2014 Dining Awards

Our annual readers’ survey names the top restaurants in 61 categories.



Best Restaurant: Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant

A Road Best Traveled

Charismatic chef Kevin Dundon, Ireland's answer to Emeril Lagasse, takes time from his TV and book tour schedule to visit Orlando several times a year for high-energy special event dinners, but his influence on the Raglan Road menu can be seen—and tasted—every day. The restaurant, a series of faithfully restored bars and furnishings from ancient Old Country pubs, has the feel of a genuine family-run restaurant (which it is). It gives Dundon a place to use traditional recipes and farm-fresh ingredients as a leaping point for new, satisfying and occasionally surprising ideas, such as a killer twist on smoked haddock & Dubliner cheese dip, or a wine-infused broth and seafood he calls “It's not bleedin'
Chowder!’’ The combination of New Irish cuisine, a pint of ale and a wink from a high-stepping Irish lass is hard to beat.
 


BEST RESTAURANT

1 Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant
raglanroad.com
1640 E. Buena Vista Drive
Lake Buena Vista
407.938.0300

2 (3) Chef’s Table at the Edgewater
chefstableattheedgewater.com
99 W. Plant St.
Winter Garden
407.230.4837

3 (2) deep blu seafood grille
deepbluorlando.com
Wyndham Grand Orlando, Bonnet Creek
14651 Chelonia Parkway Orlando
407.390.2420 

BEST NEW RESTAURANT

1 Eddie V’s
eddiev.com
7488 W. Sand Lake Road
Orlando
407.355.3011

2 Yuki Hana
sushioviedo.com
3635 Aloma Ave.
Oviedo
407.695.8808

3 Nona Blue Modern Tavern
nonablue.com
9685 Lake Nona Village Place
Orlando
407.313.0027

BEST SERVICE

1 The Venetian Room
thevenetianroom.com
Caribe Royale Orlando
8101 World Center Drive
Orlando
407.238.8060

2 (1) deep blu seafood grille
deepbluorlando.com
Wyndham Grand Orlando, Bonnet Creek
14651 Chelonia Parkway
Orlando
407.390.2420 

3 Victoria & Albert’s
victoria-alberts.com
Grand Floridian Resort
Walt Disney World Resort
407.939.3862

BEST CHEF

1 (1) Cory York
deep blu seafood grille deepbluorlando.com
14651 Chelonia Parkway
Orlando
407.390.2420

2 Kevin Tarter
Chef’s Table at the Edgewater
chefstableattheedgewater.com
99 W. Plant St.
Winter Garden
407.230.4837

3 Khalid Benghallem
The Venetian Room
thevenetianroom.com
8101 World Center Drive
Orlando
407.238.8060

BEST OUTDOOR DINING

1 (1) Hillstone
hillstone.com
215 S. Orlando Ave.
Winter Park
407.740.4005

2 (3) FishBones
fishbonesrestaurants.com
7005 County Road 46A
Lake Mary
407.581.2399

3 Bahama Breeze
bahamabreeze.com
Five Orlando-area locations

BEST HOTEL RESTAURANT

1 (1) deep blu seafood grille
deepbluorlando.com
Wyndham Grand Orlando, Bonnet Creek
14651 Chelonia Parkway
Orlando
407.390.2420

2 The Venetian Room
thevenetianroom.com
Caribe Royale Orlando
8101 World Center Drive
Orlando
407.238.8060

3 Victoria & Albert’s
victoria-alberts.com
Grand Floridian Resort
Walt Disney World Resort
407.939.3862

BEST BREAKFAST

1 (1) First Watch
firstwatch.com
Seven Orlando-area locations

2 (2) Keke’s
kekesbreakfastcafe.com
Six Orlando-area locations

3 Briarpatch
facebook.com/thebriarpatchrestaurant
252 N. Park Ave.
Winter Park
407.628.8651

BEST SUNDAY BRUNCH

1 (1) Dexter’s
dexwine.com
Three Orlando-area locations

2 The Boheme
grandbohemianhotel.com
325 S. Orange Ave.
Orlando
407.313.9000

3 Maxine’s on Shine
maxinesonshine.com
337 N. Shine Ave.
Orlando
407.674.6841

BEST POWER LUNCH

1 (1) Citrus Restaurant
citrusorlando.com
821 N. Orange Ave.
Orlando
407.373.0622 

2 (2) Hillstone
hillstone.com
215 S. Orlando Ave.
Winter Park
407.740.4005

3 The Capital Grille
thecapitalgrille.com
Pointe Orlando
9101 International Drive
Orlando
407.370.4392
The Mall at Millenia
4200 Conroy Road
Orlando
407.351.2210

