The Center of Winter Park
Orlando Avenue between Lee and Gay roads
This unfashionable retail void across the street from glossy Winter Park Village, sometimes still called "Kmart Plaza" after its long-departed big-box tenant, is possibly the area's most concentrated and diverse hub of good, honest, unpretentious food. From longtime fixtures like Thai Place, Mexican magnet El Potro and respectable pizzeria Carlucci's to newer stars like Indian godsend Tamarind (with the best price-quality-quantity ratio of any subcontinental resto in the metro) and George's Gourmet Cookies (home of the aforementioned brownies as well as, oddly enough, some of the most succulent house-made corned beef around), this plaza is a delicious fluke of an intersection between real food and proletariat prices.
Fakenit tater tots at King Bao
710 N. Mills Ave., 407-237-0013, facebook.com/kingbaoorlando
Clearly, not everyone who eats vegan is doing it to be healthy – we've seen some pretty kickin' vegan dishes that would give Chris Christie palpitations. These fried tots at the new Mills 50 bao hamlet are covered in tofu, fake bacon, roasted garlic and onion jam and sprinkled with scallions. Also, they're just $2.50, so if you wanted to also eat a Veganville bao for lunch (crispy tofu with ginger-pepper relish), your wallet would only be a smidge lighter.
Eleven at Reunion Resort
7593 Gathering Drive, Kissimmee, 407-662-1000, reunionresort.com
By day, the rooftop where Eleven is located is the hotel's pool deck (which, really, is unique enough for Orlando), but come dusk, the sliding glass wall opens to reveal an elegant space where some of Central Florida's best steaks are served. Whatever you order for your main, don't miss the roasted garlic app that spreads like buttah over toasted baguette, Cambozola cheese and confit cherry tomatoes. Views of the Magic Kingdom and Epcot fireworks are on deck post-dessert.
Brownies from George's Gourmet Cookies
501 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 407-622-1499, georgesgourmetcookiesandcatering.com
You know how everyone in your office knows when there are leftover brownies from that board meeting? Everyone scampers like starved cats to the break room and descends upon the spoils, and then they're gone. If you find yourself so unlucky as to miss out, get to George's location on Lee Road and Orlando Avenue early enough to score one of the hefty handheld treats topped with caramel, marshmallow, chocolate drizzle and nuts, all for yourself.
1. Valhalla Bakery, Market on South, 2603 E. South St., 407-613-5968, valhallabakery.com
2. Se7en Bites, 207 N. Primrose Drive, 407-203-0727, facebook.com/se7enbites
3. Blue Bird Bake Shop, 3122 Corrine Drive, 407-228-3822, bluebirdbakeshop.com
1. 4 Rivers Smokehouse, multiple locations, 4rsmokehouse.com
2. Pig Floyd's Urban Barbakoa, 1326 N. Mills Ave., 407-203-0866, pigfloyds.com
3. Bubbalou's Bodacious BBQ, multiple locations, bubbalous.com
1. Santiago's Bodega, 802 Virginia Drive, 407-412-6979, facebook.com/santiagosbodegaorlando
2. Keke's, multiple locations, kekes.com
3. Briarpatch, 252 N. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407-628-8651, thebriarpatchrestaurant.com
1. BurgerFi, multiple locations, burgerfi.com
2. Johnny's Fillin' Station, 2631 S. Ferncreek Ave., 407-894-6900, johnnysfillinstation.com
3. Five Guys Burgers & Fries, multiple locations, fiveguys.com
1. Bahama Breeze, multiple locations, bahamabreeze.com
2. Caribbean Sunshine Bakery, multiple locations, christianarenae.com/csb
3. Mark's Caribbean, 10034 University Blvd., 407-699-8800, healthyjamaicanfood.com
1. Gringos Locos, 22 E. Washington St., 407-841-5626, also 2406 E. Robinson St., 407-896-5626, gringoslocos.com
2. Black Bean Deli, 325 S. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 407-628-0294, also 1835 E. Colonial Drive, 407-203-0922, blackbeandeli.com
3. Tako Cheena, 932 N. Mills Ave., 321-236-7457, mytakocheena.com