Best Of 2013

Best New (Mostly) Free Music Room

Lil Indies

1036 N. Mills Ave.

This little secret has become arguably the best new craft brew hideaway on Mills Avenue. But because it’s the sister spot to Will’s Pub, it only took a short while for the music strand deep in its DNA to show. Now, it’s host to a vibrant carousel of themed music nights including ’90s R&B (I Don’t See Nothin’ Wrong), ’80s underground (Smilin’ Dan), ’50s and ’60s dance (Shake a Tail Tuesdays), jazz (Absinthe & Friends) and even a monthly record club, all for no cover. It also sometimes hosts exceptionally intimate special performances by notable touring musicians (Matt Pond, Matt Woods, etc.).

1. Lil Indies, 1036 N. Mills Ave.,
2. The Geek Easy, 114 S. Semoran Blvd., 407-332-9636,
3. The Peacock Room, 1321 N. Mills Ave., 407-228-0048,

1. Will’s Pub, 1042 N. Mills Ave.,
2. Dancers Royale, 5221 E. Colonial Drive, 407-281-0120,
3. Sportstown Billiards, 2414 E. Robinson St., 407-894-6258,

The Matador

724 Virginia Drive

A bar’s atmosphere is a mystical thing. If one’s lucky enough to capture a special mood in the first place, seldom does that magic survive a change in space and neighborhood. But the Matador is one of the most successful transplants in recent history. From staff to furnishings to loyal clientele, it still has that cherished Matador vibe. But it’s now part of the rising, vibrant Mills Avenue scene and is much less susceptible to occasional influxes from the toolbox that is downtown.

Best Bar Theming

Lot1433 and

Stepping into the Courtesy feels like wandering into an old-fashioned space (worthy of serving the classic drink by the same name) through a Narnia-esque portal – it’s that big a shift from downtown’s otherwise downtrodden curb appeal. The most immediate impact comes by savoring the theming and details executed so rustically by the inspired folks at Lot1433 – and more specifically, design mastermind Andrew White. Up next for Lot1433: designing Skyebird juice bar at East End Market. Let’s hope the aesthetic there is as intoxicating as Courtesy’s.

1. Mariel Olcoz at Redlight Redlight, 2810 Corrine Drive, 407-893-9832,
2. Aaron Hardy at Tier Nightclub, 20 E. Central Blvd., 407-317-9129,
3. Tammy at Dancers Royale, 5221 E. Colonial Drive, 407-281-0120,

Best Case Studies to Stop Indoor Smoking

The success of Peacock Room and Lil Indies

The Peacock Room
1321 N. Mills Ave.

Lil Indies
1036 N. Mills Ave.

Tobacco use kills more people annually than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined. This fact makes indoor smoking particularly distressing for live music fans who cannot escape the stench of premature death at local shows. Thanks to the September opening of Will Walker’s smokeless sidecar, Lil Indies, and the Peacock Room’s April 1 smoke-free rebirth, Orlando has observed that music and drinks both go down better with a few gulps of clean air.

Best Cheese

Mr. Belding at Mac & Cheese

Early-’90s teen sitcom Saved by the Bell isn’t your garden-variety bad. It’s uniquely, spectacularly bad. That’s why bringing Mr. Belding in to host a special celebrity edition of a dance night dedicated to cheese is just about the pinnacle of stupid perfection. Just ask the 900 people who showed up for it.

1. Jimmy Joslin,
2. DJ A-Rock,
3. Kittybat,

1. Grits & Gravy at Independent Bar, 70 N. Orange Ave., 407-839-0457,
2. Shotspitality Tuesdays at Vintage Lounge, 114 S. Orange Ave., 407-649-0000,
3. Takeovr at Roxy, 740 Bennett Road, 407-898-4004,

1. The Mud Flappers,
2. Tommy Treadway, (tie)
2. Thomas Wynn and the Believers, (tie)
3. Hindu Cowboys,