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ORLANDO VISITOR'S DINING GUIDE - A Hound Perspective - I-Drive/Convention Center

I thought we could use the Crowdsourcing method to create a series of threads for the most commonly asked questions for visitors to Orlando. This will hopefully create a more centralized place for visiting Hounds to find recommendations from like-minded folks in the community rather than relying of other travel boards where you never know the "standards" or agendas of the contributors. These threads are meant to be created by locals and frequent visitors as a general guide, but in no way should they preclude individual threads asking specific questions - just trying to create a central repository so that visiting Hounds don't have to wait in vain for answers.

I thought I'd launch a thread a week with a specific topic (usually based on location and travel type) and start with my recommendations. Then Hounds can add to the thread and I will edit the first post adding in the recommendations. If the "crowd" determines that a recommendation is not supported, then it will remain in the thread but come off the summary list in the first post.

A few other guidelines I propose:
- Let's avoid chains that are available in most places across the US. While they may be good recommendations, they are already advantaged by their marketing budgets, brand recognition, and concierge relationships. I do not think we should exclude local or regional chains however as they can be a unique experience to the visitor.
- I hope that visitors who use this board report back on our recommendations - a positive experience can confirm and several negatives may be a cause for re-evaluation of the recommendation
- Hopefully this will be a useful guide for locals as well - we'll eventually get to downtown, Winter Park and beyond as not all visitors are here for theme parks and conventions.

Finally, before the first list: I trust the Chowhound overlords will let me know if this topic violates any rules for the board. I read the guidelines and I believe this is ok and will be useful to the community as a whole (and is not mindless chatter). If there is an issue, please let me know if some version of this could work within your rules.

So, to start, let's make a list for those staying in the area known as:

INTERNATIONAL DRIVE/CONVENTION CENTER - reasonable taxi ride distance

Please add and/or comment below.

Foodie Favs

Wa

Great for Groups

Cafe Tu Tu Tango
Taverna Opa
Urban Flats

Ethnic Hotspots

Amura
Anatolia
Cedar's
Hanamizuki
Memories of India

Romantic & Quiet

Chatham's Place
La Nuova Cucina

Celebrity Chefs Outposts

Emeril's
Norman's
Primo
Tchoup Chop

Oenophiles

Funky Monkey Wine Company

Cheap Eats

Bubbalou's Bodacious BBQ
Pio Pio
Press 101

Breakfast

Delish
First Watch

Old Florida

Lee & Rick's Oyster Bar

-----
Chatham's Place Restaurant
7575 Dr. Phillips Blvd, Orlando, FL 32819

Cafe Tu Tu Tango
8625 International Dr, Orlando, FL 32819

Memories of India
7625 Turkey Lake Rd, Orlando, FL 32819

Cedars Restaurant
7732 W Sand Lake Rd, Orlando, FL 32819

Pio Pio Restaurant
5752 International Dr, Orlando, FL 32819

Hanamizuki Japanese Restaurant
8255 International Dr, Orlando, FL 32819

Press 101
7600 Dr Phillips Blvd Ste 22, Orlando, FL 32819

Amura Windermere Japanese Restaurant
7786 W Sand Lake Rd, Orlando, FL 32819

Lee & Rick's Half Shell Oyster Bar
5621 Old Winter Garden Rd, Orlando, FL 32811

Taverna Opa-Orlando
9101 International Drive, Orlando, FL 32819

Bubbalou's Bodacious Bar-B-Q
5818 Conroy Rd, Orlando, FL 32801

Emeril's Orlando
6000 Universal Blvd Ste 702, Orlando, FL 32819

Emeril's Tchoup Chop
The Royal Pacific Resort, Orlando, FL 32819

Norman's at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando
4012 Central Florida Parkway, Orlando, FL 32837

Primo
4040 Central Florida Parkway, Orlando, FL 32837

Funky Monkey Wine Company @ The Pointe
9101 International Drive Suite 1208, Orlando, FL 32819

Wa
Orlando, Orlando, FL

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  1. This is a great idea and should be a sticky, and we Tampa people should also make one. I agree with everything here too with the exception of Bubbalou's, you should delete that and replace with 4 rivers :)

    2 Replies
    1. re: askdrtodd

      o wait I just saw the I-Drive thing. I guess 4 rivers would be an expensive cab ride haha

      1. re: askdrtodd

        4 Rivers will have it's day on the future Winter Park and Worth the Drive threads :)

        Plus it's Texas BBQ - mostly beef - gotta have a pork BBQ place on there and Bubbalou's is the best one close to I Drive IMO

    2. Memories of India is great. Two other Indian places worth a mention are Passages to India and Tabla Bar and Grill, Passages to India has two locations in the idrive area now with one on westwood by international drive.
      The lunch buffet at passages to india is quite delicious.

      Also it seems that this specific area of town has a concentration of Indian Cuisine so this is the area to get your fix.

      Red Bamboo Kirkman/Idrive area serves up some great thai food, lunch is inexpensive at around 10 dollars.

      Wa is amazing - hard to find but worth it. Eat off the special menu

      I really enjoy Cafe Tu Tu Tango. A friend of mine went for the taping of Food Networks show "Unwrapped" I'm not sure if that has aired or not. Tu Tu Tango is a great place for groups, interesting art on the wall, and some entertainment at night. It can get expensive depending on what tapas you order but it is fun and the food is good. Also to mention some of thier menu items change frequently. So for people that come down once a year you may not get the same thing you had before.

      Anatolia is turkish cuisine and it has a very authentic mediteranean feel to it. The food here is outstanding and they have really good turkish red wine.

      Press 101 is a yummy sandwich spot. I love the concept of taking a sandwich and fancying it up. You order at the front and seat yourself indoors or outdoors. It's a popular lunch spot on Wednesdays and Fridays so if you aren't into crowds try other days of the week.

      and you can't miss Lee & Ricks - Sure it's a bit of a dive but we love it that way.

      I also wanted to mention that Rangetsu recently closed. I never went there but the building itself was prominent to I-Drive.

      -----
      Tabla Bar and Grill
      5827 Caravan Ct, Orlando, FL

      Cafe Tu Tu Tango
      8625 International Dr, Orlando, FL 32819

      Memories of India
      7625 Turkey Lake Rd, Orlando, FL 32819

      Red Bamboo
      6803 S Kirkman Rd, Orlando, FL 32819

      Press 101
      7600 Dr Phillips Blvd Ste 22, Orlando, FL 32819

      8 Replies
      1. re: Sandwich_Sister

        I love Red Bamboo, but I hadn't heard how others felt, so now that you have mentioned I'll add that one.

        Passages is a good call, I'll add that too - never heard of Tabla, is it more like Memories or Passages (buffet) - want to keep the list tight but if there are enough good options, then we'll include them all

        -----
        Red Bamboo
        6803 S Kirkman Rd, Orlando, FL 32819

        1. re: YosemiteSam

          Red Bamboo is great, it doesn't always get a lot of press, its a small place but the food is delicious and where else can you get great thai food for lunch so inexpensive.

