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Jul 25, 2010 12:55 PM

Looking for Orlando: classic, famous, institutions, unusual specials, best kept secret

I'm am headed to Orlando this weekend and I love interesting and authentic local food. I am looking to check out their most classic / old / famous / institutions. Or a cheap hole in the wall off the beaten path (with good chow) also works. Also, best kept secrets, unusual specials, crazy decor, or authentic and local that you can't get anywhere else.

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  1. Great Topic! I think Many will chime in. Lets see what I can think of off the top of my head.

    Beefy King - It is an Orlando landmark and an institution in my book. Serving up Roast beef and Pastrami Sandwiches. Check out their website here -

    Lee & Ricks - Oysters up at the bar - the place is a dive, sit up at the bar and engage in some conversation with the shucker. The place looks like a boat/dive bar. I think this is also an Orlando institution

    Fortuna Bakery on John Young Parkway - South Orlando - Authentic Columbian, and Latin food, good for lunch. It's a local spot, no one there, even the locals that come in speak much English but the staff there are very helpful.

    Cubans on the Run in Casselberry is one of my favorite Cuban places, stop in for their steak sandwiches, cuban sandwiches, plantains and other offerings.

    I may have a few other places that hit me later on. I'm not sure where you are from but maybe a place that offers gator or conch would be up your alley as well.

    Beefy King
    424 N Bumby Ave, Orlando, FL 32803

    1. I agree Lee & Ricks is amazing, My parents still tell stories of our first visit there when I was four. I have to go everytime I am in Orlando (I am 36

      3 Replies
      1. re: baccimi

        Has Lee & Rick's been affected by the oil spill? I hear it has really cut down on oyster production.

        1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

          It is possible. I haven't been there since the oil leak but I do know that other places in the area that offer oysters are taking them off their menu, if they get them out of the gulf. Such as the Miller's Ale House. Does anyone have an update on Lee & Ricks and if they are suffering. such a tragedy.

          Ale House
          1756 Wells Rd Ste A, Orange Park, FL 32073

          1. re: Sandwich_Sister

            The folks at Lee & Rick's told me once that they get their oysters from a supplier in Apalachicola. Although Apalachicola bay wasn't effected by the spill, the supply of oysters dried up for other reasons. I'm not sure if Lee & Rick's has been effected because I don't eat summer oysters and haven't been since the spill.


      2. This is a tough one in this land of chains dominated by the tyranny of the new.

        I'll second SandwichSister on Lee & Rick's and Beefy King as close to classic as we seem to get here. Reminds me of an old Eddie Izzard bit about a Miami architecture tour: "This building is OVER 20 YEARS OLD!" He then says "England has 500 year old castles just laying about"

        Anyway, back on topic:

        Some somewhat unique options that might work:

        1) If it is being conducted (it's seasonal) the brunch at La Coquina is pretty cool as they serve you in the kitchen and it features some items you don't always find on typical brunch menus (we once had antelope) - pricy however.
        2) Though touristy, Cafe Tu Tu Tango is pretty unique with its working artists colony vibe and tasty tapas
        3) Everglades restaurant features some unique game including alligator, venison, etc. and other Florida specialties like rock shrimp and indigineous mushrooms. Probably find better of most in New Orleans, the Rockies etc, but if you want to try something different here it could fit the bill
        4) If you haven't had much authentic Vietnamese we have a solid district downtown. I recommend either Lac Viet for rarer North Vietnamese cuisine or Pho 88 for the ubiquitous soup.
        5) The Gospel bruch at House of Blues is different
        6) Finally, if you have a sense of humor, you can't beat our unique dining propositions for tourists, whether its in the parks (dining in Cinderella's castle, the ultimate cheesefest Hoop-de-doo musical revue, etc) or one of our dinner shows (Medeivel Times, Pirate dinner adventure, Arabian Nights) - just don't go for the food.

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

        Beefy King
        424 N Bumby Ave, Orlando, FL 32803

        House of Blues
        , Orlando, FL 32830

        La Coquina Restaurant
        1 Grand Cypress Blvd, Orlando, FL 32836

        2 Replies
        1. re: YosemiteSam

          Have you tried Everglades yet? I want to!

          1. re: Sandwich_Sister

            I have not tried it yet, but I have a gift certificate from them that I want to use. I'll definitely put it on my radar!

        2. Some places to add to your list:

          1) 4 Rivers BBQ (on Fairbanks - awesome BBQ, but a long wait in line).
          2) Johnson's Diner (on Church Street - good, cheap soul food).
          3) Viet Garden (on Colonial Dr. - try any of the clear noodle soups or caramel pork).
          4) Maraya Restaurant (at 8100 Crystal Clear Ln near FL Mall - Mediterranean at its best).
          5) High Tide Harry's (on Semoran Blvd - Seafood in their new digs).

          Hope this helps!!!

          Johnson's Diner
          595 W Church St Ste E, Orlando, FL 32805

          High Tide
          3754 N Access Rd, Englewood, FL 34224

          1 Reply
          1. re: rgcblackie

            2nd johnsons! I always like the classics too but they are becomming more rare! Like The cattle ranch in sanford. good priced no frills and it takes ya back! Another good steak place just south is colorado's in Lake mary. The smoked prime rib is to be tried once in your life and it rocks!
            If you dont want steak go down to shells on lee road or on 436. This chain is dying but I always loved their pasta dishes.
            For chinese I always take visitors to Lams on hwy 50,, Not the cleanest place but really authentic!! Pick out the fish you want to eat while it swims in the big fish tank at th entrance. Then have them put it in the bamboosteamer with soy sauce, scalions and ginger!
            If you want a good choice head down orange avenue till ya get to blackwater bbq. across the street is a killer peruvian chicken joint reccommended to me by the late great Bob Mervine(RIP)

          2. Beefy King rocks. Great roast beef sammiches.

            Another good ol' sandwich shop is Kappy's in Maitland:

            Eden Bar at the Enzian is a great foodie place. Not old or an institution, but definitely unique:

            Le Coq Au Vin is a great French restaurant that's been around for a long time:

            PR's Taco Palace is a Winter Park institution. Some love it, some hate it. I absolutely love it:

            Linda's La Cantina has been around since the '40s. Classic steakhouse: http://www.lindaslacantinasteakhouse....

            Beefy King
            424 N Bumby Ave, Orlando, FL 32803