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



Want noods? This list, new for 2019, has 'em, along with Asian bakeries, meaty chains (first-timers for Orlando) and indie noobs in delicious ethnic flavors from India, Pakistan, Moldova and more! As such, adventurous eaters (and their less-interesting counterparts) are going to find plenty to get excited about. Repping Disney resumes, the chefs of downtown's newest noodle haunt, The Ramen, and the pastry maven of Le Ky Patisserie in the Hourglass District are bringing the artful offerings - one more slurpy than the other. 

And over at the Florida Mall, famed Brazilian foodsmith Horacio Gabriel has opened his first U.S. outpost of Hocca (meat lovers are most pleased). And speaking of meat, Austin's popular Hopdoddy Burger Bar has entered the Orlando market with a new resto at Pointe Orlando (again, meat lovers are pleased). If it's something a little different you're looking for, though, there's meat on the menu at SoDo's newest curry house, Forever Naan, as well as that of the Veranda, an Italian-Romanian venue that's looking to introduce Floridians to the allure of Eastern European cuisine. 


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Hopdoddy is big in Texas (isn't everything) but this location, at the tourist haven of Pointe Orlando on I-Drive, is Florida's first as of 2019. Ample house-ground burgers and house-baked buns (including a gluten-free variety) come dressed to kill - not a cardiology joke, but it's there if you want it. From seared poblano peppers to Texas goat cheese, fried eggs to sundried tomato pesto, it's fair to say these juicy, well-reviewed burgers are highly customizable. There are lower-calorie chicken, tuna, veggie and bison options, as well, but once you pair it with parmesan truffle fries and a milkshake (which you can liquor up if you like), does it really matter? Go big or go home.

Recommended for New and Popular Restaurants because: In the tourist district and craving a quality burger? You could do a lot worse than Hopdoddy, as friendly to tots as it is parents.

A.D.'s expert tip: Hopdoddy's bar boasts loads of craft beer and cocktail options, so parents can wind down post-park while pleasing the kids with ease.

Read more about Hopdoddy Burger Bar →




A safe bet for adventurous eaters who've yet to experience Eastern European fare, Veranda bills itself as a "Romanian and Italian restaurant." This means that diners more interested in pasta and pizza and bypassing the delicacies of Moldova (our recommendation: don't bypass the delicacies of Moldova) can find familiarity while everyone else expands their palate, partaking of mamaliga (an Eastern Euro version of polenta), flavorful mititei la grata (minced beef and pork rolls), stuffed cabbage and grape leaves and a host more. Try to leave room for dessert. Again, your options are many, so you COULD go with the tiramisu or - as we'd recommend - opt for something altogether different.

Recommended for New and Popular Restaurants because: Have you tried Ukranian food? How about Romanian? The Veranda is ready to introduce you and you'll be happy to shake hands.

A.D.'s expert tip: Many cultures employ fried cheese in their desserts. You should more often. Try the syrniki. These pancake-like confections are served with sour cream and sweet stuff (often jam or honey). Decadent and shareworthy.

Read more about Veranda →


8
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!

Read more about The Ramen →


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7
Doctor Phillips


Americans aren't the only folks who love chain offerings. In fact (gasp!) they do chains in France, too. And La Boucherie, France's most popular chain steakhouse, has opened its very first American doors right here in town. On the menu? Carnivore classics like the thick-cut rump steak or bone-in ribeye, along with decadent "French" brunch offerings - like the toast! wink wink! - as well as burgers so big and juicy, you'd think they were downright American. The French know their way around a kitchen. Fans of La Boucherie would say that the folks employed here are no exception.

Recommended for New and Popular Restaurants because: Vegan so good, you certainly don't have to be vegan to enjoy it. Open your mind and give it a try!

A.D.'s expert tip: The Le Maquignon burger served on two hash brown patties in lieu of a bun, has proven super popular with diners.

