Balagan Kosher Mediterranean Cafe
Address4000 Central Florida Blvd.
CityOrlando
Phone407-882-0701
Price$
Scott's Review
Located in the University of Central Florida Student Union, Balagan isn't much more than a hole in the wall. There's no seating inside the cafe -- get your food and take it to a table in the corridors of the Union, or outside for a picnic. I had a huge beef shawarma that I decided was too much to eat at one sitting. So I ate half and wrapped the rest up for later. But when I got to my car, I couldn't help myself and I finished it off. Delicious. One of the few kosher options in Central Florida. Balagan also operates a concession during events at the UCF Arena.... Read more
Bosphorous Orlando
Address7600 Dr. Phillips Blvd.
CityOrlando
Phone407-352-6766
Price$$
Scott's Review
Originally called Anatolia, but now owned by the same folks who have the very good Bosphorous on Park Avenue. The menu combines Lebanese and Turkish traditions, the former for the wonderful array of appetizers and the latter for the meaty entrees. Hot appetizers included arnavut cigeri, which sounds so much better than fried calves liver. This featured little bite-sized chunks garnished with tomatoes and raw onions; and icli kofte, an egg-shaped patty fashioned out of cracked wheat and filled with ground lamb. All of it was delicious -- even the liver.

For my entree I had the mixed grill, an ample sampling of meats, each available also as a single entree, that could easily serve two people. It had adana kebab, seasoned ground lamb formed around a skewer; lamb shish kebab, cubes of tender meat; lamb chops, just in case you didn’t have enough lamb before; dana kebab, cubes of grilled beef; and tavuk kebab, which would be chicken. All were well seasoned and delicious, and were accompanied by rice, a medley of grilled vegetables and small, skinless baked potato. You could make a feast of vegetarian options here.
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Maxine's on Shine
Address337 N. Shine Ave.
CityOrlando
Phone407-674-6841
Price$$
Scott's Review

Note: This review is from Shine Neighborhood Kitchen, which has changed its name to Maxine's on Shine.

This is the quintessential neighborhood cafe, a lone business in a downtown residential area. Formerly Bravissimo Wine Bar, this space was a destination for people who simply liked the atmosphere. Now they can also like it for the good food. Clams and mussels Catalan, shrimp & grouper Maltese, and pork osso buco were some of the items I enjoyed. The owners -- who also own the decidedly different Graffiti Junktion -- did wonders with the limited space, which started its life, decades ago, as a neighborhood market. The atmosphere is soft and subdued and so very comfortable.

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Mediterranean Blue
Address435 E. Michigan St.
CityOrlando
Phone407-422-2583
Price$
Scott's Review

The menu is brief, a small list of sandwiches and salads that stretch the perimeter of the Mediterranean from Greece to Italy. But in addition to the seven or so sandwiches, there were, on my visit, some other specials available, shown to me by the affable server at the counter. These included a delicious looking spanakopita and vegetarian stuffed grape leaves.

I settled on a gyro from the main menu and the grape leaves from the specials. The gyro, which features the mysterious blending of beef and lamb into a single meat that nature did not intend (but which is pretty tasty), was an ample portion, served on a doughy, warm pita. It had tomatoes and onion and a tzatziki sauce that was thicker than usual. Too many tzatzikis are runny and messy. I liked this one.

The grape leaves were big and plump, not like the Tiparello-sized dolmades that most places serve. They were filled with rice and pinenuts. Nice as a vegetarian option, but I missed the meat.

The staff were all friendly and welcoming. Orders are placed at the counter and workers call out names as orders are ready. If they’re not too busy, they’ll bring it to your table. The small din... Read more

Mediterranean Deli
Address981 W. Fairbanks Ave.
CityOrlando
Phone407-539-2650
Price$

People would keep coming back to this cramped little eatery even if the food weren't as good as it is (and it's wonderful). That's because the owner makes everyone feel so welcome, often calling out, "Welcome, my brother," to those entering. He also makes sure that no one leaves without being thanked. I wish more restaurant owners would stop by here to see how customer service should be.

Gyros and shawarmas and falafels are the mainstay. All are ample and delicious.

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Merguez
Address11951 International Drive
CityOrlando
Phone407-778-4343
Price$
Scott's Review
The last time I visited this space it was a full-service restaurant called Atlas House, which specialized in the cuisine of Uzbekistan. Atlas closed, one presumes with a shrug. Now it is a fast casual restaurant called Merguez, with foods of Moroccan descent. Merguez’s website says that the space is “secluded and intimate, perfect for a romantic dinner.” I’ll give them the secluded. Tucked away in the corner of an under utilized strip, the restaurant is easy to miss. I can’t go along with intimate or romantic, unless the decor of a deli, with display cases and laminated tables with nothing on top is the sort of thing that sets your heart aflutter. Perhaps the rather loud Moroccan music that played over the sound system had romantic lyrics.... Read more
Spice Road Table
Address200 Epcot Center Drive
CityLake Buena Vista
Phone407-939-3463
Price$$$
Scott's Review
Spice Road Table is the newest restaurant to open at Epcot, part of the Morocco pavilion in the World Showcase. Not inside the pavilion, mind you, outside, in front of it, on the shore of the lagoon. It’s a setup much like what opened last year at the Mexico pavilion. The menu isn’t exclusively Moroccan. By giving it a Spice Road theme, the developers were able to widen the scope, borrowing from the dishes and flavors of the countries along the legendary explorers’ route. And the various dishes are presented as Mediterranean Small Plates (thank you for not calling them tapas). Oddly, given the name, most of the dishes have rather muted spicing. Ask for a side of harissa with whatever you order and you'll be fine.... Read more