Eat. More. Chicken. And more upscale Mexican. It’ll be hard not to this year, given the spate of fried chicken joints and dolled-up cantinas proliferating across the city. Hey, I’m not complaining, not after 2021 denied the restaurant industry a return to normalcy. It was a period of reckoning — still is — but through all this upheaval and transition, there’s chicken. And upscale Mexican. We’ll also see some big names coming to town — Michelin-starred chef Akira Back, five-time James Beard Award nominee Ford Fry, and Norman Van Aken, who’ll reopen Norman’s in Dr. Phillips. We’ll see tasting menu–only concepts go brick and mortar, specifically Camille from chef Tung Phan and The Foreigner from Bruno Fonseca. And a private members-only club will open its tasting menu restaurant to the public in an effort to lure in the Michelin inspectors. The star wars are upon us, so let the jockeying and lobbying begin! And let the good eating continue. This list of newly opened and soon-to-open restaurants should help.
Alfo's Pizza Fritta
The folks behind Stasio's Italian Deli will branch out into pizza fritta — the handheld, deep-fried, doughy treat of Neapolitan origin. Some delays with the City of Orlando have stalled development, but there's hope it will open by the end of the year.
(Opening TBD, 2300 E. Robinson St., no website)
Anejo Cocina Mexicana
The upscale cantina going into the old New Standard space in Winter Park's Ravaudage complex will feature a bevy of traditional Mexican fare along with a sizable list of tequila and cocktail offerings. (Opening March, 1035 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, anejococinamexicana.com)
There are gorgeous Mediterranean dishes to be had amid gorgeous people and a gorgeous space. Menu items are served taverna-style to encourage sharing. Dress nice, and be wary of tableside flambées.
(Open, 290 S. Park Ave., Winter Park, avamediterraegean.com)
The New World dishes served inside the high-tech Lake Nona Wave Hotel aren't fashioned by robots, but robots have been known to patrol the lush dining room keeping an eye on guests indulging in the smokin' offerings, that is, smoked cocktails, smoked scallops, smoked romesco and smoked feta (served with charred octopus).
(Open, 6100 Wave Hotel Drive, lakenonawavehotel.com/bacan)
A 1920s, Art Deco-inspired, spirit-free speakeasy will certainly be a unique and, perhaps, much-needed addition to the Ivanhoe Village bar scene. Apart from the nonalcoholic craft cocktails, Bandbox will offer a variety of vintage and collectible goods for sale.
(Opening April, 1817 N. Orange Ave., bandboxorlando.com)
A variety of "chef-inspired" bowls is what's promised by this eatery run by a couple of working moms. Craving carnitas? Then the "Cravin' Carnitas" bowl should do the trick. (Opening April, 1100 Orlando Ave., Winter Park, bitebound.com)
Bread & Wine
The old downtown Hubbly Bubbly space gets a noticeable upgrade with this breakfast, lunch, dinner and late-night spot serving gourmet delights. Pre-noon pick-me-ups include coconut pancakes and red velvet waffles, while shrimp tempura pasta and tuna tataki served atop zucchini carpaccio beckon later in the day. The place stays open until 2 a.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday night.
(Open, 131 N. Orange Ave., breadandwine.us)
Brooklyn Dumpling Shop
This 24-hour, "zero human interaction" Automat-style restaurant will bring a contactless ordering system and 32 varieties of hot pockets to our dumpling-obsessed city. Matzo ball soup dumplings, anyone?
(Opening September/October, no location announced, brooklyndumplingshop.com)
Bumby Arcade Food Hall
At this 18-stall food hall incorporating the gorgeous space of the Orchid Garden on Church Street, vendors will be as worthy as the Victorian-esque architecture — though Susuru Yatai, the Japanese street food concept by Susuru's Lewis Lin, will no longer be a part of the food hall. (Lin plans to open a Japanese street food concept in a different location.) They do promise "an exciting selection of local favorites." (Opening TBD, 116 W. Church St., no website)
A restaurant across from Hannibal's on the Square featuring the very wide breadth of "European" cuisine as well as nightly piano shows sounds like a match made in ... well, somewhere. If anything, it'll add a bit of intrigue to the Hannibal Square dining scene.
