time, plus strombolis, calzones, wings, salads and pasta dishes. 120 S. Orange Ave., 407-999-7827. $. Italian, Pizza. GRAFFITI JUNKTION Prodigious patties for the post-grad set seems to be Graffiti Junktion’s function; the crowd is young and the digs run to squatter-chic embellishments. Skip the salad and chili and head straight for the beefed-up burgers, served on homemade buns. A full bar keeps the scene lively and the din uproarious. 900 E. Washington St., 407-426-9503. $$. American, Hamburgers. HAMBURGER MARY’S While diversity is key at this gay-friendly burger joint, the menu is unquestionably all-American. Hefty, gloppy burgers satisfy, as do triangles of addictive fried mac-and-cheese, and meatloaf is a must. Desserts like fried Twinkies and Mary Tyler S’mores will test your ticker. 110 W. Church St., 321-319-0600. $. American.


sustenance to Parramore’s denizens and celebs alike with comfort staples like stew beef, fried chicken, smothered pork chops, collard greens and corn casserole. The sweet potato pie is legendary, but go for banana pudding if it’s available. 595 W. Church St., 407-841-0717. $. American, Barbecue, Diner, Southern. KRES CHOPHOUSE Most of the food is outstanding, but inconsistency plagues the kitchen of this sumptuous yet cozy space; the ambience alone makes this downtown destination worth a second try. Menu standouts include the shellfish bisque and the mixed grill. 17 W. Church St., 407-447-7950. $$$$. American, Steak.

MEDINA’S GROCERY & RESTAURANT A humble setting for hearty Cuban and Puerto Rican home cooking where the food far outshines the service; in fact, the pace can be downright glacial. 2405 E. Washington St., 407894-9294. $. Cuban, Puerto Rican.

METRO ESPRESSO PIZZA CAFE Trusty takeout joint on the ground floor of the Post Parkside building takes care of its Eola Heights neighbors with pizza and meatball subs, as well as the owner’s memorable lasagna and pasta dishes. 417 E. Central Blvd., 407-422-5282. $. Italian, Pizza. NAPASORN THAI RESTAURANT In the heart of downtown Orlando on bar-laden Pine Street, a welcome oasis of sake and Thai food. With a few wanders away from traditional cooking and the addition of a sushi bar, they still manage to serve up dishes prepared with care and enthusiasm. A most enjoyable destination. 56 E. Pine St., 407-245-8088. $$. Bar/Pub, Japanese/Sushi, Thai. PANINO’S PIZZA AND GRILL Open until 5 a.m., Panino’s is one of the few choices in Orlando for late-late-night grub, a perk for a city with night life but little to no night food. With over 14 by-the-slice variations and many others available in whole-pie form, there’s a pizza for every preference; wings are gloriously hot, slightly crispy, garlicky and doused with hot sauce. 21 S. Orange Ave., 407-999-7701. $. Pizza. PARADISE ISLAND CAFE Lunch is always busy at this little Caribbean eatery with popular entrees including boneless jerk chicken and beefy oxtails, simmered in Jamaican herbs and spices. First Fridays feature a band in addition to all the West Indian delicacies to be found here. 377 W. Church St., 407-841-8933. $. Caribbean. PHILLY STYLE HOAGIES AND DELI


Sandwich shop that brings Philly-style freshbaked bread and tasty Thumann’s deli meats to the downtown lunch crowd, along with some unusual alternatives. Sandwiches come in three sizes, including a monster 2-footer. 223 N. Magnolia Ave., 407-423-0123. $. Deli/ Sandwiches. THE PITA PIT It’s a fast-growing restaurant chain, but there’s something to be said (chewed?) for the fast, fresh menu of pita sandwiches, salads and sauces that can be accessed until 3 a.m. weeknights and 4 a.m. weekends. At that time of the morning, where else can you load up on alfalfa sprouts covered in tzatziki sauce? 1 S. Orange Ave., 407-447-7482. $. Deli/ Sandwiches. RELAX GRILL Nestled along the shores of Lake Eola sits one of the better al fresco dining locales in the city. The courtyard provides enough shade for enjoying Mediterranean and domestic fare, particularly the former ‚Äî chicken kebabs and a Mediterranean combo comprising falafel, red pepper nut dip and five other items fare better than the burger. Leisured service allows for people- and animal-watching. 211 Eola Parkway, 407-425-8440. $$. American, Mediterranean. SHARI SUSHI LOUNGE Hip and happening Thornton Park adds an Eastern flavor with this cosmopolitan pearl. Superbly inventive sushi rolls alongside traditional dishes means something for everyone, but be daring. You’ll like it. 621 E. Central Blvd., 407-420-9420. $$$. Japanese/Sushi. SHIN JAPANESE CUISINE Selections at this urbane sushi house reflect a commitment to sourcing and artistry without belying tradition. Any of the chef’s presentations offer a rewarding sampling for those who enjoy their sushi relatively unadulterated, while a number of signature and maki rolls are also offered. Beef tataki is wonderful to the last raw slice. 803 N. Orange Ave., 407-648-8000. $$$. Japanese/Sushi. SUSHI HATSU Sushi is as common these days as Chinese takeout, and this run-down downtown spot demonstrates a proletarian approach to this once-luxury cuisine. Skip the starters and head for the small menu of fresh sushi. 24 E. Washington St., 407-422-1551. $. Japanese/Sushi.

TASTINGS: A WINE EXPERIENCE Enomatic tasting machines are a draw for cost-

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conscious wine enthusiasts in search of variety, and this downtown wine bar offers an unpretentious environment in which to enjoy them. Seventy-two wines are offered, each available in tasting, half-glass and full-glass pours. The kitchen churns out a proficient mix of light bistro fare, including filet mignon medallions, flatbreads and a DIY cheese plate. To end, pair chocolate marquis cake with a merlot. 111 N. Magnolia Ave., 407-999-9950. $$. American, Wine.

TIJUANA FLATS BURRITO COMPANY What started in 1995 has grown into a handful of walk-in burrito stands that serve up favorites made with a limited set of ingredients. The highlight is the chain’s own line of pepper sauces, called everything from “Smack My Ass” to “Great Bowels of Fire.” Filling, tasty and $. 8 N. Summerlin Ave., 407-839-0007. $. Mexican. URBAN FLATS The wine list is oh-so-chic, and the fancy cruvinet system used to serve wine by the glass (in 3-ounce and 6-ounce pours) keeps oxidation in order. The flatbreads are stupendous – thin-crusted and kissed by the fire of the woodstone oven. 183 S. Orange Ave., 321-3326809. American. VIRGIN OLIVE MARKET The buzz surrounding the soups at this “neighborhood noshery” draws a loyal clientele – try the stuffed bell pepper soup and see. Meticulously prepared salads, pastas and sandwiches underscore the commitment to quality, while assorted baked goods guarantee a sweet ending for all tastes. 807 N. Orange Ave., 407-601-7848. $. Deli/ Sandwiches. WALL STREET CANTINA The slightly funky location at Orange Avenue and Wall Street rescues this streetside eatery from too-calculated hipness. Basic Tex-Mex fried favorites are heaped with pico de gallo, guacamole and sour cream and are absolutely delicious. Salads and grilled sandwiches round out the offerings. 19 N. Orange Ave., 407-420-1515. $. Club, American, Mexican. WILDSIDE BAR AND GRILL BBQ Good smokin’ tonight in Thornton Park. Dry-rubbed barbecued ribs and chicken are the best choices on the menu, which also features sandwiches and some good but surprisingly small fish dishes. Stick to the staples and you won’t be disappointed. 700 E. Washington St., 407-872-8665. $. Bar/Pub, American, Barbecue, Steak.

Central 903 MILLS MARKET Jim Ellis and Nick Massoni transformed this former beer-in-a-bag store into a welcome addition to the neighborhood with their creative sandwiches, fantastic beer selection and friendly service. Watch the sign outside and get in on the monthly wine tastings. 903 S. Mills Ave., 407-898-4392. $. Bar/ Pub, American, Café/Bistro.

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ADRIATICO TRATTORIA ITALIANA College Park trattoria’s menu leans toward the sea, with such dishes as baby calamari and pan-fried white-striped bass in garlic-white wine sauce competently executed. Non-seafood dishes like gnocchi with gorgonzola sauce and tomato cream soup also shine. 2417 Edgewater Dr. , 407-428-0044. Italian. ALFONSO’S PIZZA The new owners of this once-venerable College Park pizza joint have done nothing to curtail its slow decline. New York-style pizzas are more floppy than fine-spun, while chicken wings are overcooked and fried to the bone. The baked ziti is an unremarkable assemblage which begs the question, “What happened to the old Alfonso’s?” 3231 Edgewater Drive, 407-872-7324. $. Italian, Pizza. ALL AMERICAN CAFE Neighborhood eatery’s a.m. offerings have locals wrestling for tables on weekend mornings, and for good reason. Fluffy pancakes are delightfully crisped on the edges, and biscuits in thick, peppery gravy get the day started right. Weekends can rouse lackadaisical service. 1817 S. Ferncreek Ave., 407-897-2213. $. Breakfast. AMERICAN PIE PIZZA & DRAFTHOUSE Concept chain plays up the classic-rock angle in its motif, though distractions (video games, short films, music videos) are at a maximum. The hand-tossed pizza will keep your eyes on the pleasantly redolent pies. Slices hold their own the day after as well. If there’s room, the apple pie will fill it quickly. 2912 Edgewater Drive, 407-648-8835. $. Pizza. ANH HONG There are hundreds of items on the menu at this ViMi mainstay, where No. 146 – fried tofu stir-fried with lemongrass and chili – reigns supreme over the many vegetarian options that round out meat and seafood. There are salads, subs (banh mi), and various neoncolored surprises in the takeout refrigerator case. 1124 E. Colonial Drive, 407-999-2656. $. Vegetarian/Vegan, Vietnamese.

AREPAS AND MORE BUMBY CAFETERIA Hole in the wall serves arepas of

Pizzeria & Italian Restaurant



100 N. Summerlin Ave. Orlando, Florida 32801

BITE 10 Best Pizza 2009 - Orlando Weekly

every stripe, but it’s also home to a varied menu with influences from Venezuela to Colombia. There’s a $2 special every day, everything has that cooked-by-Mama taste, and regulars from the botanica next door wander in and out. 207 N. Bumby Ave., 407-894-5262. $. Latin American. BA LE A franchise that combines a deli (familiar and exotic sandwiches), a Vietnamese restaurant (spring rolls, rice bowls) and a French bakery (croissants, baguettes). This international melange makes the food unique, and the quality makes Ba Le uniquely un-chainlike. 1227 N. Mills Ave., 407-898-8011. $. French, Vietnamese, Bakery. BAJA BURRITO KITCHEN Freshness is without question at this fast, healthy chain. Soft tacos are stuffed with fish, burritos are packed with grilled meats, and beans are stewed, not refried. The popular “Baja burrito” – grilled steak, black beans, onions, cilantro and cheese – is a meal in itself. 2716 E. Colonial Drive, 407895-6112. $. Mexican. BEEFY KING A local legend with a dedicated following, this mighty little sandwich shop has survived for 35 years by doing it better than all the big players. Beefy King’s secret is simple quality. Delicious meats – roast beef, pastrami, turkey – are cooked daily and heated to order over a steam vent to bring out their natural flavors. 424 N. Bumby Ave., 407-894-2241. $. American, Deli/Sandwiches. BIKES BEANS & BORDEAUX Get your fill of killer sandwiches at this chic haven catering to the city’s cycling set. Chicken salad and caprese varieties get you in gear, while thick hummus with veggies keeps things rolling; Jittery Joe’s coffee provides a kick-start to the Nutella cupcake’s sugary finish. 3022 Corrine Drive, 407-427-1440. $. Noodles, Pan-Asian.

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BIKKURI SUSHI Grocery-store sushi bum you out? This tiny spot on well-traveled Colonial Drive should lift your pick-something-up-onthe-way-home spirits. Specializing in reasonably priced variety trays of fresh, well-cut sushi (they’ve got a regular menu of Japanese cuisine as well), Bikkuri proves that it’s possible to make to-go sushi without resorting to the rubbery “fish” they tend to use at the supermarket. 1915 E. Colonial Drive, 407-894-4494. $$. Japanese/Sushi. BLACKWATER BAR-B-Q Competition cookoff veterans ply their tricks of the smoky trade and offer tender ribs, juicy chicken and pretty good cornbread right next door to upscale Le Coq au Vin. Check out the pepper-laced pulled pork and slow-cooked turkey gracing the paper plates here. 4718 S. Orange Ave., 407-8882033; also 3405 Edgewater Drive, 407-4479511. $. American, Barbecue. BOSTON BAKERY & CAFE Individualsize baked goods are hard to come by at this predominantly Vietnamese restaurant, though birthday cakes, jelly rolls and Napoleons are prominently displayed. Satisfy your sweet tooth with a passionfruit slushie or a sugary bubble tea. For an extra kick, consider strong, creamy iced Vietnamese coffee. 1525 E. Colonial Drive, 407-228-1219. Sweets, Deli/Sandwiches. BRAVISSIMO CAFE Contemporary and casual Italian trattoria in historic downtown neighborhood serves up an atmosphere as lively as the pizzas, pastas and fine entrees. 337 N. Shine Ave., 407-898-7333. $$. Club, Café/ Bistro, Italian, Pizza. BRAZAS CHICKEN Full-service Edgewood polleria specializes in succulent Peruvian-style rotisserie chicken, marinated in a secret blend of paprika, cumin, lemon and vinegar and other seasonings. A whole chicken comes $ and goes well with sweet plantains, avocado salad and papas huancaina. The dulce de leche–layered alfajore is a sugary chew, but one won’t be enough. 4797 S. Orange Ave., 407-582-0506. $. Latin American.

BRICK & FIRE PIZZA AND WINE CO. Ex-Church Street pizza joint is strictly uppercrust. Goat-cheese pizza and the pulled-chicken calzone with gouda and portobello shine; baked ziti with brie provides mac-and-cheese comfort for grown-ups. The deep-dish apple pie is big enough to share. 1621 S. Orange Ave., 407-4268922. $$$. Pizza. CAFE TRASTEVERE Upscale eatery in renovated two-story house offers a casual atmosphere and a postmodern interior, and serves some of the finest pasta and classic Italian entrees in town. Sip wine and enjoy the skyline from the patio. 825 N. Magnolia Ave., 407-8390235. $$$. Café/Bistro, Italian. CARIBBEAN SUNSHINE LOUNGE $ food doesn’t always equate to good, or even palatable, food, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find a decent nosh for under $5. But at the Caribbean Sunshine Bakery, buttery coco bread, a flaky, fresh-baked, spicy Jamaican beef patty and a tropical beverage will run you 300 cents. 2528 W. Colonial Drive, 407-839-5060. Club. CASA SORRENTO 1421 N. Orange Ave., 407228-0300. $$. Italian.

CECIL’S TEXAS STYLE BAR-B-Q Specializing in slow-cooking meats over hickory wood, this Texas-style smokehouse raises the bar in fresh-off-the-fire fare. Velvety beef brisket and sausage are signature items, and the smoky succulence of the turkey breast makes for guilt-free indulging. Sides, like the sweet potato souffle and jalapeno chili beans, are outstanding and plentiful. Creamy banana pudding provides a little Southern comfort. 2800 S. Orange Ave., 407-423-9871. $$. Barbecue. CEFIORE Popular culture comes to College Park: live probiotics, in fact. The frozen yogurt here, in flavors like acaiberry and green tea,

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tastes too good to be good for you, but the health factor is mitigated somewhat by toppings ranging from chocolate chips to Fruity Pebbles. Espresso beverages are also served, for dessertdeniers. 2104 Edgewater Drive, 407-648-8247. $. Sweets. CELEBRITY DELLY Lunch-only sandwich spot that serves grand creations named after Tinseltown favorites, as well as deli standbys such as a chopped-liver sandwich on pumpernickel and a great egg cream. Side items stand up too, like the chunky coleslaw with red cabbage and the flavorful matzo-ball soup. 2030 W. Colonial Drive, 407-839-1983. $. Deli/ Sandwiches, Pizza. CHAN’S CHINESE CUISINE If you order from the dinner menu, steer away from dishes that involve sauces and gravies. Better to visit for lunch, when a roving dim-sum service offers an affordable range of dumplings, spring rolls and assorted delicacies sold per piece. 1901 E. Colonial Drive, 407-896-0093. $. Chinese. CHARLEY’S STEAK HOUSE This old-school establishment answers traditional meat-eaters’ cravings with some of the best cuts in town. Stick with the steak, though; everything else is just a distraction. 6107 S. Orange Blossom Trail, 407-851-7130. $$$$. Steak.


Fourth-generation bakery offers a novel way to put your favorite snapshots to use: Have them scanned for a “photo cake,” transferring the image onto a sheet cake with white icing (starting at $18). From Elvis cakes to birthday-girl cakes, the possibilities are endless. 3213 Curry Ford Road, 407-898-9561. $. Bakery. CHILI DADDY The mustard-colored cookhouse on the corner of South Street and Graham Avenue is a haven for chili connoisseurs. The Thai basil is a singular chili experience, worth driving off the beaten path for, and if the “private reserve” chili

is available, jump at the chance to try it. Closed Sundays and Mondays; cash only. 2603 E. South St., 407-894-0430. $. American, Soup. CHINA IN COLLEGE PARK ChineseAmerican restaurant on Edgewater Drive fills the niche for takeout Chinese in the neighborhood. They offer a wide variety of hugely portioned Chinese and Thai dishes at very reasonable prices. Also on the menu is a decent selection of sushi. 2122 Edgewater Drive, College Park, 407839-8869. $. Chinese.

CHINATOWN SEAFOOD RESTAURANT Live seafood is this restaurant’s forte; so if you want to save yourself a drive to the coast, head to the ViMi corridor for a taste of the exotic. Crispy Hong Kong-style frog legs are a spicy standout, while succulent Maine lobster and golden-fried striped bass are as fresh as can be. The Peking duck is properly moist, not parched. More than 200 items are listed on the menu. 1103 N. Mills Ave., 407-896-9383. Chinese, Seafood. CHRISTO’S CAFE Venerable College Park diner celebrates its throwback image by proudly serving classic American fare, as it has for decades. Breakfasts have the hungry and hungover clamoring for tables and pre-noon faves such as deep-fried French toast and Greek omelets. 1815 Edgewater Drive, 407-425-8136. $. Restaurant, American, Diner. CHUCK’S RESTAURANT Diner wears its rough edges well, serving solid fare to regulars who depend on jump-starting their day with items like sausage gravy over biscuits. The British owners add a twist to the standard menu with daily specials that might include their home-style favorites, like bangers and mash. 807 N. Mills Ave., 407-898-8143. $. Breakfast, Diner. CINDY’S TROPICAL CAFE Excellent nofrills food that’s extremely light on the wallet. The “Daily Good Deals” – thinly sliced steak,

pork or chicken, beans and rice, plantains and a salad – mark the high end of the menu at $5.99. Also available is an array of subs, a breakfast selection and a not-to-be-missed relleno de papa. 601 Virginia Drive, 407-898-6878. $. Cuban. CLADDAGH COTTAGE Laid-back neighborhood pub run by Jimmy and Kathy Mulvaney, who keep the ale flowing, fortified by traditional Irish stick-to-your-ribs fare like a variety of pastry pies filled with savory, meaty gravy inside buttery crusts. The Guinness will be properly double-poured at this authentic and casual spot soaked in Irish charm. 4308 Curry Ford Road, 407-895-1555. $. Irish. COLIBRI Upscale Baldwin Park taqueria has honed its act in the kitchen, but still needs work on the service end. The mole is bueno, as is luscious chipotle pepper-cream sauce lathered over plump shrimp. Tres leches cake is a decadent capper. 4963 New Broad St., 407-629-6601. $$. Bar/Pub, Mexican. CORNERSTONE PIZZA It’s neither new nor fancy, but this neighborhood dive turns out thincrust pizzas that have been time- and taste-tested by the everyday characters who find refuge there. The loaded stromboli is totally over the top in a made-by-hungry-stoners way. 1513 E. Michigan St., 407-894-4333. $. Italian, Pizza. DANDELION COMMUNITEA CAFE More than 30 organic loose-leaf teas are offered at this socially conscious teahouse that’s become a gathering ground for nonconformists, neocons and everyone in between. A predominantly vegan menu of wraps, salads and an outstandingly hearty chili will satisfy even the most ravenous of carnivores. Start with hummus with hemp seeds, and finish with the fluffernutter sandwich – a sweet proposition. 618 N. Thornton Ave., 407-362-1864. $. Club, Mixeduse/Alternative, American, Vegetarian/Vegan, Coffee/Tea.

