Pig Floyd’s Urban Barbakoa

**** (4 stars)

It’s not really fair to characterize Pig Floyd’s as a barbecue place, because they’re trying to do several different things, and succeeding pretty well. It’s not exactly a fusion of Asian and barbecue, either, although there are “tacos” on their menu.

The best way to sample the menu is to order the Big Floyd, a barbecue sandwich featuring a literal pile of brisket, pulled pork, sausage and fennel slaw. All the meats were tender and flavorful. I liked the strong smoked taste of the pulled pork, but the standout was the sausage, which was some of the best I’ve had. I’m really not a sausage fan, but that’s the meat I’d concentrate on for a return visit.

The fries that accompanied the sandwich were a bit sturdy, and the default barbecue sauce not quite the rich, spicy variety I’m looking for. The bun was good enough, but frankly the sandwich was so big I just ate the meat and slaw.

I also tried the shrimp and sausage taco, which was very saucy with a creamy mayo like mixture that seemed pretty rich. And I tried the butter chicken taco, which had a good flavor but was mostly rice sopping with the butter sauce, not my favorite ingredient in a taco.

You order at the counter and they bring the food to your table, inside or out. Beer and wine are available.

Pig Floyd’s Urban Barbakoa
1326 N Mills Ave
Orlando, FL 32803
(407) 203-0866

Kasa Restaurant & Bar

***** (5 stars)

Of all the places in Orlando that are trying to be hip and gourmet and eclectic at the same time, I think Kasa succeeds the best. The only downside is that when you take a room full of hip gourmets and place them in a hard surfaced room and fill them with cocktails, things can get VERY LOUD.

Frankly, I was surprised how good the food was here. I honestly think it’s better than the Rusty Spoon or Ceviche, both nearby tapas contenders.

The standout was the Kasa corn, which I wouldn’t have ordered except for the other rave reviews. Small sections of corn on the cob are served on sticks, coated with both spicy and creamy condiments–scrumptious.

Brussels sprouts and bacon were good, not as rich as you’d imagine due to the vinegary base.

Tuna tartare (which is served with plantain chips, NOT tostones) was just good. Ceviche had a nice lime base but was marred by too tough conch; a different shellfish would have been better.

The fondue is more like cream sauce than cheese; the accompanying yucca fries were poofy on the inside and crisp on the outside, and were piping hot.

Cuban mojo ribs were succulent, but much sweeter and wetter than the “dry rub” description led us to expect.

We almost never order dessert, but the raves about the destroyed apple pie with salted caramel ice cream tempted us into trying it. The pie is rolled up and deep fried, then cut into sushi-like slices. It was delicious, but the salted caramel ice cream was the real standout. My wife, who hates desserts, kept going back for more and more of this incredible ice cream, which she described as the best she ever had.

Service was friendly and helpful. The wine list is brief and rather middle brow, but there are plenty of cocktail choices.

Kasa is definitely one of the top foodie destinations in downtown Orlando.

Kasa Restaurant & Bar
183 S Orange Ave
Ste 183
Orlando, FL 32801
(407) 985-5272

First Watch

**** (4 stars)

This location has the best decor and ambience of the various First Watches I’ve been to. Our server was amazingly friendly (to the point of being perky). We went for lunch and I had the 2 For You, a sort of variant on Panera’s Pick 2. I chose a half Reuben sandwich and half pecan salad. Both were delicious (be sure to get the dressing on the side, it’s quite sweet so you don’t need much). I would definitely have both again. My best First Watch experience to date.

First Watch
7500 W Sand Lake Rd
Ste A101
Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 363-5622

Krusty Burger

*** (3 stars)

Our tour guide at Universal told us this was the best hamburger you can get in a theme park, and I have to agree. It’s not the best hamburger in Orlando, but it’s definitely a cut above typical theme park food.

I had the Klogger Burger, which included two patties and bacon. It was the kind of burger I like, with lettuce and tomato, and plenty of condiments, and the bun held together well. If I had it again I would skip the cheese sauce, which I’ve never really cared for. I can’t achieve that umami goodness of a slice of melted cheese right on the patty. If this place used real cheese it would be four stars.

