Mills 50 is a great example of the 'real Orlando'

Mills 50 is a great example of the 'real Orlando'
Photo by Lindsey Thompson

Mills 50 may get its name from the intersection of Mills Avenue and Colonial Drive (aka State Road 50), but it’s earned its reputation by appealing to a broad cross-section of musicians, artists, foodies and drinkers of disparate tastes and backgrounds. Whether it’s all the young punks who pack out tiny Uncle Lou’s, or the epicurean yuppies quaffing craft cocktails at the Guesthouse, the third-shifters hitting Wally’s just as it opens, or just folks who know where to get a good pho, Mills 50 is the go-to neighborhood for a whole swath of different purposes. Even though the northern end has attracted some big-money developers looking to cash in on the cultural cachet of the neighborhood, its distinction as the “intersection of creativity and culture” persists, and it’s often one of the first places Orlandoans will bring out-of-towners who want to learn something about the “real Orlando.”


Anh Hong

1124 E. Colonial Drive, 407-999-2656,

The banh mí at this popular corner Vietnamese spot are almost as much of an institution as its distinct neon signage.

Chuan Lu Garden

1101 E. Colonial Drive; 407-896-8966;

Frequently topping locals' lists of favorite Chinese restaurants, Chuan Lu specializes in mouth-numbing Sichuan entrees.

King Bao

710 N. Mills Ave., 407-237-0013,

This no-frills fast-casual spot offers up a wide variety of bao – steamed bun sandwiches – for a price that won't break the bank.

Black Rooster Taqueria

1323 N. Mills Ave., 407-601-0994,

A labor of love from chef John Calloway, Black Rooster offers a variety of delicious fresh-Mex-style tacos made with high-quality ingredients.

Mamak Asian Street Food

1231 E. Colonial Drive, 407-270-4688,

Serving tapas-style Asian plates, Mamak is best enjoyed in a group. The roti and fish with black bean sauce are not to be missed, but order extra or risk starting a fight at the table.

The Strand

807 N. Mills Ave., 407-920-7744,

The bright retro atmosphere of the Strand is a perfect accompaniment to the updated takes on American classics that populate the menu.


St. Matthew's Tavern

1300 N. Mills Ave.,

With cheap drinks, a diverse crowd and a variety of events, St. Matthew's Tavern has become one of the best neighborhood hangouts in Mills 50.


1205 N. Mills Ave., 407-796-2522,

Festooned with a rotating selection of classic arcade and pinball machines, BART pairs modern craft beer with retro good times.

The Guesthouse

1321 N. Mills Ave., 407-630-6574

Great lighting, crisp decor and a dedication to the art of craft cocktails makes the Guesthouse one of Mills 50's best date-night spots.

Will's Pub/Lil Indies

1042/1036 N. Mills Ave.,

Mills 50 pioneer Will Walker's one-two punch in the middle of Mills Avenue combines one of the busiest live music schedules in town with craft beer and cocktails, dance nights, community markets and more, making it basically Orlando's living room.

Uncle Lou's Entertainment Hall

1016 N. Mills Ave., 407-898-0009

Not so much an "entertainment hall" as an "entertainment hallway," Uncle Lou's is still the best spot in town to catch the bleeding edge of underground music with a tallboy in hand.

Wally's Mills Avenue Liquor

1001 N. Mills Ave., 407-896-6975,

An Orlando landmark since 1954, Wally's is possibly the best dive bar on the planet. With notoriously heavy pours and an attached package store, each and every visit has the potential to turn into an adventure.


The District at Mills 50

1221 N. Mills Ave., 407-601-3363,

This new indoor market offers goods from a variety of local vendors. Everything from vintage clothing, books, coffee, soap, stationery and more line the shelves and walls. Keep an eye out for special events like local author readings as well.

Retromended Vintage

930 N. Mills Ave., 407-674-8190,

Stylist and seamstress Brandy Tezak's Mills 50 space is inviting and warm, full of vintage clothing curated by color, killer accessories, art and workshops.

Dong-A Supermarket

816 N. Mills Ave., 407-898-9227,

This sprawling supermarket offers an extensive selection of Asian food and ingredients, from noodles to sauces to rice varietals to fresh seafood and produce.


1211 Hillcrest St., 407-895-7439,

Whether you're looking for incense, essential oils, candles, crystals, herbs or books on spells and charms, Avalon has your New Age-y witchcraft needs covered.


The Center

946 N. Mills Ave., 407-228-8272,

Offering free counseling, educational and legal services, and HIV testing to the LGBT community, the Center is one of the oldest organizations of its kind in the country.

Downtown Orlando YMCA

433 N. Mills Ave., 407-896-9220,

The flagship outpost of the YMCA in Orlando, the Mills location offers comprehensive fitness equipment and classes, sports leagues, swimming, youth programs and more.

Orlando Urban Trail

Near the intersection of Virginia Drive and Brookhaven Drive,

The new-ish Orlando Urban Trail cuts through the residential area of Mills 50 to connect bicyclists to downtown, Loch Haven Park and Winter Park.


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