          There is a credit card minimum of 10 dollars and if I have a glass of water and an entree I need to get a soup or appetizer to push the amount up above ten bucks for lunch.

          Tabla does have a lunch buffet but I would say Tabla is a little more fine dinning for dinner where as memories and passages are a little bit more small, authentic, mom and pop type places.

          I think this area has several Indian restaurant, and that is one of its strengths because other areas of town don't have any. A friend of mine who lives in winter park always complains that she has to come out to the i drive area to get good Indian food.

          There are more that I still need to try.

          -----
          Red Bamboo
          6803 S Kirkman Rd, Orlando, FL 32819

          1. re: YosemiteSam

            I eat at Red Bamboo for lunch often, I would say it is average Thai, it is inexpensive..

            -----
            Red Bamboo
            6803 S Kirkman Rd, Orlando, FL 32819

            1. re: herbert1

              Thanks for the reply. I love it for the area and its a great lunch deal. I have a few other favorite thai places in other areas around orlando. Would you say there is a better thai restaurant for this area? Because I happen to love Red Bamboo.

              -----
              Red Bamboo
              6803 S Kirkman Rd, Orlando, FL 32819

              1. re: Sandwich_Sister

                Can't think of a better one in the that area. My two favorites in the greater orlando area are Sea Thai on Colonial and Phat Thai Cafe in lake mary. Scott Joeseph recommended Phat Thai on his flog, so I tried it out last week. The curry was the best I have had in central florida. I think Thai Blossom (in winter garden) is average. I like Soong Thai (across the street from west oaks mall on colonial) better if you are on that side of town.

                -----
                Soong Thai
                9448 W Colonial Dr, Ocoee, FL 34761

                Sea Thai Restaurant
                3812 E Colonial Dr, Orlando, FL 32803

                Thai Blossom Restaurant
                99 W Plant St, Winter Garden, FL 34787

                1. re: herbert1

                  I think it deserves a mention as a cheap eat, there are so many chains in that area so its a good suggestion for someone that may want something that is non chain yet inexpensive but is confined to this area.

            2. re: YosemiteSam

              I'm visiting Orlando and thank you for the dining guides you started. I went to Red Bamboo tonight, my first night here (I'll be here until mid-April). Great food! One thing I'd ask - I'm staying at Marriott's Grande Vista - I plugged Red Bamboo's address into my GPS and it sent me up International Drive, saying it would be about 5 miles and 10 minutes. I left about 6:30 and got to Red Bamboo at about 7:40! I've experienced some nasty traffic in the Philadelphia area, but this was terrible. Not only that, but the GPS had me turn left at Kirkman Road, which put me on I-4! If there are other places hidden the way Red Bamboo is, it would be a good thing to include some general directional info. Anyway, I definitely appreciate your effort with the guides and I definitely enjoyed Red Bamboo - Thanks!

              1. re: RAGHOUND

                That section of International drive is notorious for being slow. There is an alternate route. I just can't remember it because I'm a little directionally challenged. :)

                Glad you liked Red Bamboo. :)

                -----
                Red Bamboo
                6803 S Kirkman Rd, Orlando, FL 32819

          2. Turns out you can only edit a post within 2 hours of writing it, so I won't be able to update the list within the original post. What we can do is I'll take my best guess at the initial list and then readers can scroll down for additional feedback and ideas.

            1 Reply
            1. re: YosemiteSam

              that is a bummer but also over time places may close, new ones will open up, so many people just adding in the comments is a good thing.

              1. re: pdpredtide

                Do you have anything to add? Would love to hear more opinions

              2. I know a good category to add would be

                "Great for Corporate Group Outing $$$"

                7 Replies
                1. re: pdpredtide

                  That is a good category. Let's take a shot at it. By nature, some of the other restaurants included above will be in this category too.

                  Remember, we're not looking for big, national chains in this thread as the assumption is that readers are aware of those already, but we'll include regional chains that folks might not have heard of or experienced yet. Here we go:

                  Big Spender, Impress the Client, Expense Account Places

                  Antonio's
                  Charley's (Orange Blossom Trail location)
                  Moon Fish
                  Norman's
                  Ocean Prime
                  Primo
                  Tchoup Chop
                  Vito's Chop House

                  I'm curious to hear what other's think.

                  I did want to call out a few omissions - this is MY OPINION of course - and explain:

                  I do not include Christini's although it has been a staple of business dining for years here in Orlando. I find it wildly overrated and if you want an upscale Italian business meal I much prefer Antonio's right across the street. That said, many swear by it, so you may want to consider it.

                  Secondly, I also left out Emeril's because while it is a fantastic meal, it is in CityWalk so you are sharing the meal with many theme park guests, often in the clothes they wore to the park.

                  Finally, you don't just need to spend big $$$ to impress your client or team, discovering a great local restaurant says more about you than another pricey shellfish tower or NY Strip at a big chain steakhouse, so don't be afraid to try the other choices on the list above.

                  -----
                  Ocean Prime
                  7339 W Sand Lake Rd # 400, Orlando, FL

                  Vito's Chop House
                  8633 International Dr, Orlando, FL 32819

                  Charley's Steak House
                  6107 S Orange Blossom Trl, Orlando, FL 32809

                  Emeril's Tchoup Chop
                  6300 Hollywood Way, Orlando, FL 32819

                  Moon Fish
                  7525 W Sand Lake Rd, Orlando, FL 32819

                  Antonio's Sand Lake
                  7559 W Sand Lake Rd, Orlando, FL 32819

                  Norman's at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando
                  4012 Central Florida Parkway, Orlando, FL 32837

                  Primo
                  4040 Central Florida Parkway, Orlando, FL 32837

                  1. re: YosemiteSam

                    I'd put Christini's on that list too, we typically take clients there during trade shows. Typically impresses.

                    1. re: askdrtodd

                      Have you been to Antonio's across the street?

                    2. re: YosemiteSam

                      why not the Charley's at the International Drive location? Its pretty nice and closer to the convention center jw

                      1. re: pdpredtide

                        It's OK, but I'm a sucker for the original. The waitstaff is better, and I like the atmosphere a little better. But if you want the closest option, the steaks are just as good on I-Drive. By the way, Vito's is owned by the same folks as Charley's, so that's another "more expensive" but quality option on I Drive

                        1. re: YosemiteSam

                          Vito's also has a better than average wine list. If only they didn't charge a couple of bucks for blue cheese crumbles on your salad.

