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When I was growing up in DeLand, there just weren't any kosher delis around. I didn't discover blintzes, latkes and matzo ball soup until going off to college in Atlanta. And while these days Orlando hardly brims with traditional Jewish food, the unassuming market and deli Amira's is worth a visit.

As a kosher deli, cleanliness, food and service at Amira's are supervised by the Orlando Rabbinic Council. But don't ask about the name; I felt like a real schlemiel when I asked our waitress for a translation, and she informed me that "Amira" is the owner's first name.

My companion and I visited for lunch, served between 11 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. For starters, we split the mini Israeli sampler ($4.95), a smaller version of the Israeli platter ($6.95). I could have made an entire meal out of the falafel (think chickpea hushpuppy) and the eggplant relish, which was similar to ratatouille. The tabouli also was tasty; heavier on parsley than bulghur wheat, it tasted more like a regular salad than other versions I've tried. And while I thought the hummus had too much tahini, my companion pronounced it delicious. Our sampler also came with a big plate of pita bread.

For my entree, I ordered half a "Virgin Rachel" and a cup of chicken noodle soup ($5.95 for the combo). Even without the customary Swiss cheese, this Rachel was superb. Served grilled on rye bread, it came with a huge, hot stack of pastrami, sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing. The soup stock was marvelous, although there was only one measly piece of chicken hiding in a cup full of noodles. My companion's overstuffed cold corned beef sandwich on rye ($6.95), served plain with condiments on the side, was similarly outstanding. His sandwich came with cole slaw and potato salad, fries or a potato knish. He chose the latter, a spicy mashed-potato mixture inside flaky pastry.

Other sandwiches include hot or cold beef brisket ($7.25), chopped liver ($5.25), half-pound turkey burgers ($6.25), and quarter-pound chili dogs ($4.45). And excepting Friday evenings, when Amira's is closed, the dinner menu includes stuffed cabbage ($9.95), prime rib ($12.95), half a rotisserie chicken ($9.95), and open-face roast beef or turkey sandwiches (both $7.95).

When looking for more than "a good loaf," you'll definitely find it at Au Bon Pain (pronounced ah-bahn-pahn). The high-end bakery-cafe chain with an outpost on every other corner in Manhattan has established its first local site in tourist territory in the Club Hotel at DoubleTree.

The polished, Art Deco-styled bakery is stocked with its fresh-baked loaves including the famous tomato-basil variety, as well as consistently delicious roast-beef and brie sandwiches, soups in bread bowls, croissants stuffed with chocolate and raspberries, and a killer Boston clam chowder. Vegetarian, low-fat and low-sodium versions are available, too.

The polished, Art Deco-styled bakery is stocked with its fresh-baked loaves including the famous tomato-basil variety, as well as consistently delicious roast-beef and brie sandwiches, soups in bread bowls, croissants stuffed with chocolate and raspberries, and a killer Boston clam chowder. Vegetarian, low-fat and low-sodium versions are available, too.

Prices are high – 99 cents for a focaccia bagel, for instance. But there are plush sofas, laptop ports, televisions and plenty of reading material. Other sites in central locations are a strong possibility.

In 1967, the Beatles released "Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band," and a small chain of fast-food sandwich joints opened in Orlando. Called Beefy King, they were going to give the Arby's and MacDonald's of the world a run for their money.

It didn't work out; after peaking with six local outlets, Beefy King faltered and began to close up shops. Eventually, only one remained, stranded on Bumby Avenue, cut off from any franchise network. But in a spirited display of entrepreneurial hardheadedness, this Beefy King refused to die. It went private, expanded its menu and thrived, becoming a local legend blessed with the kind of dedicated following usually reserved for Apple computers and Volkswagens.

It didn't work out; after peaking with six local outlets, Beefy King faltered and began to close up shops. Eventually, only one remained, stranded on Bumby Avenue, cut off from any franchise network. But in a spirited display of entrepreneurial hardheadedness, this Beefy King refused to die. It went private, expanded its menu and thrived, becoming a local legend blessed with the kind of dedicated following usually reserved for Apple computers and Volkswagens.

What's the Beefy King secret? I say it's their steamers. Every time a Beefy King sandwich is ordered, the meat is seasoned and heated over a steam vent, which serves to moisten the meat and bring out its natural juices. The sandwiches are then wrapped and served immediately, so there's no wait under an intense heat lamp.

