From food halls to fine dining, Orlando's most anticipated new restaurants of 2020

Financier Patisserie, an NYC-based minichain with Parisian panache, has moved into the old Rustic Table space in Winter Park.
Financier Patisserie, an NYC-based minichain with Parisian panache, has moved into the old Rustic Table space in Winter Park. Photo by Rob Bartlett

With the promise of a new year, the food-conscious souls of the city commence their ritual gaze into the near future, brain-marking food and drink establishments of note, planning culinary excursions to far-flung reaches of the city, and clearing space on their phones for the impending glut of IG stories.

So what does 2020 hold for our ever-diverse restaurant landscape? For one, a trend we've been eagerly anticipating for a few years now – food halls. Winter Garden, Lake Ivanhoe, downtown Orlando, Oviedo, SoDo and more neighborhoods will see these bastions of gluttony open to the public. On the finer dining front, Norman's will reopen in Dr. Phillips after moving out of the Ritz and a couple of Top Chef alums – John Tesar and Gerald Sombright – will move in. It'll be a relatively quiet year for Disney Springs, but over at Epcot, Space 220 will blur the lines between space station and restaurant.

Want more? How about soaring towers of fried lobster? Or a ramen joint where everything (noodles included) is made from scratch? We'll get Blake Shelton, Willie Degel and the world's largest White Castle. Oh, and local restaurateurs Jason and Sue Chin will launch a new venture, but we can't tell you about that just yet. What we can tell you is, judging from this list of newly open and soon-to-open restaurants, it'll be a very gratifying year of eating.

A.G.'s Market

The Hamlin food hall (appropriately monogrammed after Arthur George Hamlin) will sit on 22,000 square feet of lakefront property and offer everything from craft burgers and pizza to Southern fried chicken and sushi. A second-floor indoor/outdoor bar will provide views of Lake Hancock and nightly fireworks at Disney.

(Opening December; 14117 Shoreside Way, Winter Garden;

Babbi Babbi Korean Kitchen

This fast-casual Korean joint replaced Pei Wei, a fast-casual Chinese joint, and introduced the Phillips Crossing plaza to the Kimbap – steamed rice and various meats rolled in seaweed and served in bite-sized slices. Bibimbap bowls are also offered.

(Opened January; 8015 Turkey Lake Road;

Bad As's Sandwiches

The popular Milk District sammie joint will bring its unique brand of grammatical and handheld expression to the old Joe's Pizza space in Winter Park. Owner John Collazo's over-the-top sandwiches will go over well on a strip that has Hunger Street Tacos, Lombardi's Seafood, 4 Rivers Smokehouse and Bread & Co. within walking distance of each other.

(Opening spring; 1881 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park;

Bao's Castle

Owner Danny Ngo, who also runs Sodo Sushi Bar & Grill, says Bao's Castle will be a beer and wine bar serving a focused menu of bao including "the best pork belly bao you've ever eaten." Seafood bowls and 10 different craft brews will also be served. Danny Nguyen, former sushi maestro at Kabooki Sushi, will man the kitchen.

(Opening March; 45 W. Crystal Lake St.,

Bagel World

Apart from the fresh-baked bagels this New Smyrna Beach stalwart will bring to the former Two Chefs Seafood Oyster Bar space in the North Quarter, they'll also offer breakfast wraps, deli sandwiches and bialys – the bagel's non-boiled, onion-stuffed cousin.

(Opening February; 743 N. Magnolia Ave.;

Banh Mi Boy Bakery & Cafe

The banh mi counter inside the Tien Hung Market in Mills 50 received a refresh and a rebrand, most notably with a marquee on the market's facade. Inside, 10 banh mis are offered (yes, there's a veg version), all for $4.99.

