Mediterranean Blue isn't big. It isn't fancy. What is it? Clean, friendly, family-run, authentic and Greek. And friendly. Yes, we're saying it twice on purpose. Sandwiches - including gyro and falafel, of course - with a wide array of add-ons like spanakopita, hummus and pita and wonderful tender dolmades (grape leaves stuffed with rice, herbs and pine nuts) make every lunch or dinner a custom affair. The moussaka entree, eggplant casserole layered with beef and creamy bechamel, is the menu's most expensive item at $12 and comes with a small Greek salad and pita.
When Jimmy Fallon was in town, he asked his Twitter followers where to eat. As the Internet is not short on opinions, suggestions piled up quickly, but one sandwich joint rose above all the rest: Beefy King, which has been stuffing Orlandoans full of sliced meat for more than four decades. Roast beef, cooked on the daily, is the top draw here, but you can dabble in two-meat combos with options that include pastrami, turkey, ham and corned beef and enjoy it all alongside spuds, onion rings, slaw and a pickle. Beefy King isn't for dieters, vegans or fans of the fancy but for everyone else? Yeah, you probably want to pop in for a sammie.
Looking for a fun, fresh, colorful, crunchy, salty, spicy, creamy, briny (I could go on forever...) way to get more of those doctor-recommended Omega-3s? Da Kine's got the one-word answer: poke! If you haven't tried this Hawaiian taste-turned-trend yet ("poke" means "to slice or cut" in Hawaiian; it's pronounced "POH-keh"), Da Kine's little outpost inside Winter Park's Meat House is an ideal spot to sample. A popular food truck that's gone brick-and-mortar - there's another location inside the Market on Magnolia, as well - bowls here are piled high with protein and smothered with all manner of add-ins from Maui onion to mango to masago. Choose a rice or spinach bed for your poke and enjoy it at one of Da Kine's few tables - take advantage of Orlando's superior weather outside - or grab it and go! Vegans, fear not, a tofu option is available, too.
Heavenly coffee (try the Thai iced; sweet and superb!) and tea and ridiculous-good brick toast desserts make KrungThep well worth a visit, but it's pressed sandwiches, each available as a salad if you're forgoing bread, make for a fine lunch choice. Austere, modern surrounds make for a serene but decidedly hip experience. Try the Thaiger is Crying (marinated beef, carrot, red cabbage, cilantro, cheddar and spicy sauce) or the animal-free From the Forest (steamed tofu, grilled mushroom and onion, lettuce, sesame soy mayo) and if you bring a share partner, don't let the opportunity pass to sample from the dessert menu.
Some people take their sandwiches seriously, and while the atmosphere (not to mention the punctuation) at Bad As's Sandwich is relaxed, the food is serious as the proverbial heart attack. Which could end up literal if you eat here every day. That said, the best of the Bad As's roster would fall squarely on the Cookie Monster "Sometimes Food" layer of the pyramid. But whenever sometimes rolls around, you're going to be a happy camper. These are formidable and delicious handhelds, lovingly laden with things like adobo-roasted pork, thin-sliced beef and house-made seafood salad, a palette of unique, fresh aiolis and sammie jams and the like. There's even a veggie-based selection of the day, Chef's Whim. So you can bring the grazers here while you get your bacon and mayonnaise on.
MEAT. It's what's for dinner (and breakfast, brunch and lunch) at this Mills 50 mecca of all things carnivorous. Grass-fed beef, pastured pork, goat, lamb, eggs, you name it - all of it locally sourced - is what goes into dishes like the Sloppy Jehosephat (loose beef and cheddar on a French roll), the Wacky Delhi (curry goat, eggplant, raab, white bread) and a medium-rare burger that the whole of Orlando's meat-eating community has been raving about. Orlando Meats is open for all three squares; the breakfast menu features some creative spins on traditional offerings, but serious carnivores can order up that signature burger at 8 am if their lovingly clogged hearts so desire. Other delights, including sippable beef or chicken bone broth and house made doughnuts, are worth the visit.
The dandelion, an edible flower that we're quick to call a weed, is a mascot of sorts for this quirky organic teahouse. You'll first be reminded of the caf�'s namesake when you view the exterior (bright green with yellow shutters) and then again when reading the menu: vegetarian, sustainable and healthful. Plenty of vegan options, as well. And raw. In fact, generous salads piled high with fresh, snappy, many-colored ingredients make Dandelion something of a "live food" haven. "$6 Giddyup Monday" is a great intro for newbies, who can sample one of the most popular menu items (in salad or wrap form) for just five bucks. Be warned, its pleasantly crunchy confines may well have you inquiring about the next full moon drum circle.
Pom Pom's is a small, arty little joint in the Bumby vein of the Milk District, a predictably hipsteresque but very friendly haunt with an array of generous fresh salads, homemade soups, a veritable library of teas and a creative, extensive menu of sandwiches, any of which they'll be happy to press. From the decadent Mama Ling's Thanksgiving (pretty much what you'd imagine on your choice of bread) to leaner veggie options to the Graceland-meets-Tijuana fantasy of banana, bacon, strawberry jelly, cayenne and peanut butter that is the Spicy Elvis, the offerings are as fun as the local art lining the walls which, much like the sandwiches, is all for sale.
The motto says it all: American food, European roots, locally sourced. This organic gastropub-style restaurant encompasses a vast, airy space on Church Street, making it an ideal place to begin or end a bout of downtown exploration. Sourced from Florida farmers, its menu features animal proteins that are hormone- and antibiotic-free and fed all-natural diets. In fact, the ingredients are the stars in all of its kitchen productions. The focus on what goes into the food means that the Rusty Spoon's menu rotates, encompassing what's fresh and available, but favorites here include the "55" burger, slow-braised lamb collar and Lake Meadow eggs. This venue makes a great stop for pre-Amway cocktails, craft beers and appetizers, as well.
The biscuit - buttery, flaky, undeniably Southern - is the vehicle by which the creative stylings of Chef Nat Russell's often French-infused fare is delivered to your food hole at this casual, charming little gem on Sanford's 1st street, a lane in danger of becoming riddled with tempting cafes and eateries. At the truffle, all three squares are now being served, eggs and grits and reeeeeallly good bacon early on, all kinds of rotating goodness at lunchtime and surpisingly swanky fare at dinner. Sides like collards, potato salad and tomato-mac might take you back your granny's Southern kitchen. Orders don't take long but you'll have fun using chalk on the tabletops while you wait just the same.