What's the Beefy King secret? I say it's their steamers. Every time a Beefy King sandwich is ordered, the meat is seasoned and heated over a steam vent, which serves to moisten the meat and bring out its natural juices. The sandwiches are then wrapped and served immediately, so there's no wait under an intense heat lamp.

All the sandwiches are served hot on a freshly baked sesame-seed kaiser roll, which also benefits from the steaming process. And because the steam method is so effective at coaxing out the flavors in any meat, it's rarely necessary to add ketchup or barbecue sauce – though both are available.

All the sandwiches are served hot on a freshly baked sesame-seed kaiser roll, which also benefits from the steaming process. And because the steam method is so effective at coaxing out the flavors in any meat, it's rarely necessary to add ketchup or barbecue sauce – though both are available.

This made-to-order system is slower than the prefabricated strategy that takes place at most big-name fast-food chains. Beefy King makes up for the time with a large and highly efficient crew, who shame the dunderheads serving burgers at those places. No doubt, corporate experts would cringe upon seeing the Beefy King counter folks writing out all orders by hand on paper, but the lines appear to move as fast or faster than any.

This made-to-order system is slower than the prefabricated strategy that takes place at most big-name fast-food chains. Beefy King makes up for the time with a large and highly efficient crew, who shame the dunderheads serving burgers at those places. No doubt, corporate experts would cringe upon seeing the Beefy King counter folks writing out all orders by hand on paper, but the lines appear to move as fast or faster than any.

Rightfully reigning at the top of the Beefy King food chain is roast beef, cooked fresh daily and simply delicious. Also on the standard sandwich menu are ham and cheese, turkey breast, pastrami and cheese, corned beef, barbecue beef and barbecue pork. Prices range from $2 for a junior to $4 for an extra large.

Rightfully reigning at the top of the Beefy King food chain is roast beef, cooked fresh daily and simply delicious. Also on the standard sandwich menu are ham and cheese, turkey breast, pastrami and cheese, corned beef, barbecue beef and barbecue pork. Prices range from $2 for a junior to $4 for an extra large.

Along with the roast beef (which I adore with melted cheese), my favorites are the savory pastrami and cheese, and the turkey breast, which is a revelation. When I can't make a choice, I order junior sandwiches of all three.

Along with the roast beef (which I adore with melted cheese), my favorites are the savory pastrami and cheese, and the turkey breast, which is a revelation. When I can't make a choice, I order junior sandwiches of all three.

The barbecue options are all OK, but it's easy to get barbecue this good at other places, too.

The barbecue options are all OK, but it's easy to get barbecue this good at other places, too.

On the side, choices are limited: unexceptional salads, "Beefy spuds" (tater tots) and onion rings. The spuds are fine, but your best bet is to just order another sandwich and revel in the beauty of this mighty little sandwich shop that has survived for 33 years by doing it better than all the big players. Simple, focused quality – now there's a lesson everyone should learn.

'Business casualâ?�: It's a conundrum that most of us have had to wrap our brains around in the last five years or so. Where once there was a uniform for work (suit, tie; pantyhose, pumps) and one for hanging out (either looser or tighter than the daily monkey suit, depending on your proclivities), now we have to parse a version of our home selves that will fly at work. Food has gone through a similar makeover ' once it was split between expensive white-tablecloth restaurants and greasy spoons, but now the lines have blurred. We want to dress up our Gap-khaki turkey sandwiches with dry-clean-only caper pesto.

Bella Café doesn't redefine the spiffed-up sandwich; it just prepares them very well. No surprises here; the upmarket salads and sandwiches aren't especially creative, but they are put together with care and quality. The board of menu choices can be overwhelming ' everything's been assigned an Italian title, and the descriptions are hard to read ' but there really are no wrong choices.

Two in our trio went for panini: the 'Montianoâ?� (roast beef, provolone and caramelized onion daubed with super-sweet honey mustard; $7.50) and the 'Tuscanâ?� (juicy grilled chicken breast ' the real thing, not the icky cold-cut variety ' fresh mozzarella and roasted red peppers; $7.50). Both were satisfying, but the real mouth-watering winner was our third companion's choice, the 'Marlianaâ?� ($7.95). A soft baguette ' well, the menu calls it a baguette, but a Frenchman would sneer; I'd label it a crusty roll ' barely managed to contain moist, tender pot roast touched with horseradish and blanketed in cheddar. It was like a portable Sunday dinner. All that was missing was the roasted carrots and potatoes.

