Top Picks – About Orlando Insider Tips for Orlando Florida Thu, 07 Nov 2019 20:15:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Zona Fresca Fri, 09 Oct 2015 16:30:34 +0000 Currently closed, Zona Fresca in Winter Park is the Orlando area's first location for this popular Mexican-inspired fast-casual restaurant chain.

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Restaurant is currently closed
Welcome to Zona Fresca, the Orlando area’s first (and hopefully not the last) location for this popular South Florida based chain.
Fresh and affordable, Zona Fresca serves up a great selection of Mexican-inspired dishes. Most menu items offer a choice of sides, sauces or meat allowing you to ‘customize’ your meal. Whatever you choose, be sure to add a side of the ‘Made Fresh Daily’ guacamole and a visit to the salsa bar – where you can help yourself to some delicious mild, medium or hot accompaniments.
On my visit, I ordered the Street Tacos, a menu option that is currently only offered at this location. For $7.95 you can select 3 open faced tacos: chicken, roasted pork, Baja fish or Machaca (slow roasted beef). These are great as a meal or for sharing. If three tacos are too much, order them individually at $3 each.
Between the soup, salads, burritos, tacos and quesadillas, you’ll find plenty of lunch and dinner choices for under $10. Family-friendly Zona Fresca offers a Kids menu for those 12 and under with a choice of taco, burrito or quesadilla (each including rice, beans, chips and drink) for $5.25.
The fast-casual chain places an emphasis on fresh, all-natural ingredients with no preservatives and no msg. Place your order at the counter and your meal will be delivered to you table-side. A nice selection of both domestic and imported beer are available by the bottle.
Dining Options:
The light, bright 3,000-square-foot restaurant has seating for 100 inside and 28 on the outside patio. Call ahead (407-622-4840) and place your order for either take-out or eat-in. If you are looking to feed a large group, Zona Fresca offers a great (and affordable) catering menu that can accommodate up to 500 (yes, that’s what the brochure says!). Prices range from $8.50 per person for Burrito Box lunches to $12/pp for lunch and dinner spreads which beverages, cookies, ice, cups and napkins – perfect for everything from a business meeting to a backyard pool party.
Located in the Ravaudage complex on the corner of Lee Road and Highway 17-92. Enter the parking lot from either Lee Road or Hwy 17-92.
Zona Fresca
1035 North Orlando Avenue, Suite 105
Winter Park, FL 32789
The Company:
The Winter Park Zona Fresca is the franchise’s 11th restaurant. The first restaurant opened in Ft. Lauderdale in 1999. With most locations in the South Florida area, the chain has recently expanded into both New Jersey and New York.
Reward Yourself:
Download the free Spot On app and earn rewards for dining at Zona Fresca.

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Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse Mon, 31 Aug 2015 18:55:05 +0000 On International Drive in Orlando you will find the upscale Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse. Fine dining at it's best, private dining areas for groups and events.

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“Do Right and Fear No Man.” You will find this motto of Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse modestly placed on the bottom of the menu cover. But this upscale restaurant located on International Drive won’t need to fear the competition either – because they are making a point to do everything right!

