click to enlarge north_quarter_photo_by_lindsey_thompson.jpg

Photo by Lindsey Thompson

Downtown Orlando is way more than just bars and a fountain 

The Lake Eola fountain serves as a centerpiece for the Central Business District, where there’s much more than meets the eye. Beyond businesses and bars – oh, all the bars; so many bars – you’ll find arts, architecture, history, outdoor space, major-league sports and more. Instead of hunting Pokemon with your face in your phone, look up. You’ll be surprised.



390 N. Orange Ave., 407-930-1700,

Between the collective talents of executive chef Clay Miller, managing partners James and Julie Petrakis (of Ravenous Pig fame), and Gene Zimmerman (of the Courtesy Bar), DoveCote was a shoo-in for success. The traditional French brasserie is a welcome addition to downtown's fine dining scene, and does a damn good power lunch, too.

North Quarter Tavern

861 N. Orange Ave., 407-757-0930,

Chef-driven pub grub made to enjoy with a beer or three. Don't miss the charcuterie, made in-house.

Super Rico Colombian Bistro

57 W. Central Blvd., 407-426-7007,

Delightful Colombian takes on fast food, like a spicy perro (hot dog), patacones (sort of a plantain-crust pizza), and a burger sandwiched between two arepas.

The Rusty Spoon

55 W. Church St., 407-401-8811,

Chef Kathleen Blake's gastropub still serves the best heirloom tomato salad to be had in the CBD, despite the growing competition.

Tin & Taco

40 W. Washington St., 407-425-4340,

New downtown spot is serious about their craft beer and "craft soda" (i.e., no Coke, no Pepsi), less serious about taco toppings: plenty of ranch dressing, bacon crumbles and Dorito crumbs to satisfy the drunk munchies.



69 E. Pine St., second floor, 407-613-5007,

Recently opened homage to everything '80s, Joysticks is lit by psychedelic black lights and the cocktails are inspired by favorite arcade characters. Sit down in front of Ms. PacMan and enjoy her namesake drink, while taking in the synthesized zaps and whizzbangs of fellow gamers.

Frosty's Christmastime Lounge

50 E. Central Blvd., 407-969-0911,

Every day of the year is Christmas here. Try not to get snowflakes (yes, really) in your alcoholic sno-ball (yes, really) as you bask in the carols, movies and Santa memorabilia.

Tier Nightclub

20 E. Central Blvd., 407-222-9732,

Bottle service, laser lights, DJs, hot bodies ... get your club on.

Lizzy McCormack's

55 N. Orange Ave., 407-426-8007,

This Irish pub is a small island of relaxed drinking in the nightlife madness of downtown.

Sly Fox

63 N. Orange Ave.,

Don't let the gigantic beer-can wall confuse you; there's liquor to be had as well. If you miss Bar-BQ-Bar, this is your new regular.

Credo at Church Street Exchange

101 S. Garland Ave., 407-519-0643,

The Exchange has shed its former life as a mini-mall and now houses some of Orlando's hottest co-working and tech spaces. In the center of the rococo building is an outpost of Credo, a coffee counter clad in emerald and gold, serving coffee "cocktails" on a pay-what-you-want model.


CityArts Factory

29 S. Orange Ave., 407-648-7060,

You know what's great about galleries, as opposed to museums? If you like it, you can buy it right off the wall. CityArts hosts several galleries under one roof, all full of goodies.


Walt Disney Amphitheater at Lake Eola

512 E. Washington St., 407-246-4484,

Originally painted in rainbow colors in honor of the first Come Out With Pride after Pulse, it looks like the Walt Diseny Amphitheatre is going to stay proud permanently. It's the site of free performances, ethnic festivals and the prime spot to watch fireworks on the Fourth of July.

Orlando Public Library

101 E. Central Blvd., 407-835-7323,

So much to offer: music, art shows, readings, free technology in the Melrose Center, and books, glorious books, all housed in a fabulous Brutalist concrete building. Don't miss the Friends of the Library bookshop.

SAK Comedy Lab

29 S. Orange Ave., 407-648-0001,

A little laughter is said to take years off your life, and after a show at SAK, you might well walk out dead. Improv reigns supreme here, and students showcase their talent monthly.

Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts

445 S. Magnolia Ave., 407-839-0119,

The fancy-schmancy Dr. Phillips Center is about to get bigger and schmancier: Phase Two construction just got off the ground in early March, and Broadway smash Hamilton is set to showcase the 2018-2019 season.

More in Annual Manual


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