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BITE orlando weekly’S FREE DINING GuIDE 2013

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General Manager Graham Jarrett Executive Editor Erin Sullivan

EDITORIAL Editor Jessica Bryce Young Associate Editor Ashley Belanger Creative Director Adam McCabe Contributors Holly Kapherr, Faiyaz Kara, Scott Horn Photographer Robert Bartlett Copy Editor Katherine Ramirez Massey Web Editor Jaime Monzon Interns Shelby England, Drexler B. James

Table of Contents F E AT U R E

6 Heat of the moment: Orlando’s hottest dining trends

35 Food Trucks Meals on wheels

54 Mediterranean Greek, Turkish, Middle Eastern

F E AT U R E

57 African

Nose-to-tail eating, craft cocktails and supper clubs … plus what’s next

35 An interview with Mark Baratelli

9 Modern A focus on local ingredients

drink and eat

57 Mead: It’s not just for Vikings

41 Food to Drink By English pubs, Irish pubs, brewpubs, taprooms, wine bars

59 Indian

and innovative technique

15 American Traditional Comfortfood classics given the deluxe treatment

21 Casual Barbecue, burgers, delis, diners, salads, sandwiches, soul food F E AT U R E

21 Trend alert: fancified fast food 27 Steakhouses F E AT U R E

27 Where sides go over the top 31 Seafood F E AT U R E

31 Go fish!

39 Dinner and a Show Have a seat,

F E AT U R E

63 Asian Chinese, Japanese/Sushi,

F E AT U R E

41 A pint and a plate: pairing beer with food

48 European French, German, Polish, Russian, Spanish F E AT U R E

48 Anatomy of a paella 50 Italian/Pizza F E AT U R E

50 Living la dolce vita: a glossary of Italian sweets

Korean, Thai, Vietnamese

69 Latin Cuban, Puerto Rican, Mexican, Colombian, Peruvian, Venezuelan

69 Trend alert: spotlight on Peruvian food

BUSINESS Manager Elizabeth Hubbard Assistant Andreina Icaza TIMES SHAMROCK COMMUNICATIONS Regional Publisher Michael Wagner

Copyright © 2013, Orlando Weekly, all rights reserved. Orlando Weekly is a wholly owned subsidiary of Times Shamrock Communications. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. Publisher does not assume liability for unsolicited manuscripts or correspondence should be sent to: OrlandO WEEkly

75 Healthy Vegan, vegetarian, smoothies, juice bars

77 Coffee, Tea & Sweets Coffeehouses, teahouses, cupcakes, snocones, fro-yo, ice cream

Welcome to the 2013 edition of BITE, Orlando Weekly’s annual guide to dining out in Central Florida. If you’ve picked up BITE before, you may notice that we’ve given the guide something of a facelift. In the past, we focused on providing readers with a comprehensive listing of bite-sized reviews of as many restaurants as we could squeeze into these pages. This year, in honor of our region’s fast-developing food scene, we’ve decided to offer instead a handful of stories about the food trends that make our dining scene unique, as well as a hand-picked selection of capsule reviews representing some of Orlando’s most popular cuisines. Each capsule includes symbols that will let you know if that restaurant offers takeout, outdoor dining, a full liquor bar and more. Check the key at the bottom of each page to find out what each symbol represents. As in previous years, restaurants listed in red are BITE advertisers. We hope you’ll use this guide as a jumping-off point for exploring the diversity of our burgeoning restaurant scene. Orlando is delicious – take a bite!

— Jessica Bryce Young

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PRODUCTION Production Manager Shelby Sloan Graphic Designer Danny McGee

materials. All editorial, advertising and business

F E AT U R E

A Letter From the Editor

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ADVERTISING Account Manager Jerrica Schwartz Senior Sales Execs Jonathan Risteen, Dan Winkler Retail Sales Execs Jon Bowers, Kijana Moultrie, Candace Valladares, Matt Whiting Marketing/Promotions Andreina Icaza

1505 E. Colonial Drive, Suite 200 Orlando, FL 32803

Phone: 407-377-0400 Fax: 407-377-0420 Email: feedback@orlandoweekly.com Web: www.orlandoweekly.com

READ IT RIGHT!

B BEEr/WInE L lIquOr O OuTdOOr dInIng T TakEOuT adVErTISErS = PRINTED IN rEd

$$$$ $$$$ $$$$ $$$$

$10 Or lESS $10-15 $15-25 $25 Or mOrE

The price range generally reflects the average cost of one dinner entree. Bakeries, ice cream shops, etc. reflect relative cost for one person.

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HEAT

OF THE MOMENT

Get a grip on Orlando’s hottest restaurant trends – and find out what’s next B y H o l ly V. K a p H e r r

You’ve held court over a hot pot and braved the artisanal burger, but are you sure you’re savvy to what’s new and now in Orlando dining? Here are three culinary movements worth investigating and where you can get in on the action.

Entrail mix: nose-to-tail eating THe disH:

La Mexicana in South Orlando fills their homemade masa tortillas with tender lengua (tongue) and spicy tripas (tripe).

You might think that offal is the final frontier, but in reality, it was the beginning of “dining out.” Wholeanimal cookery has been around since man’s first bite of flesh, but organ meats and “fifth cuts” (the toughest, least expensive cuts) have fallen out of modern favor. Luckily, they’re back, and trendy chefs have made it their mission to reintroduce alternative cuts to diners.

Benefits of nose-to-tail eating abound. Obviously, using the whole animal cuts down on waste and expense. But the pure-pleasure bonus is that diners get to feast on intense flavors, and chefs get to experiment with fresh and inventive techniques. “Since diners don’t have any expectations about how a dish should be prepared, we can be as creative as we want and put out something really fantastic,“ says chef James Petrakis of the Ravenous Pig and Cask & Larder in Winter Park.

“The trick,” says Tony Adams of Big Wheel Provisions, star of his own butchery video on YouTube, “is to combine familiar flavors, like a taco, with unfamiliar proteins, like pig’s head.” A great example: Tortilleria

Go: • The Rusty Spoon (55 W. Church St., 407-401-8811; therustyspoon.com) • The Ravenous Pig (1234 N. Orange Ave., Winter Park; 407-628-2333, theravenouspig.com) • Tortilleria & Restaurant La Mexicana (2417 W. Oak Ridge Road; 407-888-3531)

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Rocks and roll: craft cocktails THe disH: Even with our surfeit of digital gadgets in the age of “right now,” there’s a longing for a bygone era when life, love and booze were a little more leisurely. The “slow drink” movement has transformed the squirt gun-and-speed rail rumand-Coke into the pickled-Rainiercherry, cardamom-infused-rum and cane-sugar Coke smash. “There’s a longing to reconnect with the past and the way things used to be. People want to experience something old-school that’s been made new again,” says Tyler Brassil,

chef and owner of the Pharmacy, a speakeasy-style bar (hidden behind his dinner-party-style prix-fixe restaurant, the Table). Quality spirits and house-made bitters, jams, tonics and garnishes are paramount here, and there’s certainly an audience for it. Gene Zimmerman, owner of downtown Orlando’s Courtesy Bar, says he sources the best herbs, spices and ingredients around town and collaborates with chef Kevin Fonzo of K Restaurant to concoct imaginative mixers (like cherrytarragon soda) and garnishes (like smoked manzanilla olives).

Go: • The Courtesy (114 N. Orange Ave., 407-450-2041; thecourtesybar.com) • The Woods (49 N. Orange Ave., 407-203-1114; thewoodsorlando.com) • Pharmacy (8060 Via Dellagio Way, 407-985-2972; thepharmacyorlando.com) • Hanson’s Shoe Repair (27 E. Pine St., 407-476-9446 for password and reservation)

Coming right up! Eyes peeled, forks out, people! Here’s what’s coming to town soon: Scan design The SwedeDish food truck (see page 35) sewed up “First!” rights on the Scandinavian trend early in Orlando. But based on bigger cities, we’re about to see a lot more pickled fish and lingonberries up in here. Juiced up After the release of the film Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, fresh fruit and veggie juicing went from a hippie affectation to a general craze. Be prepared to fork over some coin, though; a 12-ounce cup will set you back between $6 and $8 at the Smoothie Room (see page 75). Garden of eatin’ Look for restaurants to go hyperlocal soon, joining places that already cultivate their own kitchen gardens, like Sweet Mama’s in Lake Nona, K Restaurant in College Park (see page 12), and Primo (also on page 12).

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THe CoUrTesy

Finders, eaters: pop-up restaurants and supper clubs THe disH: Looking for the ultimate in foodie bragging rights? Eat a meal at a fleeting pop-up restaurant or score an elite invite to a supper club. Popup restaurants are a-few-nights-only events in borrowed space where a chef can show his or her stuff to adoring fans. Tony Adams’ pop-up, Kennebec, took over Thornton Park event/co-working space Urban ReThink for five nights in March, to sold-out crowds. Adams’ team was anxious to ramp up their food-truck recipes. “Sometimes you want to serve good food on a plate instead of in a cardboard boat,” he admits. Supper clubs are more nostalgic, but they’re making a comeback,

too, says restaurant critic Scott Joseph, who helms his own events. “Guests usually don’t know the location of the dinner until that day,” Joseph says. Past locales have included Quantum Leap Winery and Gary’s Seafood. The appeal of supper clubs goes beyond exclusivity; it’s a chance to witness the unexpected. “Our first supper club had Hari Pulapaka from Cress Restaurant in DeLand alongside Henry Salgado from Spanish River Grill in New Smyrna Beach. It was a chance to try the food from two excellent chefs at the same time in the same place,” says Joseph. dining@orlandoweekly.com

Go: • Dishcrawl (sign up at dishcrawl.com/orlando) • Scott Joseph Orlando (sign up at scottjosephorlando.com) • Orlando ClandesDine (orlandoclandesdine.com; twitter.com/oclandesdine)

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A creAtive spin on trAditionAl cuisine, with A focus on locAl ingredients And innovAtive technique

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Cask & LaRDER

CASK & LARDER With a commitment to nose-totail cookery and a fine selection of accessible-but-atypical cuts, this “Southern Public House” has already reached legendary status. Occupying a landmark building, James and Julie Petrakis’ latest venture serves terrific nouveau-Southern fare – grilled lamb heart, ethereal pork belly, foie gras-stuffed quail and a country-ham tasting flight, to name just a few. Pair your meal with a brew from in-house cicerone Ron Raike or craft cocktail. Brunch is served Saturday and Sunday;

closed Mondays. 565 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park, 321-280-4200; $$$

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CEVICHE TAPAS BAR The seductive interior alone makes this Church Street spot worth visiting, though the whopping selection of small plates is what keeps patrons coming back. Refreshing tuna ceviche segues nicely into Iberico ham; creamy tres leches cake with fresh berries is as savory as it is siesta-inducing. 125 W. Church St., 321-281-8140; $$

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THE CHEF’S TABLE/THE TASTING ROOM AT THE EDGEWATER Kevin and Laurie Tarter have built a culinary empire within the confines of the Edgewater Hotel’s ground floor. The intimate Chef’s Table and lower-key Tasting Room both feature superbly executed dishes, and the opportunity to banter with the chef make these Winter Garden eateries must-stop fixtures on the local foodie trail. 99 W. Plant St., Winter Garden, 407-230-4837; $$$$