The Ambiance
Banishing the ‘boys night out’ atmosphere, the I-Drive Del Frisco’s forgoes the white tablecloths and dark paneled walls for a lighter, brighter experience. The restaurant’s modern interior design distinguishes Del Frisco’s from other area steakhouses while still maintaining an elegant, upscale atmosphere. By incorporating patterns and color that emulate Florida’s art deco history, Del Frisco’s adds a well-known and trusted name to International Drive while avoiding the cookie-cutter chain restaurant feel.Original, one-of-a-kind artwork provides pops of vibrant color throughout the restaurant. Fourteen original works of art on display in the restaurant were purchased locally from the prominent LG Art Gallery in Lake Mary.
The Wine
Del Frisco’s comprehensive, but accessible, wine list features one of the most extensive wine collections in Central Florida. Much of the wine inventory is impressively displayed throughout the restaurant in various glassed-walled wine “cellars.” In the grand foyer you’ll find the signature floor to ceiling wine wall which showcases more than 10,000 bottles.The 1,200 plus wine list can be a bit daunting, but there is always a sommelier available to assist guests in selecting the perfect bottle to accompany their meal. If you choose to bring your own wine, the corkage fee is $30, though with such an extensive list, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a wine to meet your comfort level.
The Dining Experience
The restaurant is large, with places and spaces for just about any dining option to suit your mood. The two story building is 18,584-square-feet, with over 400 seats. Multiple private dining areas, two bars, outdoor seating and a spacious, upscale main dining room are all open and visible, while still maintaining their distinct space. Even the partially open kitchen provides guests a glimpse of the culinary experience without any of the usual cooking distractions.The large square bar located on the first floor is the perfect place to mix and mingle yet offers a comfortable space for individual guests. Venture to the upstairs bar for a more relaxed, lounge vibe where beautiful cut crystal bottles create a centerpiece chandelier for the room. Whether visiting the restaurant for dinner or just drinks, the signature handcrafted cocktails, especially The VIP and the Pomegranate Martini are worth the visit.
The Menu
Del Frisco’s is deservedly known for having the finest quality and selection of meats and seafood. The starters and side dishes offer creative accompaniments to your meal. The Thick Cut Bacon Au Poivre with a Bourbon molasses glaze and Braised Short Rib Dumplings are special menu items that are offered at the Orlando Del Frisco’s. The shaved Brussels sprouts, sautéed with bacon and onions, is a delicious presentation of this trendy veggie.Dessert anyone? Though it is hard to save room after such a satisfying dinner, the desserts at Del Frisco’s are amazing. The award-winning Lemon Cake is considered a restaurant favorite, but the Buttercake with Butter Pecan ice cream and caramel sauce is my choice – and it’s big enough to share.

The Extras

  • Complimentary valet parking.
  • Exceptionally attentive service. Your water glass will never go empty.
  • Daily specials described in detail along with the price. Face it, we all want to know the price of specials not listed on the menu, but who really wants to ask?
  • Special dinner deal for Dining out on Mother’s Day.
  • Participates in Orlando’s Magical Dining during the month of September.
  • In addition to à la carte options, the menu also has a selection of entrees which come complete with a starch and vegetable.
  • Late night dining until 11:00 pm, Monday through Saturday and 10:00 pm on Sunday.
Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse
9150 International Drive
Orlando, FL 32819The Orlando, International Drive Del Frisco’s is the company’s twelfth Double Eagle Steak House, joining the exclusive list of other locations which include Chicago, Washington, Boston and Las Vegas.

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TR Fire Grill Thu, 05 Mar 2015 20:26:11 +0000 A new dining concept comes to the Central Florida area, TR Fire Grill has closed the restaurant on the corner of Lee Road and 17-92 in Winter Park.

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TR Fire Grill in Orlando and Winter Park, part of the Tony Roma company opens their first TR Fire Grill near the Orlando International Airport. Review at

Restaurant is currently closed

Another reason to visit the popular Ravaudage dining complex, the upscale-casual TR Fire Grill. The Orlando market is the first location for this new dining concept for Romacorp Inc., parent company of Tony Roma’s. The emphasis here is artisanal fare with a local farm-to-table approach.

The Restaurant

The upscale-casual dining room features interior space that is open and inviting. The U-shaped bar at the entrance is the focal point of the restaurant. There are a handful of high top tables to the right of the bar and tables and booths to the left. A half-dozen or so ceiling mounted TV screens located around the bar provide sports updates, but are not so overpowering that they take away from the restaurant’s main focus of quality food and drinks.

The Food

Menu items consist of quality, fresh seasonal produce utilizing fresh, local ingredients, most within a 200-mile radius. Steaks are fresh, never frozen, aged and then hand cut daily in the restaurant.

