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Knights Win! Where to Score Grub after the UCF Game



You’ve got on your black and gold. You’re ready to cheer. But wait, is that your stomach rumbling? You may need some pre-game sustenance. You may want to dine over some post-game analysis. Either way, you won’t have to stray far from the confines of Bright House Stadium, because the East Orlando area around the University of Central Florida is rife with restaurants. Sure, there are tens of chain offerings on University Blvd. that might get rid of the growl, but while you’re in the neighborhood, you may as well roam and explore a bit. For games that are doubling as dates, you may want to check out Tamarind Indian Cuisine out on Colonial, with its extensive and exotic menu or head to Oviedo’s famed Sushi Pop, for creative takes on traditional fare and other offerings that come with a side of sleek, anime-inspired surrounds. If fast-casual is more the order of the day, Sus Hi Eatstation gives diners a new spin on sushi. Patrons choose from wraps, bowls or rolls and choose among proteins and other ingredients that can get a little out there…. How much you like it may surprise you. Go Knights!


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4Rivers' UCF/East Orlando location is, delightfully, just another satellite wherein fans of the superb barbecue can expect a superb, if caloric, experience. This Orlando-based, Texas-style barbecue empire serves up brisket, ribs, pulled pork and smoked turkey and a host of other foodie delights. Though crowds are common, no one seems to mind waiting ��" though you're welcome to opt for take-out instead. Barbecue's not a neat cuisine and even 4Rivers' sandwich menu � the Messy Pig and its two layers of slaw, in particular � pushes the envelope. Some fans swear by the desserts, as well. (Fried Oreos, anyone?) If you've got a sweet tooth, they are Southern-inspired and sinful as you-know-where.

Recommended for Restaurants near Bright House Networks Stadium because: So hard to resist making a list of 4Rivers recommendations, but if I only had two words, they'd be "burnt ends

A.D.'s expert tip: Closed Sundays.

Read more about 4Rivers Smokehouse - UCF →




An unassuming little shopping center in the suburbs yields big Far East flavor in the form of galbi, bulgogi, katsu and a long, tempting roster of lesser known and perhaps more delectable Korean delights. The outset of meals at Kimchi begin with a host of small dishes â€" fish cakes, kimchi and more. Great to whet the appetite, particularly if you're new to Korean and want a quick initiation. Lunch box specials offer a sampling of the familiar with the more exotic for the cautious, the larger menu allows the adventurous to jump in whole-hog (or beef, or seafood, or vegetarian....).

Recommended for Restaurants near Bright House Networks Stadium because: Less than five miles from Bright House, Kimchi's casual atmosphere camouflages an extensive menu of exotic Korean selections.

A.D.'s expert tip: Lunch prices are lower; perhaps a better choice for newcomers who wish to sample.

Read more about Kimchi Korean Restaurant →




This is the East Orlando outpost of the popular Winter Park eatery and a no less delicious venue. Extremely popular for its reasonable lunch buffet ($8.95) â€" loaded down with chutneys and sauces, vegetarian and non-veg options â€" it's very easy to over-indulge. The UCF Tamarind's "edge of Orlando" Colonial Drive location feels semi-remote, but belies the enjoyable atmosphere inside, where warm colors, soft music and Indian touches create pleasant confines in which to enjoy the spice-laden entrees (all you can eat at lunch) and soft, chewy naan. Many diners here are regulars at lunch time due to price and selection, but Tamarind's off-buffet menu is extensive and certainly warrants exploration.

Recommended for Restaurants near Bright House Networks Stadium because: Five miles from the stadium, an ocean away in complex, multi-layered Indian flavors. A great neighborhood restaurant.

A.D.'s expert tip: If you stop in for the buffet, save a bit of room for the fruit custard, a refreshing palate cleanser.

Read more about Tamarind Indian Cuisine - UCF →


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Mark's Jamaican is yet another gem you'll find as you navigate the suburban sprawl-chitecture around the UCF campus. It used to be across the street in an unassuming aging strip mall but in late 2015 moved, expanded into brighter, more spacious digs with bar and outdoor seating options, as well. It's as busy as ever too, with customers who clamor for the jerk, Jamaican patties, curry, plantains, oxtail, curried goat and other regional delights. Pop in for a rich, stick-to-your-ribs plate piled high with the stewed meats and carby staples of the islands.

Recommended for Restaurants near Bright House Networks Stadium because: Mark's has great food, friendly staffers, reasonable prices. Proximity to the stadium makes it a wonderful choice for game day.

A.D.'s expert tip: If you've never tried goat or oxtail as prepared in the islands, Mark's is a great place to get adventurous. Skeptical? Ask for a taste.

Read more about Mark's Jamaican Bar & Grill →


Thai Purple Orchid Cafe & Grocery


Lots of restaurants say they've got a family vibe but the mother-daughter proprietresses at Thai Purple Orchid Cafe, a modest little gem in an aging Colonial Drive strip center, serve it up with just the right amount of eastern spice. Sonia (a UCF grad) and mom, Nisa (a former pharmacist) welcome all walks of customers â€" UCF students and well beyond, who come for very reasonably priced and authentic fare in a clean, cute place that feels sort of like your friend's mom's kitchen. Which it sort of is, we suppose. A small attached grocery (about an aisle's worth of foodstuffs) sells Thai staples. Feel free to ask questions about goods or dishes; staffers here are affable and the food is first-rate.