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CRESS RESTAURANT Mathematician-turned-chef Hari Pulapaka has the formula for success: fusing traditional and multicultural approaches with organic ingredients. Delicately crisp basil-brie wontons are beautifully executed; the signature salad offers a representative sampling from their garden; and a baconwrapped Kurobota pork chop is a delicious Everest to scale. Desserts are simple to a fault. 103 W. Indiana Ave., DeLand, 386-734-3740; $$$

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FRESH Intimate, down-to-earth café offers a nightly changing menu of globally inspired fare comprising ingredients sourced from within 150 miles. For the most part, dishes are well-executed – on our visit, we enjoyed a local poussin and a lamb ragu. Salads aren’t your garden variety, while desserts like chocolate-chip banana bread pudding are well worth considering. The close proximity of tables makes it conductive to impromptu conviviality. Closed Mondays. 535 W. New England Ave., Winter Park, 321-295-7837; $$

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K RESTAURANT

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The restaurant tucked into a cozy bungalow reaches a grand level of food and service; chef and owner Kevin Fonzo (the “K”) creates dishes that are both simple and elegantly delicious, often using ingredients from the garden behind the kitchen. From salad to starter to main course, everything hits the right note, surpassing the restaurant’s already sterling reputation. 1710 Edgewater Drive, 407-872-2332; $$$

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LUMA ON PARK Foodies are hot for the innovative fare at this Park Avenue star, overseen by chef Brandon McGlamery. The atmosphere is lively and suitable for large parties, especially at the chef’s table. There’s a great wine selection, a creative cocktail menu, and the smaller 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, 407-599-4111; $$$

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OLV CAFÉ Equal parts café, wine bar and tapas joint, this inviting spot is a gathering ground for SoDo’s urban patronage. Petite beef tenders and tuna ceviche are most satisfying; the duck confit flatbread is popular. For dessert, assorted mini indulgences are in keeping with the small-plate theme. The Sunday brunch buffet is usually packed with loyal patrons – make a reservation. 25 W. Crystal Lake St., 407-722-5060; $$

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PRIMO Celebrity chef Melissa Kelly brings her organic, locavore philosophy down from Maine to open a second 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

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for a special meal Primo beats almost any spot in town. 4040 Central Florida Parkway, 407-393-4444; $$$$

THE RAVENOUS PIG Frills, like the coveted Gruyère biscuits, 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 crème. 1234 N. Orange Ave., Winter Park, 407-628-2333; $$$

THE RUSTy SPOON Self-described gastropub brings a locavore credo to the downtown core along with an urban-farmhouse vibe. The rustic menu focuses on locally farmed and raised ingredients, but not obsessively so. Best: tapenade-stuffed eggs, coffee-rubbed culotte steak and grown-up s’mores. There’s a small but decent selection of craft beers, wines and “rusty-tails” as well. 55 W. Church St., 407-401-8811; $$$

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SANTIAGO’S BODEGA An Orlando outpost of the Key West original, this tapas-style restaurant offers a multitude of small plates from which to choose, but the dishes are not limited to Spanish cuisine – instead, you’ll find modern classics spanning the globe, and a menu that comes as close to truly offering “something for everybody” as any we’ve seen. 802 Virginia Drive, 407-412-6979; $$$

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SONAPA GRILLE SoNapa (the name is inspired by California’s wine country) is cozy, with a river-rock fireplace and a lovely bar area. The menu can be up-anddown, though some items are utterly delicious, like the pork osso buco. But service is solid, and the list of California wines is surprisingly affordable. 640 S. Orlando Ave., Maitland, 407-637-2933; $$$

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THE TABLE A 22-seat restaurant modeled after a dinner party gives one of the more interesting dining experiences in the city. A sumptuous five-course meal with hors d’oeuvres and wine pairings awaits those willing to foot the allinclusive $100 per person bill; some wine choices can be puzzling, but the food is deftly and deliciously executed. Open Fridays and Saturdays, with one 7 p.m. seating. 8060 Via Dellagio Way, 407-900-3463; $$$$

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Comfort-food ClassiCs given the deluxe treatment

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310 LAKESIDE/310 PARK SOUTH The Park Avenue bistro has a trendy, people-watching vibe, while the Lake Eola location features a more understated, leisured pace. Wellexecuted dishes like pan-seared snapper with a magnificent fennel and olive tapenade garnish and beef tenderloin flatbread are as much a draw as the outdoor dining. Desserts are revelatory. 301 E. Pine St., 407-373-0310; also 310 S. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407-647-7277; $$$

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B.B. KING’S BLUES CLUB B.B. King’s is a roomy, functioning live music venue with a dinner theater setup. It’s great for seeing music if you have a table, challenging if you don’t, so make a reservation. Cuisine is crowd-pleasing: barbecue, burgers and irresistible fried pickles. Pointe Orlando, 9101 International Drive, 407-370-4550; $$$

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COPPER CANYON GRILL Honest, hearty American fare like rotisserie chicken, wood-grilled

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seafood, homestyle meatloaf and St. Louis-style barbecued ribs dominate the menu at this popular eatery in Pointe Orlando. 9101 International Drive, 407-363-3933; $$

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for friends, food and conversation. 808 E. Washington St., 407-648-2777; 558 W. New England Ave., Winter Park, 407-629-1150; and 950 Market Promenade Ave., Lake Mary, 407-8053090; $$

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DEXTER’S The three restaurants in the Dexter’s family, longtime favorites of the Orlando brunch and happy-hour scenes, share a flair for giving comfortfood ingredients – pastas, sandwiches, killer sweet-potato fries – an exciting twist in an ambience that’s just right

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 continued on page 18

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Big flavors, a big menu and great big portions of “twisted farm food” are what you’ll find at I-Drive’s new destination. Breakfast is the star here – the signature tower of chicken and waffles is a miracle of engineering, as well as a comfort-food classic – and you can get it all day, but don’t overlook tasty lunch and dinner. 5350 International Drive, 407-370-4646; $$

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; $$$$

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HARD ROCK CAFÉ With large, statuesque pillars, HRC stands majestically like a Roman Coliseum of rock, boasting more pieces of rock & roll memorabilia than any other Hard Rock. Not only is there a vast, multi-level café serving the famous upscale burgers, but throw in the 3,000-person Hard Rock Live Orlando concert venue, and you’ve got a winner. 6050 Universal Blvd., 407-351-7625; $$

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HILLSTONE A short menu compensates with huge portions, especially desserts. Pork ribs, steaks, chicken and a fish of the day (and a very popular grilled artichoke) are served in a wood-accented, masculine setting with a lake view from every seat. You’ll likely spend some time on the lovely tree-dotted lawn if you don’t make a reservation. 215 S. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 407-740-4005; $$$

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THE HARP Downtown gastropub next door to the well-loved Celt tavern 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. Lunch or by special booking only. 25 S. Magnolia Ave., 407-481-2928; $$$

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HOT OLIVES This stylish-but-cozy Hannibal Square eatery continues its upscale evolution 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

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can’t go wrong. 601 S. New York Ave., Winter Park, 407-629-1030; $$$

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LINDA’S WINTER PARK DINER A true diner serving the classics: chili omelets, meatloaf and mashed potatoes, bottomless cups of coffee. Service is on point, and you can’t beat the location – it’s the perfect place to get a jump on weekend errands. Cash only. 1700 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park, 407-644-2343; $

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MARKET STREET CAFÉ Retro-modern diner design fits right in with Celebration’s olden-days ambience. 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; $$

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Drive, 407-345-4570; $$$$

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PARK PLAZA GARDENS A longtime Winter Park favorite, 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 “room” in the back. 319 S. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407-645-2475; $$$$

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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 meat-and-potatoes nosh, fish and chips are simple comfort food, and homemade Key lime pie is a must. 549 W. Par St., 407-650-0100; $$$

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NAPA California wine-country cooking gets the local treatment. A “taste of the valley” starter offers a worthy intro to NoCal cuisine; the Meyer Ranch filet is a singular gastronomic pleasure. Portions are controlled enough to enjoy desserts without second thoughts. Peabody Orlando, 9801 International

With its quirky setting and easy pace, this antique-market-turned-barand-cafe is a landmark hangout. The menu is eclectic, with burgers, Middle Eastern fare and flatbreads, as well as entrees like lobster mac & cheese and cedar-plank salmon. 1829 N. Orange Ave., 407-895-9911; $$; $$

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BarBecue, Burgers, Delis, Diners, salaDs, sanDwiches, soul FooD

CASUAL Trend alert: fancified fast food oh, the power of the word “artisan.” Just about every celeb chef in the country has his or her own burger joint now, championed by Fleur de lys frontman hubert Keller and copied by emeril lagasse, gordon ramsay and Bobby Flay, among others. even in the midst of all the latest diet fads (raw, keto, paleo, gluten-free) the mere idea of house-made fast food has all of us in a tizzy.

B&B JUNCTION

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some highlights: the innovative apple-cider and marshmallow sauces for sweet potato fries at Burger 21 (impossibly savory and sweet at the same time!); the cali-style minis at BurgerFi, clad in wax paper; and the super-spicy, ultra-crunchy fried chicken sandwich at B&B Junction. (it’s impossible not to give a nod as well to the gelato-based milkshakes at B&B, which crush drive-thru triple-thick concretes any day.) The 65 different toppings at Pine 22 still enamor the rightbrained among us, and they managed to snag Zagat orlando’s Best Burger title in 2013, while, happily, still peddling local ingredients and craft beers. –HVK

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4 RIVERS SMOKEHOUSE It’s all about the smoked-to-perfection Angus beef brisket at this popular Texas-style smokehouse. Heady sides set this barbecue joint apart from the rest: smoked corn relish, sweet and meaty baked beans, and creamcheese-stuffed jalapeños wrapped in bacon. Be prepared to wait in line1600 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park; also 1869 W. State Road 434, Longwood, and 1047 S. Dillard St., Winter Garden; 407-474-8377; $$

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B&B JUnctIOn Local grass-fed beef and a “farm-totable” approach is the hook, which seems to be working. The bison rules, but be sure to order it “pink.” The No. 6, with an infernal coat of ghost-pepper cheese, is a hellaciously good choice. Sides are getting more sophisticated; craft beers on tap and house-made desserts make for very happy endings. 2103 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park, 407-513-4134; $

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BURgERFI Winter Park burger joint is loud and proud of its all-natural Angus burgers, though flavors can ebb and tide depending on your choice of patty. The double cheeseburger is stellar; the quinoa burger will appease vegetarians. Also on the menu: Wagyu beef hot dogs and frozen custard “concretes.” Prices are a bit steep, but, hey, rustic-PoMo-industrial décor doesn’t come cheap. 538 S. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407-622-2010; $$

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caVE Inn BBQ 13848 Tilden Road, Winter Garden, 407-614-8328; $$

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cHEF EddIE’S Defying the demise of so many soulfood kitchens of late, Chef Eddie’s steps up with arguably the best comfort fare in the city. Smothered pork chops, saucy oxtails, chicken & waffles, jalapeño-crackling muffins – all will elicit superlatives. There’s nothing healthy about the gravy-drizzled fried green tomatoes atop cheesy grits, but man, they’re good. 3214 Orange Center Blvd., 407-505-6802; $$

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cHRIStO’S caFÉ 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; $

dOc’S StREEtSIdE gRIll 1315 S. Orange Ave., 407-841-3601; $

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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 beefedup burgers, served on homemade buns. A full bar keeps the scene lively and the din uproarious. Multiple locations; graffitijunktion.com; $$