(Opened December; 1112 E. Colonial Drive;

Boku Sushi & Grill

Chef Tim Liu, whose Mikado Sushi & Grill introduced quality cuts of fish from Tsukiji and Toyosu Fish Markets to MetroWest, promises that this Maitland City Centre sushi joint will "change the game." Liu is using wood materials to create an aesthetic that's natural, clean and contemporary.

(Opening February/March; 190 Independence Lane, Maitland;

Bovine Steakhouse

JM Hospitality, the same group behind the 310 Restaurants and Blu on the Avenue, will open this high-end refuge of red meat in the old Park Plaza Gardens space on Park Avenue. After a significant renovation (and significant delay), Bovine is poised to become the most handsome of chophouses in the city.

(Opening March; 319 S. Park Ave., Winter Park;

click to enlarge Bread & Co. reopened as a Japanese restaurant, but they'll still serve their luxe French-Korean pastries. - Photo by Faiyaz Kara
Photo by Faiyaz Kara
Bread & Co. reopened as a Japanese restaurant, but they'll still serve their luxe French-Korean pastries.

Bread & Co.

After temporarily closing late last year, the French-Korean bakery reopened in 2020 with an interior design revamp and a concept tweak. Yes, they still serve their luxe breads and pastries, but they've now got a bevy of savory Japanese dishes to add to their sweeter offerings: yakitori, sandos, curries and, of course, okonomiyaki.

(Opened January; 1230 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park;

Brick & Spoon

The Southern breakfast and lunch spot out of Lafayette, Louisiana, will open at the Village at Lake Lily promising build-your-own Bloody Marys and boozy concoctions. And yes, beignets will be served.

(Opening late January; 933 S. Orlando Ave., Maitland;

Brother Jimmy's BBQ

New York-based Carolina barbecue chain Brother Jimmy's will open not one but two smokehouses in the city this year: A counter-service operation is slated to open in the old Which 'Wich space at the Marketplace at Dr. Phillips and another full-service operation in the former Adobe Gilas space at Pointe Orlando. Let the napkins fly.

(Opening June at 7800 Dr. Phillips Blvd.; opening fall at 9101 International Drive;

Bumby Arcade at Church Street Station Food Hall

An 18-stall food hall incorporating the gorgeous Orchid Garden on Church Street will undoubtedly draw more people to the venue than in the old Church Street Station days. Let's hope the vendors are as worthy as the Victorian-esque architecture.

(Opening spring; 110 W. Church St.; no website)

Café D'Avignon

If you've been to the Essex Street Market on the Lower East Side, the Plaza Food Hall in Midtown, or the Dekalb Market Hall in Brooklyn, you may have indulged in coffee and a croissant from Café D'Avignon. Now this NYC-based café/bakery has opened its first outpost outside the Big Apple at Sunset Walk in the Margaritaville Resort, with more cafés along the way.

(Opened January; 3260 Margaritaville Blvd., Kissimmee;

City Works Eatery & Pour House

An upscale sports bar experience with more than 90 local and global varieties of beer on tap should go over well at the culinary Circus Maximus of Disney Springs. As far as food is concerned, expect classic American with "modern twists."

(Opening February; 1486 E. Buena Vista Drive, Disney Springs;

Cucina Pizza & Bar

West Palm Beach-based pizza outfit will open their build-your-own-pizza concept in the old California Tortilla space on Church Street. They tout their fresh, local ingredients (an herb wall may be incorporated for hyperlocality) and a bar should keep downtown's club set properly slaked.

(Opening summer; 55 W. Church St.;

click to enlarge The 'BLT' at Dexter's New Standard: Bacon, fried green tomato, heirloom tomato, mizuna, garlic aioli. - Photo by Rob Bartlett
Photo by Rob Bartlett
The 'BLT' at Dexter's New Standard: Bacon, fried green tomato, heirloom tomato, mizuna, garlic aioli.

