Saturday, May 28, 2011

Orange County Convention Center, International Drive Restaurants

Here are some great restaurants to eat at near the Orange County Convention Center, International Drive area.

Café Tu Tu Tango
8625 International Dr
Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 248-2222

Le Rouge
7730 W Sand Lake Rd
Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 370-0909

8000 W Sand Lake Rd
Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 370-3359

Hanamizuki Japanese Restaurant
8255 International Dr
Ste 136
Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 363-7200

7760 West Sand Lake Road
Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 352-4844

Ayothaya Thai Cuisine
7555 W. Sand Lake Rd
Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 345-0040

View Orange County Convention Center, International Drive Restaurants in a larger map

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Taquitos Jalisco

Taquitos Jalisco has three locations in Central Florida. I visited the one in Winter Garden. They claim to have the "best homemade Mexican food" and use all fresh ingredients. Drinks include soft drinks, house wine, beer, Latin sodas, etc. Meals ranged from $6 - $11 each. Click here for their locations and menu.

My dinner companion and I had been driving around for about 30 minutes (probably more), trying to decide what to eat for dinner. Neither of us had anything specific in mind or were very hungry, so we just kept driving... and driving... and driving. We actually found ourselves in Winter Garden (we were trying to make it to Yellow Dog Eats before it closed - no luck) and we found ourselves at Taquitos Jalisco. From the outside, it looked pretty packed (good sign) and open (an even better sign, since it was getting late). We decided to give it a try.

I have to say that I am glad that we found this restaurant because I probably never would have tried it since I have Mexican restaurants that I like in my immediate area. (I rarely head over to West Orlando.) Although we were late comers, the service was excellent. We were sat immediately, given menus, and drink orders were taken. Fresh salsa and homemade corn chips were served. The salsa had fresh cilantro in it and was very tasty. It was a bit runny for my taste (I happen to like my salsas very hearty), but still delicious. The bottled hot sauce at the table was called Tapatio Salsa Picante. I did not try it but my dinner companion said that it was flavorful with a kick.

I decided to try a combo platter that had a quesadilla, beef taco, and chicken burrito, as well as beans and rice. I added chorizo to the quesadilla. I took one bite of my quesadilla, turned to my companion, and said, "If you want a bite of this, get it now," because I knew that it would be gone soon... it was right up my alley - cheesy meaty! I was glad that I had added the chorizo because it gave the quesadilla a little bit of a kick and it mixed perfectly with the ooey gooey cheese. The beef taco was surprisingly spicy. After deconstructing the taco a bit, I realized that it was actually the beef that it made spicy. I am a little bit of a spice wimp so I couldn't quite eat the taco by itself, I had to mix it with the beans to cool it off a bit (my dinner companion - who CAN handle spice - said that the beef was a little spicy too). The chicken burrito and beans were also tasty (not spicy and no need for salt), although the beans were a little runny in texture for me.

My dinner companion had the chilaquiles, which were layers of tortilla chips, green sauce (chile verde), and cheese and added beans, rice, and chicken. This dish was also tasty. I liked how the chips made the texture of the dish crunchy.

Live entertainment was a xylophone player, which was really fun. There were two large groups there and one birthday celebration. The xylophone player played "Happy Birthday" to the birthday boy and the whole restaurant sang to him. The servers seemed comfortable with the two large groups and everyone seemed pleased with the service.

One good thing about eating at Taquitos Jaliscos was that we passed the El Salvadoran Pupusas food truck on the way home, so we stopped and got a couple for the ride home! My companion ate his when we got home and I had mine for breakfast the next morning. Pupasas are thick tortillas with cheese melted inside, along with another filling. The El Salvarodan Pupusas food truck offers both meat and veggie options, and we ordered one of each. The meat was chicken and jalapeno. The veggies included spinach and mushrooms, along with garlic. Both were tasty, even after being heated up, and were served with a vinegar based cole slaw. The pupusas are $2.75 - $3 each.

Taquitos Jalisco on Urbanspoon

El Numero Uno

El Numero Uno is a family-style Cuban restaurant that has been serving Orlando for over 30 years. (33 to be exact, I know since they opened the year that I was born.) They offer dine-in, take-out, and catering services. They serve a wide range of traditional Cuban dishes such as ropa vieja, pollo asado, Cuban sandwiches, etc. Click here for the complete menu.