BEST FOR A BUSINESS DINNER

1 (2) Christner’s Prime
Steak & Lobster
christnersprimesteakand
lobster.com
729 Lee Road
Orlando
407.645.4443

2 (1) Seasons 52
seasons52.com
7700 Sand Lake Road
Orlando
407.354.5212
463 E. Altamonte Drive Altamonte Springs
407.767.1252

3 (3) The Capital Grille
thecapitalgrille.com
Pointe Orlando
9101 International Drive
Orlando
407.370.4392
The Mall at Millenia
4200 Conroy Road
Orlando
407.351.2210

BEST LATE-NIGHT DINING

1 (2) Pom Pom’s Teahouse and Sandwicheria
pompomsteahouse.com
67 N. Bumby Ave.
Orlando
407.894.0865

2 (1) Bananas
bananasdiner.com
924 N. Mills Ave.
Orlando
407.480.2200

3 (3) Gringos Locos
eatgringos.com
20 E. Washington St.
Orlando
407.841.5626

BEST TAKE-OUT

1 (1) That Deli
thatdelifl.com
3801 W. Lake Mary Blvd.
Suite 131
Lake Mary
321.363.1394

2 (2) 4Rivers Smokehouse
4rbbq.com
Four Orlando-area locations

3 (3) Black Bean Deli
blackbeandeli.yolasite.com
325 S. Orlando Ave.
Suite 1-1
Winter Park
407.628.0294
1835 E. Colonial Drive
Orlando
407.203.0922

BEST CARIBBEAN

1 (1) Bahama Breeze
bahamabreeze.com
Five Orlando-area locations

2 Golden Krust
orlandogoldenkrust.com
5510 W. Colonial Drive
Orlando
407.298.0543
318 N. Alafaya Trail
Orlando
407.745.4744

3 (2) Mark’s Caribbean Cuisine
healthyjamaicanfood.com
10034 University Blvd.
Orlando
407.699.8800

BEST CHINESE

1 (1) P.F. Chang’s China Bistro
pfchangs.com
The Mall at Millenia
4200 Conroy Road
Orlando
407.345.2888
Winter Park Village
436 N. Orlando Ave.
Winter Park
407.622.0188

2 (2) Hawkers Asian Street Fare
facebook.com/hawkersstreetfare
1103 N. Mills Ave.
Orlando
407.237.0606

3 Imperial Dynasty
imperialdynasty.com
2045 W. State Road 434
Longwood
407.786.2266

BEST DELI

1 (1) TooJay’s
toojays.com
Six Orlando-area locations

2 (2) That Deli
thatdelifl.com
3801 W. Lake Mary Blvd.
Suite 131
Lake Mary
321.363.1394

3 Jason’s Deli
jasonsdeli.com
Three Orlando-area locations

BEST FRENCH

1 (1) Le Coq au Vin
lecoqauvinrestaurant.com
4800 S. Orange Ave.
Orlando
407.851.6980

2 (2) Chez Vincent
chezvincent.com
533 W. New England Ave.
Winter Park
407.599.2929

3 (3) Café de France
lecafedefrance.com
526 S. Park Ave.
Winter Park
407.647.1869

BEST MEXICAN/TEX MEX

1 (1) Cocina 214
cocina214.com
151 E. Welbourne Ave.
Winter Park
407.790.7997

2 (2) Agave Azul
agaveazulorlando.com
4750 S. Kirkman Road
Orlando
407.704.6930

3 (3) Tijuana Flats
tijuanaflats.com
Multiple Orlando-area locations

BEST ITALIAN

1 (1) Prato
prato-wp.com
124 N. Park Ave.
Winter Park
407.262.0050

2 Bucca di Beppo
buccadibeppo.com
8001 S. Orange Blossom Trail
Orlando
407.859.7844
1351 S. Orange Ave.
Maitland
407.622.7663

3 (2) Antonio’s Ristorante
antoniosonline.com
611 S. Orlando Ave.
Maitland
407.645.1035

BEST GREEK

1 (1) Taverna Opa
opaorlando.com
Pointe Orlando
9101 International Drive
Orlando
407.351.8660

2 Mykonos
mykonoslongwood.com
2401 W. State Road 434
Longwood
407.788.9095

3 (2) Mediterranean Blue
mediterraneanblue.net
35 E. Michigan St.
Orlando
407.422.2583

