Orlando's SoDo neighborhood has transformed into a legit locale

Rockpit Brewing
Rockpit Brewing Photo via Rockpit Brewing

In just a few years after becoming an “official” neighborhood, SoDo (short for “south of downtown”) has experienced explosive growth – and it’s still growing. The attack at Pulse Nightclub in 2016 brought the community together, and since then, it’s transformed from a loosely defined district dominated by Orlando Health, quick-service chain restaurants and gas stations into a legit locale.

Boozehounds Dog Bar

5501 S. Orange Ave., 407-595-9152, boozehoundsdogbar.com

This summer, you'll be able to let your pup play freely while you chat with your buds over suds at this new off-leash dog park and bar. The park will also feature big-screen TVs for watching sporting events, and will operate on a membership model, with annual memberships for $149, $20 monthly memberships, or a $10 day pass.

Rockpit Brewing

10 W. Illiana St., 407-826-1773, rockpitbrewing.com

The coal-country-inspired taproom features 20 craft brews on draught, available in 9-, 12- and 16-ounce pours. We particularly like the McCoy's Irish Red and the Quinnie Ginny Gimlet Gose, aged in St. Augustine Gin barrels.

Pulse Memorial

1912 S. Orange Ave., 407-649-3888, onepulsefoundation.org

In the three years since the tragedy, the nightclub site, now maintained by the onePULSE Foundation, has undergone many iterations. The latest installation is a more permanent, photojournalistic look at the event and its aftermath. The memorial features images of the victims and their families, art and quotes from the weeks following, and green space for reflection and paying respects.

Lucky's Market

3171 S. Orange Ave., 407-635-0511, luckysmarket.com

Locals are loving the new drink-while-you-shop grocer, and what's even better is that the opening forced the Publix next door to upgrade, too. The DIY poke bar and bulk foods section (with spices!) are major wins, and the dinner-for-two meal kits are weeknight sanity-savers.

Earth Fare

9 W. Gore St., 407-241-2853, earthfare.com

Following the opening of Lucky's Market, Earth Fare, located on the ground floor of the new Novel apartment complex, has completed SoDo's grocery store boom. The 24,000-square-foot store features a juice bar, salad bar, pizza station and sandwich counter, plus oodles of organic foodstuffs.

Delaney's Tavern

1315 S. Orange Ave., 407-849-0801, eatdt.com

Opening later this spring in the new Delaney boutique hotel across from Orlando Health, Delaney's Tavern will feature "New American" small and shareable plates, craft cocktails and a 360-degree bar.

The Donut Experiment

211 E. Michigan St., thedonutexperiment.com

The made-to-order donut shop is opening its eighth location later this spring on Michigan Street at Orange Avenue. The old-fashioned cake donuts are fried fresh, then dipped in chocolate, caramel, maple, vanilla or glaze icings, and topped with your choice of sweets and drizzles.

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