Central Florida Hunions-What's Good These Days?

Hi all, I am a recent transplant to Orlando from Akron, OH. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the variety of options down here.( I confess I thought I was moving to Olive Garden Hell.) So far these have been some of the places I’ve enjoyed the most, what else do y’all recommend?

Se7en Bites: Brunch was delicious, but the real star was the Oatmeal Cream Pie and the Snickerdoodle Bar. Little Debbie’s have been ruined for me forever, but it was worth it.

Black Bean Deli: I don’t have anything to compare it to as there isn’t a dearth of Cuban food in Ohio, but I’ve been happy with everything I’ve had here. Where have fried plantains been my whole life? My SO is particularly fond of the Havana Pork, so we usually go on Friday or Saturday.

Swine and Sons: Quickly becoming one of my favorite lunch places. I consider one of the biggest benefits to moving down here to be easy access to modern southern cuisine, and the hot dog with pimento cheese and pork rinds is a match made in heaven. Also, last week I got some amazing tasso ham from the charcuterie counter, and it made for the best ham biscuits.

Little Saigon-This is the only Vietnamese restaurant I’ve been to because I feel kind of overwhelmed by the choices. I I would really be interested in opinions as to what the best options are.


Orlando can be chain central but there are good ethnic restaurants. Also great New American fare and Modern.

I know! I’ve been telling everyone back home what a great food city Orlando is. I loved living in the Midwest, but we are not known for our fantastic ethnic cuisine. (Unless it’s Eastern European, I do miss the great Eastern European food.)

I’m a former Floridian who bumbles back annually. Last trip to Orlando (December 2014) I remember hitting Luma on Park and one location of Four Rivers Smokehouse, both of which I liked a lot.

Closer to where I go back for the holidays (around Tampa), Capital Tacos in Land O’Lakes is definitely worth a visit. Maybe not a trip from Orlando, but if you’re in the area…

I just looked up Capital Tacos, and I might have to create a reason to go to Land O’Lakes just to try it. Luma is on my list, but we haven’t made it there yet so I’m glad to know it’s something to look forward to.

Good news on Capitol Tacos, the Wesley Chapel is now open for normal operations, after a slow (didn’t open 'til 2pm) roll-out. It’s about 3 times the size of the LoL store, same great food, served the same way and best of all, it’s only about a mile off I-75, an easy stop for anyone passing through Pasco County.

Get off the fwy at Highway 52 and drive east about a mile. It’s on the north side of the street, in the same shopping center as Buffalo Wild Wings. Turn left (North) at Cypress Ridge Blvd, then a right into the shopping center…

If you pass by BWW and see the sign for Sam’s Club, hang a u-turn, you’ve gone too far.

For those of you familiar with the area, it’s in the old Cafe Fresco location.

My favorite taco remains the Carnitas.


There’s a new Italian place in Lutz (nominally, it’s closer to Wesley Chapel) on Hwy 54 called Little Italy’s Family Restaurant. Located in a small strip mall, it’s owned by Carl and Jessica, a couple from RI who moved here a couple of years ago to settle in before retiring. Food is pretty good, in the New England Italian-American tradition. Food is always fresh, pastas and pizza dough made in house (with the exception of ravioli) The Caprese saiad is wonderful, with Jessica’s house-made balsamic reduction and genuinely fresh local tomatoes, mozz and basil. Antipasto is also worth nibbling if you’re looking for something light. All salad dressings are made by Jessica, as are the Cannoli, which are a treat with her cinnamon cream filling. Her Italian salad dressing is a light vinaigrette packed with flavor from sweet red peppers and definitely worth trying.

Fair warning, though, this isn’t modern cuisine and the portions are WAY too big for most appetites. I’m a light eater and can normally eat about ¼ of a pasta dish. The dude can eat about ⅔ of an order. The antipasto salad is big enough to feed 2 as a meal, 4 as a first course. A calzone measures a whopping 16 inches long! Meatballs are good, but as you’d guess, big, and come with a monster plate of pasta.

