Cinco exterior

I’m not going to use valet service to go to a taco joint. I’m just not.

But twice when I first tried to visit Cinco Tacos + Tequila, a Winter Park restaurant that includes actor Mario Lopez and former NSYNCer Chris Kirkpatrick among its backers, valeting was the only parking option. All available open spaces were blocked off so that dropping the car off was the only option. I don’t care if it’s complimentary — it’s a freaking taco joint.

So I waited until the newness wore off (it opened in late July) and made a midweek visit when there were some self parking options. There was still a valet guy there but he looked bored. Probably because the restaurant was nearly empty. Had the newness worn off that much? Or had the people who jammed it on those opening weeks come to realize what I soon would, that you can get better tacos and variations on Mexican food elsewhere?


Cows Cabs Pig

The eigth annual Cows 'n Cabs was held in Winter Park's West Meadow on Saturday, Nov. 3. Organizer John Rivers said it was the biggest ever in terms of attendance and participating restaurants. And, potentially, monies raised for the two charities it benefits, After School All-Stars Orlando and Elevate Orlando. Highlights included Kathleen Blake's Smoked Mullet Dip from Rusty Spoon and Frank Galeano's Pork Belly Matambre from Tapa Toro. Most unusual dish was from Camilo Velasco of 1921 Mount Dora who offered breaded and fried (and spicy) Frog Legs. 

Watch the video below for some of the sights and sounds of the event:


RamenRumble2 SM copy

  • TastyChomps, the Ricky Ly-led blog, has announced plans for its second Ramen Rumble in association with Osprey Tavern. Ramen Rumble 2 will take place Dec. 10 at the Baldwin Park restaurant from 6 to 9 p.m. The rumbling chefs this time around are: Yuhi Fujinaga, Executive Chef Morimoto Asia at Disney springs; Kevin Kel Phanhvilay, Chef/Owner Sticky Rice Lao Street Food; and Travis Cliff, Head Chef Jade New Asian. (No one actually rumbles but knives might be drawn.) Tickets here.
  • Congratulations to The Glass Knife on its first anniversary. I didn’t bake a cake but chef Stuart Whitfield did and he’ll share a slice with the first 365 guests Sat., Nov. 10. It’s for dine-in customers only, so don’t just hop out of the car with the engine running and expect to grab a slice to go.


La Luce logo

La Luce, the Hilton at Bonnet Creek restaurant created by the late Donna Scala, has been voted Best Italian in our Foodster Awards for Independent Restaurants.

Stefano’s Trattoria in Winter Springs took second place and Maitland’s Francesco’s Ristorante and Pizzeria was third. Only two votes separated those two restaurants.

Nancy Brundage wrote, “La Luce has a fantastic wine list, awesome pizza, great salad choices and appetizers, delicious entrees that taste as great as they are beautiful and decadent desserts all in an\ casually elegant atmosphere. The service staff is very knowledgeable and eager to make your experience a memorable one. I’d give it 3 thumbs up but I only have 2 thumbs.”

In placing her vote, Tina Raditz said, “Stefano's Trattoria is my favorite all time restaurant.” And Vance Maiorana wrote, “Stefano’s, best food, best atmosphere, best people.”

“Francesco’s,” Marcy Birnberg Kast wrote, “is consistently excellent. The food is delicious, the portions are generous, the presentation is lovely, the atmosphere is warm, the servers, hosts and Francesco himself are friendly and accommodating, and the prices are reasonable. Bottom line, Francesco’s checks all the boxes!”

This category proved to be a popular one, and many voters left passionate notes about their choices. Some particularly heated exchanges dealt with Stefano’s and its relationship to Nonno’s in Longwood, which came in fourth in the poll. Stefano’s Trattoria was previously owned by Stefano LaCommare, who is now with Nonno’s. Some commenters wondered if voters knew that the ownership of the Winter Springs restaurant had changed. Others said they knew but still preferred Stefano’s.

But the outcome has one positive note: Central Florida has a lot of very good Italian Restaurants.

Don’t forget to nominate your favorite restaurant for Best Burger here.