Luckily for me, this companion has a dainty appetite, and I was easily able to talk him out of half of his sandwich. He fell back on his bowl of creamy lobster bisque ($2.99). It was thick as pudding and the color of Thousand Island dressing, lacking the delicate nature one might expect from a usually refined soup, but there were tangible shreds of crustacean.

On our way out the door, we had to have a bit of gelato ('to settle the stomach,� as my ice-creamaholic father would say). Bella Café serves several flavors of gelato from downtown's Il Gelatone. After sampling tiny spoons of peanut butter and chocolate, we settled for a scoop ($3.25) of dulcet ripe banana and one of raspberry ' studded with tiny crunchy seeds and intensely sweet-tart. After a business-like lunch, we were ready to get back to the casual Orlando Weekly office.

Despite Bella's distant (to me) location in a busy MetroWest strip mall, I might return soon â?¦ half of that pot-roast sandwich just wasn't enough.

Orlando isn't exactly known for its bike-friendly thoroughfares, what with the lack of good public transportation clogging up streets with sedans and SUVs of every conceivable size. In the early '90s, in fact, the city was consistently voted as one of the worst in the country for cyclists ' I've personally known two people who were hit by careless drivers while enjoying a ride on our mean streets. And while things have improved in recent years (more bikeways, bike racks, bike awareness), the gains aren't worth an ache in the undercarriage if motorists remain oblivious to pedal-pushers. So, given this city's less-than-stellar rep for cycling I, naturally, opted to drive to Bikes, Beans & Bordeaux, a cute little neighborhood café in Audubon Park and a haven for urban bikers.

The night I visited, a hobbling chap sporting a crutch (a motorist-related mishap, perhaps?) walked in to unwind with a few of his cycling buddies, giving rise to a cacophony louder than a roomful of yellow jerseys. A place for quiet conversation it's not, even when half-full, but the space, decorated in an understated modern style, proves owners Jen and Darrell Cunningham have good taste. For that matter, so did a glass of Marqués de Griñón caliza ($10.50), the blend of Spanish syrah and graciano getting the meal off to clean start. (In honor of the Vuelta a España, or Tour of Spain, there were a few Spanish selections on the wine list.) A thick smoothie of peanut butter, banana, milk, yogurt and honey ($3.95) made for a far more sluggish beginning.

But the pace picked up again with the sandwiches, many named after famous cyclists. (A suggestion, if I may: the Steve Bauer-y Bum, with slices of rump roast, pearl onions and banana peppers.) The Rasmussen ($6.95), named after Danish cyclist Michael 'The Chickenâ?� Rasmussen, is everything a chicken salad sandwich should be: creamy, crunchy and subtly sweet, thanks to the inclusion of grapes. The café's focus on health means sandwiches are served with your choice of carrot sticks or Flat Earth vegetable chips, as well as a small bag of Jelly Bellys. The caprese panini ($6.95) was perfectly pressed and not a palate-shredder, with just the right ratio of mozzarella-to-tomato-to-basil. But sampling the broccoli cheddar soup ($3.95) was akin to having your bike chain slip off its sprocket. Too runny and devoid of chunkiness, the soup brought the proceedings to a screeching halt. I did get my fill of the thick, wonderful hummus ($6.95), circled by 'spokesâ?� of celery, cukes, carrots, tomato, zucchini and squash.

Don't expect to have your order taken tableside. The idea is to place it at the counter, after which the meal will be brought to you. I made the mistake of waiting for my order to be taken, and Jen was kind and gracious enough to oblige, but that isn't the norm. It's easy to make that assumption, as the place just looks like it has full table service. I made sure to get off my seat when it came time for dessert, and it's a good thing, too, as both the Nutella cupcake ($1.85) and the chocolate-coconut-butterscotch brownie ($2.95) were finish-line favorites. A cup of Jittery Joe's coffee ($1.45) offered an appropriate kick-start.

Riding your bike to B3 is encouraged ' just keep your eye on the racks outside, lest you inadvertently re-create a scene from a Vittorio de Sica film. The restaurant business, after all, has always had a cyclical nature.