                  2. I have another additional category:

                    Desserts and Ice Cream

                    The Dessert Lady
                    Menchie's

                    1. I would add Magic Wok to the ethnic group for very good Chinese. Located in the Conroy Windermere area.

                      -----
                      Magic Wok Restaurant
                      6700 Conroy Windermere Rd Ste 145, Orlando, FL 32835

                      1. Thought of another location (and new category)

                        Pizza

                        Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza (pizza is great, but the rosemary grilled wings are divine)

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: YosemiteSam

                          I can't think of anything that is a chain :(

                          Flippers is a florida chain with 9 locations all in florida.. I find there pizza decent

                          Cafe Tu Tu Tango does have a Pizza section on thier menu and I do love their cheese pizza even though it isn't a pizza restaurant.

                          Sorry also a kind of chain like is Giodanos - all locations in chicago with 6 locations in florida - Chicago deep dish pizza.

                          I know you wanted to stay away from chains so its kind of hard to think about pizza in this area. I would love to know if anyone knows of any good mom and pop places.

                          -----
                          Cafe Tu Tu Tango
                          8625 International Dr, Orlando, FL 32819

                          1. re: Sandwich_Sister

                            Have you tried Anthony's Coal Fired that I mentioned in my post? It's a South Florida chain, really good and still small and unique enough that I recommend it to out-of-towners. The coal creates an interesting crust and as I said above the wings are fantastic. The crust is pretty unique though so it's not for everybody - some think it tastes burned

                            1. re: YosemiteSam

                              I will have to try this, I work not far from the i-drive district . Where is that located?

                              1. re: Sandwich_Sister

                                In the Whole Foods shopping center corner of Sand Lake And Turkey Lake - across from Pei Wei - afterwards, walk over to Delish and try one of their amazing cupcakes

                                1. re: YosemiteSam

                                  oh okay, very cool, I will have to do that then :)

                              2. re: YosemiteSam

                                Just returned from Orlando and loved Anthony's Coal Fired pizza. We ended up eating there twice. Everyone loved the pizza, but I think the wings and broccoli rabe w/ sausage were the biggest hits. We got takeout which was perfect for our large group.

                                Also, got to try Wa. This was also very good and I would highly recommend it. The only caveat is that it can be pretty expensive if you are really hungry. The portion sizes from the "special menu" were very small. However, the food was excellent. Two of us got the tuna carpaccio, shrimp/scallops w/ grits, and monk fish with tempura avacodo in a chili sauce all to split. All three were excellent, and I would get them again, but would need at least one or two more plates to be completely full. I was still a little hungry after splitting those three dishes.

                          2. There's another place I've been wanting to share with visitors but it's a little bit hard to place in an "area" around how we usually think of them. Then again, it's only about 15 minutes drive from the Sand Lake road restaurant area. A little far for a taxi, but if you have a car I recommend it.

                            It's a gourmet sandwich and BBQ place in an area named Gotha called Yellow Dog Eats. It's in an old house and the owner, an eccentric by the name of Fish, makes the best sandwiches in the whole city. His BBQ is limited but what he makes is great too. Prices are cheap and the lines on weekends are significant. However, when you combine the food quality with the ambience and friendly staff, I cannot recommend many places higher in Orlando. I love, love, love this place.

                            -----
                            Yellow Dog Eats
                            1236 Hempel Ave, Gotha, FL 34734

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: YosemiteSam

                              I'm thinking about trying this place on Thursday! Looks great!

                              1. re: askdrtodd

                                Ended up at Yellow Dog yesterday after we missed the 2:00 p.m. cut off for lunch at the Ravenous Pig. I had a great pulled pork sandwich and a half-slab. The ribs had just the right pull, decent smoke, and a nice citrus bbq sauce. Dessert was an orange cake which I found novel and refreshing. For dinner we did get into RP. Lamb tartar, sweetbreads, boar chops with peach chutney and coconut-lime sorbet. I liked it all.

                                -----
                                Yellow Dog Cafe
                                905 S US Highway 1, Malabar, FL 32950

                            2. Tried a new place last night and had a fine meal. It is very family friendly and a little boisterous, so I'm placing it in the Great for Groups category. It's also a pretty good deal all things considered and a good seafood option if you don't want to pay Ocean Prime prices. Food is good, not too innovative from a prep perspective, but solid, fresh and generous.

                              Great for Groups

                              Big Fin

                              1. I don't make it down to I-Drive very often (if I can help it), but I had an amazing meal on Friday night at Nile Ethiopian Restaurant, at 7040 International Drive. It was the first time my wife, a very old friend, and I had all had Ethiopian food, but we all loved it.

                                We ordered two sampler platters, a beef-centric one and a vegetarian one, to be able to sample as many dishes as possible, and they all came on a huge round platter on a big piece of injera, the spongy Ethiopian bread you use to scoop up all the food. You don't have any utensils, but eat everything with your hands -- traditionally just your right hand. Injera has the consistency of a pancake or crepe, but is savory and sourdough-y. At Nile, they also bring you extra injera pieces, rolled in a basket, so you don't have to start pulling apart the platter until you're almost finished.

                                Some of the dishes were a little spicy, but nothing that made us sweat or scream. A few were reminiscent of Indian food, while others seemed like variations of Middle Eastern flavors, but they were all really unique and new for us. We also drank refreshing mint tea and ended the meal with a wonderful coffee ceremony, where they roasted the coffee beans right in front of us and poured us small cups of a strong, thick, espresso-like coffee. Not bad, considering that coffee originated in Ethiopia! I highly recommend Nile to adventurous eaters looking for something exotic and fun, ideally with a group so you can share dishes and enjoy the experience together. It would also be a fun place to bring a date, due to the sensual nature of eating with your hands (and you can always feed each other, too).

                                http://www.nile07.com/

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                                  This is great news! I had this place on my to-do list but I'm SOOOO wary of I-Drive restaurants because the quality is so often lackluster due to the transient nature of the business. I'm moving this place way up the list as I haven't had Ethiopian food either and need to try it. Thanks Lou!

                                  1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                                    I realized that I hadn't updated this thread with a couple of new options.

                                    First, definitely add Nile Ethiopian to the Ethnic Hotspots list, it is a really great and unique experience and recommended.

                                    Another option that has started out well-reviewed is Spencer's for Steaks and Chops in the Hilton on I-Drive next to the Convention Center. I haven't been yet but if you're in town for business at the CC and want a close high-end steakhouse other than Capital Grill (a chain), it sounds like a really great option.

                                    1. re: YosemiteSam

                                      Good one. Did you happen to swing by during the star wars convention. It was crazy over there.

                                  2. I thought we had mentioned Wa (Japanese) in this thread. Its hard to find, back by universal but its such a gem. Eat of the special menu. Eveything I've had there is delcious.

                                    6 Replies
                                    1. re: Sandwich_Sister

                                      Agreed about Wa. Was there this past weekend, ordered 5 dishes off the special menu, and everything was great. Its a shame though, b/c we were there at 8:30 on a Friday night, and we were one of only 2 tables filled. The location must be killing it, b/c on food alone, I give it two thumbs up.

                                      1. re: Corporate_40

                                        I think the lunch business may be keeping it going - it's always full of Universal Orlando employees Monday thru Friday - hopefully they can support us for the fancy dinners!