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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, hormonefree 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; also 11325 University Blvd., 407-373-0123; $$

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HaMBURgER MaRY’S While diversity is key at this gayfriendly 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; $

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HOt KRUSt PanInI KItcHEn Humble sandwichery in the same shopping center as Whole Foods forgoes processed meats for in-house roasting, making for some of the most succulent beef, chicken and turkey sandwiches in town. Sides like sweetand-spicy cactus chili and roasted sweet potato waffle fries are not to be overlooked. Fresh-baked cookies appease sweet cravings. 8015 Turkey Lake Road, 407-355-7768; $

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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, outdoors under the landmark neon sign. Hot fries and cold root-beer floats make good accompaniments. 5355 E. Colonial Drive, 407-282-5746; $

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Classic sub sandwiches done right – warm, crusty bread stuffed with hot meats or cold cuts – plus a few specialty sandwiches, too: three different cheesesteaks for the diehards, or a veggie sub with grilled peppers and onions, a nice touch. Multiple locations, jerseymikes.com; $

Ocoee bar and grill keeps the focus on barbecue, and rightfully so, though perfect steaks and enormous grilled wings give the robustly smoked brisket a run for its money. Dollars are less wisely spent on starters like the fish dip and crab-corn chowder, but cupcakes and bananas Foster are happy endings. 2594 Maguire Road, Ocoee, 407-877-0003; $$

MatIlda’S On PaRK

tHE SandWIcH cOMPanY

A warm, approachable neighborhood spot in a neighborhood that doesn’t have so many of those, Matilda’s serves classic dishes with an Aussie twist here and there. Don’t miss the “bleu balls” (they taste better than they feel!) or the Popeye mac, a greened-up version of the old favorite. 358 N. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407-951-5790; $$

This is a place that takes lunch seriously, and the kind of sandwichand-salad spot anyone would be happy to have around the corner from the office. Service is helpful and friendly, portion sizes are generous, and everything’s made fresh in-house. Don’t miss the “steak in the grass”: hot sliced roast beef, sauteed spinach and melted provolone on a hoagie roll. 419 E. Michigan St., 407-425-5512; $

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Grass-fed, hormone- and antibioticfree meats serve as a base for this downtown eatery’s gourmet burgers. A host of cheeses, sauces and premium toppings present more than 300,000 burger possibilities. Don’t overlook fried pickle chips, onion rings and, at meal’s end, house-made fried pies. Gluten-free options available. 22 E. Pine St., 407-574-2160; $$

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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 wraps, pastas, omelets and salads. Don’t leave without a big blackand-white cookie. Multiple locations, toojays.com; $

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Want interesting sandwiches (yellow curry chicken salad with toasted almonds, red apple and onion), unusual tea (raspberry-rose), killer desserts (lavender-peppercorn crème brûlee), and a cheery atmosphere? Find it all here. Open 24 hours Friday and Saturday. 67 N. Bumby Ave., 407-894-0865; $

This upscale cafeteria serves two sorts: those with power-lunch aspirations but no expense account, and groups who can’t agree on just one cuisine. Offering soups, sandwiches, rice bowls, salads and a hot bar means everyone gets exactly what they want; the freshness, solid service and decent prices are a bonus. 200 S. Orange Ave., 407-237-6780; $

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Unpretentious café 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.” Chocolate cake is gooey-fabulous. 410 N. Orange Blossom Trail, 407-425-7571; $$

The buzz surrounding this “neighborhood noshery” reflects a loyal clientele. 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; $

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YEllOW dOg EatS Charming family-owned 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, honeymesquite turkey, smoked Gouda, bacon and red-leaf lettuce. 1236 Hempel Ave., Windermere, 407-296-0609; $

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STEAKHOUSES Where sides go over the top You can channel your inner Don Draper any day of the week: Just go to a dimly lit steakhouse filled with suit-wearing servers, floorto-ceiling wine storage and lush leather banquettes (sit on a cow and eat one, too!). Though its origins verge on old-fashioned, the steakhouse even today is the place to schmooze clients or wow a date. With all that perfect protein – deeply marbled, dry-aged, ultra-rich cuts like ribeye or porterhouse – you’d think something lighter on the side would complement the meal a bit better, but not so. Traditional à la carte sides like creamed spinach, lobster mac & cheese, potato gratin and Caesar salad (tossed tableside, of course) reflect the bygone excesses of fine dining. “Sides with rich flavors are perfect accompaniments because the flavors will shine next to a robust, well-seasoned steak. They enhance the experience instead of getting lost in it,” says chef Kevin Spencer of Spencer’s for Steaks and Chops at the Hilton Orlando. The three-martini power lunch might be long gone, but the longing for a place where gluttony and luxury combine is still fulfilled at the grand salons of steak. –HVK

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Join Our Nightly Celebration of Food, Wine & Memorable Times

CHARLEY’S STEAK HOUSE

NELORE CHURRASCARIA

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, 407-363-0228; $$$$

Park Avenue churrascaria offers up an awesome 40-item salad bar, comprising crisp vegetables, fish, soup and more, but it’s the all-you-can-eat-meat extravaganza that packs ’em in. Our advice: Stick to the sirloin cuts (top sirloin and picanha) and avoid the lamb. Consider a pitcher of sangria to enjoy with your meal. Scrumptious Brazilian desserts are made in-house. 115 E. Lyman Ave., Winter Park, 407-645-1112; $$$$

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CHOO CHOO CHURROS From empanadas to authentic opengrilled 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. 5810 Lake Underhill Road, 407-382-6001; $$

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FLEMING’S PRIME STEAKHOUSE & WINE BAR Paul Fleming, the “P.F.” in P.F. Chang’s, imbued this high-end steakhouse with an emphasis on wine. Typically wood and leather in styling, Fleming’s offers aged, hand-cut beef in huge, thickas-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; also 8030 Via Dellagio Way, 407-352-5706; $$$

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FOGO DE CHAO A shrine to beef, with heavenly tableside service to boot. Juicy skirt steak, salt-crusted rib-eye and meltingly tender filet are standouts, but accoutrements like deep-fried polenta squares, bacon-studded rice and beans, and thick spears of chilled asparagus will also wow. The impressive wine list leans toward South American malbecs and rioja; the high ratio of staff to diners means service is equally impressive. 8282 International Drive, 407-370-0711; $$$$

Prime Steak & 100 Wines by the Glass

8030 Via Dellagio Way, Orlando 407-352-5706 www.FlemingsSteakhouse.com/Orlando 933 North Orlando Ave, Winter Park 407-699-WINE (9463) www.FlemingsSteakhouse.com/WinterPark

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Fleming’s features the finest prime steaks and an award-winning list of 100 wines by the glass. Join us for an evening with family & friends in our lively, relaxed atmosphere.

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RUTH’S CHRIS STEAK HOUSE Weighing in heavily on the masculine side of the top-dollar 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; also 7501 W. Sand Lake Road, 407-226-3900, and 80 Colonial Center Parkway, Lake Mary, 407-804-8220; $$$$

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SHULA’S 347 GRILL Part sports bar, part trendy steakhouse, this hotel restaurant scores big with a small selection of steaks and fresh seafood. The scene and clamor may not suit all tastes, but the cowboy steak, a 16-ounce bone-in ribeye, certainly will. Same goes for the grouper, simply grilled and served with balsamic-drizzled asparagus and smashed potatoes. Convert the score with vanilla-bean crème brûlée. 2974 International Parkway, Lake Mary, 407-531-3567; $$$$

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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 ’em 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; $$$$

LINDA’S LA CANTINA STEAKHOUSE

VINES GRILLE & WINE BAR

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; $$$$

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; $$$

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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 upscale fare includes perfect tenderloins and crunchy flatbread pizzas, and there’s live music nightly. It’s also one of the few places in town to find local Enlightened Grain vodkas. 7533 W. Sand Lake Road, 407-351-1227; $$$

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SEAFOOD Go fish! With all this coastline, it’s no wonder we have so many places serving seafood around town. Legit old standbys still rule, like the wood-paneled fried fish temple that is Boston’s Fish House, and High Tide Harry’s (now in new digs, but sporting the same menu and the same low-key vibe as the former location). Don’t bother wearing a dryclean-only look at one of the many Cajun boil restaurants in town, like King Cajun in the Mills 50 district, Little New Orleans on OBT, or Vegas-based Hot ’N Juicy Crawfish – you’re gonna get messy. Looking for somewhere you won’t have to wear a dropcloth? Cityfish in Thornton Park has a killer lobster roll, and fans swear by Winter Park Fish Co.’s chowder and cioppino – just be prepared to drop slightly more cash.

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At the higher end, Oceanaire Seafood Room on I-Drive has the graceful feel of a 1920s cruise ship and is the alma mater of The Taste judge and Top Chef cheftestant Brian Malarkey. Sophisticated preparations like sole meunière, stuffed flounder Florentine and nine varieties of oysters provide more than enough elegance, but surprisingly homey sides like fried green tomatoes keep things down to earth. –HVK

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Blu on the Avenue Expect competently executed seafood dishes at this sister restaurant to 310 Park South and 310 Lakeside Terrace. Chef Tony Kreuger knows what he’s doing with such dishes as ovenroasted snapper and pan-roasted duck breast. Owner Joanne McMahon is also an expert pastry chef, so don’t pass up sweet endings like peanut butter pie. Open daily. Reservations recommended. 326 S. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407-960-3778; $$$

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the CAtFISh PlACe oF APoPKA Florida-style fish house is the place to go when you’re in the mood for downhome 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, 407-889-7980; $$

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pretty as a pitcher Be the envy of summer entertaining. Recycled glass and ancient technique make green gorgeous.

Tawfik Natsheh, master glass blower, creates a work of art using a time-honored tradition.

Phoenician Green Pitcher, $69 HANDCRAFTED IN WEST BANK

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FISh on FIre Part roadhouse, part fish camp, FOF offers Florida-style eating in a south Orlando neighborhood without many other options. You can’t go wrong with the barbecue, the fried catfish is a study in simple excellence, and the Key lime pie is very tasty. Cold tap beer and a pool table seal the deal. 7937 Daetwyler Drive, 407-812-6881; $

KInG CAJun CrAWFISh Pho Ph hoto: © Ryan a Rod odrick ckk Beile Beilerr/MC Beil r/M /MC /MC CC C

winterpark.tenthousandvillages.com Offer valid at participating stores until 5/31/13. Not valid with other discounts, purchase of gift cards, Oriental rugs or Traveler’s Finds.

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346 N. Park Ave Winter Park, FL (407) 644-8464

Bring in this ad to receive 25% OFF one item.

