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Apr 17, 2014 11:58 AM

Orlando/Sanford restaurant help - which of these should make the cut?

This is actually a 3-part question. First I need a breakfast spot either in Sanford or on the way to Orlando from Sanford. We prefer something that's not a chain and something with some options. A local bakery is not out of the question if it's really good!

Second, along those same lines, what are some favorite breakfast spots in Orlando or within 15-20 minutes driving distance from Orlando? I saw Briarpatch (?) and White Wolf Cafe & Bar but those are the only ones I've seen.

Lastly, I'm looking for some good dinner choices in or around Orlando. We don't mind to drive a little bit but we do have 2 small children, so driving 45 minutes is out of the question. Additionally, a fine-dining establishment is also, unfortunately, out of the question. Our kids are definitely seasoned restaurant veterans, so they are capable of going to more upscale places. Below is a list of places I've seen and heard about and I'd love to get your opinion on them - including if they're too far away.

If there are some I've left off that are not chains, I'd love to hear those too.

Thanks and I look forward to your opinions.

Big Fin Seafood Kitchen
Harry & Larry's BBQ
4 Rivers Smokehouse
Tako Cheena
Cafe Tu Tu Tango
Hawkers Asian Street Fare
Yellow Dog Eats
La Luce
Cask & Larder
The Ravenous Pig
The Tasting Room
Luma on Park
The Pharmacy (can't find a menu online)

Blue Bird Bake Shop (bakery worth seeking out?)

Thanks again!

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  1. I did a pretty thorough write-up of my favorite Orlando restaurants and bakeries in this thread (with links), including several on your list:

    If you're in Sanford, it would probably take you about 25 minutes in decent I-4 traffic to get to Winter Park, where the majority of my local favorites (and several of your choices) are concentrated. The Ravenous Pig is my favorite restaurant in the entire area, and 4 Rivers is a must-visit for anyone who likes barbecue. There is a 4 Rivers location in Longwood that is much closer to Sanford (off I-4 exit 94) than the original location in Winter Park, and the Longwood one is always less crowded and has more housemade ice cream flavors too, so you can't lose with that.

    I also love Hawkers and Tako Cheena, which are slightly further south from Winter Park, approaching downtown Orlando. (I'd get off I-4 on Princeton, which I think is exit 85.) Both are casual and cheap, with a great variety of somewhat exotic dishes, but nothing that would turn people off. I think kids would probably enjoy them both. Tako Cheena is pretty small and divey, but not in a bad way. It can be hard to park at both of them at peak dinner times, so take that as a serious warning.

    Finally, if you're in Sanford and you like German food, you should check out Hollerbach's Willow Tree Cafe. It's the only restaurant I actually ever trek out to Sanford for, and it's really good.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

      I loved Tako Cheena but I'm worried about the small kids because the menu is small and I didn't see anything very kid friendly.

      1. re: Sandwich_Sister

        Tako Cheena has added lots of new items lately, but usually as semi-regular daily specials. I wish they would just update their menus with them, but I can't imagine a kid not loving their arepa, with a patty of crispy, battered melty cheese inside a sweet, soft, lightly-griddled corn patty.

        1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

          Very true. I also forgot about the daily special.

      2. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

        Thanks for your help. I did want to clarify though that we will only be in Sanford for 1 breakfast, before making our final destination in Orlando. So are the places you mentioned still within 15-25 minutes of driving from Orlando?

        Also, I saw one of your through restaurant posts but it was from 2013, so I didn't know if anything had changed. Thus, the new post. I'll take a look at the thread you highlighted.

        Thanks again!

        1. re: de5181

          For breakfast near Sanford, try peach valley cafe in lake Mary. Also the lake Mary marriot has a great brunch

      3. Just my 2 cents

        Padrino's - cuban - Good, Kids should love it not not expensive nor inexpensive.

