Johnny’s Fillin’ Station

Sign

Bacon cheeseburger

Fries

Interior

***** (5 stars)

For at least 20 years Johnny’s has been acclaimed for having the best burger in Orlando (they even have the 1998 plaque on the wall to prove it), and it still is. The secret is a thick, meaty patty perfectly cooked to order served on a bun with some substance. And the bun is grilled on the insides to make sure it doesn’t get soggy as you make your way through the burger. The bacon cheeseburger is the way to go. And it comes with all the fixin’s you’d expect of a fillin’ station.

The fries that come with the burger could be better, as they are steak fries rather than something skinnier, but if you order them crispy they will do.

The atmosphere is also unchanged in at least twenty years: quintessential dive bar. It’s a real dive bar that has earned its designation, not some artificially decorated pretender. The junk on the walls is all there for historical reasons.

Service is not what you’d call attentive, but it is pleasant.

Johnny’s Fillin’ Station
2631 S Fern Creek Ave
Orlando, FL 32806
(407) 894-6900
http://www.yelp.com/biz/johnnys-fillin-station-orlando-2

Akina

Sashimi Bento

Alakan Roll, Poki Roll, Ikura

Roti with red curry

Exterior

Interior

**** (4 stars)

This is a very upscale restaurant for a strip mall type location. Great decor, and an extensive pan-Asian menu including Sushi, Japanese, Chinese, Korean and even Indian cuisines.

We started with an order of Roti with curry sauce, because what other sushi restaurant has that?! It was excellent, with perfectly fresh roti. The sauce was so good I saved it to put on my rice.

I had the lunch sashimi bento box, which included seven nice pieces of fish, seaweed salad and lettuce salad, rice, and a very large bowl of miso soup. The miso was a bit sweeter than normal, but everything else was great.

We also had two rolls and some ikura sashimi. All were good.

Pricing might be a bit high for the area, but I thought it was worth it. Service was exceptional. I’ve never had a soft drink refilled so many times!

Akina
4300 S Hwy 27
Clermont, FL 34711
(352) 243-8988
http://www.yelp.com/biz/akina-clermont

Huey Magoo’s Chicken Tenders

Exterior

Interior

Counter and menu

Magoo’s favorite salad

Buffalo chicken salad

**** (4 stars)

When I read about a new chicken tenders place I imagined something like Chick fil a, which I despise, but Huey Magoo’s is much, much better. For one thing, if you get the chicken grilled rather than battered, it’s actually healthful.

We tried two different salads. Magoo’s Favorite, mixed greens with grilled chicken, cranberries, walnuts, grape tomatoes, & raspberry walnut vinaigrette dressing. The chicken was a bit bland, but the dressing was excellent.

Even better was the Buffalo Chicken Salad ordered with grilled chicken. It included bleu cheese crumbles, and grape tomatoes. Unlike the menu description it was made with mixed greens, not romaine.  And rather then jalapeño ranch & spicy Magoo’s dressing it came with a wonderful blue cheese dressing. Thanks to the Buffalo sauces, this chicken really had a lot of flavor. This was really a top-notch salad, far beyond expectations for a quick serve restaurant.

They have a Coke freestyle machine.

While there isn’t table service, the staff was attentive.

Huey Magoo’s Chicken Tenders
7538 W Sand Lake Rd
Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 203-2051
http://www.yelp.com/biz/huey-magoos-chicken-tenders-orlando

Bella Italia Ristorante

Exterior

Bar

Interior

Clams Casino

Fettuccine Alfredo

Eggplant Rollatini

***** (5 stars)

Bella Italia is definitely a level above what you’d expect in a strip mall location. The decor, food and service are all top notch.

We started with the Clams Casino, a generous portion with a delicious lemon and garlic broth.

Fettucine Alfredo was equally generous, nigh on to huge. It needed a bit of salt to bring out the flavor, but had plenty of butter, cream and cheese.

Eggplant Rollatini was a nice improvement on Eggplant Parmigiana, with grilled rather than breaded eggplant, stuffed with four kinds of cheese, baked in marinara sauce, and topped with melted mozzarella.  It was delicious. The accompanying spaghetti was fine, but not needed.

All of these dishes were less than $9 at lunch, a great deal. Lunch also came with a basket of fresh bread and an excellent pesto/olive oil mixture for dipping.

Service was friendly and attentive.

Bella Italia Ristorante
13848 Tilden Rd
Ste 192
Winter Garden, FL 34787
(407) 347-3277
http://www.yelp.com/biz/bella-italia-ristorante-winter-garden

Shakers American Café

Exterior

Interior

Shakers

Shakers

Shakers

Shakers

Shakers

Shakers

Shakers

Shakers

Shakers

Shakers

Shakers

Western omelet

***** (5 stars)

Shakers recently won a people’s choice award for best breakfast in Orlando, and I can see why. My Western Omelet was overflowing with fresh vegetables and savory ham. Hash browns were extra crispy, just like I ordered them. And my server’s suggestion to grill my biscuit was pure genius.

