Noshing by the Neighborhood 

inside drunken monkey

Orlando has been making news as of late for its Michelin Star and James Beard award winning restaurants. Orlando’s eclectic and historic neighborhoods offer a wide range of delicious food options, making it no surprise that great food has always been synonymous with Central Florida. Everywhere you turn there is another quaint pocket of town brimming with tales of days, and restaurants, gone by. 

Central Florida Lifestyle Magazine is doing a deep dive of ten delectable neighborhoods, along with the top recommendations and tips from our team. Next time you can’t decide where to eat, grab this handy dandy guide and begin Noshing by the Neighborhood. 

The Milk District 

The Milk District is a vibrant and trendy community between the western section of the Orlando Executive Airport and the eastern edge of downtown Orlando. The Milk District history runs deep, with ties to, you guessed it, T.G. Lee Dairy. The story began in 1925, when Florida native, T.G. Lee, started a dairy farm with the inheritance he received from his father, Charles. With twenty acres of land, one cow and a banknote, T.G. Lee and his wife opened their dairy farm on the pastures we now call The Milk District. 

The Milk District’s history of notable noshing includes the beloved Ronnie’s Delicatessen, which opened in 1956 and sadly closed its doors in 1995. While many Orlando natives mourn the loss of Ronnie’s to this day, they can ease some of the sadness with the fabulous eateries that have taken its place. 

 

Drunken Monkey Coffee Bar

drunken monkey sign

Think back to your favorite coffee house in college, where the atmosphere was chill. You could grab a fab cup of Joe, the Wi-Fi was free, and the food was home-style and delish. That is Drunken Monkey Coffee Bar in a nutshell. Did we mention they feature local artists and stand-up comedy showcases each week? They offer the warning, “Like Smurfs, they can be a little blue.” 

Team Tip: For the comedy showcase, you might want to leave the kiddos at home. 

Location: 444 N Bumby Ave, Orlando, FL 32803 

407-893-4994 

drunkenmonkeyorders.com 

 

Beefy King

Beffy King sign

If there was a list of the top ten historic eateries in Central Florida, Beefy King would be at the top. Serving the best steamed hot and fresh roast beef sandwiches since 1968, Beefy King is an Orlando landmark, with three generations having operated the iconic family-owned sandwich shop.  

Team Tip: Be sure to order their Tater Tots. 

Location: 424 N Bumby Ave, Orlando, FL 32803 

407-894-2241 

beefykingorlando.com 

 

Se7enBites 

se7enbites with lady holding try of food

If you’re looking for a little slice of heaven in The Milk District, look no further than the popular Se7enBites. Specializing in Southern comfort foods with a modern twist, stop on by for breakfast, brunch or lunch and indulge in some of the made-from-scratch desserts. Guy Fieri visited this fab eatery, which was featured on the Food Network. 

Team Tip: If you want to order their famous Chicken Pot Pie, arrive early. 

 Location: 617 S Primrose Dr, Orlando, FL 32803 

407-203-0727 

se7enbites.com

 

DTO & SoDo

If you want a blast from the past, look no further than DTO and SoDo, also known as Downtown Orlando and South of Downtown Orlando. From every building on every street corner, explore the rich heritage of this historic district as you take a step back in time.

 

Do you dig all things Disney? As you stroll around Lake Eola, stop by the old Cherry Plaza Hotel, now the Post Parkside at 431 E Central Blvd, where Walt made his famous announcement back in 1965. As you explore the heart of Orlando, be sure to dine as you dash through the district that is DTO and SoDo.

DTO

Thrive Cocktail Lounge & Eatery

Are you in the mood for innovative cuisine and impeccable service? Thrive is the place for you. This highly rated eatery features Spanish cuisine, including sumptuous prawns, salmon, and tapas. Thrive also offers fabulous waffles, French toast and Panna cotta.

Team Tip: Check out their website and join their text club and receive 20% off your meal.

Location: 13 S Orange Ave, Orlando, FL 32801

407-237-0657

eatdrinkthriveorl.com

 

Metro Espresso Pizza

metro expresso

Don’t be fooled by its quaint façade. Metro Espresso is a diamond in the rough. They not only serve the best grilled chicken Caesar salad, pizzas and homemade pasta dishes, but their cappuccino is top-notch.

Team Tip: If they’re serving their chicken soup, order it and freeze for the next time you’re feeling under the weather.

