Restaurants in Orlando

Clear Filters
Loading...
78 results
    Mamak Asian Street Food
    Mamak brings a semblance of Malaysia’s food-stall culture to Mills 50 with plenty of pan-Asian noodle soups, wok-fired delicacies and small plates. From beef bulgogi and seasoned cod in black bean sauce to char kway teow and kari mee, the dishes here are exemplary and thoroughly gratifying. Get a plate of stir-fried green beans to nosh on throughout your meal. To end, sweet ice kacang is a cold comfort.

    You wouldn’t expect to find a restaurant on Orange Blossom Trail serving entrees at $30 per plate, but then again, who would expect a former Friendly’s restaurant, left to decay at the Sand Lake Road intersection for the past 8 years, to be gutted, refurbished at the cost of nearly $2 million and transformed into one of the most attractively ornamented restaurants in the city? Not many, I imagine, but there she stands, all dolled up and equipped to receive lovers of Mediterranean cuisine. Yet, unlike other segments of the strip, pleasure-seekers are nowhere to be seen, refuting the notion that if you build it they will come.

    Inflated prices may have something to do with it, though lack of direct access to Maraya off either OBT or Sand Lake Road may also be a deterrent. But once inside, you can’t help but admire proprietor Violeta “Sabrina” Haddad’s interior design skills – the beautiful Italian porcelain tile floors alone are worthy of a prostrate perusal, and the wrought-iron wall hangings lend a pleasing rustic touch. Rustic touches appear on the menu as well, as in the simple roasted rack of lamb ($29.99), four succulent chops marinated in a blend of rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, cinnamon and other “Middle Eastern” seasonings that supplanted the lamb’s distinct flavor with an essence more akin to beef. Just as outstanding was the accompanying mound of rice, boiled in a veal-and-chicken stock that underscores the high standards of the kitchen. One sip of the broth in the chicken soup ($6.99) is all it takes to confirm the stock’s authenticity, while haricots verts and carrots add a bit of texture.

    An appetizer plate of customary Lebanese staples ($15.99) offers a proper gastronomic cross-section of the owners’ native land: dense, crispy falafel; crackling kibbeh stuffed with seasoned ground beef, pine nuts and onions; creamy hummus with sesame tahini; zesty tabbouleh with fresh-squeezed lemon; and a flawless, garlic-tinged baba ghanoush.

    Fish Parisienne ($17.99), spaghetti Bolognese ($14.99) and deep-fried Dubrovnik shrimp ($12.99) are somewhat representative of the region, but chicken kebabs ($16.99) are a truer, and extraordinary, Mediterranean offering. An assertive dip of garlic paste sharpened every juicy bite, augmented further by that wonderful rice. The beef kebabs ($19.99) proved too meager to endorse – I would’ve expected twice as much even if I were paying half the price.

    Kenafa ($8.99), a baked pastry filled with semi-soft ackawi cheese and drizzled with a light syrup, ended the affair with intrigue. At once sweet, salty, flaky and sticky, the dense dessert filled the void left by the beef kebabs. Chocolate sauce and cinnamon overwhelmed the tiramisu ($7.99).

    It’s a tall order, but if you can look beyond the prices, there’s some outstanding food to be had here, and if you can’t, prices on the lunch menu are much less steep. Even so, one can’t help but root for Maraya to press on in the face of facelessness and pull out all the stops to attract patrons to the restaurant. A new sign on OBT will help, as will belly dancers and a beautiful outdoor hookah terrace, but in the fickle world of the food and beverage industry, smoke and mirrors can only go so far.

    We didn't review this location but you can check out the review of Marble Slab in Winter Park.

    There are far more nuances to Mexican cuisine than many people realize. Here in Central Florida, in particular, we're so removed from the border that the term "Mexican food" generally means basic chimichangas, burritos, tacos and enchiladas.

