Reyes Mezcalaria
Address821 N. Orange Ave.
CityOrlando
Phone407-868-9007
Price$$$
Scott's Review
From the owners of Osprey Tavern and Seito Sushi in Baldwin Park, this Citrus replacement makes ample use of the patio space, but the inside is just as nice. Stick with the basic Mexican offerings.... Read more
Rice & Beans Cocina Latina
Address504 N. Alafaya Trail
CityOrlando
Phone407-380-9962
Price$
Scott's Review
There is, of course, a lot more on the menu than grains and legumes. R&B offers an array of mofongos (mofongi?), seafood, beef and pork dishes with Puerto Rican, Cuban and Dominican touches. You can order from the menu, or you can do as I did and choose a big platter of goodness from the items on display at the counter. For a lunch special of $6.95, you get your choice of rice -- white, mixed with red beans, mixed with black beans, or yellow mixed with vegetables; sweet plantains or boiled yuca; stewed red beans or black beans; and one of the featured meats. I chose two types of rice (with black beans and with red beans), yuca (love my yuca), black beans and the roast pork. All good, and very reasonably priced.
... Read more
Royal Thai
Address1202 N. Semoran Blvd.
CityOrlando
Phone407-275-0776
Price$$

I probably hear about this restaurant from more people than any other because for many years they've posted a quote from me on the large sign in front of the restaurant -- Thai food fit for a king, by Scott Joseph -- which, to be honest are actually the words of a Sentinel copy writer who wrote the headline. Whatever, I've never felt compelled to quibble about the accuracy of the quote.

Terrific Thai dishes are presented with great pride by a small staff. Not an elegant restaurant but wonderful food. Try the pad Thai or the lemon fish (but only if you like it really, really hot). Have the tom kha gai soup for a starter. Most dishes are less than $12; very reasonable.

... Read more
Russell's on Lake Ivanhoe
Address1414 N. Orange Ave.
CityOrlando
Phone407-601-3508
Price$$$
Scott's Review
The menu does not read as French but there is classic Frenchness in its execution, as you might expect from executive chef Emmanuel Clement.... Read more
RusTeak
Address1568 Maguire Road
CityOcoee
Phone407-614-3765
Price$$
Scott's Review
RusTeak fancies itself a gastropub, and indeed it has a pubbish atmosphere, casual and convivial. On the gastro side, the menu features an array of flatbreads and burgers as well as fuller entrees, including pastas and steaks to more involved creations. For my entree I selected the Mahi Out of Control, a kitchen-sink kind of offering that had a grilled fillet of mahi mahi buried beneath sauteed diced shrimp, toasted almonds, cherry tomatoes and broccolini, all of it sitting atop a bed of vegetable and potato hash. It was the sort of dish that could be a huge mess if it didn’t feature quality ingredients, but all of it was first-rate, not the least among them the firm, fresh-tasting mahi.... Read more
Sabor del Caribe
Address3020 Lamberton Blvd
CityOrlando
Phone407-757-0578
Price$
Scott's Review
I knew I was going to like this place the moment I walked in and was warmly greeted by a smiling fellow behind the counter. That greeting was reinforced by a coworker who appeared from the kitchen area just off to the back. Why is it so difficult for so many restaurant staffers to express a sincere welcome to the people who have chosen to do business with them? The concept here, as with many other similar Latin American restaurants, is pick and choose counter service. There is a selection of prepared dishes — pork, chicken, stews — in steam table trays behind the glass counter. You simply tell one of the nice folks which of the meats you prefer and whether you want white or yellow rice, then select two side dishes and stand back while the staffer loads up a plate.... Read more
Saffron Indian Cuisine
Address7724 W. Sand Lake Road
CityOrlando
Phone407-674-8899
Price$$
Scott's Review
A winner of the Best Indian Foodster Award for Independent Restaurants, Saffron is part of the group that includes Madras Cafe, the all vegetarian and vegan restaurant, and the estimable Mynt in Winter Park’s Hannibal Square neighborhood.... Read more
San Angel Inn
AddressMexico Pavilion
Epcot
CityLake Buena Vista
Phone407-939-3463
Price$$$
Scott's Review

It’s a perennial nighttime scene, affected by its location inside the pavilion. The dining area is set up next to the waterway, which transports people in boats on their way to the pavilion’s themed ride, Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros. All the elements work nicely together to produce a terrific atmosphere.

I wish they’d spend a little effort on making the food better.

The menu at least stays true to Mexican cuisine, rather than pandering to Americans’ concept of it, which has been muddled by Tex-Mex, Southwestern and even San Francisco-style burrito restaurants. Here you’ll find no fajitas, an American invention, or cheesy quesadillas. You will receive a conical basket filled with tortilla chips, accompanied by two salsas -- an American tradition that even authentic Mexican restaurants must follow.

That’s the last thing you’ll get for free. Everything else you’ll pay for, and you’ll pay way too much.

... Read more