Soft traditional Cuban bread and butter is served with dinner. There is a wide selection of drinks, including wine (although they recently shortened their wine menu - it used to be literally pages long - and the pages were huge), beer, fountain drinks, and sangria.

I do love traditional Cuban food and I actually have a few favorites here in the Central Florida area. My last craving for Cuban food led me to El Numero Uno, located at 2499 South Orange Avenue. Their menu is large, divided by protein (vegetarian options available), and numbered by items. My "usual" is the #14, Masitas de Cerdo or marinated pork chunks that are fried, brushed with a tangy mojo sauce, and served with grilled onions. It is typically served with yuca (boiled and served with an olive oil and garlic sauce) and congri, a mixture of white rice and black beans. This time, I decided to try their mofongo instead of the yuca and congri.

As usual, the pork did not disappoint. It was cut into manageable, almost bite sized, pieces and was fried almost perfectly (just a little tiny bit over fried for my ultimate liking). The texture blends really well with the mojo flavor and onions, as the grilled onions also pick up the mojo flavor. The mofongo was served with a light tomato based sauce. It was tasty but a bit dry for me (even with the sauce). In the future, I will probably go back to the usual sides (yuca and congri) as they are usually savory and delicious each time and better compliment the fried pork over the mofongo. (Monfongo is a fried, plaintain dish that is typically Puerto Rican. It contains plaintains and other ingredients mashed together and molded together to form a ball.)

#14 - Masitas de Cerdo

My dinner companion had #16, pollo asado, a 1/2 roasted chicken, also brushed with mojo sauce. The chicken was perfectly fried and was served with black beans, yellow rice, and yuca. The chicken was tender on the inside. The portion size was more than enough. All in all, another delicious #16 experience for the both of us.

El Numero Uno is definitely an Orlando jewel. It is quaint and can be suitable for a date, dinner with friends, or dinner with family. It is kid friendly. I have even celebrated my birthday there before and I seem to recall live entertainment on the weekends. Lunch is served 11 am - 3 pm and prices begin at $5.99. Dinners are around $12 each.

Numero Uno Restaurant
2499 South Orange Avenue
Orlando, FL 32806-4545

Hours of Operation:
Monday - Thursday, 11 a.m.- 9:30 p.m.
Friday, 11:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Saturday, 12:00 p.m. (Noon) - 10:00 p.m

Numero Uno on Urbanspoon

Friday, May 20, 2011

Best Local Orlando Burger

What is your favorite non-chain local Orlando Burger?

Here are some responses I've received so far:

Ravenous pig
Downtown Pourhouse
Johnny's filling station
Crooked spoon truck
Pine 22
Graffiti Junktion
Taproom at Dubsdread
Sam Sneads

Also check out this list from The Educated Palate
He Declares this one to be #1
"The Bistro on Park Avenue, Winter Park. Chef Tifford’s “Cajun Black and Blue Burger” ($12) is an 8oz sirloin patty with tangy blue cheese melted all over the burger. He then adds crispy fried jalapeños. "

and another by Nomfest

who declares #1 to be #1 - The Black and Tan from Downtown Pourhouse - Onion Rings, Stout Glaze, Gruyere Cheese

Monday, May 16, 2011

Chef's Gastro Pub Creations Event by chef Jason Schofield at White Wolf Cafe

May 27th @ 7pm @ White Wolf Cafe
Chef's Gastro Pub Creations by chef Jason Schofield and his Sous Vide Machine
Call 321-439-8422

1829 North Orange Avenue Orlando, FL 32804-6414

Citrus Restaurant North Orange Ave, Orlando, Florida

Citrus Restaurant is on North Orange near Colonial. Their motto is "Eat, Drink & Be Local"

I've always walked right past Citrus because it's next to one of my favorite lunch places The Virgin Olive Market. Since Scott Joseph recently offered a $40 for $20 deal on Citrus I went ahead and bought a certificate to give them a shot and I'm real glad I did.

We were seated next to a well dressed large group that was celebrating a graduation and at times they were very loud. A couple times I had to almost yell to even hear myself but besides that the experience was excellent.

