santiago foodster

I recently presented the Foodster Award for Independent Restaurants to Santiago's Bodega, which won the Platinum level plaque for Best Brunch. Above, chef Anthony Albino accepts the award on behalf of the staff at the Virginia Drive restaurant.

Santiago's probably won't win another Foodster, not because its quality has flagged but because the owners keep opening other locations. And as you know, Foodster Awards are for restaurants with three or fewer locations. So all you restaurants that offer brunch will want to work on your brunch game for the 2018 award.

And while we're on the subject of Foodsters, there's just one more week to vote for Best Microbrewery, so click here to head over to the Foodsters page to place your vote.

Hourglass

Here are some newsy bits for Thanksgiving week.

Hourglass Brewing of Longwood will open a microbrewery in, of all places, the Hourglass District in Orlando. Actually, there is no official Hourglass District, at least not yet. But that's the name the developers are using for the area surrounding the corner of Curry Ford Road and Bumby Avenue in Orlando. (They pulled the name from nearby Hourglass Lake. I suppose we should be grateful they didn't try to do a syllabic abbreviation and come up with BuCuFo or CurBum or something like that.)

According to Orlando Weekly's Faiyaz Kara, Hourglass will move into a space previously occupied by a church. Ironically, the developers, Giovanni Fernandez and Elise Sabatino, had cleared out the church so that they could move restaurants into the other buildings without running up against the archaic rule that alcohol can't be served in proximity to schools and churches. Because, you know, temptation.

Copacabana tamal

Copacabana, a Cuban cafe from Mount Dora, has opened a second location in Altamonte Springs. It's a bright and spiffy spot with friendly service and decent food.

The Altamonte location opened only recently, and I have to wonder if the owners knew that the parking lot would be nearly nonexistent when they first planned the new place. The small strip mall, which also is home to longtime Indian restaurant Kohinoor and two breastaurants, Twin Peaks and the Winghouse, is undergoing some sort of construction on the central parking lot. People who wished to eat at Copacabana had to hunt for parking along the sides and hike to the restaurant.

It should be testament to the quality of the restaurant that many people did just that. Copa was doing brisk business when I stopped in recently for lunch.