Location: 417 E Central Blvd, Orlando, FL 32801

407-422-5282

metroespressopizza.com

 

SoDo 

 

Johnny’s Fillin’ Station

Johnny's

For over thirty years, Johnny’s Fillin’ Station has taken pride in being a beloved neighborhood restaurant with a little something for everyone. Even though they’re family friendly, they stay open until 2 a.m. for those night owls.

Team Tip: Need a place to watch the game? Johnny’s Fillin’ Station has a full bar and enough TVs for everyone.

Location: 2631 S Ferncreek Ave, Orlando, FL 32806

407-894-6900

johnnysfillinstation.com

 

Talkin’ Tacos SoDo Orlando

Talkin' Tacos

Talkin’ Tacos says, “Less talkin’, more tacos!” And we agree. The interior features low lighting and neon wall art, providing that snazzy vibe we love in a taco joint.

Team Tip: Try the churros, their birria grilled cheese and, of course, the birria tacos.

 

Location: 3123 S Orange Ave Suite 106, Orlando, FL 32806

689-210-2917

talkintacos.net

 

 

 

Colonialtown & Mills 50

Colonialtown, which comprises two sections, North and South, was developed over six decades through a series of real estate booms and busts in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In 1883, the earliest subdivision was platted, and a second period of growth between the Depression and the start of World War II led to most development happening in 1913.

Right around the corner from Colonialtown is Mills 50, which includes some of Orlando’s most established and historic neighborhoods, including Park Lake Highland and Hillcrest. The name comes from the intersection of Mill Avenue and Colonial Drive, also known as State Road 50. People also know Mills 50 as Little Saigon or Little Vietnam.

 

Maxine’s on Shine

maxines cocktails

There’s no mystery why Maxine’s on Shine has won so many local awards, including the prestigious Multi-Year Michelin Guide selection. Open for over a decade, Maxine and Kirt Earhart’s eatery is brimming with charm. The cuisine is impressive, with selections like fried green tomatoes, crab cakes that even a Maryland native would approve, and their popular chicken and waffles. Good vibes abound in this whimsical eatery.

Team Tip: Arrive early, as the neighborhood on-street parking can be a challenge during peak dining hours.

Location: 337 Shine Ave, Orlando, FL 32801

407-674-6841

maxinesonshine.com

 

Black Rooster Taqueria

black rooster tacos

Do you prefer the farm to table dining experience? Then you’ll adore Black Roster Taqueria’s Farm to Taco concept. Created by husband-and-wife team, John and Juliana Calloway, their mission is to create a place where delicious food is swiftly served and enjoyed by people with a passion for art. You’ll feel the vibrancy in both the menu and decor the moment you walk through the doors.

Team Tip: Looking for a high-quality gluten-free menu? The tortillas are organic and almost everything is gluten-free.

Location: 1323 N Mills Ave, Orlando, FL 32803

407-601-0994

blackroostertaqueria.com

 

Pig Floyd’s Urban Barbakoa

pig floyds

Are you hankering for some BBQ? Look no further than Pig Floyd’s Urban Barbakoa, which features everything from pork belly tacos to a menu of sandwiches like the Matahambre Sandwich (the Hunger Killer). Our top recs are the Mexican Street Corn with chili-lime butter, the Butter Chicken Taco with yogurt-marinated chicken thighs and the ribs are a must-try. 

Team Tip: Save room for Mama Floyd’s Banana Pudding.

Location: 1326 N Mills Ave, Orlando, FL 32803

407-203-0866

pigfloyds.com

 

Ivanhoe Village Main Street

Just a stone’s throw from the heart of Downtown Orlando lies scenic Lake Ivanhoe and The Ivanhoe Village Main Street district.

While we’re all familiar with the history of Central Florida’s once booming citrus industry, it may surprise many to learn that Orlando was proclaimed “the mother of the pineapple business” as far back as 1900. Indeed, Florida was the leading provider of pineapples to the United States.

Over one hundred years before Walt Disney was even thinking about creating his Main Street USA, George Russell was the first to build a theme park in Central Florida. The location? The land between Lake Concord and Lake Ivanhoe, where Mr. Russell not only planted pineapple crops, he also built a water park called “Joyland.” While Joyland and the pineapples are no longer with us, one can still spot signs of the past.

