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This Wall Street Plaza enclave boasts a Polynesian vibe. Bar snacks augment the specialty-drink menu, but the focus here is on getting loose, not getting full.


Teaser: This Wall Street Plaza enclave boasts a Polynesian vibe. Bar snacks augment the specialty-drink menu, but the focus here is on getting loose, not getting full.
Special occasions, from New Year’s Eve to Oktoberfest, belong to this cantina-themed meeting place for the masses. Located at the epicenter of downtown Orlando, and always throbbing with music, booze and vitality, Wall St. Plaza and its eight venues take up an entire city block, but it’s easy to navigate, heavy on the drink specials and stocked with eye candy for all.
Wally’s has been an Orlando institution for as long as anyone still drinking can remember. Wally’s serves the strongest drinks (a rum and Coke looks like ginger ale), has the longest hours (open 7:30 a.m. to 2 a.m., Monday through Saturday), sells package goods later than anyone from their storefront/table area and has the best wallpaper in town. Local celebrattorney John Morgan is known to pop in unannounced from time to time and buy a round for the bar. Cash only.

If you want to start an argument at a table full of men, don't bother questioning religious beliefs, views on women or slamming the local football team. Ask them about the best way to barbecue.

And we're not even talking about Korean bulgogi, Indian tandoori or Spanish churrasco. No, this debate is between Texas brisket and Memphis pulled pig, Kansas City spareribs or North Carolina pork, wet cooking or dry rub. When the Wild-horse Saloon at Disney was focused on food, the chef was a dry-rubbed fanatic, which made for eye-rollingly superb food. Now that Wildfires has opened downtown, it looks like we have a winner again.

And we're not even talking about Korean bulgogi, Indian tandoori or Spanish churrasco. No, this debate is between Texas brisket and Memphis pulled pig, Kansas City spareribs or North Carolina pork, wet cooking or dry rub. When the Wild-horse Saloon at Disney was focused on food, the chef was a dry-rubbed fanatic, which made for eye-rollingly superb food. Now that Wildfires has opened downtown, it looks like we have a winner again.

The corner place on Washington Street used to be an Out of Hand Burrito Stand, which took over for the similar Chez Jose. Now a group led by Rosario Poma (Pacino's, Wise Guys of Chicago, Key W. Kools), who was connected with the XS Orlando restaurant when it first opened, has brought smoke to Thornton Park, and where there's smoke ...

The corner place on Washington Street used to be an Out of Hand Burrito Stand, which took over for the similar Chez Jose. Now a group led by Rosario Poma (Pacino's, Wise Guys of Chicago, Key W. Kools), who was connected with the XS Orlando restaurant when it first opened, has brought smoke to Thornton Park, and where there's smoke ...

You won't be terribly shocked by the menu, although a few things go beyond ribs 'n' bird, like smoked portobella sandwiches ($5.95) and fried shrimp ($8.95). Please avoid the chicken crostini appetizer: While the meat is fine, the bread, which by definition should be crunchy, is so limp that a fork is mandatory.

You won't be terribly shocked by the menu, although a few things go beyond ribs 'n' bird, like smoked portobella sandwiches ($5.95) and fried shrimp ($8.95). Please avoid the chicken crostini appetizer: While the meat is fine, the bread, which by definition should be crunchy, is so limp that a fork is mandatory.

But you don't go to a kosher deli and order a ham sandwich, and you don't go to a smokehouse for bread -- you go for ribs! From a half-rack for $6.40 to the rib, chicken and pork "sampler" for $11.95, these babies are a good definition of barbecue. Dry rubbing takes hours before the slow heat and dense smoke cooks the meat, leaving a crust of spices and a mellow, dark taste. Don't smother them with sauce, even though it's available.

But you don't go to a kosher deli and order a ham sandwich, and you don't go to a smokehouse for bread -- you go for ribs! From a half-rack for $6.40 to the rib, chicken and pork "sampler" for $11.95, these babies are a good definition of barbecue. Dry rubbing takes hours before the slow heat and dense smoke cooks the meat, leaving a crust of spices and a mellow, dark taste. Don't smother them with sauce, even though it's available.

If you're not interested in meat, there are a couple of fish items on the menu. The oak-grilled mahi ($12.95) is a tasty bit of tender, juicy fish, but you will look over at the servings of your more carnivorous tablemates and wonder what you did wrong: They have massive, overflowing portions and you have a sliver of a meal by comparison. The corn and tomato salsa that accompanies the fish is an unfortunately boring choice, lacking both flavor and interest.

If you're not interested in meat, there are a couple of fish items on the menu. The oak-grilled mahi ($12.95) is a tasty bit of tender, juicy fish, but you will look over at the servings of your more carnivorous tablemates and wonder what you did wrong: They have massive, overflowing portions and you have a sliver of a meal by comparison. The corn and tomato salsa that accompanies the fish is an unfortunately boring choice, lacking both flavor and interest.

But if you order the chicken, you'll know you're on to something. The firm and juicy meat is sweet from smoke -- almost apple-tasting -- and falls apart in your hand ($7.95 for a half bird).

But if you order the chicken, you'll know you're on to something. The firm and juicy meat is sweet from smoke -- almost apple-tasting -- and falls apart in your hand ($7.95 for a half bird).

There's live jazz on weekends, and I'm told more Orlando locations are in the works. Go, grab some well-crafted 'cue. There's no bones about it.

Come for the shows, stay for the low doughs: Every Will's drink is a dollar off until doors open, and if there is no show, it's a dollar off everything all night. It's a cheap drunk and possibly a place to meet a cheap date

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