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DRUNKEN MONKEY COFFEE BAR Meat, though present on the menu, takes a backseat to healthy vegan and vegetarian fare at this urban coffeehouse. Of note: Liquid-gold soups and hearty vegetarian paella. Banana bread with chocolate chips partners well with the Mojo Jojo, coffee with cinnamon and sweetened condensed milk. Don’t overlook the fresh-squeezed juices. 444 N. Bumby Ave., 407-893-4994. $. Vegetarian/Vegan, Coffee house. EL COQUI MEXICANO It’s an ebullient, familial affair at Rico and Evelyn Martinez’s charming little Latin joint. Mofongo (saffron-hued chicken atop a heap of mashed plantains) bursts with zest, and blazing chicken sopes and hot guacamole are pleasing south-of-the-border plates. Bring your own beer and wine and prepare to be regaled by the owners’ amusing yarns. 2406 E. Washington St., 407-601-4928. $$. Latin American, Mexican, Puerto Rican. ★ ETHOS VEGAN KITCHEN Creative, satisfying meatless fare is the norm at this allvegan restaurant. Mac and cheese is gratifyingly gooey and segues nicely into sheep’s pie with its generous heaping of fluffy mashed potatoes. A cozy outdoor courtyard offers bucolic views of the oaks fringing Lake Ivanhoe, and hosts Sunday brunch and monthly vegan barbecues. 1235 N. Orange Ave., 407-228-3898. $. Vegetarian/Vegan. FLORIDA HOSPITAL CAFETERIA It’s no secret on the health-food circuit that vegetarian and generally healthy food can be found here, thanks to the dietary observances of the founding Seventh Day Adventists. But real chocolate brownies and coffee with caffeine can also be found in the dizzying spread that starts with a pizza/pasta station. 601 E. Rollins St., 407-3035600-1102200. $. NCCAmerican, Vegetarian/ Vegan. FUNKY MONKEY WINE COMPANY Chef Penelope Brown is into the game, and mains like

lean ostrich filet and the bison burger underscore the fact. The Monkey’s decor, like the menu, is a hybrid of Eastern touches and bigcity panache; there’s nothing particularly funky in sight. The ample wine list should please the most cultured of oenophiles. 912 N. Mills Ave., 407-427-1447. $$$. American, Wine. GARDEN CAFE The creative kitchen works exclusively with meatless options to create satisfyingly deceptive Asian dishes like “orange chicken” and “salt-and-pepper ribs.” Some fool the taste buds but others need a die-hard vegetarian’s appreciation. 810 W Colonial Dr, 407-999-9799. Vegetarian/Vegan. GARGI’S The view of Lake Ivanhoe is spectacular – especially at sunset – the menu and decor is classic and classy, and the food is satisfying, if nothing fancy. The experience will cost you, though, and be prepared to wait patiently for a drink, the bill, whatever. 1414 N. Orange Ave., 407-894-7907. $$$. Italian, Pizza. GINNY’S FAMILY DINER Lesser-known than Johnson’s Diner, Ginny’s is a solid, longstanding soul food spot in Parramore. The menu is small, but they know their business: collard greens, sweet potatoes, mac and cheese, stew beef and pound cake are all recommended over the bland meat loaf. The dining room is tiny and the kitchen’s full of heart. 516 S. Parramore Ave., 407-286-7197. $. Southern. GINZA JAPANESE STEAKHOUSE 1101 E. Colonial Drive, 407-896-8968. $$. Japanese. GOFF’S DRIVE IN Lines are long after church for Sunday sundaes and the “best shake in town.” The cement-block building, open since 1948, sits in an industrial area of OBT, but devoted fans make the trek. 212 S. Orange Blossom Trail, 407-425-5599. $. Sweets. ★ THE GREEK CORNER The view of the downtown skyline is spectacular from this nook on Orange Avenue across from Lake Ivanhoe. Dining outside is a must, as is the hearty meze platter, with a sampling of enough Greek specialties – baked feta, gyro meat, braised lamb and traditional salads melitzanosalat and taramosalata – to satisfy the gods on Mount Olympus. 1600 N. Orange Ave., 407-228-0303. $$. Greek, Middle Eastern. HARMONI MARKET A harmonious complement of flavors is the hallmark of this foodie haven. If you’re still hungry after a sensible portion of penne with fig, bacon and blue cheese or a crackly-hot lemon, olive and goat-cheese flatbread, step into the market side of the bifurcated bistro and pick up a chocolate bar or a pint of sorbet. 2305 Edgewater Drive, 407-206-0033. $. Italian. ★ IL PESCATORE Former owner Stefano LaCommare and family have moved on, but in this simple atmosphere their dishes live on, true Italian through and through. Seafood specialties make this spot unique; choosing between all the huge pasta entrees is pleasingly difficult. 651 N. Primrose Drive, 407-896-6763. $$. Italian, Pizza, Seafood. INFUSION TEA Some special places offer more than what’s on the table, and while the teas and veggie snacks are wonderful at this quaint corner spot, just as much nourishment comes from the “third place” environment created by Christina and Brad Cowherd. 1600 Edgewater Drive, 407-999-5255. $. Vegetarian/ Vegan, Coffee/Tea. ITALIAN BEEFSTRO It’s “da beef”: peppery, aromatic, thinly sliced roast beef piled thick on a steamed roll and doused with roasting juices until the bread is soggy with flavor. Classic Chicago dogs and Italian sausage complete the Wrigleyville vibe of the menu. 705 W. Colonial Drive, 407-601-7444. $. Deli/Sandwiches. JADE BISTRO Veteran sushi chefs join seasoned restaurant owners for a truly delightful combination. The multi-nation Asian cuisine is no gimmick, each part of the menu meeting and often exceeding expectations. 2425 Edgewater

Drive, 407-422-7968. $$. Chinese, Japanese/ Sushi, Thai, Pan-Asian. JASON’S DELI This chain deli may not conform to Delancey Street standards, but they know how to construct a sandwich; the reuben is a towering two-fister. Baked potatoes are gargantuan, but the well-stocked salad bar and selection of “healthy heart slimwiches” will appeal to the gym rats from next door. 2915 E. Colonial Drive, 407-898-9806. Deli/Sandwiches. JAX 5TH AVE. DELI & ALE College Park stalwart serves up unaffected, no-nonsense fare. The joint is decidedly more downtown than it is uptown, and though they do take pride in their sandwich-making abilities, Jax is more CP-er’s watering hole of choice than it is a traditional deli. 3400 Edgewater Drive, 407-999-8934. Sports bar, Deli/Sandwiches. JAZZY DOG CAFE Real NYC red-hots – Sabretts and Hebrew National – and Coney Island-style knishes will please New York ex-pats. The namesake dog, with sweet-potato

serve great old standbys, as well as fresh inventions. 2021 E. Colonial Drive, 407-228-4000. $$. Vietnamese. LAGO With a stunning interior and the dishes to match, this Baldwin Park boite is sure to attract from near and far. Stuffed meatballs and ovenroasted beets over baby arugula are wonderfully rustic starters; talent in the kitchen shines through in espresso-rubbed ahi tuna. House-made tiramisu is worthy of superlatives. Extensive wine list offers bottles for any budget. 4979 New Broad St., 407331-5246. $$$$. Italian. LAKESIDE CAFE Florida Hospital Orlando, 601 E. Rollins St., 407-303-5600-1102200. $. Vegetarian/Vegan. ★ LE COQ AU VIN Incredible, affordable French cuisine is the hallmark of this south Orlando landmark. Graceful perfection distinguishes dishes such as “grouper bronze aux dix epices,” a fillet encrusted with toasted pecans and spices and bathed in citrus beurre blanc, and the center-cut black Angus steak, served

Eden Bar Photo by Gregg Matthews

mustard and blue-cheese slaw on a pretzel bun, is a hard act to top, but the California Dog (Swiss, bacon, avocado) comes close. 1311 Sligh Blvd. , 407-428-0633. $. Hot Dogs. JOHNNY’S FILLIN’ STATION Those who throw oaths at such things swear by the halfpound burgers that come off Johnny’s grill. Everything from patties plain or bacon-laden to those served on Texas toast or grilled rye bread to “the Roy,” with sour cream, jalapenos and cheese, is here. The beer’s always cold and now there’s a full liquor bar. 2631 S. Ferncreek Ave., 407-894-6900. Bar/Pub, American, Hamburgers. JULIANA’S RESTAURANT & BAR If you liked the Edgewater Grille, you’ll like Juliana’s; same owners, same menu, same wine list, same ambience. Try the pan-seared mussels, and leave room for dessert. 2306 Edgewater Drive, 407-425-1801. $$$. Italian, Seafood. JULIE’S WATERFRONT There’s good cooking going on at Julie’s on Lake Jennie, far enough south of downtown not to be trendy, but still a lure to locals – from the mayor to the Everyman. Sit in the plastic chairs on the back deck to down the famous fried seafood and pitchers of cold beer. Or go for updated options like veggie quesadillas, hummus and tabouli. 4201 S. Orange Ave., 407-240-2557. $. Seafood. K RESTAURANT Consolidating K Wine Bar and Nonna into one powerhouse has produced harmonious results, and the old space’s din has been dampened thanks to new carpet and velvet curtains. Grilled beef hearts and the K-stack salad are superbly balanced starters; pecan pie is worth the wait. 1710 Edgewater Drive, 407649-9770. $$$. Italian. LAC VIET BISTRO Orlando has some of the best Vietnamese food in the nation, and you’ll find some of it at Lac-Viet, a newcomer on the Vietnamese-flavored stretch of Colonial Drive near Mills Avenue. With a sense of style, they

with a dollop of peppercorn sauce. 4800 S. Orange Ave., 407-851-6980. $$$$. French. LIDO’S ITALIAN RESTAURANT Discovering Lido’s is like stumbling into a family reunion. For a small neighborhood haunt, there’s a wide variety of inexpensive wines, and strict adherence to its motto: old-style cooking in a comfortable atmosphere. 2509 S. Orange Ave., 407-4238933. $$. Italian, Pizza.

LINDA’S LA CANTINA STEAKHOUSE No matter how you slice it, Linda’s La Cantina serves a superb steak and has been doing so for more than a half a century. The surf-and-turf is fantastic. The T-bone steaks are served in mammoth proportions. Though nothing else on the menu is quite so impressive, the atmosphere is pleasant and casual. 4721 E. Colonial Drive, 407-894-4491. $$$. American, Steak. ★ LITTLE SAIGON This place bustles like the high-traffic neighborhood around the intersection of Mills Avenue and Colonial Drive, where it has been serving for more than 12 years. The menu runs the gamut from appetizers to noodle dishes to stir-fries, mixing and matching pork, beef, seafood and vegetables. The combo plates are a good deal. Service and attention are commensurate with inside traffic. 1106 E. Colonial Drive, 407-423-8539. $$. Vietnamese. LOGAN’S BISTRO With a quaint neighborhood location along Virginia Drive, Logan’s is unusual in that it is chef-owned and operated by a husband-and-wife team who have an impressive amount of experience. The homemade soups (no cans!) are impressively delicious, and the fish and chips are authentically British. Don’t miss the herbed goat cheese “cheesecake.” 802 Virginia Drive, 407-898-5688. $$. American, Café/Bistro. LOLA’S GOURMET TO GO This triedand-true eat-in or take-home kitchen holds many treasures. Changing daily, the menu offers sandwiches, soups and entrees ranging

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from Bohemian tilapia to Tuscan chicken to Chinese stir-fry. A great place to get party eats. 2806 Corrine Drive, 407-898-5652. $$. Deli/ Sandwiches, Market, Coffee/Tea. LOLLICUP Bubble teas, invented in Taiwan in the 1980s to appeal to school kids, have taken hold in Orlando. Tapioca pearls, or “boba,” create the illusion of bubbles in the exotic drinks that range from an avocado smoothie to “fourcolor pudding” – all distinguished by the shrinkwrap lid. 1212 E. Colonial Drive, 407-897-1377. $. Sweets, Coffee/Tea. LOVING HUT Formerly a dark cave of a Vietnamese restaurant, the tiny building has been transformed into a sparkling-white temple of oddly delicious veggie dining. The environmentally friendly Loving Hut offers a win-win proposition: Along with more typical Asian options like “noble rice” and “saintly stir-fry,” the menu is stocked with snacks like cheesecake, “golden nuggets” and “happy dogs,” but it’s all vegan. Don’t miss the fresh spring rolls or the “coconut delight.” 2101 E. Colonial Drive, 407-894-5673. $. Vegetarian/Vegan. MEDITERRANEAN DELI An oasis of authenticity, complete with odd decorations, exhilaratingly exotic smells and hearty but inexpensive meals. You’ll find perfect hummus, superior kibbeh and superb gyros, not to mention one of the best spinach pies around. A top spot to eat for $10 or less. 981 W. Fairbanks Ave., 407-5392650. $. Greek, Lebanese, Middle Eastern. MING’S BISTRO Hard to spot, but well worth seeking, Ming’s specializes in the a la “cart” scarfing extravaganza known as dim sum, though spicy beef hot pan with vermicelli and ginger scallion fish fillets are also worthy dishes. Menu descriptions are terse so be sure to ask your red-vested server about the ingredients. 1212 Woodward St., Suite 6, 407-898-9672. $. Chinese. O’BOYS REAL SMOKED BAR-B-Q Unlike other barbecue establishments that serve all smoke and no flavor, O’Boys delivers both with a menu that offers enough variety to satisfy most folks. The sampler platter combines all the favorites of ribs, beef, pork and chicken. If you’re really hungry, an all-you-can-eat special starts after 3 p.m. Don’t skip the side dishes. 924 W. Colonial Drive, 407-425-6269; also 3138 S. Orange Ave., 407-447-7404. $. American, Barbecue. OLV CAFE Equal parts café, wine bar and tapas joint, this inviting spot is a gathering ground for SoDo’s urban patronage. An adequate menu of gourmet items don’t necessarily wow, but petite beef tenders and tuna ceviche are satisfying. Beware desiccated chicken kebabs and too-sweet duck confit flatbread. Assorted mini indulgences are in keeping with the small-plate theme. 25 W. Crystal Lake St., 407-722-5060. $$. American, Café/Bistro, Tapas.

PAXIA ALTA COCINA MEXICANA & TEQUILA LOUNGE College Park spot leads the charge to bring worthy Mexican cuisine to this city. Tangy cactus stems highlight the nopalitos salad; chipotle lends black bean soup an understated bite; and mole poblano and chargrilled skirt steak are worthy of signature-dish status. 2611 Edgewater Drive, 407-420-1155. $$. Mexican. PEI WEI ASIAN DINER P.F. Chang’s snazzy foray into fast-casual dining offers a wide array of affordable pan-Asian cuisine, from noodles to rice bowls to salads. Try the lettuce wraps (filled with minced chicken or chili-seared pork), a signature dish. 3011 E. Colonial Drive, 407-5638777. $. Noodles, Pan-Asian. PH0 88 You won’t need burgers for a fast-food fix once you find this Vietnamese noodle shop. Specializing in gigantic bowls of very thin rice noodles and various cuts of beef submerged in delicately seasoned broth, they also serve the usual exotics of shrimp paste and grilled pork. But the soup’s the thing. 730 N. Mills Ave., 407897-3488. $. Vietnamese.

PHO HOA The chain has moved into Primrose Drive, bringing slow-simmered, delicately seasoned soup with a variety of additions, from basic steak and chicken to acquired tastes like tripe and tendon. Play it safe or explore. 649 N. Primrose Drive, 407-895-6098. $$. Vietnamese.

★ POM POM’S TEAHOUSE & SANDWICHERIA Want interesting sandwiches (yellow curry chicken salad with toasted almonds, red apple and onion), unusual tea (raspberry-rose), killer desserts (lavenderpeppercorn creme brulee), and a cheery atmosphere? Find it all here. Open 24 hours Friday and Saturday. 67 N. Bumby Ave., 407-894-0865. $. Deli/Sandwiches, Coffee/Tea.

QUEEN BEE’S SOUL FOOD RESTAURANT Homey neighborhood eatery serves a hodgepodge of meat-and-threes. Luscious pork chops, mashed potatoes and gravy, hog necks, mac and cheese, baked chicken and creamy black-eyed peas provide the smack; sweet potato pie delivers the knockout punch. 3214 Orange Center Blvd., 407-299-1001. $. NCCSouthern. RAINBOW CAFE Unpretentious cafe inside the Parliament House resort offers standard, not highfalutin, American classics like cheeseburgers, patty melts and satisfyingly saucy chicken wings. The 8-ounce filet mignon offers a decent value, and if you like your teriyaki sauce on the sweet side, opt for the “bartender salad.” Swoon-worthy chocolate cake is gooey-fabulous. 410 N. Orange Blossom Trail , 407-4257571. $$. American. RAINBOW SNO-CONES The original fat-free frozen snack, this simple recipe of shaved ice and a shot of flavored dextrose comes in 55 flavors, from “polar punch” (light blue raspberry) to sour apple. 3116 Corrine Drive, 407-8969105. $. NCCSweets. ROLY POLY SANDWICHES Don’t expect to get a slab of meat between two slices of bread; the Roly Poly is a flour tortilla wrapped around a combo of 50 possible fillings. Pleasant staff help you navigate the enormous menu, full of imaginative entries like the turkey applejack (turkey, Jack cheese, apple butter and mushrooms) or the Thai tuna (tuna, avocado, mango chutney and Thai pepper sauce). 2413 Edgewater Drive, 407-246-1121. $. Deli/Sandwiches. SAIGON MARKET A shopping adventure, Saigon style. You’ll find red perilla, a licoriceflavored leaf eaten with sashimi, and Chinese rehmannia root (used by herbalists to treat fatigue). There’s a whole aisle of fish sauces, and hard-to-find black rice vinegar that’s sweet enough to use alone on a salad. 1232 E. Colonial Drive, 407-898-6899. $. Market. ★ SEA THAI Yet another Asian entry on the eastern edge of the ViMi district, SEA Thai’s menu is also edgy; house specialties include a jazzed-up “South East Asia pad thai” with prawns, and pineapple duck curry offers crispy boneless meat covered with pineapple and red curry-cream sauce. 3812 E. Colonial Drive, 407895-0985. $$. Thai. SHAKERS AMERICAN CAFE The tiny cottage has served its tried-and-true breakfast and lunch menu for ages without becoming outdated. There’s not much space inside, so many lunch fans order takeout, aided by the daily update of specials on their website. 1308 Edgewater Drive, 407-422-9227. $. American, Breakfast, Deli/Sandwiches, Diner. SHIN JUNG At this tiny place with no-frills decor but exotic Korean cuisine, a 10-item barbecue list offers stalwart diners authentic choices such as unmarinated beef tongue. The less skittish might try hawe nang myun, a cold noodle dish served with hot-spiced stingray. Let the servers steer you. 1638 E. Colonial Drive, 407-895-7345. $$. Korean. SMOKEY BONES BARBEQUE It’s a cross between a mountain lodge and a sports bar. The hook is Rocky Mountain-style barbecue, dating back to a smoker fashioned from a piece of the

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famous pipeline. There’s nothing out of the ordinary, but it’s done well. 3400 E. Colonial Drive, 407-894-1511. $$. American, Barbecue. SOCIAL CHAMELEON Calm, cool and collected neighborhood sanctuary proffers pizza and peace of mind along with a diverse selection of microbrews, organic wines and sangria. Liberal garnishing makes winners out of the pizzas; among the Mediterranean tapas, grape leaves are an absolute delight. Genial (and dogfriendly) service. 2406 E. Robinson St., 407715-2138. $. Mediterranean, Pizza, Tapas.

SOPRANO’S RISTORANTE & PIZZERIA Family-style joint serves Italian traditionals of the parmigiana, scaloppine and marsala varieties, as well as upscale entries like salmon carpaccio – thin shavings of smoked salmon with capers, onions and diced tomatoes, drizzled with olive oil. At the pizza ovens, the hot boxes are moved out at the pace of a mad ballet. 3990 Curry Ford Road, 407-895-9334. $$. Italian, Pizza. SOUPS & STEWS BY LEA Soup mecca offers slurpers a wide variety – finding the ones that work is the fun part. Seasonal pumpkin soup is a soothing puree; Godfather’s chicken stew, a can’t-miss concoction of comfort. Paninis, wraps and salads are also offered and can be combined with soups for value meals. 417 E. Michigan St., 321-504-4004. $. American. ★ STARDUST VIDEO & COFFEE When you’re done renting those obscure German Expressionist films, stumble over to the coffeebooze-and-food side to fulfill other, less cerebral appetites. A tightly edited selection of fresh sandwiches and salads offers something for everyone – carnivores, vegetarians and vegans alike. 1842 E. Winter Park Road, 407-623-3393. $. All-ages club, Vegetarian/Vegan, Coffee/Tea. STONEWALL BISTRO While Stonewall Bistro’s drab edifice is reminiscent of a gun shop, the inside suggests a laid-back neighborhood bar. Try “Rob’s fabulous roast beef on rye,” a satisfactory sandwich jacked with horseradish and chive havarti, and don’t miss the cheesecake made by Winter Garden’s Sweet Guys when it’s available. 741 W. Church St., 407-373-0888. Café/Bistro. TAP ROOM AT DUBSDREAD Historic dining destination on the grounds of Orlando’s oldest public golf course offers simple, impeccably prepared dishes. Pot roast makes an ideal meatand-potatoes nosh and homemade key lime pie is a must. Crowds peter out after 9 p.m. 549 W. Par St., 407-650-0100. $$$. Club, American. TASTE RESTAURANT A unique entry in the increasingly pleasing restaurant scene in College Park, Taste serves little dishes with big flavors. A “California tapas” place, every plate is under $10 and designed to share – if you can bear to part with them. Bring a crowd and enjoy it all. 717 W. Smith St., 407-835-0646. $$. Live music club, American, Café/Bistro, Tapas. TASTY THAI The minimal interior is a perfect foil for a complex menu, with flavors that come together in sweet, surprising ways. Grilled, roasted and stir-fried meats merge with combinations of lemongrass, curry, chilies, cilantro, ginger and coconut milk. Service is thoughtful and gracious. 3806 Curry Ford Road, 407-8956266. $. Thai. TASTY WOK You’ll be saying “thank you” repeatedly to your quick-to-educate servers at this modest corner barbecue and noodle house. Singapore rice noodles are a don’t-miss, and roast duck and chicken offer a proper juicy-tocrisp ratio. 1246 E. Colonial Drive, 407-8968988. $. Chinese. THAI HOUSE No nouveau-fusion cuisine here – just authentic fare, from the tom kha gai (chicken-coconut soup) to truly wonderful pad thai. Don’t let the silly names stop you; “Smokey and the Bandit” – a small tureen of smoked shrimp, glass noodles and veggies – is loaded


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with the flavors of chili and ginger. 2117 E. Colonial Drive, 407-898-0820. $$. Thai. THEO’S KITCHEN Head into this hole in the wall for the superbly seasoned fried chicken – everyone else does. But the lamb gyros, stuffed grape leaves, hummus, falafel and other Syrian/ Greek standbys are just as worthy. Prices are dirt-$. 435 E. Michigan Street, 407-849-0810. $. Greek, Middle Eastern, Southern. TIM’S WINE MARKET Tony wine shop perched on Ivanhoe Row, overlooking the lake. Hundreds of possibilities, supported by a friendly staff and wine tastings. 1223 N. Orange Ave., (407) 895-9463. $. . ★ TONY’S DELI There are tables inside, but Tony’s is designed for easy, delicious takeout – perfect for lunch and handy for a $, healthy dinner. All the usual suspects – baba ghanoush, hummus, tabouli – as well as pickled beets, fava beans, fatoosh and more can be packed into 8-, 16- or 32-ounce packages. Don’t forget sweet pistachio baklava for dessert. 1323 N. Mills Ave., 407-898-6689. $$. Greek, Middle Eastern, Vegetarian/Vegan. TOOJAY’S DELI Gourmet deli holds its own with regards to tradition, doing justice to chopped liver, matzo-ball soup and cheese blintzes. But the menu opens up to contemporary palates as well with California turkey wraps, garlic-chicken pasta, omelets and burgers. Don’t leave without a black-and-white cookie. 2400 E. Colonial Drive, 407-894-1718. $. American, Breakfast, Deli/Sandwiches, Diner. TWIST ASIA FUSION 45 W. Crystal Lake St. 407-648-9898. $$$$. Japanese, Chinese, Thai. TWISTED BLISS ICE CREAM Walk-up window dispenses daily-changing menu of homemade Italian ices (such as banana cream pie, cookie dough or Red Bull) that can either be scooped alone or swirled with fresh soft-serve, then topped with a variety of sweet goodies.