Given the seemingly unambiguous moniker of Boston Bakery & Café, one would expect to find display cases filled with mouthwatering cream pies, cupcakes, whoopee pies, molasses-sweetened brown bread and, perhaps, the odd patron or two downing frothy glass mugs of Irish coffee. Unfortunately, that isn't the case. Instead, this simple café on the fringes of Little Saigon is primarily a Vietnamese restaurant, and lies smack dab in the middle of what I like to call the CoFer District (Colonial Drive and Ferncreek Avenue).

Further digging revealed that the name isn't so cryptic after all. Owners Tony and Yolanda Vu ran a restaurant in the Boston suburb of Quincy before swapping nor'easters for sweltering zephyrs a year ago. The couple shares kitchen and cooking responsibilities, but it's Yolanda who handles the baking duties.

A large cake display case sits at the core of the square space, but upon entering, neither 'bakery� nor 'café� are descriptors that immediately leap to mind. In fact, the baby blue'colored walls and children milling about makes it feel more like a nursery or after-school daycare. Even so, I did glimpse a few baguettes resting on sheet pans behind the counter, undoubtedly prepared for one of their many banh mi, or Vietnamese sandwiches (ask for a side of their homemade butter if ordering one).

But the purpose of this assignment was to spotlight confections, not comestibles, and with Halloween looming, focusing on a place where those of us over the age of 13 could go and satisfy our sweet tooths seemed imperative. So, off to the display case I went in search of treats but, I have to say, I felt slightly tricked after perusing the offerings. Most were cake rolls, birthday cakes and Napoleons that weren't offered by the slice; and there was nary a tart, pie, turnover or éclair in sight.

Evidently, they were all sold out of personal-sized cakes, but a small, oval-shaped 'cheese cakeâ?� ($2) stared back at me, which I promptly ordered and devoured in four bites. Now this isn't your Cheesecake Factory brand of cheesecake; it's more like pound cake with a layer of soft cream cheese in the center, and rather delicious.

Pre-packaged cakes made by a friend of the owner are also available, but the plastic wrapping is a total buzz kill.

Still craving cake and cake-like products, I got myself a chocolate cake roll ($8), which resembled a log made of sponge. Light and airy with a hint of coffee flavoring, the roll embodied a minimalist ideal in both look and taste. I took it home and enjoyed it deeply with a dollop of double Devonshire cream. Simple, unaffected, not too sweet, but far from orgasmic.

The menu board beckoned to 'experience the slush magicâ?� so, on this particular visit, my accompanying beverage of choice was a perfectly tangy and refreshing passionfruit slushie ($3.50). Other flavors, ranging from mint-chocolate to watermelon, are also offered, each with the option to add chewy 'pearls,â?� or tapioca balls, to the mix for an additional 40 cents. Those rubbery orbs are often found dotting the bottoms of plastic cups filled with milk tea, thus the terms 'bubble tea,â?� 'pearl teaâ?� and 'boba tea.â?� The drink, hugely popular in cities with large Asian populations, was as trendy as Starbucks' lattes among high school and college students when I was growing up in Toronto, and it seems to have a burgeoning following here in Orlando. I enjoyed the sugary Thai bubble tea ($3) until the tapioca balls got stuck in my straw. Neophytes, take heed: When you're offered a straw from the decanter, be sure to choose one wide enough to suck up the balls. Uhh, yeah.

If sipping bubble tea through a broad, colorful straw seems too emasculating an act, might I suggest the red bean tea ($3.50), sans tapioca. The proteined potable (the sole nod to their Beantown roots) features red bean (or azuki) powder, producing a smoky slurp akin to liquid barbecue.

Vietnamese coffee ($2), meticulously prepared in a press pot by blending a chicory-flavored French roast with Vietnamese arabica and robusta grounds, will definitely turn your crank. Served in a small glass, the coffee is at once ridiculously strong, syrupy-sweet and glacially creamy thanks to the addition of sweetened condensed milk. Amusing side note: The brand of the chicory-flavored coffee, Café Demonte, is a blatant rip-off of Café du Monde and even comes in a can that looks remarkably similar to the one the venerable Big Easy coffeehouse produces.

