Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Must-Eat Orlando Restaurants

Here's hoping everyone is staying healthy, happy, and safe during the virus crisis. Restaurants have struggled mightily, offering only takeout and delivery. Some have even closed permanently. Now that restaurants are able to open for dine-in customers, let's hope the industry can bounce back. I'll be back at reviewing Orlando restaurants soon, but in the meantime, I'm pleased to present the following guest post from Sherley Alaba, a passionate #finance and #lifestyle blogger, columnist at Modern Diplomacy and strong believer #SharingIsCaring.

She's an eagle-eyed wordsmith; a writer and translator, always interested in ways that can help individuals (especially youth and women) reach their full creative potential. Her focus has been on writing, producing, and editing stories on business, finance, interesting personalities, entrepreneurs, culture, the environment, gastronomy, lifestyle, and social issues.

Limitless Eating Possibilities

Image Courtesy: https://images.pexels.com
Eating is a basic necessity for survival, and people love to indulge themselves with a nice meal now and then. But over time, it has developed into something more passionate and intense. Eating has become an obsession for food lovers. It's probably the variety of flavors that it offers that draw them in. Or the fact that food has limitless possibilities to explore. Either way, what's interesting is how it makes people travel all around the world to try different types of cuisines.

No one could have imagined the heights of flavor they could achieve using meat, vegetables, and grains in the past. However, as it turns out, you can do a lot more with these ingredients if you are thinking out of the box. All you need to do is plan a unique combination, add a touch of originality, put your imagination to good use, and let your instincts guide you. And before you know it, you either have a delectable masterpiece in front of you or a disgusting disaster. But that's just a representation of your cooking skills and says nothing about the extraordinary nature of food.

Not Everyone is a Cook

It's a sad truth that not everyone can replicate the skills of experts in the line of cooking, but that's what makes visiting them worth it. You can discover unique and distinct talents in unexpected places. And what may appear as the substandard work of a street urchin at a stall could be a miraculous creation to tempt your tastebuds. That is why you always need to be on your toes while exploring the possibilities that different cuisines have to offer.

Every region has its unique contribution to the world of taste. The famous spices of Asia are as attractive and tempting to food lovers as the variety of noodles that China and Japan have to offer to their people. The famous Turkish kebabs have an equally strong fan base, just like the Italian line of pizzas and pasta. And the cherry on top of it all is the irresistible American fast food. With so many mouthwatering options, it won't be inappropriate to refer to these flavors as contagious.

However, you possibly can't visit all these places and enjoy all these in a single time. But what you can do is search for food heavens that offer you the best of flavors and taste and satisfy your taste buds. If you are looking for such a spot, then Orlando, Florida, is probably one of your best bets. However, Westgate's Orlando area hotels already offer top of the line dining experiences with its exquisite flavors and elaborate cuisines that leave you craving for more. But that is just the beginning of what it has in store for you.

With the most extensive tourist attraction range, Orlando draws in an enormous amount of people as tourists every year. To cater to them, it has to offer an equally rich line of cuisines to pique the interest of people from most backgrounds. And with the existing list of options, it is falling no short than impressive.

Must Eat Orlando Restaurants

If your inner food enthusiast is already excited to listen to all this, then don't let this energy go in vain. Pack up and get set to hit the restaurants of Orlando like a storm. Here is some help for this venture in the form of several must-eat places there that you can't miss.

1. Prato

Start treating your palette to the most delicious Italian pizza and some buzzing cocktails at this chic warehouse of a restaurant called Prato. Experience this delight beside Park Avenue right out of its wood-fired ovens, or have the indoor setup encapsulate you in a different environment. Pick from its pretzel crusted calamari, hand-stretched pizza, or the giant meatballs and enjoy your meal.

2. Kadence

You know it's going to be amazing when you have to prepay even for a reservation. Kadence is one such top of the line box-shaped Japanese restaurant where the sushi masters impress you with their fancy flickery. This nine-man sushi bar follows some strict Japanese restaurants, so you won't even have to worry about ordering your meal.

3. Christner's Prime Steak & Lobster

A steakhouse is supposed to be the definition of cool, but this old school restaurant breaks all such stereotypes. Christner's best meat cut, juicy filets are what you need to transport you to the world of delectable delight. And the best part, you can find that it suits every type of occasion and company thanks to its diverse dining option. So you can even get a private room if you want no disturbance while enjoying your steak.

