The 2023 Eating Awards: Brendan’s Picks Half 1

Principal Images by Roberto Gonzalez


Greatest Restaurant: Brendan’s Alternative

The staff at Park Lights Hospitality actually get meals. They know learn how to supply it, prep it, serve it, and hype it up. With hit properties like Prato Winter Park and Luke’s Kitchen and Bar of their belts, that shouldn’t come as a shock both. Led by the achieved Chef Brandon McGlamery, the 2 properties have cemented themselves as top-tier eating places that would compete with any nationally acknowledged eating room, however they don’t must. They stand on their very own and everybody loves them. However when you’re asking me for my favourite, I’ll must say Prato. Not only for its easy presentation of Italian classics, however due to the general environment and vibe. The workers is all the time top-notch, the meals is unbelievable, and it’s situated within the good spot on Park Avenue to have a glass of wine and people-watch. Persist with the pizza when you’re afraid of recent issues or perhaps department out and go for the mustard spaghettini cacio e pepe or squid ink mafaldine for one thing extra chefy.



Greatest Bar Meals: Brendan’s Alternative

Because it opened, Tori Tori has been repeating the mantra that they’re in reality a bar and never a restaurant. Impressed by conventional kushiyaki neighborhood pubs in Japan the place the meals is inexpensive, the drinks are chilly, and also you sit again with buddies after an extended day at work. That being mentioned, it appears nothing like a neighborhood pub, and reasonably stands aside as one of many extra titillating architectural treasures in Orlando, with excessive farmhouse ceilings and modern mirrors and tilework harking back to a 70s resort bar. The kitchen cooks decadent skewers of squid over binchotan coals alongside melt-in-your-mouth chunks of hen pores and skin and oysters with salt. The costs aren’t that dangerous both so don’t let all of the cool younger fashions hanging out within the eating room scare you off, you belong right here and also you deserve good issues. Don’t accept frozen bar pizzas when you might be having natural, free-range hen coronary heart on a stick.

Rg3 8860


Greatest Barbecue: Brendan’s Alternative

On the danger of getting in a fistfight with Orlando journal readers, I’m gonna exit on a Hickory limb right here and say you’d be hard-pressed to search out higher barbecue than what Smoke and Donuts is serving up. Owned by Culinary Institute grad Ian Russell and his superb spouse Juliana Peña, the popcorn store turned award-winning restaurant is cranking out a few of the most decadent brisket I’ve had in years. And sure, similar to the title suggests, you will get that meat served on a donut, however you don’t must. Their smoked turkey reuben is a powerful contender for greatest sandwich too, however in an effort to maintain folks of their lanes, they’ll simply must accept my vote for Greatest Barbecue.

Rg39546 Copy


Greatest Informal RestaurantBrendan’s Alternative

Alda and Joe Rees love good meals. And it reveals. The Strand in Mills 50 has a little bit of a nostalgic diner vibe, however the menu is forward-thinking and contemporary, similar to the seasonal elements they curate for his or her dishes. The whole lot is comprised of scratch and also you’ll discover a new favourite each time you go to. The non-fussy nature of the dishes makes you consider that one pal rising up who had an incredible chef for a mother, and also you’d discover excuses to go and go to as a lot as doable to keep away from one other supper of burned Kraft dinner. The buttermilk hen is all the time a certain guess, however strive the fish, you gained’t be sorry.

Rg3 2990


Greatest DessertsBrendan’s Alternative

Steve Lewis appears like he ought to be enjoying guitar at Will’s Pub. He has lengthy, thick, wavy hair that cascades all the way down to his shoulders and an general vibe of non-hurried goal. That chill drive for perfection is what opened doorways for him to take his Gideon’s Bakehouse idea from a easy stall at East Finish Market to arguably one of the crucial widespread cookie outlets within the nation. Folks line up for hours at his Disney Springs location to load up on his large Texas belt buckle-sized cookie lumps and to expertise his extremely curated purchasing expertise that would double as a film set for the following Wednesday season on Netflix. Should you want your cookies crispy and dry like your mother’s hair, these aren’t for you. However when you’re the form of individual to lick the blending bowl, you’re welcome.

Gideon Orangepecancookie01

Courtesy of Gideon’s Bakehouse


Greatest Chef’s DeskBrendan’s Alternative

Chef Bruno Fonseca’s Foreigner Restaurant could also be new to Audubon Park, however it’s been years within the making. Launched as a pop-up collection that took over the whole lot from warehouses to loading docks, Foreigner has grown into a horny vacation spot that may be equally at residence in a European seaside city filled with yacht homeowners and individuals who put on ascots on goal and never simply to look enjoyable on Derby Day. His staff options some superb up-and-coming cooks that we should always all be listening to as effectively, and I’m all the time excited to see what they’re cooking of their post-war purchasing heart on Corrine Drive. Saddle up on the desk and belief that Chef Fonseca goes to take you on a meals journey that may go away you reserving a return reservation the minute the after-dinner espresso hits the desk.



Greatest Low cost EatsBrendan’s Alternative

Sticky Rice is the primary, and perhaps solely, restaurant within the Orlando space serving genuine and scrumptious Lao road meals. It’s modeled after hawkers from the streets of Laos serving fast and straightforward fare like squid on a stick, papaya salad, laab rice bowls, yellow curry hen, and coconut ramen, all served with sides of sticky rice. Particular be aware on the ramen, Chef Kevin Phanhvilay, who frolicked as a monk, gained the 2018 Ramen Rumble competitors in Baldwin Park and is aware of his method round a kitchen. The most effective a part of Sticky Rice is you possibly can order considered one of the whole lot on the menu and never break the financial institution.

Dsc 0976


Greatest Meals TruckBrendan’s Alternative

Orlando loves noods. The crew at Pink Panda Noodle burst onto the scene in 2022 following the closure of Orlando Meats in Winter Park. The chef duo behind the idea, Seth Parker and Eliot Hillis are a few of the largest meals nerds within the native recreation right here in Central Florida and would fortunately speak your ear off about fermentation when you give them the possibility. Their dishes are unapologetic celebrations of their ever-growing talent units and are filled with taste and innovation. Simply remember, that if they are saying it’s spicy, they actually imply it.



Greatest Greasy Spoon Brendan’s Alternative

You may inform by my waistline that I’m no stranger to breakfast potatoes.
I really like a very good Sunday morning spent with unending espresso served tableside and a tasty omelet with buttered rye bread and you’ll’t inform me that there’s something higher than that after every week of consuming fancy round city. Generally you want a very good meal, some enough service, and a roomful of grumpy outdated folks speaking to their grits. That being mentioned, the service at Christo’s Cafe in Faculty Park is all the time reliable and their espresso is all the time sizzling. Plus you’re prone to stumble upon some native notables there too when you time your breakfast proper. Ask about their specials and don’t overlook to order a facet of chili together with your omelet to show it as much as 11.


Greatest Ice Cream Brendan’s Alternative

Life is simply too quick for vanilla ice cream. Sampaguita, an offshoot model from Greenery Creamery’s classically educated opera singer-owner Marie Mercado, embraces the entire colours, flavors, and whimsy we’ve been lacking in modern-day America and exposes us to a fantastic, tasty rainbow of life. Named after the nationwide flower of the Philippines, Sampaguita serves up a menu of desserts utilizing lesser-known fruits and veggies (not less than in America) like ube, pandan, and jackfruit, in each vegan and dairy choices. The outcomes are creamy and decadent desserts which might be virtually too lovely to eat, not less than till you may have your first chunk.


Again to the 2023 Eating Awards ↩