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Durham NC Hound visiting Orlando

Orlando Hounds, opinions please. I'll be staying in downtown Orlando for a few nights. Where are the best bang for the buck independently owned joints in downtown and vicinity? Thanks in advance and I'll be happy to reciprocate if you're up our way.

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  1. say...Yosemite Sam 3 times and he will appear...

    (hes one of orlando experts on here)

    you can also search for his guides to orlando ...altho i dont think hes updated them for 2012 yett..

    1. The Rusty Spoon. It's good. I really enjoy it, order off the menu or the specials board. delicious.
      I love there seasonal foods.

      1. I’m not that familiar with the downtown restaurants (meaning those that you can walk to from the downtown area). However, if you have a car or are willing to take a short cab ride I highly recommend our Mills 50 area. There are numerous Vietnamese restaurants with a few Chinese/Korean/Thai places thrown in...search the boards regarding the strongly held preferences for each of these places. There are also a few other places that you might want to check out in that same area. I’m a fan of Funky Monkey restaurant and Bananas Diner (owned by the same people). If you are willing to drive up to 10 minutes away I strongly recommend going to Winter Park. It's one of Orlando’s upscale "suburbs" and has some great restaurants including the often discussed Ravenous Pig. You may also want to checkout Park Ave in Winter Park. It s great street to start at one end (corner of Fairbanks/Park) and walk to the other end and see the many restaurants and shops. A few of my favorites on Park are 310 Park South and Bosphorus (Turkish). Also on Fairbanks in Winter Park is 4 Rivers BBQ (also about 10 mins from downtown). If you decide to go to 4 Rivers you will want to keep in mind the it only has outdoor seating and the line is long (30 mins?) around lunch and dinner time.

        1. OK, bang for the buck and downtown vicinity (which IMO means within a 10 min cab ride)

          - Definitely hit one of the Vietnamese places on SR 50/Colonial Drive - my favs are Pho 88 and Lac Viet
          - Rusty Spoon is a good gastro-pubby kinda place
          - For lunch, consider cabbing it to K in College Park - one of our best resties but expensive for dinner - pretty good lunch prices tho
          - Downtown is an epicenter for our growing food truck scene - check Twitter feeds for Crooked Spoon, Korean BBQ Taco, Yum Yum Cupcake and especially Big Wheel Provisions to see if they are in the area when you are there
          - For an interesting old Orlando experience hit one our our oldest continuous eating establishments in Orlando at Beefy King - basically a glorified Arby's, but the food is much better and the location is a fun flashback
          - Downtown Funky Monkey is good but not cheap, next door Bananas is cheaper but not so good (however it is open VERY late - a plus)
          - If you are interested in good drinks and OK appetizers, Prickly Pear is walking distance from most downtown locations (love the margarita cart)
          - Hear good things about Hawkers (a riff on the Singaporean food stall market) but haven't been personally yet
          - Ming Bistro has good dim sum but it depends on your schedule as to whether its being served traditional style - if interested call them and ask
          - Tako Cheena recently opened - kind of a fusion-y, Asian taco place - very cheap
          - Finally, if you don't mind a 15 minute cab ride you should try to make it to Ravenous Pig - IMO best option in town

          10 Replies
          1. re: YosemiteSam

            Thanks Sam and Orlando Hounds. I'll let you know what we find.

            1. re: PeterB

              Please do - report backs are so valuable for refining our recommendations - promise not to be hurt if you don't like a place we recommended :)

              1. re: YosemiteSam

                I like to try to report back, but sometimes I pull info from many different, often old, threads, and don't want to either restart them or put a bunch of stuff into a very specific thread, like this one, that is off the topic.

                But I'll do that anyways, and hope it helps someone.

                Thanks very much to all the posters here, we had a great week of dining out and never once suffered overpriced hotel food.

                We selected a broad mix of places in part because we were going out with different friends with different tastes each night. Overall, a quality-for-value theme as much as anything, as we don't favor super-expensive places any better than crappy chain restaurants (did someone actually recc Applebee's above ?!?, no, that was in another Orlando thread). Obviously we had a car in order to pull this off. We enjoyed every one of the following:

                4R BBQ - we went on a weeknight to the Winter Park location and only waited about 10 minutes. Amazingly tasty. Perhaps the best ribs we've ever tried. Definitely the best baked beans I've ever had. No alcohol, though, and seating is limited so there is some pressure to finish up quickly and leave.

                Shipyard Brewery - a good place to enjoy a variety of quality beer. Food less memorable but certainly tasty.