Dexter's New Standard

With executive chef Ryan McLaughlin from K Restaurant, Ben Roche from 1921 Mount Dora and pastry chef Lydia Murphy from the Smiling Bison, the new Dexter's is indeed setting a new standard in this rapidly gentrifying sector of Winter Park. Their brand of "elevated American cuisine" is seasonal, with many ingredients sourced from local farms and fisheries.

(Open; 1035 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park;

El Jefe Tequilas Taco Cantina

The new Mexican concept from Chicago's Blue Agave Restaurant Group serves a vast selection of tequila (more than 200 varieties) along with south-of-the-border cuisine inside a 5,100-square-foot space at the Sunset Walk entertainment complex at Margaritaville Resort.

(Opened January; 3227 Margaritaville Blvd., Kissimmee;

Elize Restaurant

Rusty who? When Michelle Lagerweij took over the Rusty Spoon from Kathleen and husband William Blake, the city's food-obsessed lamented. But a stylish makeover of the space, and stylish Euro-inspired dishes courtesy of Dutch celebrity chef Leon Mazairac, have won Rusty Spooners over. The pair are still tweaking and refreshing the menu and hope to celebrate a grand opening in late February or early March.

(Opened October; 55 W. Church St.;

Estefan Kitchen

She shuttered Bongo's Cuban Café at Disney Springs (it'll transform to the flexitarian-friendly Beatrix in the spring of 2021) last summer, but Gloria Estefan, along with hubby Emilio, got back in the game by opening a Cuban restaurant at the Margaritaville Resort's Sunset Walk in late December. Expect long conga lines.

(Open; 3269 Margaritaville Blvd., Kissimmee;

F&D Woodfired Italian Kitchen

The Hourglass District eatery will expand into the old Bayridge Sushi space in Longwood, bringing their brand of Neapolitan pizzas and pastas with noodles provided by Trevi Pasta.

(Opening April; 400 Savage Court, Longwood;

click to enlarge Lemon meringue tart at Financier Patisserie - Photo by Rob Bartlett
Photo by Rob Bartlett
Lemon meringue tart at Financier Patisserie

Financier Patisserie

Croissant lovers rejoiced at the news this NYC-based patisserie with Parisian panache was moving into the old Rustic Table space on Park Avenue, and now they're indulging in pastries, cakes and, bien sûr, financiers.

(Opened December; 212 N. Park Ave., Winter Park;

The Food Factory

This venue, part of the Oviedo on the Park development, will see eight "micro restaurants" run by local chefs, restaurateurs and food truck owners surrounding the Factory Bar – a rooftop bar and restaurant. Tenants include Kai Asian Street Fare, Swan City Bagels, Dixie Dharma, Grain & Ember, PokeKai, the Steak, Rockstar Lobster and Dulce Pecado. Sanford Brewing Co. will also be on site.

(Opening fall; 299 Center Lake Lane, Oviedo;

Fort Pitt

A nearly 100-year-old edifice on Old Cheney Highway will transform into a neighborhood marketplace and food venue with various restaurant options. Puerto Rican outfit El Chinchorro 75 has signed on, as has vegan vendor V's Diner.

(Opening March; 5565 Old Cheney Highway;

Gatlin Hall

Kevin O'Donnell, co-owner of the Local Butcher and Market and the Porch, is behind this SoDo food hall venture that will see Cavo's Pizza (from the same folks behind Cavo's Bar & Kitchen in Thornton Park), Da Kine Poke and a dessert vendor join the Local Butcher & Market at the redeveloped Fort Gatlin Shopping Center. Gatlin Hall Brewing will anchor the 4,000-square-foot space. Owner Mike Brady has brought on Cigar City's Tyler Rosenberg as head brewer.

(Opening April; 4721 S. Orange Ave.;

Hall on Franklin

Tampa's first food hall will expand into a 13,000-square-foot space at the Yard at Ivanhoe with tenants including local players Orlando Meats and Humbl along with Tampa's Fork & Hen and Fork & Gallina Mediterranean. The full-service food hall will see 10 restaurant vendors situated downstairs, with the second floor reserved for overflow seating, private dining, stage performances and events. Two full liquor bars will reside on the upper floor.

