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Local Flavor: A Taste Profile of Orlando’s Mills 50 District for Spring 2024

First published in The Community Paper – February 2024

From hidden mom-and-pop shops to Michelin Guide–recommended restaurants, Orlando’s colorful Mills 50 District neighborhood is truly a cultural gem. Home to vibrant murals and bricklaid streets and a mix of eclectic and diverse food, art, and nightlife, the district’s official name of “Mills 50” comes from the intersection of Mills Avenue (U.S. 17-92) and State Road 50 (Colonial Drive).

Joanne Grant, executive director of the Mills 50 Main Street program, said in an email that “‘personality’ is what makes Mills 50 so special. It is distinctive and one of a kind. There is no other Main Street in Orlando like Mills 50. The amazing selection of restaurants, the unique watering holes, the locally owned shops, public art in the form of murals, art boxes & art drains, the business owners & residents — are what make Mills 50 so special.”

In the 1980s, after the fall of Saigon and the end of the Vietnam War, Vietnamese refugees began settling in Central Florida and opening up shops and restaurants in Mills 50, leading it to become home to one of the largest and most concentrated areas of Vietnamese restaurants, markets and businesses in the state of Florida — and affectionately called Little Saigon or Little Vietnam.

Today, the face of the district continues to change and transform. Second- and third-generation businesses have been opening up in the district as the older generations have retired, and that continues this year with new projects from The Strand and a new business plaza opening up on the northeast corner of Mills Avenue and Colonial Drive.

“Mills has a lot of rich history,” said Quay Hu, owner of Qreate Coffee, in an email. “It was the first place I went to when I moved here in 2003 to get authentic Chinese and Vietnamese food. The culinary scene has blossomed through the years making it one of the best places for local eats. I love this area so much and the main reason I put Qreate Coffee here.”

This February is a great time to explore the Mills 50 District. February 10, 2024, marks the Vietnamese/Chinese Lunar New Year — it’s the year of the Dragon! — and the district is bustling with Lunar New Year festivities throughout the month, complete with Chinese lion dancing, firecrackers and dragon parades. Visit asiatrend.org/events for a great list of upcoming events.

Here are some highlights of the Mills 50 District 

Classic Mills 50

  • Anh Hong Restaurant (Vietnamese)
  • Vietnam Cuisine (Vietnamese)
  • Black Rooster Taqueria (Mexican)
  • Z Asian (Vietnamese)
  • The Strand (modern American)
  • Tori Tori (Japanese gastropub)
  • Shin Jung (Korean barbecue)
  • Sticky Rice (Laotian)
  • Bites & Bubbles (best rooftop outdoor patio dining)
  • Pig Floyd’s Urban Barbakoa (barbecue, tacos and more)
  • Deli Desires (sandwiches)
  • Chuan Lu Garden (Chinese Sichuan)
  • Tasty Wok (Chinese Cantonese)
  • Hawkers Asian Street Fare (Malaysian)
  • Mamak Asian Street Food (Malaysian)

New Kids on the Block

  • Edoboy (standing sushi bar)
  • Kaya (Modern Filipino)
  • Pho Huong Lan (Vietnamese pho noodle soup)
  • Pigzza (“Italianish”)
  • Zymarium Meadery (mead/honey wines)
  • Zaru (Japanese udon)
  • Bamita (Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches and coffee)
  • Sampaguita Ice Cream (modern Filpino ice cream)
  • Cafe Matcha Maiko (Green tea ice cream desserts)
  • Bakery 1908 (Asian bakery and dim sum)
  • The Circle (Vietnamese)
  • The Moderne (modern Asian-inspired gastropub)

 Markets

  • Dong A Market
  • Tien Hung Market (soon to become a food hall concept)
  • iFresh Market

Coffee Shops

  • Haan Coffee
  • Qreate Coffee
  • Lineage Coffee
  • Framework Craft Coffee House


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