Best Of 2019

Best New 'Do
Photo by Michael Lothrop

Adaptive building reuse at new Alchemy Hair Salon

600 N. Bumby Ave.,

When Alchemy began the slow process of consciously uncoupling with its longtime location in 2018, stakes were high to find a building just as special as that little College Park space. Inspiration struck in the form of a long-empty building on Bumby, and the team applied for and received an adaptive reuse grant from the city of Orlando. The sustainable practice of adaptive reuse recycles existing building stock rather than continuing the expensive cycle of tearing down old buildings and putting up new ones – which wastes both time and resources. Gabriela Othon Lothrop, who was involved with the adaptive reuse renovation of East End Market, spearheaded the Alchemy project. The space is stunningly modern, yet retains its low-slung, square-cornered midcentury vibe. It's so refreshing to see Orlando take yet another step toward sustainability.

Best Way to Wake Up With Perfect Eyebrows Every Day
Photo courtesy Oh La La Brow Bar

Oh La La Brow Bar

2345 E. Michigan St.,

Stop what you're doing right now and make an appointment to get your eyebrows microbladed by Natasha, who owns Oh La La Brow Bar in SoDo. It'll be the best investment you make in your face all year, and lasts about that long. She'll make sure your arches fall somewhere between "natural" and "Kardashian," which, according to the artist, is the most popular beauty spectrum. Microbladed brows never need filling or retouching (unless you want to), and the peace of mind knowing that your brows will be perfect every time the alarm goes off will save you many, many minutes over the course of your mornings.

Best Tipsy Shopping
Photo courtesy of Orlando Flea

The Orlando Flea

Though Orlando Flea proprietor Mark Baratelli was inspired by hipster iterations of the classic arts-and-crafts market such as the Brooklyn Flea, his Flea has a distinct and necessary advantage: It's indoors. Even better, it's in a bar (Celine, to be exact), so not only are you fully air-conditioned while perusing handmade jewelry, small-batch screenprints, whimsical ceramics, vintage clothing and the like, you can do it with breakfast cocktail in hand.

Best Florida T-shirt
Photo courtesy Freehand Goods

Freehand Goods Florida Man shirt

East End Market, 3201 Corrine Drive,

Designed by Orlando's own Akyros and sold by leather-goods and beard-oil maestros Seth Daniels and Jacob Zepf, this shirt celebrates all that is quintessentially Floridian: A wrestler takes on a bipedal 'gator in the squared circle; said alligator's beer goes flying; smack is talked. Every picture tells a story, and this story is irresistible. Try not to drip boiled peanut juice down your front.

Best New Frame-up
Photo courtesy of Warby Parker

Warby Parker

The Mall at Millenia, 4200 Conroy Road;

Everybody's favorite online source for cheap(ish; basic single-vision lenses are $95) prescription specs just went IRL in Orlando. Yay, no more waiting for your home try-on box! The store will also offer eye exams with an independent optometrist. Yay, no more fighting your eye doctor to get your full prescription so you can order online! Even better yet, the stylish frames live in a book-filled, bright space with a rad custom mural by Florida beach bum-slash-artist Ty Williams. Eye protection is important in Florida, so surf on in.

Best New Example of the East on West Colonial
Photo by Melissa McHenry

Lotte Plaza Market

3191 W. Colonial Drive,

The Pine Hills area is already home to one of the best hidden treasures for fans of Asian cuisine – the Chinatown Plaza near Kirkman Road – but this year saw the opening of a new branch of Lotte Plaza Market, a Maryland-based Asian grocery store chain that may or may not be owned by the Korean multinational conglomerate Lotte Corporation. In addition to offering a bright, modern take on the international grocery store, Lotte Plaza Market also features a food court that lets you skip all of the hard work in your own kitchen and shop for freshly made Korean, Japanese and Chinese fare – which is great because even we, Publix's biggest suck-ups, get tired of eating nothing but Pub subs all the time.

Best Sign You Care Too Much About Funko Pops
Photo courtesy of Funko

Spooky Empire riot over Elvira figure

Oct. 26, 2018

Don't get us wrong, we applaud ferocious fandom in most, if not all, cases – but this was next-level. Spooky Empire organizers at last autumn's con (headlined by the Mistress of the Dark herself) starting running low on their exclusive Elvira Pops on Friday night, and collectors' fists started a-flying. In summary: plastic Elvira causes a bunch of fights; actual Elvira, a mere door and hallway away (and for whom we would not hesitate to tussle) merits no altercations whatsoever. Indeed, the mood in her line was downright convivial. Priorities, everyone!

Best Place to Stash Chic Out-of-towners
Photo courtesy of Wellborn Hotel / Team Market Group

The Wellborn

211 N. Lucerne Circle,

As Orlando's cultural attractions – as opposed to theme park attractions – rise in the national consciousness, discerning visitors face a choice. They read that article about "the other Orlando" in the New York Times, sure, but let's be real: They're not traveling all the way here and skipping Disney and Universal. (Especially the younger parents: They didn't get those Harry Potter tattoos to come to Orlando and not drink boozy butterbeers.) Finding accommodations that are not only roughly equidistant between the Ravenous Pig and Voodoo Doughnut, but sufficiently boutique-y to please millennial/Gen-Z travelers is now as easy as booking at the Wellborn, the freshly redesigned former Courtyard at Lake Lucerne. There's decent coffee, a mobile bar, clawfoot tubs in every room and more than enough eye candy to keep your Instagram feed replete.

Best Local Footwear
Photo courtesy of Rock ’em Socks

Rock 'Em Socks

No longer does the fancy section of your sock drawer need to consist solely of plain navy, brown and black dress varieties – now you can sport your love of architectural boondoggles right on your ankles. Rock 'Em Socks, an Orlando-based company, debuted a design featuring Altamonte Springs' long-delayed Majesty Building (see the Local Color section, page 32) last year. Their repertoire of designs also extends the local love to images like the official Orlando flag and the Lake Eola fountain, but it's safe to say that the Eyesore pattern will be relevant for years to come.

Best Place to Buy Us a Gift
Echo Base Collectibles

Echo Base Collectibles

2422A E. Robinson St.,

Look, we don’t take bribes, and it really irritates us when people think we do. That being said, if you ever wanted to get a gift for your Friendly Neighborhood Editorial Team, you could probably pick up something for everyone from the Milk District’s Echo Base Collectibles. It’s a side hustle of local printing company Rebel Reprints that sells all of our favorite stuff. For the discerning local pop art fan, there are a selection of pins from both Rebel Reprints and Secret Society Goods. For the wrestling aficionado, why not a pack of vintage rubber M.U.S.C.L.E. figures? And a vintage Star Wars or Simpsons toy has never been turned down by anyone in the office. We’re not saying you’ll get anything out of it, other than our thanks, but if you wanted to do something nice … ?