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; kyotosushiandgrill.net)
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; normans.com)
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; olered.com)
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; facebook.com/outpostneighborhoodkitchen)
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; papallama.co)
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; persimmonhollowbrewing.com)
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)
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; instagram.com/ramentakagi)
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; sanjulianshills.com)
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; sanfordbrewing.com)