Best Of 2023

Best Place to Pregame Before an Orlando SC game: Broken Strings Brewery
Photo via Broken Strings Brewery/Facebook

Don't kid yourself: An overpriced beer at Orlando's Exploria Stadium isn't for everyone. If you're an Orlando City SC fan but are not about that big-bucks life, or (alternatively) just want somewhere to kill time before a game, you have options. The best one out there for a pre-game beer or two is Broken Strings Brewery, a brewery located less than half a mile from the stadium. On afternoons leading up to Orlando City SC games, they typically have some sort of food truck, various craft beers on tap that they produce in-house, and all of the good vibes. Plus, it's not just the beer that makes this a fun and noteworthy spot, it's the energy and friendliness of the staff. Be a good sport and tip well.

1012 W. Church St.,

Best Cheap Drinks: Burton's Thornton Park
Photo via Burton's/Facebook

Burton's is an Orlando staple. Established in 1937, it's the perfect hole-in-the wall neighborhood sports bar — cheap drinks, great selection of beers, strong pours and awesome staff. There's indoor and outdoor seating, plenty of flatscreens for all your sporting needs, and billiards and darts, along with a juke box, for your entertainment needs. Pro tip: Bring your friends visiting from Miami to Burton's, and watch them have a mini-emotional breakdown from how awesome and affordable this bar is. Remind them they can visit anytime, and ask if they need another drink that's $5 or less.

801 E. Washington St.,

Best Piano Bar: Musical Mondays at the Ren
Photo via the Ren/Facebook

The Renaissance Theatre Co. is where Orlando's musical theater community comes to play. The company has incredible original shows (and they pay their performers and employees at least $15 an hour). Every week at Musical Mondays you'll find live pianists, featured Broadway performers and incredible local talent taking the stage to belt out show tunes — even, on occasion, the catalog of legendary pop stars (shout out to Beyoncé night). There's also a full bar, and after the scheduled performers, the night shifts gears into open mic night where we all can live our wildest drama club kid dreams. Musical Mondays kick off every Monday at 7:30 p.m.; tickets are $10 in advance, $15 at the door.

Renaissance Theatre Co., 415 E. Princeton St.,

Best Clowns in Town: The Nook on Robinson
Photo via the Nook on Robinson/Facebook

Coulrophobes, beware! In the heart of the Milk District, the Nook provides a cultural smorgasbord of events: Movie Trash's screenings of B-movies, Circuit Church's eclectic showcases of local electronic music, the chance for people to play their own records on Vinyl Night. The list goes on. But for clown enthusiasts — coulrophiles? — the calendar of cool and local performances and gatherings is mere distraction: The real action is happening behind the bar where a collection of clown statues stand and hang with all-knowing smirks, almost laughing at the bar-goers ordering from a wide variety of Florida beers, ciders and kombucha. Who knows, you might even find a clown serving your drinks.

2432 E. Robinson St.,

Best Non-Con Spot to Live Out Your Harry Potter Dreams: Cocktails and Screams
Photo via Cocktails and Screams/Facebook

We might be depressed over not receiving a letter via Owl Post admitting us into Hogwarts, but at least we can rock our scantiest robes and go all out at the Slytherin House Party. Cocktails & Screams is already a cool place to accio a potion — we mean cocktail — on a Friday night, but when you add in the possibility of getting to party with your fellow Hufflepuffs? Sign us up. Each house gets a designated night to let out the wizard within. Check out the bar's Instagram to learn which house parties are held each night. So go cut loose, little Gryffindors and Ravenclaws, but just remember: Any misconduct that is too disorderly will result in your house losing at least 10 points.

39 W. Pine St.,

Best Brewery Next Door to a Union Hall: Ten10 Brewing Co.

Located just yards away from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 636 union hall on Virginia Drive (with the slogan: "United Forever, Divided Never"), Ten10 Brewery is a cozy, unpretentious taproom with a food menu and booze that hits the spot. Stop in for trivia on Thursdays, after a run with Run Club on Tuesdays through the Mills 50 District, or after a General Meeting if you're an IBEW member yourself. Granted, you don't need an excuse to enjoy Ten10. We're just happy to supply 'em.

1010 Virginia Drive,

Best Place to See American Idol Wannabes Take Karaoke Way Too Seriously: Big Daddy's
Photo via Big Daddy's/Facebook

Silly, fun, playful, goofy, weird, ironic, atonal: Karaoke, in theory, should be a good time for everyone, the furthest thing from a low-rent American Idol competition. Please, even if you can almost (emphasis on "almost") hit that high note in "I Will Always Love You," remember that you're still in a dive bar crooning through a cheap microphone to tinny backing tracks in front of Jello-shot drunkards from Winter and/or Audubon Park. And that's OK.

3001 Corrine Drive,

Best ‘Is It Too Much? No, It’s Just Right’ Mimosa Flight: Brix and Mortar Urban Winery
Brix Avalon Park | courtesy image via Brix and Mortar Urban Winery

Twelve bucks for a five-piece vertical mimosa flight? Say less. For a sweet and swanky date or the poshest place for girls night, look no further than Brix & Mortar Urban Winery. With locations in both Sanford and Avalon Park, this modern take on a winery in the city brings together delicious wines, beers, seltzers, champagnes and light bites. Not only do these locations provide the perfect space for your happy hour or brunch brigade, they also offer an incredible venue for things like bridal and baby showers, engagement parties, and other festive gatherings. (