    You'll find all of those fine standards at Margarita's Grill, a new arrival at Chickasaw Trail and Lake Underhill Road. But you'll also discover a sophisticated Central Mexican spin on the menu, thanks to a trio of partners from Mexico City. We're talking sweet mahi-mahi fillets blackened with crushed chili spices, sizzling sirloin steaks served with corn-dough tamales and a tangy shot of green tomatillo sauce, and much more. It's these kinds of combinations, along with skilled preparation, presentation and service, that make this pleasant restaurant in developing east Orlando a real find.

    You'll find all of those fine standards at Margarita's Grill, a new arrival at Chickasaw Trail and Lake Underhill Road. But you'll also discover a sophisticated Central Mexican spin on the menu, thanks to a trio of partners from Mexico City. We're talking sweet mahi-mahi fillets blackened with crushed chili spices, sizzling sirloin steaks served with corn-dough tamales and a tangy shot of green tomatillo sauce, and much more. It's these kinds of combinations, along with skilled preparation, presentation and service, that make this pleasant restaurant in developing east Orlando a real find.

    On two lunch visits, we sampled a bit of everything. One favorite was sopa tortilla ($2.50), a bright-red chicken-tomato soup served almost scalding hot, which played up its spicy flavors to the hilt. Taken one sip at a time, the broth revealed an intriguing tapestry of spices that teased the nostrils as well as the taste buds. It was swimming with ribbons of fresh fried tortillas, still crispy, and topped with avocado and melted cheese.

    On two lunch visits, we sampled a bit of everything. One favorite was sopa tortilla ($2.50), a bright-red chicken-tomato soup served almost scalding hot, which played up its spicy flavors to the hilt. Taken one sip at a time, the broth revealed an intriguing tapestry of spices that teased the nostrils as well as the taste buds. It was swimming with ribbons of fresh fried tortillas, still crispy, and topped with avocado and melted cheese.

    Even something as standard as nachos ($5.95) took on superior tones. Delicately pale tortilla chips were layered with strategically placed pockets of shredded beef, melted cheese, sour cream and assorted peppers. It was lovely and inviting.

    Even something as standard as nachos ($5.95) took on superior tones. Delicately pale tortilla chips were layered with strategically placed pockets of shredded beef, melted cheese, sour cream and assorted peppers. It was lovely and inviting.

    Mole poblano ($8.50) made a vivid impression, featuring half of a chicken simmered in a seductive combination of 20 Mexican spices, including the defining chocolate. This deep, dark, sweet sauce was simply outstanding, dusted with a trail of sesame seeds.

    We also gave the flautas ($6.50) a whirl and found everything in order. Crunchy little taco tubes were rolled up with spicy minced beef and shredded chicken, for a sweet and smoky taste anchored by scoops of guacamole, refried beans and spicy rice.

    For dessert, crepas con cajeta ($2.95) featured spongy pancakes drenched in caramel sauce, topped with almonds and vanilla-bean ice cream. And someone here definitely knows how to brew a satisfying cup of traditional Mexican coffee ($1.25), zipped up with cinnamon and brown sugar -- almost dessert in itself.

    Never say what a restaurant is not. Writing that one restaurant would be better if it were more like another is unfair and pointless. So I won't say that the Market Street Café in Celebration is not Dexter's or Tu Tu Tango or even the College Park Diner because -- of course -- it is none of those things.

    I can say that the Market Street Café is not Max's Café. That's because Max's is gone and Market Street has taken its place. The new cafe is being run by Restaurant Partners Inc., which operates four Pebbles restaurants around Orlando. They've done a good job of assimilating the old-days' Celebration atmosphere. If halogen lights and computers had been around in the '50s, Market Street would have fit right in with its retro-modern diner design. Big booths, wide windows and earth tones prevail, making the place something of an upscale, new-urban greasy spoon.

    I can say that the Market Street Café is not Max's Café. That's because Max's is gone and Market Street has taken its place. The new cafe is being run by Restaurant Partners Inc., which operates four Pebbles restaurants around Orlando. They've done a good job of assimilating the old-days' Celebration atmosphere. If halogen lights and computers had been around in the '50s, Market Street would have fit right in with its retro-modern diner design. Big booths, wide windows and earth tones prevail, making the place something of an upscale, new-urban greasy spoon.