(Opening spring, 558 W. New England Ave., no website)
Café Don Juan
The Puerto Rican chain will serve its tostadas, empanadas and coffee out of the City Place mixed-use complex across the street from Krispy Kreme in Winter Park. A full breakfast and lunch menu will also be offered. (Opening April, 1100 Orlando Ave., Winter Park, cafedonjuan.com)
Chef Tang Phan's dazzling French-Vietnamese chef's tasting concept currently at the Neighbors at East End Market will go brick-and-mortar this year, and deservedly so. A specific location hasn't been announced as yet, but we can tell you that it'll be nearby to East End Market.
(Opening December, no location announced, exploretock.com/camille)
The Día de Los Muertos-themed restaurant brings its elevated brand of Mexican fare to the entrance of the dining pavilion at the Florida Mall. The colorful platters are as Instagrammable as the space itself.
(Open, 8001 S. Orange Blossom Trail, cantinacatrina.com)
Catrinas Mexican Fusion
This Mexican restaurant that took over the old Garibaldi's location claims a focus on "Mexican fusion," but the tacos, burritos, enchiladas, fajitas and weighty specialties don't veer too far from south-of-the-border flavors. Live music on weekend nights gets the joint jumping.
(Open, 925 N. Semoran Blvd., catrinasmexicanfusion.com)
The global chain specializing in handheld waffles stuffed with fried chicken will make its foray into the Central Florida market when it opens in the old George's Gourmet Cookies space in Winter Park. Six sauces, three sides and three waffle crunch milkshakes are also offered.
(Opening March, 501 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, chickncone.com)
Chiffon Culture Bakery Café
Winter Springs will soon be home to one of the most popular bakeries in the city, serving the following and more: Japanese mochi donuts, chiffon cakes, egg tarts, cream puffs, boba tea and gourmet coffee.
(Opening March, 5256 Red Bug Lake Road, Winter Springs, facebook.com/chiffonculture.bakerycafe)
Colbie's Southern Kissed Chicken
The fried chicken boom shows no signs of stopping, and Colbie's is going all in. They put fried chicken in buns, wraps, waffles, donuts, biscuits, salads, dumplings and chili. If you ask real nice, they might blend it into one of their shakes, but probably not.
(Opening March, 3267 Vineland Road, Kissimmee, eatatcolbies.com)
Coyoacán Cocina & Tequila
The folks behind Daytona's Maria Bonita Mexican Restaurant will open this colorful, upscale concept in the former Lale Turkish Cuisine space in the Park Place plaza in Heathrow.
(Opening spring, 7025 County Road 46A, Lake Mary, no website)
The Dallas-based chain has been around for 40 years so they must be doing something right. Slow-roasted, wood-fired rotisserie chicken, by all accounts, is something. Crispy drumsticks and pulled brisket too.
(Opening late spring/early summer, 3290 Margaritaville Blvd., Kissimmee, cowboychicken.com)
CrunCheese Korean Hot Dog
The Las Vegas-based outfit will bring their corn dogs on crack to Waterford Lakes. The cheese pulls are epic, but the flavor combinations are the main draw: rice cake, squid ink and the famous potato hot dog rolled in a bit of sugar to bring out the savory.
(Opening June, Waterford Lakes Town Center, 413 N. Alafaya Trail, cruncheesehotdog.com)
Cupid's Hot Dogs
Cupid's is an institution in the San Fernando Valley, having served their Vienna all-beef weenies since 1946. Both the "Triangle," dressed with mustard, onions and relish, and the eponymous dog with mustard, onions and chili are Cupid's classics. Hoping we'll also get roller-skating carhops, like the original.
(Opening March, 1515 Lee Road, cupidshotdogs.net)
Dave's Hot Chicken
The L.A.-based chain will open its first Orlando-area eatery in the old Crispers space at Waterford Lakes Town Center this spring, followed by another location in the old World of Beer space in Altamonte Springs this summer. No matter the location, you can bet the Carolina Reaper-spiced tenders will sting just the same.
