Ellie Lou’s Brews & BBQ

Pork platter

Exterior

Interior

Sauces

***** (5 stars)

Orlando is an excellent town for barbecue, with many great choices, and a lot of different styles, from Southern to Midwestern and more. I like the barbecue here better than almost anywhere I travel to, because of that diversity. And I have to say, of all the great Orlando barbecue places I patronize, Ellie Lou’s is the best.

I had the pork platter with two sides. I was expecting sliced pork, so I was pleased when something more like burnt ends appeared: succulent chunks of lean, moist pork, with a nice charred crust on some of the pieces. It was a generous serving, too.

I liked all four BBQ sauces on the table: Kansas City (sweet), Memphis, Hot, and Mustard. The combination of the first three was my favorite. All of them are made in-house, and it shows.

Also made in-house are the sides. The baked beans were loaded with chunks of meat; a squirt of sauce and they were perfect. One of my favorite parts of the whole meal was the potato salad, which was also obviously homemade, with big chunks of potato, a creamy dressing and lots of herbs.

The two slices of garlic bread were also excellent: fresh, crispy and with lots of garlic butter.

Perhaps the thing that most distinguishes Ellie Lou’s is the environment. It’s not crowded and is actually quite pleasant inside. And even though you order at a counter, the staff is very attentive once you’re seated, so it’s like a real restaurant. A real GOOD restaurant.

Ellie Lou’s Brews & BBQ
336 Moore Rd
Ocoee, FL 34761
(407) 347-9515
http://www.yelp.com/biz/ellie-lous-brews-and-bbq-ocoee

Bamboo Asian Cuisine

Pork lo mein with fried rice and egg roll

Exterior

Interior

**** (4 stars)

This isn’t a fusion restaurant (which would blend cuisines in one dish) but they do offer Chinese and some other Asian cuisines, particularly sushi.

I liked the three items I had at lunch: a particularly savory pork lo mein, a very interesting flavored egg roll and fluffy fried rice. Service was fast, perhaps due to the fact I was alone.

The place is bright and clean.

Bamboo Asian Cuisine
1567 E Silver Star Rd
Ocoee, FL 34761
(407) 291-0100
https://www.yelp.com/biz/bamboo-asian-cuisine-ocoee

Negril Jamaican Restaurant

Curry chicken

Jerk chicken

Exterior

**** (4 stars)

Many of the Jamaican places in town are a bit divey, but not Negril. It’s a neat counter service place in Ocoee.

We tried the curry chicken and the jerk chicken. Both were very good. The curry sauce on the accompanying rice and beans was particularly good.

The mac and cheese side wasn’t very good, but the fried plantains were very nicely caramelized.

The “small” size is plenty for a full meal.

Service was fast and friendly.

Negril Jamaican Restaurant
2795 Old Winter Garden Rd
Ocoee, FL 34761
(407) 347-7449
http://www.yelp.com/biz/negril-jamaican-restaurant-ocoee

Pio Pio Restaurant

***** (5 stars)

This latest location in the Pio Pio chain takes over a nice space in the Publix shopping center that was previously a mediocre BBQ place. Pio Pio is much better.

I love their rotisserie chicken, which always has a delicious golden brown crust. It comes with rice, beans, and plantains. The quarter chicken is surprisingly small, so you may want to get the half chicken. Both are very reasonably priced.

Not so reasonably priced, but also delicious, is the ceviche ($18). It’s a Peruvian style ceviche, (which is a bit confusing since the restaurant is often listed as Colombian).The Mixto version combines raw white fish and cooked shrimp with onions and lots of lime juice. It’s served with the traditional mutant(!) corn, and also cracked corn kernels.

Service was excellent.

By the way, they also have whole rotisserie chickens to go at very reasonable prices. They’re way better than the ones next door at Publix.

Pio Pio Restaurant
2588 Maguire Rd
Ocoee, FL 34761
(407) 347-7101
http://www.yelp.com/biz/pio-pio-restaurant-ocoee-2

Yoshi Sushi Bar

*** (3 stars)

This is a perfectly fine neighborhood sushi bar. Fish quality is good, and the preparations are professional.

All of the fish selections for the sashimi lunch were fresh tasting and it was a nice assortment. There is a large assortment of rolls available as choices on the sushi lunch.

The Tuna Kobachi was a fairly small serving, and the very thinly sliced avocado was a bit hard to deal with, but the flavors were good.