4. Se7en Bites

Big fan of comfort foods? Then this southern-inspired kitchen is going to be the love of your life at Orlando. Get ready to taste some freshly baked pastries and buttermilk as part of its all-day breakfast menu. But if you are feeling hungry, then a mac n cheese or meatloaf sandwich with its famous potato chip bacon crumble should be enough of a fill.

5. Victoria & Albert's

This fine-dining restaurant at Disney's Grand Floridian resort is the place where you need to eat for any special occasion. Imagine a modern American cuisine, and smash it together with delights from around the world to get an idea of what its menu has to offer. And top it off, the exotic collection of over 700 wines is what you need to end the night.

6. 4 Rivers Smokehouse

Taste the determination of a fellow food enthusiast who brought Texas-style BBQ all the way over to Central Florida. This smoky, saucy, juicy, tenderized meat is what you need to keep you engaged for long. And lumped together with the sides of baked cheese grits and Okra, you are never going to want to stop having another round of it.

Orlando's Top Restaurant Picks

These are some of the top picks that you should consider when in Orlando to put your hunger to rest. But remember, this is only a handful of what Orlando has to offer in its prime. Besides these, you have a more elaborate and exquisite line of restaurants that won't ever stop indulging you.

Guest post by Sherely Alaba. Content and opinions are hers.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Tasting Tijuana Flats Mexy Mashup

Tijuana Flats has an interesting new mashup for a limited time in its "Fajita Quesadilla." The Tijuana team asked me if I would be interested in stopping in to try it on them and I said "sí."

Tijuana Flats’ spin on these Tex-Mex favorites includes a pressed tortilla with classic fajita fillings—melted cheese, grilled onions, and green peppers— which is topped with fresh jalapeños and includes the choice of blackened chicken or steak. The easy-to-devour combination is served with a side of pico, guac, sour cream, seasoned chips and unlimited options from Tijuana Flats’ famous Hot Bar, which includes some of the hottest sauces in the world. 
Staying true to Tijuana Flats’ food philosophy, the Fajita Quesadilla is made with the freshest ingredients. Throughout the limited-time offering, guests can enjoy the fajita quesadilla with blackened chicken for just $7.99 or with steak for $8.99. 

I tried both the steak and the chicken. I'd recommend the chicken, as it had more flavor and was moister. The special is available to order in-store and online.



Tuesday, January 30, 2018

SeaWorld Orlando's Seven Seas Food Festival returns for 2018


After last year’s delicious debut, SeaWorld Orlando’s Seven Seas Food Festival is returning for a second course this spring. The park will be serving all-new dishes and fan-favorites to accompany world-class entertainment each Saturday and Sunday from February 17 to April 15.

Like all food served at SeaWorld, each item at the Seven Seas Food Festival reflects the park’s commitment to sustainable foods and farming. Beyond delicious flavors, guests will discover dishes that are crafted with organic ingredients, cage-free eggs, regional produce and sustainable seafood.

Two all-new culinary markets join last year’s popular booths, offering more sample-sized dishes from around the world. A selection of menu highlights include:

NEW German Market- Weiner Schnitzel Slider

NEW All-American Market – Nathan’s® Chicago, New York, and Coney Island Hot Dog Sliders

Asian Market- Peking Duck Lo Mein with Fresh Oriental Vegetables

Mexican Market- Braised Chicken Adobo with Mole Sauce, Cheese and Mexican Rice

Caribbean Market- Cinnamon Slow Roasted Pork Belly with Sweet Plantain Mash

Florida Market- NEW Wild Boar Smoked Cheddar Sausage

Mediterranean Market- Sea Scallops Provençal with Wild Mushroom Risotto

North Atlantic Market- New England Lobster Roll

Pacific Coast Market- Braised Pork Cheeks with Savory Apple Polenta

Brazilian Market- Brazilian Churrasco with Chimichurri & Garbanzo Frito

Polynesian Island Market- NEW Pineapple Tofu Poke Bowl

Gulf Coast Market- Southern Creamy Cheese Grits with a Blackened Shrimp

Seasonal flavors will also take the stage during Seven Seas. From February 17 to March 25, specialty barbeque items will be available featuring the park’s famous short rib, brisket, and chicken. New flavors will join the festival beginning March 31.

