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click to enlarge The Danza II sandwich from Orlando Meats

Photo by Rob Bartlett

The Danza II sandwich from Orlando Meats

New Orlando restaurants 2021: All the new food halls, sushi bars, burger joints, pizza places and doughnut shops expected to open this year 

Let's put 2020 where it belongs — in a slop-filled dumpster strewn with red baseball caps coated in fryer grease and set ablaze by a flamethrower-brandishing Anthony Fauci. That destructive image helps nurture a sentiment of hope and optimism within me, particularly when looking ahead to what the next 12 months will bring to our battered restaurant industry. The good news? Many eating establishments aren't just showing signs of life, they're beginning to thrive and expand. Restaurants and food halls that were slated to open last year, but didn't, will open this year, and an exciting batch of boutique boîtes fronted by equally exciting young culinarians will bring chef's tasting experiences to the masses. Hope, indeed, sits on the horizon, and if this list of newly open and soon-to-open restaurants is any indication, 2021 will be a year that'll live in normality. — Faiyaz Kara

A.G.'s Market
The Hamlin food hall (appropriately monogrammed after Arthur George Hamlin) will sit on 22,000 square feet of lakefront property and offer everything from craft burgers and pizza to Southern fried chicken and sushi. A second-floor indoor/outdoor bar will provide views of Lake Hancock and nightly fireworks at Disney. (Opening December, 14117 Shoreside Way, Winter Garden, hamlinfl.com)

Black Rooster Taqueria
When John and Juliana Calloway, the high priest and priestess of Orlando's taco scene, expand their Black Rooster Taqueria concept to the Hourglass District this spring, the new location will be double the size of the Mills Avenue original and feature a sizable pet-friendly outdoor patio with plenty of seating and enough space for games. The larger kitchen will allow the pair to grow catering operations and expand offerings — think brunch. (Opening March, 3097 Curry Ford Road, blackroostertaqueria.com)

Bombay Street Kitchen
From the folks behind Bombay Cafe on South OBT comes a joint specializing in the street fare of Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore and beyond. Expect everything from pani puri and kathi rolls to momos and potato chaat. (Opening February, 6215 S. Orange Blossom Trail, bombaycafeorlando.net)

The Bridge
A "New York-style" restaurant will move into the slick space previously occupied by upscale vegan resto Proper & Wild. The menu will be "contemporary American," though a couple of vegan dishes might find their way onto the menu. (Opening March, 155 E. Morse Blvd., Winter Park, thebridgerestaurant.com)

Bumby Arcade Food Hall
An 18-stall food hall incorporating the gorgeous space of the Orchid Garden on Church Street will undoubtedly draw more people to the venue than in the old Church Street Station days. Vendors, like Susuru Yatai, promise to be as worthy as the Victorian-ish architecture. (Opening fall, 116 W. Church St., no website)

Chicago Dog & Co.
If you'd rather slap yourself in the head with a deep-dish pizza than make the trip down to Portillo's for a Chicago-style dog, this little family-run joint in Altamonte will give you a true taste of Second City wiener authenticity. And, yes, they'll have Italian beef sandwiches, tamales and smashburgers on the menu as well. Don't ask for ketchup. (Opening March, 1113 W. State Road 434, Altamonte Springs, chicagodogandco.com)

click to enlarge Chicken Fire (2425 E. Colonial Drive) - PHOTO BY ROB BARTLETT
  • Photo by Rob Bartlett
  • Chicken Fire (2425 E. Colonial Drive)

Chicken Fire
One of the hottest (literally and figuratively) food-truck operations in this city finally got a permanent space from which to fire off some of the best hot chicken this side of Nashville. Tenders and sliders (available in "soulful," "meek," "mild," "medium" and "hot" levels) are served simply in boxes along with bread, pickles, crinkle-cut fries and coleslaw. (Open, 2425 E. Colonial Drive, facebook.com/eatchickenfire)

click to enlarge The Hot Box from Chicken Fire - PHOTO BY ROB BARTLETT
  • Photo by Rob Bartlett
  • The Hot Box from Chicken Fire

Dochi
Folks went gaga over Dochi's mochi donuts manufactured on the second floor of East End Market, and they'll soon lose their minds when they open a brick-and-mortar shop in Mills 50. The signature crispy-chewy donuts are made from Japanese rice flour (to create the sublime texture) and come in flavors ranging from ube glaze to Ferrero-Rocher to matcha Oreo. (Opening February, 1222 E. Colonial Drive, dochicompany.com)

Everglazed Donuts & Cold Brew
It was just a matter of time before Disney Springs jumped on the craft donut bandwagon, and Everglazed's cake and yeast numbers — like the peanut butter explosion and Mounds coconut dream — are plenty indulgent for today's connoisseurs. (Open, 1504 E. Buena Vista Drive, Lake Buena Vista, everglazed.com)

