Emily Ellyn, the Retro Rad Chef and Food Network television personality: "This is an exciting time in Orlando, do I really have to pick my favorites?? Pig Floyd and Black Bean Deli are top picks for house-made fare, served fast-casual. RusTeak in College Park: Order the mussels. Great wine too! The Rusty Spoon is great for lunch. It's the only place my vegetarian boyfriend will eat a burger. Chef Kevin Fonzo of K in College Park can fork-feed me his farm-to-table eats any day of the week. Cask & Larder has the best brunch in town. Curbside Chef is my favorite food-truck fix. I find Sushi Pop's entrées intriguing and yummy. Need a new Mexican spot? Satisfying food and tasty margaritas at El Patron in Lake Buena Vista!
"This list is making me hungry! Should I keep going, or wait to anonymously pencil in my favorites for Orlando Weekly's Best of Orlando poll?!"
John and Kamrin Rife, founder-owner and chief financial officer, East End Market: "On a recent date night, Kamrin and I ventured out to the Ritz to eat at Highball & Harvest. We were super impressed with chef Mark Jeffers' menu, and everything we ordered was really unique and delicious. The Southern spreads and house-made jerky were a great way to start the meal. We both ordered fish, and the chef's Port Orange upbringing and Carolina-inspired flavors made for two tasty entrées. After capping it all off with the baby donuts with hazelnut spread and cappuccino ice cream, we were already planning our return visit. Well worth the drive."
Sandy Bitman, owner, Park Ave CDs: "It's often tough to find a good place to eat past 10 p.m. in our town. So, when I have to, I head over to Santiago's Bodega over on Virginia or to Scratch in Winter Park. It's nice to roll in late and grab some good food in a comfortable atmosphere without the pressure of feeling rushed.
"My favorite vegan/vegetarian sandwiches: Ethos' 'What's the Dilly, Philly?' is an old standby that never lets me down. Stardust's 'No Depression' (also a great Uncle Tupelo album) with tempeh is filling and tasty. Finally, newcomer Pig Floyd's 'Big Floyd' with tofu is sloppy, stacked with coleslaw and finger-licking good.
"My favorite neighborhood haunts: BB Junction off of Fairbanks is an easy place to grab a creative burger along with a cold craft beer. And the Strand off of Mills is a welcome addition, a diner with great choices whose menu flexes depending on the season."
Patrick and Holly Kahn, owners and curators, Snap! Space gallery: "We loved having discovered the Pharmacy when it was still a best-kept secret, but it is a bit far away. We enjoy Armando's street-side dining, with authentic Italian food (and waiters), and Prato for its buzzing New York feel – other notables are the cocktails at the Courtesy Bar, appetizers at Txokos, tapas at Santiago's Bodega, and the never-disappointing Ravenous Pig. In our immediate neighborhood we often frequent the Strand, Anh Hong and Dandelion."
John Morgan, attorney at Morgan & Morgan: "Enzo's is the bomb. It's where we celebrate!"