The chairs are very soft & comfortable, something that important to me I dislike sitting in hard wood or plastic chairs.

There were a number of items I was eyeing on the online menu before hand. Black Bean soup with Chorizo, avocado sour cream, chopped sweet vidalia onion($6), the pasta, Salmon, Scallops, and Risotto. A couple different twitter friends had said to get the Shrimp & Lobster Fritters which are made with shrimp, maine lobster, roasted sweet corn, grilled jalapeno, pineapple salsa, avocado crema($13).

In the end I shared the Shrimp and Lobster Fritters and the Smoked Chicken Salad. The Fritters were not too crunchy like fritters tend to be, they were just right, I loved the avocado crema the fritters were served with. The salad was filled with chunks of 4 Rivers Smokehouse chicken breast, mixed baby lettuce, pears, pecans, Gorgonzola and covered with a cranberry vinaigrette($14). The perfectly sliced pears made this salad excellent!

For my main course I had the Pomegranate Glazed Grilled Atlantic Salmon with wax beans, green beans and peruvian blue potatoes served with a pomegranate-port molasses ($19)

In a few of the dishes they used a very tangy and tasty Pomegranate port reduction sauce, sometimes drizzled on the plate sometimes mixed in the dish.

I also tried the Tangerine Macadamia crusted Idaho Brook Trout, with a very tasty meyer lemon risotto, steamed broccolini ($22).

To top it all off I had to order the cup--cake desert which was not a cupcake at all but a bowl filled with cake and a rich ganache and topped with Edy's vanilla bean Ice Cream & real cream.

On Fridays for happy hour they have a $5 flatbread pizza special.

Citrus Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Citrus Restaurant
821 N Orange Ave Orlando, FL 32801
(407) 373-0622
Mon-Fri 11:30 am - 10 pm
Sat 5 pm - 10 pm
Sunday Closed

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Chef's Table at the Edgewater Winter Garden Florida

Check out these excellent pics from @IssacLarson taken during his recent dining experience at the Chef's Table restaurant downtown Winter Garden.

"This place is tucked away & has only 10 tables in the dining room. Food and atmosphere were both amazing."


Braised short rib

Crab Cake

Grilled Frog Legs with Teriyaki glaze & Arugula salad w/ Mango chutney

Grilled pork loin, belly, greens, & grits

Marscapone Almond Cake with Caramel Drizzle

Spring Berry Bread Pudding
Chef's Table at the Edgewater
99 West Plant Street Winter Garden, FL 34787
(407) 230-4837
Open Tue-Sat 5:30pm-8:30pm

Paco's Mexican Food

Paco's Mexican Food is in Winter Park on Fairbanks Ave that has been serving Central Florida for over 29 years.

They serve Tex-Mex food: tacos, burritos, enchiladas, tostadas, etc. Their specialties are their deluxe burrito and homemade guacamole. Click here for the complete menu.

Once you sit down, you get chip and salsa and put your drink order in. Coke products and a selection of domestic/import beer are available. There is a picture of coffee on the menu but I've never gotten it there (or seen anyone drink it). The salsa is tasty and is available in hot, medium, and mild. They usually don't ask what salsa you like and the one that they usually put down is not spicy at all. It is a tad runny (I like my salsa hearty) so you sometimes have to use a couple of chips to get enough on one chip. The salsa is also available to purchase to take home with you.

Paco's is one of my favorite Mexican restaurants in Central Florida. Whenever I'm in the mood for "cheesy meaty" (my self proclaimed favorite flavor), I head over to Paco's. My "usual" is the #4, the two enchilada meal which includes two enchiladas (doy!), refried beans with cheese, rice, lettuce and tomatoes. You can get onions, sour cream and/or guacamole added. I usually get one cheese enchilada and one chicken enchilada.

The seasonings at Paco's are just right for me, no need to add salt. The shredded chicken is moist and flavorful. The refried beans are my favorite part of the meal and I love to mix a little bit of the beans with each bite of food.

My companion's "usual" is the chicken burrito, which he sometimes gets alone or as a meal. This time, he went for the meal. The chicken burrito also falls under the "cheesy meaty" category, but unlike the enchiladas, the chicken burrito usually has a crispy outer layer.

All in all, tonight's dinner did not disappoint!

