Tapa Toro

***** (5 stars)

This may be Orlando’s best tapas restaurant. Its diverse menu offers all the standards, plus a lot of dishes with a unique twist, and unlike some tapas places there are a lot of lighter selections and many vegetarian offerings.

My favorite dish by far was the roasted cauliflower, which was perfectly seasoned and sauced, and topped with sultanas and capers. Yum! Grilled asparagus served with grated manchego was also very good.

More conventional were the salmon crudo and the grilled garlic shrimp plates. The assorted cold meat platter was also conventional except for the inclusion of a delicious house-made pate and house-made pickles.

There’s an extensive list of wines by the glass or bottle, plus a very intriguing cocktail list. I tried the Feliz Boca, an inspired mixture of rosemary, lavender, blood orange and bitters. Delicious, and an amazing match to the pate.

There’s a nice dessert menu, but note that there’s also a Ben and Jerry’s about ten feet away! Hmm. Decisions.

Service was very friendly and attentive, and the outdoor dining area is great–mostly shaded, with a view of the Orlando Eye, which is nearby.

Tapa Toro
8441 International Dr
Ste 260
Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 226-2929
http://www.yelp.com/biz/tapa-toro-orlando

Taverna Opa

**** (4 stars)

Taverna Opa offers one of the most fun venues at Pointe Orlando. Serving both lunch and dinner, the restaurant has very different atmospheres at day and night.

Lunch is a quiet affair where you can eat outside, inside, and large parties can be accommodated in the spacious back room. At night it transforms into a lively party atmosphere, with much twirling of napkins and shouts of “Opa!”

The menu offers all the Greek standards. The cold appetizer platter is a nice sampling of three dips, and the hot appetizer platter offers delicious wings, lamb ribs, and so-so calamari.

Complimentary hummus that you crush yourself is served with very fresh pitas.

The best appetizer is probably the flaming cheese.

The souvlaki is actually a gyro served with fries, and your choice of filling.

Service is friendly and the wine list is extensive.

Taverna Opa
9101 International Dr
Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 351-8660
http://www.yelp.com/biz/taverna-opa-orlando-3

Zorba’s Greek Taverna

**** (4 stars)

There are a few Greek restaurants we go to in this area, including at Dr Phillips and International Drive, and the food is somewhat similar between them. I like Zorba the best because of its expansive, covered outside patio. Plus, the lunch special is currently a $5 gyro, which is hard to beat. This is one of my top choices for outdoor dining in the area.

Zorba’s Greek Taverna
4898 S Kirkman Rd
Orlando, FL 32811
(407) 219-4326
http://www.yelp.com/biz/zorbas-greek-taverna-orlando

Avli Estiatorio

**** (4 stars)

This authentic Greek restaurant is a sprawling collection of rooms and outdoor spaces located on the rear side of The Laundry complex. There is a very extensive list of Greek wines, plus all the Greek appetizers and entrees you’d expect. We particularly enjoyed the salads and the lamb burger.

Avli Estiatorio
566 Chestnut
Winnetka, IL 60093
(847) 446-9300
http://www.yelp.com/biz/avli-estiatorio-winnetka

Mykonos Mayeron Authentic Greek Cuisine

**** (4 stars)

Excellent authentic Greek food, attentive service, and a nice spot to dine outside on the front porch. The three dip sample was an excellent appetizer choice, and the accompanying pitas were perfectly grilled.

Also perfectly grilled was the chargrilled octopus which was tender and flavorful. A nice assortment of Greek wines is available by the glass.

Mykonos Mayeron Authentic Greek Cuisine
2401 W State Rd 434
Longwood, FL 32779
(407) 788-9095
http://www.yelp.com/biz/mykonos-mayeron-authentic-greek-cuisine-longwood

Hellas Restaurant

***** (5 stars)

I love this funky Greek restaurant with its wild blue ceramic and pink neon decor. The combo plate is a great appetizer with shrimp, tender octopus, and three dips. The Greek salad is another favorite; no crumbled feta here, but big slices, plus a delicious dressing and wonderful potato salad buried at the bottom. The adjoining bakery has some great offerings, too.

Hellas Restaurant
785 Dodecanese Blvd
Tarpon Springs, FL 34689
(727) 943-2400
http://www.yelp.com/biz/hellas-restaurant-tarpon-springs

Greek Fire Grill

**** (4 stars)

This is a good place for a Chicago Dog, which is pretty much indistinguishable from all the other Chicago Dogs in town. One day I made the several mile round trip walk to the highly rated Mustard’s Last Stand, and couldn’t tell the difference, so now I just stick with (what is now called) Greek Fire Grill.

They have a fairly wide variety of foods, and burgers and greek specialties are also popular, although they are rarely busy.

Greek Fire Grill
1625 Chicago Ave
Evanston, IL 60201
(847) 869-9453
http://www.yelp.com/biz/greek-fire-grill-evanston-2

Cross-Rhodes

**** (4 stars)

I would describe Cross Rhodes as more of a diner than a restaurant. With a different menu it would be a typical greasy spoon breakfast place. The food is conventional Greek fare. I had the Gyro dinner, which was a large mound of sliced lamb served over vinegar fries with sliced tomato, onions, greek yogurt and a pita. Quite tasty. The hummus appetizer was also fine, lemony, and fairly thin in consistency, with pita for dipping. Service was fast and friendly, and I was greeted by the staff upon arriving and departing. The place was busy, and I think it is this friendly atmosphere as much as anything that accounts for it. No credit cards and no alcohol.

Cross-Rhodes
913 Chicago Ave
Evanston, IL 60202
(847) 475-4475
http://www.yelp.com/biz/cross-rhodes-evanston

Greek Flame Taverna

**** (4 stars)

If you like garlic, this is the place for you. Everything I have here is all about GARLIC. I can’t even figure out where all that garlic aftertaste is coming from! Fortunately I like garlic. But be warned. The vegetarian plate at lunch is my favorite, but lurking in that feta… or the hummus… or wherever… is a loads of garlic You’ve been warned.

Greek Flame Taverna
7600 Dr Phillips Blvd
Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 370-4624
http://www.yelp.com/biz/greek-flame-taverna-orlando