Awards Season(ed)

We're almost ready to serve up our critic and reader picks for the best in dining.


We’re coming up on another Orlando magazine Dining Awards, and I have to say that this year was very tough. Not because there weren’t enough choices–on the contrary, the quality of our new and mainstay restaurants has been so high I sat up nights trying to decide who was “the best.”

What you’ll see in our May issue is a cavalcade of choices divided into two parts: a Readers’ Choice extravaganza of over 125 restaurants and chefs in 57 categories covering dining, desserts, wine, the best places for cocktails and power lunches. Plus, 20 outstanding Critic’s Picks by yours truly in areas from the top three (best restaurant, chef and newcomer) to undiscovered gem, sandwich and burger. Not to mention four new inductees into our Dining Hall of Fame who have furthered the excellence of the Orlando dining scene.

Next month also marks, fittingly, the china anniversary of my first job writing for Orlando magazine. Yes, in May 1998, I wrote my first piece here, a story about nutritionist Pam Smith and her book The Energy Edge. Pam remains a knowledgeable resource and presents chefs and writers during Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival. During next month’s blogs, I’ll be looking back at my fractured OMag history (I was “elsewhere” for nine years) for restaurants and chefs we miss, and some that are still thriving. 


* I received a call last week from Geraldine Fowler, telling me that the popular Chef Bram Fowler, he of legendary Journeys restaurant and, for a short time, executive chef of Park Plaza Gardens, will be executive chef and director of operations at The Old Jailhouse Restaurant in Sanford, a circa 1890 historic building on Palmetto Avenue that was indeed the old Seminole County Jail. Bram and company (real estate investors Tony, Maria and son Alex Sirica own the building) are in the middle of a major reconstruction, with plans to open this summer.

* May 6 (Seis de Mayo?) is time once again for the Cocina 214 Running of the Chihuahuas, an idea that tickles me so much I don’t even need to see it to laugh. The race starts at 11 a.m. on Welbourne Avenue in Winter Park.

Beer’merica 2018 takes over Gaston Edwards Park on May 19, benefiting the Camaraderie Foundation, which provides support for military service members, veterans and their families. More than 30 breweries, including Magic Hat, Shock Top and local heroes Dead Lizard, Orange County Brewers and Ocean Sun, will offer samples, amid food trucks and live music.

Been to a spectacular food event, or looking forward to a night out? Send me a note. Stay in touch at and access a comprehensive list of my print and online reviews here!


Categories: Savor Orlando