Amid the myriad chains and franchises that are populating the area around the Orlando Eye attraction, an independent restaurant is a welcome find. And that it offers very good food and a fun dining experience makes it all the better.
Tapa Toro comes to us from Vassilis and Katerina Coumbaros, who also own Taverna Opa at nearby Pointe Orlando, one of my favorite Tourist World recommendations. Opa, of course, is the Greek restaurant where every evening is a raucous party of napkins tossed in the air to buoyant balalaika music and belly dancing atop the tables.
At Tapa Toro the theme is Spanish and the music flamenco, and here the napkins stay in the lap and the clacking heels of the dancers punish only the floor.
I had driven past the little shack on south Orange Avenue that is the home of the eye-rollingly named Gnarly Barley for years without ever stopping. But when the restaurant I had intended to visit on a recent night was closed unexpectedly, and with no other prospects on my route back home, I decided it was time to pull over and check it out.
As the Barley part of the name would suggest, GB specializes in craft beers, with about 16 ever-changing selections on draft and an array of by-the-bottle choices. The current draft selections are detailed on a black chalkboard that covers an entire wall. Actually, it doesn’t take a lot to cover a wall here — this is a pretty compact little space.
Gnarly, besides its rhyming characteristic, I’m sure isn’t meant to be taken for its original definition, which is unpleasant or unattractive. Hmmm, well, it isn’t a very attractive place, but it isn’t without its charm. I’m guessing it’s to be taken for its slangier meaning, which is more like bitchin’, but come to think of it, that has multiple meanings, too.