(Opening June, Waterford Lakes Town Center, 413 N. Alafaya Trail, daveshotchicken.com)
Debonair Supper Club
The 6,300-square-foot downtown space once home to Chela Tequila & Tacos will soon house a "modern day supper club" reportedly offering "a one-of-a-kind experience that encompasses some of the best aspects of cuisine, mixology, modern art, and entertainment into one lively and comfortable space."
(Opening August, 183 S. Orange Ave., no website)
Light shareables, salads, panini and rice bowls aside, this intimate restaurant across from Lake Eola gets its sweet on with crepes stuffed with everything from strawberries and Nutella to s'mores. Julius Meinl coffee is a bonus.
(Open, 500 E. Central Blvd., dolcethorntonpark.com)
The eight-person standing sushi bar will feature nigiri sushi and a selection of hand rolls (comprising local daily catch as well as fish flown in weekly from Japan), all served inside a 700-square-foot space. The eat-and-go sushi joint is from Sonny Nguyen of Domu and Tori Tori, with Tyler Inthavongsa, who worked for four years at Domu, as lead sushi chef.
(Opening April, 728 N. Thornton Ave., flowcode.com/page/edoboysushi)
F&D Thornton Park
Sister resto to the Lake Mary outpost, F&D brings the same brand of higher-end Mexican fare in an eye-catching space. They got San Antonio-style puffy tacos too.
(Open, 617 E. Central Blvd., fdcantina.com)
Chef Bruno Fonseca will lend permanence to the "Foreigner Experience" — his high-end chef's tasting pop-up concept — when it goes brick-and-mortar in Audubon Park. A move down the street to a space next to Redlight Redlight may allow for the addition of a 10-seat table, in addition to the 10-seat counter and kitchen. No matter the number, Fonseca's multicourse, prix-fixe menu will draw from global influences and place focus on luxe local ingredients including Florida beef, fish and oysters.
(Opening August, 2816 Corrine Drive, theforeignerexperience.com)
The Food Factory
This food hall-ish venue being built as part of the Oviedo on the Park development will see seven "micro restaurants" run by local chefs, restaurateurs and food truck owners surrounding the Factory Bar — a rooftop bar and restaurant. Tenants will include Kai Asian Street Fare and Bartu, an outdoor walk-up bar.
(Opening September, 299 Center Lake Lane, Oviedo, facebook.com/thefoodfactoryoviedo)
Food Network regular Richard Blais follows in the footsteps of Norman Van Aken, Allen Susser and other Mango Gang alum in presenting a Floribbean menu that isn't afraid to get playful. Wear pink and you'll fit right in.
(Open, Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, 1 Grand Cypress Blvd., fourflamingosorlando.com)
The NYC-based fast-casual eatery specializing in fresh, healthy meals opened its first restaurant outside the Tri-State area in Dr. Phillips. And if that's too far for you, hang tight. More Fresh&Cos are planned for Winter Park and Baldwin Park.
(Open, 7728 W. Sand Lake Road, freshandco.com)
Gogi Korean BBQ, Hotpot & Sushi
There's a lot packed into that restaurant name but they're not lying — the restaurant will offer all-you-can-eat Korean barbecue, hotpot and sushi out of a sizable space that once housed a Golden Corral.
(Opening spring, 7251 W. Colonial Drive, find them on Facebook)
The second location of this sandwich shop will bring Wallace & Gromit levels worth of cheeeeese to the old Bites & Bubbles space in Mills 50. Tomato bisque dipper included with every sandwich.
(Opening November/December, 914 N. Mills Ave., grilledcheezus.com)
The Hall on the Yard
The swanky Ivanhoe Village food hall was plagued with issues when it opened, but things are getting smoother. Of the nine restaurants under its roof, the Chef & I consistently delivers the best fare. The indoor/outdoor cocktail bar is a beauty, and the outdoor beer garden with pour-it-yourself taps is ideal for game day. Note: Neither the food nor the booze come cheap.
