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Manning with Knightro

Ryan Manning is softly opening his second MxTaco location today. The date is significant because Sept. 16 is Mexico’s Independence Day. (No, it isn’t Cinco de Mayo; that’s a fairly insignificant holiday, which I can explain for you here.)

The new restaurant is at Waterford Lakes, 861 N. Alafaya Trail, Orlando, in the same grouping of businesses that includes Domu Chibi, Little Greek and Fresh Kitchen.

If you’ve been to the original in the Milk District, you’ll be pleased to know that the Waterford Lake location has more space. And because of its proximity to UCF, its decor includes a special painting that incorporates the traditional use of skeletons, or calaveras, in Mexican art with Knightro, the university’s mascot, who has skillfully impaled a taco. The painting is by local artist Romaine Tacey.

The restaurant is just in soft opening today because the signage isn’t up and the beer cooler isn’t stocked, but I’ll bet you can find your way there and take a beer with you if you want.

And of course Manning's taco mneu, featuring variations from throughout Mexico, will be there. If you haven’t tried MX Taco yet, you can read my review of the Milk District restaurant here.

 By the way, Manning isn’t done expanding. Another MX Taco is planned for sometime next summer in Celebration.

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Sous Chef Challenge 2019

The stage is set for the second annual Scott Joseph’s Sous Chef Challenge: The Next Big Thing, Sunday, Sept. 15, at 11 a.m. at the Orange County Convention Center. The cooking competition is part of the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show.

The show, which also features other competitions, is usually open only to professional culinary members. But I have a select number of tickets available to the Sous Chef Challenge that will also allow you access to the convention floor with rows and rows of vendors offering everything a restaurant needs to operate, from tables and chairs, linens, ovens, signage – and food, lots and lots of food booths offering samples for you to taste.

Tickets are $35 and all proceeds go to Give Kids the World. You can buy your tickets at this link.

The Sous Chef Challenge is designed to feature the talents of the cooks who serve directly under the executive chef. They’ll be preparing dishes that they think will be the next big food trend. The winner, selected by a panel of judges, will win $1000.

And as a ticket holder, you’ll get to sample each dish and place a vote for the People’s Choice Award trophy.

The sous chefs competing this year represent such kitchens as:
Morimoto Asia
The Whiskey
Grande Lakes
Hyatt Regency Orlando
Wolfgang Puck Bar and Grill
Cress DeLand
Saratoga Springs
The Center Club Tampa

And defending his title will be last year’s winner, Jacob Rios, of American Kitchen at B Resort.

The Sous Chef Challenge is held in conjunction with ACF Central Florida Chapter and is sponsored by Sysco and FreshPoint, who provide ingredients to the competitors.

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Amso exterior

American Social Bar & Kitchen has set up shop in the former Bar Louis space at the Rialto plaza on Sand Lake Road. Amso, as it would like you to call it (though I think Ameri-Sosh has a nicer ring), is out of south Florida where it has two locations, the original, on Las Olas Boulevard in Ft. Lauderdale, and in Miami overlooking the Miami River. There is another location in Tampa.

Amso – why does that make me think of cleaning products? – is a sports bar with a boisterous atmosphere. Think loud. No, louder. It features an “all-American” menu, so of course you’ll find hummus, Ropa Vieja Tacos and Steak Frites. That the Steak Frites is topped with chimichurri only makes it all the more American.

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Himas Naan

Here are the finalists for the 2019 Best Indian Foodster Award for Independent Restaurants.

You may vote for one restaurant by ticking the box next to its name and then clicking the VOTE button.

After you vote, leave a comment below telling us why you think your choice has the Best Indian food. Be sure to mention the name of the restaurant in your comment – we can’t see who you voted for. Tell us what you like about the place, including your favorite dish. We may use your comment if your choice is declared the winner.

Voting will continue through Sept. 25. The winners will be announced on Sept. 26.

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Soco magdine sign

As I mentioned the other day, Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining restaurant promotion that was to end on Sept. 30 has been extended a week, through Oct. 7. The extension was ostensibly to make up for lost momentum – and revenue – from the threat of hurricane Dorian.

So quick, before Humberto becomes a thing, get out and dine magically some more.

One restaurant you may want to consider is Soco in downtown’s Thornton Park.

I stopped in to try chef Greg Richie’s Magical Dining menu and enjoyed what I tasted.