I also loved the decor, with unique salt and pepper shakers on every table, and many more lining the walls.

Service was excellent, and all the servers I encountered were very friendly. Indeed, this was the best breakfast I’ve had in a long, long time.

Shakers American Café
1308 Edgewater Dr
Orlando, FL 32804
(407) 422-3534
https://www.yelp.com/biz/shakers-american-caf%C3%A9-orlando-2

Taste of Peru

Pescado a la Chorrillana

Ceviche Mixto

Causa de Camarones

Exterior

Interior

***** (5 stars)

This is the best Peruvian restaurant I’ve found in Orlando. In fact, the quality of the ceviche approached our benchmark, which we had in Lima Peru.

The place is small and decorated in dark woods and black fake alligator table tops, but it’s not at all grungy as one review seemed to imply. In fact, it’s quite clean, and even a bit edgy looking. I would vote to lose the really annoying Peruvian travel videos, though, which inexplicably have a soundtrack that sounds like Russian marching band dirges.

We started with the Causa de Camarones, which was a good as any causa I’ve had. It was missing a couple of layers that are usually present, but had a delightfully piquant quality and excellent sauce accompaniment.

Ceviche Mixto was a huge mound of mixed seafood in a mildly spicy creamy lime sauce. The shrimp and fish were good, and the calamari was excellent.

Pescado a la Chorrillana is a large serving of nicely battered and fried fish topped with onions, tomatoes and cilantro, and served with a mild sauce. The flavor of the cilantro came through nicely.

Service was very friendly, and the kitchen is extremely quick, obviously preparing everything from scratch, but at lightning speed. Pricing is reasonable, especially considering the generous portions.

Taste of Peru
9521 S Orange Blossom Trl
Ste 114A
Orlando, FL 32837
(407) 857-2734
http://www.yelp.com/biz/taste-of-peru-orlando-6

sushigami

Dragon Roll

Flamingo Roll

Reptile roll

Salmon

Conveyor

Interior

**** (4 stars)

Although this place is literally out in the center of the mall I walked past it twice looking for an overhead sign on a storefront! The signage is quite small, in contrast to the sprawling conveyor belt system that transports the sushi.

Like all “revolving” sushi places, the offerings are on plates color-coded for price, from $3-6. When you’re finished eating they simply tally up the plates to calculate your check.

I liked the sushi here much more than I was expecting. The ingredients were fresh and the offerings were quite varied. My favorite item was the flamingo roll.

Each serving is essentially half a roll, so the pricing is typical to slightly high. On the other hand, because it is half a roll you can try twice and many things, which is great, especially if you and your companion disagree on ingredients.

sushigami
8001 S Orange Blossom Trl
Orlando, FL 32809
(407) 850-9091
https://www.yelp.com/biz/sushigami-orlando

Fat One’s Hot Dogs & Italian Ice

NY Dog

Exterior

Interior

*** (3 stars)

This was a perfectly fine hot dog, but I guess I was expecting something more, having been to many gourmet hot dog places in other cities. The dogs and buns are split in two for grilled. I tried the New York dog, which had mustard and sauerkraut, but was somewhat overwhelmed by the cloying red onion sauce. I was glad I didn’t get the foot-long version, as the small size was plenty, although at $5 I didn’t feel it was worth it.

Fat One’s Hot Dogs & Italian Ice
8001 S Orange Blossom Trl
FC16
Orlando, FL 32809
(407) 634-0205
http://www.yelp.com/biz/fat-ones-hot-dogs-and-italian-ice-orlando-2

On The Border Mexican Grill & Cantina

Grilled Shrimp Tacos

Chile relleno

Exterior

Interior

*** (3 stars)

This is a pretty good Tex Mex chain. The menu is quite extensive, and there should be something to please almost everyone, as long as you’re not looking for authentic Mexican food.

The trick is to order items done on the mesquite grill, as they are very nicely flavored. I had the shrimp tacos (I ordered the fish tacos, but that’s another story). My companion had the chile relleno, and didn’t care for the clumsy breading and flavorless stuffing. But the accompanying brisket enchilada was pretty good.

Our favorite item was actually the queso cheese dip. It’s not something I would normally order, but it was a Yelp freebie, and it was excellent, a large serving, filled with lightly spiced peppers. It went well with the complimentary chips and salsa.

Also included in each meal are unlimited black beans and yellow rice. The rice is nicely seasoned and was much better than typical chain restaurant Mexican rice.

Our server was well trained but not a good listener.

The interior build-out is quite nice. It’s hard to imagine that this space the plaza was once occupied by card stores and sunglasses shops.

On The Border Mexican Grill & Cantina
12517 State Rd 535
Orlando, FL 32836
(321) 329-3188
https://www.yelp.com/biz/on-the-border-mexican-grill-and-cantina-orlando-4