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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.

Pizza without beer? Lasagna without wine? It's unthinkable according to Anthony Marku's standards, but then he's a native of Italy and the owner of Thornton Park's newest restaurant, Anthony's Pizza Cafe.

Marku feels so strongly about the pairings that he's prepared to start giving away beer and wine at his establishment – and he may have to do just that. Last week, the City Council, acting on the interests of a handful of residents concerned about adding another outlet for alcohol in their neighborhood, once again shot down his appeal for a permit to sell beer and wine.

Marku feels so strongly about the pairings that he's prepared to start giving away beer and wine at his establishment – and he may have to do just that. Last week, the City Council, acting on the interests of a handful of residents concerned about adding another outlet for alcohol in their neighborhood, once again shot down his appeal for a permit to sell beer and wine.

For the meantime, the Thornton Park dining district is confusing, with regard to spirits. Customers can belly up to the bar in droves at Dexter's, Chez Jose Mexican and Burton's Bar & Grill. But across the street at Anthony's, you have to bring your own bottle or visit the 7-Eleven.

For the meantime, the Thornton Park dining district is confusing, with regard to spirits. Customers can belly up to the bar in droves at Dexter's, Chez Jose Mexican and Burton's Bar & Grill. But across the street at Anthony's, you have to bring your own bottle or visit the 7-Eleven.

Even so, only one month after opening, Anthony's is shaping up as a popular dining spot. Located in a former car-repair shop that's been gutted and washed with bronze colors and a Tuscan atmosphere, the two dozen tables inside and on the courtyard are usually filled on Friday nights. This is casual, affordable Italian food at its best, prepared traditionally.

Even so, only one month after opening, Anthony's is shaping up as a popular dining spot. Located in a former car-repair shop that's been gutted and washed with bronze colors and a Tuscan atmosphere, the two dozen tables inside and on the courtyard are usually filled on Friday nights. This is casual, affordable Italian food at its best, prepared traditionally.

But don't come here if you're trying to save calories – there's nowhere to hide. The cheesy garlic bread appetizer is out of this world and a steal at $2.25. An Italian baguette is sliced down the middle, lusciously soaked with garlic butter and capped with whole-milk mozzarella cheese. Then it's lightly bronzed under the broiler.

But don't come here if you're trying to save calories – there's nowhere to hide. The cheesy garlic bread appetizer is out of this world and a steal at $2.25. An Italian baguette is sliced down the middle, lusciously soaked with garlic butter and capped with whole-milk mozzarella cheese. Then it's lightly bronzed under the broiler.

Lunch and dinner mainly consist of subs, pizzas and pasta entrees. Some of the portions are gargantuan. We asked for a small "special stromboli" ($6.95) and were presented with a virtual football, stuffed with mozzarella, pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, green peppers, onions and ham. The "VIP stuffed pizza" is daunting, too, with a double crust filled with all of the above, plus cappicolla and Genoa salami. Just one slice ($3.50) is the size of most restaurants' personal pizzas, and a large pie ($24) would serve a crowd.

Lunch and dinner mainly consist of subs, pizzas and pasta entrees. Some of the portions are gargantuan. We asked for a small "special stromboli" ($6.95) and were presented with a virtual football, stuffed with mozzarella, pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, green peppers, onions and ham. The "VIP stuffed pizza" is daunting, too, with a double crust filled with all of the above, plus cappicolla and Genoa salami. Just one slice ($3.50) is the size of most restaurants' personal pizzas, and a large pie ($24) would serve a crowd.

A lighter choice would be the spinach pizza, topped with white cheeses and spinach ($2.25 slice, $8.95 small pie).

A lighter choice would be the spinach pizza, topped with white cheeses and spinach ($2.25 slice, $8.95 small pie).

Pastas are just as good. We tried a heaping portion of delicious spaghetti ($6.25), topped with sweet, basil-infused marinara sauce and meatballs the size of golf balls.

Pastas are just as good. We tried a heaping portion of delicious spaghetti ($6.25), topped with sweet, basil-infused marinara sauce and meatballs the size of golf balls.

Even without beer and wine, Anthony's is positioned to become a fixture in the Thornton Park enclave.

Sushi and noodles are all the rage at this cool lunch spot. Handsomely presented "torch rolls" with conch, scallops, salmon, tuna and sriracha are luscious, while spicy red tobiko proffer a proper pop. Bento boxes run the gamut and a bonanza of boba awaits tea-totalers.