                                        1. re: Corporate_40

                                          Yeah that is my worry but I've noticed more and more people talking about Wa and that is great news, also the lunchtime has good crowds, like Sam said. I just hope people continue to go there based on how great the food is even if its a little hard to find.

                                          1. re: Sandwich_Sister

                                            I was in there during a weekday lunch and at 12:30 and there was only one other table. I had tthe charashi (sp) bowl for $15 and wasn't very impressed. I hated that they used krab instead of the real thing. I would have rather they had just left it out than use the fake stuff.

                                            1. re: herbert1

                                              oh noes! Did it say they used imitation crab on the menu, or were you led to believe something else. I haven't had crab there.

                                              1. re: Sandwich_Sister

                                                It was spelled "krab" on the menu, if I remember correctly. So I knew when I ordered it. Should have just left it off, I don't know what they use in their rolls with 'crab'.

                                      2. How about some Restaurant Row hotspots?

                                        - Bento Cafe (sushi)
                                        - Oceanaire Seafood Room (Pointe Orlando)
                                        - Ocean Prime
                                        - Timpano
                                        - Seito Sushi

                                        I hope some of these don't fall into the "chains" category, though they may have more than one location. I think they're still pretty small in numbers.

                                        -----
                                        Ocean Prime
                                        7339 W Sand Lake Rd # 400, Orlando, FL

                                        Seito Sushi
                                        8031 Turkey Lake Rd. #700, Orlando, FL 32819

                                        1. My sister and I had some appetizers at the Funky Monkey Wine Company last night. The food was really great; we sat at the bar and the bartender was very attentive and friendly. I had a glass of wine, the tomato and mozzarella salad and a taste of the the flat bread appetizer. The wine was good, I stuck with what I knew... but the tomato and mozzarella salad was incredible. The tomato and cheese were stacked with a drizzle of balsamic and a sprinkle of basil. Wonderful heirloom tomatoes and a great balsamic made it an excellent dish. Overall a very enjoyable visit, we will certainly return.

                                          -----
                                          Funky Monkey Wine Company
                                          912 N. Mills Ave, Orlando, FL 32803

                                          1. oh yeah and that Pinkberry opened up.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: Sandwich_Sister

                                              We went to Pinkberry on Saturday, and it was very good (and surprisingly not busy at all, right around noon). It's on the other side of town from us, so we'll probably go to Mochi/Yogurtopia/Menchie's a lot more often for our fro-yo fix, but Pinkberry blows them all away in terms of yogurt quality and flavor, at least for the tart/original flavor.

                                              I think that Dr. Phillips location is bad news for them, though. Sure, you've got swanky Restaurant Row nearby, and all the Real Housewives of Dr. Phillips can stop by on their way home from the giant Whole Paycheck, but they just aren't going to have the foot traffic they would in Winter Park or closer to Mall at Millennia.

                                              1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                                                " Real Housewives of Dr. Phillips" - I snickered at this.

                                                I think the Pinkberry will do fine there because I can see that the clientele of Press 101 would be the same clientele of Pinkberry

                                                -----
                                                Press 101
                                                7600 Dr Phillips Blvd Ste 22, Orlando, FL 32819

                                            2. This is a great thread! I am in Ft Myers. Family, friends and acquaintances from out of state always asking where to go in Orlando vaca.

                                              How we get it to sticky?

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: MartiniGenie

                                                Problem with Sticky-ing a topic is that they lock it from further entries, and this is supposed to be a living, breathing thread.

                                                Make sure to check out the 3 sister threads for other areas of Orlando, including out by Disney

                                              2. Maraya at Sabrina’s
                                                I and my traveling companion were tired and hungry after a long day at a convention in Orlando. We stumbled outside of the hotel zone and found this wonderful restaurant. My travel companion loves Greek food so we anything in the general area we were willing to give a try.
                                                The sign is a bit hard to read and we initially thought it said Maraya at Sabina’s (which we couldn’t figure out the med and german aspect) but it’s actually Maraya at Sabrina’s Mediterranean Cuisine. It has an awkward entrance from the road in that you have to go up the driveway for the strip mall and then do a u turn (there is no direct access to restaurant from the road) and we weren't sure about the place from the outside but boy are we glad we went!!!
                                                It was fairly empty which was hard for us to comprehend as it was Saturday night around 7:00ish. The owners were fabulous. Took the time to explain the dishes, made us a little plate of samples. Everything is home cooked, made on premises.
                                                I ordered the kibbeh, kefta dinner and for desert – kenafa. I enjoyed all of it but especially couldn’t get enough of the kenafa . I have had kefta before but this was a first for me with kibbeh and kenafa. Everything tasted like heaven. I didn’t want to leave and wish I lived closer so I could every week.
                                                The whole restaurant experience was great - the food to die for. I don't understand why more chowhounds in the Orlando area have not found this place and raved about it.
                                                Will definitely go back the next time I'm in Orlando.
                                                They also have a hookah terrace but it was a bit cold when we were there so did not explore.
                                                They are located at 8100 Crystal Clear Lane in Orlando, FL
                                                Website is www.marayarestaurant.com
                                                Check it out – you won’t be disappointed.
                                                Bethany

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: schoenick

                                                  City Fire just opened up where the urban flats used to be. It's been getting great reviews. I'm curious if anyone has been and can give us some insight.

                                                2. I'm really liking this thread! Went to Anatolia and had the Lamb Saute (Kuzu Sote). Really good. Tried the Turkish red wine with it and enjoyed that. Many years ago I was in the USAF stationed in Istanbul. The Kuzu Sote is pretty much as I remember from all those years ago! I'll definitely be back an Anatolia before I head home!

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: RAGHOUND

                                                    I'm glad you loved Anatolia, it's one of my favorites in the area as well.

                                                  2. I REALLY like this thread. I've been to Red Bamboo (twice), Anatolia, Bosphorous (Anatolia is better IMHO) and Cedars. I've been thinking about going to Taverna Opa, but I'm wondering if there's a "less glitzy" Greek place in the area. Also, since I'll be moving to a room with a full kitchen next weekend, is there a good fresh bread bakery in the area? And, other than Whole Wallet, where is a good fresh produce place?

                                                    21 Replies
                                                    1. re: RAGHOUND

                                                      YES on the "less glitzy" Greek food! Greek Flame Taverna is a wonderful family-owned restaurant in that shopping center in Dr. Phillips, where there's a Pinkberry and a Toojay's (and I believe Anatolia is in there too). It used to be in Casselberry and we loved it, but they moved out there into a beautiful little space last year, classed up the menu, and still serve what I consider the best Greek food in town.