Admittedly, I was a little disappointed in this bakery, especially when, on a return visit, the display case was, once again, devoid of individually portioned baked goods. Pissa! If sweet treats are what you crave this Halloween, avoid being tricked and take your chances at the Publix across the street.

Upon gazing at Brianto's stark white walls, ornamented with memorabilia and photographs of every Philadelphia Phillies baseball player that ever donned a red-pinstriped uniform, I asked the good-natured lad behind the counter a question that no patron had ever dared to ask, let alone in deadpan fashion: 'Why no photos of Joe Carter?â?�

Record screech.

In the moments that ensued, his bulging gaze met my squinting glare for what seemed like minutes, but when the hoagie virtuoso's eyes eventually regained focus, we were all able to (thankfully) laugh the moment off. 'You should've said that after you got your food,â?� he joked ' at least I think he was joking. Carter's home run off Phillies closer Mitch Williams to win the '93 World Series for the Blue Jays isn't exactly a high point in the city's sports history. So in a place where even the logo is a facsimile of their beloved Phillies', I was happy to have all my teeth after uttering the cheeky quip: teeth I needed in order to chomp down on their huge hoagies and cheesesteaks.

They take their cheesesteaks seriously here ' I'm talking Amoroso's hearth-baked rolls and sliced rib-eye steak, flown straight in from the City of Brotherly Love. And they don't skimp on the chopped meat in the cheesesteak supreme ($5.99 for 6-inch; $8.99 for 12-inch; $12.99 for 18-inch), a beefy sub with the requisite onions, green peppers and mushrooms oozing with sharp provolone and Cheez Whiz. Be sure to Whiz it up, as the cheesesteak borders on bland without it, likely due to the meat not being seasoned ' or not strongly enough.

For the same price, you can opt to make the very same cheesesteak a 'cheesesteak hoagie,â?� which means adding lettuce, tomato, raw onions and a splash of oil, vinegar and mayo. The hoagie comes without green peppers or mushrooms, but I was surprised at how much better it was than the cheesesteak supreme. Everyone at the table agreed that this was the best sandwich of the lot, and we picked the 18-inch behemoth clean. Also good was the Liberty Bell ($5.99, 6-inch; $8.99, 12-inch; $12.99, 18-inch), a cold hoagie stuffed to the hilt with ham, turkey and roast beef, and plenty of sweet and hot peppers to pack a punch. The hot meatball hoagie ($4.49, 6-inch; $7.49, 12-inch; $11.49, 18-inch) was endorsed by one of my Italian dining companions ' not so much for the sub itself, but for the well-seasoned meatballs. You'll also find other Keystone State faves such as crackling Herr's potato chips (59 cents, small; 99 cents, medium; $1.59, large), refreshingly crisp Hank's birch beer ($1.99) and sugary Tastykakes ($1.29). Junk food connoisseurs may disagree, but to me, the Tastykakes tasted just like Hostess cupcakes/Ding Dongs/Ho Hos.

Brianto's may not satisfy pangs for the legendary cheesesteaks and hoagies cooked up at Pat's or Geno's in Philadelphia, but the guys here make every effort to bring a little Philly flavor to Central Florida. If they focused a bit of that effort in seasoning the beef, transplanted Philadelphians might flock to Avalon Park for some of their griddled gourmandizing.

Then, like Joe Carter off a Mitch Williams fastball, they'll be sure to hit it out the park.

Celebrity Delly bears not even a passing resemblance to a big-city delicatessen; there's no hustle and bustle, no rough edges, no rudeness behind the counter. Planted in a Best Western hotel on the corner of West Colonial Drive and Tampa Avenue, the restaurant is relatively nondescript in a vinyl-upholstered, Formica-table-topped kind of way.

For many fans on the west side of town, lunch just wouldn't be lunch without a fix of triple-stacked sandwiches, piled high with top-shelf meats and served with kraut, pickles, slaw, steak fries and all the trimmings. Some of them have followed the restaurant for more than 10 years as it hopscotched from Lee Road to Altamonte Springs to its current location.

For many fans on the west side of town, lunch just wouldn't be lunch without a fix of triple-stacked sandwiches, piled high with top-shelf meats and served with kraut, pickles, slaw, steak fries and all the trimmings. Some of them have followed the restaurant for more than 10 years as it hopscotched from Lee Road to Altamonte Springs to its current location.

