Strings and Things Hooley 2019

Labor Day Weekend is coming up, which means that it’s time to get your hooley on.

Raglan Road is hosting its eighth annual Great Irish Hooley music festival beginning at 4 p.m. Friday, Aug. 30, and continuing until the wee hours of Tuesday, Sept. 3. (Wee hour, actually: the hooley will end at 1 a.m.)

What is a hooley? you ask. It’s a Gaelic word for a party, particularly one with music and entertainment. That might sound like a typical day at Raglan Road – after all, it was named to OpenTable’s list of Top 100 Restaurants for a Big Night Out – but when the Great Irish Hooley rolls around, things really get hopping (literally, if you’ve ever seen the Raglan Road Irish Dancers).


The hooley puts an emphasis on music, but of course there will be special Hooley-crafted cocktails and RR’s exceptional contemporary Irish cuisine. And by the way, the popular Rollicking Raglan Brunch will be served all weekend, including Monday.


Humbl exterior

The chicken was good enough to fool us; the burger not so much.

I was dining with a colleague at Humbl, a new restaurant next to Windermere High School on Winter Garden Vineland Road. It’s a fast fooder that looks like many other quick-bite eateries but for one major twist, spelled out on the sign out front just below the misspelled name: plant based eats.

That means that it’s entirely meat free. So the chicken that my lunch companion chose as an add-on to the Humbl Bowl of rice, cauliflower and crushed pistachios, should have been listed as “chicken” on the menu. Or it could have been spelled chickun, you know, like sushi bars spell krab when it’s really surimi.


taproom exterior

  • The Tap Room at Dubsdread will stay at Dubsdread for at least another 20 years. Steve Gunter, the owner and operator of the popular College Park restaurant says he’s signed another extension of the lease with the city of Orlando, which owns the Dubsdread Golf Course where the restaurant is housed.
  • The Habit Burger Grill chain recently closed its recently opened Central Florida locations. Apparently not enough of you made eating there a regular thing. Although Habit was new to the area, the California-based chain is 50 years old and still has 265 restaurants with plans to open a bunch more in Cambodia, of all places. If are one of the few in the area jonesing for one, you’ll find them still operating in South Florida.


Visit Orlando's Magical Dining promotion runs from Aug. 23 through the end of September. There are more than 120 restaurants participating. Some offer really good deals. Some do not. In the video below, I give you some pointers on how to get the most for your $35 when you visit a Magical Dining restaurant. 


Big Fin dining room

Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining promotion begins Friday, Aug. 23, but I stopped by Big Fin Seafood Kitchen for a sneak preview.

Big Fin always offers quality seafood at price commensurate with its quality, but its MagDine menu represents a real bargain.

For the uninitiated, restaurants participating in Magical Dining (formerly known as Magical Dining Month, or MagDinMo) offer special three-course, prix fixe menus for $35, excluding tax, gratuity and beverages. One dollar from each meal sold goes to local charities. (As of publication or this article, this year’s charities had not yet been announced.)

Some restaurants, shall we say, cheat a bit. They sign up to participate – restaurants pay a fee to Visit Orlando to be a part of the promotion – but instead of offering dishes that are representative of their regular menus, they feature items that aren’t even on their menus, presumably dishes with lower food costs so they don’t lose money on the $35 charge. Or $34, since the restaurants have to send in the dollar-per-sale collections. Others might present regular menu items but in smaller portions.