                                                      1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                                                        BBVL - tried the Greek Flame Taverna. Had the sausages app - really liked that! They say there's a lamb shortage ? I don't know about that, but I couldn't get the Kleftico and settled for the Arnisio Fourno - Leg of Lamb - which was very good, but also the source of my pet peeve with restaurants - no vegetables! Who eats dinner with only meat & rice? I opted for the side Greek Salad which was ok.. If you're ever in the Atlantic City, NJ area, try Athenian Garden in Absecon. Really authentic Greek food! Don't know if I'm going back to the Taverna.

                                                        1. re: RAGHOUND

                                                          I'm glad you liked most things and that I didn't steer you too wrong. I hear Greek food is everywhere in New Jersey, but it's a rarer treat here (unless you make a day trip to Tarpon Springs, which I think is the largest Greek community in the South).

                                                      2. re: RAGHOUND

                                                        For a bakery there is Delish in the whole foods plaza area. It's small, its decent I've never bought bread from there though, worth checking out.

                                                        1. re: Sandwich_Sister

                                                          Thanks, Sandwich_Sister! I'm not a local, so I need just a little bit of direction to the WF plaza, please?

                                                          1. re: RAGHOUND

                                                            it's on the corner of turkey lake and sand lake.

                                                            I'm trying to think of a local produce place for you, in the area, if you have time and can drive, the winter park Saturday farmers market is probably the best farmers market in Orlando. Although I think Dr. Phillips has a farmers market on Saturday as well, not sure how it is though I have never been.

                                                            I'm not sure you'll be 100 percent satisfied with Delish as its small and caters more to deserts, cookies and bagels, but they do have bread and its close by if you live in that area, its worth a shot.

                                                            1. re: Sandwich_Sister

                                                              Thanks for the directions, I'll give it a look. I do have a car (I'm here for about 7 weeks from PA) and I had read about the Winter Park Farmer's Market. I do intend to go there next Saturday. I appreciate the suggestions - keep'em coming!

                                                              1. re: RAGHOUND

                                                                the winter park farmers market also has a guy who sells bread. he bakes it half way and then you finish it off when you get home, or freeze it for later. good stuff.

                                                                Also there is a lady who sells corn relish, pickled items and other jarred items who is probably the sweetest most friendly vendor.

                                                                and some nice local honey stands.

                                                                1. re: Sandwich_Sister

                                                                  Sounds like fun! I'm looking forward it - and to exploring Winter Park.

                                                                  1. re: Sandwich_Sister

                                                                    Winter Park Honey (at the farmer's market) is awesome. The guy is really patient and will let you sample several different varieties of honey. He also sells some sampler packs with four tiny jars, but they're prepackaged so you don't get to pick and choose.

                                                                    1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                                                                      Looking forward to the honey stand. One of my brothers buys a year's supply during the summer from a guy in NJ. I have no idea what kind of honey he buys, but I like it! So, if the guy in Winter Park is offering samples, there's a really good chance that some his honey is going to find it's way to my home in SE PA! Thanks for the tip!

                                                                      1. re: RAGHOUND

                                                                        Went to the WPFM last Saturday. I did buy some honey, as well as some produce and bread. Had a bagel & tea for breakfast. That's a really good FM. Coupled that with a trip to Petty's Meats where I picked up enough for a week's worth of dinners. Today I went to the All Italian store. I have to tell you that I had to work to keep from LOL. I'm from the Philadelphia area. There's a section of 9th St. in South Philly that is the home of "The Italian Market". There are a ton of stores there. There's a spice store bigger than All Italian, another with just cheeses, a number of butcher shops, produce stores, bakeries (both bread and sweets), pizza, sandwichs, cheesesteak shops and now that the neighborhood is changing, you'll also find taquerias, pho, and Laotian places. I'm not bashing All Italian, I'm just trying to give a little perspective on why I reacted as I did! I'm really enjoying my time here and I appreciate all the recommendations that have been posted on this and other threads to help folks like me get a feel for what "the local folks" like about the food here. Keep up the great work!!

                                                                        1. re: RAGHOUND

                                                                          Heh, I was there too. My wife and I probably walked right past you! I'm glad you enjoyed it. The only other farmer's markets I've been to in town are a LOT smaller (bohemian Audobon Park and quaint downtown Sanford), but the Winter Park one is really nice.

                                                                  2. re: RAGHOUND

                                                                    For bread, best bet is a bakery that doesn't have a distribution place but can be found throughout town by different purveyors or at farmer's markets. It may be the guy mentioned above. It's called Olde Hearth Bread Company and is amazing. Here's their website - they have a Where to Find us tab on it. They also provide the bread for some of our best restaurants (Ravenous Pig, Le Coq au Vin)

                                                                    http://www.oldehearthbreadcompany.com/

                                                                    Also, don't hate, but we really like the baked goods at our local Publix bakery - I know it's a big chain but they really manage their bakery well and we like what we get there better than Whole Foods or Fresh Market - but only for baked goods, their meat and produce is ugh

                                                                    1. re: YosemiteSam

                                                                      Yosemite - first of all, thank you for thinking of putting these threads together. They are great for someone like me who likes to explore the places that the "locals" like when I get to a city for the first time. I've been in Orlando about 10-12 times before, but it was always business trips or park adventures with the kids/grand kids.

                                                                      I have a loaf of mulit-grain in the frig right now from Publix. I like to eat lunch in once in a while and I like Boar's Head meat/cheese, so Publix is my place for that. When I get into a full villa next week, with a full kitchen, I'll be heading to Whole Wallet for some meats - you cannot eat out for 7+ weeks! Thanks for all the suggestions and if something else pops into mind, be sure to pass it on, it will definitely be appreciated and, most likely, acted on.

                                                                      1. re: RAGHOUND

                                                                        Some place I just recently went too that isn't too far away. Is All Italian Market and Deli it's South Orlando down John Young Parkway in the Hunters Creek villages.

                                                                        They have great pannis, the place is cute, offers a wide variety of Italian meats you can purchase, olive oils, handmade ravioli, tortellini, gnocchi, and fresh mozzarella and such.

                                                                        1. re: Sandwich_Sister

                                                                          Went by that area today on my way to/from Florida Eco Safaris (great experience). It's about a 10-12 minute ride from Grande Vista. I'll make a point to check it out. Thanks!

                                                                          1. re: RAGHOUND

                                                                            oh I know where you are at. those villas are nice. :)

                                                                            It's the villages of hunters creek in there are a few notable places

                                                                            Mikado Sushi - My favorite sushi place in orlando.
                                                                            All Italian Market and Deli
                                                                            Padrinos Cuban
                                                                            and there is a tea place in there I haven't been to Wishes Brew - but it looks kind of neat.

                                                                            They also host a famers market on Saturday but it's no where near as big as winter parks. It's still in the baby stages and leaves a lot to be desired. I think it just started up less than a year ago.

