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Any hidden gems in Longwood/Winter Springs/Sanford?

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I'm hoping Bob Mervine and the other Orlando locals can help me out here. I moved two weeks ago, from the Red Bug/Tuskawilla area where Casselberry meets Winter Springs to 17-92 and 434, sort of a boundary between Casselberry, Longwood, and another end of Winter Springs. I'm less than 15 minutes away from where I used to live, but I rarely went to this end of town and wonder if there are cool restaurants I didn't know about, either on 17-92 heading north toward Sanford or on 434 either going toward Winter Springs or taking it the other way through Longwood and into Altamonte. I know about Fresh Market and Petty's on 434 (both rare and expensive treats), but if there are other treasures I should know about, I'm all ears.

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  1. It's been a few years but I used to love Angel's restaurant in Sanford. Wonderful fried chicken and great southern sides. Not the best location - I wouldn't go after dark.

    1. Lou:

      There are a ton of places out that way.

      There are a load of good places in Sanford. I like Hollerbach's Willow Tree Cafe for good German food, try Lee's for great fried chicken and the Rib Ranch for barbecue.

      Lake Mary and I-4 is loaded with places to eat. Give Jinja Cafe a try for moderately priced Asian. Also Dexters is there and a new place called Austral which has a Latin menu

      In the downtown Longwood area, I love Mona Lisa for Italian. West of I-4 is Mykanos for good Greek.

      My home computer is in the shop, so a lot of my resources are not at my fingertips. I'll try and follow up with more detail once that problem is solved.

      Bob

      1. There's a couple up around this way. For really great, fresh Thai food, go to Thai Delight (in a small strip mall on the corner of 434 and 427, aka Ronald Reagan Blvd). Everything is prepared from scratch when you order it, so be prepared to wait awhile for your food; also hours are very limited, they're open for lunch most days but I think they stopped serving during dinner hours. And they only take cash, no plastic payments.

        For cuban, try Alex's Cuban Cafe (also in a strip mall on 17-92, slightly south of the intersection with 434). This place gets very crowded at lunch time, but the food is great!

        I second the nod to Hollerbach's Willow Tree Cafe --- good food and some pretty amusing live entertainment on the weekend nights.

        4 Replies
        1. re: g8rgrrl

          I am extremely close to Alex's Cuban Cafe, so I'll definitely check it out soon. I grew up in Miami so I LOVE Cuban food! (I've only had it here at Don Pepe's/Habana Grill, though.)

          1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

            Ali Baba is an interesting place in longwood. They have a buffet on weekend nights was good the last time i was there. I have heard it is not as good durring the week.
            I also like the cattle ranch steakhouse in sanford. The just opened a new place in lakemary /heathrow called Astural Brazilian steak house. It's basically texas de brazil but for $30 a person instead of $50. I have heard it is also better!

            1. re: mountdorahound

              I would like to second the rec for Ali Baba - I was there on a weekend and the food was amazing! The price is a bit steep on weekends, but you do get the bellydancing show. It's a great time if you go with a group of people, they make it fun.

              Also, you might want to check out Bayridge Sushi on 434 east of I-4 - they have the best fried ice cream and an all-you-can-eat sushi offer that is not a buffet, but an ordering situation, not your average take what they offer that's been sitting out.

              Enjoy!

              1. re: VWRobin

                All-you-can-eat sushi that is not a buffet? HELL YEAH! Thank you very much. And Ali Baba sounds like a lot of fun. Is that buffet all-you-can-eat also?

        2. Lou

          all the places mentioned are good but if your looking for hedden gems check out Las Americas Grocery & Deli it's a carniceria next to Big Lot’s, at the corner of 17/92 and 434 that has the absolute best food and it's very cheap. Everything is under 5 bucks and you'll eat your fill... ie... larg portions

          3 Replies
          1. re: spokmann

            I've walked right by that place -- I've been to the Big Lots, I joined that video store, and I bought part of my bed at the bed store! I will have to check it out. What kind of dishes do they have? Is it cafeteria-style?

            1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

              Latin American, as you walk in, it's immediately to your left. Small glass counter (walk up) usually one to two women behind it. Meals are made from scratch. I don't know how late they serve, I go for lunch. Never had a bad meal! Since I don’t speak Spanish and don’t want to hold the line, I just point toward the food. She’ll say blab blab or whatever and I’ll nod yeah and take whatever she’ll plate up, Like I said I’ve never had a bad meal.

              1. re: spokmann

                That sounds awesome, like a little taste of home (Miami). Thanks a lot!

          2. I recommend Terra Mia (spelling) in Longowod corner of i4 and and 434 next to Burger King awesome anitpasta buffet with your meal good wine list. for cheaper italian try Giovanni 4 locations one in lk mary on rhinehart road. Good Breakfast mels diner on 17/92 in sanford. party night on weekends get started at the willowtree with german beers and oom pah band then go to sanford wine company for more beers or wines and the to the alley for some live blues.

            1. Here is a true hidden gem: Yen Yen in Winter Springs. Read the review of the Orlando Sentinel's restaurant critic, Scott Joseph <http://tinyurl.com/6yq83k>. It is every good as good as he says, and hard to find.

              1. Lou
                There is a polish place called Polonia that is fantastic. It used to be on 426 by forsyth but they moved to longwood. A guy with a polish grandma i turned on to it is hooked. It is on 17-92 just south of 434.
                750 South Highway 17-92
                But maybe you've already heard of it since nobody else has mentioned it. Maybe it's not a "hidden gem".
                PS I'm a new poster

                4 Replies
                1. re: jjhayesd

                  Welcome to the board! We hope you stick around; it's a pretty nice place.

                  I actually tried Polonia and started a thread about it here a few months ago, but it sank like a stone. I'm sure if you search for it, it would show up. It was really good, but I guess Polish food isn't terribly trendy right now.

                  1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                    I work near that area, and eat at the different restaurants there all the time. I would have to say that Polonia isn't very high on my list. I had a cabbage roll, kielbasa, and some pierogis, as well as apple streudal (pardon the spelling, if it's wrong). Everything seemed pretty bland, but I don't really know if that's just the way Polish food is in general or what.... I'm used to German food, not Polish, which, although a somewhat different cuisine, seems to have more flavor to me. I would probably return if I were in the mood for the saurkraut pierogis and that's about it- they were excellent.

                    1. re: jazzy77

                      Hubby is 1/2 Polish and he gives Polonia the thumbs up. I've got German on my side, so I can vouch for the difference in Polish and German cuisine that you are talking about.

                      Hubby liked the brown mushroom gravy with the Gwumpkies (stuffed cabbage rolls) since his relatives made a more zesty tomato version than Polonia offers. The Sauerbraten is very flavorful and there were 2 different Kielbasa's offered, he was happy with which every one he picked.

                      We both loved the potato pancakes and Pierogies. I've had various types over the years and Polonia's are great. I pick up the potato and sauerkraut to make at home.

                      Polonia offers a very nice Polish beer that is in a black bottle with a flaming bird on it, it's wonderful. Try it the next time you are in, you can pick up some to take home there or at Cavalari's in Oviedo.

                      Cheers!

                  2. re: jjhayesd

                    And welcome to the boards!!