BEST JAPANESE

1 (1) Kobe Japanese Steakhouse
kobesteakhouse.com
Seven Orlando-area locations

2 Dragonfly Robata Grill & Sushi
dragonflyorlando.com
7972 Via Dellagio Way
Orlando
407.370.3359 

3 Yuki Hana
sushioviedo.com
3635 Aloma Ave.
Oviedo
407.695.8808

BEST SOUTHERN

1 (1) Cask & Larder
caskandlarder.com
565 W. Fairbanks Ave.
Winter Park
321.280.4200

2 (3) Cracker Barrel
crackerbarrel.com
Multiple Orlando-area locations

3 (2) 4Rivers Smokehouse
4rbbq.com
Four Orlando-area locations
 

BEST INDIAN

1 (1) Memories of India
memoriesofindiacuisine.com 7625 Turkey Lake Road
Orlando
407.370.3277
3895 Lake Emma Road
Lake Mary
407.804.0920

2 Saffron
saffronorlando.com
7724 W. Sand Lake Road
Orlando
407.674.8899

3 Woodlands
woodlandsusa.com
6040 S. Orange Blossom Trail
Orlando
407.854.3330

BEST LATIN

1 (2) Black Bean Deli
blackbeandeli.yolasite.com
325 S. Orlando Ave.,
Suite 1-1
Winter Park
407.628.0294
1835 E. Colonial Drive
Orlando
407.203.0922

2 Columbia Restaurant 
columbiarestaurant.com
649 Front St.
Celebration
407.566.1505

3 (1) Cuba Libre
cubalibrerestaurant.com
Pointe Orlando
9101 International Drive
Orlando
407.226.1600

BEST SPANISH

1 (3) Columbia Restaurant 
columbiarestaurant.com
649 Front St.
Celebration
407.566.1505

2 (2) Ceviche Tapas Bar & Restaurant
ceviche.com
125 W. Church St.
Orlando
321.281.8140

3 El Bodegón Tapas & Wine
bodegonrestaurant.com
400 S. Orlando Ave.
Winter Park
407.628.1078

BEST THAI

1 (2) Thai Blossom
mythaiblossom.com
The Edgewater Hotel
99 W. Plant St.
Winter Garden
407.905.9917

2 (3) Thai Cuisine
thaicuisineorlando.com
5325 Edgewater Drive
Orlando
407.292.9474

3 (1) Sea Thai
seaorlando.com
3812 E. Colonial Drive
Orlando
407.895.0985

BEST VIETNAMESE

1 (1) Pho 88
pho88orlando.com
730 N. Mills Ave.
Orlando
407.897.3488

2 (2) Little Saigon
littlesaigonrestaurant.com
1106 E. Colonial Drive
Orlando
407.423.8539

3 (3) Pho Vinh
phovinhorlando.com
657 N. Primrose Drive
Orlando
407.228.0043

BEST MIDDLE EASTERN

1 (1) Bosphorous
bosphorousrestaurant.com
108 S. Park Ave.
Winter Park
407.644.8609

2 (2) Cedars Restaurant
cedarsoforlando.com
7732 W. Sand Lake Road
Orlando
407.351.6000

3 Habibi
habibiusa.com
2451 S. Hiawassee Road
Orlando
407.802.4242
6651 S. Semoran Blvd.
Orlando
407.730.3958

BEST STEAK HOUSE

1 (1) Christner’s Prime
Steak & Lobster
christnersprimesteakand
lobster.com
729 Lee Road
Orlando
407.645.4443

2 (2) Ruth’s Chris Steak House
ruthschris.com
Three Orlando-area locations

3 (3) Charley’s Steakhouse
talkofthetownrestaurants.com
Three Orlando-area locations

BEST BURGER

1 Margaritaville
margaritavilleorlando.com
6000 Universal Blvd.
Suite 704
Orlando
407.224.2155

2 (1) Five Guys
fiveguys.com
Multiple Orlando-area locations

3 (2) BurgerFi
burgerfi.com
Three Orlando-area locations

BEST BARBECUE

1 (1) 4Rivers Smokehouse
4rbbq.com
Four Orlando-area locations

2 (2) Bubbalou’s Bodacious BBQ
bubbalous.com
Five Orlando-area locations

3 (3) Harry and Larry’s Bar-B-Que
harryandlarrys.com
54 W. Plant St.
Winter Garden
407.614.5950

BEST RIBS

1 (1) 4Rivers Smokehouse
4rbbq.com
Four Orlando-area locations

2 Sonny’s BBQ
sonnysbbq.com
Multiple Orlando-area locations

3 Cecil’s Texas Style Bar-B-Q
cecilsbbq.com
2800 S. Orange Ave.
Orlando
407.423.9871

BEST SANDWICHES

1 (1) That Deli
thatdelifl.com
3801 W. Lake Mary Blvd.
Suite 131
Lake Mary
321.363.1394

