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Lunch Rush: Orlando Picks for Midday Munching



Whether you’re looking for a place to grab-and-go or a venue suitable for power lunching, Orlando’s options are many. In the classic sandwich category, head to the Milk District and sample the wares of Orlando's famed and beloved Beefy King the versatile menu at Pom Pom's or the giant, hulking handhelds of Big As's Sandwich. Bring clients, colleagues or your boss (definitely your boss) to Chef Kathleen Blake’s lauded Rusty Spoon where lunchtime brings with it farm-to-table goodness from a kitchen helmed by a two-time James Beard Award Nominee. Not far away from Church Street in SoDo, a more casual but just-as-delish option lies in Mediterranean Blue, where the salads are crisp and the gyros will make you say "opa!" Over in Winter Park, enjoy wonderful sammies alongside stellar and sinfully sweet Thai iced coffee at Krung Thep Tea Time and some of (if not THE) best biscuits and gravy in town await up in Sanford at Chef Nat Russell's casual, friendly fave, the Tennessee Truffle.


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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.

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Mills 50


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.

Recommended for Lunch because: You don't stay in business for 40+ years when you're not worthy. Orlando loves Beefy King. You probably will, too.

A.D.'s expert tip: Got a craving? Make sure you don't have it on Sunday when Beefy King's closed.

Read more about Beefy King →




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.

Recommended for Lunch because: Poke that's on point, whether you're sitting and staying or grabbing and going.

A.D.'s expert tip: Poke, particularly if it's your first time, can be overwhelming due to the sheer number of possible ingredients. If line anxiety is an issue for you, just pick from one of the house bowls. You can't go wrong!

Read more about Da Kine Poke →


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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.

Recommended for Lunch because: Simple, sleek confines house delicious drinks, decadent desserts and decidedly good sammies.

A.D.'s expert tip: Try the phenomenal Ka-Ti brick toast dessert, featuring exceptional homemade coconut ice cream.

Read more about KrungThep Tea Time →




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.

Recommended for Lunch because: We'll say it sans apostrophe: some days, lunch requires a big-ass sandwich. This is where you should get your next one when the mood strikes.

A.D.'s expert tip: Thursday - Saturday, Bad As's runs a Happy Hour featuring mini-sams for $2.50 and a selection of local craft beers for $3/each. 4-7 p.m.; dine-in only.

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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.

Recommended for Lunch because: Orlando Meats' Instagram is the photo-culinary equivalent of Spanish fly. Just wait 'til you actually taste the food.

A.D.'s expert tip: Orlando Meats also is a working butcher shop with experts on hand to find you the perfect cut. Be aware that this part of the business doesn't open until 10 am.

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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.

Recommended for Lunch because: Healthy, crunchy, crispy live food is the order at Dandelion. It's colorful, local, friendly and fresh!

A.D.'s expert tip: In a rush? Online ordering makes the practice of grab-and-go a breeze.

Read more about Dandelion Communitea Café →


Pom Pom's Teahouse & Sandwicheria
Photo courtesy of A.D. Thompson


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.

Recommended for Lunch because: Phenomenal variety in both sandwiches and salads make Pom Pom's a solid lunch option in the hip confines of the Milk District.

A.D.'s expert tip: Pom Pom's is open late Thursday ('til 5 a.m. Friday morning) and 24/7 on weekends, beginning at 11 a.m. on Friday and closing Sunday at 6 p.m.

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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.

Recommended for Lunch because: The Rusty Spoon's chef, Kathleen Blake is an award winner and twice James Beard-nominated. Come find out why.

A.D.'s expert tip: Try the Lake Meadow "Red Devil" Stuffed Eggs. Tabasco, cornichons, herbs and oven-dried tomatoes must be the recipe for dreams. Mmm.

Read more about The Rusty Spoon →




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.

Recommended for Lunch because: Charming, cozy and delicious, the stylings of Chef Nat Russell and his team will impress any lunch date, whether business or pleasure.

A.D.'s expert tip: Keep an eye on their Instagram for monthly multi-course wine dinners.

Read more about The Tennessee Truffle →


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Meet A.D. Thompson

Amy Drew has spent nearly three decades as a professional writer and roughly half her life as a Floridian. The words, she has found, come easier with bare feet and rum.

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