F&D Cantina
This Mexican concept from the F&D family of restaurant brands already has a location in Lake Mary, but they'll soon expand to the Thornton Park/Lake Eola neighborhood, taking over the space recently vacated by Jax Thornton Park, and Baoery before that. (Opening spring, 617 E. Central Blvd., fdcantinalakemary.com)

First Watch Winter Park
The city's best-known breakfast chain is moving out of an aging space in Maitland and into a much more modern one in Winter Park, complete with an outdoor dining area and lounge. The move is very much in keeping with First Watch's recent concept tweaks, from the "urban farm" aesthetic to the adult beverage menu to a focus on farm-fresh ingredients. (Opening March, 140 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, firstwatch.com)

Foreigner
Chef Bruno Fonseca will lend permanence to the "Foreigner Experience" — his high-end chef's tasting pop-up concept — in Audubon Park this spring. The cozy 954-square-foot space will feature a 10-seat counter and kitchen from where Fonseca will fashion seven-course prix-fixe menus drawing from global influences. A focus will be placed on local and luxe ingredients like Florida beef and seafood, including oysters. (Opening spring, 3124 Corrine Drive, theforeignerexperience.com)

The Food Factory
This food hall-ish venue being built as part of the Oviedo on the Park development will see eight "micro restaurants" run by local chefs, restaurateurs and food truck owners surrounding the Factory Bar — a rooftop bar and restaurant. Tenants include Kai Asian Street Fare, Dharma Fine Vittles, Oak Flame Pizza, Ruthie's New Diner, Burritohead, Sea Legs, Lix Luscious Desserts and Grainiac. (Opening summer, 299 Center Lake Lane, Oviedo, facebook.com/thefoodfactoryoviedo)

Fort Pitt
A nearly 100-year-old edifice on Old Cheney Highway will transform into a neighborhood marketplace and food venue anchored by Rock N' Billies, a vegan burgers-and-shakes concept by Shaun Noonan of Dharma Fine Vittles, and Valhalla Bakery, which will move out of Market on South. Noonan's natural wine shop Curate will also occupy a space, as will Soteria Wellness. (Opening early summer, 5565 Old Cheney Highway, fortpittorlando.com)

Gatlin Hall
Kevin O'Donnell, co-owner of the Local Butcher and Market, the Porch, Big Fin Seafood Kitchen and Russell's on Lake Ivanhoe, is behind this SoDo food hall venture that will see Frenchy's Wood-Fired Pizza, Da Kine Poke and Willy's Original, a quick-service burger and chicken concept by former Capital Grille executive corporate chef Jim Nuetzi. A rotating dessert operator will also occupy a stall, while Gatlin Hall Brewing, with Cigar City's Tyler Rosenberg as head brewer, will anchor the 4,000-square-foot space. (Opening March, 4721 S. Orange Ave., gatlinhallbrewing.com)

Great Greek
The Mediterranean fast-casual concept offering everything from gyros to spanakopita to souvlaki will open its second area restaurant, this one on the ground floor of the SkyHouse building downtown. (Opening March, 335 N. Magnolia Ave., thegreatgreekgrill.com)

Hall on the Yard
Tampa's first food hall will expand into a two-story, 13,000-square-foot space at the Yard at Ivanhoe, with tenants including popular vegan eatery Humbl, Tampa-based Asian-fusion concept Wabi Sabi, and seven other restaurant vendors. The second floor will be reserved for overflow seating, private dining, stage performances and events. Two cocktail bars will also reside on the upper floor. (Opening March, 1460 Alden Road, thehallontheyard.com)

The Hampton Social
The island-inspired flair of the old Tommy Bahama Restaurant in Pointe Orlando will soon be supplanted by the East Coast, nautical swankdashery of the Hampton Social. Expect plenty of seafood, shellfish, brick-oven pizzas, and — not to sound like a broken Michael McDonald record — plenty of yacht rock, I'm sure. (Opening February, Pointe Orlando, 9101 International Drive, thehamptonsocial.com)

Hangry Bison Winter Garden
The burger joint that opened inside Winter Park Village back in 2018 is expanding to Winter Garden but, then again, who isn't? The Exchange on historic Plant Street is the beneficiary and, burgers aside, craft cocktails, bourbon and whiskey flights will also be served out of the 4,100-square-foot space. (Opening May, 270 W. Plant St., Winter Garden, thehangrybison.com)

HÄOS on Church
Blue Star, the godmother of the local burlesque scene, opened this two-story restaurant/performance venue in the old Lion's Pride space a little more than a year after she shuttered the Venue in Ivanhoe Village. Chefs Michael Magonigle and Andrew Jones of Kres Chophouse put on a show of their own in the kitchen, plating everything from shareables to seafood to steaks. (Open, 123 W. Church St., haosonchurch.com)

