Applebee’s Grill + Bar

Exterior
Interior
BBQ Ribs and Chicken combo

*** (3 stars)

I really like the interior decor at Applebee’s. It’s a lot more like an intimate bar and grill than a coffee shop. The food is good (if typical) sports bar food, and the service is decent. I’d rank it as one of the better chains of this type, at least at this location.

Applebee’s Grill + Bar
2503 S Kirkman Rd
Orlando, FL
32811
(407) 704-6750
https://www.yelp.com/biz/applebees-grill-bar-orlando-2

Uno Pizzeria & Grill

*** (3 stars)

This is an open, clean and nicely designed Uno location. Of course it offers the standard chain menu, but that’s okay, because it’s fairly interesting, with much more than just pizza.

Service is friendly, and the lunch specials are a good deal.

Uno Pizzeria & Grill
3167 Daniels Road
Winter Garden, FL
34787
(407) 877-6510
https://www.yelp.com/biz/uno-pizzeria-and-grill-winter-garden

Waffle House

All star breakfast

Interior

Exterior

*** (3.5 stars)

You know what? Waffle House has good food.

I know, I know, they’re kind of low-brow, old fashioned, tacky, but that can be fun. And I would put their All-Star breakfast up against Denny’s, Keke’s or First Watch any day.

My over easy eggs were perfectly cooked, the super crispy bacon was full of flavor–as was the waffle–and the hashbrowns were well done as I requested. Coffee was decent and the service was attentive. What more can you ask?

Waffle
6990 W Colonial Dr
Orlando, FL
32818
(407) 293-8048
https://www.yelp.com/biz/waffle-house-orlando

Steak ’n Shake

Bacon cheeseburger includes fries, cookie and a side of chili

Interior

** (2 stars)

I’m always amazed a the value Steak and Shake offers. For the price of a burger at a fast food chain you can get a good sized specialty burger, a half a plate of fries, a large bowl of chili (or other side of your choice) and a cookie. And it’s table service. There are better burgers in town, but there aren’t better deals.

Steak ’n Shake
12163 S Apopka-vinland Rd
Orlando, FL
32836
(407) 238-9550
https://www.yelp.com/biz/steak-n-shake-orlando-4

First Watch

Exterior

Interior

Veggie omelet

**** (4 stars)

I really like the interior decor of this place, with high, modern ceilings, and large walls of glass. It’s much nice than the other First Watches I’ve been to, and also the competitors.

I have to confess that I’m a bit old school as far as breakfast, and I actually prefer most of the items at coffee shops to here, but there are some more heathful options that are interesting. The veggie omelet is a good choice, for example.

The staff was friendly and service was quick.

First Watch
7910 Winter Garden Vineland Road
Windermere, FL
33125
(407) 612-2022
https://www.yelp.com/biz/first-watch-windermere

Barley & Hops

Beef brat

Flatbread

Exterior

Fried mushrooms

Potstickers

**** (4 stars)

By my count this is the fifth incarnation of this place, and definitely the best. The previous version, The Big Easy, was also good, but didn’t last long because of the narrow focus on Cajun food, I guess. This new sports bar menu should have broader appeal.

We tried the fried mushrooms and pan sauteed pork potstickers as appetizers, and both were very good. I particularly liked the cole slaw that came with the pot stickers.

For my main course I had the beef brat, which was nicely seared and served with sauteed peppers, onions, and sauerkraut.

My companion has a pepperoni flatbread. It wasn’t really a flatbread, it was a large rectangular pizza. And boy was it good! Lots of pepperoni, and most importantly lots of delicious pizza sauce, what I regard as west coast style. Ironically, this is the best pizza ever served in this building, a place that was three different Italian restaurants in the past!

Our server, Ashley, was terrific.

The space is mostly unchanged since the previous use, but this is the first time when the concept has truly matched the layout. It works as a sports bar, and I wish them much success.

