Meals & Drink: Chill Orlando Neighborhood Eating places

Typically, you end up with an abundance of time, in a nook of city the place you’ve completely no thought the place to go. Don’t fret, my good friend, there are many locations the place you may park your self and sit back, with no strain to maneuver on and make area for another person.

The Grand Bohemian boasts a number of nice spots to calm down! Courtesy of the Grand Bohemian Lodge.

Downtown Orlando / Thornton Park

Historically, downtown Orlando has catered to 2 audiences: the workplace employees and the late-night social gathering crowd. With latest ordinances proscribing downtown nightlife and Metropolis Corridor pushing for a future the place downtown is extra family-friendly and “neighborhoody” that’s prone to change. That being mentioned, among the finest locations to eat downtown with out the concern of being rushed out is a small eatery tucked away in an workplace constructing on Orange Avenue. 

Latin Sq. is family-owned and operated and serves up a wide range of Hispanic dishes for breakfast and lunch. My favourite is the rooster pepito, which has grilled rooster, swiss cheese, onion, lettuce, tomatoes, cilantro, garlic sauce, cilantro sauce, “pink sauce,” and potato sticks. And the added bonus of visiting Latin Sq. is having the ability to eat your meals within the park on its doorstep, beneath lovely shade timber, with the sound of a close-by water fountain and males in fits speaking concerning the chicks they made out with at Mathers Social Gathering the night time earlier than. 

The Grand Bohemian simply accomplished an enormous renovation of its rooftop pool deck and reopened it with a elaborate occasion I used to be fortunate sufficient to be invited to final month. Altira Rooftop Lounge is open to the general public for drinks and apps, however if you wish to swim you’ll need to lease a room. It’s hosted a lot of fancy scene events for the reason that reopening and I can confidently let you know, that this sixth-floor, rooftop venue goes to be among the finest locations to see and be seen this summer time. And so they could make a imply cocktail to sip on when you benefit from the sundown bouncing off of the buildings round you. Squint your eyes and you may fake you’re in New York. 

On the opposite facet of the pond in Thornton Park, you’ll discover the longtime watering gap, Burton’s Bar. Touted as one of many oldest, if not the oldest, bars in Orlando, Burton’s first opened as a bundle retailer again in 1937. These days it’s recognized for its laissez-faire allure, outside patio and city-sponsored parklet, and its karaoke nights hosted by Actual Radio 104.1 FM persona Sabrina Ambra. The bar lately added a kitchen, which is run by Brian Minkl, a reputation that has been hooked up to the downtown ingesting scene for years. Minkl serves American pub fare with a twist like a Bloody Mary steak sandwich and a poutine that will make any Canadian joyful, full with squeaky cheese curds. Saddle up on the bar and take your time. There’s a pool desk too if you wish to play a recreation and make a good friend.

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The lights are on at Redlight Redlight, the place craft beer flows and neighbors reconnect. Photograph by Roberto Gonzalez

Audubon Park / Baldwin Park

For a sizzling minute, Audubon Park was often called a little bit of a Baked Items ‘Hood, with a wide range of small bakeries calling it dwelling. Because the pandemic, we’ve been unhappy to see a number of of the extra in style ones drop off, together with The Connoisseur Muffin, Olde Fireplace Bread Firm, and P is for Pie. However we’re seeing a shift within the dynamic to one thing extra elevated, together with the opening of the brand new Foreigner chef expertise beneath Chef Bruno Fonseca, and the upcoming kitchen at Redlight Redlight beneath Chef Jes Tantalo. 

Stardust Lounge, a hipster hangout in a former video retailer turned espresso store, has been holding it down for years although, and doesn’t look to be stopping any time quickly. Whereas the service is understood to be sluggish and typically even plodding, the straightforward menu is tasty and hits the spot and the cocktail and occasional packages are robust. The area has develop into an incubator for outsider artwork and music and is host to main annual occasions just like the Grandma Celebration Bazaar each December. 

The Neighbors, a retail area on the second flooring of East Finish Market, has been internet hosting a pop-up French-Vietnamese idea since August 2021 known as Camille, led by Chef Tung Phan, that’s making ready to open a brand new brick-and-mortar restaurant in close by Baldwin Park. A brand new pop-up will probably be introduced shortly to take over the East Finish Market area, and foodies round city are watching with bated breath to see what they’ve deliberate subsequent because it has shortly established itself as a great place for a cheerful hour cocktail.


For an ultra-chill spot, head to the Residing Room Bar. Photograph by Milena Wambold

Lake Nona

Lake Nona has loads of eating places to select from in its Metropolis Heart like Bosphorus Turkish Delicacies and the close by Boxi Park, however an actual standout is Park Pizza and Brewery, and you may inform the locals suppose the identical, because it’s all the time full. The menu options a wide range of tasty wood-fired pizzas which are completely complemented by their in-house brews. A few of my favourite pizzas embrace their truffle shuffle with smoked gouda, cremini mushrooms, ricotta, truffle oil, and arugula, or their pickled pig with home made sausage and giardiniera.