 

The Pinery

the pinery

The Pinery inhabits the very land that once cultivated Florida’s former top export crop, pineapples. The Pinery celebrates Florida’s forgotten history while offering guests a welcoming atmosphere, illuminated views of the city skyline, and a seasonal menu inspired by the tenants of Southern hospitality. The Pinery is included the prestigious Multi-Year Michelin Guide selection.

Team Tip: According to the Michelin Guide, “The smoked peanut soup and a breadboard (with pimento cheese and cinnamon sugar butter) are hearty, unfussy and flavorful favorites.”

Location: 295 NE Ivanhoe Blvd Suite A, Orlando, FL 32804

407-377-7576

thepineryorlando.com

 

Russell’s on Lake Ivanhoe

russells

Named in honor of George Russell, Russell’s on Lake Ivanhoe has been an Orlando favorite since opening in 2020. Owner Philippe Villain has created a restaurant that serves elevated cuisine in an upscale yet casual atmosphere.

Team Tip: Their Happy Hour is not to be missed, Sunday through Friday, 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Location: 1414 N Orange Ave, Orlando, FL 32804

407-601-3508

russellsorlando.com

 

White Wolf Café & Bar

white wolf

Craving a hip, boho cafe nestled between antique and fine arts shops? Look no further than White Wolf Café & Bar. Originally conceived as an antique store over 30 years ago, White Wolf is named for Casper, the white German Shepard that once stood guard. 

Team Tip: Go ahead and order the cinnamon buns. Just make sure you’re hungry.

Location: 1829 N Orlando Ave, Orlando, FL 32804

407-895-9911

whitewolfcafe.com

 

The Packing District

Perched on the west wide of Downtown Orlando, The Packing District covers around 202 acres and is rooted in history, grounded in opportunity and directed toward the future.

One of the original citrus producers in the region, Dr. Phillips used the land that stretches along Orange Blossom Trail near College Park as the site of one of his multiple premier packing houses, creating a key place in the early economic ecosystem of Orlando. The site was the first industrial property in Central Florida and the crown jewel in the Dr. Phillips real estate holdings. Buildings on the site focused on his business and his philanthropic passion for enriching his community. The current construction teams created most of the buildings using special Dr. Phillips bricks and a loving hand.

 

The Great Southern Box Company Food Hall

great southern

This newly opened food hall offers nine vendor spots serving everything from chicken shawarma to Picanha steak. And to satisfy your sweet tooth, save room for the Oreo-cheesecake brownies.

Team Tip: Word on the street is Chef Paul Jacques, owner of Antica Wood-Fired Pizza, makes the best Neapolitan-style pizza in Orlando. 

 

Location: 2105 N Orange Blossom Trail, Orlando, FL 32804

689-207-4383

greatsouthernboxco.com

 

The Packing District Juice Stand

Located at the northeast corner of Princeton Street and Orange Blossom Trail, the Juice Stand is a replica of the Dr. Phillips Juice Stand that once stood on this very spot. It serves as a landmark for The Packing District and pays homage to the citrus industry. The Juice Stand features Foxtail Coffee, Kelly’s Homemade Ice Cream and the Ravenous Pig Brewing Co.

Team Tip: Foxtail Coffee is a local business, born in Central Florida where you’ll find the finest coffee and expert baristas.

 

Stadium Club

stadium club

It’s always “game time” at The Stadium Club. This 9,000-square-foot “club” has opened inside the Caribe Royale Orlando and features food by James Beard Award-winning chef and Top Chef contestant Jeff McInnis and his wife, Janine Booth, also a Top Chef contestant and James Beard Award nominee. Featuring a huge 360 arena-like wrap-around with eight pro-level sports simulators, virtual gold courses, and interactive games.

Team Tip: Probably one of the top places to group watch a sporting event.

Location: Located in Caribe Royale Orlando, 8101 World Center Dr, Orlando, FL 32821

407-554-9950

stadiumclub.com

 

The Hourglass District

 

Orlando is not only a stone’s throw away from Florida’s beaches, it’s home to over one hundred lakes. The Hourglass District, named for Hourglass Lake, is a secluded and picturesque neighborhood that Orlando locals have happily called home for decades, including the family-friendly Dover Shores and the many communities on Curry Ford Road. 

The Hourglass District embraces the symbol of its namesake, which is packed with meaning. As they explain, “It’s a timeless symbol that can mean different things to different people. To make the most of the time given to you… to take nothing for granted and to always enjoy the moment.”

