A real neighborhoody kind of gathering place with beer and wine and (mostly) sandwiches. Almost all seating is outdoors.
Orlando - Downtown
903 S. Mills Ave.
333 S. Garland Ave.
AC Sky Bar is not a restaurant. That should be clear from the name, otherwise it might be AC Sky Cafe or AC Sky Bistro, which would make it sound more like an in-flight food option. A few tapas selections and a burger or two.
950 Market Promenade Ave.
Amura continues to improve on a good thing with its latest location. Although it wants to be considered a chophouse, this is a sushi spot. If beef is what you want, the Kobe steak may be worth a really big splurge.
But for roughly the same price as the Kobe steak, my guests and I feasted on the Heathrow boat ($87.99), a small yacht decked out with sushi, sashimi and assorted hand rolls. Onboard were an Africa roll with yellowtail and tuna; crab Rangoon with real crab, smoked salmon and cream cheese; electric shock roll with tempura eel, avocado and cream cheese; rainbow roll with salmon and tuna; and nigirizushi nibbles of shrimp, salmon, snapper and tuna. All of the raw fish had a cool taste and a soft, buttery texture and every bit of it was delicious.
From among the kitchen foods, the Chilean sea bass with black bean sauce was a favorite. The fish was a large fillet with white flesh that broke off in big chunks. The sauce of tiny black beans provided subtle spiced notes.
1124 E. Colonial Drive
Anh Hong, which I had removed from my list of recommended Vietnamese restaurants, is back on its game and back on the list. Have the fall rolls (unfried, with pork) for an appetizer and choose one of the pho soups or the rice noodle feasts.
55 W. Church St.
The restaurant recently moved to a better, more visible location. But it left some of its creativity and artisanalism behind. The food is good but safe.
1216 E. Colonial Drive
Banh mi basically means bread, and just like the Louisiana po’boy or just about any other sub sandwich you can name, the bread is the key element. It is essentially a mini baguette — the banh mi’s roots stem from the French colonization. I could describe to you what a perfect baguette for a banh mi would look and taste like, but instead, just go to Banh Mi Nha Trang and see for yourself.
BMNT is a well-hidden little shop among the many other Vietnamese owned and focused businesses in in the Mills 50 district. The tiny storefront is tucked inside an alcove of about a dozen shops. The signage is not great — I walked past it twice while trying to find it. And once you’re inside, it doesn’t look much like a restaurant. It’s almost like a slapdash operation or a pop-up sandwich shop.
Banh mi is all that the shop does, and when they’re this good there’s little reason for it to do anything else. What’s more, the sandwiches are all just $3.50. I challenge you to find a better sandwich of any type that is a better value in town.
24 E. Washington St.
A humorless young woman took my order: single patty, swiss cheese, classic fries. To my request to have the burger prepared medium-rare, she responded, “They come out medium anyway,” as if that were the same thing. It’s not, of course.
The same unsmiling woman was assigned to deliver my order, and she did so by walking through the dining area auctioning it off to the first person who would answer to my name, this even though all previous orders had already been delivered, only two other orders were placed after mine, and I was the only single diner among them, sitting alone in a restaurant that was largely empty.
The burger was largely forgettable, though I liked the toastiness of the bun. The meat, however, was dry, as overcooked meat tends to be. The fries were above average.
1835 E. Colonial Drive
The decor is modern and youthful, and there is plenty of seating, indoors and out, at real tables. Food is pretty much the same. The Cuban sandwich may be the best one in the state of Florida.
1323 N. Mills Ave.
Upscale tacos served in an unassuming atmosphere by a welcoming staff.
325 S. Orange Ave.
The Boheme has grown into a more consistent fine dining experience but now is trying to position itself as more accessible. Try the Kessler calamari, a silly name for a delicious appetizer, and follow with the lamb duet or the Chilean sea bass. The kitchen also has a way with scallops.
A special treat about dinner here is that most nights there is entertainment in the rotunda just outside the dining room, and the music easily wafts in. If you arrive early, have a seat in the lounge, listen to the music, and enjoy the stories of the affable bartenders.
It should also be noted that the Boheme (and by the way it’s pronounced boh-HEEM and not like the name of the Puccini opera) also serves a very nice Sunday jazz brunch.