2 (3) TooJay’s
toojays.com
Six Orlando-area locations

3 Earl of Sandwich
earlofsandwichusa.com
1750 E. Buena Vista Drive
Lake Buena Vista
407.938.1762

BEST SEAFOOD

1 (1) deep blu seafood grille
deepbluorlando.com
Wyndham Grand Orlando, Bonnet Creek
14651 Chelonia Parkway
Orlando
407.390.2420

2 Bonefish Grill
bonefishgrill.com
Six Orlando-area locations

3 Boston’s Fish House
bostonsfishhouse.com
6860 Aloma Ave.
Winter Park
407.678.2107

BEST SUSHI

1 (2) Amura
amura.com
Three Orlando-area locations

2 Dragonfly Robata Grill & Sushi
dragonflyorlando.com
7972 Via Dellagio Way
Orlando
407.370.3359

3 (1) Seito Sushi
seitosushi.com
4898 New Broad St.
Orlando
407.898.8801
8031 Turkey Lake Road
Suite 700
Orlando
407.248.8888

BEST HEALTHY SELECTIONS

1 (1) Seasons 52
seasons52.com
7700 Sand Lake Road
Orlando
407.354.5212
463 E. Altamonte Drive
Altamonte Springs
407.767.1252

2 First Watch
firstwatch.com
Seven Orlando-area locations

3 (3) Dandelion
Communitea Café
dandelioncommunitea.com
618 N. Thornton Ave.
Orlando
407.362.1864

BEST PIZZA

1 (1) Mellow Mushroom
mellowmushroom.com
11680 E. Colonial Drive
Orlando
407.384.4455
2015 Aloma Ave.
Winter Park
407.657.7755

2 (3) Anthony’s Pizzeria & Italian Restaurant
anthonyspizza.com
100 N. Summerlin Ave.
Orlando
407.648.0009

3 Winter Garden Pizza
wintergardenpizza.com
42 W. Plant St.
Winter Garden
407.877.1930

BEST APPETIZERS

1 (1) The Tasting Room
chefstableattheedgewater.com 99 W. Plant St.
Winter Garden
407.230.4837

2 Bonefish Grill
bonefishgrill.com
Six Orlando-area locations

3 (2) Café Tu Tu Tango
cafetututango.com
8625 International Drive
Orlando
407.248.2222

BEST SALADS

1 (2) Souplantation & Sweet Tomatoes
souplantation.com
Four Orlando-area locations

2 (1) Greens and Grille
greensandgrille.com
4104 Millenia Blvd.
Suite 114
407.770.1407
11325 University Blvd. 407.373.0123

3 Panera Bread
panerabread.com
Multiple Orlando-area locations

BEST VEGETARIAN

1 (2) Dandelion
Communitea Café
dandelioncommunitea.com
618 N. Thornton Ave.
Orlando
407.362.1864

2 (1) Ethos Vegan Kitchen
ethosvegankitchen.com
601 S. New York Ave.
Winter Park
407.228.3899

3 (3) Infusion Tea
infusionorlando.com
1600 Edgewater Drive
Orlando
407.999.5255

 BEST BEER SELECTION

1 (1) World of Beer
wobusa.com
Four Orlando-area locations

2 (2) Redlight Redlight Beer Parlour
redlightredlightbeerparlour.com
2810 Corrine Drive 
Orlando
407.893.9832

3 Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant
raglanroad.com
1640 E. Buena Vista Drive
Lake Buena Vista
407.938.0300

BEST PLACE FOR COCKTAILS

1 (2) Blue Martini
bluemartinilounge.com
The Mall at Millenia
4200 Conroy Road
Orlando
407.447.2583

2 Pilars Martini Bar
pilarsmartini.com
146 W. Plant St.
Winter Garden
407.369.8900

3 The Woods
thewoodsorlando.com
49 N. Orange Ave.
Orlando
407.203.1114

BEST WINE BAR

1 (1) The Wine Room
thewineroomonline.com
270 S. Park Ave.
Winter Park
407.696.9463

2 (2) Eola Wine Company
eolawinecompany.com
500 E. Central Blvd.
Orlando
407.481.9100
136 Park Ave.
Winter Park
407.647.9103

3 Attic Door
jrsatticdoor.com
28 W. Plant St.
Winter Garden
407.877.0266
 

BEST WINE LIST

1 (1) Luma on Park
lumaonpark.com
290 S. Park Ave.
Winter Park
407.599.4111

2 The Capital Grille
thecapitalgrille.com
Pointe Orlando
9101 International Drive
Orlando
407.370.4392
The Mall at Millenia
4200 Conroy Road
Orlando
407.351.2210

