Urban Tide 2017

Written by Scott Joseph on .

 Urbantide dining room

I enjoyed going back recently to Urban Tide, the very good seafood centric restaurant at Hyatt Regency Orlando. The reason for the visit was ostensibly to sample one of the dishes that will be served at this year’s Heart of Florida United Way’s Chefs Gala, which is earlier than usual, Feb. 4.

But I also wanted the chance to see how the restaurant was doing these days because the hotel has rejoined the SJO family. And you all know my policy.

I can’t tell you that Urban Tide is as good as it was in the past. I think it has gotten even better.

The food that chef Jared Gross served on my visit was top notch.

Foxtail Coffee

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Foxtail counter

I told you recently about Winter Park Distilling Company and their beautiful new digs in a refurbished former auto body shop. One of their neighbors is a cool little shop called Foxtail Coffee.

It has a distinctly Northwestern United States vibe, with lots of brick and wood and hanging block-and-tackle pulleys, a nod, I suppose, to the previous tenant.

Foxtail is serious about its coffee, right down to its onsite roasting room, and promises to source from only fair-trade coffee dealers.

Marita's Fresh Latin Bites

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Maritas logo

I came across a little slip of a place on the east side of town that you might want to try the next time you’re peckish for some tacos or such.

Marita’s Fresh Latin Bites opened in November in a small storefront in a strip mall on Colonial Drive. There’s a counter for ordering your food and a couple of stools at the counter and two steps behind that at the window — think the original Black Bean Deli as far as size goes.

Yummy House

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Yummy House beef with teapot

I miss Eastern Pearl. The Chinese restaurant in Altamonte Springs, in my estimation, did some of the best Asian dishes in the area. At least back in 2000 when it first opened. The success of the Altamonte restaurant prompted the owners to open another, in 2009, near Orlando International Airport. But that one was merely OK, and perhaps the vagaries of operating two restaurants eventually brought down both.

Now in the place of the original Eastern Pearl is another Chinese restaurant, Yummy House, a small chain out of Tampa with six locations, all within Florida. According to its website, YH has won awards for its cuisine at its Tampa and Gainesville locations. But I don’t see any accolades coming to the Altamonte Springs restaurant any time soon.

Perhaps my visit was destined to be troublesome when I was greeted — a word that doesn’t quite describe the unsmiling acknowledgement from the person who came from around the bar when I came in — and was directed to sit at the table next to the front door. When I said I didn’t care to sit there, he gestured to any of the other dozen or so empty tables and told me, grudgingly, to sit wherever I wanted.

Nova Better with Age

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Nova interior walls

When Nova opened almost a year ago in a redesigned space on North Orange Avenue at Virginia Drive, the crossroads that give it its name, I found the decor delightfully adult and sophisticated but the food was disappointing. I also said at the time that I wasn’t ready to give up on Nova because we need more restaurants like this in the downtown sector.

I’m glad I didn’t give up because I returned to Nova recently and found that the menu — a different one from the opening — is now more appropriately varied and with more interesting offerings. Even better: it’s being cooked properly.

I’m pleased now to recommend Nova.

Maestro Cucina Napoletana

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Maestro pizza

Maestro Cucina Napoletana has opened in Winter Park, bringing an authentic Italian food option to Park Avenue.

Maestro is a partnership between Rosario Spagnolo of Terra Mia in Altamonte Springs (and many other local restaurants that I won’t list here but you can read about here) and Antonio Martino, a Brazilian businessman who owns five McDonald’s franchises there. Don’t let that give you pause; there’s nothing clownish about the food here.

The food is solidly good quality, the atmosphere cozy and comfortable, and the service accommodating.

Los Generales

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Generales chips 1

The little restaurant space on Curry Ford that La Fiesta vacated recently didn’t stay empty very long. And it was replaced by another Mexican restaurant, to boot.

Los Generales moved in to 2901 Curry Ford Road after La Fiesta moved to a bigger space across the street. The name might sound familiar — it did to me — because there was a Los Generales in south Orlando that we visited several years ago (it was even one of the featured options during a Magical Dining Month), which is now closed.

But the name is merely coincidence.

Viet-Nomz

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Vietnomz sign

Let me just put this right out there at the beginning: Viet-Nomz might just be serving the best Vietnamese food in the area. Those of you who know me know that I don’t make such statements lightly.

I put off visiting this small, fast-casual restaurant for a long time because too many other businesses in this spot opened and closed too quickly. I didn’t hold up much hope for another newcomer, especially one with such a cutesy name. But after six months of seeing more cars in front than I ever did for any of the other restaurants that have occupied the University Boulevard space, I decided to pull over and try it myself.

Taco Twist

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Tacotwist exterior

Taco Twist is a small restaurant on West Colonial Drive that specializes in tacos. With a twist.

The twist is that in addition to your standard run of the mill Mexican variety, TT also offers a Korean version.

Of course Korean tacos aren’t that twisted themselves. One of the area’s older food trucks, Korean BBQ Taco Box, made them mainstream for Central Floridians.

At Taco Twist the tacos are available as an either/or option. You can have them in either the Mexican version or the Korean version.

I chose both.

Chan's Chinese Cuisine

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Chans duck 

With Christmas just a few days away, I know that a lot of people have images of one thing dancing in their heads. That’s right, Chinese food.

It’s a thing, especially in big cities. That’s because while most restaurants are closed on December 25, Chinese restaurants are more likely to be open. So people looking for a place to dine on that day just naturally gravitate to Chinese restaurants. I know many people who consider it their Christmas tradition.

You’ll find several Chinese restaurants in Orlando that will be open on Christmas Day, including Chan’s Chinese Cuisine on Colonial Drive in Orlando, which I had the pleasure of revisiting recently.

I was in a party of seven, so we were seated at one of the large round table with a lazy susan in the center. The turntable was soon filled with myriad dishes and we kept it whirling as we sampled a little bit of everything and returned for a lot more of our favorites.