Restaurants are organic things. Like the tide, they ebb and flow. Owners and names of places change at a dizzying rate. And, in a town where good chefs are a bankable commodity, it can be challenging to keep track of who is cooking what where.

Who's in the kitchen? It could be a chef from Disney, a woman trained in France or a guy who was managing an Arby's last week. A change can come because someone wonderful becomes available; sometimes it's because someone just left.

Sometimes it's both. When The Boheme opened in the Westin Grand Bohemian Hotel downtown, Chef Todd Baggett had the enviable job of matching a menu to the expansive art collection and opulent-looking setting that surrounds diners. And mostly he succeeded. When he moved on to Wolfgang Puck's, the vacuum was filled by Robert Mason, former chef at the famous Vic Stewart's steak house in San Francisco and the California Café at Florida Mall. Mason promises he will take the restaurant "to a new level."

There aren't any changes in the room itself. Same dark woods, massive columns and burgundy accents, same eclectic and sometimes puzzling art.

As for the kitchen, the highs and lows suggest that Mason's reign also is organic. Our waiter, a bubbly chap, promised that the new fall menu was "more flavorful." I didn't see massive differences between the pre-Mason era and now. The menu still has seafood, and hefty chunks of Angus beef in several incarnations. The "au Poivre" with garlic-pepper crust ($26) is very "flavorful," though not quite as tender as I had expected. Breast of Muscovy duck ($25) and lobster still find their way to the table, and it was good to see the large a la carte vegetables available (order the "exotic mushrooms" -- in fact, order two and you may not need an entree).

The new dishes fit in with the scheme. A pan-roasted chicken breast, stuffed with vegetables and served atop spaghetti squash ($19), is tender and good; the herb sauce made from the drippings is extraordinary. Combine that with a deceptively simple "Boheme salad" ($6) and its irresistible Gorgonzola vinaigrette dressing, and you'll leave the table happy. But "Shrimp 2 Ways" was four shrimp that tasted almost the same "way," and didn't seem worth 12 bucks.

A new jazz brunch on Sunday allows you to eat roast turkey, omelets and waffles while hanging out around the $250,000 Imperial Grand Bösen-dorfer piano. Take an extra napkin.

Ah, progress. It seems whenever something new appears (the downtown Mini dealership for example), something old and treasured gets shoved aside. Such was the case with Café Annie, a neighborhood breakfast and lunch staple that occupied the corner spot on Jefferson Street and North Orange Avenue -- spiffy new cars in, gyros for lunch out.

So it was a great pleasure for downtown dwellers to see Café Annie return, displaced one door over. The spot, a cavernous storefront that was occupied by the Tin Can Alley restaurant for about five minutes, affords owner and chef Nazih Sebaali a large space for his Mediterranean and Middle Eastern recipes ("A bit of everything," he says) that have more to do with flavor than flair.

The food has a feeling of health and simplicity. Baba ghanoush ($2.95), a smooth paste of roast eggplant and garlic, sits on the plate simply adorned with a drizzle of olive oil, imploring you to eat. When you order a roasted chicken ($4.99), that's what you get, a dark or white quarter, oven-brown and juicy, served with two side dishes.

And what side dishes they are. Greek fasolia salad (butter beans stewed with tomato), snappy crisp green beans, or vinegary vegetarian stuffed grape leaves ($1.95 each) share a table with hummus ($2.95) and the best garlic mashed potatoes I've had in ages ($1.75, order extra).

The chicken kebab ($5.95) is charred and slightly lemony, and is available pressed in a pita, as is the gyro, a broiled beef and lamb combination with tomato, lettuce and a yogurt dressing ($4.25).

Specials change day to day; that afternoon it was richly seasoned lasagna and a salad for $5.50. How can you beat that? The point should be clear by now that if you don't like garlic, this might not be a good destination, but the thick roasted-garlic and tomato soup, loaded with savory chunks of tomato and rice, was worthy of nearby high-priced restaurants, and only $1.95 for the cup.

Breakfast starts at 7 a.m.; eggs, bacon, sausage, croissant sandwiches are joined by "Annie's eggpita" ($4.25) a dense Mediterranean omelet in pita bread.

Sebaali came to Orlando as an engineering student 25 years ago. When asked why he got into the restaurant business, he replied, "I don't really know how to answer that question." But despite his uncertainty, the previous home of Café Annie (named after his wife) stayed in business for 13 years. The revamped cafe opens for dinner starting this weekend, serving the same menu plus lamb kebabs, steak and seafood, with table service. I'll be going. How about you?

