Best Places To Eat in Orlando – The Hidden Gems – The Hole in the Wall

22 Mar

The (self proclaimed, no shame in that) foodies that we are, our plans to eat out every weekend take us to places that only locals would know. This is a story of all the hidden gems of Orlando we have found so far. These are Orlando’s hole in the wall restaurants that are discovered only by referral or curiosity when you drive by them everyday and decide to stop in. No discrimination on size, brand, ambiance, service, presentation or any other qualifier that most sites use. This is but simply a list of places where we liked what mattered the most – FOOD. On that note, these restaurants are listed in chronological order, not ranked by any means. If its on this list, then its a place you gotta eat at at least once.What you wont find here are pictures of our food or the place. Simply the restaurant, two lines and links to explore them further. You can do the pictures on your own.

Now, now…hold on! Before you go ahead and read the list, here is how you can help us make this list better. Please add in your favorite gem you have eaten at that is worth writing about and let the world know.

Here Goes:

1. La Coq Au Vin: French Cuisine: Tucked away on S. Orange Ave in a building that you would mistake for a family home is a great family owned restaurant. The steak is simply “melt in your mouth” fabulous and even the veggies are cooked to perfection. Read more about it on this post. Dress smart casual and make reservations. Definitely a place you want to take your significant other for a special date. Map it.

2. Brazas Chicken Inc: Peruvian: Right across La Coq Au Vin is this little gem of a place that we think is run by two brothers. You would drive by this place on any other day and not even know that you can eat the world’s best ceviche here. Served on plate and not in a martini glass with portions to feed two. The perfect tangy, lemony fish made just the way it is back in Peru or so we are told. You have to be ready to wait when you get here and peak dinner time can be packed in this 20 seater restaurant. Their Lomo Saltado is our go to dish every single time. Map it.

3. Mister Fish: American: Fish Sandwiches only: Simplicity in crispy breaded cod filets between two hoagie rolls with just a little bit of mayo and their special sauce makes this a heavenly delight. Run from a window since 1960’s, they have served Orlando’s best fish sandwich. Consistency in taste is absolutely great, testament that even their board has changed since then. A to-go place like a stationery food truck so don’t expecting seating. Map it.

4. Sea Thai: Thai: My My Oh My!. You take Thai food for granted as you eat it everywhere, every so often. Your palette is trained to be comatose with every morsel of Pad Thai or red curry as it knows how dead it can be. Well, time to wake ’em taste buds up. The menu is a lot similar to most Thai places, its how they taste that makes all the difference. Pretty much anything you order here will taste awesome. Looks can be deceiving as from the outside it is very unassuming. Once inside, its fairly well done and once the food starts rolling out, you are hooked. Map it

5. King Cajun Crawfish: Cajun: A true hole in the wall: Great crawfish by the bucket. Po Boy’s are awesome too. Finish off with beignets without fail. Cheap and easy dinner fix for one of those ” I wish I was in New Orleans now nights” Map It.

6. Khasiyat: Indian Cuisine: If you live in Orlando or are just passing through, you probably know how that chicken tikka will taste even before you eat. The bland touristy food where spicy means a sauteed jalapeno thrown over. Well, time to reinvent that. Apparently this place has been serving home cooked vegetarian food for the last 10 years and unfortunately could not catch up on the web mania/SEO early enough, leading to them showing up much later in search results. Nevertheless, we stumbled upon here in passing one day and take our word when we say its the closest you can get to home cooked Indian food. We know that as we were raised in India and know when we eat food that only your mom could make the best. Simple decor, and they have buffets too. Map it.

7. Nou: Mexican: Small little place run by a very young former nurse. Great tasting food that displays passion and one young woman’s bold dream to quit everything and cook. Had to do their arepas and steak. The salmon was great too. Map it

8. Anh Hong: Vietnamese: You have probably heard about it, read about it, passed by it. Now’s the time to go eat. Great food. Very authentic. These guys run packed and the kitchen is a factory so don’t expect great service, while they do try their best and are nice about it. Be smart and know what you want before you go in. Clue: Use the internet. Map It.