3 Jiko-The Cooking Place
disneyworld.disney.go.com/dining
2901 Osceola Pkwy
Lake Buena Vista
407.938.4733

BEST HAPPY HOUR

1 (2) FishBones
fishbonesrestaurants.com
7005 County Road 46A
Lake Mary
407.581.2399

2 Dragonfly Robata Grill & Sushi
dragonflyorlando.com
7972 Via Dellagio Way
Orlando
407.370.3359

3 (3) Cocina 214
cocina214.com
151 E. Welbourne Ave.
Winter Park
407.790.7997

BEST FOOD TRUCK

1 (2) Yum Yum Cupcake Truck
theyumyumcupcaketruck.com
407.494.9336

2 Monsta Lobsta
monstalobsta.net
407.492.0350

3 Treehouse Truck
treehousetruck.com
407.346.7670

BEST DESSERTS

1 (3) Cheesecake Factory
thecheesecakefactory.com
520 N. Orlando Ave.
Winter Park
407.644.4220
4200 Conroy Road
Orlando
407.226.0333

2 Chef Henry’s
chef-henrys.com
1831 W. State Road 434
Longwood
407.331.4836

3 (2) The Dessert Lady
dessertlady.com
7600 Dr. Phillips Blvd.
Orlando
407.999.5696

BEST PLACE TO CELEBRATE

1 Chef’s Table at the Edgewater
chefstableattheedgewater.com 99 W. Plant St.
Winter Garden
407.230.4837

2 (3) Taverna Opa
opaorlando.com
Pointe Orlando
9101 International Drive
Orlando
407.351.8660

3 (2) Christner’s Prime
Steak & Lobster
christnersprimesteakand
lobster.com
729 Lee Road
Orlando
407.645.4443

BEST PLACE TO TAKE COMPANY

1 Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant
raglanroad.com
1640 E. Buena Vista Drive
Lake Buena Vista
407.938.0300

2 (1) Seasons 52
seasons52.com
7700 Sand Lake Road
Orlando
407.354.5212
463 E. Altamonte Drive Altamonte Springs
407.767.1252

3 (2) Hillstone
hillstone.com
215 S. Orlando Ave.
Winter Park
407.740.4005

BEST BAKERY

1 (1) Blue Bird Bake Shop
bluebirdbakeshop.com
3122 Corrine Drive
Orlando
407.228.3822

2 (3) Charlie’s Gourmet Pastries
charliesgourmetpastries.com
3213 Curry Ford Road
Orlando
407.898.9561

3 (2) Yalaha Bakery
yalahabakery.com
8210 County Road 48
Yalaha
352.324.3366

BEST NEIGHBORHOOD RESTAURANT

1 That Deli
thatdelifl.com
3801 W. Lake Mary Blvd.
Suite 131
Lake Mary
321.363.1394

2 (2) Maxine’s on Shine
maxinesonshine.com
337 N. Shine Ave.
Orlando
407.674.6841

3 Teak Neighborhood Grill
teakorlando.com
6400 Times Square Ave.
Orlando
407.313.5111

RESTAURANT MOST WORTH THE WAIT

1 California Grill
disneyworld.disney.go.com/dining/
Contemporary Resort
Walt Disney World Resort
407.939.3463

2 Victoria & Albert’s
victoria-alberts.com
Grand Floridian Resort
Walt Disney World Resort
407.939.3862

3 (2) 4Rivers Smokehouse
4rbbq.com
Four Orlando-area locations

BEST VIEW

1 (2) California Grill
disneyworld.disney.go.com/dining
Contemporary Resort
Walt Disney World Resort 407.939.3463

2 (1) Hillstone
hillstone.com
215 S. Orlando Ave.
Winter Park
407.740.4005

3 Citrus Club (members only)
clubcorp.com/Clubs/
Citrus-Club
255 S. Orange Ave.
Suite 1800
Orlando
407.843.1080

BEST KEPT SECRET

1 Chef Henry’s
chef-henrys.com
1831 W. State Road 434
Longwood
407.331.4836

2 (3) Yellow Dog Eats
yellowdogeats.com
1236 Hempel Ave.
Windermere
407.296.0609

3 (2) Maxine’s on Shine
maxinesonshine.com
337 N. Shine Ave.
Orlando
407.674.6841

BEST PLACE TO TAKE
THE KIDS

1 (2) Rainforest Café
rainforestcafe.com
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
505 N. Rainforest Road
Lake Buena Vista
407.938.9100
Downtown Disney
1800 E. Buena Vista Drive
Lake Buena Vista
407.827.8500

