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Orlando ChowTour '11

Some of us are looking to make a day trip to Orlando to grub on some of the yummier stuff we keep seeing pop up on the boards, I just wanted to get the O-town hounds' input on can't-miss spots, etc.

Current list (which will be modified & whittled down):

Ravenous
Korean Taco Truck
4 Rivers
Anatolia
Redlight Redlight (for a beer)
Cedar's for a Hookah
Le Rouge for a Tapa
Amura for a RR roll

? Preferably stuff that isn't toooo far from I-4

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Redlight
745 Bennett Rd, Orlando, FL 32803

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  1. So you're thinking like a pub crawl but with food right? Like one item at each? Just figuring how far you want to go because 4 Rivers, the Korean Taco Truck and Ravenous are not right next to each other, and of course the rest of your options are on Restautant Row on Sand Lake.

    I know you know the above just trying to get parameters before I post recommendations.

    1. As long as you're hitting Anatolia, you can go a few doors down and get the best gyro in town at Greek Flame Taverna.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

        I wasn't a huge fan of Greek Flame Taverna when I went. It may have just been an off day though, gyro was okay, the fries were soggy. What I did like there a lot was the Dolmades

        1. re: Sandwich_Sister

          I'll be the first one to admit their fries aren't the best, but the dolmades are indeed awesome, and I've never had a bad experience with their gyros.

          1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

            The gyros were okay but it may have been the service that made it less than stellar.
            I should try them again.

          2. re: Sandwich_Sister

            I went by a couple of times right after they moved to dr Phillips. I wasn't impressed, had the moussaka and a lamb dish. Haven't had the gyros, I'll go by sometime this week to give them a try.

        2. I think if you plan right you can cruise around and hit up a lot of spots. with enough room in between so you won't get to full.

          What about a Bahn Mi at Ba Le Bakery or Boston Bakery

          Lee and Ricks may be fun

          Have you thought about desserts?
          Fortuna Bakery is a little Colombian/Venezuelan bakery that is delcious. Menu is in spanish but they are very helpful/

          Also a new place, All Italian Market and Deli - wonderful authentic italian products, meats, paninis and italian desserts.

          Other new places that just opened up
          Tibby's New Orleans Kitchen
          Shipyard Emporium
          City Fire

          Also if you decide to add another food truck stop go with the Crooked Spoon.

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          Boston Bakery & Cafe
          1525 E Colonial Dr Ste 5, Orlando, FL 32803

          11 Replies
          1. re: Sandwich_Sister

            Thanks SS! I (as do many other Tampa Hounds) loooove Bahn Mi's, I put that on the map, it's not horribly out of the way either. I also meant to add Shipyard, thanks for reminding me!

            1. re: askdrtodd

              Toddster- note that RP only serves lunch until 2 and then the bar re-opens at 5 and the dining room at 5:30

              1. re: rhnault

                K we can work around that. Maybe we can show up around 1:30 and still not piss the waitstaff off :)

            2. re: Sandwich_Sister

              Lee and Rick's has good oysters, but based on my observations, it doesn't have much else going for it in the food department.

                1. re: rhnault

                  Give a holler when you all pick a day. I have a very weird work schedule, but I would definitely meet some Chowhounds if I can make it happen.

                    1. re: rhnault

                      D'oh! I'll be at a wedding, but you'll all have a great time no matter what.

                      1. re: rhnault

                        Don't forget to write a full report when you guys get done.

                        It's such a great idea.

                  1. re: andy huse

                    yeah I've only had the oysters there, I've heard to just stick with that.

                2. Le Rouge for a tapa - which one? A favorite or are you trying something new?

                  1 Reply
                  1. So I've put WAY too much thought into this, but here's my input FWIW - note I've tried to focus on places that are unique to Orlando, are amenable to a "tour" type experience (i.e., not too formal, involved, etc) and that are located along the I-4 spine in general.