Hunger Street Tacos Winter Garden
Plant Street Market will soon find out what Winter Park has gone gaga about, namely nixtamalized stone-ground tortillas from heirloom Oaxacan corn and one of the most buzzworthy bites in recent memory, the birria machete. Bonus: The new location will feature an open kitchen housing two trompos for proper tacos al pastor. (Opening spring, 426 W. Plant St., Winter Garden, hungerstreettacos.com)

Jollibee
Of all the restaurants listed here, this Filipino fast-food joint is arguably the most anticipated, thanks to its addicting brand of Chickenjoy! fried chicken and their Yumburgers seasoned to elicit langhap sarap. (Look it up.) (Opening spring, 11891 E. Colonial Drive, jollibeeusa.com)

Kaya
Kadence chef Lordfer Lalicon and the restaurant's business manager, Jamilyn Salonga Bailey, a couple of passionate Pinoys who want to create a greater awareness of the "beautiful and soulful" cuisine of the Philippines, will open this hotly anticipated restaurant in the former Dandelion Community Café space. (Opening fall, 618 N. Thornton Ave., kadenceorlando.com)

Kyoto Sushi & Grill
While many mourned the closure of Spoleto Italian Kitchen, others rejoiced at the news that this local hibachi and sushi chain would move into the space. Billing itself as "faster and more affordable" than other Japanese restaurants, Kyoto serves everything from poke bowls and bento boxes to ramen to scores of sushi rolls. (Opening spring, 349 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, kyotosushiandgrill.net)

Maki Hibachi
The swish Lake Nona Japanese joint will bring its high-end brand of hibachi, sushi, poke and interior design to Mills 50. And don't let the fact that the restaurant will be situated on the ground floor of the My Neighborhood Storage Center dissuade you from going. (Opening February, 108 E. Colonial Drive, makihibachi.net)

The Monroe
Josh Oakley, the talented chef who wowed at the Smiling Bison in Orlando and Sanford before doing the same at 1921 Mount Dora, will serve as executive chef of Jason and Sue Chin's restaurant on the ground floor of the Julian Apartments in Creative Village. Expect dishes of modern comfort at a price point lower than, say, the Ravenous Pig. (Opening March, 480 N. Terry Ave., themonroeorlando.com)

Norman's
The "New World cuisine" at the new Norman's in Dr. Phillips won't be made by longtime chef Andres Mendoza — he departed for Victoria & Albert's — but by Mendoza's right-hand man, Carlos Robles. Chef Norman Van Aken has always been impressed with Robles' cooking, but he's equally impressed by his ability to build a team and execute a plan. (Opening October, 7924 Via Dellagio Way, normans.com)

Ootoya Sushi
It's been more than a year since beloved Japanese joint Shari Sushi shuttered, but sushi is about to wiggle its way back to the Eola dining scene courtesy of Ootoya Sushi. The restaurant has been a favorite in Altamonte Springs thanks to its creative rolls, hibachi and sake offerings. (Opening January, 621 E. Central Blvd., ootoyasushi.net)

The Kingpin noodle bowl from Orlando Meats - PHOTO BY ROB BARTLETT
  • Photo by Rob Bartlett
  • The Kingpin noodle bowl from Orlando Meats

Orlando Meats
Orlando's loss is Winter Park's gain. The Ravaudage complex is now privy to the gastronomic variety show being conjured by Orlando Meats' mad wizards of whimsy, namely culinary director and co-owner Eliot Hillis, head chef/work husband Seth Parker, and chef Mikey Mundon. In addition to a menu of creatively executed (and bizarrely named) sandwiches, burgers and noodles, the new location has seen a resuscitation of the team's Recess Pizza concept. A full liquor bar will open in the coming weeks. (Open, 1035 Orlando Ave., Winter Park, orlandomeats.com)

click to enlarge Orlando Meats (1035 Orlando Ave., Winter Park) - PHOTO BY ROB BARTLETT
  • Photo by Rob Bartlett
  • Orlando Meats (1035 Orlando Ave., Winter Park)

Outpost Neighborhood Kitchen
Running a cutesy eatery in a relatively small space in College Park is one thing. Being the anchor restaurant at the Maitland City Centre is entirely another. One thing's certain: The success of the restaurant's brand of American comfort fare will rest entirely in the hands of former Ravenous Pig chef de cuisine Nick Sierputowski. (Opening February, 190 Independence Lane, Maitland, facebook.com/outpostneighborhoodkitchen)

Pattie Lou's Donuts
Don't expect the doughnut trend to die anytime soon. At this downtown dunker shop, customers will be able to customize the doughy confections by picking, dipping and topping the doughnut of their choice. (Opening March, 139 E. Pine St., pattielousdonuts.com)

