Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Florida >
Nov 21, 2012 04:53 AM

Local Gems/Hole in the Wall Spots in Orlando? (Trip This Week)

I'm heading to Orlando with my parents for Thanksgiving. (We'll be there this Thursday - Saturday.)

We're on a mission to find great local eateries/hole in the wall gems in the Orlando area. Here are the places we plan on checking out:
- Magic Wok
- Teriyaki House
- Pio Pio
- King Cajun Crawfish
- Guavate

Is this a good starting point? Are there any other places my family and I should check out? We love all food and are definitely open to suggestions!

Many thanks and Happy Thanksgiving!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. It's a good list. One piece of advice on Magic Wok - to stay in business they feature the typical Americanized Chinese food that is just average. Make sure to look for their Shanghai section of the menu and order off that - it is the more authentic option. I haven't been to any of your others besides Pio Pio but have heard good things about all except King Cajun (not heard anything bad just haven't heard anything)

    Some other options to consider in these categories:

    Yellow Dog Eats
    Border Grill (Kirkman and Vineland)
    Nile Ethiopian
    Pho 88 or Lac Viet
    Tako Cheena
    Taco Palenque
    Beefy King
    Harry and Larry's

    and see if you can hit one of our food truck round-ups

    1 Reply
    1. re: YosemiteSam

      My wife and I love King Cajun Crawfish. It's a Vietnamese-owned Cajun seafood joint, which actually makes sense because Vietnamese people are a large part of the fishing and shrimping industries along the Gulf Coast in Louisiana, Texas, and Mississippi. The seafood boil comes with crab legs, shell-on shrimp, crawfish, sausage, potatoes, and corn on the cob, with a variety of sauces and spiciness levels. It's super-messy, but always good -- we like the garlic butter ourselves. Their French bread is awesome, and they make a great fried oyster po'boy on it. Order coffee (it's Cafe du Monde coffee with chicory) and an order of beignets for dessert!

      I'll second Nile Ethopian (which is on International Drive), some Vietnamese place (we like Little Saigon for casual and the slightly more upscale Lac Viet), and Beefy King.

      I'll also recommend the funky little sandwich joint Pom Pom's Teahouse and Sandwicheria and the pan-Asian small plates restaurant Hawker's Asian Street Fare, both of which are very close to Beefy King, King Cajun, and the Mills 50 neighborhood with all the Vietnamese options.

    2. I would add Memories of India for Indian food.

      Orlando Snack cafe off of town center blvd for Venezuelan lunch. Small cafe very clean, and wonderful service and food.

      Fortuna Bakery - menu in Spanish but for those not fluent the staff is very helpful.

      1. I would add Cricketer's Arms Pub in Dr. Phillips for some killer Fish and Chips. Drinks are cheap too!

        Border Grill (I know hush) has some of the best Mexican in Orlando, and rivals Taco Palenque. I would stick to the Tacos (pibil) at Border Grill and do a Carnitas Chimchanga at Taco Palenque. You also get free chips at Taco Palenque which is an added bonus.

        It might not be a hole in the wall, but I prefer the Winter Park 4 rivers location to Harry and Larry's, though I love their smoked sausage. If you're in Winter Garden, definitely go to Harry and Larry's over the 4 Rivers out that way. The original in Winter Park is the best.

        Armando's in Winter Park has some of the best pizza, if not the best pizza in the area. I also think their lunch is modestly priced too.

        1. Thank you, everyone, for your helpful recommendations and tips! My parents and I were able to make it to the following:
          - Guavate (Had fried red snapper, pernil, and mofongo)
          - Magic Wok (Fried rice, chinese water spinach, clams in ginger and chives, and fried pork chops)
          - King Cajun Crawfish (CRAWFISH, shrimp po boy)
          - Memories of India (chicken tikki masala)
          - 4 Rivers (beef brisket)

          We would've visited more places, but my parents fell in love with King Cajun Crawfish. So much so that we had crawfish, instead of turkey, for Thanksgiving this year. I didn't complain about that!

          Forget about the amusement parks. We'll be back to eat through the rest of these recommendations. Thanks again!

          3 Replies
          1. re: maryinthecity

            Nobody here mentioned the Ravenous Pig - - - it's NOT a BBQ restaurant as it's name my's a SUPERIOR gastro-pub in Winter Park....minutes from Orlando....The food there is's very, very highly-rated....Pricey....but the quality is outstanding......We've been there on 3 different occasions......and with phenomenal success......The shrimp and grits there is to die for......One of central Florida's very best restaurants......

            Ft. Pierce, FL

            1. re: LargeLife

              I wouldn't suggest it as a whole in the wall place. The fact that you have to valet, it's location and the building itself doesn't seem to fit the category. But it is a good restaurant.

              1. re: LargeLife

                I was at The Pig last night, also in January, and I love it. I'm a gastropub type guy... we sampled quite a few dishes...

                This was one of the very best - check out the photo...

                "Pork Porterhouse" - Baked Beans, Smoked Maple Syrup Crumble, BBQ Gastrique.

                Best. Porkchop. Ever.

                (We also dined at Cask and Larder the night before, and it was equally spectacular).

                These are CERTAINLY NOT holes in the wall. But they are culinary treasures and with a very relaxed but pro vibe all around.

            2. My additions to the list would be:

              - Memories of India (Turkey Lake rd)
              - Orlando Snack Cafe (Venezuelan, Town center blvd)
              - Thai Silk (Formerly Red Bamboo)
              - Borders Grill (Mexican)
              - Pom Pom's (Sandwiches)
              - Chef Eddies (Soul Food)
              - Cuban Sandwiches On the Run (Casselberry)