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BEST OF ORLANDO 2007 - FOOD AND DRINK 


Best not-really-a-“dive” bar

Wally’s Mills Avenue Liquors
1001 N. Mills Ave., 407-896-6975

For years, Wally’s has been a dependable winner in our “best dive bar” category, to the point that we decided to do away with the distinction in this year's balloting. Not because the preternaturally strong drinks they pour have fallen out of favor with us; simply because Wally’s isn’t a dive. Sure, there are some interesting characters propped up on the barstools and the place’s early-morning opening hours do resonate with our seedier side. But it’s clean, safe and friendly, three things utterly uncharacteristic of a true dive. Plus, when a place is both welcoming to blue-collar/overnight workers and patient with the clueless folks who flock there to “slum it,” well, that just means it’s a good bar.

Best place to get lingonberries

Ikea
Coming Fall 2007
www.ikea.com

You don’t know what lingonberries are, do you? They’re tart and red, like cranberries, and they’re popular in Sweden. You mash ’em up, mix ’em with a little sugar and you have yourself a compote. As of this fall you’ll be able to score them in Orlando at our own Ikea, the Swedish home-furnishing store/cult that’s already got hybrid drivers wetting themselves in anticipation. There will be an in-store restaurant that serves Swedish meatballs and other Scandinavian foodstuffs, including lingonberries. Might as well queue up now.

Best samosa

Ahmed Restaurant
11301 S. Orange Blossom Trail, 407-856-5970

Fried tetrahedral pockets of seasoned potatoes, onions and peas are staple snack items from Mumbai to Kolkata. Here in the West, no Indian meal is complete without ordering a samosa as a starter, and the crispy numbers served at Ahmed Restaurant, a mom-and-pop outfit in the curry corridor of South OBT, just can’t be beat. Keema (ground beef) versions are also top-notch, and the side of green chutney pops your palate with a peppery wallop.

Best wacky dessert

Asia Bagus
2923 Vineland Road, Kissimmee
407-397-2205
www.asiabagusresto.com

Avocados, red beans, palm seed and grass jelly – not exactly ingredients found in your everyday dessert, but at Asia Bagus, cool and refreshing es teler is a curious gorge. The Indonesian indulgence, also comprising shaved ice, coconut chunks, jackfruit, sweetened condensed milk and rose syrup, all mixed up in a large bowl, will challenge your notion of what a toothsome meal-capper should be.

Best roti

Singh’s Roti Shop
5812 Old Winter Garden Road, 407-447-3447

When expats from Trinidad, Guyana and Jamaica hanker for goat, conch, chicken or channa (chick pea) roti, they call on the Lords of Flatbread, aka Singh’s Roti Shop, where they know they’ll get real deal. Rotis (unleavened Indian flatbread) come in three types here – sadha (similar to pillowy naan), dhalpouri (made with a fine layer of yellow split peas) and basupshut (thick, buttery and torn like a “busted-up shirt”) – all of which can be ladled with a pungent curry, then folded. Flaming Scotch-bonnet hot sauce is a must.

Best 3 a.m. dessert

B-Line Diner
9801 International Drive, 407-345-4460
www.peabodyorlando.com

When a craving for key lime pie, tiramisu or triple chocolate cake hits you at 3 a.m., satisfying it can be a near-impossible task in this town. Enter the B-Line Diner. Located in the Peabody Hotel on I-Drive, the slick, ’50s-style diner is open 24-7, and its on-site patisserie preps a bevy of fresh-baked cakes, pies, tarts and cookies, not to mention house-made ice cream and sorbets. Among the best desserts: strawberry shortcake, banana cream pie and the chocolate Aladdin. Eat your heart out, Steak ’n Shake.

Best gay chandeliers

Savoy
1913 N. Orange Ave., 407-898-6766
www.savoyorlando.com

While the general atmosphere of this (last remaining) Antique Row queer watering hole has shifted dramatically since its inception, its décor retains its sense of foyer grandeur largely due to the lighting fixtures. Giant, ornate chandeliers of the Phyllis Diller variety still hang there like reminders that eventually we all get old and tasteless. And no matter how many shirts are removed from no matter how many buff bartenders, or how much porn glows out from the flat-screen TVs, the feeling that you’re doing something naughty in your grandmother’s sitting room inevitably prevails. Which is kind of hot.

