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Orlando's talked-about tables: bakeries, burgers & big-@ss sandwiches



Looking for good eats? This list has what you need. Adventurous eaters (and their less-interesting counterparts) are going to find plenty to get excited about. There’s small plates, big plates, burgers, sushi, and the pastry maven of Le Ky Patisserie in the Hourglass District are bringing the artful offerings - one more slurpy than the other.

Over in SoDo there’s a new tavern in town, Delaney’s to be exact, which puts a twist on new American cuisine. If you’re looking to try something out of your comfort zone, head to Jaleo in Disney Springs. This is the brainchild of world-renown chef and humanitarian Jose Andres. Visit Bigfire at Universal CityWalk if you want to reminisce about campfire cooking, but we’re talking quality campfire cooking that includes tableside s’mores.


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Bigfire


Bigfire may be located in the busy tourist destination Universal CityWalk, but the restaurant creates a calming, relaxed atmosphere. The two-story venue features natural design elements of mix and matched fabrics and seating, cast iron, twinkling lights, camp lanterns and more to complete the outdoor ambience inside the restaurant. Dishes includes descriptions like wood-charred, oven roasted and campfire. There's a variety of menu items for all kinds of eaters, plenty of beef and chicken dishes as well as vegetarian and gluten free. Main courses are cooked over a signature wood blend of specialty wood.

Recommended for New and Popular Restaurants because: This new restaurant wants to take you back to your nostalgic days of summer and open-fire cooking.

Michelle's expert tip: Save room for dessert. You can prepare s'mores right at your table.

Read more about Bigfire →


9
Downtown
The Ramen


Noods are in, in case you didn't know, and Orlando has had a wave of slurpy, soupy restaurant opening in recent months. The Ramen, however, brings a splash of Disney; its proprietor is a former Disney chef who manned the stock pots at Epcot's Japan Pavilion for quite some time before bringing his gifts to downtown. Offerings at this fast-casual bistro include pork-based tonkotsu and soy-based shoyu ramen, but those less in the mood to open their sinuses can go with donburi (rice bowls). Of course, feel free to load on the spicy stuff for a similar effect. Add-ons including soft-boiled egg, pork belly, even roast beef mean you can make your bowl - soup or rice - as decadent as you like.

Recommended for New and Popular Restaurants because: Sop it up, sip it, slurp it down - the Ramen brings a steamy-rich new noodle house to the denizens of downtown.

A.D.'s expert tip: Vegan? The Ramen has miso-based tofu ramen that's hearty, filling and flavorful. Slurp away!

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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.

Recommended for New and Popular Restaurants because: As the folks here are the same behind one of the city's best bakeries (Se7en Bites), plan to save room for dessert.

A.D.'s expert tip: Closed on Mondays.

Read more about Sette →


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Mia's Italian Kitchen


The menu is based off one of the owners' great-grandmother's Italian cooking. Originally from Naples, Italy, she used easy, simple ingredients, which can be found today in Mia's kitchen. Eating here should be like eating with your family in your grandmother's home. The menu is stocked with all the traditional Italian fare, pizzas, pastas, chicken pargmigiana and plenty more. Here's a warning: you'll be tempted to fill up on the garlic cheese bread. Residents of this brunch-happy city will be glad to know the restaurant even has Sunday brunch for $26 a person. There's also a mimosa bar for $15.

Recommended for New and Popular Restaurants because: The newly opened restaurant is the second Mia's Italian Kitchen in the country. The original is located in Virginia.

Michelle's expert tip: Check the restaurant for occasional wine dinners.

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Another Disney chef, this time of the pastry variety, has absconded from the Mouse to open an independent operation, much to the delight of residents of and frequent visitors to Orlando's burgeoning and increasingly hip Hourglass District. Le Ky Patisserie, located inside the still-expanding Hourglass Social House, Le Ky will keep fine company with fellow business Foxtail Coffee, with its delicious and supremely artful pastries, including peanut butter banana mousse and chocolate-raspberry macarons. Oft-fused French-Vietnamese staples (banh mi, for example) help round out the sweet menu with savories.

Recommended for New and Popular Restaurants because: Flaky, buttery, fresh, artful. The offerings at Le Ky, sweet and savory, are definitely worth sampling.

A.D.'s expert tip: Savory pastries, like Le Ky's vegetarian version of pâté chaud, are absolutely worth a try if you're unfamiliar.

Read more about Le Ky Patisserie →


5
Walt Disney World ®


Living up to its New York namesake's reputation, Orlando's version of Bull & Bear pulls out the stops with attentive service and a traditional, club-like steakhouse atmosphere with contemporary touches. Portions are hearty, beef is top-quality and the menu offers both traditional favorites and refreshing surprises; sometimes a melding of the two. Popular favorites include the Bull & Bear Shellfish Platter for two (the crab cocktail is a standout) and the formidable, Fred Flintstone-sized Tomahawk, a blockbuster, bone-in, 38-ounce cut of dry-aged Certified Angus Beef that is carved tableside and dressed with the velvety drippings of a beef-tallow candle.

