Tried & True
For me, consistency is key. We've all experienced the pangs of thinking that we have found our new spot in town. Great food, great service, all around smiles and contentment. It seems that happens less and less these days so when that wave of overall satisfaction hits us, we long to hold on to it.
Sadly as time goes on we find that few establishments can maintain that level of quality both in food or drink but also in service.
That being said, I hold dear the local spots that to this day have never done me personally wrong. I've chosen just a handful that I have no trepidation about visiting over and over again, but that I also don't hesitate recommending to others.
If you haven't eaten here yet, I suggest you give it a try. Sure, you might hit a time where you stand in the line that has formed out of the front door, but that is because even after being open for more than a year Pig Floyd's can still pack in the locals because the food remains delicious. I can say this with confidence because I eat there with embarrassing regularity. That doesn't mean that some visits aren't juicier or flavorful than others, but I always leave happy and satisfied and receive great service.
I admire that Thomas, the owner, has so much serious dedication to ensuring each plate comes out perfect for his guests, and he wants honest feedback if you aren't satisfied. I appreciate a business owner who is out on the front lines checking in because they care about the reaction to the dishes while you are in the middle of the experience, not after the fact.
Another thing I love here is that I can take a "risk" and eat out of my comfort zone. If I love something on a menu I can get real boring and order it every time, but at Pig Floyd's I'm not scared to try a different menu item or special.
It took six months before I tried the "hunger killer" pictured below, and it was insanely delicious. No regrets in new food adventures here and that is a rare occasion in my experience.
My first visit to The Strand was in March of 2014, and it still remains a steadfast and satisfying place to bring friends for a leisurely lunch or dinner.
Their ingredients are locally sourced and they even list the different farms and vendors right on the menu. I've enjoyed many delicious pretzel and pimento cheese appetizers, juicy burgers, and tender pork chops. Not to mention some amazing desserts. I've never had a meal that missed the mark, and their wait staff has always been quick and courteous.
It can be a little pricier than some places for a casual dinner but I love that I've never been disappointed, they are batting 100 with me. Their brunch is still on my radar. SOON.
It seems like we waited an eternity for Market on South to open their doors, but once I got my first few bites at their opening just a few months ago I sighed a breath of relief that sometimes with patience comes a delicious reward.
I'm not a vegan, but that doesn't stop me from wanting to go back for more of Dixie Dharma's delicious food. The kale salad or the fried green tomato sandwich, or the to die for pulled pork sandwich with jackfruit as the protein...oh heavens. It just doesn't get better. They are beyond consistent with their offerings that my husband is tired of me asking to go there.
To sweeten the meal you get to pair it with the ever changing flavors from Humble Bumble Kombucha and the treats that Valhalla Bakery is constantly cranking out. You simply won't leave without a smile on your face unless your taste buds are broken.
Food Trucks are everywhere and quite honestly only maybe two are near and dear to my heart and stomach. One of them is Midnight Sun. While I can't indulge in their homemade expertly handcrafted ice cream nearly as much as I'd like, it truly is the ultimate treat yourself situation.
On top of the fact that their ice cream is the best I've ever had in my entire life and in all my travels to other cities, the owners couldn't be cooler. Sometimes I feel bad when I visit them because I could talk to them for hours and I end up hogging their little truck window for far longer than I should.
My dream is that soon they can open up their own brick and mortar shop and I work there scooping ice cream, getting paid in buttermilk roasted cherry swirl ice cream. Your life goals might be loftier, but mine are sweeter.
Find them. Follow them. Support them!
I'm not one to hang out at bars, but on my very first trip to the Guesthouse I felt at ease. No loud music, no rude bartenders, no annoying bar patrons. Just a delicious drink, gorgeous lighting and soothing greenery surrounding me from Porch Therapy.
It's no wonder that I've gone back a few times, (more revisits than any other bar in Orlando) and whenever I am in the mood to go out for a drink this is probably the only place I will visit for the time being. While this is the newest of my favorite spots, I have high hopes that it will remain the quaint chill bar that plays sweet 90's jams for the foreseeable future.
You may know it as one of the most photographed shops in Orlando, and with good reason. Owners Brittany and Travis have created such a beautiful space that people can't help but take photos even when they are regulars like me.
But beyond the white brick walls and lust-worthy furniture there is so much more to this dreamy minimalist space and the gorgeous mid-century modern pieces that they personally restore and sell.
The coffee is consistently delicious thanks both to their skills and because they are brewing quality from Lineage Coffee Roasting. For me, the ultimate bonus is that it's the only place nearby that I can get a flawless chai latte, which I drink far more often than coffee.
This is not a space for work, but a place to enjoy your drink and hopefully some conversation with a friend. No wi-fi (so stop asking and throwing shade) just a rad playlist that always keeps me happy with eye candy galore.
There is nothing I love supporting more than a family with local roots that are working their butts off all while enriching our city center.
I hope that if you visit one of these places based solely off reading this that you have an amazing experience; but if you don't remember that every place has off days and burnt out local makers that have risked so much to open their doors. Let's support them and hopefully great food and drink will flourish
I'm excited to see what new spots come in 2016 and hopefully more tried and true places will pop up in The City Beautiful.