Tomato sauce is good, a little bland for my palate, but fans of Marcella Hazan’s sauce will feel right at home with it. I ask Carl to add a good amount of red pepper to mine and it’s fine. Carl does a weird thing with the Bolognese sauce, adding so much cream that it comes out pink like Vodka Cream sauce. Too bad, b/c I think all that cream mutes the rich flavors of the base sauce. Judging by what’s on other diner’s tables, Grinders and Pizza are among the most popular items.

Best thing is that for regulars, Carl will make special orders on request. A few weeks back on my birthday he made spaghetti carbonara for me, which was delicious, light and saucy without an speck of cream and no peas. It’s nice to have a new local option in an area not known for much beyond Olive Garden. Of course, now that it’s Snowbird season, wait times for a seat in the small dining room can run up to an hour. on weekends. For fans of Italian-American classics, it’s definitely worth a visit.


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Yeah, we are definitely kneedeep in snowbird season. Went to Brandon mall today, and while it wasn’t as stupid as I’d feared, I broke out in hives…

Yep, I fear for the future of the I-75/52 interchange now that it’s that time of year and the new outlet mall is open. Traffic is getting bad.

This time of year I find myself constantly humming the Brent Burns song “If it’s snowbird season why can’t we shoot 'em?”

Don’t get me wrong, I love the money they bring, but I’d like it a lot more if they did what normal tourists do, show up, drop a small fortune, then leave. Is that too much to ask? It’s what most of the 'Zoners do when they come to SoCal in the summer. It’s an economic model I can get behind, you know?

Totally…although this will make you laugh…my ex and I looked at a house off 52 about 91-92. We decided against it because the only amenities were a gas station and a McDonalds unless you drove all the way back to Fowler. Even Fletcher was the middle of nowhere.

Hey sunshine, I’ve been meaning to ask… have you been back to Ford’s Garage? How is it?


Nope, haven’t been back – we tend to avoid Brandon like the plague, so usually if someone has to go, they’re taking one for the team! :stuck_out_tongue: Hubby and son said the burgers were some of the best they’ve ever had, though.

For those reading – Brandon is an uncorporated area of 80,000 that has become surburban hell…but it’s where Costco and the specialty stores are located, so it’s a necessary evil once in a while.

Over by Palatka/St Augustine is Woodpecker BBQ, best Q ever.

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Hi Smartie,

My Niece graduated from nursing school last week and my SIL came down for her pinning ceremony. I knew she was headed petty close to Woodpeckers and per your recommendation mentioned it to her.

They didnt eat in, just got sandwiches and some sides on the go and were so happy with them they planned to stop on the way back home.

Haven’t talked to her since she left, so not sure what she got on the return trip. But, and this is the best part, she brought me and the hubby a couple of sliced pork sandwiches. It was a few hrs before I ate mine and that included the travel time. It was wonderful and still moist and a bit fatty (I like)

It won’t be long before we head that way. Thanks for the heads up :smiley:

Eta…the sandwiches were on thick garlic toast. Not sure if it was ordered that way, but it was really good that way.

glad you liked it, me and 6 friends found it by chance in November on a motorcycle trip. It was so good, and Miss Lisa the owner treated us like royalty. 3 days later we went back with 20 bikers, all from Palm Beach County.

The brisket was amazing, OMG if I lived nearby I would be the size of a house. They make all their sides themselves.

Heads up they don’t serve coffee so bring your own.

Just heard yesterday about a new place coming to Brandon – to the Winthrop shopping center, for the locals.

Boca is set to open Dec 28th, and is billing themselves as a farm-to-table restaurant…will have to keep an ear out for the buzz after it opens. (I’ve no desire to be one of the first – they’ll have wrinkles to iron out, and the initial kerfuffle needs to die down…)

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold

Market stall in Lima
Credit: TXMX 2