(Open, 1412 Alden Road, thehallontheyard.com)
Hangry Bison Winter Garden
The burger joint that opened inside Winter Park Village back in 2018 was supposed to have opened another outpost in the Exchange on historic Plant Street last year, but supply-chain issues and issues hiring workers have led to further delays. When it does, expect a bevy of burgers as well as craft cocktails, bourbon and whiskey flights to be served out of the 4,100-square-foot space.
(Opening April, 270 W. Plant St., Winter Garden, thehangrybison.com)
Another looker inside the high-tech Lake Nona Wave Hotel, Haven specializes in pretty pan-Mediterranean cuisine — muhammara, gazpacho, grilled octopus, branzino a la planacha and the like. The restaurant is open for breakfast and lunch too.
(Open, 6100 Wave Hotel Drive, lakenonawavehotel.com/haven)
The social gathering place in Edgewood will feature both micro and anchor restaurants. Bad As's Sandwiches, SoDo Wine Company and the Great Greek have already signed on. Expect a pizzeria, Mexican restaurant, vegan fare and a beer garden.
(Opening fall, 4710 S. Orange Ave., no website)
Finicky College Parkers should take to poke bowls and Spam inside this "modern island social" on the ground floor of the Wellesley condos. If not, there are plenty of Italian joints along Edgewater Drive.
(Opening March, 2305 Edgewater Drive, facebook.com/honoluluharryscp)
Immersion at London House by Chef Rikku
London House, the Soho House-like members-only club in Dr. Phillips, is opening an ultra high-end 24-seat restaurant and opening it to non-members as well. Chef Rikku Ó'Donnchü, whose résumé includes stages at Fat Duck and French Laundry, cheffing at Michelin-starred Hambleton Hall in Rutland, England and working for enfant terrible Marco Pierre White (he survived), will bring modernist and environmental sensibilities to his multi-course tasting menus. Beginning to end, the meal is designed to tell a story, and this one promises to be a tasty one.
(Opening April, 8000 Via Dellagio Way, londonhouse.life)
Nam tok, larb and som tam, that spicy papaya salad, are Isan (Northeastern Thai) staples, and this Millenia Mall–area restaurant plates them with high artistry. Tom zap, a spicy soup, comes in three different varieties — pork rib, chicken feet and beef entrails. The whole snapper and grilled squid are stunners.
(Open, 4693 Gardens Park Blvd., isanzaaporlando.com)
Jeff's Bagel Run Winter Garden
You can still get Jeff's hand-rolled, boiled New York-style bagels delivered, but you can also visit their shop to pick up the assorted varieties they make every day. They serve breakfast bagels and black-and-white cookies, too. Open until 1 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday.
(Open, 2787 Old Winter Garden Road, Ocoee, jeffsbagelrun.com)
Jojo's Shake Bar
The Chicago-based chain has done its part to make the City of Big Shoulders a little bigger, and their outrageous milkshakes (and smashburgers) should do the same here.
(Opening November, Pointe Orlando, 9101 International Drive, jojosshakebar.com)
The Filipino fast-food joint is arguably the most anticipated restaurant thanks to its addicting brand of Chickenjoy! fried chicken and their Yumburgers seasoned to elicit langhap sarap. Look it up.
(Opening spring, 11891 E. Colonial Drive, jollibeeusa.com)
The Las Vegas import is expanding in the Southeast with locations in Georgia and this very soon-to-open outpost across the parking lot from Lotte Plaza Market. Korean barbecue and Korean soups, stews and rice dishes will be the focus.
(Opening March, 800 N. John Young Parkway, kbbqstory.com/kangs.html)
Kavas Tacos & Tequila
It's the year of upscale Mexican eatery, and the menu at this high-ender at Pointe Orlando will be curated by chef Roberto Treviño (El Buda, Don Julio's, Tapa Toro). Live entertainment will keep tourists sipping and dancing.
(Opening July, Pointe Orlando, 9101 International Drive, kavastacos.com)
Kadence chef Lordfer Lalicon and the restaurant's business manager, Jamilyn Salonga Bailey, a couple of passionate Pinoys who want to create a greater awareness of the "beautiful and soulful" cuisine of the Philippines, will open this hotly anticipated restaurant in the former Dandelion Communitea space.
