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

Topgolf

Third floor

**** (4 stars)

This is a fun spot whether you’ve ever held a golf club or not. Three floors of driving bays are set up sort of like a bowling alley, and you can just hit balls, or aim for the giant lighted holes while playing a variety of games.

The food and drink are quite good. In addition to small plates, they catered an entire dinner buffet for our office group, and everyone really liked it.

There are also several bars if you just want to sit and relax and enjoy a game on TV, or watch people hitting balls out onto the field.

Topgolf
9295 Universal Blvd
Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 218-7714
https://www.yelp.com/biz/topgolf-orlando-2

The Gnarly Barley

Bar

Interior

Gnar BQ Taco

1/2 Grown Up Grilled Cheese and side salad

Exterior

***** (5 stars)

A great little dive bar with excellent food and 16 beers on tap.

The place is really small, but there are also some larger tables on the back porch.

The Gnar-BQ Taco was a nice portion of savory shredded pork offset by crisp, tangy slaw.

The Grown Up Grilled Cheese combined cheddar, Swiss and goat cheese with bacon, but the real highlight was thin, crisp apple slices. It was perfectly grilled. I had it as “Mom’s Special”: a half sandwich with a side salad. The blue cheese dressing is VERY chunky.

It’s nice that their tap beers are available in half portions so you can try more. Service was friendly.

The Gnarly Barley
7431 S Orange Ave
Orlando, FL 32809
(407) 854-4999
https://www.yelp.com/biz/the-gnarly-barley-orlando

Dixie Belle’s Cafe

Exterior

BBQ Pork sandwich with onion rings

Sweet potato biscuit

***** (5 stars)

This is a great diner with traditional breakfast and a very wide array of lunch offerings. There’s a counter, lots of indoor seating, and limited outdoor seating.

I had a barbecued pork sandwich. It came with two sides, and I upgraded slightly to get onion rings and a sweet potato biscuit. Everything was perfectly prepared, and the BBQ sauce had just the right tang. It was nice that it was served on the side so you could use as much as you liked; I ended up making two open-faced sandwiches. The onion rings were nicely breaded and very crispy.

It might seem strange to have a sweet potato biscuit in addition to a sandwich, but it was essentially dessert! Crisp on the outside, dusted with sugar, and slightly salty from the pan, it is no wonder they are famous for these.

Service is fast, attentive and friendly.

Dixie Belle’s Cafe
7125 S Orange Ave
Orlando, FL 32809
(407) 906-2476
https://www.yelp.com/biz/dixie-belles-cafe-orlando

Chroma

Shishito peppers

Exterior

Buffalo chicken wanton

**** (4 stars)

Chroma combines a nice assortment of small plates with an interesting and varied wine list. The place is divided into several spaces, and it’s quieter in the rooms away from the central bar. There’s also outside dining. You might not think an outside dining area under an airport’s approach is a good idea, but somehow it works, particularly on a nice balmy evening.

It’s one of those places where things come out from the kitchen whenever they’re ready, which can lead to pacing problems, so I suggest going when you’re not in a hurry, and not ordering everything at once.

Chroma
6967 Lake Nona Blvd
Orlando, FL 32827
(407) 955-4340
https://www.yelp.com/biz/chroma-orlando

El Patron Restaurante Mexicano

Presidente Margarita

Interior

Exterior

Nachos with no beans or meat

Taco Al pastor

Special dessert

**** (4 stars)

I had avoided this restaurant for many years after a bad experience when they first opened, but I’m glad I decided to try it again. It’s a pretty interesting Mexican restaurant, particularly considering it’s in a tourist area where it doesn’t need to be all that good.

I admit I started with the Presidente Margarita, which at 24 ounces may have favorably colored my experience of the rest of the meal! It was much too sweet, but a plate of lime wedges fixed that.

I started with the nachos, a generous serving to say the least. I don’t like bean and meat on my nachos, so I had them without that, and they were really good–even though I usually want melted cheese, not queso on nachos. There was a generous mound of pickled jalapenos on top, and they were just the right degree of spiciness.

After all those nachos, I just had a single taco al pastor. It was very authentic, with two corn tortillas, bits of pineapple, and just the right level of spice in the marinade.

Even though I was full, I couldn’t pass up a dessert special, bunuelos. This was a stack of three deep-fried flour tortillas coated in sugar and cinnamon and topped with vanilla ice cream. It was really excellent, very freshly made and crisp, with the perfect combination of sweet and salty, crisp and chewy, hot and cold. A dessert home run.

I really enjoyed my lunch, which was not cheap, but was just what I wanted. Everyone else in the place was taking advantage of the lunch buffet, which is a good deal, especially for a tourist area.

Service was attentive and friendly, and the place is nicely decorated. I will definitely return.

El Patron Restaurante Mexicano
12167 S Apopka Vineland Rd
Orlando, FL 32836
(407) 238-5300
https://www.yelp.com/biz/el-patron-restaurante-mexicano-orlando