Simply up the lengthy, winding sidewalk from “downtown” Lake Nona, you’ll discover the Wave Lodge, which emanates a robust Miami vibe, however in the course of the state as an alternative of being on the ocean. Whereas the lodge has an award-winning restaurant at its coronary heart, known as BACÁN, for an ultra-chill spot, I feel the Residing Room Bar is the place to be. The area is constructed round a pink duplicate dogwood tree that goes up two tales and encompasses a collection of handcrafted cocktails and usually provides dwell music. It’s very Instagrammy and an awesome spot to sit back out for a number of drinks. Or you possibly can put your telephone down and go decide up one of many many artwork books showcased on the curated cabinets lining the adjoining foyer.

Mount Dora

Mount Dora is understood for its strong antiquing and small-town allure, but it surely has some fairly gutsy foodies that decision it dwelling, too. So, when you’re over that approach for a Renninger’s Extravaganza occasion or sticking your head into the Modernism Museum to see a few of David Bowie’s outdated sofas, you’ll be pleasantly shocked at what they’ve to supply. 

Off the principle drag, in a extra fashionable constructing, you’ll discover Wave Asian Bistro, which is without doubt one of the most photographed and revolutionary eating places in Central Florida. Proprietor, and Chef Jonathan McKinney, clearly loves sushi and isn’t afraid to essentially shake issues up along with his distinctive creations and hibachi-style plates. It’s virtually like he awoke someday and thought, “I have to make sushi dishes that the typical particular person will love and never be intimidated by.” And I feel he’s succeeded. The menu options hibachi bowls and poke, as you’d count on, however the sushi burgers and sushi burritos are the place it’s at. Make sure you strive a sushi donut too. It’s a donut-shaped homunculus of sushi rice with a filling of tuna or salmon, avocado, masago, sesame seeds, and scallions. And it’s attractive. 

If you would like one thing enjoyable, kitschy, and a bit British, you may head over to the Magical Meat Boutique, which is anchored by a decommissioned passenger prepare that’s out there to lease for personal events. It’s a relaxed environment and a great place to get pleasure from an excellent Bloody Mary and a plate of genuine bangers and gravy. 

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Vinia Wine and Kitchen provides friends delectable, magical meals. Photograph by Roberto Gonzalez

Winter Park

Tucked away down an alleyway off of Park Avenue, you’ll discover a restaurant that feels a bit Harry Potter and a bit bit vineyard in Ojai, California. Garp and Fuss is a relaxed eating space with a big stonework atrium that serves easy, home-style meals that’s simply rattling good. The title of the restaurant is a nod to one of many house owners’ sisters, who had been nicknamed Garp and Fuss by a member of the family, and that familiarity is felt all through the area. 

The Metropolis Lovely’s unique artisan cocktail pioneers, The Courtesy Bar, deserted their unique dwelling in downtown Orlando and relocated to Winter Park. They’re nonetheless serving up their trademark superb cocktails however they’ve additionally shacked up with the oldsters from Swine and Sons and launched their very own particular “Bar Swine” menu of artisan meals to match the drinks. The seating space is small and intimate and lit in only a approach that you simply don’t actually discover your neighbors and it makes for a great hangout with a good friend or a date. 

Simply up the street in Hannibal Sq., you’ll discover considered one of my favourite hidden gems, Vinia Wine and Kitchen. The husband-and-wife group behind this good date night time mecca, Paula and Fabio, looked for years to seek out the Goldilocks zone of their goals and proper after they had given up, they discovered this storefront in Winter Park and opened their bar child. The very best nights to go are when Fabio has a chef’s desk expertise and you may simply sit again and benefit from the prix fixe magic. Fabio will stroll you thru your wine choices and let you know the story of the meals you’re consuming all of the whereas trying lovely in his suspenders and flashing an enormous toothy grin. He’s a goat farmer too. I’m undecided why I’m telling you that, but it surely appears related.

School Park / Packing District

School Park is in a little bit of a transition part in the intervening time, with the departure of Linger, Rusteak, and Graffiti Junktion, some locals appear to have given up on the neighborhood in favor of close by Ivanhoe Village or Winter Park, however there are some gems to be discovered. 

Breakfast-wise, School Park has three stable choices with Christo’s, Shakers, and School Park Cafe serving up good espresso with a facet of breakfast potatoes and sass. They’ve received some killer sandwiches at Blended Bistro, and attractive shakes at New Moon Market Juice Bar too. And Pizza Bruno’s School Park location serves some good pies and seasonal ice cream – although they only took pasta off their menu. 

However Duck and Drake Kitchen is arguably among the finest locations to eat on the Edgewater Drive hall, and so they occur to be a meals truck. You possibly can at present discover them within the parking zone of Digress Wines the place they serve beef and lamb sliders that can have you ever sitting at dwelling smelling your beard for hours afterward. Their meals is humble, revolutionary, and made with coronary heart and I can’t wait till they open their new brick-and-mortar in downtown Orlando within the close to future, however there’s one thing notably charming about them having the audacity to serve such superb meals out of a trailer. In a parking zone.