Sometimes Spring is something you taste: radish, asparagus, tomatoes, sweet corn. Other times, it's an essence, a tip in the weather scales that in places like Orlando, moves the thermostat from boots weather to beach weather in what feels like a blink. Similarly, spring menus feature fresh, local produce and often, vibrant places with outdoor spaces where locals look to warm up after an Arctic blast pushes our overnight temps dangerously close to freezing.
The views, of course, are varied. Over at Susuru, you can dine amid retro Japanese pop-culture and enjoy anime-inspired drinks topped with clouds of cotton candy. In Lake Nona, Boxi Park's new collection of eateries housed in shipping containers combine a food-truck vibe with one of your favorite outdoor live music venues. And in historic Lake Eola Heights, a friendly corner grocery isn't just where you can pick up farm fresh eggs, but stock a picnic basket with wine, cheese, sandwiches and perhaps even a booze-infused popsicle for dessert!
Food to suit every person in your party. Live music. Adult beverages. Fresh air. In one of Orlando's fastest growing communities. Boxi Park Lake Nona is a unique venue, where indie food purveyors ply their wares from shipping containers that now serve as mobile (well, fixed mobile, anyway) outdoor kitchens. Think food truck park, except the trucks are static. Cute names abound - from Claw & Order's lobster-heavy menu to Fowl Play's poultry delights to The Grill Next Door's flame-kissed offerings - and so do bars, of which there are multiple options. Great for your pickiest pal and also fans of live music. Boxi Park features bands and DJs for its guests' entertainment.
The Sanctum is among Orlando's top choices for vegan and vegetarian dining, so when its owners announced plans for a new upscale concept in Winter Park, those with plant-based preferences kept their organic ears to the ground. Now, its doors (and thusly its kitchen) are open and scratch-made delights including fancy plant-based charcuterie platters with cashew cheeses and tasty sourdough flatbreads are treating vegans and vegetarians who are tired of salad-based options to a colorful array of options. What's more, organic coffee, juices and wine/beer/kombucha are also on its menu. Happy hour goes from 3-5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, and with it comes a whole new menu of light, fun bites.
Sanford is no slouch when it comes to dens of the drink, but the Sullivan is a primo addition, a pub in the traditional sense, where family is welcome, a generous portion of fish comes with a generous portion of chips and music is often of the order. Its truly beautiful and intricately carved bar and pressed tin ceiling help to create that across-the-pond vibe, while tap-pours such as Guinness and Magner's - along with tasty Scotch eggs, Shepherd's pie and bangers and mash - seal the deal. A nice place for a cold one - or a warm, cozy dinner with the family. Just like a pub should be
Chef Ryan Manning cut his professional teeth, in part, in the kitchens of Orlando â" Disney and the Ritz-Carlton, for example - but it was the time he spent working in Mexico that truly fed his culinary soul. So, he came back to the city he loved, opened a tiny taco palace in the Milk District, and promptly began making a name for himself. MX Taco features the foods of modern and pre-Hispanic Mexico - cochinita pibil, carnitas, mole and more - in friendly environs. Like it spicy? They also make three kinds of hot sauce you'll want to sample!
Egg sandwiches in the morning, meatball parm in the afternoon or evening and hey - if there's no room for cannoli, just take some home. Staples of the Italian pantry are available at this Milk District deli, where varied pronunciations of words like "mozzarella" and "capicola" (you can call it "coppa" for short) are as common as full, sated bellies. Ideal for dine-in, take-out or embellishment of your cupboard stores, Stasio's also has a coffee counter at which you can grab cappuccinos and the like along with bakery items for enjoyment on site or off. Advice to those popping in for supplies: come on an empty stomach, you'll likely end up eating something anyway.
Jose Andres has become synonymous with fine Spanish cuisine throughout his storied career and early in March of 2019 opened his fifth and largest Jaleo location at Disney Springs. An extensive tapas menu that mines the diversity of Spain's cuisine is on deck for adventurous samplers in the mood for a shared experience and sumptuous paellas (allow 45 minutes for their preparation) are doubtless a highlight. Highlights such a hand-carved Jamon Iberico de Bellota and classic Pollo croquetas (chicken fritters), among other delicacies, will doubtless prove popular.
If the words "pub" and "Japanese" don't jibe with you, they should. Susuru's playful space - a geek-out opportunity for anime nerds, but just as charming for those simply looking for a fun place to get their food and drink on. Ramen and izakaya (Susuru means "slurp" in Japanese and izakaya a type of informal pub) gets top billing on the venue's bright exterior and those noods are definitely worth ordering. In fact, they're complemented by the noshier offerings, from chicken skin skewers to street corn. Instagrammable cocktails and boba drinks, many accented by kewpie babies and itty-bitty kaiju are a delight.
New from the minds (and kitchen skills) behind the Milk District's ridiculously successful Se7en Bites southern-style bakery and must-do brunch spot: Sette, a cozy Ivanhoe Village bistro of the Italian stripe. The small menu is something of a blessing, lest you spent too much time lingering over craft cocktails and endless options to make your final selection. We'd recommend dining with partners who don't mind a shareable tapas experience sans tapas! Among the goodies: a sausage and blistered grapes appetizer, clam linguini, chicken cacciatore (with thighs - the only way!) and a unique brand of arancini (rice balls) that feature fig, gorgonzola and pancetta crumble.
Orlando was an early and enthusiastic adopter of food truck culture, and A La Cart capitalizes on the locals' desire for fast, fresh and unique mobile offerings - while giving them the comfort and security of a single location in which they can camp out comfortably. No need for lawn chairs at A La Cart, a social dining experience where multiple food vendors can ply their varied wares and customers can opt for covered indoor seating or a friendly and clean courtyard where they can enjoy fresh air, lawn darts, and even a frosty beverage off one of the bars multiple taps featuring beer, wine, cider and cold brew coffee.
New in the Lake Eola Height District and just a stone's throw from gorgeous, green Lake Eola Park is this amazing corner store (at which you can pick up some gourmet eats for a romantic picnic on the fly). Super-stacked sandwiches, including gooey grilled cheese, cayenne egg salad and a BBQ-chicken take on the classic Southern chicken-and-waffles combo are among the temptations. They've even got Fluffernutter for the kids. You can also opt for a charcuterie board and expertly curated wine from their selection and grab a bench out front. Staple items for your fridge, from local purveyors, can be procured here, as well.