About steve

Steve Alcorn is the CEO of Alcorn McBride Inc., a company that designs products used in nearly all of the world’s theme parks. He is the author of many books, including historical fiction, romance, young adult novels, and many non-fiction books including How to Fix Your Novel, Building a Better Mouse and Theme Park Design. During the past decade he has helped more than 30,000 aspiring authors structure their novels through the online learning programs of 2000 colleges and universities worldwide. Learn more at writingacademy.com

Kitty O’Shea’s Irish Pub and Buffalo Bar

Interior

Exterior

Potato skins

10 hot garlic wings grilled

**** (4 stars)

If you’re in the Disney area and want to go someplace that’s filled with locals rather than tourists, this is the place. It’s a combination traditional Irish pub and sports bar.

There’s a decent selection of beers, with some local brews on tap, but the highlight is the food. It’s one of the few places in town where you can get the buffalo wings finished on the grill, which makes them crispy and not greasy. The hot + garlic parmesan coating is my favorite. Potato skins are also nicely done.

The food is a particularly good deal during happy hours, which extends until 7pm. Unfortunately they aren’t open for lunch, though.

There’s also an outside covered patio that is a hopping place in the evenings.

Kitty O’Shea’s Irish Pub and Buffalo Bar
8470 Palm Pkwy
Orlando, FL 32836
(407) 238-9769
https://www.yelp.com/biz/kitty-o-sheas-irish-pub-and-buffalo-bar-orlando

The Whole Enchilada

Exterior

Interior

While enchilada player

**** (4 stars)

This is essentially a boozy version of Tijuana Flats. In addition to counter ordering there is also a full bar. You can order at the counter and they bring the food to your table, or you can sit at the bar or a few booths facing it for full service.

The Whole Enchilada platter I tried was very good, with two enchiladas, rice and choice of black or pinto beans. I had one ground beef enchilada, one shredded pork, and both were good. There’s a salsa bar to spice thing up, but not the array of hot sauces you’ll find elsewhere. Most of the rest of the menu is different burritos with various stuffings.

The house margarita was made to order and very good.

The employees are all enthusiastic, and prices are reasonable.

The interior decor is nice, and they have an upstairs with outdoor seating overlooking charming Winter Garden.

The Whole Enchilada
129 W Plant St
Winter Garden, FL 34787
(407) 347-9699
https://www.yelp.com/biz/the-whole-enchilada-winter-garden-2

Vitality Bowls

Immunity Bowl

Dragon bowl

**** (4 stars)

This new, healthy restaurant is a nice improvement over the yogurt sop that was here. It’s a bright, corner space with inside and outside tables. It’s a counter service franchise concept, although they do bring the food to your table.

Ordering is the biggest challenge. The menu, presented on multiple digital signage screens, has about a million items and descriptions. There are pre-made bowls, paninis, and smoothies, plus at least a dozen ingredients you can add in.

As with most healthy eating places, there are some ingredients the casual consumer may find–there’s no other way to say it–unappetizing. You need to order carefully. We tried two bowls. The Dragon Bowl was sweet and fruity, more like a dessert on berry sherbert than a main course. The Immunity bowl was less appetizing, with a green substance in the bottom influenced by the kale and other vegetable ingredients. It tasted okay.

Smoothies are more of a challenge. I honestly couldn’t drink my Immunity smoothie, but maybe it was just a poor choice.

If you’re dubious about healthy items, it’s probably best to stick with the paninis, as they seem more conventional.

Service was very friendly, a big improvement on the former tenant. If you’re looking for something healthy in the Dr. Philips area it’s worth checking out.

Vitality Bowls
8014 Conroy Windermere Rd
Ste 101
Orlando, FL 32835
(407) 730-6358
https://www.yelp.com/biz/vitality-bowls-orlando-3

Sharon’s Homestyle Cookin’

Interior

Exterior

Breakfast sandwich

Grilled banana nut muffin

***** (5 stars)

This place could serve as the set for the musical Waitress. It’s and old-fashioned neighborhood diner where everyone knows your name and remembers your order.

The food is well prepared classic diner food that avoids being too heavy or greasy while still achieving that traditional sinful goodness.

If you like your meal served with a dose of friendly cheer this is the place.

Sharon’s Homestyle Cookin’
5667 S Orange Ave
Pine Castle, FL 32809
(407) 856-9565
https://www.yelp.com/biz/sharons-homestyle-cookin-pine-castle

IHOP

Ihob

Interior

Burgers

Brunch burger

**** (4 stars)

Since the iHob advertising campaign generated enough traction for even me, a non-TV-watcher, to hear about it, we decided to try their now hamburger menu on its first day of introduction.

Of our party of seven, five of us had various burgers (there were two dedicated breakfast lovers), and we all enjoyed them.

I had the Brunch Burger, which included bacon, a fried egg and very crispy hash browns(!). It was an excellent burger, with a perfectly cooked thick patty and over easy egg. I was concerned the hashbrowns would be soggy, but they were very thin and extremely crispy, and added a nice crunch to the burger.

My only complaint is that the bun is very soft, and with such well-stuffed burgers it tends to disintegrate before you’re done with the burger. Other than that I’d rate it as one of the better burgers from a chain.

You have your choice of sides. I had the onion rings, which were heavily breaded and not crisp enough, although perhaps they could be ordered extra crispy. But you can also get pancakes as your side. That wounds like a fun way to get lunch and dessert!

IHOP
5203 Kirkman Rd
Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 370-0597
https://www.yelp.com/biz/ihop-orlando-2

Wine Bar George

Upstairs

Downstairs

Exterior

Jicama and kholrabi

Wine flights – any wines and any size pours you want

***** (5 stars)

Finally there is a place in Orlando I can refer my wine loving visitors to! When I first came to Orlando in the early 1980s there were several prestigious wine lists in town, like Chris’ House of Beef. Today there are essentially zero. I end up sending visitors to Berns in Tampa.