                Padrino's (Cuban, Hunter's Creek, actually very close to where we stayed in far SW Orlando): delicious, really friendly staff, huge inexpensive carafes of sangria, Cigar City Jai Alai on tap for lovers of good beer. A fairly upscale looking room but very reasonable prices. So good we went twice.

                Cafe Tu Tu Tango - tapas style in terms of ordering but not traditional foods, more like Meditterranean fusion. Everything was delicious. Things do not come out in any particular order, which can be a little weird. Again, we went here on a weeknight, later, and did not have to wait but I can see that as a problem here. Oddly, dessert portions were way bigger than regular items, so we over-ordered dessert. Only real negative for us was music volume was too loud for relaxed conversation.

                El Tenampa, Kissimmee - I love me some authentic Mex and was not disppointed here. Menu is huge and slightly overwhelming as a result. Horchata was delicious. They did goof on one order (served beef burrito instead of shrimp) but communication with our waiter was actually very good. Also a Mexican grocery adjacent with great selection of items that can be hard to find in places that don't have a lot of Latinos, e.g. dried cascabel chiles.

                1. re: maple99

                  This is great. Thank you. It really helps us keep up to date with how people's experiences go. We try only to offer people the best advice.

            2. re: YosemiteSam

              hey sam....

              i will be in orlando next week.....
              where can i take my wife for a nice romantic dinner for 2 that wont cost me my firstborn?

              1. re: srsone

                Part of town is a key consideration, but if you are downtown I really like the Funky Monkey downtown as a romantic destination (despite the name) - the prices are reasonable, the food delicious, and it's small, dimly lit and draws a grown-up crowd. Do not go to the Pointe Orlando Funky M looking for romance tho - that's more of a convention crowd

                If you want to up the price tag a bit, you can't beat Chatham's Place in the Sand Lake Road Restaurant Row area.

                Finally if you are west of town, consider taking the 429 Western Beltway up to Winter Garden for Chef's Table or it's adjoining small plates place the Tasting Room

                1. re: YosemiteSam

                  we will be at the Reunion Resort...which is on the west side of disney iirc...

                  we will have a car...so driving wont be an issue...

                  1. re: srsone

                    I'd definitely do Chef's Table or Tasting Room then - it's in a very cute old-fashioned Florida small downtown and from Reunion you are one exit from the 429 then 20 miles of expressway at 70 (80) MPH - I think you'll love it

                    http://chefstableattheedgewater.com/

                    The Tasting Room is linked from here as well - note the sample menus change a lot regularly as both places focus on seasonality.

                    In choosing which one, determine if you want a little more formal go with the Chef's Table, or more casual go with the Tasting Room

                    Here's a link to my recent review of a meal at the Tasting Room

                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/816153

                    1. re: YosemiteSam

                      I actually found this older review I did in my profile archives - thought it would be useful to you as well

                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/737735

                      1. re: YosemiteSam

                        thanks sam..we tried the Chefs Table..loved it and had a great time....

              1. I live in Raleigh now. Based on the restaurants listed as favorites in your profile I strongly recommend making the drive to the Ravenous Pig. This place is exceptional! Their charcuterie is worth the trip.

                I travel through the Orlando area 3 -4 times a year. I try to work in a stop for Vietnamese food - the quality and options are much, much better than the Triangle has. Cuban and Puerto Rican food are also prepared much better in this area.

                2 Replies
                1. re: meatn3

                  Where have you gone for Puerto Rican food? Been trying to find a good option as I'm not too familiar with this cusine and I know we have a huge PR population here in Orlando, but all the Puerto Ricans I know say that the only good food is what their abuela makes :)

                  1. re: YosemiteSam

                    Since Ravenous Pig opened I've been ending up between there, Vietnamese and Ikea when I need to shop in that area. An odd assortment - but once I get in Ikea I usually need to sit and veg at some point! I usually just have time for one meal - two If I time it right. Really, those three plus Sky Craft keep me going through Orlando for one leg of my trip to Palm Harbor/Clearwater.

                    For Puerto Rican I was going to Tropifongo, which I think is actually in Kissimmee - although a quick google shows a downtown Orlando address too. I mainly would get the mofongo. I lived in P.R. for a brief period and that is the dish I miss the most! It has been several years since I have been.

                    Cuban I usually wait and get in Tampa, since I am in that area for a longer period. There was a Cuban place I liked in Winter Park - used to go there a bit when I did art shows in the area.