October 13, 2017

The 25 Orlando restaurants you should try before you die

Orlando was recently named the No. 6 best foodie city in the nation, and it makes sense. Look, we have some damn good restaurants here! Don't believe us? Here are few established local eateries (and a few newbies) that every Orlandoan should try at least once.

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Cecil’s Texas Style BBQ
Though Cecil’s isn’t the only barbecue joint on Orange Avenue, the Texas-style smokehouse boasts an incredible brisket and sausage like no other. Smoked for up to 18 hours, Cecil’s serves some of the juiciest brisket you can find. Try it with one of the 16 side items, like the extra-buttery jalapeño mashed potatoes or the sweet potato soufflé.
2800 S Orange Ave., 407-423-9871; $$ 
Photo via Cecil’s Texas Style BBQ/Facebook

Cecil’s Texas Style BBQ

Though Cecil’s isn’t the only barbecue joint on Orange Avenue, the Texas-style smokehouse boasts an incredible brisket and sausage like no other. Smoked for up to 18 hours, Cecil’s serves some of the juiciest brisket you can find. Try it with one of the 16 side items, like the extra-buttery jalapeño mashed potatoes or the sweet potato soufflé.
2800 S Orange Ave., 407-423-9871; $$
Photo via Cecil’s Texas Style BBQ/Facebook
Chef Eddie’s
Defying the demise of so many soul-food kitchens of late, Chef Eddie’s steps up and represents with arguably the best comfort fare in the city. Smothered pork chops, saucy oxtails, chicken & waffles, chunky mashed potatoes, jalapeño crackling muffins – all will elicit superlatives. There’s nothing healthy about the gravy-drizzled fried green tomatoes atop cheesy grits, but man, they’re good.
3214 Orange Center Blvd., 407-505-6802; $$ 
Photo by Adrian Capulong

Chef Eddie’s

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 & waffles, chunky mashed potatoes, jalapeño crackling muffins – all will elicit superlatives. There’s nothing healthy about the gravy-drizzled fried green tomatoes atop cheesy grits, but man, they’re good.
3214 Orange Center Blvd., 407-505-6802; $$
Photo by Adrian Capulong
Beefy King
Beefy King has a simple menu with a variety of steamed roast beef sandwiches, but it’s the corned beef and pastrami combo served on a hot kaiser roll that takes the lead. Pair it with the golden tater tots called "Beefy spuds" and a hand-spun milkshake and you have a perfectly nostalgic homestyle meal.
424 N Bumby Ave., 407-894-2241; $ 
Photo via gabrielllesanchez/Instagram

Beefy King

Beefy King has a simple menu with a variety of steamed roast beef sandwiches, but it’s the corned beef and pastrami combo served on a hot kaiser roll that takes the lead. Pair it with the golden tater tots called "Beefy spuds" and a hand-spun milkshake and you have a perfectly nostalgic homestyle meal.
424 N Bumby Ave., 407-894-2241; $
Photo via gabrielllesanchez/Instagram
King Bao
While the steamed buns themselves aren’t fresh (they’re bought frozen, sorry), the crunchy, succulent or spicy meats they cradle are, be it kimchi fried chicken, Korean short rib or braised pork belly. Tater tots are the sole side, but if you have room for dessert, fried bao with sweet fillings are available. Closed Sundays.
710 N. Mills Ave., 407-237-0013; $ 
Photo via famouslandpodcast/Instagram

King Bao

While the steamed buns themselves aren’t fresh (they’re bought frozen, sorry), the crunchy, succulent or spicy meats they cradle are, be it kimchi fried chicken, Korean short rib or braised pork belly. Tater tots are the sole side, but if you have room for dessert, fried bao with sweet fillings are available. Closed Sundays.
710 N. Mills Ave., 407-237-0013; $
Photo via famouslandpodcast/Instagram
Ethos Vegan Kitchen
Popular veg house lost the cozy lakeside courtyard with the move to Winter Park, but gained in square footage and exposure – not to mention a handsome bar. Meatless comfort staples are the norm, and dishes like sheep’s pie, sausage rolls and Philly cheesesteak sandwiches satisfy. Even calzones with soy cheese are impressive – more so than the desserts. Open daily until 11 p.m.
601-B S. New York Ave., Winter Park, 407-228-3898; $$ 
Photo by Rob Bartlett