(Opening summer; 1460 Alden Road;

The Hampton Social

The island-inspired flair of the old Tommy Bahama Restaurant in Pointe Orlando will soon be supplanted by the East Coast nautical swankdashery of the Hampton Social. Expect plenty of seafood, shellfish, brick-oven pizzas, and – not to sound like a broken Michael McDonald record – plenty of yacht rock, I'm sure.

(Opening April; Pointe Orlando, 9101 International Drive;

Henry's Depot

While cocktail bar the Basin has opened inside the Sanford food hall, gourmands will need to wait a bit longer before the food stalls open. Genghis Juan's Crafty Tacos & Beastie Bowls, Poke Rose and Mahogany Coffee will join the lineup of vendors, which include Greenery Creamery, Grain & Ember, Salvatore's Prime Sandwiches and Dixie Dharma.

(Opening February; 212 W. First St., Sanford;

Kavas Tacos + Tequila

Local restaurateurs Katerina and Vassilis Coumbaros will add a Mexican concept to their portfolio, which includes Taverna Opa and Tapa Toro. In addition to fare paying "tribute to Mexico's rich culinary history," there will be a cigar lounge and, like their other two ventures, plenty of post-dinner dancing.

(Opening September; Pointe Orlando, 9101 International Drive;

Knife & Spoon

Top Chef Season 10 and 14 alum John Tesar, a four-time James Beard Award semifinalist for "Best Southwest Chef," will open one of the year's most highly anticipated restaurants: a modern steak and seafood concept with fellow Top Chef Season 14 cohort Gerald Sombright tapped as chef de cuisine. Both have a thing for bovines, so guests can expect beefy cuts above the rest.

(Opening May; Ritz-Carlton Orlando, 4012 Central Florida Parkway;

click to enlarge Elize's deviled shoyu tamago: Lake Meadow Farms eggs, soy sauce, ginger, lime - Photo by Rob Bartlett
Photo by Rob Bartlett
Elize's deviled shoyu tamago: Lake Meadow Farms eggs, soy sauce, ginger, lime

Korean Gogi Grill

The former 3,600-square-foot World of Beer space at the Marketplace at Dr. Phillips will soon be home to a sprawling Korean barbecue restaurant. With Morton's situated right across the parking lot, the Marketplace has both hemispheres covered for lovers of beef.

(Opening June; 7800 Dr. Phillips Blvd., no website)

Kyoto Sushi & Grill

While many lamented the closure of Baja Burrito Kitchen (ahh, that salsa bar!), many rejoiced at the news this local hibachi and sushi chain, billing itself as "faster and more affordable" than other Japanese restaurants, would move into the space. In addition to hibachi, expect scores of rolls, poke bowls, bento boxes and ramen.

(Opening summer; 2716 E. Colonial Drive;

La Boulangerie

The Modera Central apartment building downtown will house, as the name suggests, a French bakery – but they'll be open for lunch and dinner as well. Expect beef bourguignons and duck cassoulets to go along with a selection of the finest from the left and right banks.

(Opening spring; 125 E. Pine St.; no website)


The "new world cuisine" at the new Norman's in Dr. Phillips won't be fashioned by longtime chef Andres Mendoza (he departed for Victoria & Albert's), but by Mendoza's right-hand man Carlos Robles. Chef Norman Van Aken has always been impressed with Robles' cooking, but he's equally impressed by his ability to build a team and execute a plan. No doubt this will be the most highly anticipated restaurant opening of the year.

(Opening fall; 7924 Via Dellagio Way;

Ole Red

Country music and Southern comfort collide at Blake Shelton's Icon Park effort, a restaurant named after his hit song. Other hits come in the form of red cornmeal-fried catfish and grilled bacon-wrapped meatloaf. The "Southern tater tot poutine with sawmill gravy"? I don't think so. Coming in 2021, Gwen Stefani's Hollaback Grill (just kidding).