2 Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant
raglanroad.com
1640 E. Buena Vista Drive
Lake Buena Vista
407.938.0300

3 Margaritaville
margaritavilleorlando.com
6000 Universal Blvd.
Suite 704
Orlando
407.224.2155

MOST ROMANTIC

1 (1) Chef’s Table at the Edgewater
chefstableattheedgewater.com
99 W. Plant St.
Winter Garden
407.230.4837

2 (2) The Venetian Room
thevenetianroom.com
Caribe Royale Orlando
8101 World Center Drive Orlando
407.238.8060

3 (3) Victoria & Albert’s
victoria-alberts.com
Grand Floridian Resort
Walt Disney World Resort 407.939.3862

BEST CELEBRITY SPOTTING

1 (1) Luma on Park
lumaonpark.com
290 S. Park Ave.
Winter Park
407.599.4111

2 (2) Kres Chophouse
kresrestaurant.com
17 W. Church St.
Orlando
407.447.7950

3 Blue Martini
bluemartinilounge.com
The Mall at Millenia
4200 Conroy Road
Orlando
407.447.2583

RESTAURANT YOU ARE DYING TO VISIT

1 (2) Victoria & Albert’s
victoria-alberts.com
Grand Floridian Resort
Walt Disney World Resort 407.939.3862

2 (1) Cask & Larder
caskandlarder.com
565 W. Fairbanks Ave.
Winter Park
321.280.4200

3 Eddie V’s
eddiev.com
7488 W. Sand Lake Road
Orlando
407.355.3011

BEST OLD FAVORITE

1 (1) Linda’s La Cantina
lindaslacantinasteakhouse.com
4721 E. Colonial Drive
Orlando
407.894.4491

2 Christner’s Prime
Steak & Lobster
christnersprimesteakand
lobster.com
729 Lee Road
Orlando
407.645.4443

3 (3) Le Coq au Vin
lecoqauvinrestaurant.com
4800 S. Orange Ave.
Orlando
407.851.6980

BEST CHEF’S TABLE

1 (1) Chef’s Table at the Edgewater
chefstableattheedgewater.com 99 W. Plant St.
Winter Garden
407.230.4837

2 (3) deep blu seafood grille
deepbluorlando.com
Wyndham Grand Orlando, Bonnet Creek
14651 Chelonia Parkway
Orlando
407.390.2420

3 Victoria & Albert’s
victoria-alberts.com
Grand Floridian Resort
Walt Disney World Resort
407.939.3862

BEST LIVE MUSIC/ ENTERTAINMENT

1 Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant
raglanroad.com
1640 E. Buena Vista Drive
Lake Buena Vista
407.938.0300

2 (3) House of Blues
houseofblues.com
Downtown Disney
1490 E. Buena Vista Drive
Lake Buena Vista
407.934.2583

3 (1) Dexter’s
dexwine.com
Three Orlando-area locations

RESTAURANT THAT SAYS ORLANDO AREA BEST

1 (1) The Ravenous Pig
theravenouspig.com
1234 N. Orange Ave.
Winter Park
407.628.2333

2 (2) Citrus Restaurant
citrusorlando.com
821 N. Orange Ave.
Orlando
407.373.0622

3 (3) deep blu seafood grille
deepbluorlando.com
Wyndham Grand Orlando, Bonnet Creek
14651 Chelonia Parkway
Orlando
407.390.2420
 


5 New Inductees into our Dining Hall of Fame.

 

Fred Vlachos

The architect of Vine & Dine—and oh so fine cuisine.

It takes a chef with a large personality to have run the busy Everglades restaurant for the past 8 years, and to have done it successfully. Head Chef Fred Vlachos is a big man with a winning disposition, and when he walks through the dining room, shaking hands and laughing, everybody knows it.

"I enjoy what I do," the 52-year-old Vlachos says. "I like hustle and bustle, the on-the-spot thinking." Chef Fred crafts an eclectic nightly menu for the Rosen Centre Hotel restaurant, changing dishes seasonally to reflect what catches his fancy. He juggles flavors—smoking salmon with tea leaves, or serving filet of buffalo with a blueberry onion jam.

