Orlando's Audubon Park more than lives up to the hype

Evening Exchange at East End
Evening Exchange at East End Photo by Steven Miller

The deceptively sleepy and bucolic district that is Audubon Park is actually a busy hive of activity as a foodie haven and small-business and maker hub, nestled in and around veteran businesses like Park Ave CDs and Stardust Video & Coffee. New businesses are opening apace and existing spots are evolving: Redlight Redlight is expanding brewing operations; the hotly tipped Kadence (No. 1 restaurant in Orlando, according to our restaurant critic, Faiyaz Kara) is expanding hours to include what can only be the most decadent lunch in town; and change is the order of the day at East End Market. This “Great American Main Street” more than lives up to the hype.

Bem Bom on Corrine

3101 Corrine Drive, 407-960-5101, facebook.com/bembomoncorrine

Long-awaited brick-and-mortar incarnation of the much-loved Portuguese food truck is a must-stop for diners in search of the delicious new and now. The menu is top-notch and the daily specials delve into the rich tapestry of Portuguese cuisine. Do yourself a favor and sit a spell at the bar.

Bird of Paradise

3201 Corrine Drive, 407-790-7758, florida-co.com

Formerly known as the Local Roots farm store, and then Florida and Co., the very freshly minted Bird of Paradise is the creative Emily Rankin's newest iteration of her ever-changing East End Market space. The bill of fare here is healthy, organic and local food centered around "bright, tropical flavors."

Evening Exchange at East End

3201 Corrine Drive, 321-236-3316, eastendmkt.com/evex

Debuting last month, this third Friday blowout aims to showcase the area's incredible array of local makers and entrepreneurs with a rotating series of workshops, demonstrations, vendors, and cocktails and food vendors. And it's free! Get inspired!

Hinckley's Fancy Meats

3201 Corrine Drive, 786-671-1023, hinckleymeats.com

This specialty animal-flesh purveyor helmed by superstar butcher (yeah, it's a thing) Matt Hinckley opened late last year inside East End Market, and it's a fast favorite of Audubon Park's foodies. Boasting a mouthwatering array of sausages, bacon, deli meats, charcuterie and made-on-the-spot sandwiches, this is a carnivore's Valhalla.

Park Ave CDs

2916 Corrine Drive, 407-447-7275, parkavecds.com

Loyal customers of Park Ave CDs will soon come face-to-face with the "shock of the new" as store mainstay and manager Shellie Olszewski leaves after three decades. The beaming, blonde-haired Olszewski has been a constant presence at the ever-expanding record exporium (dating back to their Fairbanks Avenue digs), and she will be missed.

Retro Modern Home Tour

Annual, Audubon Park Garden District, audubonparkgardens.com

Audubon Park's Retro Modern Home tour is a self-guided tour of mid-century modern architecture found in Audubon Park, Beeman Park, Winter Park and Rose Isle. In 2019, for the first time, the tour was bolstered by the Mid-Century Modern Dinner Party (four courses for 12 guests in a private Rose Isle residence); let's hope it becomes an annual tradition too.

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