(Opening April; 8417 International Drive;

Osphere Grill and Bar

If anyone can reverse the (alleged) curse at a lakeside location that's seen Lake Eola Yacht Club, Spice Modern Steakhouse and Tre Bambine shutter, it's Oudom Ketsatha. The Oudom Thai and Coco Cocina owner will open a bar and grill concept but, apart from there being a cocktail program, not much has been revealed about the menu.

(Opening March; 407 E. Central Ave.; no website)

Outpost Neighborhood Kitchen

Running a cutesy eatery in a relatively small space in College Park is one thing. Being the anchor restaurant at the Maitland City Centre is entirely another. Outpost's brand of American comfort fare will compete with Brick & Spoon's Southern-tinged breakfast and lunch dishes nearby, so dinner could very well be the differentiator for Outpost.

(Opening December; 190 Independence Lane, Maitland;

Papa Llama

Kevin and Maria Ruiz have already garnered a rep for serving the finest Peruvian fare in the city with their pop-up dinners, and there's no reason to believe they won't continue to do so when Papa Llama goes brick-and-mortar in Curry Ford West.

(Opening June; 2840 Curry Ford Road;

Persimmon Hollow Brewing Co.

A brewery and taproom on the ground floor of the EO Inn is a far cry from the days when Panera Bread occupied the space. A full renovation will see a seven-barrel brewing system, kitchen (featuring a yet-to-be-named local food vendor) and plenty of outdoor seating.

(Opening spring; 227 N. Eola Drive;

The Pinery

Playing up the area's history as a once-thriving pineapple farm, the 150-seat Pinery will occupy more than 4,000 square feet inside the Lake House Apartments. The restaurant will be designed by Blue Sky Studios and celebrate "Florida fresh cuisine."

(Opening December; 301 NE Ivanhoe Blvd.; no website)

Ramen Takagi

Oviedo will be privy to some legit bowls of tonkotsu when this ramen-ya by Yoko Takagi opens in the old Pita Pit spot. Takagi is a student of the soup and he brings a fierce focus to detail: Noodles, tare and specific oils for each ramen type will all be fashioned from scratch. The menu is just as focused with shio, shoyu, miso and tonkotsu ramen being offered, along with just a few other items like harusame salad and chicken kara age. This might just be the hottest restaurant in town (even beyond Oviedo's borders).

(Opening March; 3635 Aloma Ave., Oviedo;

Russell's on Ivanhoe

This concept by Kevin O'Donnell and Justin Stratford of Winter Park's Local Butcher & Market and the Porch will move into the Mesa21 space after a thorough remodel. The restaurant's name pays homage to George Russell – one of the earliest settlers and developers of the Lake Ivanhoe neighborhood. As far as the menu is concerned, expect "The Porch meets Hillstone," says O'Donnell.

(Opening April; 1414 N. Orange Ave.; no website)

San Julian's Coffee

Using beans cultivated in San Julian Caldas in Colombia, this Lakeside Crossing coffee shop promises to be everything its predecessor wasn't – busy. The local coffee purveyor has operated online since 2017, but owner Santiago Betancur has since gathered a group of baristas ready to offer guests everything from pour-overs to cold drips to Aeropress espresso.

(Opening February; 110 S. Orlando Ave., Winter Park;

Sanford Brewing Co.

The Maitland City Centre outpost of the Sanford original will serve a slightly more upscale rendition of its Southern gastropub fare along with its full lineup of beers (and a couple of special Maitland-specific brews).

(Opening February; 160 Independence Lane, Maitland;

click to enlarge A second location of Taste of Chengdu will sock Baldwin Park with a peppercorn punch in March. - Photo by Rob Bartlett
Photo by Rob Bartlett
A second location of Taste of Chengdu will sock Baldwin Park with a peppercorn punch in March.