                                                                            -----
                                                                            Mikado Sushi
                                                                            13586 Village Park Dr, Orlando, FL 32837

                                                                        2. re: RAGHOUND

                                                                          Unless you really like grass fed meat, I'd recommend a Fresh Market over Whole Foods for meat. And if you don't mind a drive, take a trip up I-4 to Petty's Meats in Longwood (SR 434) for a real butcher and a much wider selection

                                                                          1. re: YosemiteSam

                                                                            Don't think I've ever been in a Fresh Market. I'll have to take a look. After looking at the website for Petty's Meats, I have to check that place out. I'm afraid my Visa will take a serious hit if the store comes close to matching my expectations. Thanks for the tips!

                                                              2. re: RAGHOUND

                                                                If you like these places make sure to also try Memories of India, Nile Ethiopian and Hanamizuki - all are in the same area and deliver authentic ethnic food and wonderful atmosphere. Also do not miss the chance to head downtown to the Mills Vietnamese district - everyone has their favs but we prefer Pho 88 for the soup, Lac Viet for a full menu, and Ba Le for banh mi

                                                                -----
                                                                Memories of India
                                                                7625 Turkey Lake Rd, Orlando, FL 32819

                                                              3. A few years ago, I was driving on International Drive and saw an upside down restaurant. I believe it's Greek. Does anybody know the name of it?

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: wench31

                                                                  That's WonderWorks - it's an attraction not a restaurant - and not a very good one

                                                                2. Yosemite - there are two areas that didn't get a lot of play on this thread that I'd like to see if you and other locals have some recommendations - pizza (I don't like coal-fired because I can taste the coal! - and fresh seafood. If anyone has some thoughts on this, I would sure appreciate hearing them. I've be pretty happy following your recommendations so far!

                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                  1. re: RAGHOUND

                                                                    Pizza is tough - I like coal-fired pies so that's my go to. The only other one in this area we get is a Carriera's Cucina Italiana next to Anatolia. It's just a good pie, but not really transcendent or anything. I'll leave it to others if they have great pizzas in their area. Lately I've been making my own on the grill.

                                                                    Fresh seafood is another embarrassing story - best bet is Big Fin but stick to the raw bar and appetizers. If you are after stone crab (and it is still season), Johnnie's Hideaway has a GREAT deal of all you can eat medium claws on Mondays - and these are high quality claws too.

                                                                    -----
                                                                    Johnnie's Hideaway
                                                                    12551 State Road 535, Orlando, FL 32836

                                                                    1. re: YosemiteSam

                                                                      Agree with Sam.

                                                                      There is the local chain Flippers - good but not something to go out of your way either.

                                                                      I like Pizza Xtreme - which is off kirkman. I think its kinda close to your area. On a chow hound level I'm not sure we have much pizza that will wow you but we do have good pizza.

                                                                      -----
                                                                      Pizza Xtreme
                                                                      7250 S Kirkman Rd, Orlando, FL 32819

                                                                      1. re: Sandwich_Sister

                                                                        Truth be told - I'm looking for "good" pizza - nice crust, decent sauce and toppings, cooked well (without burning the crust). I don't like coal oven pizza because I taste the coal. I was just surprised with Sam's answer about seafood & pizza since we have an abundance of both in the Philly area.

                                                                      2. re: YosemiteSam

                                                                        Sam, Got a pizza from Cariera's. You're right - it's a good pie, which is fine with me. And thanks for the tip on Petty's Meats - very good place, great service and lots of selection. I expect to make a return trip there before I head north next month.

                                                                    2. Some updates are needed here for openings and closings for recommended options:

                                                                      Closed from the list above (darn economy):

                                                                      Wa
                                                                      Urban Flats
                                                                      La Nuova Cucina

                                                                      Opened and place under Great for Groups

                                                                      City Fire

                                                                      1. Well, my 6 weeks in Orlando is rapidly coming to an end. It's back to the beginning to warm-up Northeast in a few days after visiting with some relatives on the way. I think this is one of the best "local recommendations" threads I've come across on CH, and I travel 4-5 times a year and try to use CH to find good/great local places to eat.

                                                                        I tried the following places:
                                                                        Ravenous Pig - really good - 2 lunches 1 dinner
                                                                        K- really good - 1 dinner
                                                                        Red Bamboo - very good - 2 dinners
                                                                        Cedars - very good - 2 dinners
                                                                        Anatolia - good - 1 dinner
                                                                        Bosphorous - eh - 1 dinner
                                                                        Mid-Penisula Seafood - good - 1 lunch (heading to a Phillies pre-season game)
                                                                        City Fire - eh - 1 dinner
                                                                        Spice - not good - 1 lunch
                                                                        Greek Flame - eh - 1 dinner
                                                                        Cariera's - OK - 1 pizza
                                                                        Crooked Spoon - really good - 1 lunch

                                                                        Also very good was Petty's Meats - I had a full kitchen for 4 weeks and I enjoy my own cooking, which is why there aren't more meals listed above!

                                                                        Thanks to Sam for starting this thread and all the folks who contributed and made my time in Orlando more enjoyable. As Arnold said, "I'll be back!".

                                                                        -----
                                                                        Red Bamboo
                                                                        6803 S Kirkman Rd, Orlando, FL 32819

                                                                        7 Replies
                                                                        1. re: RAGHOUND

                                                                          What's better - really good or very good?

                                                                          Serves you right for going to Spice - you wouldn't find that on any of our recommendation threads I bet :)

                                                                          Glad we could make your stay here enjoyable - make sure to share the fact it's not all chains and buffets down here in Central Florida.

                                                                          1. re: YosemiteSam

                                                                            Really good is better than very good in my lexicon! I went to Spice during the Winter Park Sidewalk Arts Festival. It was the only place with a seat open (I guess that should have been a really large clue!) and I was really hungry.

                                                                            I don't think there's any major resort area that's only chains and buffets. The trick to traveling is to do some homework before you get there - as in this case, it usually pays dividends! Thanks again for having the idea to put this together. Now you have to keep it updated, not just for yourselves, but also for those of us who want to experience what the "real" Orlando area has to offer!

                                                                            1. re: RAGHOUND

                                                                              Wow I love when people report back. I'm so glad this thread helped. Sam is a genius coming up with the idea.

                                                                              A few comments.

                                                                              Again I'm glad you liked Red Bamboo. The place seems to be understated and its location is a weird one but I really do enjoy it, especially over the very touristy Thai Thani.

                                                                              Interesting with Bosphorous, Anatolia, Greek Flame and Cedars. All similar cuisine not the same but it seems that most people who love Bosphorous don't like Anatolia and vice versa. I've never been to Bosphorous but I do like Anatolia.

                                                                              I also was not happy with Greek Flame had lunch there and the fries were just such a mushy oily awful mess, I did enjoy their dolamades but the service was lacking a lot.

                                                                              I like Cedars. I need to get something other than their lunch special list, which is great prices but very limited.

                                                                              Crooked Spoon is awesome. I haven't done all the food trucks yet, well actually that is the only one I have done but it was fabulous.

                                                                              City Fire - I haven't been but I had high hopes for the place. Was the problems things that could clear up after they are open for a while or was it just that bad that nothing will save them?