(Opening summer, 618 N. Thornton Ave., kadenceorlando.com)
The Mills 50 mainstay has spread its gospel of fluffy buns to a third location, this one in Winter Park, where alabaster bao filled with everything from kimchi fried chicken to sweet-potato croquettes please hungry commuters along Fairbanks Avenue.
(Open, 1881 W. Fairbanks Ave., facebook.com/kingbaoorlando)
Rejoice, burger fiends ... the Ozersky is coming to town. Chef John Tesar's highly lauded concept is set to take the space of the poolside bar at the Ritz, but don't expect $100 monstrosities dolled up with foie gras, truffles and gold leaf: Tesar's burgers are simple and cheap.
(Opening April, Ritz-Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes, 4012 Central Florida Parkway, knifeburgers.com)
Lazy Moon Pizza Maitland
This third location, to complement Lazy Moon's downtown and UCF pizzerias, will bring odd toppings and humongous slices to the old Einstein Bagels building in Maitland.
(Opening summer, 441 S. Orlando Ave., Maitland, lazymoonpizza.com)
Lipa Rooftop by Akira Back
The Michelin-starred chef and man who lost to Bobby Flay in the "spinach battle" episode of Iron Chef America, Akira Back is behind this Ette Hotel restaurant on the sixth-floor rooftop. Expect Asian haute cuisine complemented by a zero-alcohol bar and lounge with panoramic theme park views.
(Opening summer, Ette Hotel, 3001 Sherberth Road, Kissimmee, liparooftop.com)
The Taiwanese chain was founded 15 years ago with the goal of creating fresh and somewhat healthy-ish desserts. Since then, they've sprouted across the globe, with the first Florida location slated for the Westside Crossings plaza. The menu is filled with icy taro balls, shaved ice, tofu pudding, egg waffles and milk tea.
(Opening TBD, 5144 W. Colonial Drive, meetfresh.us)
Not too much has been revealed about this restaurant by the Maki Hibachi folks going in next to Tasty Wok in Mills 50. What we do know is that GDP DesignBuild, the firm who designed Tori Tori, Mamak and, yes, Maki Hibachi, is designing the layout here. Contemporary Asian cuisine? That's a good bet.
(Opening TBD, 1241 E. Colonial Drive, no website)
A Mongolian barbecue joint is set to open on Colonial Drive, but not just any old Mongolian barbecue joint. This one will allow patrons to build their own bowls from a selection of starches, proteins, vegetables and sauces, then cook them up in seven tabletop "robot" stir fryers for a showy element.
(Opening April, 2217 E. Colonial Drive, facebook.com/themongolorianbbq)
A Turkish restaurant and nightclub will bring out the belly dancers, shisha tokers and night owls in Dr. Phillips. Expect a bevy of kebabs.
(Opening April, 7958 Via Dellagio Way, myloungeorlando.com)
New York Beer Project
It'll resemble an indoor beer garden from the Lower East Side circa 1900, but without the gangs, disease and four-legged street traffic. The brewery will feature a gastropub, sidewalk bistro and New York City-themed event spaces.
(Opening summer, 9230 Miley Drive, Winter Garden, nybeerproject.com)
It's been a long time coming, but buildout of one of the most hotly anticipated restaurants is well underway in Dr. Phillips. Soon, we'll be relishing the new "New World" cuisine devised by Norman Van Aken and his trusted chef de cuisine Carlos Robles Molina. Seeing general manager and wine director Yusuf Yildiz patrol the room will be a welcome sight.
(Opening fall, 7924 Via Dellagio Way, normans.com)
The high-energy vibes brought by Ava just up the street will be duplicated on the southern end of Park Avenue when Oro, run by the same group that operates downtown nightclubs Celine, Ember and Tier, opens. At this high-end concept expect tableside cocktails (many tequila-based) and a menu of Mexican and Latin fare.
