Best of

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2015 proved to be another great year for the continuing growth of the Orlando restaurant and dining scene, especially with new openings focusing more and more on locally sourced and produced food.

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Here are some of our favorite Orlando restaurants and dining moments from 2015:


1. The Osprey Tavern

A breath of fresh air to Baldwin Park, this project by Jason and Sue Chin, owners of the very successful Seito Sushi Baldwin Park across the street brings together a dream team featuring Executive Chef Joseph Burnett (formerly of Norman’s and The Ravenous Pig), Executive Sous Chef Elek Kovacs, and Kristy Carlucci, Pastry Chef. Restaurant of the Year for 2015.

Photo by Isha Shah
Photo by Isha Shah

2. Tabla Indian Thai Chinese

Recently undergoing a beautiful multimillion dollar renovation, the traditionally Indian restaurant has brought on Chef Ian Piamonte who spearheads their new Thai and Chinese offerings. My favorite dishes here are the gobi manchurian – little sweet and sour red cauliflower fritters and the lamb biryani rice dish.

 

Pork Tonkotsu ramen @seitobp #perfection #ramen via @krystlenguyen

A photo posted by Ricky @TastyChomps (@tastychomps) on

3. Pork Tonkatsu Ramen at Seito Sushi Baldwin Park

Chef Austin Boyd has really upped his game with the pork tonkotsu ramen – silky, slurpy umami goodness. Quite possibly the best ramen bowl in Orlando.

4. The North Quarter Tavern

Chef Matthew Wall brings the realness to this new north Orlando hot spot – great prices, great food – and especially great fried chicken.

5. King Cajun Crawfish in Mills 50 District

They recently moved into bigger digs next door where Bananas Modern Diner was on Mills, but they still serve up great renditions of Louisiana cajun cuisine. Check out their story in the fabulous WMFE 90.7 FM series on What is Orlando’s Little Vietnam?

 

 

Garlicky buttery rock shrimp from #pharmacyorlando w @kirbiecravings @chowzter @chowzter7 #fbforl after conference eats

A photo posted by Ricky @TastyChomps (@tastychomps) on

6. The Pharmacy on Sand Lake Road

continues to impress – their garlic rock shrimp is one of the best things to eat in Orlando and their menu is always changing. They expanded to where the Table was earlier this year for a little more dining space.

 

7. Primo by Chef Melissa Kelly

At the JW Marriott Orlando, along with Chef de Cuisine Mariano Vegel continued a long standing tradition of excellence in farm to table cuisine. One of the highlights of my dining experiences for the year was the simple, yet so delicious Farmer’s Salad topped with a farm egg and house cured bacon.

 

8. Chef’s Night at Second Harvest Food Bank

Each Chef’s Night brings local top chefs into Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida to celebrate delicious food and raise money for a good cause. All proceeds benefit Second Harvest’s Culinary Training Program, which provides students with the skills and inspiration they need to obtain an entry-level position in a food service establishment.

 

Love the @kappoeastend chirashi bowl so muchhh #sushi #nofilter #foodie #orlando @eastendmkt

A photo posted by Ricky @TastyChomps (@tastychomps) on

9. Kappo at East End Market

Sadly Kappo closed this year at East End Market, with a small market to take its place. Do not be forlorn too long – the chef/owners are currently seeking a new space to continue Kappo’s legacy. We wish the owners Mark, Lo, and Jen a happy new year as they look to the future. Also, we wish Lo and his fiance Julie a very happy wedding and honeymoon this 2016!

10. Pig Floyd’s Urban Barbakoa

founded by The Treehouse Truck’s Thomas Ward, their baby back ribs are revelatory, but don’t sleep on their shrimp and chorizo tacos either – fantastic flavors.

 

11. Bavaro’s Pizza Napoletana & Pastaria in Winter Springs

The Napoletana style pizza is thin & soft with a slight crisp to the crust; with a nice smokey char to the pizza crust from the wood burning ovens and topped with ingredients imported from Italy or locally grown and organic. Dan Bavaro, the founder was taught by 3rd generation, Neapolitan families and bases their entire menu around a stunning Italian imported wood-fired brick oven.

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12. Peking roast duck at Morimoto’s Asia at Disney Springs –

Featuring a crispy Peking duck, a carved house-roasted whole duck sliced thin with crackling skin and tender meat, served with steamed flour pancakes, and a side of apricot sweet chili and hoisin miso sauces. It is the Japanese master chef’s first pan-Asian dining experience and showcases flavors from across the Asian continent with an emphasis on China, Korea, Japan and Thailand.