Best $3 lunch

Caribbean Sunshine Bakery
2528 W. Colonial Drive, 407-839-5060
922 Silver Star Road, 407-578-0068
4863 W. Colonial Drive, 407-447-5444
www.caribbeansunshinebakery.net

Cheap food doesn’t always equate to good, or even palatable, food, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find a decent nosh for under $5. But at the Caribbean Sunshine Bakery, buttery coco bread, a flaky, fresh-baked spicy Jamaican beef patty and a tropical beverage (ginger beer, Ting, Sorrel) will run you 300 cents. Irie. Pass on the bread and get two patties and a drink, and you’re still talking $3 and change. Go on, let the sunshine in.

Best place to smoke a hookah

Ali Baba Restaurant
1155 W. State Road 434, Longwood
407-331-8680
www.alibabarestaurant.info

There’s a hookah craze sweeping the city, and since you need to know where to buy, how to use and the best place to smoke your hookah, we thought we’d give you a leg up: Try Ali Baba. In addition to a cool outdoor hookah-smoking area, there’s interesting music. And if you go at night on a weekend, you can peer through the glass at scantily clad belly dancers.

Best tom yum soup

Viet Garden
1237 E. Colonial Drive, 407-896-4154
www.vietgardenorlando.com

One spoonful of this dark-red, fiery, sweet-and-sour concoction and you’ll finally know why God gave you taste buds. From the slightly gritty texture to the subtle-yet-unmistakable undertone of lemongrass, this soup is a masterpiece. The giant, succulent shrimp (or chicken) and whole mushrooms are just gravy. Some people will complain that it’s too spicy; then again, some people complain that Michelangelo’s David is naked.

Best calzone

Goodfella’s Pizzeria
11865 E. Colonial Drive, 407-658-6615

Tons of cheese and your choice of toppings cooked to a golden brown in a super-flaky and crispy crust. Not to mention quick service. Need we say more? If you’re not on a first date, we recommend starting with the garlic knots.

Best failed resurrection

Will’s Pub

The city’s mismatched tube socks lost the last of their elasticity when the beer-drenched Will’s Pub finally met with the bulldozer. But there was – for a short time – a glimmer of hope that perhaps the tradition might continue a few blocks over on Colonial Drive, in the eyesore-ish Cruises Only building. Papers were signed, plans were drawn and expectations were sprayed with a healthy film of hops and guitar feedback, as the Christ-like (well, he sorta looks like that legendary J.C.) Will Walker prepared to roll away the stone(d) and tape the lowbrow back on Orlando’s face. But complications arose – apparently there’s a school too close by – and Walker ended up taking his blurred vision to College Park’s Taste Restaurant. Which is fine. But it’s not Will’s.

Best unconventional breakfast

Pom Pom’s Teahouse & Sandwicheria
67 N. Bumby Ave., 407-894-0865
www.myspace.com/pompomsteahouse

Breakfast at Pom Pom’s, currently available weekends only, is an eclectic affair. No filler, no “basics,” no scrambled-eggs-white-toast-bacon-on-the-side. Like her lunch/dinner menu, Pom Moongauklang’s a.m. selections reflect a sense of humor and a down-to-earth chic. The “One-Eyed Wong” (an egg fried under a slice of bread with a hole cut out for the yolk, also known as toad-in-the-hole or bird-in-a-nest), shakes off its homely status and goes sophisticated under Hass avocados and delicious hollandaise. Potato pancakes are layered with meat, veggies or fruit in a “Napoleon.” Freshly made crepes top out the prices at $5.95.

Best cheap toot

The Wine Room on Park Avenue
270 S. Park Ave., Winter Park
407-696-9463
www.thewineroomonline.com

The arrival in Winter Park of the wine-by-the-ounce automated dispensers that have so enraptured West Coast vinophiles has been a true blessing. Being able to sample half-glasses of that $80 bottle is a great way to expand your palate. Even better? The social lubrication that comes with you and your friends experimenting with the many one-dollar pours the Wine Room offers.