There’s an attached outdoor patio where you can sit and contemplate the results of your dabbling in the frozen arts. 1807 N. Orange Ave., 407484-2653. $. Sweets. VIET GARDEN This cozy eatery has been a mainstay since 1994. The service has been polished up, but what makes us go back is the consistently fresh food. Don’t miss the golden pancake, one of the best Vietnamese crepes in town. 1237 E. Colonial Drive, 407-896-4154. $. Thai, Vegetarian/Vegan, Vietnamese. VINH’S With its extensive, varied menu, Vinh’s is a good place to explore the contrasts of Vietnamese food – from traditional barbecue pork rolls and substantial soups to eclectic dishes such as lotus roots with shrimp, pork and “sour salad.” 1231 E. Colonial Drive, 407894-5007. $. Thai, Vietnamese. WHITE WOLF CAFE With its quirky, romantic setting and easy pace, this antique-marketturned-bar-and-cafe is a landmark hangout on the cluttered strip of Orange Avenue that lies on the fringes of downtown. The menu is eclectic as well, with vegetarian burgers, Middle Eastern fare and focaccia pizzas, as well as entrees like three-cheese lasagna and cedar-plank salmon. 1829 N. Orange Ave., 407-895-9911. $$. Club, American, Café/Bistro. WILFREDO’S Possessing the location of the former Gargi’s like a benevolent spirit, Wilfredo’s serves simple but passionately prepared Italian dishes. Owner Wilfren Giraldo brings 40 years of experience to the tiny room, perfect for special occasions and that next romantic meal. 1421 N. Orange Ave., 407-228-0300. $$$. Italian, Pizza.

WINTER PARK AREA 310 PARK SOUTH With its bistro tables clustered outside and its French doors flung open to posh Park Avenue, this cafe exudes casual,

ANTONIO’S CAFE DOWNSTAIRS A favorite alternative to its fancier upstairs sister, Antonio’s downstairs deli offers counter service and full table service. But be prepared to have your dining space invaded by shoppers browsing the gourmet goodies. 611 S. Orlando Ave., Maitland, 407-645-1035. $$. Italian, Pizza.

ANTONIO’S LA FIAMMA RESTAURANT Smart and sophisticated without being imposing, Antonio’s serves a first-rate combination of atmosphere and cuisine. Sauces are the heart of chef Sebastian Santangelo’s creations – like a double-thick sauteed veal chop in a cognac sauce, or zuppa di pesce, a mixed bag of seafood in an herbed broth. 611 S. Orlando Ave., Maitland, 407-645-1035. $$$. Café/Bistro, Italian, Pizza. AUTHENTIC CUBAN CAFE It doesn’t have to be midnight for Park Avenue patrons to enjoy a medianoche sandwich. Mothers with strollers stand alongside businessmen in Armani sunglasses just to get a taste of the sweet, hot pressed bread, made in-house and filled with the traditional Cuban sandwich accoutrements. Breakfast is also served, as are cruelly sweet desserts. 133 E. Morse Blvd., Winter Park, 407629-2822. $. Cuban. sophisticated charm. But look again: The menu is filled with burgers, pasta and salads – a restaurant for the people. 310 S. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407-647-7277. $$. Bar/Pub, American, Café/Bistro. ALLEGRIA RESTAURANT Allegria offers a joyous Italian experience, just off Park Avenue. Savor the house antipasto (cheeses, polenta, sausage in red pepper sauce) over a glass of wine from the vast menu. The pollo Rosario beats all: chicken topped with sun-dried tomatoes, shrimp and pink garlic-vodka sauce. 115 E. Lyman Ave., Winter Park, 407-628-1641. $$. Italian, Pizza.

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THE BISTRO ON PARK AVENUE Considering the prime Park Avenue location, it’s natural to expect something beyond the ordinary, but there’s nothing special here. If you’re looking for a decent selection of sandwiches and salads, along with a few choices of wine to help while away the time as you perch at a sidewalk table, you’ll do fine. 348 N. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407-539-6520. $$. American, Café/Bistro. ★ BLACK BEAN DELI After dishing out homespun favorites since the mid-’80s, Black Bean has changed hands – from aunt to nephew – and there’s a new vitality to the kitchen. Lunch platters are a bargain; tender roast chicken has a

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citrusy tang, pork is marinated and slow-cooked and the black beans are dandy. 325 S. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 407-628-0294. $. Cuban.

BOSPHOROUS TURKISH CUISINE Orlando’s only Turkish restaurant serves delightful fare with many lamb, eggplant and yogurtcentered dishes. Not only is the food superb, it’s also a nice place to sit while smoking scented tobacco from their water pipes and/or enjoying a glass of Turkish wine. 108 S. Park Ave. , Winter Park, 407-644-8609. $$$. Middle Eastern, Armenian, Turkish. BOSTON’S FISH HOUSE Orders are placed at the counter and payment settled, customers are steered to a vacant table – if there is one. Most seafood is fried, and Ipswich clams are a house specialty. 6860 Aloma Ave., Winter Park, 407-678-2107. $. Seafood. BRIAR PATCH Primo location on Park Avenue guarantees a steady influx of old fans and curious newcomers. What keeps them coming back is the front-porch coziness and the creative menu. Beware the long lines around breakfast/ lunch on weekends – there are many who are willing to wait. 252 N. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407-628-8651. $$. American, Breakfast. BRIO TUSCAN GRILLE With a stylish atmosphere and well-executed menus, Brio excels at flatbread pizzas and wood-grilled steak. A bakery adds warmth to this bustling eatery at Winter Park Village. Try the “Bellini brunch” on weekends. 480 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 407-622-5611. $$. Italian, Pizza, Steak. BROOKLYN PIZZA , expatriate New Yorkers, your prayers have been answered; Brooklynstyle pizza is here. Trading on a family tradition going back 40 years, Brooklyn Pizza delivers (and yes, they do deliver) the kind of handmade, authentic pies you knew as a kid, along with subs and baked dinners. 1881 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park, 407-622-7499. $. Italian, Pizza.

★ BUBBALOU’S BODACIOUS BAR-BQUE Follow the siren smell of smoky, sweet meats: pork, chicken, beef, turkey, sausage, lamb and, for BBQ rebels, gizzards and livers. At meal times, expect to fight your way to a table at this award-winner. 1471 Lee Road, Winter Park, 407-628-1212. $. American, Barbecue. BUCA DI BEPPO Eclectic Italian eatery on the former Bubble Room site is as kitschy as its predecessor. Everything is done in a big way, with every inch of wall space garishly festooned with memorabilia and an army of waiters delivering enormous portions – pizzas as big as countertops, foot-long lasagna. Reservations are essential. 1351 S. Orlando Ave., Maitland, 407622-7663. $$. Italian, Pizza. CAFE 118 The raw food movement sprouts at Cafe 118¬∞, where raw ingredients supplant all manner of cooked comestibles. Macadamia- and cashew-based “cheeses” are central ingredients in crunchy chiles rellenos and refreshing basil wrappers, while portobello steak takes on the appearance of filleted tenderloin, right down to the “pan juices.” Fresh fruit-and-vegetable juices, like beet and green apple, are splendid. 153 E. Morse Blvd., Winter Park, 407-389-2233. $$$. Vegetarian/Vegan. CAFE DE FRANCE Low-key boite on highprofile Park Avenue shuns the weighty and complicated for traditional and simple cuisine not sauced into submission. Classics like escargots a l’ail and French onion soup are textbook renditions, while Bloody Mary bisque is an airy, though scorching, starter. To finish: chocolate souffle and profiteroles. 526 S. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407-647-1869. $$$$. French. THE CHEESECAKE FACTORY More than 30 varieties of cheesecake complement the meal, though it’s OK to pick up a piece at the takeout counter. Wonderful from beginning to end. 520 N. Orlando Ave. Suite 100, Winter Park, 407644-4220. $$$. American, Sweets.

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CHEF HANS CAFE Homey little hideaway offers up a Bohemian rhapsody of Eastern European fare, with filling schnitzels, comforting goulash and peppery paprikash leading the way. The spaetzle is perfectly pillowy and a worthy starch to any of the dishes. Save room for flaky apple strudel and wonderful seven-layer cake. 3716 Howell Branch Road, Winter Park, 407657-2230. $$$. German. CHEZ VINCENT Housed along the spiffed-up streetscape in a happening enclave west of Park Avenue, the 15-table Chez Vincent serves seductive French cuisine in a casual, cosmopolitan atmosphere. It’s a strong contender among the area’s finest. 533 W. New England Ave., Winter Park, 407-599-2929. $$$. Café/Bistro, French. CHIPOTLE Good as chain burrito places go, this McDonald’s “concept” restaurant offers enormous tortilla-wrapped torpedoes stuffed with beef, chicken or free-range pork and a goodly amount of sautéed veggies and rice. The vegetarian black beans are good and the salsas have a nice kick. 525 S. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 407-628-3207. $. Mexican. CIRCA 1926 There’s good chemistry in the kitchen of this attractive Park Avenue boite where chef James Slattery procures consistent and creatively plated dishes. Of note: seared tuna tacos folded in jicama shells; pan-seared wreckfish atop creamy sweet corn risotto; and blackened prime rib. Strawberry-banana butter cake ends your meal on a light and airy note. Take the apr√®smeal affair upstairs to the slick SoBe-style lounge. 358 N. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407-637-5903. $$$$. American, Café/Bistro. COLDSTONE CREAMERY Drawing crowds of the lactose-tolerant who snap it up when servers slap great heaps of ice cream directly onto a refrigerated marble counter. Then they’ll fold in any number of additions, from fruit to candy bars to gummy bears. 601 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 407-539-1644. $. Sweets. CUP O’ SOUL CAFE Possibly the coziest cafe in town, and a labor of love for husband-andwife tandem Bob and Dawn Frauman, who converted a former real-estate office into a homey little perk pad offering coffee drinks as well as sandwiches, soups and salads. 711-A Orange Ave., Winter Park, 407-647-7685. Coffee/Tea. DEXTER’S OF WINTER PARK This reinvented landmark on Hannibal Square offers an elevated wine experience, with a sommelier on staff, a vault of rare vintages and 30 wines you can try by the glass. The dinner menu remains constant, but the cafe menu adds variety with seasonal items. 558 W. New England Ave., Winter Park, 407-629-1150. $$. Bar/Pub, American, Café/Bistro, Wine. EDEN BAR Enzian Theater’s outdoor bar/ restaurant is a feature worth catching. Some interesting Austro-Hungarian staples keep the menu interesting, while a nice selection of salads, sandwiches and pizzas keep moviegoers satisfied. Skip dessert and pound back a specialty cocktail or Austrian beer instead. 1300 S. Orlando Ave., Maitland, 407-629-1088. Bar/ Pub, Restaurant. EDEN’S FRESH CO. A garden of leafy delights awaits salad lovers tired of Sweet Tomatoes. Create your own bowl or wrap from 37 “tossings” and 12 dressings, or choose one of their featured recipes, like the Mediterraneaninspired Athena or the refreshingly sweet and delightfully nutty Daisy. 1330 N. Orange Ave., Winter Park, 407-647-3336. $. Deli/ Sandwiches, Vegetarian/Vegan. EL BODEGON Winter Park tapas joint offers the sort of fare enjoyed by bar-hoppers all over the Iberian peninsula. Hot tapas plates like shrimp in garlicky sherry wine sauce and empanadas with salt cod will bring out your selfish side. Skip dessert and order more sangria. 400 S. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 407-6281078. $$$. Spanish, Tapas. ENZIAN THEATER Food and film: It’s an odd


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combination, but it works, even if there are a few interruptions while watching the movie. Order staples like buttered popcorn, soft pretzels or chocolate-chip cookies, or get fancy with creative starters and sandwiches (including a good vegetarian selection). Desserts are heavenly and the wait staff sweats the details. 1300 S. Orlando Ave., Maitland, 407-629-0054. $$. Bar/ Pub, American, Theater. EUROPOL POLISH DELI Neither the plain storefront (home of the former Warzawa), buried in the plaza at the juncture of Aloma Avenue and State Road 436, nor the spare shotgun interior indicates the wealth of stock inside: frozen homemade pierogi, fresh rye bread, Polish butter and a dozen kinds of sausage. 3090 Aloma Ave., Winter Park, 407-678-0909. $. Eastern European, Polish. FAMOUS PHIL’S CHEESESTEAKS It’s all things Philadelphia at Phil’s, but the cheese steaks don’t quite live up to that heritage; they’re good, not great. We can’t say the same about the hoagies or the side dishes, so follow the crowd and stick to the cheese steaks. 7542 University Blvd., Winter Park, 407-677-8325. $. Deli/Sandwiches. ★ FIDDLER’S GREEN Draft ales, lagers and stouts, plus traditional Irish fare (corned beef and cabbage) and more ambitious offerings such as grilled salmon with champagne sauce. This pub proves that a focus on flavor, presentation and service can spell “gourmet” for Irish cuisine. 544 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park, 407-645-2050. $. Bar/Pub, Irish. FLEMING’S STEAKHOUSE Paul Fleming, the “P.F.” in P.F. Chang’s, brings another high-end steakhouse to Winter Park, with an emphasis on wine. Typically wood and leather in styling, Fleming’s offers aged, hand-cut beef in huge, thick-as-a-brick servings and family-style side dishes, giant seafood entrees and enormous desserts. Big and beefy. 933 N.

Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 407-699-9463. $$$$. American, Steak. FOUR RIVERS SMOKEHOUSE It’s all about the ridiculously good smoked-to-perfection Angus beef brisket at this Texas-style smokehouse – just be prepared to wait in the everpresent line. Heady sides set this barbecue joint apart from the rest: smoked corn relish, sweet and meaty baked beans, and cream-cheesestuffed jalapenos wrapped in bacon. Parking can be tough to find. 2103 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park, 407-474-8377. $$. American, Barbecue. FUJI SUSHI Simple, subdued and tasteful setting to enjoy some of the most sumptuous sushi in the Winter Park area. Named after local points of interest, items include the “Orlando Magic roll,” prepared with soft-shell crab and chopped vegetables, and the “Lee Road roll” with eel and salmon skin. They pay attention to detail, and it shows. 1449 Lee Road, Winter Park, 407-6451299. $$. Japanese/Sushi. GEORGE’S GOURMET COOKIES George has been making more than a dozen kinds of decadent cookies, as well as ultrathick brownies and dessert bars, since 1989. Each cookie is about the size of a saucer, loaded with things like dark gourmet chocolate, fresh-roasted peanuts, sweet cranberries and whole cherries. The shop also offers sandwiches, soups and droolinducing gift baskets. 947 Orange Ave., Winter Park, 407-628-4491. $. Sweets, Bakery. GIOVANNI’S Chain operated by three brothers from New York is bright and immaculate, with comfy booths and a family atmosphere. For heartier appetites, the paglia e fieno papalina combines green and white pasta with ham, mushrooms and peas in a creamy tomato sauce. 1915 Aloma Ave., Winter Park, 407-673-8800. $$. Italian, Pizza. GIZMO SUSHI Gizmo makes a wide variety of well-constructed rolls. The location doesn’t

Shin Japanese Cuisine

Photo by Gregg Matthews

justify the prices, but the food does, and the Korean ownership of the restaurant means some atypical selections. A decent selection of noodles, rice bowls and grilled dishes rounds out the menu. A comfortable hang. 110 S. Semoran Blvd., Winter Park, 407-677-5800. $$. Bar/Pub, Japanese/Sushi. GREEK FLAME TAVERNA Stuffing is a specialty at this family-run, family-friendly Greek outpost in Winter Park – stuffing of diners, that is, with traditional recipes courtesy of the Chrisanthidis family. Comfortable surroundings support the home-style flavor of appetizers like flaming saganaki and the “Hercules platter,” with helpings of beef, lamb, moussaka and pastitsio. 1560 N. Semoran Blvd., Winter Park, 407-6782388. $. Greek. GREEN LEMON CAFE Quaint café specializes in crepes of both the sweet and savory kind. Pesto-heavy chicken Florentine is a fave, while turkey and brie with green apple slices is a more subtle offering. The absence of crepes suzette is disappointing, but there’s plenty to assuage your

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sugar cravings. A brunch menu is offered weekend mornings. 1945 Aloma Ave., Winter Park, 407-673-0225. $. Deli/Sandwiches, French. HOT OLIVES This stylish-but-cozy Hannibal Square eatery continues its evolution toward upscale fusion with an expanded menu, highlights of which include mouth-watering “spicy fried olive” appetizers and a variety of tender fish entrees. Trust your waiter’s informed suggestions and you almost can’t go wrong. 463 W. New England Ave., Winter Park, 407-629-1030. $$$. American, Continental, Mediterranean. HOUSE OF KABOB Inside the generic but sunny interior lies an adventure into Persian fast food: skewered meats. The grilled Middle Eastern staple comes in beef, chicken and fish varieties that can be made into sandwiches and salads or ordered as a platter with saffron rice and “shiraz” salad. Lemony sumac is one of the spices that gently infuse everything with rich flavor. 360 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park, 407645-0413. $$. Middle Eastern, Persian. HOUSTON’S A limited menu tries to compensate with huge portions, especially the salads and desserts. Pork ribs, steaks, chicken and a fish of the day, all served in a wood-accented, masculine setting with a lake view from every seat. 215 S. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 407740-4005. $$. American, Barbecue, Steak.

JEREMIAH’S ORIGINAL ITALIAN ICE It’s like a sorbet only more slushy. It’s not a snow cone, although it does come in a cup, in not-too-sweet and refreshing flavors such as mango, kiwi, tangerine, watermelon, red raspberry and passionfruit. Whatever you call it, it’s different and delicious. 6864 Aloma Ave., Winter Park, 407-679-2665. $. Sweets. KAPPY’S SUBMARINES Downscale landmark near the Enzian Theater dishes out ‘50s-style classics: Philly cheese steaks, onion rings, hot dogs and root-beer floats. There’s no

carhop service these days, but there’s a sliver of counter space inside; hop up on a swiveling stool and stuff your face. 501 N. Orlando Ave., Maitland, 407-647-9099. $. Deli/Sandwiches, Diner, Hot Dogs. KATA THAI KITCHEN & SUSHI BAR Kata breaks the mold of your typical Thai restaurant with its contemporary design and chef Ron Prampree’s sushi rolls and fusion dishes. Plantain-filled Havana rolls are pleasantly sweet, while kimchi and yuzu juice provide sufficient fire to the spicy conch/octopus. Silky green tea and red bean ice cream are standout dessert options. 610 W. Morse Blvd., Winter Park, 407388-3729. $$. Thai. KELLER’S REAL SMOKED BAR-B-Q Todd Keller has pulled the recipes of his father (of Fat Boys fame) out of lockdown to bring his authentic barbecue to Winter Park. The meats – chicken, pork and beef – are the star, tender and infused with the flavor of pure blackjack oak. 7756 University Blvd. , Winter Park, 407-3881222. $. American, Barbecue. LA GRANJA Call it Latin American comfort food or call it a carbohydrate curse: Spicy beef, chicken and pork are accompanied by hefty helpings of rice, beans and french fries. The meat’s the star of the meal; skip the bland sides. 490 N. Semoran Blvd., Winter Park, 407-6770001. $. Latin American.

LA NACIONAL HISPANO AMERICAN GROCERY You’ll find everything you need to inspire a home-cooked Spanish feast at this Hispanic Market, or the option for $ takeout specials such as roast chicken, stewed beans, rice, flan and a soda that don’t skimp on taste. 3090 Aloma Ave., Winter Park, 407-673-7720. $. Market. LACOMKA BAKERY & DELI The multicultural mix of foods from Russia includes whole smoked herrings so tender that they spread like pate. Potato dumplings and borscht worthy of a stay at the Summer Palace are also served. On your way out, buy a box of Czar Nicholas Royal Tea or take home some meat and cheese blintzes. 2050 Semoran Blvd., Winter Park, 407677-1101. $. Eastern European, Russian.

