The 10 best reviewed Orlando restaurants of 2017, so far

It's been a busy first half of the year for new local restaurants, and Orlando Weekly's food critic, Faiyaz Kara, has reviewed a good portion of them. Here are a few of his favorite new spots in the Orlando area.

 

 

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Reel Fish Coastal Kitchen & Bar 
Steadily improving fish house in the former Ravenous Pig space has a lot going for it, notably the owner’s zeal to make the venture a success. Also successful: a bracing ceviche of shark, snapper and hogfish; panko-breaded roasted oysters; and a quartet of fried green tomatoes atop zesty roasted pepper vinaigrette. There’s plenty of fried goodness for the fish camp lover in you, and if the whole roasted yellowtail snapper is available, get it. Closed Mondays.  Click here to read the whole review 
1234 N. Orange Ave., Winter Park, 407-543-3474; $$$
Photo via Rob Bartlett

Reel Fish Coastal Kitchen & Bar

Steadily improving fish house in the former Ravenous Pig space has a lot going for it, notably the owner’s zeal to make the venture a success. Also successful: a bracing ceviche of shark, snapper and hogfish; panko-breaded roasted oysters; and a quartet of fried green tomatoes atop zesty roasted pepper vinaigrette. There’s plenty of fried goodness for the fish camp lover in you, and if the whole roasted yellowtail snapper is available, get it. Closed Mondays. Click here to read the whole review
1234 N. Orange Ave., Winter Park, 407-543-3474; $$$

Photo via Rob Bartlett
Be sure to try the Gulf Coast Salad; tomatoes, onions, green beans, bacon,
avocado, hard-boiled egg, red onion, romaine lettuce and Florida shrimp, coarsely chopped with a vinaigrette dressing.  
Photo via Rob Bartlett
Be sure to try the Gulf Coast Salad; tomatoes, onions, green beans, bacon, avocado, hard-boiled egg, red onion, romaine lettuce and Florida shrimp, coarsely chopped with a vinaigrette dressing.

Photo via Rob Bartlett
Millenia 106 
A focused menu of local, seasonal fare peppered with Portuguese and Brazilian flavors allows journeyman chef Bruno Fonseca to showcase his personal style and brilliant technique. Dishes, for the most part, are creative yet approachable – be it a magnificent serving of simply grilled royal red shrimp with “punched” potatoes, or golden tile crested with fennel-citrus-blueberry salad served over farro verde. Duxelles are folded into the beef for added umami in the burger, and if you’re up for a fancified sharing plate, the tuna tartare with a grating of preserved lemon and cured yolk sided with Aleppo-peppered pork rinds over an avocado puree (whew) will do just fine. Closed Sundays and Mondays.  Click here to read the whole review 
4104 Millenia Blvd., 407-930-6206; $$
Photo via Rob Bartlett

Millenia 106

A focused menu of local, seasonal fare peppered with Portuguese and Brazilian flavors allows journeyman chef Bruno Fonseca to showcase his personal style and brilliant technique. Dishes, for the most part, are creative yet approachable – be it a magnificent serving of simply grilled royal red shrimp with “punched” potatoes, or golden tile crested with fennel-citrus-blueberry salad served over farro verde. Duxelles are folded into the beef for added umami in the burger, and if you’re up for a fancified sharing plate, the tuna tartare with a grating of preserved lemon and cured yolk sided with Aleppo-peppered pork rinds over an avocado puree (whew) will do just fine. Closed Sundays and Mondays. Click here to read the whole review
4104 Millenia Blvd., 407-930-6206; $$

Photo via Rob Bartlett
Be sure to try the tuna tartare with Aleppo-peppered torresmo or Portuguese fried pork rinds.
Photo via Rob Bartlett
Be sure to try the tuna tartare with Aleppo-peppered torresmo or Portuguese fried pork rinds.

Photo via Rob Bartlett
Taste of Yucatan 
No-frills Mexican joint serves up a taste of Yucatán cuisine with a grand selection of tacos, salbutes (deep-fried tacos) and panuchos (salbutes stuffed with refried beans), as well as tortas, quesadillas and rice bowls. Fillings you’ll fancy: cochinita pibil, al pastor, barbacoa and vegetarian rajas poblanas. Closed Mondays.
Click here to read the whole review
1375 S. Semoran Blvd., 407-704-2248; $
Photo via Rob Bartlett

Taste of Yucatan

No-frills Mexican joint serves up a taste of Yucatán cuisine with a grand selection of tacos, salbutes (deep-fried tacos) and panuchos (salbutes stuffed with refried beans), as well as tortas, quesadillas and rice bowls. Fillings you’ll fancy: cochinita pibil, al pastor, barbacoa and vegetarian rajas poblanas. Closed Mondays. Click here to read the whole review
1375 S. Semoran Blvd., 407-704-2248; $

Photo via Rob Bartlett
Be sure to try  the Cochinita pibil stuffed panucho, Spicy barbocoa filled salbute or a dry pollo adobado filled salbute. 
Photo via Rob Bartlett
Be sure to try the Cochinita pibil stuffed panucho, Spicy barbocoa filled salbute or a dry pollo adobado filled salbute.