        4 Rivers - BBQ , Their new Winter Park Location is huge. Should be great, plenty of room, great BBQ.

        Tako Cheena, small and divey. Small menu. Great interesting tacos and such but small menu. If kids are picky they may have trouble finding something they like. Could swap out for Pom's other restuarant Pom Pom's Sandwiches and soups.

        Cafe Tu Tu Tango - fun tapas style. The kids will enjoy it. Some food is hit and miss but most is very good.

        Hawkers, Asian Fusion. should be great

        Yellow Dog Eats - fun, kids should like

        The Pharmacy is small and gets crowded more cocktailsentric, food is good but kids might be uninterested.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Sandwich_Sister

          If they're traveling from Sanford with hungry kids, getting to Hawkers is already pushing things. I think Padrino's, Tu Tu Tango, The Pharmacy, and Yellow Dog Eats are all going to be too far for them to drive.

          1. re: Sandwich_Sister

            I appreciate your 2 cents! :) Our kids are good eaters, so that's not usually an issue. About the driving, we'll actually be in Orlando (not Sanford-that was just 1 morning), so are they within 20-25 minutes driving of Orlando (near Disney)?

            1. re: de5181

              Then in that case, all of Sandwich_Sister's choices will work just fine for you too. Cafe Tu Tu Tango is on International Drive in the very touristy part of town. It's loud, but it'll be fun for the kids with artists and dancers all over the place, and they have an eclectic menu with smaller plates meant for sharing.

              1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                Great! What about any breakfast spots? I need one near Sanford and the others in Orlando.

          2. There is a great French bakery in Lake Mary:
            Chez Jacqueline
            101 N Country Club Rd
            Ste 126
            Lake Mary, FL 32746

            Also, there is a great traditional dim sum place in Orlando on Saturday and Sunday. Great alternative breakfast!:
            Lam's Garden
            2505 E Colonial Dr, Orlando, FL 32803
            (407) 896-0370

            I'm not sure I would take kids to some of the restaurants you listed above. I have taken my kids to restaurants since they were little, but they would still be "looked at" at:
            Cask and Larder
            The Ravenous Pig

            Also, for something a little less frou frou, we love:
            Amigos in Altamonte Springs
            King Cajun Crawfish in Orlando
            Pho Hoa in Orlando.


            7 Replies
            1. re: grieftrip

              FYI we went to Ravenous Pig with a toddler. When we called to make the res, they informed us they had no facilities, no high chairs etc for children. When we arrived they greeted us warmly, the waitress brought out a plate of bacon for the little one (how cool was that? hard to keep adult hands off!). Although her parents had to tuck her between them in the booth, a great time was had by all. I'd bring well behaved children again.

              1. re: joan

                That is great to hear! I haven't brought my daughter because I didn't want to be a burden. I think we should give it a go!

              2. re: grieftrip

                Thanks everyone for your input. So I'm assuming since Big Fin, Fresh, Prato, La Luce, and the Blue Bird Bake Shop weren't mentioned, you wouldn't recommend them?

                I also saw on another thread someone mentioned High Tide Harry's and Boston's Fish House. Any thoughts on either of those?

                1. re: de5181

                  They're both decent for fried seafood. Both quite casual -- not fancy or anything too special. But if you want some fried fish, shrimp, clams, oysters, etc., they're both perfectly fine.

                  EDIT: Prato is great, just expensive, loud, and usually crowded. I wouldn't take small kids there.

                  And I'm not a big fan of cupcakes, but Blue Bird is probably the best of our bakeries that specialize in cupcakes. If you were going to visit a bakery (especially in that part of town), I might sooner suggest Se7enbites and P Is For Pie:

                    1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                      Whoops! One more question. Is anyone familiar with the location of Legoland in Winter Haven? Of the places we've mentioned in this thread, which restaurant would be the closest?! Thanks!

                      1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                        Just tried Se7en Bites and thought it was delcious. We had breakfast and cupcakes there. It's a local favorite and gets busy but well worth it.

                        Blue Bird has great cupcakes as well but if your looking for more than just cupcakes I would agree with BBV Lou for Se7en Bites