Orlando Essentials

Need a restaurant/shopping/family friendly recommendation? Look no further.

Photo by: Songquan Deng/iStock/Thinkstock Read on to learn the best places to eat, shop and have fun in Orlando.

Food and Drink Essentials: Best Places to...

There are Publix, Albertsons and Winn-Dixie supermarkets scattered throughout the city, but for those seeking something a bit less ordinary, there are other options:

Lombardi’s Seafood
1152 Harmon Ave., Winter Park
This old Winter Park staple has a large variety of fish and seafood, delivered fresh daily from Port Canaveral and fishing boats on the West Coast and other parts of Florida. Knowledgeable employees will be happy to explain their selection to less experienced customers. Make sure you take a number when you walk in.

Tien Hung Complete Oriental Foods & Gifts
1108-1112 E. Colonial Drive, 407-422-0067
In the heart of Little Saigon (a stone’s throw from downtown), this Vietnamese shop has a large array of fresh vegetables and herbs you can buy in bulk at very affordable prices. Seafood lovers will also find a good selection of fish.

Whole Foods
1989 Aloma Ave., Winter Park
8003 Turkey Lake Road, Orlando
Yes, it’s a chain, but it also happens to have some of the freshest, tastiest food around. The gourmet powerhouse is expanding here with a recently opened second store in the chic Dr. Phillips area.


Lacomka Bakery & Deli
2050 N. Semoran Blvd., Winter Park
Besides dispensing vareniki (stuffed dumplings), salted fish and salami, this quaint Russian delicatessen also sells excellent breads baked on premises, some of which are made to order. The place is mostly designed for takeout, but it has a handful of tables for those interested in a more leisurely meal.

Taqueria Ameca Jalisco
4400 S. Orange Blossom Trail
An inexpensive, family-owned restaurant with an ample meat selection. "Load your own" side dishes of guacamole, fried onions, grilled jalapeños, etc., make the place more than just a taco joint. Open every day except Wednesday.


McRaney’s Tavern
1566 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park
This watering hole gets packed because of its good beer selection, friendly staff and drink specials. Those qualities come as a bit of a surprise, considering McRaney’s low-key, smokey pub atmosphere.

Jax Fifth Ave. Deli & Ale House
951 Greenwood Blvd., Lake Mary, 407-323-3354
This bar offers about 300 different kinds of beer, with about 60 of them on tap. If you’ve decided you’re going to settle in Orlando, apply yourself and become a member of the “Mugger Club,” which involves getting your own personalized mug after trying 100 kinds of beer.


PR's Taco Palace
499 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park, 407-645-2225
A divey joint with a funky interior offering good Mexican food at reasonable prices. Patrons get a discounted tequila shot every time a train goes by (the place is adjacent to train tracks). Favored by a younger crowd, particularly Rollins College students.

Planet Pizza
14 W. Washington St., 407-650-8859
Frequented by Orlando’s night owls and partygoers, this eatery on Orange Avenue starts hopping after hours. There are no frills here, but the pizza is outstanding.


Stardust Video & Coffee
1842 Winter Park Road, Winter Park
Besides selling good latte and espresso, this must-have for the artsy crowd has a wide selection of movie titles ranging from art house and mainstream to cult films. Feel free to linger and kill some time in the ample reading room.

Drunken Monkey Coffee Bar
444 N. Bumby Ave.
This Colonial-town coffeehouse roasts its own coffee. Homemade soups are good, and the desserts (brownies, muffins, pies, etc.) are remarkably tasty. The menu includes vegan and vegetarian options.


Dandelion Communitea Cafe
618 N. Thornton Ave.
A vegetarian cafe with a broad organic tea selection, Dandelion is a gathering place of sorts for the eco-friendly set. Plush, homey couches are inviting and give the place a cozy, comfortable feel.

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