Paco's is definitely a local's place. The service is super friendly and the servers' names and caricatures are found at the back of the menu. I feel like Monica and Marianne actually remember me each time I go in, even if they really don't.

Need I say more? No room for dessert!

Paco's is not open on Sundays.

Paco's Mexican Restaurant
1801 West Fairbanks Avenue, Winter Park, FL 32789
just west of 17-92 North side of the road
(407) 629-0149
Monday-Thursday 11:30am-2:30pm, 5pm-9:30pm;
Friday 11:30am-2:30pm, 5pm-10pm;
Saturday 5pm-10pm
Sunday Closed

-By @leahnashsays

Paco's on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Photos from Maitland Food Truck Cafe / Pod Lake Lily Tuesday May 10th, 2011

Nacho Mama's Mexican Restaurant

I happened to be driving by the corner of 436 and 50 where the new flyover highway is and I noticed a sign "Nacho Mama's". The colors really stood out and I knew that it wasn't there before. It's in the old location of Mr. Mofongo on the Northwest corner of that intersection. Pulled up to the front about 9 am on a Thursday and was greeted by a nice lady waving me in and saying "come in, try our food!" I'm always scoping out new restaurants and this one looked to be good.

The lady was super nice and excited that I came in. She gave me a menu and started telling me all about the place. I wasn't super hungry so I ordered the Chorizo, Egg and Cheese taco $2. Quickly she brought me my taco and a side of green chili sauce. The friendly owner came out and we chatted for a bit about his vision for the place and then he brought me a sample of his homemade red salsa and some nacho chips with a delicious tangy cheese sauce.

The server kept offering me more and more water which I love, some places are pretty stingy with tap water and I drink a lot of it when I eat.

Nacho Mamas is a Mexican restaurant that serves all the standard Mexican fare, Enchiladas, Tacos, Burritos, Chili Rellenos, but they also have Mexican breakfast which seems unique for restaurants in the area. They are open early in the morning (7am) until very late at night on weekends.

They also sell Latin pastries like elephant ears and guava Pasteles. Also they make their own Horchata rice drink with real spices and a Watermelon Sangria.

They don't have a website, twitter or Facebook yet.
Former location of El Palmar & Mr. Mofongo
5643 East Colonial Drive Orlando, FL 32807
Monday - Closed
Tues-Thurs 7am-11pm
Fri-Sun 7am-3am


Nacho Mama's on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

El Buzo Peruvian Restaurant

Thanks to Lunch Box Crew link for bringing this restaurant to our attention.

El Buzo is a Peruvian Restaurant in the Market Square Shopping Center behind Smokey Bones on the Northeast corner of Howell Branch and 436.

They serve authentic Peruvian beef, chicken and seafood dishes.

I was able to try two different dinner plates, the Lomo Saltado "Mar y Tierra" and the Asado al Vino.

Lomo Saltado is the national dish of Peru and any self respective Peruvian restaurant serves it. It consists of lean strips of beef cooked with onions, tomatoes over french fries and rice. In the case of the "Mar y Tierre" it means Sea and Earth so it also includes fresh shrimp. At El Buzo they add their own special touch of sauces on the side, one a tangy mayo sauce and another spicier paste made from herbs including basil. This dish had good flavors and the beef was tender and onions were still crisp. I really liked the herb sauce.

The second dish was the Asado al Vino. Roasted beef marinated in wine served with rice and yellow mashed potatoes. This was fine but not unlike american pot roast. This would be a great dish to serve to a dinner companion who hasn't had Peruvian food before and is not very adventurous.

They also specialize in all types of Ceviche, citrus marinated shrimp, fish and squid.

The owner and Chef Bruno a great cook & an avid spear fisherman and has won an American Spearfishing Championship. El Buzo means "The Diver". He has a couple spearguns hanging on the wall and lots of great photo albums of his spearfishing conquests on the counter. Also in the albums are photos of many of their dishes, very well presented.

For dessert I had the Alfadores cookies, which were crumbly type sugar cookies filled with nutella, very tasty!

They don't have a large sign so just look for the place with two umbrellas
1436 State Road 436, Suite 1024
Casselberry FL 32707

Mon-Sat noon-9:30pm
Sunday noon-close?