Perla's Pizza
Popular Ivanhoe Village bar the Thirsty Topher will soon serve craft pizzas along with its sweet selection of craft brews. Mike Collantes (of Taglish and the soon-to-open Soseki) will bake "not your normal pies," so expect topping combinations such as banana, pepperoni and Calabrese pepper, or pineapple jam, pickled jalapeños and smoked slab bacon. (Opening February, 601 Virginia Drive, perlaspizza.com)

The Pinery
Playing up Ivanhoe Village's history as a once-thriving pineapple farm, the 150-seat Pinery will occupy more than 4,000 square feet inside the Lake House Apartments and celebrate "Florida fresh cuisine" in addition to Orlando history. The Deco mezzanine railing from the Sun First National Bank downtown (now a Walgreens) and pecky cypress salvaged from a home in Lake Fairview will be incorporated into the restaurant's design. (Opening May, 295 NE Ivanhoe Blvd., thepineryorlando.com)

Portillo's
If there's one thing this hot dog chain has mustered, it's daaa buzz. In addition to Chicago-style dogs and Italian beef sammidges, they'll offer burgers, salads and their signature chocolate cake. The 7,800-square-foot location will feature double drive-through lanes and two covered outdoor patios. (Opening March, 7715 Palm Parkway, portillos.com)

Soseki
Taglish chef Mike Collantes joins forces with sushi chef Denni Cha to open this highly anticipated 10-seat restaurant offering guests a modern take on the omakase/multi-course dining experience. The duo plan on expanding the menu's scope beyond just Japanese fare. (Opening spring, 955 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park, sosekifl.com)

Southern Box Food Hall
The old Great Southern Box Company building on the southeast corner of Princeton Street and North Orange Blossom Trail is being preserved and repurposed into a 22,400-square-foot food hall featuring an elevated plaza with outdoor green space (read: shade). The food hall is but one component of a larger plan to redevelop the corner site in the Packing District, which will also see a microbrewery and a signature restaurant/bar. (Opening November, Princeton Street and North Orange Blossom Trail, packingdistrictorlando.com)

South Orange Provisions
In addition to the Bumby Arcade, downtown Orlando will get this upscale food hall on the ground floor of the old SunTrust building. The 10,000-square-foot space will house nine food stalls and feature a shaded park with outdoor seating. (Opening fall, 200 S. Orange Ave., southorangeprovisions.com)

Space 220
Part of the Mission: Space expansion, this ambitiously themed restaurant promises to be, well, far out. The dining room places guests inside a space station with panoramic views 220 miles above our little blue planet, while the menu is a little more down to earth: modern American cuisine with a 1,000-bottle wine list. (Opening spring, Future World, Epcot, disneyworld.disney.go.com)

Susuru Yatai
From Lewis Lin, the man behind retro Japanese izakaya Susuru, comes this retro Japanese yatai, or snack stall, slated to occupy a space inside the new Bumby Arcade food hall downtown. The menu will offer up a host of Japanese street fare — yakiniku (grilled meats), yakitori (grilled chicken), ramen and Japanese street snacks like takoyaki, gyoza and wagyu donburi. (Opening fall, 116 W. Church St., susuruorl.com)

Taglish UCF
Mike Collantes will certainly be one of the city's busiest restaurateurs in 2021. In addition to Soseki and Perla's Pizza, he'll open a second location of his popular Filipino-American eatery. And unlike the Lotte Market original, the UCF location of Taglish will have its own space in the University Commons plaza, allowing patrons more elbow room to enjoy his sisig, longanisa burger and escabeche. (Opening spring, 12226 Corporate Blvd., taglishfl.com)

Wa Sushi
Many lamented the closure of this out-of-the-way gem in Casselberry, but owner Hong Wong renovated a space in a more conspicuous Casselberry locale and will soon be slicing and dicing more superlative cuts of local and Japanese seafood. (Opening February, 924 State Road 436, Casselberry, facebook.com/wasushicasselberry)

White Castle
The stoner burger chain returns to the Sunshine State after more than 50 years, but Orlandoans will have to make the drive to the O-Town West development near Disney to satisfy their munchies. This being Orlando, the 4,500-square-foot restaurant will be the company's largest burger, umm, joint. (Opening spring, 11595 Darryl Carter Parkway, whitecastle.com)

YH Seafood Club
Soaring salvers of seafood will greet guests at this Phillips Crossing concept by Yummy House owner John Zhao. The restaurant is modeled after Fishman Lobster Clubhouse, the famed Toronto seafood house that's been featured on every show from Ugly Delicious to Huang's World. Hong Kong-style dim sum and modern Cantonese cuisine will also be served. (Opening May, 8081 Turkey Lake Road, yummyhouseflorida.com)

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