The restaurant is a “chef-inspired American bistro” with thoughtfully layered flavors and creative combinations of quality ingredients that transform traditional menu items into truly innovative dishes. A good example of this is the Harvest Salad, with a combination of roasted golden beets, grilled pineapple, roasted tomatoes, asparagus, avocado, Manchego cheese and topped with pineapple mango vinaigrette. Batter-dipped bBrussels sprouts top off this salad, deliciously replacing the predictable croutons.

At the Bar

Drinks are available throughout the restaurant, but I’d recommend having at least one specialty cocktails at the bar. Watching the process and getting a narrative of the unique blend of ingredients is part of the experience.

Be sure to try one of the house-crafted “infusions.’ (My favorite was the Grilled Daiquiri with wood grilled pineapple infused Barcardi rum!)

Bourbon and whiskey drinkers will be impressed with choices listed on the drink menu. There is a reasonably priced and representative selection of wines available. The 20 + selections of domestic Craft beers, represent 11 different States.

You’ll find discounts on beer, wine and cocktails (including hand crafted cocktails) from 3 pm until 7 pm Monday through Friday and noon till 2 pm on Saturday at the bar. During Happy Hour, there is a special bar appetizer menu offered with $4 – $7 options.

Places and Spaces

The majority of the restaurant is a large flexible, open space with both regular and communial tables. The open kitchen on one side featrues the culinary team busy at work while the opposite wall hosts the bar with multiple TV screens. In addition to a good selection of individual booths and tables, the restaurant also offers a private dining area dubbed ‘The Godfather Room’ which consists of a large round table (comfortably seating 8) that can be enclosed by curtains. There is no charge or minimum for using this table and is the perfect way to host a dinner with friends. Another distinct dining space is a small table with 4 – 5 seats that overlooks the kitchen providing a little personalized interaction with the chefs at work.

MoreThe restaurant is open daily for lunch and dinner. Saturday and Sunday will also feature a brunch menu from 11 am until 2 pm.

TR Fire Grill
1035 N Orlando Ave #101,
Winter Park, FL 32789
(407) 708-3600

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Best Wine Happy Hours in Orlando Tue, 16 Sep 2014 21:55:16 +0000 Tired of only being offered 'house wine' for happy hour? Find restaurants and bars that offer discounts by the glass and the bottle during wine happy hours.

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Where are the Wine Happy Hours in Orlando? Find where you can get discounted wine by the glass or by the bottle seven days a week.

Where to find the Best Wine Happy Hours in Orlando

Looking for a Happy Hour that is easy on the wallet with a wine that is pleasing to the palate? If you check out most bar and restaurant Happy Hour selections you’ll find that the majority just offer discounts for house wine. House wine?  That could be just about anything and for most wine drinkers, there is no point of going out for Happy Hour when all that is offered is cheap, bad wine. Here is a list I’ve come up with that offers some pretty good Happy Hour deals for those who take wine drinking seriously.

Did I miss any?  If you have a favorite you would like for me to know about, be sure to post a comment at the end of this post.