Aesthetically, this 22,000-square-foot tapas factory, one of the anchors of the re-revitalized Church Street Station entertainment complex, is as grand and enticing a restaurant you’ll find in the city. The ambience, rich in fine details and accentuated by a gleaming bar, tile mosaics, sumptuous lighting and a cathedral ceiling, would’ve had me quoting Shakespeare, but my memory (or lack thereof) foiled a display of frivolous pretense. For what it’s worth, the passage I was groping for – Her beauty makes this vault a feasting presence full of light – is a fitting one. This Spanish beauty of a restaurant will ultimately capture your heart, but not before seducing your stomach.

The advantage in dining at a tapas joint (particularly one offering a whopping selection of 100 small plates from which to choose) is that you’re sure to find something you like. A miss will most surely be countered by a hit, with plenty of in-betweens thrown in for good measure. Ceviche doesn’t reinvent the tapas experience, but what it does, it does relatively well.

Sampling ceviche, a delicacy originating in the former Spanish colony of Peru, was practically a foregone conclusion, and the ceviche de atun ($11), a martini-glass assemblage of citrus-marinated tuna, red peppers, jalapeños, garlic and onions, made a cool introduction to the meal. Nothing awe-inspiring, but the dish was tangy, refreshing and had just enough kick to jump-start the affair. Our waiter assured us the Iberico ham ($8.50) was top-quality, and while I couldn’t confirm if the jamón was solely acorn-fed, my dining companions both agreed the thinly shaved meat, served on a crunchy baguette and topped with a triangle of aged manchego cheese, was melt-in-your-mouth perfect.

Another dish that had us cooing was the wonderfully gooey portobello relleno ($8). Wilted spinach, shallots and manchego stuffed the corpulent ’shroom, with contrasting brandy and sherry cream sauces providing a sop-worthy complement. The floral notes and fruity finish of a glass of velvety-smooth Wrongo Dongo Monastrell 2006 ($5.60) proved to be an even better complement to the tapas vegetales.

But not everything was wine and roses, a pointed example being when our accommodating (though somewhat forgetful) waiter mistakenly served us a plate of aromatic salmon a la gaditana ($9). The fish was remarkably bland, and the accompanying saffron sauce with leeks was equally insipid. Bacalao Bilbaina ($11) looked promising, the plump loin of cod glistening with olive oil and garnished with garlic cloves and fire-roasted peppers, but the flavor gave me an idea as to what a wet, chewy sock might taste like.

Luckily, I was able to cleanse my palate with oxtail (I don’t get to say that too often). Fall-off-the-bone tender rabo de toro ($11) is slowly braised in a red wine reduction and served atop cushiony potatoes: absolutely delicious, and the hit dish of the evening. Skewers of nicely seasoned chorizo were the hit of the banderillas mixtas ($8.50), which also came lanced with chewy tenderloin and ho-hum chicken, though repeated dips in the garlic aioli elevated each meaty bite.

Both desserts we sampled were outstanding. The creamy-drunk tres leches meringue cake with fresh berries ($7.50) won over more sweet-tooths than the trilogia de chocolates ($8), a moussey drum of white, dark and milk chocolates. Just about ready for a siesta, I ordered a double espresso, and while the brew did its part to recharge, the taste fell flat and the crema was nonexistent.

On the way out, I took a gander at the cold tapas bar, a centerpiece fixture that drew my eyes upward to the dangling gams of hams. Each lovely shank vied for the attention of patrons already bedazzled by the vault’s feasting presence.

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.

Defying the demise of so many soul-food kitchens of late, Chef Eddie's steps up and represents with arguably the best comfort fare in the city. Smothered pork chops, saucy oxtails, chicken and waffles, chunky mashed potatoes, jalapeno crackling muffins - all will eliicit superlatives, And there's nothing healthy about the gravy-drizzled friedn green tomatoes atop cheesy grits, but man they;re good. Closed Mondays.

Slick and boisterous Orange Avenue sup-spot offers expertly prepared dishes like lobster fritters spiked with jalapeno and red snapper with lobster risotto cake, proof positive of the kitchen's competency. The din can be deafening, but the joint's got that asphalt-jungle verve that trendsters dig.
It’s hard to find a clunker in this downtown brasserie’s menu of approachable French cuisine, be it starters like French onion soup (a specialty), tomato water risotto or Vietnamese seafood stew, or entrees like steak frites, moules frites or vermouth-braised pork cheeks. Partake in their progressive cocktail program, or enjoy one of the many French wines by the glass offered. Closed Sundays.
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