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Orlando’s foodie scene has been exploding with new and vibrant restaurants, quickly becoming known around Florida for its variety of choices. With the vast amount of tourists Orlando gets per day, which restaurants should you add to your itinerary? Avoid the touristy destinations and visit these top restaurants to truly feel like a local.
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Most visitors to Orlando don’t even realize that it has a Little Saigon area. If you find yourself exploring Mills Ave, Hawkers Asian Street Fare is a great place to indulge in delicious plates such as pork belly bao, wok-fried green beans, or roasted duck. Served tapas style, these small plates are meant to be shared in a group. With Malaysian, Chinese, and Vietnamese influences in their dishes, you are able to sample dishes from all around Southeast Asia and sure to indulge and fulfill the cravings of everyone in your group.
This two-story restaurant, tucked away less than 30 minutes outside of Orlando is certainly a crowd favorite. With chickens roaming around and unique and eclectic decor choices such as a VW bus in the outside dining area, Yellow Dog Eats has a hippie vibe that will have you wondering how far you drove out of Orlando. They are known for their unique BBQ sandwiches, such as “The Rufus.” This pulled pork sandwich is topped with Brie cheese and cherry pepper rings, then covered in raspberry melba.
Popular for its live music and brunch, Maxine’s on Shine is doing both right. Tucked away in a quiet residential area surrounded by 100-year-old oak trees, this place can be tricky to find. You’ll often find the owner Maxine, one half of the husband and wife team that runs Maxine’s on Shine, happily mingling with guests. Live music is often performed at night, with a diverse range of choices such as blues, rock, and soul. Other than their famous brunch items such as the veggie benedict, Maxine serves hearty dishes like skillet lasagna, brisket burgers, and market-fresh fish, giving you more than one reason to come back to visit.
Located in the milk district, Pom Pom’s Teahouse and Sandwhicheria is loved by all. With only a few tables and counter space available, Pom Pom’s is popular for its creative sandwiches, homemade soups and a daily selection of teas. Mama Ling Ling’s sandwich is the most popular item on their menu, combining turkey, Gouda cheese, stuffing, ginger cranberry chutney, mashed potato, and cream cheese. The small, intimate vibe combined with friendly service is what keeps this local joint a favorite.
Serving Cuban food to Orlandians for over 15 years, this local secret has long been declared as the best Cuban comfort food in Orlando. With an expansion to more locations, Black Bean Deli is a highly treasured gem that is loved for its authentic dishes passed down from the owner’s family through the years. Pan de lechón, ropa vieja, hot-pressed sandwiches and empanadas are all favorites – leaving you spoiled for choice. Pop in for a cafe con leche and you might never leave.
A small unassuming restaurant with recent plans to expand, Tako Cheena’s hip and lively crowd have helped grow this place into a popular local spot. Mixing Asian and Spanish elements, their menu boasts a combination of deliciously paired platters such as Korean beef taco, pork belly taco, bbq chicken empanada and their deliciously crafted arepas.
Locals have dubbed White Wolf Cafe as one of the best brunch spots in the city, and with delicious menu items like lobster mac and cheese, you can understand why. They are great at serving fluffy pancakes and a variety of mimosas like mango, pomegranate, and peach for the morning crowd, but do just as well with lunch and dinner. Sit back and enjoy the funky decor, but don’t skip the dessert – the cinnamon rolls are to die for!
A simple and straight to the point type of restaurant, Tasty Wok is where you go for authentic Chinese cuisine in Orlando. Locals swear by this place, claiming that is the most flavorful Chinese food with the biggest cost to value ratio. Situated on Colonial Drive, this tiny restaurant serves consistently good food. Popular items such as crispy pork belly, char siu pork, and roast duck are eagerly consumed by Asian food enthusiasts in one of the few seats available.