Chef Morimoto and team hanging out with Mickey Mouse at the grand opening of Morimoto’s Asia.

13. Doner Kebab bowl with bulgar wheat and tomatoes at Shishco Mezze and Grill in Maitland

Fresh grilled lamb and beef doner gyro meat slices on top of fresh bulgar wheat or rice and pickled red onions and tomatoes…just divine.

Definitely looking forward to what 2016 will bring to us here in Orlando! What are you looking forward to this year?

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Love and romance is in the air!

Orlando recently made Amazon.com’s List of Most Romantic Cities in America and this is no small wonder.

Orlando is filled with hidden gems and opportunities for romance, waiting to be found by those hopeless dreamers out there. Some friends say they like a place with a great view, that transports you to another place, others want a place full of intimacy, or pampering service, but above all else, there must be great, luscious food.

This year, Valentine’s Day may be especially busy as it falls on a Friday night – so make sure to book your reservations early!

For those interested, please do visit Mr. Scott Joseph’s online poll for Most Romantic Restaurant.

If you have any suggestions to add, please leave a comment below!

So here is TastyChomps.com’s list of

 

TastyChomps.com’s
28 of the Most
Romantic Restaurants of Orlando 2014

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Victoria & Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort

4401 Grand Floridian Way, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830
Website: http://www.victoria-alberts.com/index.html – Phone (407) 939-3862
Cuisine: American, Local

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Bull & Bear Steakhouse at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando

14200 Bonnet Creek Resort Lane, Orlando, FL 32821
Website: http://www.bullandbearorlando.com/ – (407) 597-5500
Cuisine: Steak, American, Seafood
Links:  TastyChomps at the Bull and Bear

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California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort

4600 North World Drive, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830
Website: http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/dining/california-grill/ – (407) 824-1576
Cuisine: Sushi, American
Link: TastyChomps at The California Grill

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The Venetian Room

8101 World Center Drive, Orlando, FL 32821
Website: http://www.thevenetianroom.com/ – (407) 238-8060
Cuisine: Continental European
Link: TastyChomps at The Venetian Room

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Luma on Park

290 Park Avenue South, Winter Park, FL 32789
Website: http://www.lumaonpark.com/ – (407) 599-4111
Cuisine: Local, Seafood, American
Links: TastyChomps at Luma for Lunch, Interview with Chef Brandon McGlamery, and September Orlando Magical Dining Month

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The Ravenous Pig

1234 North Orange Avenue, Winter Park, FL 32789
Website: http://www.theravenouspig.com/ – (407) 628-2333
Cuisine: Local, Gastropub, American
Link: TastyChomps at The Ravenous Pig

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Le Coq Au Vin

4800 South Orange Avenue, Orlando, FL 32806
Website: http://www.lecoqauvinrestaurant.com/ – (407) 851-6980
Cuisine: French

Photo by David Swoyer
Photo by David Swoyer

Cress Restaurant

103 West Indiana Avenue, DeLand, FL 32720
Website: http://www.cressrestaurant.com/ – (386) 734-3740
Cuisine: Local, Southern, Indian

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Antonio’s La Fiamma Ristorante

611 South Orlando Avenue, Maitland, FL 32751
Website: http://www.antoniosonline.com/ – (407) 645-1035
Cuisine: Italian

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K Restaurant & Wine Bar

1710 Edgewater Drive, Orlando, FL 32804
Website: http://www.krestaurant.net/ – (407) 872-2332
Cuisine: Local, American, Italian

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Christner’s Prime Steak & Lobster

729 Lee Road, Orlando, FL 32810
Website: http://www.christnersprimesteakandlobster.com/ – (407) 645-4443
Cuisine: Steakhouse

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Flying Fish Café at Disney’s BoardWalk

2101 Epcot Resorts Boulevard, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830
Website: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/dining/boardwalk/flying-fish-cafe/ – (407) 939-2359
Cuisine: Seafood, Local, American
Links: Tasty Chomps at Flying Fish Cafe for Winemaker’s Dinner series

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Sushi Pop Seafood and Chops

310 West Mitchell Hammock Road, Oviedo, FL 32765
Website: http://www.sushipoprestaurant.com/ – (407) 542-5975
Cuisine: Japanese, Sushi, Asian
Link: TastyChomps at Sushi Pop