(Opening summer, 333 S. Park Ave., Winter Park, orowinterpark.com)
Paris Baguette Bakery Cafe
The Korean chain with more than 4,000 locations worldwide will give the Glass Knife a run for its money when it opens across the street in the Palm Hills development in Winter Park. Interesting note: Local creative marketing agency Push, which was involved early on with Hubbly Bubbly Falafel Shop (RIP), has been charged with the bakery's worldwide rebrand.
(Opening December, 325 S. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, parisbaguette.com)
Park Avenue Tavern
The old Dexter's space in Hannibal Square will get a much-needed refresh when this Manhattan import moves in later this year. Like the New York City original, expect all-American classics served among a good amount of leather and very confident middle-aged men.
(Opening September, 558 W. New England Ave., Winter Park, parkavenuetavern.com)
Peach Valley Café Maitland
A popular breakfast destination that stood in Maitland for 27 years will be replaced by another popular breakfast joint when Peach Valley Café takes over the building that used to house a First Watch. A thorough remodel will include some new additions: a tree-shaded covered patio, an open kitchen and diner-style counter service.
(Opening summer, 1221 S. Orlando Ave., Maitland, peachvalleycafe.com)
Pho Ga Hien Vuong
Z Asian owners Hien Pham and Huong Nguyen will open a pho ga concept in the old Zero Degrees space, but in addition to the eponymous Vietnamese chicken soup, guests can feast on com ga hai nam (Hainanese-style chicken and rice), goi ga (chicken salad) and other chicken dishes.
(Opening summer, 5282 W. Colonial Drive, no website)
Pig Floyd's Winter Park
After Bubbalou's closed, citing a "labor shortage," Thomas Ward swept right in and is now poised to bring his urban barbakoa to Winter Park. Best of all, the scent of barbecued meats won't be mixed with the scent of bullsh*t.
(Opening September, 1471 Lee Road, Winter Park, pigfloyds.com)
The collab between Pig Floyd's and Stasio's Italian Deli (right next door to Will's Pub, on the corner of Mills and Oregon) should produce some magnifico pizzas, melding barbecue notes with Italian flavors. No surprise: The pizza dough will be rolled with pork fat.
(Opening September, 1050 N. Mills Ave., pigzza.com)
Team Market Group's Romi, Keith and Daniel Mawardi, the brothers behind Mathers Social Gathering, The Wellborn and Robinson Room, will open this vegan burger and shake joint in the converted Mills Avenue Coin Laundry on the other side of the Will's complex, at the corner of Mills and Canton. Former Cask & Larder and Black Bean Deli chef Nick Grecco will head up the kitchen.
(Opening April, 1030 N. Mills Ave., instagram.com/planteesburgers)
The motto of this Tiger Woods-backed experiential golf and casual dining concept is "Eat. Putt. Drink." But take a lesson from Tiger and don't drive a Genesis SUV after doing so. PopStroke will offer a menu of handhelds and pizzas, with the indoor-outdoor dining room positioned to take in the sunsets overlooking the two 18-hole miniature golf courses.
(Opening June, Waterford Lakes Town Center, 413 N. Alafaya Trail, popstroke.com)
Primrose Lanes Restaurant & Bowling Club
The old Colonial Lanes revamp being undertaken by Team Market Group is poised to become one of the hottest, and most stunning, venues in town when it opens. Complementing the eight bowling lanes will be a restaurant (overseen by Nick Grecco) that's a step above the bowling alley fare of yore — think Creekstone Farms smashburgers, crispy ribs and what promises to be the best wedge salad in town. An outpost of the Robinson Room will offer coffee and cocktails.
(Opening summer, 400 Primrose Drive, instagram.com/primroselanes)
The Louisiana chicken finger joint makes its foray into Florida with its first eatery planned for Lake Nona. More chicken joints are expected to hatch across the city next year.
(Opening December, 12049 Pioneers Way, raisingcanes.com)
Ramen Revolution, a not-so-revolutionary noodle house from Santiago's Bodega owner Jason Dugan, will bring meaty slurps to the old Orlando Meats space.