Rigorous sustainability and local sourcing are integral to chef Cory York’s stellar seafood dishes, though you’ll have to navigate the depths of Disney property to sample them. The astounding crab cake is an absolute must, though the eight fresh fish options are the real draw. Desserts please, but won’t necessarily wow. Validated parking offered. Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort, 14651 Chelonia Parkway, 407-390-2420; $$$$

A host of seasoning choices, top-notch sides (corn on the cob and hush puppies in particular) and cut-rate prices make this Cajun dive a real draw for diners craving crawfish boils. Other NOLA staples are hit (catfish po’boy) and miss (gumbo). End with a strong cup of Café du Monde coffee. 914 N. Mills Ave., 407-704-8863; $

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lIttle neW orleAnS KItChen & oySter BAr Not a great place to make a good first impression; definitely a great place to soak up Cajun flavors while getting drenched in garlic butter. The place is stiflingly hot, probably due to the industrial steamer, but the food is

first-rate, especially the creamy Creole jambalaya. Fresh shellfish combos – crab, shrimp and crawfish steamed with spices and sided with corn and potatoes – are more than generous. 9741 S. Orange Blossom Trail, 407-438-6990; $$

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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; $$

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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; $$$

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the oCeAnAIre SeAFooD rooM A budget-busting 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. Pointe Orlando, 9101 International Drive, 407-363-4801; $$$$

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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 a great way to feel like king of the sea. Ambience and service are pampering and not pretentious, and match up to slap-thetable delectables like the “miso-glazed Chilean sea bass” and “fish grilled simply.” Disney’s Dolphin Resort, 1500 Epcot Resorts Blvd., Lake Buena Vista, 407-939-3463; $$$$

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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-thefryer hush puppies are sublime all by themselves. Expect a wait. 761 Orange Ave., Winter Park, 407-622-6112; $$

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MEALS ON WHEELS

FOOD TRUCKS

SwEdEdISh

Mark BaraTellI pHOTO By BrIaN CarlsON

An interview with Mark Baratelli If you’ve ever munched, licked or slurped a tasty treat from one of Orlando’s copious food trucks, you might owe your stuffed stomach to Mark Baratelli’s vision. Baratelli doesn’t run one of the rolling kitchens, but the civic sparkplug and arts advocate did mastermind TheDailyCity.com Food Truck Bazaar in 2011, a food truck caravan that wheels through Central Florida venues and parking lots across the region. Corralling more than 14,000 visitors each month, Baratelli’s gatherings dish equal servings homegrown cuisine and community cohesion.

He’s got business acumen and media juju, sure. But what we really want to know from the mobile-munchies wrangler is: What’s his favorite dish? He’s not telling. “Nothing tastes as good as seeing hundreds and hundreds of people eating at an event that I put together.” –SH

“One of the things that really took me by surprise was a woman [telling] us that she times her Disney Vacation Club vacations around the Food Truck Bazaar,” Baratelli says. “Disney is here in one place, and the local food trucks are in another place. That’s tangible evidence that people want to do this … It’s helping the city of Orlando, and the communities of Orlando, rebrand themselves.” B = Beer/Wine L = Liquor O = Outdoor Dining T = Takeout

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5 Gastronomy The menu looks promising at this sleek, shiny truck, which says it offers innovative menus, seasonal ingredients and “chef driven” food. Options are mostly meaty and hearty – the mac & cheese, made with local ricotta, Gruyere and parmesan and studded with earthy bits of mushroom, does not disappoint. 5gastronomy.com; facebook.com/5gastronomy; twitter.com/5gastronomy; $

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C&s Brisket Bus Bacon swag: This bus has it and you’ll bask in its glory after trying “the special,” a massive sandwich containing C&s’s signature brisket, homemade bacon jam and grilled onions. another menu star is the Black & Blue, a brisket sandwich served on brioche with bleu cheese and roasted garlic – lots of big, standout flavors that don’t overpower each other. Facebook.com/csbrisketbus; twitter.com/csbrisketbus; $

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FantastiC Hummus Fantastic Hummus serves up the classics, like spanakopita and shawarma. The spinach pie is attractively served open-faced, like a quiche, and the shawarma meat is

griddle-cooked and served on a warm pita with a tart yogurt sauce. plenty of options for vegetarians without having to resort to something fried. Twitter.com/fantastichummus; $

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FisH out oF Water Truckies are afforded a full view of sushi chef al ruiz (formerly of the Globe and Funky Monkey Wine Co.) doing his thing. If the truck is a-rockin’, ruiz is likely rollin’ such creations as the tempura ring of Fire (a core of spicy tuna and cucumber) and the volcano roll (spicy krab, goat cheese, eel sauce and sriracha). Genius avocado fries are deliciously habit-forming. Facebook.com/ fishoutofwatersushitruck; twitter.com/fishoutofwater8; $

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korean BBQ taCo Box you never know for sure what you’re going to get with your order, but whatever they toss in the box to accompany your main dish of choice (soft tacos filled with lightly spiced pork, a galbi sub with sweet marinated beef short rib, or savory bulgogi with rice), it’s sure to make dining here an adventure. Facebook.com/kbbqbox; twitter.com/koreanbbq_2011; $

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La empanada This truck takes the canny approach of super-specialization. empanadas are all they serve – some baked, some fried – filled with a smart mix of classic, sweet, and ever-more-inventive flavor combinations like chicken banh mi, sweet potato-and-chèvre and truffled mac & cheese. Twitter.com/laempanadatruck; laempanadatruck.com; $

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meLissa’s CHiCken & WaFFLes The loud orange paint job on Melissa’s short schoolbus gives fair warning of this truck’s personality. The signature dish comprises plump, just-out-of-thefryer chunks of chicken breast and peppery sausage gravy ladled across a massive waffle; the s’mores waffle is a delightful and incredibly rich finish. Facebook.com/melissaswaffletruck; twitter.com/melissaswaffles; $

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monsta LoBsta There’s nothing like a real New england lobster roll – hunks of sweet, fresh lobster meat tossed with just a bit of mayonnaise and loaded into a buttery, toasted hot dog bun. The next best thing to being there can be found at this traveling roadside lobster shack,

which keeps the lobster roll as basic and authentic as possible. Facebook.com/monsta.lobsta; monstalobsta.net; $

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sWededisH sorry, Ikea, but swedeDish’s scandinavian savories beat yours into the dust. Their traditional swedish meatballs are topped with creamy gravy and sided with ultra-buttery mashed potatoes, lingonberry relish and a fragrant cucumber-and-dill pickled salad. The less well-known but also traditional Viking Dog is a messy-delicious assemblage of allbeef frank, crab salad and mashed potatoes, topped with crunchy fried onions and rolled up in a flatbread. extra napkins advised. Facebook.com/ swededishfoodtruck; twitter.com/ swededishtruck; $

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yum-yum CupCake truCk The yum yum Cupcake Truck exemplifies vintage style, from the truck’s shiny aluminum exterior to the crew’s bow ties and striped aprons to sweet flavors like Nannerpants and Dough-Dough Bird. Twitter.com/yumyumtruck_fl; theyumyumcupcaketruck.com; $

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Have a seat, drink and eat. are we not entertained?

DINNER AND A SHOW

EnzIan ThEaTEr

ENZIAN THEATER

FoRk & ScREEN

MEdIEvAl TIMES

WoNdER WoRkS

Food and film: It’s an odd combination, but it works, even if there are a few interruptions while watching the movie. Snuggle into a comfy chair or sofa and 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; $$

AMC’s dine-in movie experience offers plush digs and a full bar to filmgoers willing to make the drive to Downtown Disney. The menu features a hodgepodge of boilerplate bar food that does little to enhance the movie-going experience, but it beats gummy bears and popcorn slathered in faux butter. Restricted to guests 18 and over or those accompanied by an adult. AMC Downtown Disney 24, 1500 E. Buena Vista Drive, Lake Buena Vista; $$

Serving wenches bustle about with pewter beer steins while sawdust flies through the air. It’s the ultimate eatwith-your hands experience for fans of Game of Thrones – or The Cable Guy. The food is good enough, but the well-trained horses thundering feet from your face are legitimately thrilling; if you’re not into the equines, tour the small-but-creepy museum of torture intruments. 4510 W. Vine St., Kissimmee, 888-935-6878; $$$$

After touring the wacky upside-down building full of interactive science exhibits, grab a ticket for the Outta Control Magic Comedy Dinner Show, a fast-paced mix of improv comedy, impersonations and magic tricks. Is dinner a gourmet experience? In a word, no. But who wouldn’t cheer at the idea of unlimited pizza and beer? If you’re worried about calories, play a game of laser tag after dinner. 9067 International Drive, 407-351-8800; $$$

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English Pubs, irish Pubs, brEw Pubs, TaProoms, winE bars

FOOD TO DRINK BY A pint and a plate Yes, we know it’s crazy to separate hot wings and cold beer – they’re simply meant for each other, like chips and salsa or peanut butter and jelly. but if you’re ready for the next step in beer and food pairing, here a guide:

Lagers light-bodied brews, such as traditional pilsners and lagers, pair with lighter dishes, like salmon, chicken, or seafood salads. heavier lagers like ambers and maibocks accentuate the richer flavors of hearty, spicier fare like Thai, Korean barbecue or chili.

Ales want suds to sling with cheeseburgers on the patio? Pour your favorite pale ale. Effervescent american wheat ales and german hefeweizens marry well with sushi and salads, while silky, roasted porters underscore blackened fish and smoked meats. Couple belgian dubbels and tripels with thick steaks or crab cakes.

Lambic These belgium beers are fermented in an open-air environment, resulting in striking vinegar and cider flavor notes. brewers often flavor lambics with fruits like strawberry, peach and raspberry, imparting a distinct sweetness and making lambics prime candidates for pairing with dessert dishes. if you love chocolate fudge sundaes but always thought they should be more alcoholic, sip a framboise lambic between bites and you’ll never look at your favorite guilty pleasure the same way again. –SH

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CRICKETERS ARMS After stints at the Mercado and Festival Bay, this Brit pub gives the good folks of Dr. Phillips a healthy dose of Brit pride. On our visit the chips were below par, but the fish (crispy-battered cod) was spot-on – and the bangers and mash were right proper. Don’t overlook sausage rolls, savory pies or wonderfully crisp brisket sliders. Bread pudding is so rich it makes downing a pint of Guinness seem like sipping Perrier. 7563 Sand Lake Road, 407-730-2111; $$

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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 often, along with small plates. 430 E. Central Blvd., 407-481-9100; also 136 S. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407-647-9103; $$

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Asparagus fries lay gustatory foundations for more ambitious dishes, like shrimp and grits lathered in a roast tomato beurre sauce, and a well-composed “Everything and the Kitchen Sink” burger. A handful of craft and local brews will keep beer connoisseurs happy, and a sizable patio augments the restaurant’s relaxed vibe. Pointe Orlando, 9101 International Drive, 407-351-3627; $$

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OBLIVION TAPROOM One of the city’s better beer bars sits, unexpectedly, on a forgettable strip of Colonial Drive, with 40 beers on tap and more available by the bottle – but the meaty bar bites, inventive burgers especially, set this place apart from the rest. Don’t overlook crisp batteredand-fried items or tots with housemade ketchup. Oddly enough, vegan and vegetarian options are plentiful. Closed Mondays. 5101 E. Colonial Drive, 407-802-4800; $$

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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; $$

Ollie’s has a robust array of sandwiches and salads – and though you’ll need to ask for your tableside jar of pickles, you can order a pickleback shot from the bar. The beer menu isn’t vast, but there’s enough to slake any average thirst. As for dessert, grilling s’mores at the table can make for some interesting moments in a bar. 3400 Edgewater Drive, 407-999-8934; $

GATOR’S DOCKSIDE

ShIPYARD BREW PuB

multiple locations, gatorsdockside.com; $

An energetic, feel-good vibe (along with beer brewed and bread baked in-house) draws the masses to this restaurant-bar-bakery-market. Sandwiches don’t get any better than the pulled pot-roast or the Harris Ranch burger. Skip the cloying barbecue chicken pizza and satisfy your sweet tooth with a mini-cupcake. Parking is limited. 200 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park, 321-274-4045; $$

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ThE GNARLY BARLEY A roadhouse that happens to serve great food, the South Orlando brewpub features 10 beers on tap and a menu full of hangover preventers (or cures) like the “Snack Attack,” a mound of kettle chips buried under shredded chicken, bleu cheese and salsa, and the “Johnnie Mac ’n Cheese” sandwich, a bombshell take on the French dip. 7431 S. Orange Ave., 407-854-4999; $

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ThE hAMMERED LAMB A gorgeous patio with a full bar and 16 beers on draft offers views of Lake Ivanhoe on one side, and the roar of the train tracks on the other (but don’t worry, when the locomotive goes rushing by, the bartender hands out train shots). If you start to feel peckish while you party, peruse a menu full of creative sandwiches and wraps. 1235 N. Orange Ave., 407-704-3200; $

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MARLOW’S TAVERN Marlow’s offers tavern favorites for slightly more discriminating palates.