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Kres Chophouse

17 West Church Street, Orlando, FL 32801
Website: http://www.kresrestaurant.com/ – (407) 447-7950
Cuisine: Steakhouse
Link: TastyChomps at Kres Chophouse

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Enzo’s on the Lake

1130 South US Highway 17-92, Longwood, FL 32750
Website: http://www.enzos.com/ – (407) 834-9872
Cuisine: Italian

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Chatham’s Place Restaurant

7575 Doctor Phillips Boulevard, Orlando, FL 32819
Website: http://www.chathamsplace.com/ – (407) 345-2992
Cuisine: Continental European

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The Tasting Room at The Chef’s Table

99 West Plant Street, Winter Garden, FL 34787
Website: http://www.chefstableattheedgewater.com/tastingroom.html – (407) 230-4837
Cuisine: Local, American, Tapas

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Cevíche Tapas Bar & Restaurant

125 West Church Street, Orlando, FL
Website: http://www.ceviche.com/ – (321) 281-8140
Cuisine: Spanish, Tapas

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Paris Bistro

216 Park Avenue North, Winter Park, FL 32789
Website: http://www.parisbistroparkavenue.com/ – (407) 671-4424
Cuisine: French

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Norman’s at The Ritz-Carlton

4012 Central Florida Parkway, Orlando, FL 32837
Website: http://www.normans.com/ – (407) 393-4333
Cuisine: American, Local, Fusion Latin

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Hillstone

215 South Orlando Avenue, Winter Park, FL 32789
Website: http://www.hillstone.com/hillstone/ – (407) 740-4005
Cuisine: American
Link: TastyChomps at Hillstone’s

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The Boheme at Grand Bohemian Hotel Orlando

325 South Orange Avenue, Orlando, FL 32801
Website: http://www.theboheme.com/ – (407) 313-9000
Cuisine: American, European
Link:  TastyChomps at The Boheme for The Art of Valentine’s

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White Wolf Café

1829 North Orange Avenue, Orlando, FL 32804
Website: http://www.whitewolfcafe.com/ – (407) 895-9911
Cuisine: American

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Dragonfly Robata Grill & Sushi

7972 Via Dellagio Way, Orlando, FL 32819
Website: http://www.dragonflyorlando.com/ – (407) 370-3359
Cuisine: Japanese, Sushi
Links: TastyChomps at Dragonfly and Happy Hour 

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Seasons 52 Fresh Grill

7700 West Sand Lake Road, Orlando, FL 32819
Website: http://www.seasons52.com/ – (407) 354-5212
Cuisine: Local, American

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Eddie V’s Prime Seafood

7488 West Sand Lake Road, Orlando, FL 32819
Website: http://eddiev.com – (407) 355-3011
Cuisine: Seafood, Steakhouse
Link: TastyChomps at Eddie V’s

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Texas de Brazil

5259 International Drive, Orlando, FL 32819
Website: http://www.texasdebrazil.com/ – (407) 355-0355
Cuisine: Brazilian, Steakhouse, Buffet
Link:  TastyChomps at Texas De Brazil

Roys

Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion

7760 West Sand Lake Road, Orlando, FL 32819
Website: http://www.roysrestaurant.com/ – (407) 352-4844
Cuisine: Hawaiian, Asian, Fusion

Are we missing any of your favorite romantic restaurants in Orlando? Comment below and we’ll take a look!

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Looking back at 2013, quite a few changes have come and gone in the area’s restaurant scene. Scott Joseph does a wonderful job recapping the closings and openings of the notoriously difficult restaurant industry in Central Florida here.

It’s been a tough year but quite a few restaurants and establishments have been able to continue bringing Orlando’s food culture to a new level.