    The eatery is the antithesis of existentialism. One doesn't wear black, drink bitter espresso and read Kierkegaard at Market Street. You order a shake and a burger -- and are happy if you get the special round booth by the front door so you can watch resident Celebrants buzz by on rented electric scooters. I heard one of the waitresses, who was about half my age, say "groovy." Another server must have done well in Celebration Diner school, as she made a point of calling me "hon."

    The eatery is the antithesis of existentialism. One doesn't wear black, drink bitter espresso and read Kierkegaard at Market Street. You order a shake and a burger -- and are happy if you get the special round booth by the front door so you can watch resident Celebrants buzz by on rented electric scooters. I heard one of the waitresses, who was about half my age, say "groovy." Another server must have done well in Celebration Diner school, as she made a point of calling me "hon."

    I'm not complaining, mind you. The Market Street Café is pleasant, just not very exciting. Regardless of whatever preconceptions you may have walking in, the food is prepared well and nothing seems processed. Market Street serves turkey with cornbread stuffing and meatloaf with mashed potatoes. They're so traditional that you'll be tempted to see if mom is in the kitchen.

    I'm not complaining, mind you. The Market Street Café is pleasant, just not very exciting. Regardless of whatever preconceptions you may have walking in, the food is prepared well and nothing seems processed. Market Street serves turkey with cornbread stuffing and meatloaf with mashed potatoes. They're so traditional that you'll be tempted to see if mom is in the kitchen.

    Salads and "starters" are enormous. "Portobello" salad ($5.95 small, $9.95 large) is a dinner plate piled high with romaine, diced tomato, slivers of Gouda, corn and big slices of mushroom with a sun-dried tomato vinaigrette. Order the small. A cheese quesadilla ($5.95) is as big as your head, and if you order fried-chicken tenders (simple white meat rolled in cornflake breading, $6.95) as an appetizer, don't bother with an entrée.

    Salads and "starters" are enormous. "Portobello" salad ($5.95 small, $9.95 large) is a dinner plate piled high with romaine, diced tomato, slivers of Gouda, corn and big slices of mushroom with a sun-dried tomato vinaigrette. Order the small. A cheese quesadilla ($5.95) is as big as your head, and if you order fried-chicken tenders (simple white meat rolled in cornflake breading, $6.95) as an appetizer, don't bother with an entrée.

    I had the smoked chicken pasta ($11.95). The definition of "pasta" is spaghetti, but it was firm to the tooth and dressed in a pleasant wine and garlic sauce -- lots of garlic. The meatloaf ($10.95) was covered in brown mushroom gravy almost as dark as cocoa, with excellent homemade potatoes.

    I had the smoked chicken pasta ($11.95). The definition of "pasta" is spaghetti, but it was firm to the tooth and dressed in a pleasant wine and garlic sauce -- lots of garlic. The meatloaf ($10.95) was covered in brown mushroom gravy almost as dark as cocoa, with excellent homemade potatoes.

    If you're looking for an undemanding meal in a "smallville," you might consider the drive.

    Arguably the most relaxed resturant at Pointe Orlando, Marlow's offers tavern favorites for slightly more discriminating palates. Asparagus fries and proper-good chicken wings lay gustatory foundations for more ambitious dishes, like shrimp and grits lathered in a roast tomato beurre sauce, and a well-composed "Everything and the Kitchen Sink" burger. A handful of craft and local brews will keep beer connoisseurs happy, and a sizable patio augments the restaurant's relaxed vibe.


    Teaser: Arguably the most relaxed resturant at Pointe Orlando, Marlow's offers tavern favorites for slightly more discriminating palates. Asparagus fries and proper-good chicken wings lay gustatory foundations for more ambitious dishes, like shrimp and grits lathered in a roast tomato beurre sauce, and a well-composed "Everything and the Kitchen Sink" burger. A handful of craft and local brews will keep beer connoisseurs happy, and a sizable patio augments the restaurant's relaxed vibe.
    Massimo Trattoria's menu offers distinct Italian flavors as the cuisine explores Italyâ??s versatile regions. Northern Italy is represented by the selections of soups and risottos. The Central region boasts flavorful cream sauces and lasagna. Pizzas and marinara sauces round out the menu and encompass the Southern regionâ??s cuisine.