My wife had the hot chicken wings, which I liked by she thought were too spicy. The accompanying tater tots were just so-so, not as good as the curly fires that came with my burger.

Service was pretty fast. If it’s a nice day sit outside to avoid the cartoon video, which repeats every few minutes.

Krusty Burger
Exposition Blvd
Orlando, FL 32819


Sushi Tomi

***** (5 stars)

This is one of the better sushi restaurants in town. It’s at the extreme southern end of a particularly crazy parking lot.

The lunch specials are a good deal, and you can get sushi, tempura or noodles. They are equally adept at all three.

It’s designed like a classic sushi restaurant, with tables in the front and a sushi bar on one side at the rear. Service is fast and friendly.

Sushi Tomi
8463 S John Young Pkwy
Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 352-8635

Beewon Korean Cuisine

***** (5 stars)

I’ve been going to this place for years and always enjoyed it. It recently changed hands and I’m happy to report that any changes have been positive.

Perhaps they are advertising or have found a way to connect better with the local market, because it is much busier than it used to be. And since much of the clientele is Korean, that’s a good sign.

I always have the same thing, Dolsot Bi Bim Bop, which is served in a stone bowl heated to very high temperature. The rice in the bottom cooks, and you control how crispy it gets by whether you mix it. The rice is topped with veggies, meat, and an egg. This version is just as good as the best I’ve had in Korea.

Meals are accompanied by an assortment of kimchee, which is fun and delicious. Service is fast and friendly. Highly recommended.

Beewon Korean Cuisine
5100 Dr Phillips Blvd
Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 720-8223

Tin Roof

**** (4 stars)

I was expecting this place to be more like a sports bar, given the decor, but I was pleased to find many tasty and healthful items on the menu in addition to the heavier food.

I tried the Shrimp Coctel (which is really ceviche) and the Tuna Tataki. Both were excellent. The shrimp were tender, and the lime marinade contained just enough tomato that the dish earned its unusual name. The tuna was definitely sushi grade, and could be eaten with a fork or folded into the lettuce to make three nice wraps. The bed of slaw was appropriately tangy and fresh tasting.

Others in my party had a salad with chicken, which was good, quesadillas, which got mixed reviews, and a chicken sandwich that turned into a bit of a slippery mess but tasted good.

Service was friendly and attentive, and out party of eight was served quickly at lunch (although we were one of the the few tables seated; presumably after the grand opening things will pick up.)

Tin Roof
8371 International Dr
Ste 100
Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 270-7926

Huong Viet

***** (5 stars)

I’ve been looking for great Vietnamese food on the west side of Orlando and at last I’ve found it!

Ignore the decrepit shopping center locale of this place; inside it’s nicely decorated, and the servers are friendly and helpful.

There is an extensive selection of vermicelli bowls, pho, and banh mi sandwiches.

My grilled pork vermicelli bowl was delicious, and it was no problem to substitute the summer roll instead of the included egg roll. The fish sauce served with the vermicelli bowl was particularly tasty, and the summer roll included very flavorful basil leaves.

Pricing is very reasonable, with sandwiches starting at under $4, and all the bowls well under $10.  I’ll definitely be back soon to check out their other offerings.

Huong Viet
5286 W Colonial Dr
Orlando, FL 32808
(407) 730-9835


**** (4 stars)

Ulele is quite a magical setting, notable more for its atmosphere than any particular style of food. Regardless of the characterization as Native American Char Cooking, whatever that is, there are few items on the menu that wouldn’t be at home on the menu of any plain old American bar and grill.

We liked everything we tried. My favorite was probably the closest to the theme, the grilled shishito peppers. They were perfectly charred and served on a bed of diced garlic.

The cheddar popcorn wasn’t apparent on the mashed potatoes, a huge mound of which propped up my excellent steak. It was described as a strip, but seemed more like a Delmonico.

The wine list offers some excellent values, particularly on the higher end wines such as the Caymus Cab we shared.

Service was extremely friendly, knowledgable and helpful. And the setting, overlooking the Riverwalk, can’t be beat.

1810 N Highland Ave
Tampa, FL 33602
(813) 999-4952