(Opening March, 728 Virginia Drive, ramenrevolution.com)
Sampaguita Filipinx Ice Cream + Bakeshop
The brainchild of Marie Mercado of Greenery Creamery, this Filipino sweet shop will offer cool, sugary delights like halo halo, buko pandan milkshakes and ensaymadas (soft sugar-dough pastries). Best of all, it will be just a few blocks away from Kaya.
(Opening September, 1233 E. Colonial Drive, sampaguitausa.com)
Salt and the Cellar
Mediterr-Asian creations from Michelin-starred chef Akira Back are sure to be a draw when this signature resto inside the luxury Ette Hotel opens.
(Opening summer, Ette Hotel, 3001 Sherberth Road, Kissimmee, saltandthecellar.com)
It's not just the pizza that's baked at Slidders — the wings, fries, subs and pastas are as well. Slidders will join Pita Mediterranean and Grain & Berry in the 400 North complex in Maitland.
(Opening summer, 400 N. Orlando Ave., Maitland, slidderspizza.com)
A drunken bar crawl that ends at Sloppy Joe's won't feel quite the same on I-Drive as it does on Duval Street, but take heart — the food here is just as sloppy, and the hurricanes just as quenching.
(Open, Icon Park, 8371 International Drive, sloppyjoesorlando.com)
Smoke & Donuts
After offering its superb barbecue at the now-shuttered Belicoso Cigars and Cafe in Mills Park, then being a resident food truck at À La Cart, Smoke & Donuts is going full brick and mortar. And next door to Se7en Bites, no less.
(Opening spring, 601 N. Primrose Drive, smokeanddonuts.com)
So Dough Pizza Co.
Tin and Taco founder Rob Bair's pizza concept will share a dining space with Tin and Taco in SoDo, serving up Detroit and Chicago-style pizzas.
(Opening March, 419 E. Michigan St., instagram.com/sodough_square)
The Tampa-based fast-casual concept brings its brand of healthy rice bowls, salads and wraps to the Springs Plaza in Longwood. Smoothies, pressed juices and shots are also offered.
(Opening March, 2425 W. State Road 434, Longwood, lovesofresh.com)
Southern Box Food Hall
The old Great Southern Box Co. building on the southeast corner of West Princeton Street and North Orange Blossom Trail is being preserved and repurposed into a 22,400-square-foot food hall featuring an elevated plaza with outdoor green space (read: shade). The food hall is but one component of a larger plan to redevelop the corner site in the Packing District.
(Opening TBD, packingdistrictorlando.com)
South Orange Provisions
In addition to the Bumby Arcade, downtown Orlando will get this upscale food hall on the ground floor of the old SunTrust building. The 10,000-square-foot space will house nine food stalls and feature a shaded park with outdoor seating.
(Opening TBD, 200 S. Orange Ave., southorangeprovisions.com)
Sunshine Diner by Chef Art Smith
Chef Art Smith plans to revitalize the great American diner, and he'll do it in one of the most visible places in the city — the airport. Sunshine Diner will join Wine Bar George and a second location of Cask & Larder in the new Terminal C.
(Opening July, 1 Jeff Fuqua Blvd., orlandoairports.net)
Ford Fry, the Atlanta-based chef and five-time James Beard Award nominee, will open a 5,000-square-foot outpost of his Superica Tex-Mex chain in the Palm Hills development in Winter Park. According to a press release, the "casual yet whimsical space" will feature Fry's "Northern Mexican–meets–Texas ranch" style of cooking, complete with a 900-square-foot patio.
(Opening December, 325 S. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, superica.com)
"Juju" is the Japanese word for the sizzling sound made from grilling meats, so expect binchotan-grilled yakitori (chicken), kushiyaki (meats and veggies), yakizakana (fish), A5 wagyu and other Japanese "soul food" items when this Showa-era themed izakaya by Susuru's Lewis Lin opens near the corner of Colonial Drive and Maguire Boulevard.
(Opening April, 700 Maguire Blvd., susuruorl.com)
Jon Taffer, host of reality TV series Bar Rescue, will open a high-end tavern at a still TBD location. Taffer's no stranger to the Sunshine State — a good many of the bars he's rehabbed are here, including Copper Rocket, Sidelines in Mount Dora, Lucky Leprechaun in Davenport and Rockin' Rhonda's in Sanford.