LOWE’S GOOD EATON SOUL FOOD Southern kitchen in the heart of Eatonville fuses Caribbean offerings with comfort-food standards. Curry chicken and oxtails are satisfying, but the fried chicken, corn bread (arguably the best in the city) and desserts set this joint apart from others. If sweet potato pie is available, get two pieces. 429 E. Kennedy Blvd., Maitland, 407-647-7955. $. Caribbean, Diner, Southern. LUMA ON PARK Foodies are hot for the innovative fare at this Park Avenue star. The atmosphere is lively and suitable for large parties. There’s a great wine selection and the small plates encourage sharing. Or go for one of the fabulous entrees, such as duck with butternut squash and lemon confit. The exquisite dessert menu stands alone, as does the weekend brunch. 290 S. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407-5994111. $$$. American. MELLOW MUSHROOM This Atlanta mainstay is expanding throughout the Southeast and this is their first location in Orlando. The quasi-hippie vibe means you can get tofu on your pizza and it still tastes good; a menu of hoagies and superb salads, as well as more traditional pizzas, make this a chain you don’t have to feel guilty about loving. 2015 Aloma Ave., Winter Park, 407-657-7755. $. Bar/Pub, Deli/ Sandwiches, Pizza, Vegetarian/Vegan. THE MELTING POT Popular fondue spot where entrees include seafood, beef, chicken and vegetarian options prepared either in cholesterol-free peanut oil or a less traditional court bouillon seasoned broth. But the real treat is dessert, and the raspberry milk-chocolate fondue. Reservations suggested. 500 E. Horatio Ave., Maitland, 407-628-1134. $$$. Fondue. MI TOMATINA PAELLA BAR Hannibal

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Square tapas bar impresses patrons with its lineup of hot and cold small plates and rice dishes. Mushroom caps stuffed with serrano ham, authentic tortilla con chorizo, and vegetarian paella full of meaty wild mushrooms spark the palate. A nice selection of Spanish wines and sherries ensures authenticity. 433 W. New England Ave. , Winter Park, 321-972-4881. $$. Spanish, Tapas. MOE’S SOUTHWEST GRILL Moe’s boasts of using fresh ingredients to build tacos, burritos and fajitas that unfortunately are difficult to tell apart. Quesadillas are the best thing on the menu; everything else is a blur of cold cheese, beans and lettuce wrapped in a tortilla. 847 S. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 407-629-4500. $$. Mexican. O’BOYS REAL SMOKED BAR-B-Q Unlike other barbecue establishments that serve all smoke with no flavor, O’Boys delivers both, with a menu that offers enough variety to satisfy most folks. The sampler platter combines all the yummy favorites of ribs, beef, pork and chicken. If you’re really hungry, an “all-you-can-eat” special starts after 3 p.m. Don’t skip the side dishes. 565 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park, 407-478-6269. $. American, Barbecue. ORCHID restaurant on the northern end of Park Avenue infuses an artistic sensibility into every dish. Infernal green curry, larb chicken and flaky curry pastry puffs all come plated with orchids, as does palate-soothing Thai iced tea. 305 N. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407-331-1400. $$. Thai. ★ P.F. CHANG’S CHINA BISTRO With its chic trappings and sophisticated service, this chain restaurant at the Winter Park Village alters the concept of Chinese dining. The innovative menu forgoes the traditional for unique alternatives such as “Chang’s chicken in soothing lettuce wraps” and pan-fried Peking dumplings. 436 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 407-6220188. $$. Chinese. P.R.’S TACO PALACE Typical Tex-Mex fare plus specialties like blackened shrimp fajitas served amid pinatas, beer banners and boozy graffiti. When a train rumbles by, tequila shots sell for $1.75. 499 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park, 407-645-2225. $$. Mexican. PALMANO’S ESPRESSO BAR Feel the flavor of Old Park Avenue at this “coffee roastery” in a classy storefront. The coffee is meticulously fresh-roasted and packaged by the bean or by the cup; the basics are covered, as well as seasonal specialties to enjoy in the garden. 331 S. Park Ave., Suite B, Winter Park, 407-647-7520. $. Coffee/Tea. PARIS-BISTRO Have no fears about the newest venture of the talented Marlot family, who worked miracles at their former bistro, Le Bon Appetit in Ocoee. The handmade terrine du chef is back, as are other favorites, but the stars of this show are the duck with peaches and the owners’ charm. 3586 Aloma Ave., Winter Park, 407-671-4424. $$. French.

PARK AVE. PIZZA & ITALIAN RESTAURANT In this no-frills place, the delivery guy might double as your server. But the pizzas, sold by the slice or the pie, are outstanding, with dough hand-tossed before your eyes. Skip the appetizers and salads, but try the baked ziti, in a tangy sauce mixed with plenty of ricotta and mozzarella. 119 E. Lyman Ave., Winter Park, 407-599-9199. $$. Italian, Pizza. PARK PLAZA GARDENS This is the place to go for ambitious dishes served in a classy atmosphere. Hang out on the sidewalk and check out the beautiful people, sidle up to the intimate bar or go all-out at the “patio” restaurant in the back. 319 S. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407-6452475. $$$$. Bar/Pub, American, Continental. PATSIO’S DINER A particularly good restaurant to try late at night when your group can’t agree on what to eat. The American fare is well-executed visit after visit, but Greek is what’s interesting here. Standouts include the spanakopita, pastitsio and dolmades. 1419 S.


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Semoran Blvd., Winter Park, 407-677-8073. $$. Diner, Greek. THE PITA PIT See listing in Downtown region. 140 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park, 407478-8688. $. Deli/Sandwiches. PIZZERIA VALDIANO The smells will have you drooling at the front door of this casual hangout serving the basics, along with specialties like pizza gamberetti (shrimp, oil and garlic), Fiorentina (spinach and artichoke) and Valdiano (sausage, pepperoni, meatballs and veggies). The crust is bread-like and crisp at the same time. 510 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 407628-5333. $. Italian, Pizza. POWER HOUSE CAFE in 1970, the simple eatery with an active lunch counter is what used to be called a “health-food restaurant.” Pitas and salads rule, as does the delicacy that singlehandedly revived the blender – the smoothie. 111 E. Lyman Ave., Winter Park, 407-645-3616. $. Middle Eastern, Vegetarian/Vegan. THE RAVENOUS PIG Frills are as sophisticated as the fare at this Winter Park gastropub. Nantucket Bay scallops in balsamic brown butter and grilled quail with made-in-house sausage underscore talent in the kitchen, as do mains like wonderfully tender porcini-marinated flatiron steak and olive-crusted loin of lamb. Chocoholics will rave over thick chocolate-chili pots de creme. 1234 N. Orange Ave., Winter Park, 407-628-2333. $$$. Bar/Pub, American, Brewpub. ROCCO’S ITALIAN GRILLE A polished yet comfortable interior and a range of regional Italian fare is sure to delight discriminating diners with such singularly pleasing dishes as the lombata di vitello alla Milanese, golden-crisp veal Milanese and the frutti di mare. Even simple herb-grilled chicken is impeccably prepared, and desserts, such as creamy tiramisu and dense, milky gelato, are heavenly. 400 S. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 407-644-7770. $$$$. Italian.

RUTH’S CHRIS STEAK HOUSE Weighing in heavily on the masculine side of the topdollar dining spectrum, the ambience, menu and service here are powerfully delivered. The New Orleans-based chain serves only aged meats from corn-fed Hereford cows, seared on an 1,800-degree grill – so tender a knife isn’t necessary. For expense accounts and special occasions. 610 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 407-622-2444. $$$$. American, Steak. SAIKYO SUSHI BAR AND GRILL A wooden footbridge to the front door and a small tatami seating area enhance the feng shui in this swanky Japanese restaurant. The uncomplicated menu offers a to-the-point collection of sashimi and sushi plus other Japanese entrees such as sukiyaki, teriyaki and tempura. Service is professionally low-key. 2522 Aloma Ave., Winter Park, 407-673-8294. $$. Japanese/Sushi. SAKURA SUSHI & SAKE BAR Occupying the former site of Shiki, Sakura preserves the tradition of satisfying sushi in its brightly colored confines. Don’t be daunted by the menu with 150 items on the first page alone, and don’t expect much out of the sake selection. 525 S. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407-740-8018. $$. Japanese/Sushi. SAZON 436 A humble little joint this is not. Parlor-chic confines coupled with a menu of traditional and Nuevo Latino fare makes this place a winner. Braised short ribs with starchy yaut√≠a offers a plateful of comfort. Guavaglazed cheesecake and leche con café go hand-in-hand. 1555 Semoran Blvd., Winter Park, 407-628-9447. $$. Puerto Rican.

SCHAKOLAD CHOCOLATE FACTORY Leave it to the Schakolad to improve on an Easter tradition – offering biker bunnies on milkchocolate motorcycles. There are many other melt-in-your-mouth designs, and the artisans behind the counter can create almost any shape you want, from martini glasses to sugar lips.

480 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 407-6774114. $. Sweets, Market. SEITO SUSHI Immaculate and stylish, this Japanese restaurant is a welcome addition to the sushi scene. The menu is brief and offers all the usual suspects – sushi, sashimi, teriyaki and tempura. Every dish is carefully prepared and gracefully presented. 510 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 407-644-5050. $$. Japanese/Sushi. SEOUL GARDENS may wince after a bite of pickled radish and tongues might burn after tearing into tangles of fiery kimchi; nostrils will flare at the peppery blast of the spicy fish broth with clams and tofu. The heat in the kimchi pancake won’t offer much relief, but rice dishes temper the spice, as does refreshing cinnamon tea. 511 E. Horatio Ave., Maitland, 407-5995199. $$. Korean. SIAM GARDEN This neat and unassuming new entry jumps out from the growing competition with a fusion of Indian, Burmese, Laotian, Malaysian and Chinese influenced cuisine. The mee krob appetizer is a must: crunchy fried noodles tossed with sweet tamarind-tomato sauce, with shrimp, bean sprouts and green onions. 1111 W. Webster Ave., Winter Park, 407-599-7443. $. Thai. SPICE MODERN STEAKHOUSE Manny Tato’s steakhouse is a magnet for fashionistas, but top-notch fare, like the tender 12-ounce filet, doesn’t take a back seat to the restaurant’s inherent swank. A late-night menu is a draw for famished night owls. 326 S. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407-772-8176. $$$$. Steak. STROLLO’S CUCINA DUE Winter Park deli/ bakery/pasticceria deserves consideration as your second kitchen, at least for daytime meals. The levain bread is a star ingredient in sandwiches of roast beef, duck confit, pepper and egg or smoked turkey and pancetta. Pasta dishes in the display case are inviting; pastries and

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dolce, like soft, flaky chocolate croissants and divinely plush tiramisu, are sweet hereafters. 200 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park, 407-4780077. $. Deli/Sandwiches, Italian, Market. THAI PLACE It is always a pleasure to sit at one of the tables in this recently expanded shopping-center spot with dark walls and glittery artwork. The food is always as good as you remember: the fragrant tom kha gai; the salad, resplendent with peanut dressing; and the satisfying choice of chicken, seafood, beef or pork in a variety of sauces, including the sudden-attack variety. 501 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 407644-8449. $$. Thai. THAI VILLA Falling into the OK-but-not-great category, Thai Villa offers traditional takes on noodle dishes, curries and main dish variations of stir-fries, combinations of vegetables and different sauces. If you’re hungry and in the neighborhood, you could do worse. 7355 Aloma Ave., Winter Park, 407-677-8957. $. Thai.

TIJUANA FLATS BURRITO COMPANY See listing in Downtown region. 7608 University Blvd., Winter Park, 407-673-2456; also 1955 Aloma Ave., Winter Park, 407-679-2132. $. Mexican. TOLLA’S Pushed to the outer edges of the hub of gentrification that’s taking over west Winter Park, this cramped Italian deli and cafe looks out of place and lacks character on the culinary front. The patio area, full bar and live music are mostly what it has to offer. 240 N. Pennsylvania Ave., Winter Park, 407-628-0068. $$. Deli/ Sandwiches, Italian. TOPOS HOT DOGZ-N-PASTRAMI The oneman act at Topos holds down his spot in the Copper Rocket parking lot with wiseacre charm and uncomplicated specialties. The pastrami is sliced thick and topped how you like; every sandwich is made to order. But the best reason to go is the ridiculously munchable sweet potato

fries: double-fried crispy perfection. 118 Lake Ave., Maitland. $. Hot Dogs. TRATTORIA TOSCANA Park Avenue trattoria may not be truly Tuscan, but they do offer good, straightforward Italian fare. Very fresh salmon carpaccio is as much a must as a glass of chianti. For mains, consider a thin-crust pizza or an ultimately rewarding dish of gnocchi alla Sorrentina. Service is impeccable. 521 S. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407-644-0009. $$. Italian. WAZZABI SUSHI From a bland side street, this oasis of taste beckons with unique decor and ambience. The menu follows suit, with exceptional sushi, teppanyaki and steak. (The cherry blossom filet is a tender delight.) Each choice of seating and dishes will yield a different experience – but all should end with tempura cheesecake. 1408 Gay Road, Winter Park, 407647-8744. $$$. Japanese/Sushi. WHOLE FOODS MARKET This natural-foods supermarket offers a different food-gathering experience altogether. There’s an impressive takeout deli with a garden of a salad bar, plus a smoothie counter with an array of liquid energizers, including espresso shots. Savor the goods at a shaded outdoor table. 1989 Aloma Ave., Winter Park, 407-673-8788. $. Vegetarian/ Vegan, Market. WINNIE’S ORIENTAL GARDEN A cut above most Asian restaurants in the area, Winnie’s is contemporary in appearance, with a similarly stylish and eclectic menu. Appetizers range from sushi to crispy calamari with soy vinaigrette, and entrees originate from all over the Pacific Rim. 1346 Orange Ave., Winter Park, 407-6292111. $$. Chinese. WINTER PARK FISH CO. The seafood with a conscience served here will get you hooked. Of particular note: wild coho served with crisp green beans and pearl couscous. Alaskan ling cod makes for gratifying fish and chips, and

fresh-out-of-the-fryer hush puppies are sublime all by themselves. Expect long waits. 761 Orange Ave. , Winter Park, 407-622-6112. $$. Deli/Sandwiches, Seafood. YAE SUSHI This older, more established restaurant doesn’t raise the sushi bar very high. But Yae has lots and lots of rolls, more than you might find in any two other places combined. Some are exotic – those named for sports teams include the “Gator” roll, with tempura gator tail – but there are enough that even the sushi-wary will find something to like. 2050 State Road 436, Winter Park, 407-677-1088. $$. Japanese/Sushi.

BAYRIDGE SUSHI A long way from its

NORTH ALI BABA An oasis of tantalizing flavors. Ali Baba’s Persian entrees include a variety of shish kebabs along with more familiar Greek and Middle Eastern dishes. A buffet is offered at both lunch and dinner, with an especially exotic array on Sundays. 1155 W. State Road 434, Longwood, 407-331-8680. $. Greek, Middle Eastern, Persian. ANNIE PIE’S BAKERY Humongous, comainducing cakes and cheesecakes that are not just delicious, but also marvels of construction – the peanut butter explosion cake, layers of fudge brownie, peanut-butter mousse and chocolate cake, weighs in at more than 12 pounds. Closed weekends; cakes available for home delivery. 150 National Place, Suite 140, Longwood, 407831-7288. $$. Sweets, Market, Bakery. APPLETON’S CAFE Biscuits to bacon, this Lake Mary greasy spoon is down-home to the core. Breakfast is the big draw with crispy country-fried steak and thick, spicy sausage gravy offering bona fide Southern comfort. The coffee, like the kitschy decor, isn’t for the faint of heart 3575 Lake Mary Blvd., Lake Mary, 407323-7663. $. American, Breakfast, Diner. ATHENA CAFE At breakfast and lunch, a wealth of Greek cuisine is served up by the

Simplicity never in legendary form. tasted so good.

12269 University Boulevard 407-658-2396

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Said family, who emigrated here years ago with all their favorite recipes. The setting is simple, but the culinary skill shows. 1140 E. Altamonte Drive, Altamonte Springs, 407-830-0707. $. American, Greek. AUBERGINE BISTRO Taking its name from the French word for eggplant, this intimate and welcoming restaurant offers a small but ambitious Continental menu. Refreshingly inventive desserts, such as white-chocolate sun-driedcranberry bread pudding, change daily. 1455 Semoran Blvd., Casselberry, 407-678-3300. $$$. Café/Bistro, Continental.

ex-home in Brooklyn and a long way from downtown Orlando, but a pleasing place for exquisite-quality sushi, with a slightly expensive but convenient single-piece “a la carte” menu to sample the art of the chef. 1000 W. SR 434, Longwood, 407-331-0000. $$. Japanese/Sushi. BISTRO 1501 A pretty room in an awayfrom-downtown hotel is home to a chef capable of wonders. The food here is worthy of a stand-alone restaurant. The kitchen turns out the freshest fish in interesting ways, and makes a mean soup from scratch. Orlando Marriott Lake Mary, Lake Mary, 407-995-1100. $$$. American, Seafood, Steak. CYPRIANA RESTAURANT An excellent choice for hearty Greek cuisine at reasonable prices in a cheerful, bustling setting. Appetizers include charbroiled octopus with olive oil, garlic and lemon; and kotopita, phyllo pastry layered with chicken, herbs, mushrooms and peppers. Hearty entrees include souvlaki, gyros and rotisserie chicken. 505 Semoran Blvd., Casselberry, 407-834-8088. $. Greek. DA VINCI 112 West Georgia Ave., Deland 386873-2943. Café/Bistro. DEXTER’S OF LAKE MARY The third restaurant in the Dexter’s family has a bit more of a manufactured feel in its Lake Mary shopping plaza location. Still, even without the cool vibe of its other locations, the sophisticated menu is full of the familiar Dexter’s flair for giving comfort-food ingredients an exciting twist in an ambience that’s just right for friends, food and conversation. 950 Market Promenade Ave., Lake Mary, 407-805-3090. $$$. Bar/Pub, American, Café/Bistro, Wine. DOM’S PIZZA This place has a recipe that works on all the usuals, as well as specialties like the “Drew Garabo,” a Philly cheese-steakand-onion pie. Hot and cold subs, calzones and

oven-baked pasta round out the offerings. 5075 Edgewater Drive, 407-298-8998. $. Italian, Pizza. DON PEPE’S HABANA GRILL Longstanding Cuban favorite has been dramatically restyled, with an expanded menu that adds more Latin American influences, from Guatemalan to Dominican to Argentine. With more than 80 labels on its wine list, they may have the largest Spanish wine cellar in Central Florida. 937 W. State Road 436, Altamonte Springs, 407-6826834. $$. Cuban.

EASTERN PEARL CHINESE RESTAURANT The rotating centers in the dark wood tables serve as a showcase of invention at this wonder of a Chinese restaurant across from the Altamonte Mall. Service is as distinguished as the remarkable contemporary dishes coming out of the talented kitchen, such as mango shrimp, crispy beef and shrimp in “silken creme sauce.” It’s a big step out of the ordinary. 478 E. Altamonte Drive #102, Altamonte Springs, 407339-8877. $$. Chinese.

ENZO’S RESTAURANT ON THE LAKE Beautiful and sophisticated, the lakefront setting is as much of a draw as the culinary excellence of this Longwood mainstay. Along with the buzzing ambience comes service lapses, but the kitchen is always cooking, with Italian delicacies from shrimp and veal to pasta. 1130 S. Highway 17-92, Longwood, 407-834-9872. $$$. Continental, Italian. ★ FIRST WATCH Offbeat morning fare ranges from a California vegetarian frittata to the meanest sausage-and-potatoes platter outside of Bavaria. Cheery, with generous portions and a limited lunch menu. Open until 2:30 p.m. 2425 W. State Road 434, Longwood, 407-774-1830. $. American, Breakfast.

FIVE GUYS FAMOUS BURGERS AND FRIES Orlando-area beefeaters are just begin-

ning to learn what their D.C.-area counterparts have known for a long time: Five Guys makes the best burgers around. The never-frozen, 100-percent-fresh, lean ground-beef patties can be topped with 15 free toppings such as sauteed mushrooms and A-1 sauce. Skin-on hand-cut fries cry for a splash of vinegar, though you can also get ‘em Cajun-style. 229 E. Altamonte Drive, Altamonte Springs, 407-478-6900. $. Hot Dogs, Hamburgers. FRESH ON THE FLY For seafood served with a conscience, look no further, though be wary of possibly unsustainably sourced salmon. The mahi-mahi “cheese steak” is a delicious take on a Philly standard, while the fish tacos are a healthy lunchtime meal; end with a slice of Key lime pie. Parking can be tough. 1210 S. International Parkway , Lake Mary, 407-8785808. $. Seafood. GATEWAY TO INDIA A beefless menu proffers a mix of hit-and-miss dishes, the incendiary “chicken chilly” being a qualified hit and insipid lamb-and-turkey seekh kebabs a disappointing miss. To end, Indian-style coffee and rose-essenced ras malai are delightful. 790 E. State Road 434 , Longwood, 407-339-9996. $$. Indian. GENUINE BISTRO 2 S. Charles Richard Beall Blvd., DeBary, 386-320-0217. $$. American. GINA’S LAKESIDE GRILL Missing is the upstairs dining room and the old, slightly upscale menu. Gina’s is in a new, casual dining mode with sandwiches, individual pizzas and some good fish and steak entrees done well but without any particular sparkle. Those looking for a nice, casual meal won’t be disappointed. 309 Cranes Roost Blvd., Altamonte Springs, 407834-5880. $$$. American, Seafood, Steak. GREEN DAY CAFE Weighing more on the “healthy” than the “vegetarian” side, Green Day is nevertheless quite veggie-friendly. Patrons

Nostalgic drive-in that has stood virtually unchanged since 1957. Brothers Gary and Barry Moore have owned the place since 1980, but still serve the marinated, pressure-cooked fried chicken and award-winning hot dogs that made Hampton’s famous. Dinner fare is familiar comfort food, from meat loaf to liver and onions to chicken-fried steak to homemade pie. 250 International Speedway Blvd., DeLand, 386-7343860. $$. American. HANA SUSHI The Renaissance Shopping Center, where Hana Sushi is located, might be half-empty, but the restaurant’s sushi bar gets remarkably full. The menu features many specialty rolls and plenty of cooked items. It may not be the best Japanese food in town, but dinners are big and the attitude is comfy. 397 E. Altamonte Drive, Altamonte Springs, 407-8309233. $$. Japanese/Sushi.