                                                                              -----
                                                                              Red Bamboo
                                                                              6803 S Kirkman Rd, Orlando, FL 32819

                                                                              Thai Thani
                                                                              11025 International Drive Suite F, Orlando, FL 32821

                                                                              1. re: Sandwich_Sister

                                                                                The issue, for me, with City Fire, was the food & service were just OK, not a place I'd make sure I got back to, like the Ravenous Pig, or Red Bamboo, or, if I'd had more time, K. What really bothered me was the owner was having a family dinner with a large group directly next to where i was seated. That alone wasn't the problem. I have lots of family in the restaurant business and I've been to more than my share of "opening dinners". The problem was that he got up from the table and visited all of the neighboring tables, asking how things were, etc. For me, dining alone, he had a nod. That, combined with OK food, was more than enough for me to give him an "eh".

                                                                                Regarding Anatolia vs. Bosphorous, I lived in Instanbul for a year and half. Anatolia is, to me, much more authentic and much less "showy". For me, it's more about the food than the decor - think Red Bamboo.

                                                                                I am definitely going to be missing some of these restaurants in the coming months. And I have tip for any of you who might be in the Stuart area - Tapas Latin Fusion is really good. I'll be craving that food next week!
                                                                                http://www.tcpalm.com/news/2011/apr/0...

                                                                                Please keep this thread updated. Or start a new one. I'll definitely be coming back for an extended stay in winters to come and this was a very good way to understand what foodies in Orlando consider good local cuisine.

                                                                                -----
                                                                                Red Bamboo
                                                                                6803 S Kirkman Rd, Orlando, FL 32819

                                                                                1. re: RAGHOUND

                                                                                  awesome, thanks for the reply. I've never been to Turkey but Anatolia always felt pretty authentic to me. Or what I would imagine it to be.

                                                                          2. re: RAGHOUND

                                                                            Are any of these recs near Universal (or reasonable cab ride)? I don't know the area at all and will be at Universal for 2 nights. Hoping to find some great food.

                                                                            1. re: roross

                                                                              The Dr. Phillips/ Sandlake area is close by. Here's some ideas.

                                                                              Memories of India - Indian
                                                                              Saffron - Indian
                                                                              Anatolia - Turkish
                                                                              Le Rouge - Tapas Wine Bar
                                                                              Cedars - Lebanese

                                                                              Also I drive isn't to far either
                                                                              Funky Monkey Wine Company
                                                                              Cafe Tu Tu Tango
                                                                              Hanamizuki
                                                                              Nile Ethopian

                                                                              Oh and there is Also Emerils though I've never been.

                                                                              -----
                                                                              Cafe Tu Tu Tango
                                                                              8625 International Dr, Orlando, FL 32819

                                                                              Memories of India
                                                                              7625 Turkey Lake Rd, Orlando, FL 32819

                                                                              Emeril's
                                                                              5885 Turkey Lake Rd, Orlando, FL 32819

                                                                          3. Ok, there are two restaurants on I-Drive that are very good. One is Bahama Breeze and the other is Texas De Brazil. Bahama Breeze has good food, not too expensive, they have a bar, you can take your family and it has a great atmosphere. Texas is more on the expensive side ($50.00/person) but the food is worth it. It is all you can eat and they bring the meats over to your table on racks and ask if you want some. Its quiet and its probably not someplace you'd want to bring your kids.

                                                                            -----
                                                                            Texas De Brazil
                                                                            5259 International Dr., Orlando, FL 32819

                                                                            1. To Sam, the Sandwich Sister, BBLV and the other folks who were so good about responding to my many missives earlier this year, I'm heading back in February for a month and will be looking for some of the same great info! I noticed it's been a while since anyone's updated this thread and am wondering what's new, what might have changed (for better or worse) and what might no longer be available? I will also be looking at Sam's other threads about Orlando eating spots, so if there's new info there, please do an update for me and the other "snow birds" who'll be invading in a few months. Looking forward to Red Bamboo, K, and the Ravenous Pig - and whatever new recommendations all you Orlando foodies toss my way!

                                                                              -----
                                                                              Red Bamboo
                                                                              6803 S Kirkman Rd, Orlando, FL 32819

                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                              1. re: RAGHOUND

                                                                                Oh hey,

                                                                                Yeah I remember you. I don't think much as really changed.

                                                                                I did get a chance to go to City Fire for lunch and really loved the stuffed pepper and service was very good. I don't know if they've worked out all the kinks since you last went but if you feel like giving them a 2nd try I would hope you would have a better experience.

                                                                                Saffron Indian Restaurant opened up near Le Rouge and Cedars. It's good, I wouldn't consider it as authentic or as spicy as Memories of India but it's a nice place with great lunch specials.

                                                                                Over near Bubbalous is a new Greek Place - Zorbas I havent been there yet so I can't give you anything more than that its relatively new.

                                                                                Dragonfly Sushi - I can't remember if this was open the last time you were here. It's recieved some great reviews from friends, I have just yet to go.

                                                                                If you didn't get to Nile or Hanamazuki last time try those as well on I-drive - Hanamasuki has a shiso butter ramen that is delicious but only served during lunch.

                                                                                -----
                                                                                Memories of India
                                                                                7625 Turkey Lake Rd, Orlando, FL 32819

                                                                                Saffron Indian Restaurant
                                                                                7724 W.Sand Lake Rd, Orlando, FL 32809

                                                                                1. re: Sandwich_Sister

                                                                                  Just a follow-up to your note.

                                                                                  Zorba's is ok but nothing spectacular - basically same quality as Greek Flame - to me it's simply a lunch option

                                                                                  Dragonfly is really good but as much for the vibe as the food - love the coktails and sake list there

                                                                                2. re: RAGHOUND

                                                                                  Been really slow on the openings front lately (darn economy), so not a whole lot new. We've been hitting a few of our favs over and over if for no other reason than to make sure they stay in business. I know you went before, but I think K is really putting out great food right now, so I recommend a return trip for sure.

                                                                                  The guy's from Funky Monkey have opened two new places downtown. We tried Prickly Pear (Southwestern) - the drinks were great, appetizers were quite good, and entrees were ok (what's with the trend in average entrees lately? - it's like they waste all their creativity in apps - might as well just open a small plates place - but I digress). I wouldn't rave about it, but if you are looking for a meal downtown it's a nice option. The other new place (right next door) is Nick's Italian Kitchen - haven't been yet or heard about it so can't recommend, but the space looked nice.