But Wine Bar George is something completely different. It’s actually most like the early days of Seasons 52 (before they dumbed down the list), when you could get any of a hundred or so very interesting wines on the list poured by the glass. Wine Bar George goes that one better, and lets you get any wine in any amount, down to an ounce. So you can build your own flights anyway you like.

We had a French and a California Chardonnay, and then a flight of Cabernet, Cab Franc (from South Africa) and Syrah. Two ounces is a perfect pour for wine flights as far as I’m concerned. Then we finished with an ounce of two high-end Dujac wines that I’m sure are not served by the glass anywhere else.

The cheese plate was a great accompaniment, and also included some delicious house marinated olives. Jicama and Kholrabi salad was a great palate cleanser, and then we finished with some Asian influenced chicken skewers.

Service was polished and our server Zach was very knowledgeable. We also chatted with server Chris, who recognized us from past wine dinners. The staff is extremely professional and enthusiastic.

In case you’re wondering who George is, he’s Master Sommelier George Miliotes, and the quality of wine bar George is no accident. His dad owned Chris’ House of Beef where George was a somm as a kid, and George later created that wine program at Seasons 52. Now he’s doing his own thing, and Orlando is all the better for it.

Wine Bar George
1610 Buena Vista Dr
Orlando, FL 32830
(407) 490-1800
https://www.yelp.com/biz/wine-bar-george-orlando

Whirly Dome

Bar

***** (5 stars)

Whirly Ball is the world’s most fun sport for people who don’t like sports, a group of which I’m a proud member. It requires absolutely no skill to have fun, and consuming alcohol before play makes it even better.

But let’s talk about the bar. They actually have a very nice collection of beers, and can whip up a mean cocktail. The house margarita was only four bucks and was one of the best I’ve had.

There is also bar food. We had a company event here and they put out quite a nice buffet.

I’ve been here three times, which is probably more times than I’ve ever been to a sports venue in my life, and it’s always great fun.

Whirly Dome
6464 International Dr
Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 212-3030
https://www.yelp.com/biz/whirly-dome-orlando

Road To Seoul

Interior

Table setting

**** (4 stars)

This was a great place for a Korean BBQ lunch extravaganza. For one price you can have all you can eat from an entire page of protein choices. Items are delivered to your table in generous proportions where you, of course, grill them yourself.

We tried quite a few of the meats and our two favorites were the beef bulgogi and the pork spare ribs.

Also included are a bowl of nicely dressed salad, an assortment of kimchi and other sides, and some terrific pancakes.

The place is spacious, and servers keep a careful eye on the temperature of your grill… and your need for more meat!

Road To Seoul
1230 S Western Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90006
(323) 731-9292
https://www.yelp.com/biz/road-to-seoul-los-angeles

Sotto

Interior

Exterior

Bread with garlic anchovy butter

Funghi pizza

*** (3 stars)

Excellent service here is the highlight, and the decor is intimate while at the same time being bustling. The food doesn’t quite live up to the resulting expectations.

Housemade bread was delicious, and worth the extra charge. The funghi pizza was flavorful, but the crust was more like naan bread, with no crispness at all. We ate the toppings off.

Rigatoni was nicely al dente, but this dish should only be ordered if you absolutely LOVE chicken livers, and they weren’t just the prime flavor component, they were the only flavor component.

I give them points for doing something different with the wine list, but it may not be what you’re looking for. ALL of the wines are from lesser known Italian appellations, so you’re not going to find any varietals you’ve likely heard of. This encourages exploration, but also invites disappointment.

Sotto
9575 W Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90035
(310) 277-0210
https://www.yelp.com/biz/sotto-los-angeles

Blu 57 Seafood & Small Plates

Interior

Scallops

Truffle tuna tar tar

Crab cake

Mussels

Brussels sprouts

Squid ink pasta

Shrimp bombs

Red curry elotes

Tiramisu

Mango mousse

**** (4 stars)

This is a charming small restaurant in a quiet section of Andersonville. It focuses on seafood, with a touch of Thai.

Appetizers are a good way to explore the menu here, and we tried most of them.

By far the best thing we had was the Truffle tuna tar tar. The scent of truffle was certainly there, but the thing that made it outstanding was the complex combination of spicy and citrus flavors and interesting tender and crunchy textures.

Seared scallops in curry were also good, and the crab cake was one of the best I’ve had, with a spicy kick and crusty outside.

Mussels were a disappointment. They seemed fishy, and we didn’t finish them.

Shrimp bombs were probably the most typically Thai dish, with a bite of minced shrimp mixture in a deep fried wanton purse. They were okay, but probably not worth the price for what was essentially three bites.

Squid ink pasta was a very substantial plate of dense, black pasta with rings of calamari. You will look like a goth after eating this dish!

Brussels sprouts was an okay side dish, nothing remarkable about them, and not much of the promised maple syrup flavoring.

Red curry elotes was definitely a Thai-spice-level take on this traditional street corn.

For dessert we finished with the mango mousse and tiramisu. The tiramisu was the better of the two, but wasn’t like what you’re picturing. Instead it is a dome with a chocolate crust encasing Thai iced tea flavored mousse.

Service was good, particularly considering that our server and her trainee were handling the entire restaurant.

Note that it is BYOB, and the liquor store across the street has incredibly poor taste in wine. Best to bring your own.

Blu 57 Seafood & Small Plates
5701 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60660
(773) 944-0575
https://www.yelp.com/biz/blu-57-seafood-and-small-plates-chicago