Pepe's Cantina Downtown
Address120 W. Church St.
CityOrlando
Phone407-730-2341
Price$$
Scott's Review
A second location for the 2017 Foodster Award for Best Tex-Mex. Pepe's offers a nice people-watching perch from its Church Street patio. ... Read more
Pho 88
Address730 N. Mills Ave. (US 17-92)
CityOrlando
Phone407-897-3488
Price$$

Pho means beef noodle soup and that’s the specialty here. The menu is a bit daunting with over a hundred items, but take your time and choose something that intrigues you.

Vietnamese soups are full meals and you’ll have a hard time eating everything. No need to bother with appetizers, but try the red bean “pudding” for dessert.

... Read more
Pig Floyd's Urban Barbakoa
Address1326 N. Mills Ave.
CityOrlando
Phone407-203-0866
Price$$
Scott's Review
There's a lot to like about Pig Floyd's, the self described Urban Barbakoa, beginning with the whimsical name. I also like what they've done to the place. The tiny freestanding building at 1326 N. Mills Ave. has never looked better. And I liked most of the food I sampled, though I have to tell you that I have no idea what the speciality is here. It was only the ribs that truly disappointed. The half slab, served on a pig-shaped cutting board, I had on my first visit had a heavily charred crust, which is not necessarily a bad thing when we're talking about barbecue. But beneath the char the meat had turned nearly to mush.... Read more
Ramen
Address486 N. Orange Ave.
CityOrlando
Phone407-233-4801
Price$
Scott's Review
The Ramen is quick-serve: Place your order and pay for it at the counter then take a number stand to a table of your choice. Someone will bring your food to you when it’s ready.... Read more
Reyes Mezcalaria
Address821 N. Orange Ave.
CityOrlando
Phone407-868-9007
Price$$$
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
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
Rusty Spoon
Address55 W. Church St.
CityOrlando
Phone407-401-8811
Price$$
Scott's Review
Rusty Spoon, under the direction of James Beard nominated chef Kathleen Blake, has become one of the area's top restaurants and an especial jewel of downtown dining. Blake was an early proponent of farm-to-table cuisine and she hasn't strayed from that doctrine. The menu changes depending on what's available season to season, but you can be sure that it will be excellent.... Read more
Sanctum
Address715 N. Fern Creek Ave.
CityOrlando
Phone407-757-0346
Price$
Scott's Review
Anyone who questions whether there is a market for vegetarian restaurants only needs to visit The Sanctum, a new meat-freetery in the Mills 50 district whose slogan is “Real, damn good food” and whose online description calls its menu plant-based. It seems that it is always packed. Admittedly, it doesn’t take a lot of people to fill the space, which is set back from Colonial Drive at the northeast corner of Fern Creek Avenue. The space is small and narrow, with a bar and communal seating up front and a few tables hugging the wall down the side, across from the kitchen area. But it was clear to me when I lunched with colleagues there recently that more than a few were repeat customers hungry for vegetarian and vegan options. That may be one of Sanctum’s secrets of success: It isn’t totally vegan but offers several items that can easily be veganized. As long as you’re not concerned about the purity of the kitchen as far as your food commingling with mere vegetarian offerings, you should be just fine.... Read more