Shaka Donuts

Unlike those teases at the Salty Donut (just open here already!), Shaka Donuts has committed to Orlando, and SoDoughers are diving into their made-to-order hot cake doughnuts. They've even got a doughnut named after the mayor – Buddy Dyer's Nutty Buddy. See? Commitment.

(Opened January; 225 E. Michigan St.;

Sixty Vines

The Dallas-based, wine country-inspired restaurant is making significant changes to the 8,000-square-foot space that once housed Kona Grill on the southern end of Lakeside Crossing. Of note: the exhibition kitchen with charcuterie bar, and an enclosed greenhouse patio offering a "wine garden experience." The menu of NoCal-influenced dishes (local and seasonal, of course) come ready to pair with the 60-plus wines on tap.

(Opening spring; 110 S. Orlando Ave., Winter Park;

Southern Box Food Hall

The old Great Southern Box Company building on the southeast corner of 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, which will also see a microbrewery and a signature restaurant/bar.

(Opening December; Princeton Street and North Orange Blossom Trail;

Space 220

Part of the Mission: Space expansion, this ambitiously themed restaurant promises to be, well, far out. The dining room places guests inside a space station with panoramic views 220 miles above our little blue planet. The menu is a little more down to earth: modern American cuisine with a 1,000-bottle wine list.

(Opening February; Future World, Epcot;

Sperry Deli & Creamery

A small-town deli and ice cream shop inside the Veranda in historic Thornton Park seems like a perfectly apropos concept, doesn't it? It's even named after Frank Sperry, who served as mayor of Orlando from 1914 to 1916. Boar's Head sandwiches and Hershey's Ice Cream will offer a taste of Americana.

(Opening late January; 707 E. Washington St.;

Tabla Winter Park

The space, buried deep inside the Shops on Park, is a tough one, but chef Sajan Prem will wow the Park Avenue set just as he does tourists at Tabla's Universal-area original. Prem and chef Ashish Suji are closely guarding the menu at the Winter Park location, coyly saying it's a "secret," but expect "a symphony of Indian, Chinese and Thai flavors."

(Opening February; 216 N. Park Ave., Winter Park;

Taste of Chengdu

One of the city's best and most buzzworthy restaurants is about to sock Baldwin Park with a peppercorn punch. When chef Xiong "Tiger" Tang's second shrine to all things Sichuan opens in the old Chi Pan Asian space, senses along New Broad Street will be piqued by the tongue-numbing, gut-burning pleasures.

(Opening March; 4856 New Broad St.;

Uncle Jack's Meat House

Food Network personality Willie Degel (host of Restaurant Stakeout) will open an Uncle Jack's Meat House in a yet-to-be-disclosed spot. The casual steakhouse will feature a 24-ounce, 35-day dry-aged "Fred Flintstone" rib chop.

(Opening 2020; TBD;

V.L.C. Vegan Eatery

Massage music, hand-carved wood and natural greenery create a calming effect at this Waterford Lakes-area vegan spot. Chef-owner Jim Wu, a 15-year vegan, serves a menu of pan-Asian fare embodying the restaurant's tenets: "Vegan. Love. Care."

(Opened January; 504 N. Alafaya Trail;

White Castle

The stoner burger chain returns to the Sunshine State after more than 50 years, but Orlandoans will have to make the drive to the O-Town West development near Disney to satisfy their munchies. The 4,500-square-foot restaurant will be the company's largest burger, umm, joint.

(Opening December; Palm Parkway and Darryl Carter Parkway;

YH Seafood Club

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 shows from Ugly Delicious to Huang's World. Hong Kong-style dim sum and modern Cantonese cuisine will also be served.

(Opening May; 8081 Turkey Lake Road;

This story appears in the Jan. 29, 2020, print issue of Orlando Weekly. Find out the latest dining news every Friday morning with our weekly Food + Drink newsletter.

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