Please note that prices and hours are subject to change.  Please call or visit the website to verify.
Blue Martini
Pointe Orlando
9101 International Drive, Suite 1182
Orlando, FL 32819
Monday through Friday
you’ll find a great Happy Hour from 4 – 8 pm with half (or close to it) off ALL beverages including wine by the glass.  Bottles of wine are also substantially discounted.  The wine I selected was normally $40 by the bottle and was reduced to $28 during happy hour.   There is also a nice selection of appetizers available at discounted prices. This great Happy Hour deal continues into the weekend from 3 – 8 both Saturday and Sunday!
Vines Grille & Wine Bar
7533 W Sand Lake Road
Orlando, FL 32819
Phone: 407-351-1227
Daily Happy Hour, Monday through Sunday from 4 – 7 pm at the bar, lounge and patio.  Enjoy half off bar appetizers and half off wines by the glass. Also available are $5/6 Drink specials and $7/8 Specialty Cocktails and Martinis. Stick around for the live jazz performances that start at 7 pm.
The Tap Room at Dubsdread
549 W Par Street
Orlando, FL 32804
Phone: 407-650-0100
Daily, Monday through Sunday from 11 am until 7 pm, this popular Happy Hour discounts all wine by the glass by $2.00 in the bar and restaurant. There are no discounts on food items, but you’ll also find 1/2 off domestic beer, and 2 for 1 single liquor drinks (except for top shelf).
2625 Edgewater Drive
Orlando, FL 32804
Phone: 407-540-1100
Enjoy two wine happy hours with $5 wine by the glass, Monday through Saturday from 4 – 7 pm and 10 – 11 pm. All day/night Monday you can purchase any bottle of wine (under $50) from the wine list for half price in the bar and restaurant.
Smokey Bones Bar & Fire Grill
Multiple Orlando locations
Happy hour begins at 3 pm and continues until 6 pm, Monday through Friday at the Orlando locations of this popular chain. Half price appetizers, 2 for 1 drinks and 1/2 price bottles of wine at the bar.
1562 N Mills Ave.
Orlando, FL 32803
Phone: 407-581-9861
Start the week off right with Wine Down Monday at Firebirds. Enjoy 1/2 priced bottles of select wine and 1/2 price glasses of wine all day/night. The extensive wine list has over 60 selections. Enjoy specially prices bar bites in the Firebar and on the patio from 4 – 6:30 pm.
140 N. Orlando Ave.
Winter Park, FL 32789
Phone: 407-513-4912
Carmel’s selection of over 50 wines are 50% off during Wine & Unwind Wednesdays. This all day/night special is available throughout the restaurant and bar. Pair this up with some of the shareable plates that are offered for $4 each during the daily happy hour from 4 – 7 pm.
125 West Church Street
Orlando, FL 32801
Phone: 321-281-8140
In addition to the awesome weekday Happy Hour from 5 – 7 pm, Ceviche in Downtown Orlando features Wine Wednesdays where ALL glasses of wine and ALL bottles under $75 are 1/2 price in the bar and dining area ALL night long. As you would expect, the wines are predominately Spanish – but what a selection you will have! Select from over 40 bottles of wine for $20 or less.

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RA Sushi Thu, 11 Sep 2014 13:50:37 +0000 Not a trend, but an inventive concept, RA Sushi serves creative dishes and invigorating cocktails in a stylish setting. Must try if you are visiting Point Orlando.

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Not a trend, but an inventive concept, RA Sushi serves creative dishes and invigorating cocktails in a stylish setting.

Seductive splashes of red intertwine with dark woods and polished stone finishes. Popular, yet refined songs infuse a high-energy vibe into the mix. Trendy? Hip? For a moment you might forget that you just stepped off I-Drive’s busy tourist corridor and think that you have landed in one of the trendy restaurants found in a high end Vegas hotel.

Some may be intimidated by this first impression, but I found the restaurant to be anything but pretentious.  Ra is a comfortable place to meet with friends and family.  The upscale atmosphere is just the backdrop for the fresh and innovative dishes served by the friendly and knowledgeable staff. An added bonus is that the menu is very reasonably priced, with most items costing less than $15.

The most popular item on the menu, one listed in the ‘must have’ section, is the Viva Las Vegas Roll. Beautifully presented, the roll consists of kani kama crab and cream cheese rolled in rice and seaweed, then fried tempura style. A topping of spicy tuna, kani kama crab mix and sliced lotus root along with a sweet eel sauce and spinach tempura bits, finishes off this dish. Yum!  This delectable roll is even better when ordered from the Happy Hour Menu for $8.99.

This is just one of the 150 food items that is on the extensive menu. And RA doesn’t short-change you on the drink selections. The menu lists 120 libations – everything from beer and sake to specialty cocktails. There is even an nice wine list. The categories; Pop’n Bubbles, Sweet & Fruity, Tangy & Tart, Lush & Juicy might lead you to believe that wines aren’t taken seriously here, but the selections offered would satisfy even some of my wine aficionado friends.

