100 W. Livingston St.
Located in the heart of downtown, the Ace is the first American outpost of the classic London biker haunt. And calling it a bar isn't really fair — it's a bar, restaurant, coffee stop, music venue, art gallery and motorcycle shop. The fact that this entertainment complex planted itself here, not on I-Drive, should tell you something about the Ace's intentions; they want to be a part of the permanent community, not just shill for the transient tourist trade. And that's not the only thing they have in common with Orlando Weekly – they're also posted up in our old office building, meaning we get to sip cocktails in what was once our conference room. Sweet.
Mathers Social Gathering
30 S. Magnolia Ave.
Downtown's poshest newcomer this year is undoubtedly Mathers Social Gathering. Located on the third floor of the historic Mathers building – one of the few remaining downtown buildings that predate the fire of 1884 – the space is decked out in sumptuous furnishings, photos of Old Orlando, and even a turn-of-the-century-style general store tucked into a corner. Here, you can plop into an armchair with a craft cocktail in one hand while regaling your friends with stories of Orlando's past – either real or made-up – while sitting underneath the oversized U.S. flag that once flew at Tinker Field – as long as you adhere to the dress code, of course.
Burton's Bar closes, then reopens as Burton's Bar
801 E. Washington St.
When Burton's Bar closed in February of this year, there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth as it seemed that Thornton Park's cheapest and friendliest neighborhood bar was to be no more. But while we waited to find out what the developer vultures that circle the city would do to the beloved casual boozer, the owners of downtown staples the Lodge and the Woods were making moves to take over the space. And when they announced that they'd not only be taking over Burton's but keeping it pretty much the same, Thorntonites rejoiced, comforted by the knowledge that they'd still be able to dig into a bucket of reasonably priced domestics while chilling on one of the best people-watching perches – Burton's patio – indefinitely.
1. Will's Pub, 1042 N. Mills Ave., willspub.org
2. The Guesthouse, 1321 N. Mills Ave., 407-630-6574
3. Southern Nights, 375 S. Bumby Ave., 407-412-5039, facebook.com/southernnightsorlando
1. Sportstown Billiards, 2414 E. Robinson St., 407-894-6258, sportstownbilliards.com
2. Trick Shots, multiple locations, trickshotsbilliards.com
3. Spatz, 1025 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park, 407-647-3354
1. Jen Harton, Lil Indies, 1036 N. Mills Ave., facebook.com/lilindiesorlando
2. Dave Merkli, Tanqueray's Bar, 100 S. Orange Ave., 407-649-8540, facebook.com/tanqueraysbar
3. Lee Courtley, Independent Bar, 70 N. Orange Ave., 407-839-0457, facebook.com/independentbar
1. Mac n Cheese at Independent Bar, 70 N. Orange Ave., 407-839-0457, facebook.com/independentbar
2. Shake N Bass, facebook.com/shakenbass
3. Girl the Party, girltheparty.com
1. Redlight Redlight, 2810 Corrine Drive, 407-893-9832, facebook.com/redlightredlight
2. World of Beer, 431 E. Central Blvd., 407-270-5541, worldofbeer.com
3. Thirsty Topher, 601 Virginia Drive, 407-491-4342
1. Lil Indies, 1036 N. Mills Ave., facebook.com/lilindiesorlando
2. Hanson's Shoe Repair, 27 E. Pine St., 407-476-9446, facebook.com/hansonsshoerepair
3. The Guesthouse, 1321 N. Mills Ave., 407-630-6574