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My Orlando List (Could use some help)

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I've spent the past few days searching the boards and other online resources for the better places to eat in Orlando. I think I have a pretty good list based on my family's preferences, but I'm not sure whether these places are any good anymore as some of the reports on them were from years ago. I'd also like any other suggestions of places that are not to be missed.

Just a little background on our situation:

We'll be staying in the LBV area but don't mind driving for good food.
We like to try new things for the most part (but kids menus with some old standbys for the less adventurous youngins' are a plus).
Casual atmosphere is definitely prefered
No nationwide chains
Entrees less than $20 a person(not including alcohol, tip, tax, etc.) are best.

With that in mind, here is the list and thanks for the help.
Rolando's
Jungle Jim's
Cafe Tu Tu Tango
Taquitos Jalisco
Beto’s
Pebbles Island Grill (this is one I'm really confused about)
Raglan Road
Bonefish
Bubbalou's Bodacious BBQ

Also, any good seafood suggestions near KSC would be helpful.

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  1. Rolando's -- Had dinner there last week and had some of the best Cuban food I've had in awhile. Red beans were great as were all three of the snapper variations we tried. Little mini Cuban bread rolls very fresh. Great service

    Jungle Jim's - Don't bother

    Cafe Tu Tu Tango - Wonderful with a group, kid's won't be bored. One of our original small plate restaurants, still great.

    Taquitos Jalisco -- Don't miss. Worth the trip. The Winter Garden location may actually be easier to get to taking the turnpike.

    Beto’s - cheap, huge portions, very authentic. Well worth it.

    Pebbles Island Grill (this is one I'm really confused about) -- It's the reincarnation of the original concept, using many of the original recipes. Close by to your neighborhood, good but not great.

    Raglan Road - Up-to-date Irish, expect crowds and a long wait. Wonderful Irish music amd dancers and nearly all the menu items are great, if not authentic old-school Irish.
    (PS - try Earl of Sandwich nearby also, cheap, some of the best sandwiches in town).

    Bonefish- There's Bonefish and Fishbones, be sure you have the right one. Bonefish Grill is an Outback chain with good value, superior fish and a huge bar (I like the firecracker shrimp app).

    Bubbalou's Bodacious BBQ = Not bad, but not the best in town. I go for the bbq lamb, which not all the locations have.

    Also, any good seafood suggestions near KSC
    There are others, and please take the advice of those who live there. I'd suggest Dixie Crossroads. Do a search of the boards for them as I've written about them recently. Touristy and sometimes requires a wait, but very good value and very fresh.

    Bob

    2 Replies
    1. re: Bob Mervine

      I use to be a big fan of Bubbalou's (Lee road location only). However, since Scott Joseph wrote about Brother & Sisters BBQ, that has become my recommended place in the Orlando area. That and Kings Taste.

      Let's face it Bob, Florida isn't exactely the mecca of BBQ. All one has to do is consider what the Evil Lord Darden did to the Prince of Meat and you'll see my point.

      1. re: bkhuna

        I've been casually researching barbecue in Florida for the last year or so, since Florida has no real barbecue style, my premise is that we enjoy the option of all four major styles (Kansas City, Texas, Memphis and Carolina) here, located in different regions.

        It's slow going, between the very well hidden treasures in every community and the varied tastes of people who really don't know what great barbecue is.

        I don't blame Darden. they made an attempt to create a common denominator menu that touched on all styles, Unfortunately that's like baking a cake by committee, in the end nothing works.
        That's true of Smokey Bones and that's why Darden is pulling the plug on the concept.
        I think you could argue the same of any of the large regional chains -- Sonny's being the most obvious. Bigger isn't better in barbecue, low and slow by folks who care is the secret.

        Bob

    2. Try Grills in Cape Canaveral. The atmosphere is awesome not fancy..right on the water you can watch the cruise ships go out and the food is pretty darn good.

      http://www.visitgrills.com/

      1. My wife moved to Chicago from her native Boston two years ago. Needless to say that there are some foods she misses very much. Two weeks ago, while visiting the mouse, I suggested a trip through Celebration and we came across the Celebration Town Tavern.

        Evidentally, it's owned by the family that originally opened a Boston restaurant named Kelly's Landing. My wife was very excited as she perused the menu. It had all her old Boston favorites on and, after eating, she declared their food to be awesome!! We ran across an aquaintance of ours there also, who now lives in Orlando, and he told us he goes there for the best clam chowder in Orlando.

        Needless to say, this will now become a must do anytime we're down there. :)

        You can find their menu on their web site...
        http://www.thecelebrationtowntavern.com/

        1. Just got back from our shortened trip, and due to the horrible traffic and our house not being in LBV but rather in Davenport, we weren't able to try as many places as we had hoped. I'll report on the ones we did go to though, and some others we visited out of necessity due to their location.

          Cafe Tu Tu Tango- Absolutely wonderful meal. We went in the middle of the afternoon so we had no problem getting in and getting the food quickly. The dishes we ordered were great for the most part, only one or two we didn't care for. Definitely not a cheap lunch though.

          Taquitos Jaliscos- Had the best Mexican meal ever, and it was nice to actually be able to get a table on a Friday night without waiting. I had the Puntas al Carbanil, which were beeftips, peppers, and onions in a tomatillo sauce. It was the best thing I have ever had at a Mexican joint, it was sweet but at the same time tickled the back of my throat. The tacos were good as well, but be warned that the salsa they put on them is very hot.

          Bonefish- Very good. The fish tasted fresh, the prices were reasonable, and the service was good.

          Houlihan's- Went here for the breakfast buffet one morning and was very pleased. It was only $3.99 and there were a lot of options and the food didn't taste like it had been sitting out for a long time.

          Captain J's in Cocoa Beach- Very average seafood selections, but they had a wonderful patio looking out on the ocean. Plus its right next to Ron Jon, so its convenient for a lot of people.

          Pebbles Island Grill-Was closed when we went by on New Years Eve Day. Saw a sign on the door from the car, but didn't get to actually read it. The place looked deserted inside though, so is it even open anymore?

          I was really disappointed about not making it to Rolando's and Beto's but I'll be down again soon.

          1 Reply
          1. re: coasterphil

            Definitely try Rolando's next time. It's worth the time. Authentic and delicious.

          2. Wow, I didn't know Houlihan's served breakfast.

            OK, if I hear one more fantastic review for Taquitos I might have to schlep it over from Volusia County. :-P You guys are making my mouth water!

            I've never heard of Captain J's -- is that right on on the Cocoa Beach Pier?

            1. Some of those places are almost in the nature of fast food... nothing wrong with that; but I thought you should know. Beto's for example is more than 30 miles from Lake BV and does not have anything other than counter service.

              As long as the drive doesn't bother you, Stefano's in Winter Springs is authentic homestyle Italian cooking in a family owned and operated atmosphere. That restaraunt is actually a shorter drive than Beto's.

              There are a number of good Thai, Vietnamese and other Oriental establishments on State Road 50 (Colonial Drive) just off of I-4, especially in the area just east of the interstate, known as Little Saigon.

              1. Thanks for the great report.

                Pebble's Grill is closed, apparently happened a couple of weeks ago.

                Beto's, by the way, has a second location on the South Orange Blossome Trail that is a lot closer to Davenport -- in case you visit again.

                Bob