Continuing their obsession with Orlando, USA Today wrote a piece on Orlando's non-chain restaurants. Look, we live in Orlando, so we know all about the delicious, often farm-to-table food our local restaurants have to offer. According to USA Today, these are the City Beautiful's best independent restaurants (and a little taste of what our food reviewer thought of them):
- Yellow Dog Eats Bistro and Wine Store: "To call Yellow Dog Eats a sandwich shop is like referring to Julia Child as a lady who cooks."
- K Restaurant & Wine Bar: "Each silken bite [of the porcini-rubbed filet mignon] washed in a cabernet sauvignon sauce aroused groans of gratification."
- Dandelion Communitea Café: "[The] outstandingly hearty chili will satisfy even the most ravenous of carnivores."
- Maxine's on Shine: "Count Maxine’s as my new fave neighborhood restaurant."
- Rusty Spoon: "Kathleen Blake ... presents a rustic card of locally farmed and raised ingredients, but not obsessively so."
- Pom Pom's Teahouse & Sandwicheria: "The menu sports a quirky, idiosyncratic mix of elements that shouldn’t go together, but do."
- Scratch: "As I forked short-rib poutine with twice-fried potatoes and bordelaise gravy into my mouth, I felt myself being transported to a Queen West poutinerie in Toronto."
- Ravenous Pig: "Served in a balsamic brown butter, the glistening orbs (Nantucket Bay scallops) were perfectly opaque, pillowy and moist."
- Cask & Larder: "French-style comfort was offered in the form of foie gras-stuffed quail, which, surprisingly, wasn't as rich as we expected it to be."
- The Coop: "John Rivers’ latest venture, the Coop, will do for fried chicken what 4Rivers did for brisket."
These are all extremely worthy choices, but why stop there? The above eateries, while terrific, seem to be the same few that always get the spotlight from the national media. If you're a tourist looking to eat where the locals get their nosh on or just a local looking to discover a new spot, here are some more independent restaurant suggestions:
- Beth's Burger Bar: "Being pigeonholed as a late-night pit stop for hungry tosspots is inevitable when you’re situated in the downtown core and stay open until 3 a.m. on weekends, but Beth’s Burger Bar is worth a visit even during sober daylight hours."
- Gringos Locos: "The queso-messed chimi was particularly pleasing and had me wishing I was sloshed so that I could fully enjoy it."
- Pho 88: "The masses of very thin rice noodles come submerged in clear, delicately seasoned broth, either beef- or chicken-based."
- Taproom at Dubsdread:"Creamy chicken vegetable soup, a chowder-like potage with corn and potatoes made it a struggle to pass up a second bowl"
- Linda's La Cantina: "Juicy, succulent and tender, with hints of smokiness, the mammoth T-bone steaks cover the better part of an oversized dinner plate."
- Lee and Rick's Oyster Bar: "a large plateful of the ocean's jewels are laid before you, the raw mollusks straight from Apalachicola Bay and so fresh that they're sweet.
- Zaza New Cuban Diner: "Not only is the food comforting, it’s homemade, down to the twisty quesito pastries that pair perfectly with a cup of high-octane cafe con leche, made from beans roasted in Longwood."
- Citrus:"Lobster and sweet corn fritters, spiked with nostril-flaring jalapeño and dressed up with pineapple-mango salsa, evoked Southern hush-puppy comfort."
- Kiko Sushi: "As much as [chef] Wu’s vegetarian dishes impressed us, it was his undeniably fresh slices and rolls of sushi that had us contemplating future visits."
- Southern Moon Smokehouse (our reviewer hasn't been yet, but this writer has. The 'cue is top notch and the homemade EVERYTHING, from sauce to sodas, takes this spot to the next level.)
Do you have a favorite non-chain restaurant in Orlando? Share it in the comments below.