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TRICK ShOTS It’s all about billiards at Trick Shots, but even the most devoted pool player gets hungry. That’s when it’s time to sink something from the full menu of burgers, sandwiches, wraps, wings and various tasty fried bites. Multiple locations, trickshotsbilliards.com; $

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uRBAN FLATS Urban Flats’ cruvinet system dispenses wines from all over the world by the glass in 3-ounce and 6-ounce pours, while keeping oxidation at bay. The signature flatbreads are stupendous – thin-crusted and kissed by the fire of the woodstone oven. 55 W. Church St., 321-251-4578; $$

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French, German, Polish, russian, sPanish

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Few dishes garner more awe than a fully loaded paella. Dotted with vegetables and overflowing with meat and/or mariscos, it’s a blue-collar street food staple in Spain that’s turned into upscale family-style fare at restaurants like Mi Tomatina in Winter Park or La Casa de las Paellas in East Orlando.

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Most likely, you’ll be faced with land-and-sea options for protein: sausages, seafood and fish, chicken, beef, pork or lamb. The main component, though, is the short-grained rice into which all else is folded. Unlike risotto, a paella’s rice shouldn’t be loose and creamy. Instead, all the liquid should be absorbed to the point that a crunchy layer, known as the socarrat, should be present at the bottom of the pan. That’s when you know you’ve got a good one. –HVK

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AtlAs House

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Orlando’s first Uzbek restaurant serves dishes that will appeal to all palates. Drawing from Eastern European, Asian and Middle Eastern influences, the menu comprises everything from dumplings and noodles to yogurtbased soups and halal kebabs. Desserts are honey-based and worth sampling, especially with a pot of Uzbek tea. 11901 International Drive, 407-778-4816; $$

Seafood is actually most prominent on the vast menu, but paella fiends can choose from seven variations. Paella marinera teems with fish and shellfish, but we lamented the lack of the characteristic bottom crust. Make it a point to start with crunchy, juicy chicharrones de pollo. 10414 E. Colonial Drive, 407-736-9880; $$

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BenjAmin FrencH BAkery Stellar bakery in the heart of Thornton Park. Sandwiches and quiches are worth stopping in for, but the baguettes, croissants and other sugary delights are what linger in your mind long after you’ve left. Shelves toward the back of the bakery are stocked with groceries from France. Closed Mondays. 716 E. Washington St., 407-797-2253; $

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tHe Bistro on PArk AVenue Prime Park Avenue location offers simple selections. If you’re looking for a decent menu 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; $$

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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; $$$

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DylAn’s Deli & Bistro More café than deli, Dylan’s is a welcome sight on North Orange Avenue’s food-focused strip. Brisket and Swiss cheese canapés, speck with figs and a quiche of caramelized leeks are all superb. Served at lunch only, the creatively stuffed paninis are a midday European vacation for your palate. 1198 N. Orange Ave., Winter Park, 407-622-7578; $

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HollerBAcH’s WilloW tree cAFÉ Homey 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 extends well beyond the food: Oompah music and dancing are a crowd-stirring addition. 205 E. First St., Sanford, 407-321-2204; $$

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lAcomkA BAkery & Deli The multicultural mix of foods from Russia includes whole smoked herrings so tender that they spread like pâté. 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, 407-677-1101; $$

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le coQ Au Vin Incredible French cuisine is the hallmark of this south Orlando mainstay. Graceful perfection distinguishes dishes such as “grouper bronzé aux dix épices,” a fillet encrusted with toasted pecans and spices and bathed in citrus beurre blanc, and the centercut black Angus steak, served with a dollop of peppercorn sauce. 4800 S. Orange Ave., 407-851-6980; $$$$

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mi tomAtinA PAellA BAr Hannibal 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; $$

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PAris Bistro Fine French fare comes to the northern end of Park Avenue with a roll call of bistro classics. Canard aux peches, ballotines de volaille and beef burgundy are standout mains, but skip the too-thin French onion soup. Tableside dessert cart is a nice touch. 216 N. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407-671-4424; $$$

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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; $$

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Living la dolce vita: a glossary of Italian sweets

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Can you distinguish Parm-Regg from Romano with your eyes closed? Predict from the doorway whether you’ll be served a hearty Roman-style pie or a delicate margherita? Well, after all the pasta has been twirled, it’s time to extend your expertise to the sweet endings that put the seal on your impending carb coma. Here’s a guide to navigating Italian treats:

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Panna cotta Like jiggly crème brûlée without the glassy caramel top.

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Tiramisu A boozy, rich crowd fave. Delicate ladyfinger cookies soaked in espresso and rum, layered with cocoa powder and sweet ricotta.

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Semifreddo Literally translated, “half frozen.” A panna cotta that got the cold shoulder. Neapolitan That good old slab of vanilla, chocolate and strawberry ice cream, served in family pizza joints everywhere. No gourmet delight, but oh-so-nostalgic. –HVK

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ARMANDO’S CUCINA ITALIANA & PIZZERIA Trendy Hannibal Square hotspot lures a diverse crowd for primo Italian standbys and wonderfully blistered pizzas, care of a custom-built brick oven. The egg-topped San Giovanni pizza is a crowd fave and ideal for sharing, but don’t overlook carpaccio with shaved Parmesan and pear slices. Pastas and secondi are simply presented, and shine because of it. Reservations strongly recommended. Patio dining available. 463 W. New England Ave., Winter Park, 407-951-8930; $$

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BRICK & FIRE PIZZA AND WINE CO. Ex-Church Street pizza joint is strictly upper-crust. Goat-cheese pizza and the pulled-chicken calzone with gouda and portobello shine; baked ziti with brie provides mac & cheese comfort for grown-ups. The deep-dish apple pie is big enough to share. 1621 S. Orange Ave., 407-426-8922; $$

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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 occasionally slow service, but the kitchen makes up for them with Italian delicacies including fresh pasta and a killer carpaccio. 1130 S. Highway 17-92, Longwood, 407-834-9872; $$$

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FAMAS RISTORANTE ITALIANO PIZZERIA Rosario Limonio’s enticing dishes prove he’s a star in the making. Whether it’s filet coated with silken cognac-porcini sauce, rosemaryrubbed rack of lamb or four-cheese gnocchi, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a dish unworthy of praise. 5478 Central Florida Parkway, 407-239-9058; $$$

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GIORDANO’S Chicago’s famous spicy-sauced, stuffed-crust, deep-dish pizza makes Orlando tourists (and locals) happily full. 12151 S. Apopka Vineland Road, 407-239-8900; also 6203 W. Sand Lake Road, 407-377-0022; $

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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; $$

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LAZY MOON PIZZA Recently relocated and fiercely beloved, this east Orlando spot holds its own as a haven for the anti-Budweiser legions who want craft suds with their slices. A wide selection of imports – Belgian Wittekerke is perfect with pizza – is available alongside insanely huge slices. 11551 University Blvd., 407-658-2396; $

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LOUIE & MARIA’S 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; $$

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MAxINE’S ON SHINE Neighborhood jewel offers an eclectic Italian-esque menu, with Indian, Latin and Asian influences on the horizon. Curry-crusted fish is deftly executed, as is chef Bret Ashman’s intriguing take on gnocchi alla Sorrentina. A delightful smoked onion mince offers a contempo take on traditional Caprese salad. Sunday brunch offered from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. 337 N. Shine Ave., 407-674-6841; $$

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MELLOW MUSHROOM The quasi-hippie vibe at this Atlanta mainstay 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, 407-657-7785; also 11680 E. Colonial Drive, 407-384-4455; $$

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METRO ESPRESSO PIZZA CAFé 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; $

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NICK’S ITALIAN KITCHEN The room is so chic that you might think you’re in New York or Miami, and the food brings a new level of cool to old-school Italian. Arugula-heaped carpaccio is a dish to return for, and Nick’s grandmother’s famous meatballs are great, not just good. Our only disappointment? Pasta’s not made in-house. But excellent service and blissful desserts will drown any nitpicking. 100 S. Eola Drive, 407-781-0724; $$$

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made from scratch, the dough is handstretched 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; $

O’STROMBOLI This family-friendly Italian restaurant has occupied the same Audubon Park spot for years, serving locals red-sauce classics. It’s the neighborhood go-to for pizza, calzone and fantastic garlic knots; parking is tough, but delivery and takeout are offered. 1803 E. Winter Park Road, 407-647-3872; $$

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With a new look and revamped menu (courtesy of Top Chef Tony Mantuano), Portobello is worth considering making the drive down the interstate. The namesake mushroom served over rosemary-gorgonzola polenta is a memorable starter, and perfectly al dente bucatini punched up with guanciale is pasta done right. To end, take a chance on the biramisu, a beerbased liquid variant of the traditional Italian dessert. 1650 Buena Vista Drive, Lake Buena Vista, 407-934-8888; $$$

PEPERONCINO CUCINA New trattoria on the Dr. Phillips block is schooling patrons and area restaurants in the way of Italian cuisine. The narrow space is reminiscent of eateries in Italy, but chef Barbara Alfano’s menu proffers enough new ideas to give the Old World-inspired bill of fare a refreshing breath of life. The menu changes daily, but pastas are perfetto and secondi, like branzino cooked in parchment, truly impress. Reservations are necessary as the small space fills up quickly. Open daily. 7988 Via Dellagio Way, 407-440-2856; $$$

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PRATO You’ll battle crowds to get a seat at Brandon McGlamery’s Park Avenue “it spot,” but once inside, the rustic Italian creations of chef Matthew Cargo will justify the body-checking. Start with house-cured bresaola and meatballs lolling in cipollini-sweetened sauce, then indulge in Bolognese

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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

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bigoli richened with foie gras butter, or simple oven-roasted yellowtail snapper. Chocolate-mint budino and perfect tiramisu are proper endings. 124 N. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407-262-0050; $$

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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; $$$$

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TARTINI PIZZERIA & SPAGHETTERIA Neighborhood trattoria is drawing aficionados of wood-fired pizza to South Orange Avenue. Thin-crust, perfectly blistered and wonderfully doughy pies are as good as any you’ll sample in the city, and the house chicken soup is a must for anyone feeling under the weather. Open daily. 6327 S. Orange Ave., 407-601-2400; $$

