The Soda Fountain

Interior

Thin mint shake

***** (5 stars)

This is an old fashioned soda fountain and ice cream place. I really like the ambiance.

I had the thin mint shake, which had a great mint flavor and huge chunks of chocolate. Excellent!

It’s attached to The Doghouse, so you can have a dog, tots and dessert, all at the same table.

Service was friendly.

The Soda Fountain
2525 Edgewater Dr
Orlando, FL 32804
(407) 540-1006
https://www.yelp.com/biz/the-soda-fountain-orlando

Doghouse

Exterior

Chili dog and BBQ tots

**** (4 stars)

This is a small counter service place in college park that offers hotdogs and tater tots. There are premade specials, or you can just specify whatever you want on your dog and tots. I tried the certified angus beef dog with mustard, onions and chili. The bun had a good consistency, and the chili was okay. I wasn’t wowed by the meat, so I might try the regular do the next time.

It’s attached to a larger ice cream shop with more seating. and you can have a shake for dessert.

Service was friednly.

Doghouse
2527 Edgewater Dr
Orlando, FL 32804
(407) 412-5409
https://www.yelp.com/biz/doghouse-orlando

Pepe’s Cantina

Interior

Exterior

Tacos Al pastor

Vegetable fajitas

**** (4 stars)

This I-Drive Tex-Mex restaurant is certainly an improvement on the counter-serve concept that was here before. Now there is full table service. While the menu seems to be a bit tourist priced, there are some excellent lunch deals.

The best deal of all is the house margarita, which is very well made, generous, and is about half price during the day. Plus, it comes with free queso which was quite tasty.

We enjoyed all the menu items we tried, and the service was pleasant.

Pepe’s Cantina
5415 International Dr
Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 317-6649
https://www.yelp.com/biz/pepe-s-cantina-orlando

Roque Pub

Interior

The Silo

***** (5 stars)

Roque offers a very extensive selection of beers on tap, and a really staggering list of beers in bottles and cans. There are many local offerings, and the list is brilliantly categorized by style, alcohol, bitterness and color. This was the most informative beer list I’ve ever seen, and is ther reason for their fifth star.

Unlike many of the beer-centric places in town, they also have a nice menu of sandwiches and pub food. The Silo was piled high with tender roast beef, and the grilled cheese panini was even better.

Service was fast and friendly, and there are darts and electronic games, plus live entertainment and special events most nights of the week.

Roque Pub
3076 Curry Ford Rd
Orlando, FL 32806
(407) 985-3778
https://www.yelp.com/biz/roque-pub-orlando

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

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

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

Tortas El Rey

Menu

Exterior

Torta Al pastor

Chicken burrito

***** (5 stars)

This is a great place for real Mexican street food. I had the chicken burrito special which came with a drink for under 7 bucks. It was a huge tasty burrito; it came with peppers, lime wedges and two salsas, red and green, which both had a kick.

Even better was the Torta al Pastor, a giant sandwich filled with savory pork, peppers, and tomato. One of the best tortas in town.

The place is a former Checkers, so it’s efficient to drive through or to order at the window and eat at one of the umbrella-covered tables. It took a few minutes to make the food, but definitely worth it.

Tortas El Rey
6127 S Orange Blossom Trl
Orlando, FL 32809
(407) 850-6980
https://www.yelp.com/biz/tortas-el-rey-orlando