Photo via Rob Bartlett
Maestro Cucina 
Rosario Spagnolo returns to Park Avenue in this joint venture with fellow Neapolitan Antonio Martino. What you get is an expected blend of authenticity and populist fare, and it’s a mix that doesn’t disappoint. Sure, better Neapolitan pizzas can be had elsewhere, but you won’t find a better space in which to enjoy a slice of pie, or antipasti, pasta con polpette or spezzatino di vitello. Open daily.  Click here to read the whole review
528 S. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407-335-4548; $$
Photo via Rob Bartlett

Maestro Cucina

Rosario Spagnolo returns to Park Avenue in this joint venture with fellow Neapolitan Antonio Martino. What you get is an expected blend of authenticity and populist fare, and it’s a mix that doesn’t disappoint. Sure, better Neapolitan pizzas can be had elsewhere, but you won’t find a better space in which to enjoy a slice of pie, or antipasti, pasta con polpette or spezzatino di vitello. Open daily. Click here to read the whole review
528 S. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407-335-4548; $$

Photo via Rob Bartlett
Be sure to try the Insalata di Mare, a dish of mussels, clams, calamari, octopus, and shrimp prepared with extra virgin olive oil, garlic and lemon.
Photo via Rob Bartlett
Be sure to try the Insalata di Mare, a dish of mussels, clams, calamari, octopus, and shrimp prepared with extra virgin olive oil, garlic and lemon.

Photo via Rob Bartlett
Hunger Street 
The gourmet taco trend gains traction at Hunger Street Tacos, named after the famed Mexico City strip. Brisket, chorizo and chicken tinga tacos are twice-tortillaed in proper fashion. Vegan (sautéed hibiscus taco) and vegetarian options (squash blossom quesadilla; vegetable tinga) will please the meatless crowd. Desserts like chocoflan and Key lime pie with toasted meringue are more than just mere afterthoughts. Closed Sundays. 
Click here to read the whole review 
2103 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park,407-545-5998; $
Photo via Lindsey Thompson

Hunger Street

The gourmet taco trend gains traction at Hunger Street Tacos, named after the famed Mexico City strip. Brisket, chorizo and chicken tinga tacos are twice-tortillaed in proper fashion. Vegan (sautéed hibiscus taco) and vegetarian options (squash blossom quesadilla; vegetable tinga) will please the meatless crowd. Desserts like chocoflan and Key lime pie with toasted meringue are more than just mere afterthoughts. Closed Sundays. Click here to read the whole review
2103 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park,407-545-5998; $

Photo via Lindsey Thompson
Be sure to try the tinga tostada with chicken or vegetables.
Photo via Lindsey Thompson
Be sure to try the tinga tostada with chicken or vegetables.

Photo via Lindsey Thompson
Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ 
Celebrity chef Art Smith returns to Disney with his aptly named restaurant showcasing all that’s good about Southern fare. His near-legendary fried chicken (get it with house-made doughnuts), shrimp and grits, fried catfish, chicken and dumpling soup, and pimento cheese keep the masses at Disney Springs fat and happy. A few bites of the hummingbird cake will definitely slow the pace of your park perambulations. There’s a nice selection of moonshine cocktails, too. Open daily.  Click here to read the whole review 
Disney Springs, 1602 E. Buena Vista Drive, 407-560-0100; $$$
Photo via Rob Bartlett

Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’

Celebrity chef Art Smith returns to Disney with his aptly named restaurant showcasing all that’s good about Southern fare. His near-legendary fried chicken (get it with house-made doughnuts), shrimp and grits, fried catfish, chicken and dumpling soup, and pimento cheese keep the masses at Disney Springs fat and happy. A few bites of the hummingbird cake will definitely slow the pace of your park perambulations. There’s a nice selection of moonshine cocktails, too. Open daily. Click here to read the whole review
Disney Springs, 1602 E. Buena Vista Drive, 407-560-0100; $$$

Photo via Rob Bartlett
Be sure to try the Southern fried chicken & house-made doughnut plate.
Photo via Rob Bartlett
Be sure to try the Southern fried chicken & house-made doughnut plate.

