Detour from Denny's - Nick's and other Orlando diners
After a search, I think this deserves a new thread. I wanted to show some love to a local operation I tested this past weekend at the recommendation of my roommate – and there must be others like it out there y’all know about and can point to. No, it's not got the totally grungy, divey cred of a Lee and Rick's, or the retro Beefy King vibe – so I don’t think it belongs on the Diners/Dives/Drive-ins thread. And the food was yummy, but it’s not going to be the gustatory revelation that, say, the Spotted Pig serves up on the occasions when they really nail the mark. So, I pondered, does it even belong on the site? Or should I take my comments onto Urban Spoon or something? No, no - I think it’s Chow-worthy.
So if you don’t know about it yet, let me introduce you to Nick's Family Diner on OBT just north of Lee/JYP, just south of Clarcona Ocoee. It’s clean, offers good grub, and good value. This is also a local proprietorship, which I happily recalled just in time as my hung-over hunk’o’love and I were otherwise en route to Denny’s to soak up the remaining beer of Saturday night. Breakfast is served all day, which was good, as we had only blearily emerged into the sunlight at approximately 2pm, and that’s the kind of food he was craving. He ordered an enormous breakfast – pancakes, eggs, bacon, hashbrowns…. All were delish. The pancakes boasted the proper flavor – not too artificial tasting like the breakfasty chains can tend to be – and excellent hash browns: cooked to crispy perfection, not overly greasy, and properly salted to boot.
I had a Ruben-esque sandwich - corned beef accompanied by ham and turkey, too, I believe - and topped with coleslaw. It was yummy and messy, and easily was pushed over the line from ‘fine’ to ‘yum!’ from the assortment of meats inside, the gooey melted Swiss cheese, and the buttery toasted rye. It came with soup: I selected the lemon chicken. I know this is classic Greek food, and because this is ostensibly one of those diners that serves totally normal American food, but has a Greek heritage (like nearly half the diners in NYC, which is why those blue Grecian paper coffee cups are now so classic) and offers several Greek specialties alongside the heart of America-style offerings – moussaka, gyros, glimpses here and there of feta and spinach – I was curious to try it. I found it to be quite good. It was clearly homemade, offering up alongside the orzo a good supply of chicken chunks that just make you picture the chef in the kitchen carefully and laboriously cleaning a freshly boiled carcass. The combo of the lemon in the chicken soup was unusual to my tongue, though. I think Nick’s rendition was very good, I just am not sure that recipe overall is one I’d have again. Mac and cheese was my chosen side – I am a huge fan when it’s done right – but unfortunately this version was not great; it had a sweet finish I didn’t care for. You will happily note that when I was offered my free-with-meal dessert (!), and I inquired if any were made on the premises, the waitress explained to me that EVERYthing, aside from eggs, is homemade – right down to smoking/roasting the lunchmeats in house. How cool is that? So, back to dessert: I got an éclair – quite nice, very decadent custard filling – and lemon chiffon cake, which proved way too sweet for my taste and had to be foisted off onto my less picky hunk’o’love.
One other thing about Nick’s – there was not one, but several cars’ worth of Orlando’s Finest eating there. I don’t know about you, but I tend to trust a place where cops like to eat.
I think there must be other places like this, and I was so happy to have avoided an unnecessary chain encounter. What ones would you suggest?
424 N Bumby Ave, Orlando, FL 32803