500 E. State Road 436, Suite 1020, Casselberry, 407-834-0069. $$. Club, American, Seafood. IMPERIAL DYNASTY Reminiscent of “Polynesian” restaurants of yore, this local incarnation of an award-winning Ormond Beach restaurant serves unexpectedly hot Szechuan and Cantonese food with a marked leaning toward the Western palate. House specials are the best choices. Not disappointing cooking, but not terribly adventurous either. 2045 W. SR 434, Longwood, 407-786-2266. $$. Chinese. JAX 5TH AVE. DELI & ALE Lake Mary outpost of the College Park stalwart serves up unaffected, no-nonsense fare. It’s a larger, snazzier version, though with the same sandwich-making skills and wide-ranging beer selection. 951 Greenwood Blvd., Lake Mary, 407-323-3354. Sports bar, Deli/Sandwiches. JOURNEYS Longwood restaurant’s menu harmoniously fuses ingredients from across the globe. Slivers of sweet potato add allure to the wild mushroom bisque, while hydroponic greens lend a fresh base to arugula-Vidalia-almond salad. Seared filet mignon with a goat cheeseburgundy reduction is a star entree. 2091 Alaqua Drive, Longwood, 407-629-2221. $$$$. Café/Bistro, Continental.



can opt to “global-warm” chicken, turkey, tuna or veg wraps on a grill, or make them “green” by leaving out the sauce and cheese. A side of broccoli crunch, flecked with sunflower seeds and subtly sweetened with raisins, nearly upstages the wraps. 1515 Lee Road, 407-7047877. $. American, Vegetarian/Vegan.


Homey (or “gem√ºtlichkeit”) gasthaus in Sanford’s historic downtown district offers bier, wursts, spaetzle, strudel and some of the finest sweet red cabbage you’ll eat, but the talent in the kitchen extends well beyond simply German food: Once a month, the chef serves a haute tasting menu. 205 E. First St., Sanford, 407321-2204. $$. German. HOLLY & DOLLY’S Twins Holly and Dolly add a taste of the familiar to their Cheers-like hangout, with its cold brews and TV sports. But the menu goes beyond bar fare with items like grilled grouper with veggies and rice pilaf, and tuna steaks cooked as rare as you like them.

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See listing in Winter Park Area region. 3893 Lake Emma Road, Lake Mary, 407-333-1444; also 280 S. State Road 434, Suite 1047, Altamonte Springs, 407-786-7750. $. American, Barbecue. KIWI’S PUB AND GRILL 801 W. State Road 436, Suite 1017, Altamonte Springs, 407-7887666. $. American. KOHINOOR The best of the traditional Indian recipes are found among the tandoori selections: dishes prepared slowly, with mild and aromatic herbs, in a clay oven. Service is exceptional. 249 W. State Road 436, Altamonte Springs, 407-

788-6004. $$. Indian. KOREA HOUSE The first Korean restaurant in the area remains one of the few outlets for a taste of the Land of the Morning Sun. Abundantly sized dishes are based on the flavors of garlic, ginger, soy and hot pepper, like bulgogi beef marinated in sweet garlic sauce. Eleven side items are included with each meal, including the cornerstone kimchi. 1155 W. SR 434, Longwood, 407-767-5918. $. Korean.

LUIGINO’S PASTA AND STEAK HOUSE Heathrow entrepreneur Jeno Paulucci’s namesake restaurant presents steaks and pastas prepared with flair and served in a country-club atmosphere with a picturesque view. The food is consistently delicious, and service is impeccable yet relaxed. 120 International Parkway, Heathrow, 407-333-2847. $$$. Italian, Steak. MARBLE SLAB CREAMERY Here, they turn ice-cream cones into an art form. Choose your scoop from tubs of freshly made ice cream, then pick from the cookie or candy “mixins.” They’ll pound and fold the two together on a marble slab, creating a delicious blob. 380 SR 434, Altamonte Springs, 407-7747522. $. Sweets. MAYERION MYKONOS Small bistro with a bustling, open-air kitchen kicks Greek cuisine to a heavenly level. Owner Dimitros Salivaras provides a taste of the Aegean with generations of family recipes. Do not miss the thallasina skaras, a charbroiled trio of shrimp, octopus and calamari finished with a crisp lemon vinaigrette. 2401 W. State Road 434, Longwood, 407-788-9095. $$. Greek. THE MELTING POT See listing in Winter Park area.1200 Douglas Ave., Longwood, 407862-8773. $$$. Fondue. MEMORIES OF INDIA II Service is genuinely gracious at the Lake Mary outpost of the venerable Indian restaurant, which matches or

bests the fare at the Bay Hill locale. Chicken tikka and lamb seekh kebabs highlight the appetizer plate; curry lovers will revel in lavish lamb shakuti and chicken kali murch gorgeously streaked with paneer. Take your sweet time with the memorable gulab jamun. 3895 Lake Emma Road, Lake Mary, 407-804-0920. $$$. Indian. THE OLD SPANISH SUGAR MILL Making your own pancakes on a hot griddle in a rustic restaurant in the wilds might sound odd, but here you are indeed handed a pitcher of batter (white or stone-ground flour) and told to get to work. DeLeon Springs State Park, 386-9855644. $. Breakfast. OMAHA STEAKHOUSE The latest entry in the crowded steakhouse market trades on the established name built by this retail and mail-order meat giant. The steaks are good – especially the filet mignon – the sides are an aside, and the desserts are otherworldly (cheesecake is a must-try). But the same could be said of most Orlando-area steak houses, all of which are easier to find. 225 E. Altamonte Drive, Altamonte Springs, 407-571-3458. $$$. American, Steak. PEACH VALLEY CAFE Lakeside eatery’s rise-and-shine splendor packs ‘em in on weekend mornings, when patrons gladly bide their time waiting for a table to open. Fluffy Frisbee-sized buttermilk pancakes and Philly steak & eggs Benedict croissant are just two of the outstanding pre-noon pick-me-ups; the divine breakfast potatoes may be the best in town. 1210 S. International Parkway, Heathrow, 407-833-9440. $. Breakfast, Diner. PILIN THAI When it comes to comfort food of the Thai variety, here’s a Seminole County success. Highly soothing are the crunchy green papaya salad doused in spicy chili vinaigrette and the creamy massaman curry (chicken, pork, beef or tofu with potatoes, onions and

Hamburger Mary’s Photo by Gregg Matthews

peanut-coconut sauce). The surrounding neighborhood is onto it, as the takeout trade is brisk. 851 W. SR 436, Altamonte Springs, 407-7881862. $. Thai. POLONIA POLISH RESTAURANT Diners with bored palates will find new things to revive appetites at this highly traditional Polish restaurant. Cold cuts imported from Chicago and homemade desserts bracket slow-cooked stews and crispy potato pancakes; many dishes are prepared from family recipes. 750 S. Highway 17-92, Longwood, 407-331-1933. Eastern European, Polish. RHINO SUBS The high point of this new endeavor from the experienced owner of Straub’s Seafood is fresh, hot bread right from the oven. Step up to the window and order steamy varieties like the “Explorer,” with smoked turkey, sautéed mushrooms and Swiss cheese, or the “Outfitter,” with roast beef, ham and turkey. 805 Lee Road, 407-647-9950. $. Deli/Sandwiches. ROLANDO’S CUBAN RESTAURANT The best Cuban on the east side, with a dressed-up

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atmosphere and pro staff. The food is delicious, showcasing a bounty of game and seafood, such as the snapper topped with onions and bell peppers. Dessert choices also abound. 870 Semoran Blvd., Casselberry, 407-767-9677. $. Cuban. ROMANO’S MACARONI GRILL This Tuscan-tinged eatery dishes up plentiful portions of delicious Italian specialties like “scampi alla romano,” “scaloppine di salmone” and “pizza di pollo barbacoa.” Be sure to come early or plan to wait awhile, as the restaurant tends to fill up around prime dinner time. 884 W. SR 436, Altamonte Springs, 407-682-2577. $$. Italian, Pizza. RUTH’S CHRIS STEAK HOUSE See listing in Winter Park Area region. 80 Colonial Center Parkway, Lake Mary, 407-804-8220. $$$$. American, Steak. SANFORD WINE COMPANY This temple to fermentation is as friendly to the diehard Mondavian as it is to the most urbane oenophile. SWC forgoes so-chic seared-tuna appetizers in favor of snappy bratwursts and meaty burgers, and the knowledgeable wait staff can pair a camembert with the perfect cabernet. 114 S. Palmetto Ave., Sanford, 407-302-8620. Club, Retail, Wine. SEASONS 52 The concept at this Darden “test kitchen” is fresh seasonal food, which means that a favorite dish made with pears from Oregon might not be available the next visit. But there will be something as impressive. The kitchen delivers satisfying and occasionally unusual combinations of regional and global ingredients, and even when they fall short the food is enjoyable. 463 E. Altamonte Drive, Altamonte Springs, 407-767-1252. $$$. American, Vegetarian/Vegan. SHAN ASIAN CUISINE Upscale Lake Mary Chinese joint suffers from an inconsistent

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9101 International Dr. Ste. 2230, Orlando




kitchen, though certain dishes are executed with aplomb. Meaty spareribs slathered in honey-soy sauce are a joyous gnaw, and a wonderful sauce anoints gratifying Cantonese pan-fried noodles; otherwise, desserts, like mains, are hit and miss. 1541 International Parkway , Lake Mary, 407-833-3883. $$. Chinese, Pan-Asian. SHULA’S GRILL 347 2974 International Parkway, Lake Mary, 407-531-3567. $$. American. SICILIAN RESTAURANT & PIZZERIA All the usual suspects, from seafood pizzas to barbecue, vegetarian and beyond. Most impressive are the gourmet double-crust pizzas, like “pizza ripiena” stuffed with ham, salami, pepperoni, sausage and mozzarella. 820 Lee Road, 407599-4487. $$. Italian, Pizza.

SPICE MODERN STEAKHOUSE, HEATHROW Manny Tato’s steakhouse is a magnet for fashionistas, but top-notch fare, like the tender 12-ounce filet, doesn’t take a back seat to the restaurant’s inherent swank. A latenight menu is a draw for famished night owls. 7025 County Road 46A, Heathrow, 407-9361267. Steak. STEFANO’S TRATTORIA Stefano LaCommare’s unique brand of gregarious affability and made-from-scratch Italian specialties has drawn a loyal following to his eponymous trattoria in Winter Springs, just as it did previously in Winter Park and downtown Orlando. The place gets packed so expect lengthy waits and service miscues, though any indiscretions are forgotten after the first bite. 1425 Tuskawilla Road, Winter Springs, 407-659-0101. $$$. Italian. STONEWOOD GRILL & TAVERN Part of the allure of this popular neighborhood tavern is its rustic elegance – stacked stone walls, rich wood tables and high-backed booths. A mainly meatlover’s menu specializes in meats smoked over an oak-wood grill. Service couldn’t be friendlier. 1210 International Parkway, Heathrow, 407-3333292. $$. American, Steak. STRAUB’S SEAFOOD Longtime popular favorite seriously approaches its seafood selection, with a menu detailing 28 kinds of fresh fish that can be broiled, baked, fried or mesquitegrilled. The bread basket makes for an appetizer in itself. The “captain’s platter” is a superb way to hit two highlights: steamed lobster tail and mesquite-grilled shrimp. 512 E. Altamonte Drive, Altamonte Springs, 407-831-2250. $$. Seafood. TASTE OF JAMAICA RESTAURANT Little corner shop serving Jamaican goodies like curried goat, cow foot and that singular Island cuisine, jerk chicken. The chicken is tender and flavorful all the way through, with a smoky aftertaste; the heat of Scotch bonnet peppers is more warm and earthy than painful, the way jerk should be. 6406 N. Orange Blossom Trail, 407298-5866. $. Caribbean. TERRAMIA WINEBAR/TRATTORIA A wonderfully varied antipasto that seems to go on forever is your introduction to the beautiful excess practiced at Rosario Spagnolo’s latest hot spot. The aura of luxury extends to tasty entrees and desserts served by a wait staff whose attentiveness borders on the absurd. 1185 S. Spring Center Blvd., Altamonte Springs, 407-774-8466. $$. Italian. THAI BASIL Another suburban spinoff of sorts from Thai House, this tasty and tastefully decorated oasis for Thai in Winter Springs stakes out new territory for Thai cuisine. The green papaya salad and pad thai are particularly memorable. 5800 Red Bug Lake Road, Winter Springs, 407699-8889. $. Thai. THAI CUISINE A former Asian market that retains its no-frills atmosphere while serving authentic Thai food at good prices. Spicy red curries and barbecued meats from northeastern Thailand are featured, but the more familiar basil-loaded dishes and green curries from the rest of the country are on the menu, too. 5325 Edgewater Drive, 407-292-9474. $. Thai.

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TIJUANA FLATS BURRITO COMPANY See listing in Downtown region. 3005 W. Lake Mary Blvd., Lake Mary, 407-328-0907. $. Mexican. TOOJAY’S DELI See listing in Central region. 515 E. Altamonte Drive, Altamonte Springs, 407-830-1770. $. American, Breakfast, Deli/ Sandwiches, Diner. TWO BLONDES AND A SHRIMP Southernlady staples rub shoulders with fresh Florida seafood and down-home versions of international cuisine. Sanford’s First Street antique district is the ideal location; the wood-paneled dining room provides an intimate setting, while the large patio is an optimal choice for breezy summer evenings. 112 E. First St., Sanford, 407-688-4745. $$$. Café/Bistro, Seafood, Southern. UDIPI CAFE The air is thick with the scent of pungent spices at this Longwood veg house. The menu sticks to South India’s vegetarian canon – exceptional crepe-like dosai, vibrant pea-and-lentil dips and fiery coconut-based curries. Any of their breads – gargantuan batura, poori, paratha – will elicit exclamations of gratification. Don’t leave without sampling the addictive falooda, an Indian milkshake. 1275 S. Highway 17-92, Longwood, 407-696-7775. $$. Indian. VALENCIA BAKERY Famous New York bakery filled with sugary pasteles (pastries from Puerto Rico), including cannoli-like sweets with flaky outsides and custard fillings, and turnovers filled with guava jelly. There are also pastelitos (like empanadas), but they sell out fast. Then, of course, there are the cakes, actually made in the original New York bakery and shipped down. 1015 Semoran Blvd., Casselberry, 407-2650400. $. Sweets, Puerto Rican, Bakery. VINEYARD WINE COMPANY Attractive wine bar–bistro poses a safe bet for date night with a capable, albeit predictable, array of tapas dishes and mains. Crab cakes and drunken bruschetta trump humdrum hummus; wine is taken seriously here, so feel free to solicit the opinion of the in-house sommelier. 1140 Townpark Ave., Ste. 1260, Lake Mary, 407-8339463. $$. American, Café/Bistro, Wine.

EAST ADITA’S CUBAN BAKERY A medianoche sandwich to die for and transcendental empanadas are just some of the temptations at Adita’s. Around noon you’ll fight your way through crowds of engineers from nearby Siemens; visit later in the afternoon for a flaky guava pastry and an old-school espresso. 11565 University Blvd., 407-243-2500. $. Cuban, Bakery. ANMOL INDIAN RESTAURANT One of the only places to score Indian on the east side of town, Anmol may look drab but the food has flash. Try the coriander-seasoned onion-kulcha flatbread and veggie dishes like the creamy paneer masala. Other entrees include steaminghot tandooris. 12239 University Blvd., 407-3848850. $$. Indian. BEN & JERRY’S (OVIEDO MARKETPLACE) Three dozen flavors and only one of you – that’s the dilemma at Ben & Jerry’s at the Oviedo Marketplace. All the favorites – like Chunky Monkey and Cherry Garcia – are there, along with some new arrivals, like Dilbert’s Totally Nuts. 1505 Oviedo Marketplace Blvd., Oviedo, 407-977-0444. $. Sweets. BLACK HAMMOCK FISH CAMP Travel down snaking Oviedo roads to Lake Jessup, walk past the camp’s live gator cage and then set yourself down for some Florida-style seafood that’s best enjoyed fried. 2316 Black Hammock Fish Camp Road, Oviedo, 407-365-2201. $$. American, Seafood. BRIANTO’S ORIGINAL HOAGIES The lads at this sandwich joint bleed Phillies red, and it’s clear they have a passion for cheesesteaks and hoagies as well. Cheez Whiz is necessary to off-

set the slightly bland cheesesteak supreme, but the cheesesteak hoagie is well worth the drive to Avalon Park. The cold Liberty Bell hoagie is a meat-lover’s delight and goes well with other Philly staples like Herr’s chips, Hank’s birch beer and chocolaty Tastykakes. 12001 Avalon Lake Drive, 407-382-2667. $. American, Deli/ Sandwiches. CAFE ITALIANO This vintage, family-run Italian restaurant serves up food with high standards of quality in an atmosphere that’s comfortable on the inside, iffy on the outside. Traditional dishes dominate the menu, with a good selection of sandwiches and pizza, all of which is prepared with the same care the owners have been applying for nearly 40 years. 565 N. Semoran Blvd.,

407-277-6840. $$. Italian, Pizza. CHIPOTLE See listing in Winter Park Area region. 11860 University Blvd., 321-235-3323. $. Mexican. CHOO CHOO CHURROS From empanadas to authentic open-grilled steaks, this is a good but unpretentious Argentine steak house in the shadow of the East-West Expressway. Order a delicious mixed-meat grill from parts of the beast that some people, even carnivores, would rather not think about. Chicken and fish dishes are first-rate as well. 5810 Lake Underhill Road, 407-382-6001. $$. Latin American, Steak, Argentine. CHUBBY’S FAMILY RESTAURANT The smell of bacon wafts out of the front door at Chubby’s, where breakfast is the main meal. Try “Sherry’s skillet”: crispy potatoes, sauteed onions, savory sausage, two eggs, cheddar cheese and white sausage gravy. For lunch, there are burgers, sandwiches, salads and side dishes ranging from fried okra to Spam. 10376 E. Colonial Drive, 407380-6006. Breakfast, Diner. EL CORRAL POLLOS A LA BRASA UCFarea joint does rotisserie chicken right and $. Succulent combos can be had for less than $9, but don’t overlook their comforting estofado beef stew or traditional arroz con pollo. Crispy fried empanadas alone are worth the visit, and creamy tumbao (fruit drinks) are an absolute must. 3900 N. Alafaya Trail, 407-382-0199. $. Latin American. FALAFEL CAFE The humble chickpea takes on hearty new dimensions when it’s served up at Falafel Café, across from the University of Central Florida. If you’re in the mood for rustic Middle Eastern cooking, you’ll find it, from crispy falafel and kibbeh to creamy hummus and baba ghanoush. 12140 Collegiate Way, 407-3826600. $. Greek, Middle Eastern.

★ GARIBALDI’S MEXICAN RESTAURANT A place for genuine Mexican food (along with some authentic folk songs). There are more than 30 different combination platters of tacos, burritos and enchiladas, along with chiles rellenos and chalupas. The “fajitas Garibaldi” adds chorizo sausage to a combination of chicken and beef on a sizzling iron pan. 929 N. Semoran Blvd., 407-275-5035. $$. Mexican.

GIOVANNI’S ITALIAN RESTAURANT & PIZZERIA See listing in Winter Park Area region. 2140 S. Chickasaw Trail, 321-235-9600; also 4250 Alafaya Trail, Oviedo, 407-359-5900. $$. Italian, Pizza. GUAVATE Puerto Rican bistro serves an extensive menu of traditional fare, including more than 20 varieties of mofongo. Churrasco mofongo proved especially intriguing, with tender morsels of chimichurri-basted skirt steak blended into a heap of green plantains flavored with garlic and crispy pork skin. Spicy pork tripe mondongo caters to adventurous and/or hungover slurpers. 422 S. Alafaya Trail, 407-2814700. $$. Latin American, Puerto Rican. HOT DOG HEAVEN The setting’s not pretty but that doesn’t keep hordes of “red hot” lovers from feasting on the three dozen varieties of Vienna Beef dogs, which are consumed outdoors, under the landmark neon sign. Hot fries and cold root-beer floats make good accompaniments. 5355 E. Colonial Drive, 407-282-5746. $. American, Deli/Sandwiches, Hot Dogs. JOE’S CRAB SHACK As tacky as a tourist, this colorfully cluttered seafood outlet churns out a plentiful spread of ocean fare, specializing in “crabs, crabs and more crabs.” Everything is safely fried, steamed, grilled or broiled, with little in the way to mess things up. The lines extend to the parking lot. 4601 S. Semoran Blvd., 407-658-9299. $. Seafood.