Best tofu

Salt-and-pepper tofu at Chinatown Seafood Restaurant
1103 N. Mills Ave., 407-896-9383

The fresh seafood from Chinatown’s adjoining fish market is always a good bet. But if flesh isn’t your thing and you’ve grown weary of bland, fake-out renditions of “normal food,” the salt-and-pepper tofu here is simultaneously the simplest and the most succulent thing you can wrap your mouth around. The soy cubes are generously seasoned with the titular ingredients (and not much else) then lightly fried, resulting in a flavor that’s clean and straightforward, but surprisingly rich. Spoon some of their garlic-seasoned water spinach onto the plate along with it, and meat will seem unnecessary.

Best meat feast

Crazy Grill
7048 International Drive, 407-354-4404
www.crazygrill.com

At $26.95 per person, Crazy Grill is considerably less expensive than its more well-known churrascaria neighbor, Texas de Brazil; it’s also quieter, friendlier and more conducive to a relaxing meal. And relaxation is the key when it comes to coping with the cavalcade of meat skewers that emerge from the kitchen. While salads and sides (mmm, cheese bread) are on offer, the star of the show is the variety of grilled steaks, sausages and chicken cuts, all of which are prepared perfectly and delivered by one of Orlando’s most hospitable and enthusiastic wait staffs.

Best night-life move

Smoking ban at Redlight Redlight
535 W. New England Ave., Winter Park
www.myspace.com/theredlightredlight

We wrote about it April 12 `“Dropping the smokescreen”`, so we won’t belabor the point: The smoking ban at Redlight Redlight is the best thing to happen to beer-drinkers with eyes, lungs or a throat in a loooong time.

FOOD AND DRINK - READERS' PICKS

Best sports bar
1st:
Orlando Ale House
Multiple locations
www.alehouseinc.com

2nd:
The Clubhouse
100 E. Pine St.
407-447-5225

3rd:
Sportstown Billiards
2414 E. Robinson St.
407-894-6258
www.sportstownbilliards.com

Best gay bar
1st:
Parliament House
410 N. Orange Blossom Trail
407-425-7571
www.parliamenthouse.com

2nd: (tie)
Southern Nights
375 S. Bumby Ave.
407-898-0424
www.southern-nights.com

2nd: (tie)
Pulse
1912 S. Orange Ave.
407-649-3888
www.pulseorlando.com

3rd:
Savoy
1913 N. Orange Ave
407-898-6766
www.savoyorlando.com

Best lesbian bar
1st:
Southern Nights
375 S. Bumby Ave.
407-898-0424
www.southern-nights.com

2nd:
Faces (CLOSED)
4910 Edgewater Drive
407-291-7571

3rd:
Pulse
1912 S. Orange Ave.
407-649-3888
www.pulseorlando.com

Best pub
1st:
Fiddler’s Green
544 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park
407-645-2050
www.fiddlersgreenorlando.com

2nd:
Copper Rocket
106 Lake Ave., Maitland
407-645-0069
www.copperrocketpub.com

3rd:
Lizzy McCormack’s
55 N. Orange Ave.
407-426-8007
www.lizzymccormacks.com

Best beer selection
1st:
Jax 5th Avenue
3400 Edgewater Drive
407-999-8934
951 Greenwood Blvd., Lake Mary
407-323-3354

2nd:
Redlight Redlight
535 W. New England Ave., Winter Park
www.myspace.com/theredlightredlight

3rd:
Underground Bluz
12261 University Blvd.
407-482-4141
ucf.undergroundbluz.com
4892 South Kirkman Road
407-298-5987
metro.undergroundbluz.com

Best wine selection
1st:
Eola Wine Co.
500 E. Central Ave.
407-481-9100
www.eolawinecompany.com

2nd:
The Wine Room
270 S. Park Ave., Winter Park
407-696-9463
www.thewineroomonline.com