Recommended for New and Popular Restaurants because: This is a guarantee when wanting a culinary experience.

A.D.'s expert tip: If you really want to put the "up" in "upscale," considerordering Bull & Bear's impeccable food and service right to your hotel room.

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Sushi Pop is known for its innovative menu of offerings. Many are non-traditional, employing ingredients such as fried capers and rendered bacon. Asian fusion brings bits of Vietnam and Korea into the mix, as well, along with interesting seafood and meat entrees. Desserts are quite creative, as well, and the chic décor makes it feel a bit South Beachy out here in the 'burbs. Chef-Owner Chau is excited to showcase his modern style of sushi and kitchen items by selecting the best products and ingredients available from local farms, fisheries and the bustling Toyosu fish market in Tokyo, Japan. Take full advantage of the menus seasonality and the chef's creativity by ordering the Omakase, a multicourse meal prepared personally by Chef Chau.

Recommended for New and Popular Restaurants because: The popular restaurant opened a second location in Winter Park after the original Orlando Sushi Pop did so well.

A.D.'s expert tip: Come for Happy Hour! Tuesday through Thursday 4 p.m. - 6 p.m.

Read more about Sushi Pop - Winter Park →


Delaney's Tavern


There's a lot of buzz about this new addition to the growing SoDo (south of downtown) district. Delaney's Tavern is billed as a "new America tavern" that is the neighborhood hangout. The restaurant is sectioned off into three areas. The first is the tavern area, which seats a few dozen at the bar, several hightop tables and some half-circle booths up against the wall. Three tvs and lively bartenders make it a favorite spot to catch a game. The dining area is more traditional with tables that provide an intimate setting. The third area is for private functions. The menu includes traditional items like tacos (shrimp, steak or grouper), prime rib and burgers. There's also plenty of items for the non-meat eaters like a vegan paella or the vegan butter braised cauliflower skillet. It doesn't matter what you do or don't eat, get the vegetarian French onion soup. You will never know it's vegetarian and will be drinking the last sip from the bowl.

Recommended for New and Popular Restaurants because: The Bellissima mortadella sammy would be enough reason, but the friendly vibe and made-to-please-everyone menu is probably a better one.

Michelle's expert tip: Pay attention to the artwork. It's all custom and features some famous faces including Cher, Leonardo DiCaprio and Lenny Kravitz

Read more about Delaney's Tavern →


2
Disney Springs ®


Pronounced ha-LAY-oh, the menu is an extensive variety of tapas representing traditional and contemporary Spanish cuisine. You'll need a few visits to (or a mighty large appetite) to truly experience all it has to offer. Three kitchens support this multi-level restaurant, which serves tapas, paella, and other Spanish dishes meant to be shared. The croquetas de pollo are a must. They're handmade and presented on a version of Cinderella's pillow. The space is open and airy, filled with eclectic décor and even includes a table that has a foosball table.

Recommended for New and Popular Restaurants because: This is the fifth Jaleo restaurant to open in the world by renown chef and humanitarian Jose Andres.

Michelle's expert tip: Bring your adventurous appetite. The menu is extensive and the servers are knowledgeable. Tell them what you like and let them plan your meal.

Read more about Jaleo →


Toledo - Tapas, Steak & Seafood


Toledo- Tapas, Steak & Seafood is one of the hottest new restaurants on Walt Disney World property. The good news is it's not in a Disney park, which means you don't need a ticket to enjoy the restaurant. The bad news, reservations have been hard to get because it's so popular. Located in the new Gran Destino Tower at Coronado Springs, this place is quickly gaining a following for its dishes and small plates inspired by the flavors of Spain. The menu includes rioja-braised chicken, Spanish-style bone-in ribeye and golden tilefish. An onstage tapas kitchen serves small plates, charcuteria and cheeses. You also can choose from Cazuelas - chef interpretations of classic recipes presented in a traditional Spanish terra cotta dish. The dining experience is enhanced by the view. From high atop the tower you get a breathtaking look onto Walt Disney World.

Recommended for New and Popular Restaurants because: You can't beat top-notch Disney dining. The delicious food, spot-on service and exquisite décor is always a win.

Michelle's expert tip: If you can't get a reservation at the restaurant, try Dahlia Lounge, which is next to the restaurant.

Read more about Toledo - Tapas, Steak & Seafood →


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Meet Michelle Spitzer

Michelle Spitzer grew up in South Florida taking many family vacations to the Orlando area. For the past 12 years, she's called central Florida home.

A journalist for more than two...  More About Michelle

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