Maracaibo ext

If you’ve been out to eat recently, you know that cost for restaurant food, much like anything else with a price tag, is skyrocketing. Twenty dollars for a chicken kebab, $28 for a chicken breast. Don’t even ask about the wings.

So even more now than in other times, people want to get a sufficient bang for their buck. Or eight and a half bucks with inflation.

So places like Maracaibo Mia, a Venezuelan restaurant in the Gateway District, offer a good value – a box full of food, more than enough to fill you up, maybe enough for two meals, for about half what a kebab would cost. You just have to adjust your mindset to know that the quality is likely to be commensurate with the cost. Here we're talking about a meat with rice and beans and two sides for under 10 bucks.


EIFWF ClinkPhoto: Walt Disney World

The 2022 edition of the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival will run 129 days, from July 14 through Nov. 19, though some of the global marketplaces will open a few weeks later. So that’s a good reason to wait before rushing right out – that and the fact that the temperatures will be about 125 degrees until mid October. Unfortunately, this year’s festival will not be bringing back cooking demonstrations, seminars and wine tastings.

The Colonial Lanes bowling alley in the Milk District, which has been closed for four years, will be reset late summer as Primrose Lanes Restaurant and Bowling Club. This is great news for anyone who has longed to go out to dinner in rented shoes. Only 8 of the original 32 lanes remain, and the building is a lot smaller, too, having been halved and then quartered to make way for a storage rental facility and a fitness club. Team Market Group (Mathers Social Gathering, The Wellbourne) will be running things.

Ruth’s Chris Steak House will move its Winter Park Village restaurant into the former Pier 1 space. Can’t wait to see if the new steakhouse will be decorated with rattan and futons.


Easter Eggs

I hope your bonnet is ready because Easter is just a week away – Sunday, April 17.

As always, we’ve comprised a list of restaurants that will be offering special Easter dining opportunities, including flog favorites Knife & Spoon at the Ritz-Carlton, the JW Marriott Bonnet Creek (speaking of bonnets), Citron at JW Marriott Grande Lakes, and the always popular Tap Room at Dubsdread.

Find the details for those and others on our Holidays Listings page.


Koshergrill ext

Anyone who strives to maintain a kosher diet can tell you the options for dining out are close to bupkis. But not totally. Kosher Grill is among the few glatt kosher restaurants in the area, and its International Drive location allows it to serve visitors as well as locals.

In simplest terms, the word kosher is derived from a Hebrew word that means to be pure, proper, or suitable for consumption. In that respect, we should all eat kosher.


Pinery shrimp and gritsPhoto: The Pinery

Shortly after it opened last summer, The Pinery, the very good lakeview restaurant in the Ivanhoe Village district, had a chef change. Steven Mattix took over the role of executive chef following the departure of opening chef Naomi Freeman. (You can read my review here.)

Mattix moved to Central Florida from the D.C. area where he was a sous chef for Jose Andrés and also opened restaurants for [Jeff] Black’s Restaurant Group.

So far he has maintained most of the opening menu, though there may be some changes to come. I asked Mattix if he could share the recipe for the restaurant’s Shrimp & Grits with Cornbread for my monthly Local Flavor column with Community Paper, and he was more than happy to oblige.

You can find the recipe on the Community Paper’s website. Mattix suggests you make the cornbread, which is essential to the recipe, first so that it’s ready as soon as you’ve cooked the shrimp.

Give it a try.