Not too touristy lunch and/or late dinner in the heart of Touristville, Orlando.....
- janetofreno Mar 2, 2014 10:42 AM
We will be in Orlando next week for a family wedding. Staying in the designated "friends and family" hotel near the intersection of International Drive and Sand Lake Road. I know that there are lots of restaurants near there, but I'm looking for something not full of screaming kids, lower-to-middle-end (saving our travel dollars for a trip to Tokyo in two months), and vegetarian or at least seafood friendly. Most of our meals this trip will be with family, but our schedule is such that we will be on our own Wed. night and Thursday lunch. Wed night, however, we probably won't be eating until at least nine (plane lands at 7:30). That's ok since we'll still be on west coast time, but need a place open late. Ethnic is fine, but probably would prefer it not be Indian, as it is an Indian wedding with a number of meals later in the weekend...Any suggestions? We are not into going to any theme parks (been there; done that), and probably won't have time anyway. I was thinking of spending all of my down town lounging by the pool, but it might not be quite warm enough for that. So might as well eat:-). Bonus points for good key lime pie (if there is any in Orlando:-). We will NOT have a car; but don't mind walking a mile or so (or taking a short cab ride).
re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou
Too great suggestions, thanks! And I took one glance at Café Tu Tu Tango's website and realized that I've been there before with some friends while in the area for a meeting, and I enjoyed it then! (didn't remember the place until I saw the picture of the bright walls; then it came back to me!)
Bosphorous is good Turkish food with veggie options (dips, fish, and a spinach-cheese pastry), and Peperoncino is a terrific little Italian place that fits your description, although the lunch prices are much lower than the dinner prices. Seito Sushi is a little flashy but will fit your seafood needs. Hanamazuki has authentic Japanese in a quiet space. Big Fin is a loud, sort of upscale seafood restaurant with excellent happy hour specials. Dragonfly is a trendy Asian-fusion place also known for happy hour specials. You could also do Seasons 52; it's a chain but it will fit your needs.
You'll need a cab to reach all of these but they're a very short ride from your hotel.
Quick report back: Wed. night we ate at Yamas (I think that's the name), chosen mainly for the fact that it was next door to our hotel, open late (many places there aren't), and Mediterranean, which DH enjoys. Actually, I would definitely go there again. Touristy, and the belly dancer was over the top and not very good....but the food was tasty, servings were huge (so could be shared), and the price was right. We shared a Greek salad, which would have fed four. I'm not a feta cheese fan but the feta in that salad was very good. DH had the lentil soup, which was tasty but should have been hotter (temperature wise). I had the grilled lamb ribs, which was just about the most tender lamb I've had in a long time. Our meal started with two perfect martinis and a complementary serving of hummus and pita. We left stuffed and happy, having spent less than 50 bucks for all that, including tip. Most of the rest of the time (including Thursday lunch, as it turned out) we ate catered meals, but since it was a Gujarati wedding the food was good. (Not as good as my sister-in-law's, but good :-) And served fresh). We did eat at Café Tu Tu Tango for Sunday brunch just before heading to the airport and home. it was as good as I remember but pricier (brunch including two drinks, tax and tip was 70 dollars...but we probably over-ordered. OTOH, it was just as well we did, as we had no time to eat all the way back across country....).
But the single best food bite of the entire trip was an appetizer served at one of the receptions prior to the traditional dancing (gaarba): something the caterer called "Mexican bhel." I am SO stealing the idea: tortilla chips topped with a corn and black bean mixture, bhel mix, tamarind sauce, cilantro, and guacamole. There were several salsas as well as extra tamarind sauce, dried red chilis, sour cream (which I skipped; seemed like overkill), and powdered cumin that you could add to taste. DH and I both made a dinner out of it; SO good! I have always thought that certain Indian dishes remind me of Mexican ones, and that was the perfect fusion. YUM!
Oh, and to Big Bad: a taxi was not necessary to go to Café Tu Tu Tango, as the trolley that goes up and down International Drive took us practically door to door for 2 bucks. We also used the trolley to go to a movie Thursday afternoon when our plans to lounge by the pool were thwarted by the downpour. An easy way to get around if you are staying in that area.