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LAS DELICIAS GRILL At this pupuseria, the savory pancake-like corn tortilla is stuffed with soft cheese and, optionally, chicharron (ground pork) and refried beans. The scene in front of the eatery resembles a street-corner setting in San Salvador, while inside, pupusa-pacified men shoot stick while wistfully singing to native tunes emanating from the jukebox. Note: cash only. 707 S. Semoran Blvd., 407-207-0710. $. Latin American. LAZY MOON PIZZA Wide variety of toppings makes for endless flavor combinations, and thin, crispy crust allows one to devour mammoth slices without exploding. The impressive selection of imports and microbrews on offer puts Lazy Moon notches above average pies-and-beer joints. Be prepared to compete with the UCF crowd. 12269 University Blvd., 407-658-2396. $. Bar/Pub, Pizza. LIMENA CHICKEN Selections cover the gamut of Peruvian food, from hearty cilantrobased soup brimming with fish to tamales stuffed with earthy oil-cured olives and shredded chicken to lomo saltado, a stir-fry of thinly sliced beef, tomatoes and scallions piled atop fries. It’s quiet on weekdays, but Friday and Saturday the band walks in and plays until 2 a.m. Service is friendly and accommodating, though a bit leisurely. 1810 N. Semoran Blvd., 407-265-6699. Peruvian. LOUIE & MARIA’S ITALIAN RESTAURANT Sit-down restaurant with great pizzas, wonderful eggplant parmigiana, and slightly more unusual items like grouper in lemon cream sauce and dark, wine-laden chicken marsala. You’ll have to wait, even if it’s takeout, but it’s worth it. 9728 E. Colonial Drive, 407-277-7755. $$. Italian, Pizza. MARGARITA’S GRILL All the standards are here: chimichangas, burritos, tacos and enchiladas. But you’ll discover a sophisticated Central

Mexican spin, thanks to a trio of partners from Mexico City. Try skillfully prepared offerings such as mahi-mahi blackened with chilis or mole poblano, chicken slowly simmered in 20 Mexican spices. 587 S. Chickasaw Trail, 407380-0922. $. Mexican. MARIA BONITA Authentic cuisine from the Sierra Madre mountains is the highlight at this Mexican eatery. Fresh ingredients, attention from the kitchen and simple but flavorful dishes create a menu where everything is worth a taste. Cuban and vegetarian specialties round out the selections. 10615 E. Colonial Drive, 407-2821411. $$. Mexican. MI VIEJO SAN JUAN Though the blinding fluorescence does little to reflect any semblance of that “Old San Juan” charm, dishes like grouper criollo, amarillos and fried yuca more than make up for it. The lubricious glaze on the skin of the pollo frito makes it a must – just be sure to carb it with tostones or yuca con mojo. 7229 E. Colonial Drive, 407-380-2061. $$. Puerto Rican. NATURA COFFEE & TEA Cafe Britt Costa Rican coffee, a variety of ice-blended espresso drinks and over 20 teas and tisanes are offset by over-the-top pastries and desserts. The technohungry can satisfy their jones with high-speed wireless access from the comfy sofa. 12078 Collegiate Way, 407-482-5000. $. Lounge, Vegetarian/Vegan, Coffee/Tea. OH! QUE BUENO A small Colombian cafe that specializes in protein: meat, chicken, sausages, seafood. And unless you count rice, corn and red beans, not a veggie in the place. The carneteria offers authentic traditional dishes done well, as well as enormous combination plates of beef, pork, sausage and the occasional egg. 1125 S. Semoran Blvd., 407-447-5026. $. Latin American. OLYMPIA RESTAURANT Taste the Greek elements – sunshine, earth and sea – that

inspire the menu at this elegant if gently worn mainstay, run by the Vasiliadis family since 1979. The deep-fried squid is beautifully presented, and the “Hercules platter” is an easy way to sample the heartier menu items. 8505 E. Colonial Drive, 407-273-7836. $$. Greek. ORIGAMI SUSHI Good sushi on the outskirts of east Orlando. Coming from downtown, you’ll feel like you’re almost to Bithlo, but the place is popular with the UCF crowd. Stick to the basics – tempura, nigiri and maki sushi – and you won’t go wrong, and you also won’t spend a lot of money. 11903 E. Colonial Drive, 407-7361263. $$. Japanese/Sushi. PANDA BISTRO 12014 East Colonial Drive, 407-282-8333. $. Chinese.

PEPPINO’S RISTORANTE ITALIANO There’s nothing remotely trendy about this Italian standby, but if you want traditional fare in a familiar atmosphere, it fills the ticket nicely. The pizzas have perfect crusts, with toppings so fresh they make your mouth tingle. 100 Carrigan Ave., Oviedo, 407-365-4774. $$. Italian, Pizza. THE PITA PIT See listing in Downtown region. 12140 Collegiate Way, 407-380-2333. POLLO RICO Peruvian food is rich with chicken, beef, seafood and root crops, with lots of aji (hot peppers). Here you’ll find the best papa rellena in town, scrumptious yuca in spicy cheese sauce and stir-fries made with tender beef and french fries. 4006 S. Semoran Blvd., 407-381-5519. $. Latin American.

★ POM POM’S TEAHOUSE AND SANDWICHERIA See listing in Central region. 12275 University Blvd., 407-275-4493. $. Deli/ Sandwiches, Coffee/Tea. PU YI Shopping-plaza eatery offers good Chinese, modest prices, fast service and excellent soups. Pricier dinner menu offers items such as “lobster-sizzling wok bar.” But a lunchtime quart of the shrimp fried rice is so packed

with fresh shrimp, it’s practically a steal. 10169 University Blvd., 407-678-8188. $. Chinese. ROYAL THAI As Thai restaurants continue to pop up around town, Royal Thai stands out for originality and attention to detail. The humble restaurant resembles a cool, dimly lit garden cottage, but the chef’s special touches – even in simple dishes like param – make this a worthy destination for sophisticated classics. 1202 N. Semoran Blvd., 407-275-0776. $$. Thai.

SWEET! BY GOOD GOLLY MISS HOLLY By Good Golly Miss Holly If superlative sugariness is what you want, this is the place. Cupcakes are properly moist and cakey, but you may need a quart of milk to wash down the chocolate-ganache-and-buttercream “high-hat”; try one of the two dozen other flavors if you fear cavities. Sugarphiliac tweens and UCF students ensure chef Hollis Wilder won’t go out of business anytime soon. 711 N. Alafaya Trail, 407277-7746. $. Sweets, Bakery. THAI SINGHA A small storefront restaurant hidden in the maze of the Waterford Town Center shopping miasma, Singha is well worth the search. Typical Thai dishes made atypically, such as pad thai seasoned with slow-simmered sauce or red curry eggplant with alligator meat. Family-run, friendly and worthy of repeat visits. 863 N. Alafaya Trail, 407-382-8201. $$. Thai, Deli/Sandwiches. URBAN FLATS See listing in Downtown region. 504 N. Alafaya Trail, 407-206-3095. Bar/ Pub, American.

SOUTH AHMED RESTAURANT Here in the West, no Indian meal is complete without ordering a samosa as a starter, and the crispy numbers served at Ahmed Restaurant, a mom-and-pop outfit in the curry corridor of South OBT, just can’t be beat. Keema (ground beef versions) are also top-notch, and the side of green chutney


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pops your palate with a peppery wallop. 11301 S. Orange Blossom Trail, 407-856-5970. Indian. BAUERN-STUBE A lively German gasthaus setting and menu that is extensive and filling. The moist and tender sauerbraten is a specialty, featuring sliced roast beef with a deep, dark gravy of bay leaves and cloves. But don’t miss the spaetzle, sauerkraut and Black Forest cake. 8015 S. Orange Ave., 407-857-8404. $$. German. BOMBAY CAFE This sanctuary of South Indian fare gives Woodlands a run for its money with infernal vegetarian curries, enormous dosas and comforting flatbreads. Chaats (snacky mixes) offer textural diversity with varying levels

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of heat. Lunch thalis are available Monday to Sunday. 1137 Doss Ave., 407-240-5151. $. Indian, Vegetarian/Vegan. BON APPETIT GRILL There’s dining adventure hiding on south OBT, you just have to look for it. Haitian treasures are what we found here, from the heavenly gumbos – callalou with pig’s feet and “lambi au noix” with conch – to the memorable red beans and rice and fried bananas. Be prepared to share your table with another guest – that’s the way they do it. 4534 S. Orange Blossom Trail, 407-857-2434. $. Caribbean. BRIO TUSCAN GRILLE With a stylish atmosphere and well-executed menus, this Tuscan grill excels at flatbread pizzas and wood-grilled steak. A bakery adds warmth to this bustling eatery at Millenia Mall. Try the “Bellini brunch” on weekends. 4200 Conroy Road, 407-3518909. $$. Italian, Pizza, Steak. BUCA DI BEPPO At this kitschy eatery, everything is done in a big, Italian way: Every inch of wall space is garishly festooned with memorabilia, and an army of waiters delivers enormous portions – pizzas as big as countertops, footlong lasagna. Reservations are essential. Florida Mall, 407-859-7844. $$. Italian, Pizza. CAFE BISTRO AT NORDSTROM A sanctuary away from the frenzied Florida Mall shopping foofaraw. The skilled culinarians here have long flown under the radar of area foodies, but they churn out a nice selection of salads, brickoven pizza, specialty sandwiches and mains – the roast chicken is an exemplar of the French bistro classic. But it’s the herb-sprinkled frites, served with a to-die-for kalamata olive aioli, that practically upstage the meals. 8001 S. Orange Blossom Trail, 407-888-7889. $$. Café/Bistro. CAFE MADRID A community gathering ground where citizens come together for food and to engage in a little social, political and cultural discourse. Well-executed Latin staples – Cuban, Spanish and Puerto Rican – are sure to console homesick expats. The multitude of beef, chicken, pork and seafood dishes are tasty, but not particularly vegetarian-friendly. 4502 Curry Ford Rd., 407-281-9491. $$. Latin American, Cuban, Puerto Rican. CHINA HUT China and Peru have enjoyed a long-standing diplomatic friendship; now diners can benefit from their culinary partnership. While the traditional Chinese fare is less than remarkable, the flavors of Peru shine. Don’t miss the ceviche mixto, tender citrus-marinated seafood served with a handful of toasted corn nuts. 7615 S. Orange Blossom Trail, 407-2400467. $$. Latin American, Chinese. FLORIDA WAFFLE SHOP Millenia-area breakfast joint serves up signature waffles, pancakes, omelets and French toast, in addition to a selection of lunchtime faves, until 3 p.m. The Belgian waffle is properly light and crispy, and versions ranging from granola crunch to strawberries with cream are offered. The French toast is wholly satisfying, but syrup purists will have to bring their own real maple syrup. 4192 Conroy Road, 407-226-1400. $. American, Breakfast, Diner. GAIN’S GERMAN RESTAURANT Classy German restaurant travels beyond predictable comfort cooking – bratwursts, sauerkraut and sp√§tzle noodles – to more elaborate delicacies. The rainbow trout is pan-fried whole. Veal schnitzel is topped with a grilled egg and surrounded by canapes of caviar, anchovies and smoked salmon. 5731 S. Orange Blossom Trail, 407-438-8997. $$. German. GODIVA BOUTIQUE 4200 Conroy Road, 407-363-0810. $. Sweets, Market. GOLDEN KRUST Jamaican bakery and grill serves island fare to the masses, most notably patties, those staple semicircles of flaky goodness. The spicy beef, fish and veggie varieties are decent, though not great. What is great is the curried goat, an exotic dish with fatty pieces of meat lolling in rich, luxuriant gravy. Also

Four Rivers Smokehouse Photo by Jason Greene

worth a try is the braised oxtail and jerk chicken. 7613 S. Orange Blossom Trail, 407-851-9755. $. Caribbean. GREENS AND GRILLE The salads and sandwiches assembled here are luxurious versions of everyday basics. High standards of quality are apparent in the dressings made from scratch, super-fresh salad ingredients and natural, hormone-free meats grilled to order. Don’t miss the balsamic-braised portobello mushroom or the rich, gooey homemade macaroni and cheese; top off your meal with an adorable minicupcake. 4104 Millenia Blvd., 407-770-1407. $. Deli/Sandwiches. HUHOT MONGOLIAN GRILL There’s little that’s Mongolian about this teppanyaki-style grill, but if you like your meat shredded, sauced and stir-fried on a circular steel tablet, bring your appetite. Meats range from beef and chicken to scallops and gator, and an assortment of greens will please vegetarians as well. The make-it-yourself s’mores are delightfully sticky and enough for two. 1187 Florida Mall Ave. #128, 407-812-1300. $$. Bar/Pub, Mongolian. JALAPENO’S There are no preppy servers or themed architecture at this modest spot, just food that’s good, $, filling and authentic, with a menu that includes mole and menudo. Try the “camarones a la Veracruzana” (sauteed shrimp with tomatoes). 1703 W. Oak Ridge Road, 407850-9660. $$. Mexican. KAHUNA GRILL More bar than restaurant, this Hawaiian pub hybrid has some odd mixtures of ingredients. For example, the nachos are deep-fried wonton triangles with boiled baby shrimp, mozzarella, salsa, crushed peanuts, shredded carrots and plum sauce. 13701 S. John Young Parkway, 407-858-0445. $$. American, Deli/Sandwiches, Hamburgers, Hawaiian. KHASIYAT Most people come to this humble vegetarian hideaway for the $ lunch buffet – well-stocked with five different curries and an assortment of sweets – but the real star is the selection of savory Indian snacks. Can’t-miss offerings: enormous, not-at-all-greasy dosai masala and addictive bhel puri. Wash it all down with a Limca, the official soft drink of the subcontinent. 852 W. Lancaster Road, 407-8882147. $. Indian, Vegetarian/Vegan.

MARAYA AT SABRINA’S RESTAURANT As its many devoted fans know, one of the priciest restaurants on the Trail is worth a visit for the fastidiously prepared Mediterranean fare alone. Succulent rack of lamb, rustic chicken soup and a cross-section of Lebanese staples highlight the offerings. 8100 Crystal Clear Lane , 407-856-8155. $$$. Lebanese, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern. MCCORMICK & SCHMICK’S If you’re OK with heading over to the Mall at Millenia for fine dining, you won’t be unhappy with the

fine selection of fresh seafood at McCormick & Schmick’s. The menu changes daily, depending on what’s available internationally. Pair the exceptional sampler of cold-water oysters with champagne for a classy culinary experience. 4200 Conroy Road, 407-226-6515. $$$. Seafood. MIMI’S CAFE Mimi’s looks and feels like a chain, and it is. The decor of the restaurant has a New Orleans theme but not the menu, which is a rambling array – everything from diner fare to pseudo-Asian, although they do serve jambalaya. But don’t expect an authentic experience, just a full belly for a reasonable price. 4175 Millenia Blvd., 407-370-0333. $$. American. PADRINO’S CUBAN BISTRO Refined Cuban dishes negate the need for a three-hour trip to South Florida – sample the succulent ropa vieja or superbly seasoned picadillo empanadas and you’ll see why. Black bean soup strikes a delicate balance of cumin-to-garlic; mahi mahi fuses Creole spices with a refreshing mango-pineapple chutney. Consider custardy rum-chocolate creme brulee and a shot of cafe cubano to end. 13586 Village Park Drive, 407-251-5107. $$. Latin American, Cuban. PIÑONES EN ORLANDO This mobile “restaurant” is a popular draw for Latino club kids jonesing for a late-night/early-morning nosh, as well as the noontime crowd. Pork may be the meat of choice on the Caribbean isle, but the focus here is on seafood; a host of daily specials is offered. southwest corner of Conway Road and Curry Ford Road, 321-594-0116. $. Puerto Rican. PRIMO Celebrity chef Melissa Kelly brings her organic, locavore philosophy down from Maine and opens Primo in the enormous JW Marriott Orlando. From free-range lamb to homemade sausage, care is taken – and local provenance is listed – with every ingredient, and it pays off on the plate. Prices are in the very high range, but for a special meal Primo beats almost any spot in town. 4040 Central Florida Parkway, 407-3934444. $$$$. American, Italian, Mediterranean. ROSSI’S Well-loved by spaghetti junkies for nearly 34 years, this south-side dive makes up for its less-than-fancy interior and casual service with hefty, home-style dinners at outrageously low prices. 5919 S. Orange Blossom Trail, 407855-5755. $. Italian, Pizza.

SALSA TAQUERIA AND TEQUILA BAR This sister restaurant to the Samba Room in the Florida Mall serves Mexican food packed with authentic flavor. More than six kinds of peppers offer sizzling choices, and they pull out all the stops with an extensive tequila menu, including a tasty dessert tipple. Florida Mall, 407-2519989. $$. Mexican. SUNDAY’S COUNTRY KITCHEN Don’t be surprised if you’re greeted by a smiling man in a bright button-down shirt, and if your chair

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is pulled out for you when you sit in this oasis of cheer. Breakfast is served all day, in hearty portions (try the “Cha Cha” omelet) that make it hard to leave hungry. 5406 Hansel Ave., 407852-9884. $. American, Breakfast. SUSHI HOUSE Shaded lamps and candles plus techno and synth-pop music create a romantic but not cheesy mood, reminiscent of scenes from Lost in Translation. In the sushi, the vegetables and fish are as fresh as promised, but the rolls can be so loose that they fall apart. No matter, as almost everything else is on target. 1311 Florida Mall Ave., 407-812-9767. $$. Bar/Pub, Japanese/Sushi. TACOS EL RANCHO Neighborhood taqueria offers the established canon of Tex-Mex staples – burritos, enchiladas, quesadillas and tacos – and does them right. Luscious beef tongue tacos cater to adventurous diners, while tacos al pastor offer a taste of Mexico City. Beware enormous chimichangas and burritos – they’re big on flavor and on weight. 4433 Hoffner Ave., 407-438-8777. $. Mexican. ★ WOODLANDS Pure vegetarian. Pure delight. Southern Indian delicacies based on hot, spicy, sour and sweet, hitting every part of the tongue with equal splendor. Go straight for the thali (assortment plate) specials for a bit of everything, or savor Tamil specialties like filled-pancake dosai. 6040 S. Orange Blossom Trail, 407-854-3330. $$. Chinese, Indian, Vegetarian/Vegan.

DISNEY ARTIST POINT Disney does it up big, from the size of the plate to the size of the portions to the size of the bill – which, in this case, is justified. Innovative, Northwestern-themed menu offers exotic foods such as sauteed elk sausage. The service and setting are spectacular. Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, Lake Buena Vista, 407-9393463. $$$$. American. BOMA - FLAVORS OF AFRICA Tables loaded with spicy African dishes – flavored by unusual and delicious combinations of tamarind, cumin, cinnamon, hot chilies, cilantro and papaya – invite exploration at the overwhelming dinner and breakfast buffets in Disney’s colorful, Dark Continent-themed resort hotel. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, 407-938-4-722. $$$. African, Vegetarian/Vegan. BONGOS CUBAN CAFE Gloria Estefan’s brainchild is superb. The talent in the kitchen is affirmed by preparations like the simple combo of mussels, white fish, calamari, shrimp and lobster in garlic, butter and wine sauces, and pollo asado, a tender half-chicken with a piquant Creole sauce. Downtown Disney West Side, Lake Buena Vista, 407-828-0999. $$. Cuban, Puerto Rican.

Photo by Jason Greene

CALIFORNIA GRILL Diners atop Disney’s Contemporary Resort have both a panorama of the Magic Kingdom and a clear view of foodpreparation stations, leaving no doubt about what takes place there: spice-and-herb magic and perfect presentation. Entrees are heavily influenced by what is fresh and seasonally available, so the menu changes weekly. Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Lake Buena Vista, 407939-3463. $$$$. American. CITRICOS Dazzling eatery puts a French focus on its international fare, centered on slow-roasted meats. Everything from breads to desserts is exquisite – it’s expensive but worth it. Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Lake Buena Vista, 407-824-2989. $$$$. Continental, French. DAKSHIN A Southern Indian haven for lovers of seafood and vegetarian wonders. Lobster curry? You bet, along with delicacies from Goa and Mangalore and a separate dinner menu offering dosas, delicate Indian crepes as fragrant as they are delicious. 12541 State Road 535, Lake Buena Vista, 407-827-9080. $$. Indian. FLYING FISH CAFE The service is so superb, it’s like the wait staff anticipates your needs as they serve the creative new American cuisine with a seafood spin. The whimsical atmosphere extends to daily specials that the chef synchronizes with what’s in season, but popular demand has won the red snapper in a crisp potato casing permanent menu status. 2102 N. Epcot Resorts Blvd., Lake Buena Vista, 407-939-3463. $$$. American, Seafood. FULTON’S CRAB HOUSE This tourist fish haven at Downtown Disney offers a great view but little else to draw locals. The fish is sometimes overpriced and overcooked, but if you’re set on spending lots of money, you can’t go wrong with the Alaskan crab claws. The chocolate creme brulee is also a treat. 1670 Buena Vista Drive, Lake Buena Vista, 407-934-2628. $$$$. American, Seafood. HEMINGWAYS Papa might have spent more time at the bar than in the clean, well-lighted dining rooms, but Hemingways serves wellprepared seafood and steaks with touches of Key West flavor for a good, if a tad expensive, dining experience. 1 Grand Cypress Blvd., Lake Buena Vista, 407-239-3854. $$$$. American, Seafood, Steak. HOUSE OF BLUES A theme restaurant with the food to back it up, HOB has expanded its menu beyond its Southern traditions. While almost none of the promised ingredients shows up in the seafood gumbo, the pan-seared voodoo shrimp have a deep, spicy flavor and wonderful mashed potatoes accompany the juicy grilled rosemary chicken. Downtown Disney West Side, Lake Buena Vista, 407-934-2583. $$. Live music club, American, Breakfast, Southern. INDIA PALACE Immaculate and attractive setting, though a bit smaller than the name implies. Delicious and exotic seasonings on beef, lamb or chicken entrees, plus a dozen vegetarian dishes, and an ample and varied eight-item starter. 8530 Palm Parkway, 407-238-2322. $$. Indian. JIKO Pan-African splendor jumps out in this gorgeous restaurant overlooking acres of savannah filled with wild animals. The food is steeped in traditions from all over the continent, including a tasty slow-cooked Moroccan stew and superb flatbread with yogurt and onions baked in open “jiko” ovens. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, 407-939-3463. African. KABOB N’ CURRY The kebabs and curries at this tastefully appointed tourist-area eatery pack a lot of heat, but riches await those who battle the blaze. Gloriously spiced chapli kebabs are worth the drive alone, and nihari’s velvety shanks of beef makes for a truly comforting nosh. 12185 S. Apopka-Vineland Road, 407238-7684. $. Indian.