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SIRO URBAN ITALIAN KITCHEN Siro brings farm-to-fork dining to the tourist corridor, and does it with aplomb. Crisp baby artichokes are so addictive they should be bagged and sold in stores; seasonal small plates like roasted bone marrow, spicy lamb sausage and cheese mezzaluna with sage brown butter are well worth the drive – more so if you happen to be in the area. Siro’s staunch commitment to sourcing local should be applauded. Open daily. Free valet parking. World Center Marriott, 8701 World Center Drive, 407-238-8619; $$$$

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WOLFIES PIZZAMIA College Park artisan pizzeria/salumeria upstages its sister restaurant, White Wolf Café, with house-cured charcuterie, hand-tossed pizzas and a dedication to time-honored techniques. The salumi platter, a bowl of split-pea soup or an arugula salad are all primo ways to commence, followed by any one of their doughy pizzas (try the signature Wolfies) or house-made pastas (do yourself a favor and get the spaghetti and meatballs). Desserts, like tiramisu and zeppoles, pass muster. Closed Mondays. 1905 N. Orange Ave., 407-237-0921; $$

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Greek, Turkish, Middle easTern

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eggplant and yogurt-centered 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. Multiple locations, bosphorousrestaurant.com; $$$

The Persian entrees at this longtime Longwood favorite spot 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, 407-637-2890; $

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CAPPAdOCIA TURKISH CUISINE

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BOSPHOROUS TURKISH CUISINE

Cappadocia aims for a true Turkish experience and, for the most part, delivers with its variety of Ottoman dishes. There’s plenty for the aver-

Orlando’s first Turkish restaurant serves delightful fare with many lamb,

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age kebabophile (adana kebab) and the phyllo-file (borek), though don’t pass up their sautées. Baklava comes drenched, not flaky, and kunefe pastry is a house specialty. Turkish tea and coffee is the only way to end the meal. Open daily. 565 N. Semoran Blvd., 407-985-2668; $$$

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CEdAR HALAL FOOd & dELI UCF-area café-deli caters to a diverse clientele, many of whom come for the all-halal menu and cut-rate prices.

Don’t pass up the amazing hummus, though fat kibbeh make worthy starters too. Spit-fired shawarmas and gyros keep the college set content, and meaty platters offer more bang for your buck. End with Turkish coffee and baklava fragrant with orangeblossom water. Closed Sundays. 12100 E. Colonial Drive, 407-381-8004; $

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hot, puffy pitas to scoop up baba ghanoush topped with pickled walnuts; kibbeh are crunchy-fabulous. 7732 W. Sand Lake Road, 407-351-6000; $$

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FALAFEL CAFÉ 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, 407-382-6600; $

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FLAmE KABOB Tucked in a corner of the Dr. Phillips Marketplace, this humble kebaberia more than holds its own. The excellent rice complements flavorful kafta kebab, shish tawook and rack of lamb. Traditional starters are all worthy, but consider crunchy fattoush salad and pizza-like safiha for a change. Baklava is served cold, but Turkish coffee is properly steaming. 7536 Dr. Phillips Blvd., 407-248-2280; $$

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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; $$

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mEdITERRANEAN BLUE Familiar South Orlando Greek spot has been spruced up a bit and stocked with eco-friendly wares. The menu is deceptively simple, but nearly everything is a winner. The Provence sandwich is a delicious trip across the salty-savory spectrum, and falafel gets extra points for fresh, soft pita and house-made tzatziki sauce. 435 E. Michigan St., 407-422-2583; $$

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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., 407-539-2650; $

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mIddLE EAST mARKET & dELI OBT spot is equal parts specialty grocery store, hookah supply, deli (all

sorts of ready-prepared foods to take away) and lunch counter (fresh hot sandwiches sliced to order). A gaggle of smiling, gregarious women serve some of the best shawarma in town, sided with refreshing tomato-andcucumber salad garlicky enough to ward off the undead. 8100 S. Orange Blossom Trail, 407-855-6555; $

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PASHA TAVERNA ANd LOUNGE Spot-on Moroccan staples finally get their Millenia moment. Pasha’s seductive atmo should play right into the Conroy Road crowd’s tastes, not to mention the full bar, live music and belly dancing. But the food, from nourishing harira soup to lamb tagine to flaky pastilla, is the real attraction. Moroccan mint tea is a must, as is the creamy “Pasha delight.” 4104 Millenia Blvd., 407-730-3222; $$$

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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. 1409 S. Semoran Blvd., Casselberry, 407-677-8073; $$

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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 dipworthy as any hummus. Get closure with a glacial orb of syrupy sweet falooda. 6427 Westwood Blvd., 407-284-1273; $$

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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-cheap. 2952 Curry Ford Road, 407-849-0810; $

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TONY’S dELI There are tables inside, but Tony’s is designed for easy, delicious takeout – perfect for lunch and handy for a cheap, 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; $$

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african Mead: It’s not just for Vikings Next time you ponder ordering a glass of mead, ditch the iron goblets and longships dancing in your head; this fermented honey concoction doesn’t just belong to the Norsemen. Take a gander below the equator and down the menu of Orlando’s Nile Ethiopian Restaurant to discover Ethiopian meads, called tej. These honey wines are seasoned with the powdered leaves and bark of an indigenous Ethiopian buckthorn called gesho – bittering agents acting in the stead of hops and other spices – and they clock in anywhere from 8 to 18 percent ABV. The mead’s higher alcohol contents are often cloaked by its sly, delightful sweetness, so don’t get reckless and guzzle the boozy stuff unless you’re prepared for the next morning’s battering ram. But this fusion of buckthorn and fermented honey served in a berele, or vase-shaped container, stands up robustly to thick, spicy Ethiopian cuisine. –SH

NIlE EThIopIaN

BOMA: FLAVORS OF AFRICA Tables loaded with spicy African dishes – flavored by 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, 2901 Osceola Parkway, Lake Buena Vista, 407-938-4722; $$$

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JIKO: The COOKIng pLACe 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, 2901 Osceola Parkway, Lake Buena Vista, 407-939-3463; $$$

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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. 7048 International Drive, 407-354-0026; $$

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SAnAA Disney’s East African entry at Animal Kingdom Lodge puts Indian flavors on the plates, but nothing too challenging. Ordering from the tandoor oven – moist chicken, crispy breads – is a wise decision. For dessert, try a pot of French-pressed Kenya coffee and float-off-your-spoon–light chai cream mousse. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, 2901 Osceola Parkway, Lake Buena Vista, 407-939-3463; $$$

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From roaringly hot to subtly spiced, these restaurants reFlect the subcontinent

INDIAN

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AASHIRWAD InDIAn ReStAuRAnt 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 – chicken tikka masala and garlic naan are done right. Dinner is pleasant and highlights the Northern Indian cuisine, but this strip-mall eatery is for filling up, not atmosphere. 5748 International Drive, 407-370-9830; $$

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ARomA InDIAn CuISIne Aroma places a focus on customer service and offers the fortunate

denizens of Lake Mary some of the finest Indian food in the Orlando area. Kebabs sizzling from the tandoor are a must, while vegetarians need not look past the puri and okra curry. Looking to raise your cholesterol? Consider the house specialty butter chicken, then cap it off with creamy frozen kulfi. Open daily. 4275 W. Lake Mary Blvd., Lake Mary, 321-283-0242; $$

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BomBAY CAFÉ This sanctuary of South Indian fare gives local fave Woodlands a run for its money with infernal vegetarian curries,

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enormous dosas and comforting flatbreads. Chaats (snacky mixes) offer textural diversity with varying levels of heat. Lunch thalis are available Monday to Sunday. 1137 Doss Ave., 407-240-5151; $

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BomBAY GRILL Inside one of the city’s most popular Indian grocers sits a grill serving up fresh-from-the-butcher meats at prices that can’t be beat. Grilled lamb chops are sublimely succulent, and plush beef kebabs and flavorful minced lamb are just as exceptional. Veggie

samosas notwithstanding, there’s not much here for the meatless crowd. No indoor dining. Closed Mondays. 11301 S. Orange Blossom Trail, 407-856-1780; $

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DAKSHIn InDIAn ReStAuRAnt 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

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offering dosas, delicate Indian crepes as fragrant as they are delicious. 12541 State Road 535, 407-827-9080; $$

Authentic Indian standby on International Drive offers refuge from the bright lights and fast-food franchises. Take a tour through the classics – curries, an unusually wide selection of fried and stuffed breads, chutneys and tasty tandoori dishes. A great alternative to the touristy usuals. 7451 International Drive, 407-352-7887; $$

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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; $$

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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, 407-238-7684; $

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KHASIYAt InDIAn ReStAuRAnt Most people come to this humble vegetarian hideaway for the cheap lunch buffet – well-stocked with five different curries – but the real star is the selection of savory Indian snacks. Can’t-miss offerings: enormous, not-atall-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, 407-888-2147; $

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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, Suite 1093, Altamonte Springs, 407-788-6004; $$

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moGHuL InDIAn CuISIne Tried-and-true standards define Moghul’s kitchen, especially superb chicken tikka and seekh kebabs. Gheeslicked peshawari naan are buttery, nutty and delightfully sweet wonders. Beware, hotheads: “Indian hot” is truly infernal. 401 N. Semoran Blvd., Winter Park, 407-599-9001; $$

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PASSAGe to InDIA For more than a decade, this restaurant has been a consistent purveyor 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. 6129 Westwood Blvd., 407-351-3456; $$$

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RAGA In Raga, Indian fine dining has, arguably, arrived on Sand Lake Road but instead of novel dishes, flavor experimentation and solid execution, diners are left with the same old tune, but at elevated prices. You’ll find more than a few Indo-Chinese specialties, which tend to up the spice levels. Service is proficient and professional. 7559 W. Sand Lake Road, 407-985-2900; $$$

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SHAmIAnA Order your entrees thali-style for a large platter with an eye-popping variety of side dishes, breads and dipping sauces. Lunchtime offers even better bargains. 7040 International Drive, 407-354-1160; $$

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SPICe CAFÉ Nothing fancy – no waiters, reservations or fancy dining room – just wonderful Indian food, including the best tandoori chicken in town. While customers may choose from a full menu, most folks just go to the “bar” at the front counter and point, guaranteeing a satisfying assortment of well-made dishes. 7536 Dr. Phillips Blvd., 407-264-0205; $$

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tAmARInD InDIAn CuISIne Tamarind’s familiar, fiery and focused dishes are worthy of Winter Park’s food-driven denizens. Samosas and sizzling tandoor-fired lamb chops are the way to start; end with exotic falooda kulfi, ice cream made of condensed milk, rose syrup and crushed pistachios. 501 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 321-207-0760; $$

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WooDLAnDS InDIAn CuISIne Pure vegetarian. Pure delight. Southern Indian delicacies based on hot, spicy, sour and sweet hit 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 huge crispy dosas. You may want to slurp the heavenly coconut chutney with a spoon. 6040 S. Orange Blossom Trail, 407-854-3330; $$

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Chinese, Japanese/sushi, Korean, Thai, VieTnamese

ASIAN

SUSHI POP

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AveNue THAi ANd SuSHi

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. The crispy golden pancake is a fried, veggie-stuffed delight, and the green papaya salad is one of the healthiest ways we can think of to indulge in grilled pork. On your way out, try one of the various neon-colored surprises in the refrigerator case. 1124 E. Colonial Drive, 407-999-2656; $

