Cafe Madrid ext

In my yearend wrap up recently, I noted the many restaurants that closed last year. For good number of them, the distance between their opening date and going out of business was relatively short.

So I'm especially in awe of the restaurants that have shown great longevity. Cafe Madrid, a Cuban/Spanish restaurant on Curry Ford Road, is one. It's been serving its simple but reliable food for 28 years.

It couldn't be plainer, occupying a corner space in a strip mall at Conway Road. There are bare-wood tables and simple chairs. There is a bar at the far end of the small dining room, but it doesn't appear that anyone is expected to sit there.

Epcot International Festival of the Arts 2018 still

The current celebration taking place at Disney's Festival Park, um, I mean Epcot is the International Festival of the Arts, which runs through Feb. 19.

Of course, Epcot's festivals always include a food element, and that's easy to work into this one. Along with the visual arts and performing arts, the Disney culineers are showcasing the culinary arts. This is different from, say, the International Food & Wine Festival because it just is.

Actually, as culinary director Gregg Hannon explains in the video below, at the Festival of the Arts the emphasis is making the food look as good as it tastes. Not that they want the food to look crappy at the other festivals, but, you know.

Anyway, there's lots going on during the festival, which runs seven days a week this year. (Last year, the first, it was just a weekend sort of thing.)

Check the festival's website for all the details. And yes, admission to Epcot is required to participate.

Welcome to the Chow Hound Report and the announcement of the winner of the Best Restaurant Overall Foodster Award for Independent Restaurants and for the Best New Restaurant for 2017.

The voters chose Reyes Mezcalaria as the best new restaurant. Reyes, you'll recall, took over the Citrus restaurant space last spring. It's a Mexican restaurant with a heavy tequila following, from owners Sue and Jason Chin. Coming in second was 1921 by Norman Van Aken, the Mount Dora restaurant from Florida's celebrity chef. And Luke's Kitchen and Bar from the folks who brought you Luma on Park and Prato, which is also on park, was third.

And the Foodster Award for Best Restaurant Overall goes to...

Morimoto Asia, the splashy pan asian restaurant at Disney Springs. The venerable Victoria & Albert's at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa was second, and Baldwin Park's Osprey Tavern, also from the Chins, was third.

Congratulations to all, and thanks to everyone who voted. And as promised, I will have a drawing for a $100 gift card to Morimoto Asia to one of the recipients of my weekly e-letter. Be watching your inbox for a note from me saying you've won. I'll announce the winner's name in next week's eletter.

Four Rebels food with background

I'm just not getting what's so rebellious about about Four Rebels American Taco Kitchen & Bar.

Whatever disruption there was to be made in the taco category has already been done, and to satisfying effect with such tacomongers as Hunger Street, Black Rooster and even Pig Floyd's. The latter two are even within walking distance of Four Rebels, which took over the space vacated two years ago by the short-lived Segafredo. You probably didn't visit Segafredo -- that's one of the reasons it was short-lived -- but that's the building in Mills Park with the rooftop lounge. (The roof was closed on both of my visits to Four Rebels.)

MingosIf things had gone according to Nik Patel's plan in 2014, Central Florida, and perhaps beyond, would be dotted with Mingos restaurants. If things had gone according to a more recent plan, according to federal prosecutors, Patel would be in Ecuador right now.

As reported by Paul Brinkmann in the Orlando Sentinel Monday, Patel, who pleaded guilty after being indicted for fraud totaling more than $179 million and was free on bond while helping to recover the money he purloined, attempted to fly to Ecuador from Kissimmee Gateway Airport on Saturday.

In his defense -- and I'm guessing Patel has become adept at defenses -- it was very cold last weekend and Ecuador's tropic clime must have seemed alluring. Also, perhaps that's where some of the stolen money might be? Just trying to help out.

Among his many business dealings was a partnership in a restaurant called Mingos. The first Mingos was in the space in the Sanctuary condominiums building currently occupied by Oudom Thai. Mingos was short for flamingos but its logo featured a swordfish. I gave it a good review when it opened in January of 2014. Shortly afterwards, a second Mingos opened in a motel near UCF, and one or two others were announced, including another in downtown Orlando.

Then Patel's troubles came to light and everything fell apart.

To those troubles now add charges of attempting to flee to avoid prosecution. And I doubt he's getting a refund on his flight to Ecuador.