 

Charlies Bakery & Creamery

chocolate drip cake from charlies

For over six decades, Charlie’s has been serving cakes for birthdays, anniversaries, weddings and countless holiday events. It’s Charlie’s deep roots in the community, beginning as a family business in 1971, and still run by an Orlando native, Tricia Hage, who grew up, like so many of us, savoring Charlie’s treats. Tricia says, “We hope that Charlie’s Bakery & Creamery is considered one of those special places, where locals and visitors alike can experience a taste of Orlando’s rich history and charm.”

Team Tip: The eclairs are to die for!

 

Location: 3213 Curry Ford Rd, Orlando, FL 32806

407-898-9561

charliesbakery.com

 

Claddagh Cottage Irish Pub

claddagh cottage

The Claddagh Cottage is a cozy, neighborhood pub that has been around for over 20 years. An important part of the pub’s history is traditional Irish music, and owners, Scott and Vicki, have run the bi-weekly traditional Irish music session at the Claddagh since 2001. Vicki says, “The Claddagh Cottage offers a delicious selection of import beers on tap along with a curated list of wines in a homey, laid back, authentic country Irish pub atmosphere, focusing on scratch-made food and live music.”

Team Tip: Try the steak and mushroom, or chicken and mushroom pastry pie. As they say in Ireland, Tá sé go hálainn (It’s delicious). 

Location: 2421 Curry Ford Rd, Orlando, FL 32806

407-895-1555

claddaghcottagepub.com

 

Leguminati

Leguminati food

Leguminati is popular for its all-vegan menu. The name of the eatery, a cross between legume and illuminati, is upping the ante with their mouthwatering vegan fare. 

Team Tip: Try the Sloppy Kirk, Leguminati’s twist on the ever-favorite sloppy joe. Just what is in their secret slop sauce that makes it tantalizing?

Location: 2401 Curry Ford Rd, Orlando, FL, 32806

407-930-7308

bean-team.com

 

Thornton Park/Lake Eola Heights 

Thornton Park/Lake Eola Heights is one of downtown Orlando’s oldest neighborhoods, featuring many of the most architecturally diverse homes in Central Florida. For the first part of the 20th century, this area was filled with cattle barons, then eventually citrus growers and bankers. It didn’t take long for red-brick streets adorned with neo-classical Tudor homes to spring to life, filled with families eager to raise their families in easy-going Orlando.

In 1883, the Summerlin family donated land around a downtown lake for public use. Once called Sandy Beach, they later renamed it Lake Eola after Robert Summerlin’s dearly departed sweetheart. In 1957, city leaders spent $350,000 for a fountain to be placed in the middle of Lake Eola.

At the turn of the 20th century, developer James Thornton played a key role in the expansion of many Orlando neighborhoods. Thornton’s residence was believed to be on James Street, which was named in his honor in 1913. In 1915, the namesake neighborhood became Thornton Park.

 

The Classic Thornton Park

the classic thorton park

At The Classic Thornton Park, you’ll find food to warm your bellies and friends to warm your hearts. Owners Brian and Daniel have a passion for service, smiles and satisfaction and it’s their mission to fulfill their concept of a true service first, “Front of House” approach to excellence in dining.

Team Tip: Brian and Daniel say, “People should know we stay open until 2am daily and are open every day including holidays.”

Location: 805 E Washington St, Orlando, FL 32801

407-730-5646

theclassicthorntonpark.com

 

JINYA Ramen Bar

JINYA ramen bowl

For the best ramen spots in Central Florida, look no further than JINYA. Known for its slow-cooked approach to ramen, JINYA presents a contemporary Japanese dining ideal for lively social gatherings.

Team Tip: Arrive early for a good seat. 

Location: 8 N Summerlin Ave, Orlando, FL 32801

407-704-1825

jinyaramenbar.com

 

RusTeak Thornton Park

rusteak

This rustic restaurant with a chef driven menu, showcases fresh seafood, steaks, sandwiches and burgers. Dine on their patio with lovely views of downtown Orlando, or the interior of RusTeak is cozy, woodsy and casual.

Team Tip: The coquito bread pudding, topped with vanilla ice cream, drizzled with caramel sauce and served with a dash of cinnamon is more than enough for two.

Location: 101 S Eola Dr Suite 103, Orlando, FL 32801

407-601-5219

rusteakthorntonpark.com

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Written by T. Michele Walker

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