To accompany all of the savory and sweet samples sprinkled throughout the park, guests can choose from 70 beers and 50 wines to pair with the specialty food items. Five new beverage and brew huts stationed throughout the park will provide ample opportunities for guests to indulge during the festival. A complete menu of the Seven Seas Food Festival dishes and drinks can be found online at SeaWorldOrlando.com/SevenSeas.

Guest can make their tasting adventure a breeze when they purchase a Seven Seas Sampling Lanyard. With 5, 8 or 15 item Sampling Lanyards, they can choose an assortment of flavors from the festival’s extensive food, beer, and wine line-up to fill their day.

SeaWorld’s Seven Seas Food Festival begins at select markets around the park at 11:00 A. M. with all locations in full operation by 12:00 P. M. every Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 17 – April 15.

Like all special events at SeaWorld, the Seven Seas Food Festival is included with park admission – including the festival’s concerts and performances at Bayside Stadium. Featured performers will be announced soon.

Best Way to Play:

The best way to experience the Seven Seas Food Festival all season long is with an Annual Pass. For a limited time, guests who purchase a SeaWorld Annual Pass receive Aquatica, SeaWorld’s Waterpark, for free.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Slapfish is coming to Orlando


Slapfish, a Modern Seafood Franchise serving up bold, crave-worthy dishes in a fast casual setting, announces its expansion into the sunny state of Florida. The first location is slated to open in Orlando in mid-2018, with plans for ten more restaurants throughout the state within the next five years. Specializing in boat-to-plate dining and chef-driven dishes, the brand’s first location in the Southeast region of the U.S. marks a significant milestone for Slapfish.

Florida franchisees including father-and-son duo Brandon and Charles Bengel, and Les Hatter bring decades of experience expanding QSR concepts to new Florida markets including the opening of 20 Five Guys. Orlando’s unique mix of locals and tourists, easy access to shorelines, and drool-worthy bounty of both gulf and Pacific seafood, make for a strong entry into an untapped market. With plans to open up to 40 locations across the state, the restaurateurs look forward to making Slapfish a household name.

“From the moment we experienced Slapfish, we knew right away that this brand is the future of fast casual seafood,” says President, Brandon Bengel. “Slapfish is unlike any other concept in the marketplace and the industry as a whole with its versatile menu and commitment to serving well-managed seafood at affordable prices. In addition to filling a niche in the Orlando dining scene, we are confident that locals will fall in love with the brand, just like we did.”

Slapfish is celebrated for its original dishes like the Clobster Grilled Cheese, Chowder Fries, Power Burrito, Lobster Grinder, and Surf N Turf Lobster Burger, as well as its seasonally rotating menu. Founded as a food truck by Chef Andrew Gruel in 2011, the quickly expanding concept has since grown into eleven brick-and-mortar locations throughout California, New Mexico, and Utah, with upcoming openings in South Korea, the UK, Oklahoma, Nevada, Arizona, Northern Virginia, and Northern California in 2018.

“Florida is the perfect next step in our expansion strategy, as we can’t wait to pack our award-winning tacos, sandwiches, rolls and bowls with fresh-from-the-dock seafood,” adds Chef Andrew Gruel. “We are redefining the way people eat seafood, and we look forward to introducing our bold flavors and responsibly-sourced dishes to Floridians.”

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Let me at that Lobster Burrito at Rubio's

I'm a regular at Rubio's Coastal Grill in Winter Park -- especially on Tuesdays for what I consider the best "Taco Tuesday" deal in town: $1.75 fish tacos. I stopped in this week for the usual, but my eyes were drawn to Rubio's new seasonal langostino lobster tacos and burritos. Yes, I got a couple of fish tacos, but I had to try the lobster too.

The lobster burrito was served in flour tortilla with chunks of lobster, citrus rice, salsa fresca, guacamole, black beans, lettuce and chipotle sauce. My goodness it was good.

Rubio's also has a surf and turf burrito with lobster and steak, so I might be back next Tuesday to try that as well.

Langostino Lobster Burrito at Rubio's

Lobster Tacos

Fish Tacos
Note: I dined compliments of Rubio's.

Rubio's Coastal Grill
510 N. Orlando Ave.
Winter Park, FL 32789
407-670-0384