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.
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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.

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Russell's on Lake Ivanhoe
Address1414 N. Orange Ave.
CityOrlando
Phone407-601-3508
Price$$$
Scott's Review
The menu does not read as French but there is classic Frenchness in its execution, as you might expect from executive chef Emmanuel Clement.... Read more
Sabor del Caribe
Address3020 Lamberton Blvd
CityOrlando
Phone407-757-0578
Price$
Scott's Review
I knew I was going to like this place the moment I walked in and was warmly greeted by a smiling fellow behind the counter. That greeting was reinforced by a coworker who appeared from the kitchen area just off to the back. Why is it so difficult for so many restaurant staffers to express a sincere welcome to the people who have chosen to do business with them? The concept here, as with many other similar Latin American restaurants, is pick and choose counter service. There is a selection of prepared dishes — pork, chicken, stews — in steam table trays behind the glass counter. You simply tell one of the nice folks which of the meats you prefer and whether you want white or yellow rice, then select two side dishes and stand back while the staffer loads up a plate.... Read more
Saffron Indian Cuisine
Address7724 W. Sand Lake Road
CityOrlando
Phone407-674-8899
Price$$
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
Saigon Flavors
Address3573 Aloma Ave.
CityOviedo
Phone407-951-8818
Price$$
Scott's Review
The first thing you’re likely to notice about Saigon Flavors is that it isn’t in downtown Orlando or anywhere near the intersection of Mills Avenue and Colonial Drive. That neighborhood, which locals have unofficially called Little Saigon for years, has the city’s greatest concentration of Vietnamese restaurants. Saigon Flavors is also more modernistic in style and decor. But the food is firmly set in tradition. Pho, the beef noodle soup with a variety of ingredients, is quite good. For an unusual appetizer, have the "golden pancake," which is more like an omelet with bean sprouts.
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Sanaa at Kidani Village
AddressDisney's Animal Kingdom Lodge
CityLake Buena Vista
Phone407-939-3463
Price$$$
Scott's Review
The menu is African with Indian influences, but not to the point of excluding beef or pork. Look for those touches in the spicing. The food may be a bit more exotic than most people are willing to try, but it's almost all done expertly. And you can't beat the atmosphere, with a ground-level view of the grazing area where you're likely to see giraffes galloping by.... Read more
SEA Thai
Address3812 E. Colonial Drive
CityOrlando
Phone407-895-0985
Price$$

The Sea in the name is an acronym for Southeast Asia, but there are also some good seafood selections among the traditional Thai dishes. Try one of the curry dishes or ask if the whole snapper is available. If not, the tilapia fillets are a good substitute.

I sampled two of the curry dishes: yellow with chicken; and a massaman with beef. I enjoyed the subtle spiciness of the yellow curry, the heat of the spices tempered by the creaminess of coconut milk. Besides the pieces of chicken, the sauce had peas, carrots, onions and big chunks of well-cooked potatoes to spoon over rice. I am in starch heaven when I can enjoy rice and potatoes in one dish.

Both were included in the massaman curry, too. And it also had a base of coconut milk, but in this one had a slight gravylike texture that coated the mouth with each bite. The pieces of beef were rather negligible but the dish was otherwise enjoyable.

Spicy basil duck was something of a floorshow in its presentation.

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