Recommended for Restaurants near Bright House Networks Stadium because: At about seven miles, it's the farthest-flung on the list, but worth the effort for price, flavor and family-like warmth.

A.D.'s expert tip: Exotic ingredients abound at Purple Orchid's small Thai grocery. Peruse while you wait for your food.

Read more about Thai Purple Orchid Cafe & Grocery →




To paraphrase that old 70s hit, "they don't make 'em like this anymore." Oviedo's downtown is hardly bustling â€" unless you count its famous feral chickens, they bustle quite a bit â€" but at its center sits the TownHouse, almost as it has since the 1950s (a recent move has put it in brand-new expanded digs up the street). Serving up all the diner classics â€" breakfast, lunch and dinner â€" in as cozy a setting as possible, it's been named to a host of Orlando-local lists over the years, most notably for its breakfasts. Aside from biscuits and gravy, omelets, pancakes and the like at breakfast, the Townhouse menu also features Greek and Mediterranean fare â€" with staples like burgers and meatloaf and all the things you'd expect from a quaint country diner.

Recommended for Restaurants near Bright House Networks Stadium because: Whether at breakfast, lunch or dinner, the Townhouse's country charm (and loitering chickens) make for a cozy and casual comfort-food experience.

A.D.'s expert tip: Visiting for breakfast? Greek it up by adding their famous lamb and beef gyro meat to your egg selection (don't forget the tzadziki sauce, it's delish!) Please note: waits can be long on weekend mornings.

Read more about The TownHouse Restaurant →




A welcome addition to the East Orlando dining and drinking scene, DeVine Wine Bar & Grill is a decided culinary uptick amid its strip mall brethren (a pancake house, a wing joint, etc.) offering creative, seasonal small plates for sharing alongside its expansive collection of wines. Most of these are dispensed via Enomatic machine, which means self-service (which can be great fun for groups in particular), but it's nice to choose the amount of one's pour without having to commit. Those less interested in the grape will find a full bar and expansive cocktail menu to their liking, perhaps most of all on $5 Martini Mondays.

Recommended for Restaurants near Bright House Networks Stadium because: Fine times are ahead for those of you headed here post-game. It's equal parts casual and friendly, miles above sports bars in atmosphere.

A.D.'s expert tip: Olives, pork belly skewers, poutine, creative flatbreads. You really never know what you'll find here, but odds are good you're going to like it.

Read more about DeVine Wine Bar & Grill →


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This little counter service gem, a favorite of UCF students, staffers and a good many of the other locals who live and work in the area has a formula: pick your mode of foodstuff delivery (roll, bowl or wrap), choose your protein (an array of cooked, raw and even vegan options), choose your ingredients and sauces (most are free, a few are 50-cent upgrades) and ka-pow! The staffers â€" aka ninjas â€" turn it out 1-2-3. You'll find among the ingredients things you'd expect â€" cream cheese, scallions, cucumber â€" and a bunch you almost certainly didn't, like raisins, Rice Krispies and Cheez Whiz. Don't count anything out straightaway, though. These ninjas know what they're doing. Fun place.

Recommended for Restaurants near Bright House Networks Stadium because: Sus-Hi sits across the street from UCF. Add inexpensive, filling and fun to convenient and you've got a quadruple threat.

A.D.'s expert tip: Confounded by the enormity of it all? Ask for suggestions. And be adventurous!

Read more about Sus Hi Eatstation →


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East Orlando


Spicy beef soup, brined eggs, fried tofu with housemade kimchi and marinated deep-fried pork chops. This is just the tip of the delicious iceberg that is Taipei 101, a hidden gem not far from UCF that's buried in the confines of an Oviedo strip-mall shopping center. The more recognizable fare (spring rolls, dumplings, orange chicken) are not only safe choices for the less adventurous, the quality stands out and for those looking to go a little more "No Reservations" and sample â€" pig ear, pig blood rice cakes, tripe, tendon and a host of other "less American" options will suffice. And of course, there are lots of choices in the middle. Point is: the food here is wonderful and it's not uncommon to find a line stretching to the door upon arrival as this is a counter-order operation. Try it.

Recommended for Restaurants near Bright House Networks Stadium because: Why try? Taipei 101 offers seriously reasonable prices for seriously authentic Taiwanese fare.

A.D.'s expert tip: Consider ordering your food to go, particularly during peak mealtime hours. This place is popular (rightly so) but table space is limited.

Read more about Taipei 101 →


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East Orlando

Native Orlandoans remember a time when Oviedo was nothing but native woodlands and sprawling farms â€" celery, horses, you name it. These days it's a growing suburb with many, many residents, all of whom need a place to get their chow on. As such, innovative eateries have been popping up 'round these parts in recent years. Sushi Pop is one of them. Okay, it's still perilously close to a sod farm, but that doesn't take one bit away from 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 nouvelle mix, as well, along with interesting seafood and meat entrees. Desserts are quite creative, as well, and the chic, anime-inspired décor makes it feel a bit South Beachy out here in the 'burbs.

Recommended for Restaurants near Bright House Networks Stadium because: Five miles from Bright House but light years from the prominent chain restaurants you'll find close to UCF.

A.D.'s expert tip: Room for dessert? Try one that skews a bit "Japanese game show." The peanut butter and jelly sorbet is made table side with liquid nitrogen. Quirky, arty, delicious.

Read more about Sushi Pop →


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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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