In addition to the restaurant’s main dining area and sushi bar, RA also has a large full service bar open to both the indoor lounge and the covered outdoor patio area. On a convention or with a group? Be sure to ask about the semi-private dining room that can be reserved. Fully Audio/Visual equipped, the room is available for meetings and group dinners and can accommodate around 35 – 40 people.

Looking to give RA a try? Get Hooked Up! When you sign up on-line (or in the restaurant) you’ll receive a $20 RA gift certificate every year during the month of your Half Birthday. The gift card can be used Monday through Thursday at any RA location on regular priced food selections. In addition to the generous gift card, you’ll be the first to hear about food and drink specials, parties, events and all other happenings at RA.

RA Sushi at Pointe Orlando is the 26th location for this chain concept that has been in business since 1997, and is now owned by parent company Benihana Inc. With the Orlando opening of RA Sushi in the summer of 2014, Point Orlando is quickly becoming the go-to location for the busy Orange County Convention Center and the popular tourist district of International Drive.
The Pointe Orlando location of RA Sushi is open daily from 11am until 11pm. In addition to the main menu, there is a special Lunch Menu that is available from 11:00am until 3:00pm daily, which offers a nice selection of Bento Boxes, Bowls and Sushi combinations. Happy Hour, served throughout the entire restaurant, is available from 4:00 to 7:00pm Monday through Friday with a large selection of ‘Eats’ ranging from $3.49 to $8.99 and an even larger selection of ‘Drinks’ from $3.75 to $8.00.
The closest parking option to the restaurant is the Valet Parking which is just north of Pointe Plaza Avenue on International Drive. Be sure to bring your parking pass to the restaurant for validation (though you may want to call ahead to verify that this option has not changed.)
RA Sushi
Pointe Orlando
9101 International Drive Suite 1008
Orlando, FL 32819
Phone: 407-454-5600

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Brazilian Steakhouses Orlando Mon, 04 Aug 2014 16:32:54 +0000 Looking for all you can eat steak? Visit a Brazilian Steakhouse in Orlando for all-you-can eat prime grilled meats. Top Churrascaria Restaurants in Orlando.

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Where to find Brazilian Steakhouses in Orlando, Churrascaria Restaurants.Photo © Fogo De Chao
The large influx of International visitors to Orlando has brought some exciting dining traditions to our area.  South American Churrascaria Restaurants have been popping up around town for quite some time, bringing authentic flame-grilled meats, served in an  all-you-can-eat style.  The term associated with this type of restaurant, Churrascaria, has a Portuguese origin and roughly translates to ‘barbecue’.
So how is a Churrascaria restaurant different than a regular steakhouse? These restaurants are part buffet, part table service.  A large salad/food bar is prominently featured in the dining area, providing easy access for you to serve yourself salads, rice, beans, cheese and bread.  When you are ready for the main course of grilled meats, just use the disk or token at your table to signal to the waiters to stop by with their current selection.  There is usually a green side for ‘go’ and a  red side for ‘stop’ – pretty simple.
It’s a wonderful, bustling atmosphere with gaucho clad waiters serving skewers of grilled meat table-side. For true meat-lovers, this is the equivalent of a kid in an all-you-can eat candy store.  A large selection of grilled meats, including prime beef, chicken, lamb and pork are available at most Churrascaria restaurants. Eat as much as you like, of the selections that you choose.
Top Brazilian Steakhouses Orlando:

Fogo De Chao, Orlando Steakhouse, Churrascaria Restaurants Orlando. All you can eat grilled steak, chicken, pork, lamb and food bar. Top Orlando Brazilian Steakhouses

8282 International Drive, Orlando 32819
Though the meat here is prime, the expansive salad and sides bar can also be a full meal by itself with sliced salami, fresh cheese, and a grand selection of gourmet salad options. Every time that I have dined at Fogo de Chao, the service has been first rate. A very attentive staff that works well as a team to make sure your experience is top-notch. Open daily for lunch and dinner.  Children ages 7 – 12 are half price.