True to its name, the restaurant is filled with portraits of famous people, from the legendary ("Prince" and "Daffy Duck") to neo-celebs such as "Mr. T." The sandwiches are named accordingly, from the "Bogie Burger" to "The Duke" roast-beef sandwich. Extremely hungry is an excellent state to be when you sit down to dine – you will not leave that way, as the sandwiches are famously oversized.

True to its name, the restaurant is filled with portraits of famous people, from the legendary ("Prince" and "Daffy Duck") to neo-celebs such as "Mr. T." The sandwiches are named accordingly, from the "Bogie Burger" to "The Duke" roast-beef sandwich. Extremely hungry is an excellent state to be when you sit down to dine – you will not leave that way, as the sandwiches are famously oversized.

There was a time when richly spiced cold cuts, condiments and pickled things were considered delicacies, or "delicatessen," as they say in Germany. That has changed somewhat, now that bagel shops are on every main thoroughfare and Reubens are available just about everywhere but Burger King. Still, there are standbys that haven't entered our culinary consciousness, though. A chopped-liver sandwich on pumpernickel, washed down with an egg-cream soda? A fried potato pancake with applesauce and sour cream? You'll find them here.

There was a time when richly spiced cold cuts, condiments and pickled things were considered delicacies, or "delicatessen," as they say in Germany. That has changed somewhat, now that bagel shops are on every main thoroughfare and Reubens are available just about everywhere but Burger King. Still, there are standbys that haven't entered our culinary consciousness, though. A chopped-liver sandwich on pumpernickel, washed down with an egg-cream soda? A fried potato pancake with applesauce and sour cream? You'll find them here.

There are dozens of you-pick, they-stack sandwiches built with ham, turkey, knockwurst, salami, bologna, rare roast beef, liverwurst, chicken and tuna salad, and more. The "Mighty Milty" ($5.75) is as good a choice as any, featuring about a half pound of hot, juicy pastrami, piled high, topped with melted provolone cheese, cole slaw and Russian dressing on fresh rye bread. The meats were lean, evenly spiced and just salty enough to snap tastebuds to attention, and the bread was at its peak. Another good bet is "The Brando" ($5.95), created from thin-sliced roast beef and turkey, layered with Swiss cheese, onions and horseradish.

There are dozens of you-pick, they-stack sandwiches built with ham, turkey, knockwurst, salami, bologna, rare roast beef, liverwurst, chicken and tuna salad, and more. The "Mighty Milty" ($5.75) is as good a choice as any, featuring about a half pound of hot, juicy pastrami, piled high, topped with melted provolone cheese, cole slaw and Russian dressing on fresh rye bread. The meats were lean, evenly spiced and just salty enough to snap tastebuds to attention, and the bread was at its peak. Another good bet is "The Brando" ($5.95), created from thin-sliced roast beef and turkey, layered with Swiss cheese, onions and horseradish.

Side items are a must, particularly the chunky cole slaw ($1.30) that emphasizes red cabbage, and a cup of matzo-ball soup ($2.25) that is so flavorful it actually makes chicken soup an exciting option for lunch. Steak fries are worth the extra expense, too; it was thoroughly soft and fluffy inside, crisp outside. A half order will more than suffice ($1.25), unless that's all you're eating. The only let down was the leaden New York cheesecake ($2.25).

Side items are a must, particularly the chunky cole slaw ($1.30) that emphasizes red cabbage, and a cup of matzo-ball soup ($2.25) that is so flavorful it actually makes chicken soup an exciting option for lunch. Steak fries are worth the extra expense, too; it was thoroughly soft and fluffy inside, crisp outside. A half order will more than suffice ($1.25), unless that's all you're eating. The only let down was the leaden New York cheesecake ($2.25).

Lunch-only Celebrity Delly closes at 2:30 p.m. weekdays, but breakfast is served all week long, with hot-off-the-griddle combinations of eggs, omelets, corned-beef hash, pancakes and French toast.

The day I went to Champs Deli across the street from the downtown library, there were just five people in the place. Still, I almost didn't make it in.

The little phone-booth-sized established for quite a while, with Chef George serving his famous pulled-pork sandwiches, and even though it's now owned by Lilia's Catering, George is still there. (By the way, Champ's Bakery on West Church has no connection to this place.)