Here are some of my favorite meals looking back both locally here in Orlando and beyond:

Orlando

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1. Bull and Bear’s Pasta Explosion – Decadently rich, house made ravioli stuffed with an airy carbonara mousse, parmegiano reggiano cheese, and serrano ham in a white sauce

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2. Flying Fish Cafe at Disney’s Boardwalk’s – Super Slow-Cooked Kurobuta Pork Belly & Sliced Tenderloin

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3. Bull and Bear at the Orlando Waldorf Astoria’s Roosevelt New Orleans inspired Filet of Red fish on top of oyster poached au beurre blanc, maque choux – part of the Food and Wine Weekends series

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4. Smiling Bison Burger at the Smiling Bison – 6 oz. natural bison, garlic aioli, mushroom ketchup, smoked provolone, house bacon, texas toast

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5. Crab fried rice with scallions and mushrooms at Eddie V’s on Orlando’s Restaurant Row

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6. Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen’s Wild Mushroom Tart – Hen of the Woods mushrooms in a rich truffle scented custard, baked in a flaky crust

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7. Kabooki Sushi’s Kurabuta Pork Belly and Tamaki Seasoned sushi rice – Braised ‘snake river farms’ pork belly, micro basil, tempura shallot

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8. Chef Eddie’s Chicken and Red velvet waffles with green beans

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9. Disney’s California Grill’s Pork Belly Nigiri . . . House-cured Pork, Bacon and Yuzu Rice, Spicy Teriyaki

6 hour braised pork shoulder from Dragonfly Modern Izayaka's "secret" late night menu
10. 6 hour braised pork shoulder from Dragonfly Modern Izayaka’s “secret” late night menu

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11. Cask and Larder’s lamb ribs with green tomato yogurt, burnt coriander honey

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12. Sichuan style ChongQing La Zi Fried Chicken at Chuan Lu Garden

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13. Miso ramen with corn, extra hard boiled egg and cha shu pork at Sapporo Ramen

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14. Crimson Tavern’s House Burger – caramelized onion, gruyere cheese, bread & butter pickles, sesame bun

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15. Sushi and sashimi at Sushi Tomi

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16. Banh Cuon – Silky smooth rice crepes with ground pork and mushrooms at Vietnam Cuisine on Colonial Drive

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17. East End Market – just go and explore the wonderful food vendors and purveyors within!

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18. Luma on Park’s Cocoa beach cobia mi-cuit – with florida citrus, avocado, waterkist farm red serrano

Banh mi at banh Mi Nha Trang
19. Banh mi at banh Mi Nha Trang
Epcot Food and Wine Festival - Brazil’s Crispy pork belly with black beans, onions, avocado and cilantro*
20. Epcot Food and Wine Festival – Brazil’s Crispy pork belly with black beans, onions, avocado and cilantro*

Miami

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21. La Camaronera’s La Minuta – their signature fried snapper sandwich on some cuban pan bread. This sandwich provides a great taste to value ratio, costing only $6. No wonder they take cash only.

Pork belly 'n' scallion (su-shoyu, shichimi, onion marmalade) and short rib 'n' corn (black truffle, corn soy, sorrel, parmigiano) dumplings - very creative take on the traditional dumpling. I am tired of pork and vegetable fillings - these dumplings at pubbelly excited me...and proved to be executed quite well. gone within seconds.
22. Pubbelly’s pork belly ‘n’ scallion (su-shoyu, shichimi, onion marmalade) and short rib ‘n’ corn (black truffle, corn soy, sorrel, parmigiano) dumplings.

Atlanta

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23. Tonkotsu ramen – Sliced cha shu pork, soft boiled egg, fantastic ramen at Umaido Ramen

San Francisco

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24. General Tso’s Veal Ribs at Danny Bowien’s Mission Chinese

Tartine's Morning Bun
Tartine’s Morning Bun

25. Morning Bun at Tartine Bakery

Las Vegas

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26. Bacchanal Buffet at the MGM Grand Las Vegas

Tokyo, Japan

Little Lamb Mongolian Hotpot in Shinjuku
27. Little Lamb Mongolian Hotpot in Shinjuku
Strawberry mochi in Ginza  - Tokyo, Japan
28. Strawberry mochi in Ginza – Tokyo, Japan
29. Tsukemen Ramen at Fu Unji Ramen in Shinjuku
29. Tsukemen Ramen at Fu Unji Ramen in Shinjuku
Nigiri sushi plate outside of Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo, Japan
30. Nigiri sushi plate outside of Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo, Japan

BONUS!

Personal favorite dish of the year - my wedding cake with my wife on November 2, 2013!
Personal favorite dish of the year – my wedding cake with my wife on November 2, 2013!

Check out our friend Droolius’ favorite 25 meals of 2013!

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Chef/TV Star/Author Anthony Bourdain is headed to Orlando this Friday night for his Guts and Glory tour stop at the Hard Rock Live at Universal Studios. He has a new show on CNN called Parts Unknown (watch Episode 1: Myanmar here) and a new book entitled Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook (P.S.).