    I can't say my initial visit to this German steakhouse on a Saturday night got off to a particularly good start. For one, I didn't eat anything because I wasn't seated; and I wasn't seated because I didn't have a reservation; and I didn't have a reservation because all my previous calls to the place went unanswered. Exiting in a mild huff, I resigned myself to the fact that I'd have to drive back another day, but not before calling them four additional times from my car, which served no purpose other than to provide a little microwaved warmth to my cerebellum. When I finally did get a human voice on the line many days later, it was none other than Matthew Winter himself. When asked why they didn't answer their phone between the hours of 5 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. the previous Saturday, he responded, 'We were probably too busy to pick up the phone.â?� Whatever, man.

    So back to Ocoee it was and, this time, a dimly lit booth amidst Bavarian chalet bric-a-brac beckoned. I have to say it felt pretty homey. Not sure why a lava lamp bubbled near the coffee machine ' perhaps to add a personable element, because the Winters don't exactly foster an environment of convivial warmth. Rather, a cool Teutonic efficiency pervades, not unlike that of a Volkswagen assembly line, where diners submit to the culinary equivalent of Fahrvergnügen.

    There's a German dish or two on the menu ' bratwurst ($9), for example, and a wonderful paprika-tinged beef goulash ($6) that was more a soup than a stew. The shallow bowl didn't hold $6 worth of goulash, in my opinion, but the sublime essence had me craving more. Wedges in the tomato- avocado salad ($9) were bathed in a tangy vinaigrette and sprinkled with crispy roasted soybeans ' an interesting addition.

    As a steakhouse, Matthew's lies in the meaty murk between family and premium, with cuts being of the Supreme Angus Beef variety, a USDA Choice, not Prime, grade. Rump steak also makes the menu here in the form of 8-, 10- and 12-ounce New York strips. A New York strip is traditionally a cut from the tender short loin, not the rear, but the fatless rump steak medallions on the mixed steak skewer ($20) were as tender and flavorful as any cut demanding a beefier price. Interspersed on the miniature sword were chunks of filet and even a stray chicken morsel, it, too, deliciously seasoned and tender.

    The ribeye steak ($26) had more than the usual amount of marbling, but was cooked to order over their cherry and oak-wood open grill. The baked potato, which I slathered with their homemade sour cream, was the perfect side.

    An 18-ounce porterhouse ($37), dubbed 'The Melbourne,â?� is also offered, but it's a lightweight compared to those offered at other steakhouses around town, including Outback.

    Black Forest cake was surprisingly absent from the menu, but I enjoyed the German cheesecake ($6) with its light and fluffy filling and cakey crust. I also liked the German chocolate cake ($6), a warm marble cake dusted with powdered sugar and served with a dollop each of chocolate ice cream and fresh whipped cream.

    Ã?bermensch he's not, but Matthew and his folks run a surprisingly superior strip-mall steakhouse; if only they were as adept at running over to the phone when it rings.

    Neighborhood jewel offers an eclectic pan-Mediterranean menu, with Indian, Latin and Asian influences on the horizon. Curry-crusted fish is deftly executed, as is chef Bret Ashman's intriguing take on gnocchi alla Sorrentina. A delightful smoked onion mince offers a contempo take on traditional Caprese salad. The wine list is ample and studied. Sunday brunch offered from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. 


    Teaser: Neighborhood jewel offers an eclectic pan-Mediterranean menu, with Indian, Latin and Asian influences on the horizon. Curry-crusted fish is deftly executed, as is chef Bret Ashman's intriguing take on gnocchi alla Sorrentina. A delightful smoked onion mince offers a contempo take on traditional Caprese salad. The wine list is ample and studied. Sunday brunch offered from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Calendar

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

© 2019 Orlando Weekly

Website powered by Foundation