Vlachos, who hotelier Harris Rosen calls "an amazing culinary artist," is the impetus behind the popular Vine & Dine wine-pairing dinners that have been ongoing four evenings a year since 2006. Some of his five-course menus (the themes change every year) have centered around "Hollywood and Vine" (accompanied by Coppola wines), New Orleans, Robert Mondavi's 100th birthday and an "Homage to Fromage" featuring a blue cheese-encrusted filet. He creates items like roasted onion soup with smoked salmon sausage, or sweet potato risotto and fiddlehead ferns. "I like to play with a theme," he says, planning a "Southern Comfort" night that will include far more than a shot of alcohol. By bringing in new wines and fun, show-biz ideas, Vlachos attracts that rarest of breeds in hotel restaurants: a solid core of local diners who come to just about every event.
He is proud of his Greek roots. "Yes, my grandfather worked in diners," he laughs. Vlachos began his career as a short-order cook while attending C.W. Post College on New York's Long Island. His father was a high school math and Spanish teacher who made pastries in his spare time, his mother a nurse. After graduating from Johnson & Wales culinary school, Vlachos moved to Florida and worked the kitchen at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress.

As many as 200 people benefit from Chef Fred's talents each night at Everglades; he also manages the à la carte kitchen next door at Café Gauguin, and room service in the 1334-room hotel. A busy man, and a happy one.

» Everglades, 9840 International Drive, Orlando. evergladesrestaurant.com

 

Bún Thịt Nướng Chả Giò 

The Usual, by the numbers.

At Pho 88, it is number 83 on the menu; 34 at Little Saigon; 54 at Ha Long Bistro; 47 at Viet Garden; and 76 at Anh Hong. It is the kind of dish that elicits fervor from locals and visitors alike, and has become one of those habitual standards. Diners glance at the menu, but after a couple of minutes, it’s typically, “Just give me the usual—#115." At Phớ Vinh, that’s the number that will get this star dish delivered to your table. “Very traditional,” owner Phan Truong calls it. “People order a lot of this dish.”

Menu items served by our European cousins can be perplexing. What exactly goes into a tapenade? Can the ingredients of bubble and squeak be found in the fridge or a cartoon? Vietnamese dishes lean toward the literally descriptive—if you know the translation. The parts of this outstanding bowl of bún thịt nướng chả giò, diacritical marks and all, make it as clear as the bowl of sauce beside it.

The word we think of for Vietnamese soup, phở (pronounced “fu”), actually means the rice noodles in the bowl; likewise, bún (or buun, said as “boon”) means thin rice vermicelli. Thịt nướng is barbecued or grilled pork. And while gỏi cuốn (“salad rolls”) means artful, transparent summer rolls, chả giò (“minced pork”) are luscious, ground sausage-filled fried spring rolls.

So… noodles, pork, sliced rolls. Seems simple enough. But the flavor combination of smoky marinated pork with its charred edges, crunchy sliced rolls and silky noodle, mixed with a salad bowl's worth of basil, fresh cucumber, tart pickled daikon radish, bean sprouts, shredded carrots and flat leaf parsley, splashed with a savory accompaniment of fish sauce, vinegar and red pepper flakes, make every bite a new experience.

Typically ordered with an eye-opening glass of condensed milk-laced iced cà phê, this one generous bún bowl provides several courses at once. In a word (or two), tho'm ngon: delicious!

 

Joe Hardiman

Cheerfully crafting the building blocks of fine dining.

Wearing a lanyard full of culinary association and Disney pins, a bowtie and a smile, Joe Hardiman cuts a lively figure as president of one of the most prestigious hospitality schools in the country. 

Halls and classrooms at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts are a parade of white jackets and high pleated toques. Hardiman hails each person he passes in the halls with a hearty “Hey, how are you?” and knows the name of most of his 800 students. (“Joe Hardiman, I’m from upstate New York,” is his usual greeting to strangers.)

“There are some amazing similarities between culinary school and martial arts,” the one-time accountant, restaurant manager and Taekwondo instructor says. “Repetition, practice, increased complexity. Impeccable uniforms. Good behavior, students and teachers. Everyone has dignity and gets respect… and smiling, I insist on smiling. I don’t hire crabby people.”

Hardiman, president of Le Cordon Bleu for the past 10 years, is one of those non-crabby people. Celebrating the creativity in culinary, he arranges “funky chef pant Fridays” for students. His idea for a 1,599-pound crème brûlée won a Guinness World Record in February 2005. “And it was a well made one, too. Very delicious.”

Some have said the institution is more  a technical school than  a culinary academy, to which Hardiman says, “Guess what… we are a technical school. But very technical.” Successful faculty and alumni during his tenure have included Tyler Brassil and Loren Falsone (The Table and Pharmacy); multiple James Beard Award nominee Hari Pulapaka (Cress); food truck pioneer Tony Adams; and certified master chef and Orlando magazine Hall of Famer Klaus Friedenreich.