                    Here's what I'd do:

                    - Since it's a Saturday, start at the Winter Park Farmer's Market and maybe a breakfast item from the food trailer there or some fresh baked goods.
                    - Next up is 4 Rivers and Ravenous - careful not to eat too much you'll need to pace yourself - avoid breads and starches :)
                    - Travel down Mills to the ViMi district and split Banh Mi's at Ba Le, then you can't miss Beefy King basically right across the street from the Korean Taco Truck - it's the 2nd oldest food location in Orlando and an institution
                    - Assuming we're at mid-afternoon - I'd take a break and a walk around Lake Eola downtown with maybe a stop at the Eola Wine Company for a crisp white wine to cleanse the palate.
                    - Depending on timing, before leaving downtown you need to head to College Park and have something at K - check to see if bone marrow is on the menu, if not their Fried Green Tomato with Crab is amazing and refreshing and they also do a great twist on mac n cheese
                    - Now you head west on I-4. I'd skip Lee & Rick's due to recent health violations (just an ick factor for me) and instead consider a stop at Pio Pio on I-Drive and Kirkman (not the Semoran one) for great Columbian chicken and empanadas or a bandeja paisa.
                    - Right up the street from there is Nile Ethiopian where you can order a family style platter with most of the menu items for great sharing experience and wonderful unique flavors.
                    - Travel up I-Drive to Hanamizuki and split a Wafu steak or get ishiyaki and cook some food on a hot stone at your table
                    - Finally make your way to Restaurant Row. If you only get a hookah at Cedar's you're really missing out on some great food. If you're adventurous get the Kibbeh Nayeh (raw ground lamb and bulgur) and the sujouk
                    - Another not to miss option there is Anatolia and their awesome bread and dips
                    - I know you like Amura and that one roll (it is good), but consider instead or in addition a trip across the corner to Dragonfly for butter-sauteed edamame (interesting and weird) and a few robata skewers and the Crispy Black Pork Belly with Hijiki Seaweed & Daikon served in a dashi broth with a soft poached egg (yay cut and paste)
                    - Right next door to Dragonfly is the just opened City Fire from legendary Orlando restauranteur Manny Garcia (Pebbles, Manuel's on the 28th, Harvey's) - I haven't been yet but I see they have on the menu a great option from the old Pebbles restaurants updated for modern palates - their thumbits - little bite-sized pieces of yum that taste even better than they sound - they have their classic chicken but also added foie gras thumbits - OMG. The whole menu looks ripe for a stop by a group like this
                    - Also next door is Big Fin if you're having a hankerin' for oysters or raw bar items - good solid mostly local seafood in a great atmosphere
                    - I personally like to finish with wine and cheese - so I'd end the night at La Rouge. There are no really great sweet dessert options around, so maybe hit Menchie's or Pinkberry for a fro yo if you need a sweet finish. Or perhaps World of Beer for a beer nightcap if you swing that way.

                    Places I've left out due to distance or lack of usefulness for a drop in but still great Orlando options are Yellow Dog Eats (the one short drive out of the way I'd recommend if you love sandwiches), Memories of India, Luma, Chef's Table, La Luce, Portobello Meatball Bar and Funky Monkey downtown.

                    I know this is way too much to do, but pick and choose from the above and I'm confident you'll have a great time without resorting in any way to chain food.

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

                    Yellow Dog Eats
                    1236 Hempel Ave, Gotha, FL 34734

                    Beefy King
                    424 N Bumby Ave, Orlando, FL 32803

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

                    17 Replies
                    1. re: YosemiteSam

                      Sorry had to add an adendum - if you are willing to reverse course a bit - after the lunch options on Colonial (Ba Le, Beefy King, Taco Truck) - head to I-Drive and continue, then after La Rogue head back downtown to K as it has a rich menu, a great night vibe and a cool initmate bar, then finish at the Dessert Lady on Church Street to enjoy amazing sweets and nice dessert wines while ogling the magnificence of our new Amway Center

                      1. re: YosemiteSam

                        Sam,

                        You and I think a lot alike here, somewhere along the lines of what you've written above is perfect. It will take some whittling down but that's a perfect game plan. We could even kibbeh and hookah and I could run down and grab a rolls royce roll to enjoy on the patio :)

                        1. re: YosemiteSam

                          Sam you are wonderful. thanks so much for putting so much thought into this for us, taking the time and trouble to even map out a plan and post it for us. you are a king among men!!! smooches.

