Café/Bistro in Downtown

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    If you've ever lived south of the East-West Expressway, in the vicinity of Lake Davis, you probably remember El Rincon, a beer-in-a-bag kind of market at the corner of Mills Avenue and Gore Street. If your timing was good and you caught the place when it was open, which was frustratingly rare, you might find a loaf of white bread and a copy of the paper to go with your tallboy. But only the foolhardy would actually order a sandwich from the place.

    How things have changed since Jim Ellis and Nick Massoni took over in September. El Rincon is now the 903 Mills Market, and it is the heart of a quickly gentrifying neighborhood. The once-dark grocery with bars on the windows is now brightly lit and inviting. You can have lunch or a beer at one of the outside tables and watch the traffic on Mills whiz by. Or sit inside and chat with neighbors as they come and go.

    How things have changed since Jim Ellis and Nick Massoni took over in September. El Rincon is now the 903 Mills Market, and it is the heart of a quickly gentrifying neighborhood. The once-dark grocery with bars on the windows is now brightly lit and inviting. You can have lunch or a beer at one of the outside tables and watch the traffic on Mills whiz by. Or sit inside and chat with neighbors as they come and go.

    903 Mills serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and the food is worth a stop. I have yet to eat breakfast there, but the sandwiches are creative, tasty and huge (the "Grateful Bread," a combination of turkey, blue cheese, stuffing, onions and cranberry mayo on sourdough is a personal favorite); the dinner blue plates don't disappoint, and there's always a kettle of soup on.

    903 Mills serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and the food is worth a stop. I have yet to eat breakfast there, but the sandwiches are creative, tasty and huge (the "Grateful Bread," a combination of turkey, blue cheese, stuffing, onions and cranberry mayo on sourdough is a personal favorite); the dinner blue plates don't disappoint, and there's always a kettle of soup on.

    Tipplers will appreciate what has to be one of the best beer selections in town. I've never seen He'Brew, Dogfish Head, Flying Dog and White Hawk together in one place before, let alone in a single cooler in a tiny neighborhood store. Wine heads (as distinguished from winos) will dig the monthly tastings.

    Tipplers will appreciate what has to be one of the best beer selections in town. I've never seen He'Brew, Dogfish Head, Flying Dog and White Hawk together in one place before, let alone in a single cooler in a tiny neighborhood store. Wine heads (as distinguished from winos) will dig the monthly tastings.

    In the age of the 7-Eleven, community grocery stores are a rare and wonderful thing, and this one is a gem.

    At first glance, a gay-owned business in the heart of Parramore may seem as incongruous as an Idaho senator in a Minneapolis airport bathroom, but not so in Buddy Dyer’s vision of the new Parramore. Here a pinch of city money, a dash of diversity and a whole lotta poured concrete is a recipe for urban renewal.

    While Stonewall Bistro’s drab gray edifice is reminiscent of a gun shop, the inside is suggestive of a laid-back neighborhood bar complete with pool table, dart boards and an antique wine press that’s quite the conversation piece. It’s a casual vibe, made all the more so by motel lobby furniture and a menu of standard pub fare. Named after co-owner Rob Weigle, “Rob’s fabulous roast beef on rye sandwich” ($7.95) is jacked with horseradish and chive havarti, while the cheeseburger ($5.45), though not stellar, makes for a benign nosh. French fries top soggy beer-battered onion rings. If the excellent cheesecake made by Winter Garden’s Sweet Guys is available, go for it.

    The bistro’s moniker refers to 1969’s Stonewall Rebellion, when gays and lesbians resisted a police raid on the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village. Given co-owner Steve Watkins’ affability, you can pretty much rule out any rioting here – unless a fight breaks out over the last piece of divine chocolate-chip cookie-dough cheesecake.

    (Stonewall Bistro, 741 W. Church St.; 407- 373-0888)

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