3rd:
Seasons 52
7700 Sand Lake Road
407-354-5212
463 East Altamonte Drive, Altamonte Springs
407-767-1252
www.seasons52.com

Best breakfast/brunch
1st:
1st Watch
Multiple locations
www.1stwatch.com

2nd:
Dexter’s
Multiple locations
www.dexwine.com

3rd:
Breakfast Club
63 E. Pine St.
407-843-1559
www.breakfastcluboforlando.com

Best sweets/desserts
1st:
The Dessert Lady Café
4900 S. Kirkman Road
407-822-8881
www.dessertlady.com

2nd:
Cheesecake Factory
520 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park
407-644-4220
4200 Conroy Road
407-226-0333
www.thecheesecakefactory.com

3rd:
Toojay’s
Multiple locations
www.toojays.com

Best sub shop
1st:
Subway
Multiple locations
www.subway.com

2nd:
Firehouse
Multiple locations
www.firehousesubs.com

3rd:
Publix
Multiple locations
www.publix.com

Best coffeehouse
1st: (tie)
Austins Coffee
929 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park
407-975-3364
www.austinscoffee.com

1st: (tie)
Starbucks
Multiple locations
www.starbucks.com

2nd:
Stardust Video & Coffee
1842 E. Winter Park Road
407-623-3393

3rd:
Natura
12078 Collegiate Way
407-482-5000
www.naturacoffeeandtea.com

Best teahouse
1st:
Infusion Tea
1600 Edgewater Drive
407-999-5255
www.infusionorlando.com

2nd:
Dandelion Communitea Café
618 N. Thornton Ave.
407-362-1864
www.dandelioncommunitea.com

3rd:
Tatame Saké Lounge
223 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park
407-628-2408

Best BBQ
1st:
Bubbalou’s
Multiple locations
www.bubbalous.com

2nd:
O’Boys
Multiple locations
www.oboysbbq.net

3rd:
Sonny’s
Multiple locations
www.sonnysbbq.com

Best burger
1st:
Johnny’s Fillin’ Station
2631 S. Ferncreek Ave.
407-894-6900
www.johnnysfillinstation.com

2nd:
Back Yard Burgers
Multiple locations
www.backyardburgers.com

3rd:
Five Guys Burgers and Fries
Multiple locations
www.fiveguys.com

Best Chinese
1st:
Garden Cafe
810 W. Colonial Drive
407-999-9799
www.gardencafevege.com

2nd:
P.F. Chang’s
436 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park
407-622-0188
4200 Conroy Road
407-345-2888
www.pfchangs.com

3rd:
Pei Wei
3011 E. Colonial Drive
407-563-8777
www.peiwei.com

Best Cuban
1st:
Black Bean Deli
325 S. Orlando Ave., Winter Park
407-628-0294

2nd:
Don Pepe’s Habana Grill
2516 Aloma Ave., Winter Park
407-678-7001
937 W. SR 436, Altamonte Springs
407-682-6834
www.donpepes.com

3rd:
Rolando’s Cuban Restaurant
870 Semoran Blvd., Casselberry
407-767-9677

Best diner
1st:
Christo’s Café
1815 Edgewater Drive
(407) 425-8136
www.christoscafe.com

2nd:
Junior’s Diner
2920 Corrine Drive
407-894-8871

3rd:
Shakers American Café
1308 Edgewater Drive
407-422-9227
www.shakerscafe.com

Best French
1st:
Le Coq au Vin
4800 S. Orange Ave.
407-851-6980
www.lecoqauvinrestaurant.com

2nd:
Chez Vincent
533 W. New England Ave., Winter Park
407-599-2929
www.chezvincent.com

3rd:
Café de France
526 S. Park Ave., Winter Park
407-647-1869
www.lecafedefrance.com