                          1. re: Manderley

                            You're welcome - frankly I wish I could go but will need to live vicariously thru you as with a 5 year old and a 1 year old whole day excursions like this are either impossible or prohibitively expensive with babysitting fees (you won't believe what our SOBE Wine & Food weekend just cost us all in with hotel, tickets and babysitting)

                            Please please please do a trip report thread with all chiming in. Are any of you Tweeters? Maybe you could do a hashtag for the day and tweet your progress so if us locals can intersect with you at any specific location we'll know where you are as well as keep tabs on how it's going.

                            1. re: YosemiteSam

                              Sam, email me, I will give you info on how to contact us. My email is my username on here (at) gmail.com

                              1. re: YosemiteSam

                                Yosemite...although I'm posting close to 2 months later, just wanted to let you know that a couple of buddies of mine and I are going to attempt your Chowtour! Will post a report next week!

                                1. re: topchef4LIFE

                                  Well since it's been 2 months - allow me a few updates. Add in Hula Dog and Junior's Colombian burger both in the I-Drive/Kirkman area, and consider dropping City Fire as I thought it was a little pedestrian in my one visit. Also, check out some of the local food trucks on Twitter to see if they are around that day - I recommend Big Wheel Provisions, Crooked Spoon, Red Eye BBQ, Korean Taco Box, Treehouse Truck and Yum Yum cupcakes. If any of them are on your route then you should make sure to drop by for a taste

                                  -----
                                  The Crooked Spoon
                                  University Blvd Metric Dr., Orlando, FL 32803

                                  1. re: YosemiteSam

                                    X2 on what Sam said, Big Wheel is excellent. I hear great things about Rusty Spoon (new restaurant downtown) too.

                            2. re: YosemiteSam

                              Outstanding post! I crown you the new Bob Mervine! I'm headed to Orlando Saturday with some spring training buddies and will have to check out a couple of these!

                              1. re: Tom Scherberger

                                I have much more to do to earn such high praise as the late, great Bob (RIP), but I do appreciate the compliment - and we miss him around here

                                1. re: YosemiteSam

                                  I love Bob Mervine and yes that is an honor. I think I've written here a few times that I missed his tenure here on the boards... but when I first started I would search topics.

                                  His advice never steered me wrong. It wasn't until 2 years later that I found out he had passed away before I even signed on to chowhound.

                                  I had been taking advice from a very beloved dead man I never got the pleasure of actually speaking too. That is just how good his advice was.

                                  But Sam... You do give amazing advice. You could be the next Bob M. but we want you to stick around for a while, a long while.

                              2. re: YosemiteSam

                                Thanks Yosemite Sam - I will be visiting Orlando next week and will take your recommendations for the trip!

                                1. re: YosemiteSam

                                  I have an addition for your tour itinerary. Hula Dog on I-Drive near Wet n Wild. See my post on the main board for details, but I guarantee it is a unique experience for you guys and perfect for a drop in on a ChowTour.

                                  1. re: YosemiteSam

                                    Unfortunately Chowtour may remain nothing more than a dream...

                                      1. re: askdrtodd

                                        That's a shame! However, if you ever reschedule it for another Saturday, I'll totally join everybody.

                                        1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                                          I didn't know it was canceled. I will let you guys know when we head that way again. We really want to get to RP. My inlaws are in Melbourne so we pass through that way frequently.