Service was very friendly and welcoming.

Yoshi Sushi Bar
11127 W. Colonial Dr
Ocoee, FL 34761
(407) 347-0521
http://www.yelp.com/biz/yoshi-sushi-bar-ocoee

Pho-Real

**** (4 stars)

It’s nice to find an Asian restaurant in this are that isn’t Chinese or sushi. The menu has a limited offering of Vietnamese staples including Pho and Banh Mi sandwiches.

I had the Special, which turned out to not be Pho, but rather a bowl of rice topped with beef chunks and an optional egg. It was good, but my friend’s Pho was better, a generous serving, with all the usual ingredients.

The Banh Mi was good, although at over $6 it’s one of the more expensive versions in town–not that that’s a lot for a sandwich, but for some reason this sandwich is traditionally really cheap most places.

Although it’s counter service, the interior is rather nice. Service is friendly, but the kitchen takes a while at lunch time, so don’t be in a hurry.

Pho Real is quite hard to spot from the street. It’s not on the main sign at the entrance to the strip center, and the combination of the name and logo make it look like a real estate office, so don’t give up.

Pho-Real
2910 Maguire Rd
Ste 1006
Ocoee, FL 34761
(407) 614-1684
http://www.yelp.com/biz/pho-real-ocoee-2

That One Spot

 

onspotbbq**** (4 stars)

This is one of the best quick serve burgers in town. I’m a particular fan of the BBQ burger, which is a bacon cheese burger with all the toppings, BBQ sauce, and three onion rings on it.

The fries are much better here than at just about any of the competitors, with a crispy exterior and soft inside.

Service is friendly. Arrive early, as the line gets long at lunch.

That One Spot
10968 W Colonial Dr
Ocoee, FL 34761
(407) 877-7575
http://www.yelp.com/biz/that-one-spot-ocoee

The Ocoee Taco Company

**** (4 stars)

This family run place can get quite busy, but they are always friendly and helpful, and glad you are there. They offer their version of most authentic Mexican dishes, along with a few inventions of their own.

The quesotaco is a grilled tortilla with cheese melted on it, then filled with your choice of meat.

There is also a version of a burrito that is enroll to being a quesadilla.

The torta is a huge sandwich, enough lunch all by itself.

Meat choices include several different preparations of pork, chicken and beef. The pastor is usually my favorite, but I didn’t find it as rich and tasty here as some places.

There are mild and hot versions of both green and red sauces, which are all tasty.

Pricing is very reasonable. But the best reason to come is the sincere thank you you’ll receive form the owner.

The Ocoee Taco Company
40 Taylor St
Ocoee, FL 34761
(407) 614-2990
http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-ocoee-taco-company-ocoee

RusTeak Restaurant & Wine Bar

**** (4 stars)

Don’t mistake RusTeak for a bar and grill, a steak house or a sandwich shop. In truth it’s all of these but also much more. There is a gourmet twist to everything they do, from appetizers to sandwiches to burgers to entrees. You’ll find ingredients combined in creative (and successful) ways, served in a casual but cozy atmosphere.

I had a pastrami sandwich, which featured extremely tender and lean meat, perfectly toasted bread, and house made close slaw and half sour pickle. My companion’s steak sandwich was also good, although it required deconstruction to be eaten.

There is a shockingly good wine list, extensive and well-conceived. It’s actually one of the best wine lists in town. I can’t imagine where they keep it all.

There’s also a great selection of interesting craft beers.

Service is friendly and efficient.

RusTeak Restaurant & Wine Bar
1568 Maguire Rd
Ocoee, FL 34761
(407) 614-3765
http://www.yelp.com/biz/rusteak-restaurant-and-wine-bar-ocoee

Soong Thai

***** (5 stars)

This is an excellent Thai restaurant. It’s always busy at lunch, and yet the servers are always super efficient and kind, and the food is served promptly. They offer a long list of lunch specials, including many Chinese items for those who don’t like it spicy. And their extensive ala carte menu is filled with great stuff. Everything I’ve ever had here has been excellent, but my favorite is the shrimp in red curry. Lunch comes with a cup of soup that is a bit like wonton sup, but with super fresh ingredients added at the last minute, and it is slightly different every time. Subtle but delicious. Easily the best Thai on the west side.

Soong Thai
9448 W Colonial Dr
Ocoee, FL 34761
(407) 822-8200
http://www.yelp.com/biz/soong-thai-ocoee