Although our city beautiful often gets stereotyped as a tourist mecca, we have quite a burgeoning food scene that is excellent and notable in its own right and deserves to be reckoned with.

Just this past year alone, 6 Central Florida Chefs were nominated for the James Beard Award for Best Chef – South as semi-finalists and we have pockets of unique enclaves like Mills 50 (Vietnamese District), Little Brazil growing by the day along I-Drive, Winter Park, and more.


A Photo with the “Lunch Lady” Nguyen Thi Thanh in the heart of Saigon, Vietnam – bowl of bun bo hue – made famous during Anthony Bourdain’s visit to Vietnam during No Reservations

Based on his propensity for dining a la street food and his affinity for Asian cuisine and disregard for sweets (from watching ABC’s The Taste), I would probably take Anthony Bourdain to these places in Orlando. You can tell he has good tastes in Orlando already by choosing Cask and Larder as his official tour stop restaurant for the VIP Event!

For other suggestions, check out these lively discussions by YosemiteSam and BigBadVoodooLou on
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/899590#8038303 and on Yelp Orlando

Mills-50 District / Viet Town


Chuan Lu Garden – probably the best new authentic Chinese restaurant right now in the heart of Mills 50 / Viet Town district, this tiny place serves up Sichuan specialities like super spicy ChonqQing La Zi fried chicken and hand pulled noodles.


Banh Mi Nha Trang – specializing in Nha Trang style banh mi (with a hot chili fish sauce added), this hole in the wall is run by a Vietnamese couple with hearts of gold. Ms. Nguyen’s sweet smile, slightly limited English, and affectionate “See you tomorrow!” will definitely win Anthony’s heart.


Boiling Crab and Seafood – I’d go for the fresh cajun style hot and spicy garlic steamed shrimp made by a Vietnamese family here. Eat with your hands to get all the bits and pieces.


Pho Vinh – My favorite and probably the best Vietnamese restaurant in the area, with super fresh spring rolls and flavorful pho broth. They have some nice specials like bun thit nuong and bun mam, too.

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Tako Cheena – Asian/Latin fusion tacos, a food truck in restaurant form, open late and run by Chef Pom Moongauklang, formerly of Nobu. Fabulous empanadas, tacos, and burritos with fillings like Char siu pork belly, Asian braised beef, Thai Peanut Chicken, and Indian yellow curry tofu.

Winter Park


Prato – seasonal, modern/progressive Italian run by James Beard nominated Chef Brandon McGlamery ( The French Laundry / Chez Panisse alumni) and his chef di cucina Matthew Cargo. One of their newest dish is veal belly topped with egg.

South Orlando


The Pharmacy Orlando – From the same owners/chefs who brought you The Table Orlando, comes their latest restaurant concept—Pharmacy. This 1920s “speakeasy” is now open to the public—if you can find it. hint – check the elevator


Hanamizuki (for lunch only) – shio butter ramen and the fried rice


Sushi Tomi – really good fresh sushi and homestyle japanese dishes like pork curry katsu, pork tonkatsu ramen, and fried chicken karaage.


Teriyaki House – mom and pop Taiwanese Place serving delicious Taiwanese sausage, braised pork belly, fried tofu, fried salt and pepper chicken and other street foody type comfort food.


Photo Courtesy of BurgerJunkies.com
The After Party Food truck – the Brazilian Xtravaganza Burger made with 16 ingredients: hamburger patty, cheese, bacon, shredded chicken, sausage, fried egg, ham,lettuce, tomato, onions, garlic, mayo, ketchup, pea, corn, potato sticks

Any of the ones below that were nominated this past year for the

James Beard Award – Best Chef – South – Central Florida Nominees 2013

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Kathleen Blake, The Rusty Spoon and Pine 22, Orlando, FL

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Scott Hunnel, Victoria & Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian resort & Spa, Lake Buena Vista, FL

Brandon McGlamery Prato Luma Winter Park
Brandon McGlamery, Luma on Park and Prato, Winter Park, FL

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James and Julie Petrakis, The Ravenous Pig and Cask and Larder, Winter Park, FL

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Hari Pulapaka, Cress, DeLand, FL

More cool places Anthony Bourdain would like:
What would you suggest in Orlando?

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