Read more about La Boucherie →


Bread & Co


Yes, you can pop into Winter Park's Bread & Co and pick up any number of sweet or savory goodies for home, party, work meeting, picnic, luncheon or (more likely) just to stuff your face. But you can also pop in and peruse for all the aforementioned, then choose a little something special - walnut tart, twist pastry, croquette - grab a ginger tea or espresso or something cool and fizzy from the case, plunk yourself down, and just enjoy. Many locals were excited to see a Korean-style bakery open in Winter Park, a venue where they could satisfy their cravings for red bean bread and roll-style cream-filled cakes, cheese buns and doughnuts - the list goes on. But whether you're looking for something gorgeous for your party's dessert table, or a simple, crusty baguette to pair with cheese and a bottle of wine for date night, you will doubtless be wooed by the sheer enormity of exotic, carb-laden delights available.

Recommended for New and Popular Restaurants because: CARBS! You know you want 'em. So why not choose one of Bread & Co's delicious Korean offerings and expand your palate.

A.D.'s expert tip: Cream buns: light, airy, creamy, delicious. Yes. Just yes.

Read more about Bread & Co →




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 →




Forever Naan is not Indian-Pakistani fine dining. It's a little neighborhood curry shop, the likes of which you're more apt to find in larger cities like San Francisco or New York. Its food is scratch-made. You'll find familiar favorites like Butter Chicken and Tikka Masala, you'll find vegetarian staples like dal and channa masala and pag saneer. And of course, if the name didn't tip you off, you'll find warm, wonderful butter and/or garlic naan to make sure you don't miss a drop of those spicy, flavorful gravies. They were pretty new at the time of this writing (April 2019), and the menu was set to expand. Pop in and see what they've got cooking!

Recommended for New and Popular Restaurants because: Want your curry in a hurry? Look elsewhere. Forever Naan's offerings are scratch-made and may take a tad longer, but they're worth it.

A.D.'s expert tip: Parents of small children who desperately want ethnic food but your picky kids always ruin it: start here, with samosa! It's potatoes. It's peas (okay, leave that out maybe, it's mostly potatoes!). It's fried. It's delicious. Share your naan. And enjoy your curry in peace.

Read more about Forever Naan →




Banh mi. French dip. Hot pressed Cuban. If sammies are your thing and you like your selections high-quality and fresh, you have to hit up Hinckley's Fancy Meats, where you can get some on a bun (or roll, or croissant....) and jam it in your face or bring it home to do with as you please. The chef here has plied his trade all over the world, worked amid the James Beard-nominated and Michelin-starred, and finally opted to open his own joint at Orlando's own East End Market. Fans of house-made pate and seriously stacked sandwiches have been thus far delighted by the decision.

Recommended for New and Popular Restaurants because: Who doesn't like a great sandwich? No one, that's who! Head to Hinckley's and you'll find HQ ingredients you'll never find at Hoagiefest.

A.D.'s expert tip: Slow-roasted porchetta with a crunchy, crackly exterior. You know you want it.

Read more about Hinckley's Fancy Meats →


2
South Orlando
Hocca


Hocca has five locations in its chef's native Brazil, but its Florida Mall location is the first in the U.S. And Orlando is lucky. Not just because its "Bellissima" mortadella sandwich is thick, luscious and completely, ridiculously off the chain, but for the rest of its well rounded menu - from shareable tapas like the Hocca ribs or traditional cod croquetas, to signature burgers for those intent on doubling down on tradition and cholesterol, to upscale offerings like lobster-tail laden paella and filet mignon with grilled onions. Craft cocktails - may as well go with the caipirinha! - abound and the vibe is such that you'll likely want to partake. At the mall! Who knew?

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.

A.D.'s expert tip: While the burgers are stacked and enticing, we'd suggest going Brazilian - or at least Hoccan - and grabbing up that mortadella!

Read more about Hocca →




It's been a few years since Sushi Pop brought to East Orlando, more specifically Oviedo, one of its first rave-worthy independent venues. Now firmly ensconced to the point where those elsewhere will come to Oviedo for its succulent, fresh fish cuts and smart, date-night decor, Sushi Pop has opened its doors in the already-well-fed burg of Winter Park. Not that there's anything wrong with that. There's plenty of room for fine, sushi-driven menus in the 407. And now Winter Park residents won't have to make the trek out to the land of UCF. Good on ya!

Recommended for New and Popular Restaurants because: Chef Chau's creativity and skill are well documented. Come take advantage.

A.D.'s expert tip: Ask your server (Sushi Pop's are notably knowledgeable) what's good, consider, and take their advice for the menu's freshest, most interesting offerings.

Read more about Sushi Pop - Winter Park →


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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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