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enclave that best accommodates tables for two. Smart and spare defines the menu, with sushi preparations such as the spider roll, with pieces of fried soft-shell crab, and the Kimonos roll, richly flavored by pale pink yellowtail tuna. 1200 Epcot Resorts Blvd., Lake Buena Vista, 407-9341609. $$$. Japanese/Sushi. KOUZZINA It’s big, bright and boisterous, but Cat Cora’s Greek kitchen is well worth enduring the distractions of dining on Disney property. Rustic roasted pepper and chickpea soup is a worthy starter to a meal that should culminate with the superlative traditional whole fish or perfectly balanced cinnamon-stewed chicken. Wine lovers will revel in the Iron Chef’s own “Coranation” cabernet. 2101 Epcot Resort Blvd., Lake Buena Vista, 407-939-3463. $$$. Greek. LA COQUINA Sunday brunch at La Coquina has been a tradition for 20 years strong. From the moment you climb down the Vegas-looking stairs and walk through an ornate wrought-iron tunnel to enter a dining area that overlooks an idyllic pond, you know you’re in for something special. 1 Grand Cypress Blvd. , 407-239-1234. $$$. American, Breakfast, French. MARKET STREET CAFE Retro-modern diner design fits right in with Celebration’s olddays ambience, for a meal that is pleasant if not very exciting. Salads and starters are enormous; the rest of the well-prepared menu is so traditional, you’ll wonder if Mom is in the kitchen. 701 Front St., Celebration, 407-566-1144. $. American, Diner. PARADISO 37 Boisterous restaurant serves up “street food from the Americas.” With a menu that’s safe for most palates, there’s something here for everyone except those looking for serious adventure. The towering display of tequila bottles will mesmerize margarita lovers. 1590 E. Buena Vista Drive, 407-934-3702. $$$. American, Latin American. THE PLANTATION ROOM An immaculate but unimpressive “New Florida” restaurant within the Celebration Hotel, more of a specialoccasion, dinner-event place than an impulse dine. Good food and good preparation that unfortunately miss the goal of a well-manicured dining experience: a spectacular dinner. 700 Bloom St., Celebration, 407-566-6002. $$$. American, Seafood. RAGLAN ROAD IRISH PUB Here’s an Irish pub that proves Irish fare doesn’t have to be mediocre. The antique furniture and bar imported from Ireland make for a cozy setting inside a huge restaurant – even though it’s on Disney property – and the menu is inspired. Like seafood? Try the “It’s Not Bleedin’ Chowder.” Under no circumstances should you skip the bread pudding. 1640 E. Buena Vista Drive, Lake Buena Vista, 407-938-0300. $$$. Bar/Pub, Irish. RAINFOREST CAFE Slickly packaged in a lush jungle atmosphere and marked outside by a spewing volcano, Rainforest Café offers casual, familiar fare with clever names. But the merchandising is more impressive than the meal; it’s worth noting that the retail store is just as prominent as the dining room. Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Lake Buena Vista, 407-938-9100. $$. American. SANAA Disney’s East African entry at Animal Kingdom Lodge puts Indian flavors on the plates, but it’s exotic-lite, nothing too spicy or challenging. Ordering anything from the tandoor oven – moist chicken, crispy breads – is a wise decision. For dessert, try a pot of Frenchpressed Kenya coffee and float-off-your-spoon– light chai cream mousse. Disney’s Animal Kingdom 2901 Osceola Parkway, Lake Buena Vista, 407-939-3463. $$$. African. SHERLOCK’S OF CELEBRATION Step out of the all-American character of the town for an English tea in a small, intimate shop packed with deerstalker-capped bears, teas, wines and Sherlock Holmes memorabilia. Under new ownership, it’s still a delightful spot for a hot cuppa

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and the best scones in town. 715 Bloom St., Celebration, 407-566-1866. $. Bar/Pub, Wine, Market, Coffee/Tea. SPOODLES A spirit of fun flavors this Mediterranean restaurant serving “the cuisine of the sun” from places such as Spain, Greece, Italy and Morocco (though the sun will be setting soon on Spoodles, as there are plans to replace it with Cat Cora’s new Kouzzina in fall of 2009). There’s an excellent variety of flatbreads, as well as inventive entrees like spice-crusted salmon with potato-fennel gratin and truffle oil, and braised lamb shank. Disney’s Boardwalk, Lake Buena Vista, 407-939-3463. $$$. Greek, Italian, Mediterranean, Spanish. TODD ENGLISH’S BLUEZOO Prices won’t make celebrity chef Todd English’s place a weekly destination for most folks, but splurging whenever you can afford to is great way to feel like king of the sea. Ambience and service are pampering and not pretentious, and match up to slap-the-table delectables like the “miso-glazed Chilean sea bass” and “fish grilled simply.” Disney’s Dolphin Resort, Lake Buena Vista, 407939-3463. $$$$. Seafood. WOLFGANG PUCK CAFE With wild, colorful decor, Puck’s provides a playful atmosphere, surrounding you with tantalizing aromas of fire-roasted pizzas, pastas and grilled fare. But the cuisine ranges from delicious to mediocre, and the loud, bustling setting is not for everyone. Downtown Disney West Side, Lake Buena Vista, 407-9389653. $$. American, Café/Bistro, Pizza.

I-Drive/Universal A SLICE OF NEW YORK This pizzeria on Dr. Phillips is full of Italian-American specialties prepared by owners from Long Island. Although it’s not quite New York, it is a neighborhood spot not to be passed over, and they serve a pretty-close-to-authentic NYC slice. Fresh salads with homemade dressings and homemade pasta

★ AMURA SUSHI BAR & JAPANESE RESTAURANT See listing in Downtown region. 7786 W. Sand Lake Road, 407-3700007. $$$. Japanese/Sushi. ANATOLIA Anatolia’s kitchen take great pride in Turkey’s gastronomical heritage, offering a bill of fare that sets it apart from other restaurants straddling the line between Middle Eastern and Mediterranean. Sublime lamb stew, kebabs and calves’ liver are all stellar. Turkish coffee (or tea) with spectacular baklava is an absolute must. 7600 Dr. Phillips Blvd., 407-352-6766. $$. Turkish.

ANTONIO’S RISTORANTE AT SAND LAKE This sister restaurant to Antonio’s Cafe

dishes, including a family recipe for spaghetti and meatballs, can be delivered in the area. 5106 Dr. Phillips Blvd., 407-291-9349. $$. Italian, Pizza. AASHIRWAD It’s hard to beat the cost and variety of favorite dishes in the daily lunch buffet, even if it’s not a quick stop. Dinner is pleasant and highlights the Northern Indian cuisine, but this is a strip-mall eatery made for filling up on food, not atmosphere. 5748 International Drive, 407-370-9830. $$. Indian. AGAVE AZUL 4750 S. Kirkman Road, 407704-6930. $$. Mexican.

Downstairs offers Italian deli-style fare such as lasagne di vegetali, pizzas and calzones without the annoyance of shoppers browsing through the aisles for gourmet staples. 7559 W. Sand Lake Road, 407-363-9191. $$. Bar/Pub, Italian, Pizza. AYOTHAYA THAI CUISINE Forgive the anonymous décor and TV sets, and some pleasant surprises await in Ayothaya’s seemingly run-of-the-mill menu. The standard curries and soups are there, but a section of (pricey) fresh fish specialties are worth investigating. Don’t forget to ask about the specials. 7555 W. Sand Lake Road, 407-345-0040. $$. Seafood, Thai. B.B. KING’S 9101 International Drive, 407370-4550. $$. Southern. BEARD PAPA’S Osaka-based company’s first Florida outlet is a draw for Japanese tourists, but locals are also catching on. The preservative-free pastries come in three varieties – original vanilla, eclair and cookie; the whipped custard filling, not too sweet and made fresh daily, comes in vanilla, chocolate and a dailychanging “premium flavor” – caramel, green tea or the like. 4951 International Drive, 407-3522008. $. Sweets, Bakery.

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BEEWON KOREAN CUISINE Unassuming Dr. Phillips eatery masters Korean cookery with a host of stews, noodles and barbecued offerings. Revel in the splendor of bibimbap, a delectable mélange served in a hot stone pot; luxuriate in the heady fumes of table-grilled bulgogi; and savor every salty bite of grilled mackerel. Seriously consider concluding with two scoops of red-bean ice cream. 5100 Dr. Phillips Blvd., 407-601-7788. $$. Korean. BELLA CAFE Tucked away in a Publix strip mall in MetroWest, Bella is worth seeking out. The upmarket salads and sandwiches aren’t super-creative, but they are put together with care and quality. The scrumptious, not-to-bemissed pot roast sandwich is like a portable Sunday dinner. 2447 S. Hiawassee Road, 407291-0134. $. Deli/Sandwiches.

BEST OF BRITISH SOCCER WORLD SPORTS BAR AND GRILL Decked out in soccer jerseys and memorabilia, this I-Drive haunt does its part to dispel myths of the unpalatability of English fare. Beef and ale pie, fish and chips and curries prepared by an Indian chef are more than worthy, and the chocolate profiteroles are bang-on, though patrons will need to suffer through iffy service and long waits. 8324 International Drive, 407-264-9189. $$. Bar/Pub, Brewpub. BICE The Portofino Bay Hotel’s latest restaurant plays it safe, serving luxe comfort food at (for Orlando) stratospheric prices. Both the menu and the wine list offer way too many choices, mostly delicious, but none surprising – except the desserts, which are not only unusual but brilliantly prepared. 5601 Universal Blvd., 407503-1415. $$$$. Continental, Italian. BONEFISH GRILL Yet another entry into the restaurant bazaar that is Sand Lake Road, Bonefish brings moderately priced seafood and a pleasant atmosphere to the table. The bar

black and white cookies

cheese blintzes

What can you do when the craving strikes? Head over to TooJay’s, for a huge selection of traditional deli favorites from cheese blintzes to fresh nova. From classic deli sandwiches, like mile-high pastrami on rye, to our signature salads teaming with shrimp, tuna or chicken. And did we mention our famous dessert menu?

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%0RINCETON3TREETs/RLANDO &LORIDA WWWMENNELLOMUSEUMORG The Mennello Museum is owned and operated by the City of Orlando.

Come to TooJay’s Gourmet Deli. We’ve got what you crave. 4-10



we put the “delI� in Delicious.

fresh nova salmon

ORLANDO Colonial Marketplaza (407) 894-1718 SOUTHWEST ORLANDO The Marketplace at Dr. Phillips (407) 355-0340 OCOEE Shoppes of Ocoee (407) 798-2000 EAST ORLANDO Waterford Lakes Town Center (407) 249-9475 ALTAMONTE SPRINGS Palm Springs Shopping Center (407) 830-1770 LAKE MARY Lake Mary Centre (407) 833-0848


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is popular, and appetizers like “saucy shrimp” and “mussels Josephine” are superb – perhaps better than the multiple-choice fish entrees. 7830 W. Sand Lake Road, 407-355-7707. $$. Seafood. BRAVO CUCINA ITALIANA Enormous chain eatery serves up equal parts kitsch, class and comfort of the Roman variety. Dishes won’t necessarily wow, but the roasted red-pepper cream sauce in the pasta bravo is gratifying, as is zesty chicken scallopini. Pass on overly sweet tiramisu and opt for torta di cioccolata or warm berry cake instead. 7924 Via Dellagio Way, 407351-5880. $$. Italian.

BUBBALOU’S BODACIOUS BARB-QUE See listing in Winter Park Area

region. 5818 Conroy Road, 407-295-1212. $. American, Barbecue. CAFE TU TU TANGO Artists work while you eat in what’s essentially a mini-gallery, where the mood is festive, even outrageous, and the service is always impressive. Entree portions are intentionally small; diners are encouraged to order several and swap around the table. 8625 International Drive, 407-248-2222. $$$. Café/ Bistro, Continental, Tapas. CANTINA LAREDO Tex-Mex fare gets the Dr. Phillips treatment with higher-quality fare at higher prices. Guac prepared tableside is a must; meat-lovers will savor velvety tender carne asada, while vegetarians can get their fill of vibrant spinach enchiladas. Beware tighter waistbands after indulging in filling desserts. 8000 Via Dellagio Way, 407-345-0186. $$$. Mexican. THE CAPITAL GRILLE You’ll pay for the extraordinary service and posh atmosphere at this chain steakhouse, but the steaks are really good. Pointe Orlando, 407-370-4392. $$$$. Steak.


Peabody Orlando jumped on the chophouse wagon, serving choice cuts of beef from Ruprecht’s of Chicago. But the overall experience is too ordinary to be worthy of ridiculously high prices. If you must, hit the beef, steer clear of the pasta and charge it to the expense account. Your own dollars can be spent much more wisely elsewhere. 9801 International Drive, 407-352-4000. $$$$. Italian, Steak. CARIBBEAN QUEEN CUISINE Filling, $ and fast Caribbean fare served in an atmosphere that defines “unassuming.” Try the goat curry or the oxtail, if you like adventure; stick with the curried or jerk chicken if you don’t. 2798 Hiawassee Road, 407-290-9425. $. Caribbean. CEDAR’S RESTAURANT Their spin on traditional Lebanese food is a lightness of texture and flavor that is both refreshing and inviting. Use the hot, puffy pitas to scoop up baba ghanoush, a smooth roasted eggplant and garlic puree with a wonderfully smoky taste. 7732 W. Sand Lake Road, 407-351-6000. $$. Lebanese, Middle Eastern.

CHAMBERLIN’S NATURAL FOOD MARKET (AT THE MARKETPLACE AT DR. PHILLIPS) Health-food market that includes a bakery and cafe with a hot lunch bar that is vegetarian heaven. Also try their fresh juices, smoothies and sandwiches. 7600 Dr. Phillips Blvd., 407-352-2130. $. Vegetarian/ Vegan, Market, Bakery. CHARLEY’S STEAK HOUSE This old-school establishment answers traditional meat-eaters’ cravings with some of the best cuts in town. Stick with the steak, though; everything else is just a distraction. 8255 International Drive, 407363-0228. $$$$. American, Steak. CRICKETERS ARMS 5250 International Drive, 407-354-0686. $. Pub. CHRISTINI’S RISTORANTE ITALIANO The menu covers all regional cuisines of Italy, but

here you get so much more: attractive ambience, attentive service. The prices can make this a choice for special occasions only, but it doesn’t deter business; reservations are a necessity on weekends. 7600 Dr. Phillips Blvd., 407-345-8770. $$$$. Italian. COPPER CANYON GRILL 9101 International Drive, 407-363-3933. $$. American. CRAZY GRILL The all-you-can-eat extravaganza at this Brazilian churrascaria isn’t as first-rate an experience as Texas de Brazil, but the meat parade presents a decent value. A 10-meat carousel of skewers, like flavorful prime rib, velvety flank steak and parmesan-encrusted chicken drumsticks, are served and sliced tableside. Daring diners can opt for grilled chicken hearts. 6432 International Drive, 407-354-4404. $$$. Steak. CUBA LIBRE Epcot’s lost Cuban pavilion has found a home at Pointe Orlando feeding pricey Latino standards to conventioneers. Deceptively light papas rellenas and duck-filled pato rolls are auspicious beginnings to well-executed entrees like chile-citrus-sesame–brushed sea bass. For a representative sampling, the Cuba Libre platter comprises portions of three signature dishes. Expect waits on weekends. 9101 International Drive, 407-226-1600. $$$. Cuban. DELISH NEW YORK BAKERY It’s widely accepted that the key ingredient to great bagels is New York City tapwater, so the owners brought some to Orlando. Granted, the water comes inside frozen parboiled bagels, but when they’re finished off in the oven, the result is exemplary. A handful of lunchtime bagels are offered, but a wide array of cookies from Long Island’s Silver Lake Cookie Company are the bakery’s bread and butter. 8015 Turkey Lake Road, 407-965-5548. $. American, Deli/ Sandwiches, Bakery.

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THE DESSERT LADY CAFE See listing in Downtown region. 4900 S. Kirkman Road, 407822-8881. $. Wine, Sweets, Coffee/Tea, Bakery DUX Swimming in swanky atmosphere, this restaurant nestled in the Peabody Hotel offers a menu that changes with the seasons. Just don’t ask for the duck. 9801 International Drive, 407345-4550. $$$$. Continental. EMACK & BOLIO’S There’s little grass-roots flavor left in this flashy store filled with Hard Rock memorabilia. Still, the ice creams are the same premium, homemade concoctions (with rock & roll names like Deep Purple Cow and Strawberry Fields Forever) fashioned from hormone-free milk that made the first store a Boston standout. 5800 Universal Blvd., 407503-2432. $. Sweets. EMERIL’S RESTAURANT ORLANDO There’s much to like about the casual, contemporary atmosphere, warm and spicy colors, and first-class service. The menu is flawlessly prepared and beautifully presented with items like the andouille-crusted Texas redfish, dressed with roasted-pecan vegetable relish and teamed with shoestring potatoes. 6000 Universal Blvd., 407-224-2424. $$$$. American, Cajun/Creole. EMERIL’S TCHOUP CHOP It’s the latest place from Emeril Lagasse, so of course it’ll be popular and crowded. Unfortunately, the menu has only small flashes of brilliance surrounded by passable but unimpressive fare, and the service is intrusively attentive without being competent. Go there to dazzle out-of-town visitors. 6300 Hollywood Way, 407-503-2467. $$$. Hawaiian, Thai, Pan-Asian. FAMAS RISTORANTE ITALIANO Whether it’s filet coated with silken cognac-porcini sauce, rosemary-rubbed rack of lamb or fourcheese gnocchi, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a dish unworthy of praise. 5478 Central Florida Parkway , 407-239-9058. $$$. Italian.

FIRST WATCH See listing in North region. 7500 Sand Lake Road, 407-363-5622. $. American, Breakfast.

FIVE GUYS FAMOUS BURGERS AND FRIES See listing in North region. 7512 Dr.

Phillips Blvd., 407-226-9888; also 3024 W. Sand Lake Road, 407-352-8899. $. Hot Dogs, Hamburgers.

FRESCO ITALIAN RESTAURANT & MARKET The menu cleaves to the familiar, but execution is worthy of praise. Consider Orlando’s best carpaccio to start, then segue into dazzling gnocchi caprese before indulging in standout profiteroles. Bottles of wine are offered at wholesale prices. 7603 Turkey Lake Road, 407-363-5775. $$. Italian. FUJI SUSHI See listing in Winter Park Area region. 6700 Conroy Road, 407-298-2989. $$. Japanese/Sushi.

HANAMIZUKI JAPANESE RESTAURANT Deceptively situated in a bland I-Drive strip mall, this expensive, elegant sushi restaurant combines minimalist decor with a menu of surprising depth and intrigue to create a flawlessly integrated and refreshing experience. 8255 International Drive, 407-363-7200. $$$. Japanese/Sushi. INDIA SPICE HOUSE 7649 Turkey Lake Road, 407-226-2727. $$. Indian, Market. INTERNATIONAL FOOD CLUB 4300 LB McLeod Road, (321) 281-4300. $$. . J. ALEXANDER’S Doesn’t wholly segregate itself from the stigma associated with corporate eateries, but what they do, they do well. Iron-skillet corn bread anchors a bevy of top-notch sides like gruyere-bacon mac-and-cheese and buttermilk onion rings. Roti chicken dip is an ideal noontime nosh, and dinner mains like Cajun grouper and filet kebabs prove irresistible. 7335 W. Sand Lake Rd., 407-345-1039. $$$. American.

Ceviche Tapas Bar and Restaurant Photo by Gregg Matthews

JACK’S PLACE (AT ROSEN PLAZA HOTEL) Soft, flattering light from chandeliers enhances sketches of world-class luminaries, many of whom autographed the works that hang on the walls. Entrees range from steak and seafood to pasta and chicken in this New York-style dining establishment. 9700 International Drive, 407-996-9700. $$$. American, Seafood, Steak.

JIMMY BUFFETT’S MARGARITAVILLE When you want to soak up Key West flavor, try a visit to Margaritaville in the heart of glitzy CityWalk. There’s more flash in the colorful atmosphere than in the food at this noisy and crowded spot, but the ocean of margarita varieties might satisfy your drink-and-be-merry craving. Universal’s CityWalk, 407-224-2155. $$. Club, American, Hamburgers. KABBAB HOUSE Meticulously prepared Moorish meals await lovers of Moroccan fare in MetroWest: Kabbab House offers plenty of

grilled meats, tagines, couscous and other traditional North African dishes. Call ahead Fridays and Saturdays, as live music and bellydancing packs the house. 2423 S. Hiawassee Road, 407-704-7830. $$. African, Moroccan, Mediterranean. KAFE KALIK A Bahamian rhapsody it’s not, but the Carib plates at this colorfully contemporary outlet mall restaurant should please shophoppers in search of a fast-food alternative. A bowl of fiery conch chowder is a must, though curry crunch sushi rolls are adequate starters as well. 4969 International Drive, 407-248-0089. $$. Caribbean. THE KITCHEN Tucked into the chic Hard Rock Hotel, the Kitchen is designed to look and feel like you‚Äôre chowing down in the mansion of a rock star. There‚Äôs something for everyone, with kid-friendly amenities and a menu of mostly done-right comfort food. Hard Rock Hotel, 407503-2430. $$$. American. LA CREPERIA CAFE Chef Dino’s creperie disproves the notion that “mall food” and “quality” are mutually exclusive terms. More than 70 sweet and savory crepes are offered, most notably the “turkey a la brie.” Dessert options come layered with everything from Nutella to chestnut cream. 9101 International Drive, Suite 1144, 407-370-0008. French. LA NUOVA CUCINA 7724 W. Sand Lake Road, 407-354-4909. $$$. Italian, Mediterranean. LATIN QUARTER Nuevo Latin” cuisine is dressed in grand touristy style, complete with flashy scenery and nightly dance shows. But the menu deserves center stage, drawing recipes from 21 countries, with fresh beef, game, seafood and fruits of Latin America thrown together in untraditional ways. CityWalk at Universal Orlando, 407-224-2806. $$. Bar/Pub, Latin American, Cuban, Puerto Rican, Argentine.

