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Super-Chowish in Orlando area?

I might have an opportunity on an upcoming business trip to get away for a real Chowhound-type meal in Greater Orlando: I'm looking for the kind of place that is generally known only to locals and has extraordinary food. Off the beaten track is fine: I'll have a car, and am willing to travel a good distance for something wonderful.

Any price point, any cuisine, but no chains. Without really knowing, I'm guessing I don't want to try anything on a Disney property: my memories of its restaurants from some years ago is that they are all sorta chain-like.

I'm hoping to find something like Lotus of Siam in Las Vegas, a place really amazing food that most visitors never even hear about, much less take the trouble to get away from the well-worn tourist paths to visit.

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  1. Since you're coming from Boston, it'll be difficult for me to offer any suggestions that you cannot meet or exceed from your home, but I think the following are hidden "gems" that Orlando (and vicinity) have to offer. You can put away the business suit & tie as well as each of these places qualify as "dives".

    1) Porkie's bbq in Apopka. Be sure to try to the ribs.
    2) Lee & Ricks Oyster Bar
    3) Taquitos Jalisco Ameca - Orange Blossom Trail, Orlando FL

    4) Lac Viet (Vietnamese) - Not a dive
    5) The Ravenous Pig (Winter Park, FL) - upscale

    1. I've been splaying this place across the board, but I'll do it again. You must check out Choo Choo Churros. There was another recent post of mine that described it in detail here:


      Choo Choo Churros
      5810 Lake Underhill Rd, Orlando, FL 32807

      1 Reply
      1. re: johnmlinn

        Sounds great - thanks for the recc. I will check it out this weekend.

      2. I tried Asian Bagus in once when I was in Orlando area a year ago, and I liked their food and service very much. This is a review of the same restaurant :


        From the review :

        Name: Asia Bagus
        Phone: 407-397-2205
        Address: 2923 Vineland Road
        Kissimmee, FL 32746
        Hours: 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5 p.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Friday, 5 p.m.-10 p.m. Saturday-Sunday

        It was my first taste of Indonesian food and I would very much like to try it again on my next visit to Orlando. If you do not like hot food let them know because I found some of their food to be on the hot side.

        1. Hue and Midnight Blue in Thornton Park (downtown) are very popular with locals. Midnight Blue is one of my favorites.

          Ditto on The Ravenous Pig. It's the hot new place in Winter Park.

          Also try Le Coq Au Vin for great family-owned French, and Il Pescatore for family-owned Italian. Both are unexpectedly good for the price.

            1. There is also Paris Bistro, rustic French cooking. I posted on it recently...when we went it was packed with locals who know one of Orlando's best kept secrets.

              I second Midnight Blue.

              I'll also throw K Restaurant and Wine Bar in the mix.

              Il Pescatore is good, but the original owner pulled up stakes a few years ago, he now owns and runs Stefano's Trattoria, located in Winter Springs. Wonderful food, expansive menu filled with familiar favs, but be sure to ask about the daily specials which are always stand outs.

              Lastly, Fifi's downtown is doing some fun stuff with wine during the week. Lots of specials, they are listed on the website. I met friends there tonight for the flights and apps special, insane deal and apps were wonderful! Group enjoyed:

              -Frites Fromage- (Maytag Blue Cheese, Truffle Oil. AMAZING! A Fav of the table!
              )-Trio of Hummus (White bean was a stand out, this was served with an INSANE amount of hand cut fresh potato chips, grilled pita wedges, carrots and celery)
              -Cheese Selection (Very nicely appointed cheese selection. The Goat cheese was esp. fresh...I think there were 6 cheese selections, too much to get through!)

              The Ravenous Pig is a list fav.


              2 Replies
              1. re: winechic

                After frequenting Il Pescatore for years, we went to Stefano's for the first time this weekend. The menu is exactly the same as Il Pescatore. The food was maybe a little better than Il Pescatore, but they're really close. Both are excellent. I would suggest that the better one is whichever is closer to you geographically.

                1. re: starbucksbrew

                  A vote for Ravenous Pig!! Very creative menu and the food was nothing less than outstanding!!


              2. I'm not sure if you've already been there and back, but I came over to look up a recommendation I had gotten last year but hadn't had a chance to check out (I stopped my MCO business travel, but now I'm heading back next week). NY-P8ntball recommended a truck on OBT:

                "If youare feeling adventurous, try one of the "trucks" in the Whisper Lakes area. Again these directions are from MCO. Take 528 west to Orange Blossom Trail (aka OBT, 441/17/92) south. Drive about 2.6 miles until you see McDonald's and an ice cream stand. Pull up to the truck with the TV's on the side and ask for a Pepito-Mixto. You won't regret it. BTW he opens at about 7 PM. There are other trucks on OBT, but none have this all-in-one sandwich."

                I have no idea if it's still there, but it sounds chowish to me and I hope to escape one night to check it out.

                1 Reply
                1. re: cmd

                  Wow, now that is a chowish recommendation. Anybody else done this?

                2. Thanks again for all the great tips! I'm saving this one in my Orlando database.

                  The one really Chowish place I got to visit on this trip was a strip-mall place called Dakshin, across the street from the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress. Didn't look too promising from the outside, but it turned out to be an authentic Southern Indian place. I was heartened to see many tables of Indian ex-pats and no lunch buffet. Excellent dosas, some creditable non-Southern, mostly Punjabi dishes (for timid Americans, I'm guessing), good prices, friendly service. Much better than I had any right to expect. I will defiinitely hit it up for dinner sometime on a return trip.

                  I ended up doing a business dinner at the Capital Grill, which was very competently done. As a rule, chain luxury steakhouses bore the pants off me -- I never patronize them if not on the company's dime -- but here at least the service was top-notch, they offered a special of a bone-in dry-aged sirloin (excellent and a bit unusual), and I managed to find a couple of real bargains on the wine list (some well-aged Spanish reds). Too bad I never get a crowd of really adventurous business guests. They were happy, though, so it was fine.