Can’t decide between pad thai or a spicy tuna roll? You won’t have to at Avenue Thai and Sushi, where you’ll find all the classics of both cuisines. Tofu red curry and tempura cheesecake are favorites. 525 S. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407-960-3993; $$

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AYOTHAYA THAi CuiSiNe Forgive the anonymous decor and the TV sets, and some pleasant surprises await in Ayothaya’s seemingly run-ofthe-mill menu. The standard curries and soups are there, but a section of

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(pricey) fresh fish specialties are worth investigating. Don’t forget to ask about the specials. 7555 W. Sand Lake Road, 407-345-0040; $$

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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-on-the-way-home spirits. Specializing in reasonably priced variety trays of fresh, well-cut sushi, Bikkuri proves that it’s possible to make to-go sushi without resorting to the rubbery “fish” they tend to use at

the supermarket. Upstairs, they also serve from a menu of noodles and Japanese kitchen cuisine, and there are killer drink specials to be had. 1915 E. Colonial Drive, 407-894-4494; $

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CHi PAN ASiAN Handsome Baldwin Park spot diversifies its pan-Asian portfolio to include Turkish fare. The mixed grill of beef, chicken, lamb and shrimp is a kebablovers’ delight, though traditional Peking duck, steamed dumplings and

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of pan-Asian small plates a popular draw, but it’s better for snacking and drinking beer with a group than sitting down to a trad meal. The menu attempts to replicate the feel of a Singaporean street-food market with an array of tiny, tasty Chinese, Malay, Viet and Indian dishes. The place packs ’em in, so call ahead or risk waiting. Open daily. 1103 N. Mills Ave., 407-237-0606; $$

beef soup impress as well. Turkish coffee and fresh lychees topped with cream make splendid endings. 4852 New Broad St., 407-898-0600; $$

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GiZMO SuSHi Gizmo makes a wide variety of creatively named rolls (Gojira roll, anyone?) and the Korean ownership of the restaurant means some atypical selections. Noodles, rice bowls, bento boxes and grilled dishes round out the menu. A comfortable hang with one of the best fish tanks in the city. 110 S. Semoran Blvd., Winter Park, 407-6775800; $$

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HOTTO POTTO Fresh ingredients, genial service and sheer variety help make this Winter Park hot-pot joint an option for these looking for a change in their restaurant routine. Meats aren’t too out of the ordinary, though live blue crab, lobster, shrimp and bass keep it interesting. Spice levels can be adjusted according to taste, though “numb-spicy” isn’t as excruciating as you might think/ hope. Open until 5 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. 3090 Aloma Ave., Winter Park, 407-951-8028; $$

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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; $$$

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A large selection of sashimi and nigiri, including fresh uni, sets this small but upscale sushi house apart from other contenders. If you have to have a roll,

HAwKeRS The sheer variety and low price point of the assorted dishes makes this hub

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Kabooki offers creative ones; try the Hawaii XO, with pink volcanic salt and a citrus tang. An in-house pastry chef means desserts are above average. 3122 E. Colonial Drive, 407-228-3839; $$$

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LAC vieT BiSTRO Orlando has some of the best Vietnamese food in the nation, and you’ll find some of the best in Orlando at Lac-Viet, on the Vietnameseflavored stretch of Colonial Drive near Mills Avenue. With a sense of style, they serve old standbys and fresh inventions – their bun cha ha noi (rice vermicelli with grilled pork and pickled vegetables) is not to be passed up. 2021 E. Colonial Drive, 407-228-4000; $$

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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., 407-898-9672; $

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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., 407-248-8558; $$

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NOOdLeS ANd RiCe CAfé Noodles, be they hot, cold, soupy or stir-fried, are the, ahem, mein attraction at this Mills Avenue resto, so whether it’s ramen, udon, soba or lo mein that bubbles your bowl, they do it right here. Don’t overlook the Hong Kong-style barbecue (duck is surprisingly absent) or the Korean short ribs. Hot pot tables also draw a loyal following. Open daily. 813 N. Mills Ave., 407-895-8833; $$

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broth, they also serve the usual exotics of shrimp paste and grilled pork. But the soup’s the thing. 730 N. Mills Ave., 407-897-3488; $

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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 currycream sauce. 3812 E. Colonial Drive, 407-895-0985; $$

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SeiTO SuSHi Immaculate and stylish, this Japanese restaurant is a welcome and popular presence in Baldwin Park. The menu is brief but offers all the usual suspects – sushi, sashimi, teriyaki and tempura. Every dish is carefully prepared and gracefully presented. 4898 New Broad St., 407-898-8801; $$

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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; $$$

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SHiN JuNG Exotic Korean cuisine served in an intimate and recently remodeled space. 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 hotspiced stingray. If you’re inexperienced with Korean cuisine, let the servers steer you. 1638 E. Colonial Drive, 407-895-7345; $$

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SuS-Hi NiNJA SuSHi The spotlight’s on you to build your own sushi rolls, bowls or wraps from a staggering array of choices. Choose a protein, then add vegetables and other toppings (vegetarians will love the fried tofu). If you’re not the creative type, there are house recipes, some pretty adventurous – like, for instance, tempura shrimp, strawberry and cream cheese. Or try the Mexican: Cheez Whiz meets nori. For real. 4498 N. Alafaya Trail, 407-826-1682; $

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SuSHi LOLA’S Traditional sushi meshed with bentobox lunches, noodle bowls and Korean

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favorites – it’s a wide-ranging fusion, but it works. Sushi rolls and sake flights play nice with bulgogi and bibimbap. Standouts: the “Magic” roll, served aflame, and the sizzling stone bowls. And you can trek down the mall to Park Ave CDs for an after-dinner treat. 2806 Corrine Drive, 407-898-5652; $$

SuSHi POP Don’t let the fuchsia hues and J-popthemed decor fool you – Sushi Pop takes its food seriously. Stellar sushi and sashimi complement a variety of rolls, entrees and whimsical desserts flourished with notes of molecular gastronomy (bleu-cheese powder or liquid nitrogen, anyone?). Sake fans have the privilege of consulting an in-house expert. 310 W. Mitchell Hammock Road, Oviedo, 407-542-5975; $$$

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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, beef chow fun is a tasty tangle, and roast duck and chicken offer a proper juicy-to-crisp ratio. 1246 E. Colonial Drive, 407-896-8988; $

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THAiTANiC SuSHi Small Winter Park Thai/sushi joint gets it right with a host of rolls and traditional Siamese fare. The tasty Thunderball roll might even win over sashimi/nigiri purists; panang curry and zesty pad thai are smart choices; but what’s most memorable is the mango sticky rice: Get two orders. Open daily. 7583 University Blvd., Winter Park, 407-960-3815; $$

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wASABi MOdeRN JAPANeSe CuiSiNe Conveyor-belt sushi comes to the Florida Mall, offering a slew of mostly ho-hum rolls. Nothing’s particularly noteworthy; the technology seems to captivate diners (and onlookers) more than the food. When the novelty wears off, your thoughts may veer to the leftover pizza in your refrigerator … but still, it’s pretty cool watching that belt go ’round. Open daily. 8001 S. Orange Blossom Trail, 407-859-3940; $

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YuM-Mi SANdwiCHeS Bright, fresh and modern banh mi counter aims to please the masses with their variations on the iconic Vietnamese sandwich. Specialty options like pork belly (“Miss Piggy”) and Asian-marinated beef cubes (“shimmy shaker”) stuffed inside fresh-baked baguettes are hits, but the “original” is just OK. Fresh fruit slushes and boba teas are must-try treats. 1227 N. Mills Ave., 407-894-1808; $

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Cuban, Puerto riCan, MexiCan, ColoMbian, Peruvian, venezuelan

LATIN

Trend alert: spotlight on Peruvian food You’ve conquered the bandeja paisa at Oh! Que Bueno; you’ve burned the roof of your mouth on the Mexican molcajetes at Rocco’s Tacos and Tequila; you’ve even dared to finish off a triple at Junior Colombian Burger. But have you scaled the mountain of rice and seafood known as arroz chaufa de mariscos? Peruvian cuisine has taken off around the country, and celeb chefs from the Incan empire, like Gaston Acurio, are venturing ever northward. Orlando’s Peruvian haunts are varied, from tiny homestyle places like 30-seat El Buzo in Casselberry, where photos of the owner hoisting fresh-caught marlins dot the walls, to more formal operations – like Ceviche House, known for perfecting that marinated fish dish, and Lima 41, named after the zip code of the capital city.

LIma 41

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Peruvian cuisine is as varied as its people, but after its best-known staple, ceviche, the overarching theme of starch on starch on starch prevails (think corn on fries on rice). Be prepared to leave quite satisfied (think: full). But if there’s lucuma ice cream to be had, don’t miss it – the velvety texture and fragrant fruit is a perfect foil to a heavy meal. –HVK

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AGAVE AZUL A cool blue interior belies the spicy fare served at this trendy taqueria. With 100 brands on hand, tequila is the aperitif of choice, but all good drinks lead to food, and the Tex-Mex dishes served here are done right. Chunky guacamole, the plato grande (a hungry man’s dish of skirt steak, picadillo enchilada and a superb chicken tamale slathered in mole), and the pastel de piña are all recommended, as are reservations. 4750 S. Kirkman Road, 407-704-6930; $$

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AZtEcA D’OrO A great big menu hits all the MexicanAmerican highlights: queso dip, fried taquitos, quesadillas and a plethora of platters. A good place to take a group for margaritas, sangria and plenty of cheese-covered delights. 12403 S. Orange Blossom Trail, 407-826-9191; also 11633 University Blvd., 407-737-8388; $$

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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, 407-895-6112; $$

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BLAcK BEAN DELI After dishing out homespun favorites since the mid-’80s, Black Bean changed hands from aunt to nephew and a new vitality took over the kitchen. Lunch platters are a bargain; tender roast chicken has a citrusy tang, Cuban pork is marinated and slowcooked and the black beans are dandy. Look for Black Bean Deli 2, opening summer 2013 on the 1800 block of East Colonial Drive. 325 S. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 407-628-0294; $

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BOrDEr GrILL MetroWest taqueria is a real find, and once found, a treasure trove awaits: tacos (pibil, chorizo and grilled chicken are our faves), tortas, gorditas, burritos and caldos – in meaty or veg-friendly iterations. Consider starting with fresh-made guac and ending with homemade flan, no matter how stuffed you feel. Homemade salsas can be downright infernal, but Mexican CocaCola and various aguas frescas prove effective extinguishers. Open daily. 5695 Vineland Road, 407-352-0101; $

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cAFÉ tU tU tANGO Artists work while you eat in what’s essentially a mini-gallery, where the mood is festive, even outrageous,

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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; $$$

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cANtINA LArEDO MODErN MExIcAN Tex-Mex fare gets the Dr. Phillips treatment. Guacamole 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; $$

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cOLIBrI MExIcAN cUIsINE Upscale Baldwin Park taqueria has honed its act in the kitchen. 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; $$

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EL BUZO Ceviche is the specialty of this tiny Peruvian cocina, but be sure to start with excellent mussels on the halfshell, dressed with a tangy salsa jacked with aji limo peppers. Grilled beef heart and traditional lomo saltado are worthy turf selections, if you’re not into surf. Soufflé-like bavarois de guinones are, appropriately, ethereal. Open daily. 1436 N. Semoran Blvd., Casselberry, 407-673-0237; $

