Mid Drive Dive

Written By Scott Joseph On May 16, 2024

Mid Drive Dive interior

I wonder about the etymology of the word dive, at least in its use to define a place. I assume it refers to an establishment, usually a bar, that was once reputable but has gone downhill, taken a dive, in quality. Personally, I’ve always relied on the clientele to be the real defining factor. Sleaziness isn’t required but it helps.

So can you declare yourself a dive? Is it something to aspire to? The owners of Mid Drive Dive apparently think so. It’s a new restaurant on Edgewater Drive in College Park that is a joint project of Jacob Zepf of Freehand Goods and Matt Hinckley of Hinckley’s Fancy Meats at East End Market.

It takes over the space that had been a Graffiti Junktion – the burger chain with its own aspirations of diviness – on the corner of Vassar Street (named for a tony college with few if any dive bars nearby). The space is open and bright – dives are notoriously dark – and any graffito from the previous tenant has been excised. A central bar is the focus of the room with seating there as well as at tables, high and low, about the room and out front. The floor features what was likely the building’s original terrazzo, some of it patched and in the sort of disrepair that would be the envy of any dive.

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Newsy Nuggets: Red Lobster woes, new Italian in Audubon, Wine Quest and a wine-drinking runner

Written By Scott Joseph On May 14, 2024

Red Lobster Exterior

Orlando based Red Lobster, once one of the largest purchasers of seafood in the world and a massive restaurant chain, is closing restaurants as it faces ongoing financial troubles. Make that “temporarily closing,” a term that is often used euphemistically by restaurants in trouble that refuse to face the inevitable. But sure, maybe the dozens of restaurants that closed recently may reopen, but probably not the ones that, according to some news sources, are auctioning off their kitchen equipment.

Included in the nearly 80 restaurants shuttered are locations in Altamonte Springs, Kissimmee, Sanford and on East and West Colonial Drive in Orlando. The closures – so far – are spread across 27 states.

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Caravan Uzbek & Turkish Cuisine

Written By Scott Joseph On May 9, 2024


Having just returned from a trip to Turkey where I enjoyed several good meals, I was anxious to visit Caravan, a restaurant on South Orange Avenue near Sand Lake Road. 

Caravan features both Turkish and Uzbek cuisines. Why, you might wonder. The two countries aren’t all that close geographically to each other. Uzbekistan was never part of the Ottoman Empire, which centered around Turkey. Both were part of the fabled Silk Road, but then so were many other countries. So why a menu with the two cuisines?

“We have a Turkish chef and an Uzbek chef,” I was told. That’s good enough for me.

And the food is more than good enough that no further questions need be asked.

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Newsy Nuggets: Lazy Moon, downtown German, food halls and a new bowling bistro

Written By Scott Joseph On May 7, 2024

Screenshot 2024 05 07 at 3.16.30 PM

The windows of a former Einstein Bros. Bagels shop at 441 S. Orlando Ave., Maitland, have been festooned for over a year with teasers that Lazy Moon Pizza would be moving in soon. Now it really is soon – the third location of the ginormous pie-maker is set to softly open next week. Tim Brown founded the pizzeria nearly 20 years ago near UCF and opened a second location in downtown’s Mills 50 District in 2016. If you want to get technical about it, the existing UCF location is actually the second – the original Lazy Moon was located in the strip mall that used to be on the corner of University Boulevard and Alafaya Trail that was demolished to make way for the apartments and retail shops that stand there now.

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Solita and the Bao Spot

Written By Scott Joseph On May 2, 2024

Last week we looked at the Boheme restaurant in the Grand Bohemian hotel as an option for a pre-show dinner when attending the Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center, albeit one where the dinner might cost more than the show.

This week let’s take a look at a couple of more casual – and less costly – options: Solita Tacos & Margaritas and the Bao Spot. Both are a short walk from the center, on Church Street (Solita is officially has an Orange Avenue address) and both feature foods served in foldable breadlike devices.

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