Best Greek
1st:
Greek Corner
1600 N. Orange Ave.
407-228-0303

2nd:
Athena Café
1140 E. Altamonte Drive, Altamonte Springs
407-830-0707

3rd:
Mediterranean Deli
981 W. Fairbanks Ave.
407-539-2650

Best Indian
1st:
Woodlands
6040 S. Orange Blossom Trail
407-854-3330

2nd:
Memories of India
7625 Turkey Lake Road
407-370-3277

3rd:
Clay Oven (CLOSED)
1275 Hwy. 17-92, Longwood
407-696-7775

Best Italian
1st:
Bravissimo Cafe
337 N. Shine Ave.
407-898-7333

2nd:
Olive Garden
Multiple locations
www.olivegarden.com

3rd:
Babbo Wine Bar & Cafe
1710 Edgewater Drive
407-649-9770

Best pizza
1st:
N.Y.P.D. Pizza and Delicatessen
2589 S. Hiawassee Road
407-293-8880
www.nypdpizza.net

2nd:
Anthony’s Pizza Cafe
100 N. Summerlin Ave.
407-648-0009

3rd:
Flippers Pizzeria
Multiple locations
www.flipperspizzeria.com

Best sushi
1st:
Amura Sushi Bar
Multiple locations

2nd:
Fuji Sushi
1449 Lee Road, Winter Park
407-645-1299
6700 Conroy Road
407-298-2989

3rd:
Seito Sushi
Multiple locations
www.seitosushi.com

Best Mexican
1st:
Tijuana Flats
Multiple locations
www.tijuanaflats.com

2nd:
Garibaldi’s Mexican Restaurant
929 N. Semoran Blvd.
407-275-5035

3rd:
P.R.’s Taco Palace
499 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park
407-645-2225

Best Middle Eastern
1st:
Tony’s Deli
1323 N. Mills Ave.
407-898-6689

2nd:
Cedars Restaurant
7732 W. Sand Lake Road
407-351-6000
www.cedarsoforlando.com

3rd:
Ali Baba
1155 W. State Road 434, Longwood
407-331-8680
www.orlandoonline.com/alibaba.htm

Best steakhouse
1st:
Ruth’s Chris Steak House
Multiple locations
www.ruthschris.com

2nd:
Del Frisco’s
729 Lee Road
407-645-4443
www.delfriscosorlando.com

3rd:
Charley’s Steak House
Multiple locations
www.charleyssteakhouse.com

Best southern/soul food
1st:
Johnson’s Diner
595 W. Church St.
407-841-0717

2nd: (tie)
Mama Nems’
805 S. Kirkman Road
407-253-7744
www.mamanemssoulfood.com

2nd: (tie)
Uncle Jones Bar-B-Que
1370 E. Altamonte Drive, Altamonte Springs
407-260-2425

3rd:
House of Blues
Downtown Disney West Side, Lake Buena Vista
407-934-2583
www.hob.com

Best Thai
1st:
Thai House
2117 E. Colonial Drive
407-898-0820
www.thaihouseoforlando.com

2nd:
Napasorn Thai Restaurant
56 E. Pine St.
407-245-8088
www.napasornthai.com

3rd:
Thai Place
501 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park
407-644-8449
www.thaiplacecuisine.net

Best wings
1st:
Wing House
Multiple locations
www.winghouse.com

2nd:
Gator’s Dockside
Multiple locations
www.gatorsdockside.com

3rd:
N.Y.P.D. Pizza and Delicatessen
2589 S. Hiawassee Road
407-293-8880
www.nypdpizza.net

Best vegetarian
1st:
Dandelion Communitea Café
618 N. Thornton Ave.
407-362-1864
www.dandelioncommunitea.com

2nd:
Garden Cafe
810 W. Colonial Drive
407-999-9799
www.gardencafevege.com

3rd:
Infusion Tea
1600 Edgewater Drive
407-999-5255
www.infusionorlando.com

Best Vietnamese
1st:
Little Saigon
1106 E. Colonial Drive
407-423-8539
www.littlesaigonrestaurant.com

2nd:
Viet Garden
1237 E. Colonial Drive
407-896-4154
www.vietgardenorlando.com

3rd:
Lac Viet Bistro
2021 E. Colonial Drive
407-228-4000
www.lacvietbistro.com


(Sorry, no information is currently available for other years in this same award category.)

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