Hardiman enjoys pointing out plaques, coats signed by renowned chefs, and honors earned by the school. While walking down a hallway lined with kitchens, he sticks his head into a chocolate decoration class (“They’re all so serious!”), and reads aloud a David Mamet saying inscribed on the wall (“We must have pie. Stress cannot exist in the presence of a pie.”). “This should all be emotionally satisfying,” he says. “We’re teaching hospitality.”

» Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts. chefs.edu/Orlando

 

Dandelion Communitea Café

Assembling an enduring circle of friends.

“There’s something really special about this intersection,” says Julie Norris. Co-founded by Norris and Chris Blanc, Dandelion Communitea Café, the mostly organic, gluten-free and vegan café perched near the corner of Thornton Avenue and East Colonial Drive, turned 8 years old in March. Offering food made from scratch in the tiny kitchen of a 1920s cheery green house, the goal at Dandelion is to “help create community in a transient town,” says Norris, and channel the cross-cultural, multi-generational atmosphere of the Mills 50 area.

Dandelion’s watchword is “flexitarian,” a semi-vegetarian lifestyle that includes the occasional meat course. People sit in one of several rooms or out in the garden, eating salad bowls or wraps like the popular “Giddyup,” a chili made with tempeh, blue corn chips, vegetables and non-dairy or organic cheddar cheese that accounts for 20 percent of Dandelion’s sales.

Norris handles the creative side of the café while Blanc, who was previously operations manager at the Enzian Theater, runs day-to-day operations. The energy generated by Dandelion has helped incubate several local businesses and ideas. OurLando, one of the earliest local business/community movements, began here, as did Emily Rankin’s Local Roots produce distribution company and Henry Melendy’s My Yard Farm edible landscapers (My Yard Farm supplies the vegan chili). John Rife, the force behind East End Market, could be found at Dandelion planning his food hub over tea.

If a really good song comes on the radio, sing-alongs and dance-offs have been known to break out. Daytime brings moms, bearded Web designers and men in suits for portobello mushroom sandwiches and a beer from Orlando Brewing. Expensive cars park next to the bike rack, lawyers and doctors sit next to modern-day hippies. At night, new talent is spotlighted during a monthly art show, while Di-verse Word presents spoken-word poetry every Tuesday.

“We’ve had two weddings, many engagements,” says Norris. “Every full and new moon there’s a Moon Circle, with drummers, dancers, vendors selling teas and crystals; the back room couches are usually full of people meeting new people, overhearing conversations, sharing seats, having meals together…” “We lure people into community with good food and healthy beverages,” Norris says. “It’s very sneaky.”

» 618 N. Thornton Ave., Orlando. dandelioncommunitea.com

 

Sherry and Jack Cremin

At Victoria & Albert’s, one team of servers holds the crown.

An evening at Victoria & Albert's, the superb restaurant at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort, will seem remarkably familiar to fans of Downton Abbey: Live harp music, fine crystal and silverware, and candlelight. A pair of servers, dressed in Victorian garb, tend to your every need, eager and able to explain each of your seven (or more) courses and wines during the three-hour experience.

They can, like the staff at Downton, feel like members of your family. And if you’re a regular, your favorite relatives are probably Sherry and Jack Cremin, who, according to Maître d’Hôtel Israel Pérez, are the most requested servers at V&A.

Jack, 59, has been at the restaurant for 10 years; Sherry, 49, for eight. Both veterans of Disney for decades, they met in 1987 while working at Epcot's Coral Reef Restaurant. Jack trained as a chef at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America (Anthony Bourdain was a classmate).

The job has a positively Victorian attention to detail. Each afternoon (the day starts at 3:45 p.m.—promptly), the couple gather with the rest of the staff to review
that day's guest list. Birthdays are noted, and food allergies highlighted.

Up until 10 years ago, servers were called Victoria or Albert. They even had nametags as such (Jack still has his while Sherry came on board after the practice was discontinued); the servers still use those titles among themselves.

With two seatings per night, dinner is a long affair; Jack and Sherry usually have their own supper at home sometime after 1 a.m. Sherry, as a "Victoria," handles the presentation, from polishing silver and pouring wine to reviewing the menu with diners. "I'm the talker," Sherry says. "I tell the stories."

Jack, dressed in tails and waistcoat as befits an "Albert," performs every duty from footman to butler. "We stick very closely to British butlering techniques," Jack says, down to when to clear plates and the use for each piece of the remarkably extensive silverware. Both of them are certified sommeliers. "This is where we wanted to end up," Jack says proudly. "The expectation is perfection."

» 4401 Disney's Grand Floridian Resort, Lake Buena Vista. victoria-alberts.com

 

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