                                                                                  Looking at you last visit list, I'd recommend you try the following this time as they're "new to you" (not in order and not all in the I-Drive area)

                                                                                  Casual

                                                                                  - Pio Pio (corner of Kirkman and International Drive across the street from Red Bamboo)

                                                                                  - Memories of India

                                                                                  - Hanamizuki

                                                                                  - Nagoya
                                                                                  - Dragonfly

                                                                                  - Nile Ethiopian

                                                                                  - Cafe Tu Tu Tango (if in a group)

                                                                                  - Yellow Dog Eats (sandwiches)

                                                                                  - Press 101 (sandwiches)

                                                                                  - Rusty Spoon

                                                                                  - Funky Monkey Downtown (romantic)

                                                                                  - Lac Viet

                                                                                  - Pho 88

                                                                                  - 4 Rivers

                                                                                  - Tasting Room (Winter Garden)

                                                                                  Upscale

                                                                                  - Luma on Park

                                                                                  - Le Coq Au Vin

                                                                                  - La Luce

                                                                                  - Johnnie's Hideaway (eat stone crab only - now in season - all you can eat on Monday's)

                                                                                  - Chef's Table (Winter Garden)

                                                                                  A few other thoughts:

                                                                                  - If you are in the mood for a formal special occasion place I recommend Chatham's Place highly - great food and great service

                                                                                  - A place just opened in the Dellagio (by CityFire) called The Table run by a couple instructors from Le Cordon Bleu (the main chef also was named a F&W best new chef in the early 2000s). It is open for one seating only on Friday and Saturday nights with just one large table in the whole place where all the guests sit - fixed menu fixed price. Haven't been yet but I'm intrigued - it has gotten some good reviews though from professional critics. Food seems adventurous too

                                                                                  - Another limited opportunity place is Bar J Me run by the excellent local caterers Cuisiners - again a fixed menu and seating and only open once a month.

                                                                                  Appreciate a report back, and if you are going to the Table why not post here and maybe we can pull together a group using my Google Group

                                                                                  -----
                                                                                  Le Coq Au Vin
                                                                                  4800 S Orange Ave, Orlando, FL 32806

                                                                                  Chatham's Place Restaurant
                                                                                  7575 Dr. Phillips Blvd, Orlando, FL 32819

                                                                                  Luma on Park
                                                                                  290 S. Park Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789

                                                                                  Cafe Tu Tu Tango
                                                                                  8625 International Dr, Orlando, FL 32819

                                                                                  Memories of India
                                                                                  7625 Turkey Lake Rd, Orlando, FL 32819

                                                                                  Yellow Dog Eats
                                                                                  1236 Hempel Ave, Gotha, FL 34734

                                                                                  Pio Pio Restaurant
                                                                                  5752 International Dr, Orlando, FL 32819

                                                                                  Red Bamboo
                                                                                  6803 S Kirkman Rd, Orlando, FL 32819

                                                                                  Press 101
                                                                                  7600 Dr Phillips Blvd Ste 22, Orlando, FL 32819

                                                                                  Chef's Table
                                                                                  99 W Plant St, Winter Garden, FL 34787

                                                                                  Johnnie's Hideaway
                                                                                  12551 State Road 535, Orlando, FL 32836

                                                                                  1. re: YosemiteSam

                                                                                    BTW, since you mentioned Petty's previously, I thought you'd like to know about a butcher that opened in Winter Park much closer than Petty's to Orlando proper.

                                                                                    It's called the Meat House and it's located at 669 N. Orange Ave., Winter Park right near Ravenous Pig

                                                                                    Haven't been yet, but might be worth checking out

                                                                                    1. re: YosemiteSam

                                                                                      I visited the Meat House last week, and it was a nice little upscale market like Petty's or Cavallari Gourmet in Oviedo, but didn't have quite as much stuff as they did, and seemed kind of expensive, even by upscale gourmet market standards. Their marinated steak tips turned out great, but I was disappointed that the only buffalo meat they had came in pre-frozen, ground one-pound packages for $20 per pound -- double the price of Whole Foods.

                                                                                3. Thank you for all the great information!

                                                                                  I will most likely be in Orlando in December for a conference at a hotel (on World Center Drive). Are there any restaurants mentioned in this thread that would NOT be recommended for a solo female diner (in 30s)? I don't know if there are any good restaurants nearby the hotel/conference apart from those at the hotel. Will not have a car so will have to rely on taxi (don't think the trolley is on the route)?

                                                                                  Any restaurants that source local ingredients? I read about Rusty Spoon and it looks like a fun choice. I am more interested in food than wine/beer, so if the restaurant doesn't have a good wine list it doesn't bother me. Somewhere I can easily catch a cab after a meal to go back to the hotel would be ideal.

                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: Ummm

                                                                                    Most of the local sourcing places are too far for a taxi ride. Also, many of them are downtown which is not particularly safe for a solo female diner.

                                                                                    If you are at World Center drive, I'd recommend taking a taxi to the Hilton Bonnet Creek and eating at La Luce - while a hotel restaurant it's amazingly fresh and innovative, especially if you like Napa- style restaurants

                                                                                    If you like seafood, I'd also consider a trip to Johnnie's Hideaway as we just hit stone crab season and if you're in Florida you need to try them fresh and ready - beware they're pricey! Only go there for the stone crab however.

                                                                                    Your final option is a little further but not to far to the I-Drive/Sand Lake Road area - this thread has all the recommendations for that area (be aware some on the original list have closed)

                                                                                    -----
                                                                                    Johnnie's Hideaway
                                                                                    12551 State Road 535, Orlando, FL 32836

                                                                                    1. re: YosemiteSam

                                                                                      Thank you! I love seafood, so hopefully stone crab will still be available in December! I guess no downtown for me then. Is Rusty Spoon in a safe area then (for dinner)? Is the Venetian worthwhile to go (read some good reviews on the lobster bisque)? La Luce sounds intriguing, never been to Napa but would love to try the French Laundry some day after reading Grant Achatz's memoir (well Alinea too but totally different style.) I was excited about Wa but too bad it closed :(

                                                                                      1. re: Ummm

                                                                                        Le tme put it this way - I wouldn't want my wife to go to Rusty Spoon on her own - just too near bad neighborhoods - you'll need to use your own judgement as to your comfort with that - the place itself is just fine.

                                                                                        Venetia is VERY formal and high end - just need to know if that's what you're looking for

                                                                                        Stone crab season is mid-October through March, so your all good

                                                                                        1. re: YosemiteSam

                                                                                          Thanks so much. Guess will skip Rusty Spoon. Not point putting myself at risk even if it's the best food in the world :) Venetia probably is not a good option for a solo diner then if it's that formal. Maybe I can just take the lobster bisque to go lol :) Glad to hear it'd still be the stone crab season! Will have to see if I could get that into the schedule since I only have a couple of days. Will report back. Thanks again!

                                                                                  2. Wa seems to have closed, fyi.

                                                                                    Edit - sorry just read further down the thread that this has been noted. Great thread, awesome work YosemiteSam!

                                                                                    1. We went to Delish on our way out, and thought it was really good for basic sandwiches and bakery goods - nothing crazy insane but much better than chain food. They were very friendly. Reminded me a bit of Noah's Bagels, only with much better bagels.

                                                                                      1 Reply