9. Tu Casa: Carribean, Mexican, Peruvian Too: Buffet style based on a large or small plate choices. Amazing goat curry and Flan. Trick is to get a to-go box even if you want to eat in there as they tend to put everything on everything on a plate. Map it.

10: Chef’s Table At Edgewater: Great restaurant that has won reviews and awards all over. Definitely do the chef’s table as its more cosy and romantic. The lamb was great. Great service too making you feel like you have earned it. Map it

11. Bubbalou’s Bodacious BBQ: Great BBQ from a Syracuse Alum. We are great at whatever we do. Simple backyard bbq taste. This guy knows his bbq’s. Baby rack is a must. Map it

12. Colombian Junior Burger: Colombian Burgers: You know your food is good when business is booming so well that within a year of selling from a food truck for a couple of hours a day, you make enough food to move into a full service restaurant. What’s humbling is they still offer the thing that started it all. Their world famous Colombian burgers. Get it fully loaded with the exception of the pink sauce cos it makes it a little sweet, but then that’s just us. Map it. New one on OBT. Map It.

13. Norman’s: High End Dining Fusion Menu: Located at the Ritz on John Young. This place actually undercharges for the price even though they are not cheap. Great food. Map it.

14. Columbia: Spanish: While not a hole in the wall but great food. Always a favorite with their paellas and croquettas. Map it.

15. Kennebec: Pop Up: Orlando’s first pop up restaurant was a great experience. Reminded us why we thanks god for sending men like Tony Adams to earth to cook for us. The rabbit Con fit was fabulous. Pissed we couldn’t eat the 20 hour rack of lamb but then we did go late. Their main catering business is called Big Wheel Provisions and they usually sell food through their Big Wheel Truck.

16. Tibbys New Orleans Kitchen: Cajun: In our pursuit to find good New Orleans food (tells you how much we miss NOLA), we tried this place out. Good Po boys and Etoufees. Map it.

More to come as we continue our pursuit of gastronomical joie de vivre to appease the mind, body and soul. Cooking is an art – the chef an artist. Please do not disrespect him and his creation by snapping pictures of the plates on the table. No, that awesome burger you shared on FB doesn’t really look that good. Enjoy it yourself. Write about it instead.

As a wise man (blogger) once said: – When it comes to food; A thousand words are worth more than the picture.

3 Responses to “Best Places To Eat in Orlando – The Hidden Gems – The Hole in the Wall”

  1. Unomisan January 24, 2014 at 6:30 pm #

    3. Mister Fish – Lakeland is not Orlando. It’s halfway to Tampa. If you are staying in Kissimmee or the Disney area, its not too bad, but it is a long way to go from most of Orlando for a drive-thru. I will likely try this on the way home from my next beach run.

    4. This may seem minor to the reader or the reviewer, but the name of a restaurant is important to the owner: SEA Thai, not Sea Thai. It stands for South East Asian Thai. Their menu is mainly, but entirely, seafood and Thai. Service is always great, but food quality is inconsistent and declining (last time I ate there was December 2013).

    14. Columbia’s first, and historic, location is in famous Ybor City in Tampa. One of the best items on the lunch menu is the Cuban sandwich. However, if you ask, they will also serve it for dinner, don’t skip their famous salad.

    My additions:
    17. Tako Cheena in the Mills50 area (between Colonial Dr. and Princeton on the West side of Mills Ave.) is a fusion taco joint. The chef tends to try too hard to make unusual flavor combos (though these can be really fun for a foodie, too). I highly recommend the cod taco and the banh mi hot dog. Check out the daily specials board at the counter for a few more adventurous choices. Some have complained about the service, but I think management listened because I have only had great service on every visit. Low on the accessibility scale: big step up at the narrow door with no ramp and closest blue parking spot is almost a block away between a Chinese restaurant and a GLBT community center.

    18. Hotto Potto on the SW corner of Aloma and 436. Asian hot pot with lots of ingredients to choose from and fairly reasonable prices. Some ingredients are seasonal and wait staff will let you know if an ingredient is off so you can move on to something better. They also offer several broths to choose from including a tum yum my wife loves.

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