The little phone-booth-sized established for quite a while, with Chef George serving his famous pulled-pork sandwiches, and even though it's now owned by Lilia's Catering, George is still there. (By the way, Champ's Bakery on West Church has no connection to this place.)

The cold-cut selection is pretty ordinary, but where else can you get a pretty decent chicken-salad sandwich and a cup of soup for $3.95, or a hot breakfast sammich for a buck-fifty? The banter that flies around might be reason enough to stop by, but if you're not in the neighborhood, they have a website. They have a website! It's almost bigger than the deli! Check Champs Deli if you need a catering menu.

After serving Central Florida for the better part of three decades, Amira's Kosher Deli closed its doors in May of last year, leaving a vacuum in the mouths and bellies of Jews and Gentiles craving kosher staples. Not one to succumb to the vagaries of the economy, Amira and Jerry Cohen's son, Justin, did his part to fill that vacuum, even if it was more than 40 miles away from where Amira's once stood. The place, Cohen's Deli and Butcher Shop, is ensconced in an oddly shaped strip mall off U.S. Highway 27 and U.S. Highway 192 in Clermont. The reason for the deli's locale? To cater to tourists, of course ' specifically, the scores of Jewish vacationers keeping kosher. For the rest of us, it'll definitely require a schlep to satisfy cravings for latkes, knishes, matzo-ball soup, pastrami or, yes, even halvah.

For those who do make the drive, comfort awaits ' not so much in the seating, but certainly in the food. Puckering up over sour dills (served whole) and pickled tomatoes is a pleasure while perusing the menu. Justin, sporting a chef's coat with 'Master Butcherâ?� printed on the back, makes the rounds with regulars, then dashes behind the counter to fill orders. And while Cohen's menu is held to strict glatt kosher standards under the supervision of Rabbi Yosef Konikov, that hardly means it comes at the expense of taste. Pulpy matzo farfel soup ($2.99 cup; $3.99 bowl), while mushy, was a lemony delight and reminiscent of Greek avgolemono soup. Unintentionally star-shaped potato latkes ($3.99) were, ironically, the star of the menu. A side of apple sauce made an ideal dip for the perfectly crisp potato pancakes, and they held up quite nicely the next day. Seeing the glass case loaded with an assortment of knishes made ordering one difficult to resist. The potato version reminded me of my mom's potato vadas ' doughy, pliant and wonderfully seasoned. All that was missing was some red-hot chutney.

Burgers aren't what come to mind when you think of a Jewish deli, but I had to try Cohen's quarter-pounder ($6.99) after learning the beef is ground fresh in the butcher shop. (Like Amira's, Cohen's has the luxury of an on-site butcher shop to supply meats for their deli and catering operations.) The resulting patty was a little flattened, but tasted great, and the bun, baked on the premises, was out-of-the-oven fresh. I opted for a side of fresh-cut, skin-on fries ($1.99) and a tumbler of sweet, crisp coleslaw, both spot-on.

The overstuffed beef brisket sandwich ($10.99) is just that ' two slices of spongy, flavorful rye stuffed with nothing else but beef brisket. While purists may appreciate the no-nonsense approach, they may also find it a tad dry; a dip in the decanter of gravy helps. Creamy potato salad ($1.99) made from red-skin tubers makes a perfectly worthy side.

The thin slab of halvah ($1.99), a crumbly sesame-paste confection, didn't exactly wow me, and made the dense dairy-free chocolate cake ($4.99) taste better than it actually was. But with its many menu holdovers from Amira's, it's nice to see the tradition live on, even if it is in Lake County. Forget the desserts. Like Amira's, Cohen's real strength is straight-from-the-shtetl home cooking.

Tucked away in the Hidden Gardens area of Park Avenue is a shiny new place for noontime snacking, appropriately called The Lunch Box. The sandwich shop is an extension of Olive This, Relish That, the quirky tapenade, jam and foodstuff place owned by the Doggie Door folks. So call this the People Door, if you will.

Wind through the back courtyard of the Hidden Gardens or walk right in to the front door of Olive This, Relish That for yummy sandwiches made with prime rib and mushrooms sauteed in vermouth; tarragon chicken salad (get there early, this one sells out); or grilled Italian bread with fontina cheese and peppers.

