Although a resourceful dish that can make smart use of scrap ingredients, fried rice has gotten lazy in America, and it’s earned a bad name from things like the char siu séance that we call pork fried rice here. But, locals, break free of that brokedown idea forever with the bacon fried rice at longstanding authentic Chinese resto Chan’s. Elevated with bacon and Chinese greens, it’s a mountain of sustenance hefty enough for a lumberjack but tasty enough for a bon vivant.
2. First Watch, multiple locations, firstwatch.com
3. The Briarpatch, 252 N. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407-628-8651, thebriarpatchrestaurant.com
2. Dexter’s, multiple locations, dexwine.com
3. White Wolf Café, 1829 N. Orange Ave., 407-895-9911, whitewolfcafe.com
2. Caribbean Sunshine Bakery, multiple locations, caribbeansunshinebakery.net
3. Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery & Grill, multiple locations, orlandogoldenkrust.com
2. Tasty Wok, 1246 E. Colonial Drive, 407-896-8988
3. Lam’s Garden, 2505 E. Colonial Drive, 407-896-0370, lamsgardenchineseorlando.com
When you’re in a “mixed marriage” (meat-eater/meat-shunner), it’s the special event meals that are tough: birthdays, anniversaries and the like. Ever on the lookout for an upscale restaurant with a mix of meaty and meatless on the menu, we’ve found in the last year that Soco fills the bill nicely. While one side of the table feasts on crispy oysters and hanger steak, the other can be just as happy with smoked black-eyed pea tortellini and Southern field pea-and- preserved lemon salad. The chef is often happy to improvise as well, shunning the short-sighted anti-vegan bias of some kitchens.
2. Zaza New Cuban Diner, 3500 Curry Ford Road, 407-228-0060; also 380 S. State Road 434, Altamonte Springs, 407-347-6606, zazacubandiner.com
3. Cuban Sandwiches to Go, 1605 Lee Road, 407-578-8888
Blessed are the cheesemakers, for they provide us with the vital ingredient of Earth’s most comforting sandwich: the grilled cheese. And blessed also is Tonda Corrente, aka La Femme du Fromage, whose cheese stall at East End Market is not only capable of launching a killer cheese plate, but also serves up a dreamy grilled cheese sandwich – we’re talking a serious four-cheese blend on Olde Hearth bread, not some Kraft Singles-on-Wonder mess – and from 3-5 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, they’re $2 off. Go on, ruin your dinner.
2. Chez Vincent Traditional French Cuisine, 533 W. New England Ave., Winter Park, 407-599-2929, chezvincent.com
3. Benjamin French Bakery & Café, 716 E. Washington St., 407-797-2253, benjaminfrenchbakery.com