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LE CAFE DE PARIS It’s not just the genuinely welcoming owners of this unassuming Dr. Phillips cafe that has customers coming back. The sandwiches, made with baguettes flown in daily from France, are the real draw – sample a ham-and-cheese croque monsieur or a chicken pan bagna and you’ll see why. 5170 Dr. Phillips Blvd., 407-293-2326. $. French. LEE & RICK’S OYSTER BAR An unfancy place with 50 years of experience. The pound of hot or cold shrimp has a slightly spicy flavor, and the fish-dinner platters come with heaps of fries. But the fresh, sweet oysters (raw or steamed) are the focal point. For the full effect, sit at the bar and settle in with a bucket of them. 5621 Old Winter Garden Road, 407-293-3587. $$. Seafood. MACHON Don’t be put off by going to an industrial park for dinner. Student chefs at Orlando Culinary Academy serve up delicious contemporary American bistro fare at Machon. They have seasonal menus, which consist of a la carte choices, or try the five-course tasting menu for a culinary adventure. 8511 Commodity Circle, 407313-8792. $$$. American, Café/Bistro. MAMA NEMS’ MetroWest soul food joint has a vast menu of comfort classics, but their lack of availability can be confounding. Fried chicken is properly crispy and unctuous, and the catfish is a juicy catch. Pork chops, though succulent, are lathered in a tepid gravy. Macaroni and cheese, fried green tomatoes, fried okra, collard greens and black-eyed peas are worthy sides; desserts are passable. 805 S. Kirkman Road, 407-253-7744. $$. Southern. THE MELTING POT See listing in Winter Park Area region. 7549 W. Sand Lake Road, 407-9031100. $$$. Fondue. MEMORIES OF INDIA All regions of India are accounted for at this fancy-but-warm restaurant tucked away in a plaza. From the coastal

regions come seafood dishes such as an excellent Goan fish curry. From the northern areas, there are succulent meats cooked tandoor-style. It’s all good. 7625 Turkey Lake Road, 407-3703277. $$. Indian. MIROZA OF METROWEST MetroWest wine bar aims to attract area bon s vivants and oenophiles to their swanky digs to sample their 70-plus selections, while chef Elkin Flores’ globally inspired dishes, like smoked duck with tropical fruits layered between wonton crackers, score high marks for creativity. Grilled churrasco steak and marinated grilled grouper with pesto risotto are solid entree choices, though desserts are ordinary at best. 2869 Wilshire Drive, 407532-2228. $$. American, Café/Bistro. MOE’S SOUTHWEST GRILL Moe’s boasts of using fresh ingredients to build tacos, burritos and fajitas that unfortunately are difficult to tell apart. Quesadillas are the best thing on the menu, but everything else is a blur of cold cheese, beans and lettuce wrapped in a tortilla. 7541D W. Sand Lake Road, 407-264-9903. $$. Mexican. MOONFISH Waiting for a bite takes on new meaning in atmospheric entry that baits its hook with fresh fish possibilities and comes up with mostly winners, as long as time is not of the essence in your dining plans. Sushi is immaculately prepared, and the Prince Edward Island mussels in garlic and white wine sauce are alone worthy of a visit. 7525 W. Sand Lake Road, 407363-7262. $$$. Japanese/Sushi, Seafood.

N.Y.P.D. PIZZA & DELICATESSEN Multiple “Best of Orlando” winner for pizza, N.Y.P.D. also serves up a variety of pizzeria staples, from chicken parmigiana to sausageand-pepper heroes. 2589 S. Hiawassee Road, 407-293-8880. $. Italian, Pizza. NAGOYA SUSHI Tucked away in a MetroWest shopping center, Nagoya Sushi offers creative interpretations of classic Japanese dishes. The brothers Lu make an art of molding rice, slicing paper-thin fish and building wonderful rolls from a wide variety of tastes and colors, while the hot dishes from the kitchen are as good as any. 7600 Dr. Phillips Blvd. # 66, 407-248-8558. $$. Japanese/Sushi. NILE ETHIOPIAN RESTAURANT Orlando’s lone Ethiopian restaurant is a blessing for foodies with an appetite for the exotic. Utensils come in the form of pancake-like sourdough bread called injera, used to scoop intensely spiced dishes from a large communal platter. Be sure to sample traditional honey wine as well as Ethiopian coffee, brewed in a clay pot. 7040 International Drive, 407-354-0026. $$$. Ethiopian. OCEAN PRIME There’s plenty of style and swank at this supper club to keep the Sand Lake set happy, but a little more focus in the kitchen and front of the house will make this good restaurant great. Live music can be entertaining or bothersome, depending on your mood. 7339 W. Sand Lake Road, 407-781-4880. $$$$. American, Seafood. OCEANAIRE SEAFOOD ROOM A budgetbusting bounty of unparalleled freshness awaits seafood lovers at what is arguably Orlando’s finest seafood house. Up to 25 varieties of fish, lobster, crab and mussels, and 12 varieties of oysters, are flown in daily from around the world. Family-style sides are available, though not necessary. Save room to share the enormous wedge of caramel brownie. 9101 International Drive, 407-363-4801. $$$$. Seafood. THE PALM The first Palm was opened in New York circa 1926, and the Orlando version features a mixture of fine, uncomplicated dishes and slight near-misses. Steaks are enormous. In a break from standard Universal routine, free valet parking is right at the door. Hard Rock Hotel, 407-503-7256. $$$. American, Steak. PASSAGE TO INDIA For more than a decade, this restaurant has been a consistent purveyor

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of fine Indian food, and its formal atmosphere matches the upscale menu. Sample the range of spices and textures in the appetizer platter, which captures the wonders of the excellent entrees. Service is attentive. 5532 International Drive, 407-351-3456. $$. Indian. PASTAMORE Energetic Italian is surprisingly original for a theme-park restaurant. The menu puts an emphasis on fresh ingredients and smartly offers dishes as small, large or family-style. Service is enthusiastic but erratic. CityWalk at Universal Orlando, 407-363-8000. $$. Italian, Pizza. PIZZA XTREME On the fringes of the tourist sector lies this hard-to-find gem that dishes out some damn decent pie. The sauce is made from scratch, the dough is hand-stretched and tossed, and toppings are cut fresh, resulting in the quintessence of pizza. Stick to the circular pies for better consistency and flavor, and if you’re pinching pennies, there are plenty of specials. 7250 S. Kirkman Road, 407-226-3333. $. Pizza. POLLO PIO PIO This thrifty stronghold for exquisite rotisserie chicken relies on secret family recipes from Colombia and Peru. The real secret is that when it comes to the simple menu – from beans and rice, to tostones and empanadas, to worship-worthy garlic and jalapeno-habanero sauces – it’s all good. Don’t skip the flawless flan and tres leches cake. 5752 International Drive, 407-248-6424. $. Latin American. POUR HOUSE 2461 S. Hiawassee Road, 407704-8648. $. American. PRESS 101 Dr. Phillips cafe is equal parts quick-casual sandwich joint and tony wine bar. The outdoor patio fills quickly with wine enthusiasts and diners in search of French-inspired light fare. Asparagus salad and vegetable soup are some of the many can’t-miss starters, while mango chicken and French dip sandwiches are filling and flavorful. 7600 Dr. Phillips Blvd., 407351-2101. Deli/Sandwiches. PUNJAB INDIAN RESTAURANT Authentic Indian standby on International Drive offers refuge from the bright lights and fast-food franchises. They take an excellent tour through the classics – curries, fried puff breads, chutneys, stewed lentils and tasty tandoori dishes like tikka kebab, with char-broiled meat, onions, peppers and tomatoes. 7451 International Drive, 407352-7887. $$. Indian. Q’KENAN Among the timeshares and hotels on the southern end of I-Drive, this unusual family Venezuelan joint peeks out of the overwhelming fast-food dining scene. It’s part restaurant and part grocery store and there’s not much ambience, but the authentic arepas, empanadas and cachapas are top-rate. Try the mixed mountain grill (parrilla tepui mixta) for a heartier entree. 8117 Vineland Ave., 407-238-0014. $. Latin American. RAN GETSU OF TOKYO Japanese dining, with a view that overlooks a traditional garden and koi pond. The menu can get pricey, especially for the interesting entrees, such as yosenabe, a simple treasure with fresh seafood, noodles and vegetables in a delicate broth. 8400 International Drive, 407-345-0044. $$. Japanese/Sushi. RED BAMBOO Strip-mall dining at its best, Red Bamboo – sort of a cousin to Thai House – turns out top Thai standards and specials at reasonable prices as well as fastidious service. The cooks are masters with spicy seasoning that doesn’t bring on tears. And the wines are carefully selected to bring out the best in the cuisine. 6803 S. Kirkman Road, 407-226-8997. $$. Thai. RICE PAPER Quaint family-owned restaurant tucked away in an otherwise industrial area distinguishes itself as much for its worthy cuisine, prepared by brother and sister Hung and Ha Phan, as its southwest locale, where there are few Vietnamese restaurants. Still, it doesn’t overshadow the veteran restaurants that anchor

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$3"7& 4158 Conroy Road Orlando, FL 32839 407.345.8788 Next to Mall at Millenia

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the ViMi district at Colonial Drive and Mills Avenue. 7637 Turkey Lake Road, 407-352-4700. $. Vietnamese. ROY’S RESTAURANT Not-so-fancy upscale chain creates a curious fusion of Pacific Rim cuisines, with an emphasis on Hawaiian ingredients, like shutome swordfish basted in a Thai curry sauce. The variety of selections extends to both the hit-and-miss menu and the endless wine list. 7760 W. Sand Lake Road, 407-3524844. $$$$. Hawaiian, Seafood, Pan-Asian. RUTH’S CHRIS STEAK HOUSE See listing in Winter Park Area region. 7501 W. Sand Lake Road, 407-226-3900. $$$$. American, Steak. SAMBA ROOM At Samba Room, romance and conviviality blend with Latin American fusion, which is pleasantly subdued and gracefully carried out. Mostly Spanish, but there are a few twists and turns on the menu that add excitement. 7468 W. Sand Lake Road, 407-226-0550. $$$$. Bar/Pub, Latin American, Spanish, Steak. SEASONS 52 See listing in North region. 7700 Sand Lake Road, 407-354-5212. $$$. American, Vegetarian/Vegan. SHIRAZ GRILL Filet mignon and chicken kebabs steal the show, but perfumed plates of barberry-jeweled pilaf with luxuriant Persian stews are also outstanding. A smoky starter of pureed aubergines drizzled with cream of whey is as dip-worthy as any hummus. Get closure with a glacial orb of syrupy sweet falooda. 6427 Westwood Blvd., 407-284-1273. $$. Middle Eastern. SUSHI TOMI Unassuming joint is a hidden gem for the city’s sushi cognoscenti, thanks to chef Hidehiko’s exceptional skills. Colorful sunshine rolls, artistic samurai rolls and wonderfully fatty toro nigiri will have sushi fiends coming back for more. Leaving with the essence of red bean ice cream in your mouth is the way to go. 8463 S. John Young Parkway, 407-352-8635. $$. Japanese/Sushi. SUSHIOLOGY Save dollars by eating $ but respectable rolls at this I-Drive hole in the wall where nothing is more than $6.50, from the crunchy California rolls to the messy volcano variety. The store is set up for takeout and delivery; there are a few tables for eating in, but don’t. Grab and go. That’s the beauty. 6400 International Drive, 407-345-0245. $. Japanese/Sushi. SWEET BASIL A new place with young, attentive owners, almost hidden on the far side of Kirkman, with good regional variations on recognizable Thai themes. Dishes like duck with basil and crispy fish stand out, and even the standard items like pad thai are done well. 8957 International Drive, 407-370-2200. $$. Thai. TABLA BAR & GRILL Shabber Chowdhury raises the bar for Indian cuisine in Orlando with a lengthy menu of inspired Indian-fusion dishes. Chile pakoras trump traditional jalapeno poppers; kesari murgh marries homemade pesto and saffron sauce; and lamb do piazza’s heady curry is both assertive and aromatic. Desserts, like toffee pudding cake and chocolate malai kofta, continue the razzle-dazzling. Servers, though well-meaning, can exhibit inexperience. 5827 Caravan Court, 407-2489400. $$. Indian. TABOULE CAFE Part market, part diner: Chrome baker’s racks stacked with Middle Eastern foodstuffs occupy half the space, while tables by the entrance are filled with diners enjoying pies, kebabs and sandwiches. The falafel and hummus are some of the best you’ll find in town. Whatever you buy, a cup of Middle Eastern coffee is sure to supercharge your day. 7645 Turkey Lake Road, 407-226-3111. $. Middle Eastern, Market. TAQUITOS JALISCO What the owners started with their authentic Mexican recipes and lively mariachi band at the flagship restaurant in Winter Garden, they extend into the MetroWest area. The chips are warm, the salsa is magical and the rest of the menu is simply masterful –

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from tacos and enchiladas to mole poblano and menudo. 2419 S. Hiawassee Road, 407-2960626. $$. Mexican. TAVERN ON THE LAKE Newly refurbished Tavern on the Lake is an upscale joint with some killer comestibles, and whoever designed the signature martinis should get a medal. Don’t be embarrassed if you don’t drive a luxury car; the room could use some young blood.6996 Piazza Grande Ave., 407-233-2900. $$. Club, American. TAVERNA OPA Boisterous Greek taverna at Pointe Orlando is equal parts restaurant and nightclub; table dancing is encouraged. A variety of small plates allow for diverse dining, with saganaki (pan-fried cheese) and ouzo-infused mussels being worthy selections. Moussaka is just average, but the meat platter is a carnivore’s delight. 9101 International Drive, 407-879-2481. $$$. Greek. TEXAS DE BRAZIL One price buys overindulgence at this richly styled all-you-can-eat Brazilian churrascaria, serving 15 cuts of charcoal-grilled meats on large skewers that are delivered to your table till you tell them to stop. The salad bar is a country in itself, with a wealth of fresh vegetables and Latin standbys, as well as gourmet specialties like shrimp ceviche and artichoke and raisin melange. 5259 International Drive, 407-355-0355. $$$$. Latin American, Steak, Argentine. TIMPANO ITALIAN CHOPHOUSE The concept is big-city dining with the allure of 1950s New York nightclubs. The result is extraordinary quality and impeccable service. You could get a better veal saltimbocca – thin cutlets served with prosciutto ham and provolone in a subtle garlic and sage sauce – but you’d have to go to Rome to find it. 7488 W. Sand Lake Road, 407248-0429. $$. Italian, Steak. TOOJAY’S DELI See listing in Central region. 7600 Dr. Phillips Blvd., 407-355-0340. $. American, Breakfast, Deli/Sandwiches, Diner. UNIVERSAL CITYWALK The theme park includes nine restaurants: Emeril’s Restaurant Orlando, Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, Bob Marley – A Tribute to Freedom, The Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Restaurant & Market, Hard Rock Cafe Orlando, Latin Quarter, NASCAR Sports Grille, NBA City and PastamorÊ Ristorante & Market. 6000 Universal Blvd., 407-363-8000 VINES GRILLE & WINE BAR Steaks and seafood straight from an open charcoal grill are what you’ll find in a surprisingly intimate spot in the heart of Sand Lake’s restaurant row. The slightly upscale fare includes perfect tenderloins and crunchy flatbread pizzas, and there’s live music nightly. 7563 W. Sand Lake Road, 407351-1227. $$$. American, Seafood, Steak. VITO’S CHOP HOUSE Over-the-top and oversized elegance is the game at this old-style steakhouse with a dark-wood decor and ultraattentive waiters. The steaks come in gigantic portions and have spectacular flavor. The dessert tray offers more ridiculously huge choices. 8633 International Drive, 407-354-2467. $$$. American, Steak. WA RESTAURANT A tranquil, minimalist elegance provides the backdrop to a menu of contemporary Japanese-Gallic fusion and exceptionally fresh sushi, arguably the best in town. Otoro is an undeniable star on any sushi plate; pork belly is melt-in-your-mouth magic; New York strip slices rolled with monkfish liver is innovative. Desserts are stellar, and an exceptional sake list will please fans of rice wine.5911 Turkey Lake Rd, 407-226-0234. $$$. Japanese/ Sushi. WHOLE FOODS MARKET See listing in Winter Park Area region. 8003 Turkey Lake Road, 407-355-7100. $. Vegetarian/Vegan, Market. XUSHI FACTORY The smallest sushi spot in town makes an ideal spot for outlet-mall shop-

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pers yearning for a quick seafood fix. Choices are limited, but a starter of bite-size fillets of golden-fried panko snapper segues nicely into skillfully made rolls; sweet banana tempura is perfectly prepared. For the sushi-shy, the space is a Brazilian burger joint after 10 p.m. 5859 American Way, 407-535-1800. $. Japanese/ Sushi.

WEST C & C JAMAICAN RESTAURANT The island fare at this small Jamaican joint in Apopka is on par with establishments in Pine Hills, the jerk chicken being the biggest draw. A cup of piping-hot goat soup and a spicy beef patty is a meal in itself (and sucking the marrow out of the bones is an unexpected pleasure). Traditional ackee and codfish is a popular breakfast item. 713 S. Orange Blossom Trail, Apopka, 407-884-0883. $. Caribbean. CAFE ATTUARE This cafe in the heart of Mount Dora offers some great Italian-American selections, including a full pizza menu, as well as typical Italian entrees of veal, poultry, seafood and huge plates of pasta. Much of the food is homemade, right down to the salad dressings and desserts. Don’t miss the fabulous immigrant-style homemade lasagna. 301 N. Baker St., Mount Dora, 352-385-1953. $$. Italian. CAFFE POSITANO Impeccable Italian in a bustling trattoria atmosphere with friendly service and manageable prices. The array of “pizzettes” may be one of the area’s bestkept secrets, with crusts fired in the oven to crunchy perfection. 3030 E. Semoran Blvd., Apopka, 407-774-8080. $$. Café/Bistro, Italian.

THE CATFISH PLACE OF APOPKA Florida-style fish house is the place to go when you’re in the mood for down-home fried seafood. The restaurant is nothing fancy, but the boneless catfish is superb, the house-special coleslaw is crisp, sweet and tart, and the service is warm. 311 Forest Ave., Apopka, 407-8897980. $$. American, Seafood. CHEF’S TABLE AT THE EDGEWATER An intimate setting, superbly executed dishes and the opportunity to banter with the chef make this Winter Garden prix fixe a must-stop on the local foodie trail. Foie gras creme brulee, wild mushroom-and-gruyere torte and sesamecrusted tuna highlight the menu. Berries saute and chocolate souffle will leave you more than sated.99 W. Plant St., Winter Garden, 407-2304837.$$$$. American. DIM SUM FEAST Modest buffet restaurant where $ eats and surprisingly well-done dishes coincide. The typical buffet fare is here, so if you’re a lo mein or General Tso’s chicken fan, pigging out is encouraged. 5989 W. Colonial Drive, 407-293-7999. $. Chinese. EL REY DE LA PAPA It’s a meat-andpotatoes affair at this humble outpost. Rustic rib soup is outstandingly hearty; empanadas de carne, delightfully crunchy; and baked potatoes prodigiously weighty. Exotic fruit smoothies and milky tres leches cake break the tuberand-beef pattern. 1201 Winter Garden Vineland Rd., Winter Garden, 407-656-0700. $$. Latin American. THE GOBLIN MARKET Tucked in a downtown alleyway, this casual gourmet outlet is set up for dining inside and out, as well as takeout. Try the flavorful crab bisque served with a small crystal pitcher of sherry or the crab cakes served with a tart cucumber-onion relish. It’s rare to find such creativity in this neck of the woods. 330 Dora Drawdy Way, Mount Dora, 352-735-0059. $$$$. American, Seafood. GUANAJUATO GRILL Aggressively bright and festive eatery serves all your standard TexMex faves. Start with a bowl of cheesy-creamy corn chowder, then dive into savory carne asada tacos and gratifying filete Guanajuato,

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both of which rise above the standard offerings. 354 W. Story Road, 407-654-5313. $. Mexican. HAGAN O’REILLY’S 16112 Marsh Road, Winter Garden, 407-905-4782. $. Irish. MATTHEW’S STEAKS AND MORE Stripmall steakhouse offers German-influenced fare as well as Fatherland attitude and efficiency. Paprika-tinged goulash is a wonderful starter, while the mixed-steak skewer, featuring filet and rump steak, is a tender and flavorful entree, perfectly paired with a baked potato slathered in homemade sour cream.Reservations are a must. 2594 S. Maguire Road, Ocoee, 407-877-0003. $$$$. German, Steak. POSITANO Italian eatery with a dual identity provides a mix of fine dining and family fare. Sharing a menu, the front room offers a boisterous, family-oriented pizzeria where you can watch your New York-style pizza being made, and the back room features elegant, sophisticated dining. 8995 W. Colonial Drive, Ocoee, 407-291-0602. $$. Italian, Pizza.

SHAKERA’S WEST INDIAN RESTAURANT Guyanese joint in the heart of Orlando’s Carib community attracts legions of devotees for its roti – flatbread wraps filled with turmeric-spiced curries. Both chickpea-potato and boneless chicken versions are intensely fulfilling, and if you like it hot, ask for X-rated Scotch bonnet pepper sauce. 2615 N. Pine Hills Road, 407290-2462. $. Caribbean. TIMEHRI Curry, roti and a bevy of peppery Chinese dishes make this humble West Colonial eatery a gathering ground for Orlando’s Guyanese community. Chicken curry with buttery, unleavened dhal pouri is the way to go, though oxtail pepperpot offers a true taste of the country. A swig of fresh coconut water keeps you cool – just look for the guy selling it in the parking lot. 7371 W. Colonial Drive, 407-2912047. $. Caribbean.

WINDSOR ROSE ENGLISH TEA ROOM High-tea favorites – and heartier fare such as steak – are charmingly presented. But the piece de resistance is Queen Victoria cake, crowned by powdered sugar and filled with strawberry preserves and cream cheese. 142 W. Fourth Ave., Mount Dora, 352-735-2551. $. Coffee/ Tea. YELLOW DOG EATS Charming familyowned eatery is bigger and better after surviving a fire. Remodeled but still serving sophisticated sandwiches like the Yellow Dog club: pioneer bread with Cointreau mayonnaise, honey-mesquite turkey, smoked Gouda, bacon and red-leaf lettuce. 1236 Hempel Ave., Windermere, 407-296-0609. $. American, Deli/Sandwiches.

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Orlando Weeklys Annual Dining Guide