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GrINGOs LOcOs Downtown Tex-Mex stop is a boon for late-night revelers, offering standard tacos, burritos, chimis and quesadillas. The sizable girth of the chimi and “1 Night Slam” burrito make them ideal alcohol sponges, and crisp, flaky empanadas are great grab-and-go items. Skip bland guacamole and overdone fish tacos. Open until 3 a.m.; closed Sundays. 20 E. Washington St., 407-841-5626; $

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LIMA 41 Curry Ford polleria is still testing the palates of its patrons, but it certainly has all the ingredients for success. Deft executions of Peruvian staples – papa rellena and lomo saltado – can be improved with slightly more aggressive spicing, but rocoto-flecked ceviche de pescado and pollo a la brasa is what draws the customers. Airy mousse de lucuma makes a rousing ending. Service is enthusiastic and welcoming. Closed Sunday and Monday. 2901 Curry Ford Road, 407-250-6743; $$

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NAcHO MAMA’s Nacho Mama’s serves up the established canon of Tex-Mex staples, along with a healthy dose of generosity. Pork or steak al pastor in tacos or on nachos is a must; burritos are Sputnik-sized savory satellites of love, but leave room for chocolate-andcinnamon-bathed sopapillas. Mexicanand American-style breakfast served Sunday mornings. 5463 E. Colonial Drive, 407-247-5816; $

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tHE NOU Made-from-scratch dishes give Altamonte diners plenty of reason to pay a visit to this Venezuelan eatery. A refreshingly simple urbanity provides the backdrop for such traditional dishes as pabellón criollo (think ropa vieja), hearty sancocho soup, crisp empanadas and, of course, arepas. Try the reina pepiada – it’s a wonderful mess. 1156 W. State Road 436, Altamonte Springs, 407-865-6106; $

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OH! QUE BUENO A small Colombian café 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; $

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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 char-grilled skirt steak are worthy of signature-dish status. 2611 Edgewater Drive, 407-420-1155; $$

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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 worshipworthy garlic and jalapeno-habañero sauces – it’s all good. Don’t skip the flawless flan and tres leches cake. 5752 International Drive, 407-248-6424; $

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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 firstrate. Try the mixed mountain grill (parrilla tepui mixta) for a heartier entree. 8117 Vineland Ave., 407-238-0014; $

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rINcON cUBANO cAFEtErIA Down-home Cuban cooking awaits those who take the drive down Forsyth Road’s forlorn drag; Maria Alfonso brings her diner to life with a welcoming exuberance. Empanadas are a must (if they haven’t sold out); meat-lovers will revel in the steak palomilla, churrasco and pork-topped mofongo. Breakfast and lunch only; closed Sundays. 3327 N. Forsyth Road, Winter Park, 407-679-5600; $

rOLANDO’s cUBAN rEstAUrANt The best Cuban on the east side, with a dressed-up atmosphere and pro staff. The food is top-drawer, 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; $$

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sUPEr rIcO cOLOMBIA tAPAs & MOrE

57 W. Central Blvd., 321-345-7426; $$$

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tAKO cHEENA An eclectic offering of Latin-Asian tacos and burritos sets this taqueria apart from the rest. Empanadas are a must to start, then dive right into the sublime panko-crusted cod taco. Burritos are substantial, and sauces – especially habañero-jackfruit and sweet chili with smoked ghost pepper – are tantalizing. Closed Mondays; open until the wee hours. 932 N. Mills Ave., 321-236-7457; $

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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; $

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ZAZA’s NEW cUBAN DINEr Classic Cuban comfort food served up in a tiny ’70s-style building. Affordable, bountiful dinner plates, like the lechon asado, proves pork can be lean and still juicy; and high-octane café con leche is some of the best Cuban coffee north of Key West. Homemade guavaand-cream cheese pastries make a sweet finish. 3500 Curry Ford Road, 407-228-0060; $

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Vegan, Vegetarian, SmoothieS, Juice BarS

HEALTHY

Café 118

Café 118

ETHOS VEGaN KITCHEN

The raw food movement sprouts at Café 118, where raw ingredients supplant cooked comestibles. Macadamiaand 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. A great special-occasion restaurant. 153 E. Morse Blvd., Winter Park, 407-389-2233; $$$

Popular veg house lost the cozy lakeside courtyard with the move to Winter Park, but gained in square footage, parking and exposure. Meatless comfort staples are the norm, and dishes like sheep’s pie, sausage rolls and Philly cheesesteak sandwiches satisfy. Even calzones with soy cheese are impressive – more so than the desserts. Open daily until 11 p.m. 601 S. New York Ave., Winter Park, 407-228-3898; $$

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DaNDELION COMMUNITEa Café More than 30 organic loose-leaf teas are offered at this socially conscious teahouse that’s become a gathering ground for nonconformists, neo-cons 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; $

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of nutrition in the form of sweet, natural, fruit and vegetable juices. The Popeye, a green drink heavy on the spinach and cucumber, is surprisingly light and delicate but packs an antioxidant punch. 2413 E. South St., 407-446-9257; $

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LOVING HUT

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. Under new ownership since 2012, they’ve added vegan “sushi” to the menu. 810 W. Colonial Drive, 407-999-9799; $

Formerly a dark cave of a Vietnamese restaurant, the tiny building has been transformed into a sparklingwhite 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 American snacks like cheesecake, fried “golden nuggets” and “happy dogs” – but it’s all vegan. Pho, fresh spring rolls and avocado smoothies are lighter choices, but hey, even veggies need a fast-food fix sometimes. 2101 E. Colonial Drive, 407-894-5673; $

JUICE BaR

POWER HOUSE Café

Right next door to a popular yoga studio, the simply named Juice Bar refreshes tired bodies with megadoses

Founded in 1970, the simple eatery with an active lunch counter is what used to be called a “health-food

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restaurant.” Pitas and salads rule, as does the delicacy that single-handedly revived the blender – the smoothie. 111 E. Lyman Ave., Winter Park, 407-645-3616; $

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SMOOTHIE ROOM Experience fresh, no-additives vegetable-and-fruit juices and smoothies without having to get out the peeler or clean the juicer. Whether you think fresh juice offers health benefits or just like the way it tastes, raw foodists, vegans, vegetarians and omnivores will all find something to love at this art-filled SoDo hangout. 25 W. Crystal Lake St., 407-250-4894; $

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THUYEN VIÊN Simplicity is the order at this humble Vietnamese vegetarian eatery run by a Buddhist temple. Monks prep and serve soups, steamed buns, sandwiches and sticky rice snacks, but don’t overlook the refrigerated display of meat analogues. A language barrier adds to the adventure, but volunteers often assist diners with questions. 1216 E. Colonial Drive, 407-233-5866; $

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Coffeehouses, Teahouses, CupCakes, fro-Yo, ICe Cream

COFFEE,TEA & SWEETS

BluE BIrd BakE Shop

Barnie’s CoffeeKitChen

Blue Bird BaKe shop

the dessert ladY Café

The longtime Central Florida favorite is rebranding itself, one location at a time (for now, this Park Avenue outpost is the only one to get the full treatment). Elegant breakfast and lunch menus betray wide ambition; successful dishes like Turkish pots de crème and Israeli shakshuka prove they’re serious. Coffee service has been similarly modernized, with a pour-over station offering the smoothest cup you’ve tasted in a while. 118 S. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407-629-0042; $

Real butter, fresh fruit and Madagascar bourbon vanilla are among the superior ingredients the bakers at Blue Bird use to create their tasty and wholesome cupcakes, baked fresh in small batches every day. In addition to traditional faves like red velvet and strawberry, this shop also creates unique flavors – try the chocolate Guinness or vanilla black pepper for a change of pace – and serves up caramel brownies and savory scones as well. 3122 Corrine Drive, 407-228-3822; $

Patti Schmidt, the “Dessert Lady,” serves up seriously seductive cake slices, wines and decadent coffee drinks. Buttercream-frosted carrot cake with rum-soaked raisins on the side is a standout among the addictive offerings. 7600 Dr. Phillips Blvd., 407-999-5696; $$

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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; $

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rainBoW sno-Cones

treats like chocolate salted caramel and mojito cupcakes, and a little fun with the Hunka Chunka Banana Love. If you just gotta have it now, call ahead for quick pickup. 2562 E. Colonial Drive, 407-893-9846; $

The original fat-free frozen snack, this simple recipe of shaved ice and a shot of flavored syrup comes in 55 flavors, from “polar punch” (light blue raspberry) to sour apple. The walk-up window is a longtime Audubon Park family favorite. 3114 Corrine Drive, 407-896-9105; $

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house Blend Café Lattes and cappuccinos aren’t the only items worth sampling here. Above-average café fare includes the jerk chicken burrito, beef-and-brie sandwich and breakfast waffles, not to mention freshly made desserts. All of HBC’s profits go toward community service projects in Orange County and around the world. Customers are encouraged to help out, so be sure to inquire if interested in more than just a cup of joe. 10730 W. Colonial Drive, Ocoee, 407-656-7676; $

raphsodiC CooperatiVe CoMpanY

hYppo orlando popsiCle shop

stardust Video & Coffee

Artisanal ice pops combine grownup tastes with childhood fun. Flavors like mango-habañero, Mexican hot chocolate and pistachio-rosewater make it clear that the pop-crafters at Hyppo take fun seriously, and their commitment to organic and local ingredients where possible bears that out. 431 E. Central Blvd., 321-348-7677; $

Impossible to categorize, impossible to live without. The ’dust started as a video rental place that served coffee, but it’s morphed into a restaurant, bar, art gallery, show venue, used-book store and all-around neighborhood hangout. There’s a terrific selection of imported beers, creative cocktails and a whiskey bar; the photobooth is still hanging in there to document your adventures; the equally carnivore/veggiefriendly menu recently expanded; and Monday evenings are still dedicated to the Audubon Park Garden Market – but we have to consider coffee the core mission. 1842 E. Winter Park Road, 407-623-3393; $

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infusion tea Some special places offer more than what’s on the table, and while the teas and snacks are wonderful at this quaint corner spot, just as much nourishment comes from the “third place” environment created by Christina and Brad Cowherd. One of a few places in town to get creative vegan and vegetarian fare, as well as a great cup of tea. 1600 Edgewater Drive, 407-999-5255; $

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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 a great hot-weather treat. Multiple locations; jeremiahsice.com; $

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MoChi froZen YoGurt The three steps at Mochi’s sparkling spot are pleasantly uncontrived: Pick your yogurt flavor, put toppings on it, then weigh and pay. Newbies should take it easy on the self-serve – it’s not hard to go overboard. Mochi patties are available for those looking for something different. 145 S. Orange Ave., 407-425-9797; $

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Old-fashioned tile floor, glass-fronted dark wood display cases and exposed ductwork lend a pleasingly industrialcum-apothecary feel – just right for a fix of healthy vegan decadence. Dairyfree Chinese five-spice brownies and dense, moist carrot-ginger spice cake (and of course, the omnipresent red velvet cupcakes) will please sweetslovers no matter their dietary choices. 710 N. Mills Ave., 407-704-8615; $$

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sWeet! 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, 407-277-7746; $

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tWisted Bliss iCe CreaM Walk-up window dispenses dailychanging 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., 407-484-2653; $

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