Ethos Vegan Kitchen

Popular veg house lost the cozy lakeside courtyard with the move to Winter Park, but gained in square footage and exposure – not to mention a handsome bar. Meatless comfort staples are the norm, and dishes like sheep’s pie, sausage rolls and Philly cheesesteak sandwiches satisfy. Even calzones with soy cheese are impressive – more so than the desserts. Open daily until 11 p.m.
601-B S. New York Ave., Winter Park, 407-228-3898; $$
Photo by Rob Bartlett
Lee and Ricks Oyster Bar
Serving some of the biggest (we’re talking hand-sized) oysters you’ll ever see, Lee and ricks warrants a bushel of the mollusks. If oysters aren’t your thing, try one of their seafood entrees or appetizers. The restaurant is meant to be experienced with large crowds and messy hands, so no fancy dress and no trepidation is necessary. Expect horseradish and cocktail sauce stains all over your clothes.
5621 Old Winter Garden Rd., 407-293-3587; $$ 
Photo via devikanarulacakes/Instagram

Lee and Ricks Oyster Bar

Serving some of the biggest (we’re talking hand-sized) oysters you’ll ever see, Lee and ricks warrants a bushel of the mollusks. If oysters aren’t your thing, try one of their seafood entrees or appetizers. The restaurant is meant to be experienced with large crowds and messy hands, so no fancy dress and no trepidation is necessary. Expect horseradish and cocktail sauce stains all over your clothes.
5621 Old Winter Garden Rd., 407-293-3587; $$
Photo via devikanarulacakes/Instagram
Domu
Popular ramen joint lives up to the hype offering near-perfect bowls of tonkotsu, shoyu, miso and curry ramen. There’s an uni pasta for those who want to forgo broth for the richness of sea urchin, but don’t overlook other soupless options like the crackling good Korean fried chicken with butter sauce and the grilled octopus. Cocktails are taken seriously here.
3201 Corrine Drive, 407-960-1228; $$ 
Photo via robynnedeau/Instagram

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 butter sauce and the grilled octopus. Cocktails are taken seriously here.
3201 Corrine Drive, 407-960-1228; $$
Photo via robynnedeau/Instagram
Chuan Lu Garden
Colonialtown’s Chuan Lu Garden employs plenty of fiery stimulants in their authentic, real-deal Sichuan fare. Must-try dishes: cumin lamb, laced with aromatic and mouth-numbing Sichuan peppercorns, and Lanzhou-style beef soup with hand-pulled noodles. Open daily from 11 a.m.
1101 E. Colonial Drive, 407-896-8966; $$ 
Photo via Chuan Lu Garden

Chuan Lu Garden

Colonialtown’s Chuan Lu Garden employs plenty of fiery stimulants in their authentic, real-deal Sichuan fare. Must-try dishes: cumin lamb, laced with aromatic and mouth-numbing Sichuan peppercorns, and Lanzhou-style beef soup with hand-pulled noodles. Open daily from 11 a.m.
1101 E. Colonial Drive, 407-896-8966; $$
Photo via Chuan Lu Garden
Gideon’s Bakehouse
You can’t go to East End Market without stopping by this monster cookie stall. Served on a foundation of doughy goodness, packed with enormous chocolate chips, sea salt, pistachios, rich in texture and flavor. You can’t go wrong with any of the cookie flavors (there are always six cookie flavors posted daily online), it’s the pistachio toffee dark chocolate – which mixes dark chocolate chunks with toffee bites – that will have you addicted.
3201 Corrine Dr.; $$ 
Photo via jennifermarie1101/Instagram

Gideon’s Bakehouse

You can’t go to East End Market without stopping by this monster cookie stall. Served on a foundation of doughy goodness, packed with enormous chocolate chips, sea salt, pistachios, rich in texture and flavor. You can’t go wrong with any of the cookie flavors (there are always six cookie flavors posted daily online), it’s the pistachio toffee dark chocolate – which mixes dark chocolate chunks with toffee bites – that will have you addicted.
3201 Corrine Dr.; $$
Photo via jennifermarie1101/Instagram
KrungThep Tea Time
This Thai tea house and sandwich joint has a stark, yet soothing, simplicity. The chicken gra-prow will be on your regular sandwich rotation, as will the marinated beef sammie with tangy and peppery jaaw sauce. Also try “naked sanswiches,” aka salads. Brick toast, like the “ka-ti” with condensed milk, coconut ice cream, honey and crushed peanuts, is a must, as are the plethora of teas, offered hot or cold. Open daily.
1050 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park, 407-733-3561; $ 
Photo via KrungThep Tea Time/Facebook

KrungThep Tea Time

This Thai tea house and sandwich joint has a stark, yet soothing, simplicity. The chicken gra-prow will be on your regular sandwich rotation, as will the marinated beef sammie with tangy and peppery jaaw sauce. Also try “naked sanswiches,” aka salads. Brick toast, like the “ka-ti” with condensed milk, coconut ice cream, honey and crushed peanuts, is a must, as are the plethora of teas, offered hot or cold. Open daily.
1050 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park, 407-733-3561; $
Photo via KrungThep Tea Time/Facebook