(Opening TBD, no location announced, tafferstavern.com)
Unlike the Lotte Market original, the second location of this popular Filipino-American eatery has its own space in the University Commons plaza — just down the way from Valkyrie Doughnuts — allowing patrons more elbow room to enjoy chef-owner Mike Collantes' Filipino burgers and chicken sandwiches.
(Open, 12226 Corporate Blvd., taglishfl.com)
The old Cleo's Lounge will soon serve up Sonoran-style tacos, that is flour tortillas meatily filled with everything from barbacoa (lamb shoulder) to asada (short rib) to house-made chorizo. Tortillas will be fashioned from imported Sonoran wheat flour. The space will also house a tequila lounge for nighttime revelry.
(Opening summer, 11 S. Court Ave., no website)
Thai Farm Kitchen
Sister location of the Brooklyn-based contemporary Thai restaurant lends College Park's sleepy dining scene a much-needed boost. It's in the old RusTeak space, which has been given a serene makeover. Get the chicken dumplings and the duck larb — both come beautifully plated.
(Open, 2625 Edgewater Drive, thaifarmkitchen.com)
The Austin-based taco chain will set up inside the redeveloped Oak Grove Shoppes in Altamonte, offering both flour and corn tortillas. Of note: the "Democrat" with barbacoa, avocado and cotija cheese on a corn tortilla, and the "Republican" with jalapeño-cheddar sausage, pico de gallo and cheddar jack on a flour tortilla. Hmm.
(Opening summer, 999 N. State Road 434, Altamonte Springs, torchystacos.com)
Having grown from pop-up to food truck to brick-and-mortar, this plant-based outfit specializes in scratch-made, 100 percent vegan diner classics (burgers, gyros, cheesesteaks) with "meats " made from scratch.
(Opening spring, 908 State Road 436, Casselberry, vsdiner.com)
The South Florida-based concept will bring its brand of "Cajun Gothic" cuisine to the old Moonfish space on Sand Lake Road. Expect the gamut of Crescent City classics, from oysters to étouffée to beignets.
(Opening fall, 7525 W. Sand Lake Road, voodoobayou.com)
Fish-shaped waffles will be served out of the second-floor space at East End Market that once served Dochi's mochi donuts. (Dochi is moving downstairs.) In addition to taiyaki, Wafu will offer freshly made taiyaki soft serve cones with a seasonal flavor lineup.
(Opening May, 3201 Corrine Drive, facebook.com/wafutaiyaki)
Like The Wilson at the InnSide by Meliá New York Nomad, The Wilson at the Meliá Orlando Celebration will plate "playful interpretations of New American classics centered on celebrating classic seafood dishes."
(Opening early summer, 225 Celebration Place, Celebration, melia.com)
World Famous House of Mac
The Miami celeb hotspot's first location outside of South Florida won't have the star power — it's in SoDo, after all — but there will be plenty of mac & cheese, wings, burgers, pastas, pizzas and fresh-squeezed juices that could very well be, um, stellar.
(Opening late April/early May, 2435 S. Orange Ave., houseofmac.com)
The Yardery, a family-friendly indoor-outdoor compound, also happens to serve real-deal Montreal-style sourdough bagels. Yes, they're poached in honey water. In addition to the baked, chewy rounds, backyard barbecue favorites (ribs, hot dogs, fried chicken) and pizza are offered.
(Open, 415 E. Fourth St., Sanford, theyardery.com)
YH Seafood Clubhouse
Soaring salvers of seafood will greet guests at this Phillips Crossing concept by Yummy House owner John Zhao. The restaurant is modeled after Fishman Lobster Clubhouse, the famed Toronto seafood house known for its towering platters of lobster and crab that's been featured on every foodie show from Ugly Delicious to Huang's World. Hong Kong-style dim sum and modern Cantonese cuisine will also be served.
(Opening April, 8081 Turkey Lake Road, yummyhouseflorida.com)