Texas De Brazil, Orlando Steakhouse, Churrascaria Restaurants Orlando. All you can eat grilled steak, chicken, pork, lamb and food bar. Top Orlando Brazilian Steakhouses

5259 International Drive, Orlando 32819
Close to the Prime Outlets, this popular Churrascara restaurant is one of the largest of it’s kind in the area.  A continuous selection of grilled meats are served table-side.  The restaurant is open nightly for dinner and for lunch Friday through Sunday.  Children ages 6 – 12 are half price. Bar happy hour prices are from 4:30pm – 7pm Monday through Friday.

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Dexter’s Wed, 18 Jun 2014 23:12:45 +0000 The Orlando area now has four Dexter's Restaurants. A popular spot for a top Sunday Brunch and known for live music on the weekends, Dexter's is a comfortable spot for regulars.

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Dexter's Wine Bar, Windermere, Lake Mary, Winter Park, Thornton Park.

With the opening of the Windermere location, it looks as if Dexter’s will once again hit the mark as a favorite Orlando dining and entertainment venue.

Now with four Orlando area locations, it’s likely that there is a Dexter’s not too far from you. Each location seems to have a style of it’s own, where the atmosphere is dictated by the clientele – where the regulars that make it “their bar.” You’ve got the downtown young professionals in Thornton Park, the established Winter Park residents and the suburban life of Lake Mary. Soon, I suspect, Windermere will pull in it’s regulars from the multitude of communities that reside within a stones-throw of it’s prestigious location.

Since the original Dexter’s opened in Winter Park in 1984, the brand has undergone few changes. They have pretty much found their niche and have stuck with it offering a consistent dining, bar and entertainment experience instead of just the latest trend. After two visits you’ll feel like a regular and recommend it to your friends. Open daily for lunch serving sandwiches, salads and other traditional lunch favorites at pretty good prices ($7.00 up). After 5:00 pm, the menu expands to include a wide array of diverse entrees – enough choices to satisfy just about anyone.

Continually recognized by locals for having a Great Sunday Brunch, Dexter’s creative menu includes Smoked Salmon and Goat Cheese Flat bread and The Maryland Benedict along with some more traditional brunch items. Both Winter Park and Thornton Park also serve brunch on Saturday.

Hailed by some as a Wine Bar, Dexters does have a decent selection of affordable wines by the glass and bottle, though not what I would consider an extensive list. The bartenders may have some wine savvy about them, but my experience has been that the waitstaff does not. But actually, that’s ok since I would venture to say that wine is not the drink of choice by most patrons at any of the four locations. It is the crafty cocktails that the experienced bartenders mix up and wide selection of beers that line the bar in the evenings.

Speaking of adult beverages, Dexter’s is also on the list for Orlando’s Best Happy Hour with specials and discounted drink prices across the board. Happy hour varies a little at each of the four locations, but as far as I can tell (and at the time of this post) all Dexter’s locations offer a $10 discount on bottles of wine, making this a great early dinner choice. On Monday evenings, happy hour runs from 3:00 pm till closing and Thursday is generally Ladies night with discounted drinks and $1.00 ‘Champagne’ (though they really should be using the term sparkling wine here.)

Except for the Thornton Park Dexter’s, the other three locations feature live music on the weekends, usually playing classic rock favorites. When I refer to live entertainment, I’m not talking about just a guy playing a guitar (except perhaps on Wednesday evenings at WP.) Friday and Saturday entertainment usually consists of a full 5+ piece band.Be sure to check out SIMULCAST with dance classics or My Generation, covering everything from The Rolling Stones to Billy Joel.

Dexter’s of Winter Park
558 W New England Ave.
Winter Park, FL 32789

Acoustic Wednesdays with live bands Thursday through Saturday evenings.

Dexter’s of Lake Mary
950 Market Promenade Ave.
Lake Mary, FL. 32746

Music by a DJ on Thursday with live music on Friday & Saturday evenings.

Dexter’s of Thornton Park
808 E Washington St.
Orlando, FL 32801

No live music at this location.

Dexter’s of Windermere
4757 The Grove
Windermere, Fl 34786

Music by a DJ on Thursday with live music on Friday & Saturday evenings.

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