Photo via Rob Bartlett
Bulla Gastrobar 
South Florida Spanish joint serves up some mighty fine tapas and tipples. Chef Felix Plasencia gets it going with marvy croquetas, stellar octopus salad, and pintxos of charcoal-fired cumin-marinated pork. For more substantial plates, consider the seafood paella, arroz marinero cooked with plankton, and the red snapper fired up in a charcoal oven. Torrijas (Spanish-style French toast) drizzled with honey and served with turrón ice cream is our choice to end the meal. Open daily. 
Click here to read the whole review 
110 S. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 321-214-6120; $$$ 
Photo via Rob Bartlett

Bulla Gastrobar

South Florida Spanish joint serves up some mighty fine tapas and tipples. Chef Felix Plasencia gets it going with marvy croquetas, stellar octopus salad, and pintxos of charcoal-fired cumin-marinated pork. For more substantial plates, consider the seafood paella, arroz marinero cooked with plankton, and the red snapper fired up in a charcoal oven. Torrijas (Spanish-style French toast) drizzled with honey and served with turrón ice cream is our choice to end the meal. Open daily. Click here to read the whole review
110 S. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 321-214-6120; $$$

Photo via Rob Bartlett
Be sure to try the Grilled octopus salad.
Photo via Rob Bartlett
Be sure to try the Grilled octopus salad.

Photo via Rob Bartlett
Chroma Modern Bar + Kitchen 
The modern kitchen anchoring Lake Nona Town Center’s ultra-modern landscape serves up some time-honored dishes courtesy of chef Jason Bergeron. Succulent short-rib sliders, lamb ribs, littleneck clams and luxuriant bone marrow make sharing joyfully gratifying. Open daily.  Click here to read the whole review 
6967 Lake Nona Blvd.,407-955-4340; $$
Photo via Rob Bartlett

Chroma Modern Bar + Kitchen

The modern kitchen anchoring Lake Nona Town Center’s ultra-modern landscape serves up some time-honored dishes courtesy of chef Jason Bergeron. Succulent short-rib sliders, lamb ribs, littleneck clams and luxuriant bone marrow make sharing joyfully gratifying. Open daily. Click here to read the whole review
6967 Lake Nona Blvd.,407-955-4340; $$

Photo via Rob Bartlett
Be sure to try the sticky Florida Pork Ribs or the littleneck clams. 
Photo via Rob Bartlett
Be sure to try the sticky Florida Pork Ribs or the littleneck clams.

Photo via Rob Bartlett
Domu  
Popular ramen joint lives up to the hype offering near-perfect bowls of tonkotsu, shoyu, miso and curry ramen. There’s an uni pasta for those who want to forgo broth for the richness of sea urchin, but don’t overlook other soupless options like the crackling good Korean fried chicken with Korean butter sauce and the grilled octopus. Cocktails are taken seriously here.  Click here to read the whole review  
3201 Corrine Drive,407-960-1228; $$
Photo via Rob Bartlett

Domu

Popular ramen joint lives up to the hype offering near-perfect bowls of tonkotsu, shoyu, miso and curry ramen. There’s an uni pasta for those who want to forgo broth for the richness of sea urchin, but don’t overlook other soupless options like the crackling good Korean fried chicken with Korean butter sauce and the grilled octopus. Cocktails are taken seriously here. Click here to read the whole review
3201 Corrine Drive,407-960-1228; $$

Photo via Rob Bartlett
 Be sure to try the broth-less uni ramen; "sea foie" atop noodles complete with uni butter sauce, ikura (roe) and crispy red quinoa.
Photo via Rob Bartlett
Be sure to try the broth-less uni ramen; "sea foie" atop noodles complete with uni butter sauce, ikura (roe) and crispy red quinoa.

Photo via Rob Bartlett
Bad As’s Sandwhiches 
This Milk District sandwich joint gives lunch reason to live, thanks to chef-
owner John Collazo’s mighty fine sammies. Most are served on a French roll, though the El Anormal #3 with adobo-roasted pork and peppery cantimpalo sausage gooeyed up with chipotle jack cheese comes served on soft, subtly sweet egg bread. Simpler sandwiches, like the Mafioso with thinly shaved beef and the Ninja with crispy fried pork belly, shouldn’t be overlooked. Closed Sundays.  Click here to read the whole review 
207 N. Primrose Drive, 407-757-7191; $
Photo via Rob Bartlett

Bad As’s Sandwhiches

This Milk District sandwich joint gives lunch reason to live, thanks to chef- owner John Collazo’s mighty fine sammies. Most are served on a French roll, though the El Anormal #3 with adobo-roasted pork and peppery cantimpalo sausage gooeyed up with chipotle jack cheese comes served on soft, subtly sweet egg bread. Simpler sandwiches, like the Mafioso with thinly shaved beef and the Ninja with crispy fried pork belly, shouldn’t be overlooked. Closed Sundays. Click here to read the whole review
207 N. Primrose Drive, 407-757-7191; $

Photo via Rob Bartlett
Be sure to try the Bad As's, loaded with beef, pork, chicken, havarti, lettuce,
tomatoes, pickled onions, crispy chips and roasted garlic aioli.
Photo via Rob Bartlett
Be sure to try the Bad As's, loaded with beef, pork, chicken, havarti, lettuce, tomatoes, pickled onions, crispy chips and roasted garlic aioli.

Photo via Rob Bartlett