Spring Feasts

Restaurants on the critic's radar, plus a lineup of culinary riches to get out and enjoy.


Spring looks to be an exciting time for eating, and I’m looking forward to visiting some new (to me, anyway) eateries. Jose Andres’ Jaleo, George Miliotes’ Wine Bar George and Tony Mantuano’s Terralina all should hit Disney Springs soon; El Buda on Church Street beckons; Garp & Fuss in Winter Park and the Smoke & Donuts truck both sound interesting; and the boom in Indian restaurants and casual dining in the Milk District have my full attention.

Any other new places I should know about?


Looking ahead to more upcoming high-profile chef collaborations, local news and world cookery fests.

* Up-and-coming chef Norman Van Aken (1921NVA, Norman’s, Three) won a gold medal at the Florida Book Awards for his Norman Van Aken’s Florida Kitchen. I predict we’ll be hearing more about this go-getter!

* This Sunday, March 25, James and Julie Petrakis will welcome Chef Frank Anderson for the latest Chef Collab Series at Ravenous Pig.  Anderson practices his talents at The Rez Grill at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, acknowledged by the Tampa Bay Times as one of this year’s “50 Best Restaurants.” The five-course dinner features Frog Song Organics and Border Springs Lamb.

* Also on Sunday is the Arab Festival Orlando at Lake Eola, from the Arab American Community Center of Florida. Food, music and arts abound. Hummus in the afternoon, Southern spins on lamb in the evening, perhaps?

* The monthlong Sakura cherry blossom festival continues at Morimoto Asia at Disney Springs, including the Guest Chef Series on Tuesday, April 3, when Executive Chef Yuhi Fujinaga and new Chef de Cuisine Hung Huynh welcomes Chef Hitoshi Sugiura of Patinstella Restaurant in Tokyo. Chef Hitoshi placed in the Top 8 at the 2017 Vegetarian Chance competition in Milan.

* Ocala welcomes a Friends of James Beard dinner on April 11 at the Ocala Culinary Festival. The theme is A Taste of Haiti, featuring chefs Stephan B. Durand and Lucmann Pierre.

* Speaking of James Beard-caliber chefs, the Beard in Baldwin extravaganza on April 14 recently announced the lineup for their fest-within-a-fest VIP experience. While chefs from Pizza Bruno, Rusty Spoon, Hawkers, Soco and Highball & Harvest (to name but a few) cook outside, powerhouse cuisinerie happens inside Osprey Tavern from James Beard finalist Jeremiah Langhorne (The Dabney); Frank Anderson (The Rez Grill); Soraya Caraccioli-Kilgore (MadLab Creamery); and Top Chef Season 13 winner Jeremy Ford (Stubborn Seed).

Got some tips for dining around Orlando? A question about the best places for your favorite food? Send me a note. Stay in touch at joseph.hayes@orlandomagazine.com and access a comprehensive list of my print and online reviews here!


Categories: Savor Orlando