Wind through the back courtyard of the Hidden Gardens or walk right in to the front door of Olive This, Relish That for yummy sandwiches made with prime rib and mushrooms sauteed in vermouth; tarragon chicken salad (get there early, this one sells out); or grilled Italian bread with fontina cheese and peppers.

Build your own from specialty breads such as black olive or ciabatta rolls, and add a vegetable, ham and pasta salad and a fresh-baked cookie, and you've got something great to pack into your own tin pail.

A garden of leafy delights awaits at Eden’s, a clean, spacious green house on North Orange sandwiched between Winnie’s Oriental Garden and the Ravenous Pig. The focus here is on the body (healthy food), spirit (a place for quiet reflection and artistic expression) and mind (free Wi-Fi), though their wraps and salads really take center stage. The blues and greens of the interior reflect the colors of the sky, plants and water, but are also reminiscent of an Aegean café, which may have induced me to order the Athena ($4.80). The mélange of greens, kalamata olives, tomatoes, cukes, peppers, snow peas and feta can be stuffed in a wrap or enjoyed as a traditional bowl of salad. I opted for the former (in a tomato-basil wrap) and had some lemon-pepper chicken thrown in for an additional $2. The flavors were rightfully tangy, if a tad salty. I really liked the Daisy ($4.80), a refreshingly sweet and delightfully nutty salad that I enjoyed sans wrap. Mandarin oranges and strawberries provided the pop, almonds and sunflower seeds the crunch and raspberry vinaigrette the invigorating splash.

There are 11 different salads from which to choose, and if none tickles your fancy, create your own from Eden’s 37 available “tossings” and 12 dressings. Counter service can slow considerably during the lunch rush, but that’ll give you a chance to peruse the original artwork and sayings on the walls. Oh, and if you’re looking for a little quiet reflection, the consistent chatter and piped-in music could foil any meditative urges. It should be noted that the items above, though ordered “small,” were enormous portions, but really – eating too much salad is like taking too many naps; how bad for you could it possibly be?

They're heavy on the Philly at Famous Phil's: names of city landmarks on the wallpaper, photos of the city everywhere, recent issues of Philadelphia magazine on the tables. The connection's even in the slogan, just in case you missed it: "Real Philly people making real Philly cheese steaks." (The editor in me wonders: Are they real people from Philly, or are they people who are really from Philly?)

So these had better be some fine cheese steaks, right? After all, one does not invoke the hometown of the cheese steak lightly.

On that score, Phil's is hit and miss. The cheese steaks themselves ($2.99 to $5.25) are good; not great, but a notch above the cheese steaks you'll get at, say, a sub shop. They crank 'em out right out in the open on a big flat grill, and the smell of searing beef and frying onions brings back fond memories of carnivals past. I found the meat flavorful but dry, not sopping and juicy the way a memorable sandwich should be.

Then there's everything else at Phil's. I had an all-American hoagie ($3.99) that was the most uninspired sub I've encountered outside of a Subway. The Italian wedding soup ($1.99) was indistinguishable from canned, and the onion rings ($1.89) were mushy on the inside and left a puddle of grease in the bottom of the container.

The place was packed with Full Sail students, and most of them were eating cheese steaks; the wise move is to do the same and not stray too far down the menu.

A Brit opening a curry stand is nothing new, but a restaurant steeped in Indian cuisine using a time-honored British dish as a launching pad for seafood fusion? Well, that calls for a closer look. 

The small, cozy interior of this strip-mall restaurant is more family dining room than seaside shack, but the flashy part is the menu. New England, Floridian and Caribbean seafood styles dominate, often with a curry or southeast Asian twist. But they do traditional just fine: The whiting fish and chips ($7.45, served with cole slaw) is a huge slab of tenderly fresh fish, with a satisfying (but not gratuitous) layer of golden-browned batter. Beyond the basket are entrees like curry shrimp ($12.95, with two sides) pan-seared and slathered in delicious red curry with the spice turned up, surprisingly accurately, to your liking. The side of hush puppies, crispy on moist, is a must-try.

fish and chips ($7.45, served with cole slaw) is a huge slab of tenderly fresh fish, with a satisfying (but not gratuitous) layer of golden-browned batter. Beyond the basket are entrees like curry shrimp ($12.95, with two sides) pan-seared and slathered in delicious red curry with the spice turned up, surprisingly accurately, to your liking. The side of hush puppies, crispy on moist, is a must-try.

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