Barley & Hops
7782 Winter Garden Vineland RdSte 140
Windermere, FL
34786
(407) 347-3688
https://www.yelp.com/biz/barley-and-hops-windermere-3

The Henry

Breakfast burrito

Tomato soup and grilled cheese

Interior

**** (4 stars)

This is a good place for 24 hour comfort food. Even though it’s right off the casino floor, it’s not smoky and not noisy.

The portions are large. The tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwich was listed under “snacks” but my companion could only finish half of it! I had the breakfast burrito (substituting bacon for chorizo) and couldn’t finish it, either. Both were quite good.

Service is good, and our server was vigilant about keeping the coffee cups–which are the size of salad bowls–topped off.

The Henry
3708 Las Vegas Blvd SLevel 1, The Boulevard Tower
Las Vegas, NV
89109
(702) 698-7980
https://www.yelp.com/biz/the-henry-las-vegas

Times Square Diner

Intererior

Exterior

Turkey Club

Fresh Tuna Salad Club

**** (4 stars)

This narrow space near the theatre district is still decorated the way I imagine it was designed in the 1960s, which is pretty cool. (Well, actually, their air conditioning on a hot day was not particularly effective, if it was working at all, so it wasn’t literally cool, just figuratively.)

The menu is classic diner food, and most portions are enormous. I had a turkey club, and one I located it under a mountain of french fries, I thought it was delicious. Even better was the iced coffee, one of the best I’ve had anywhere.

Unlike some complaints I’ve seen online, I thought the service was excellent, with a plethora of servers constantly refilling our drinks and checking on us, even though they were very busy. I would definitely stop here again for a pre-theatre lunch.

Times Square Diner
807 8th Ave
New York, NY 10019
(212) 315-2400
https://www.yelp.com/biz/times-square-diner-new-york-4

LongHorn Steakhouse

Interior

Exterior

Outlaw Ribeye

***** (5 stars)

I’m still in shock over my visit to this Longhorn Steakhouse. I’d been to another Longhorn, years ago, and it was fine, but I never actually had steak. This time I was in the mood.

Somehow I’d expected the result to be closer to Sizzler than Capital Grille (which Longhorn owned before selling both to concepts Darden).

But I didn’t expect to have the best steak of my life. Better than Capital Grille. better than Mortons, than Flemings, than Ruth’s Chris. Better than I can cook at home. The Outlaw Ribeye was literally the best cooked, most tender, most flavorful and best seasoned steak I’ve ever had anywhere.

The Caesar salad was also right up there with any steakhouse. The bread was okay, but more like Ruby Tuesday’s now gone breadsticks (not a bad thing) rather than genuine steakhouse sourdough.

Of course the wine list is so short it can’t really be called a list, but the choices are fine.

Service was very professional and attentive, and the environment is, frankly, better decorated and cozier than at those high-end places. At about half the price. I’ll be back.

LongHorn Steakhouse
3118 Daniels Rd
Winter Garden, FL 34787
(407) 654-0272
https://www.yelp.com/biz/longhorn-steakhouse-winter-garden

OakWood Smokehouse & Grill

Interior

Exterior

Half rack combo

**** (4 stars)

I quite liked this small local chain. The decor is nice, the service was good, and the barbecue was just what I was looking for.

I had the half rack combo with chicken. The ribs were meaty and tender, and had just the right amount of BBQ sauce. To my surprise, the chicken was even better. It was a full breast and wing with a super-smokey flavor. It was unlike chicken I’ve had in any other BBQ spot, because of that emphasis. I dipped it in some sauce from the bottles on the table and he combination was terrific.

The meal comes with two sides, but if you want onion rings or a salad, those count as both, which seems a bit stingy, but the price is low enough that it’s not worth quibbling. The onion rings were good, but would have been better a bit crispier. The accompanying toast was pretty flavorless.

Beer and wine selections are very limited, but the house cabernet, although a small serving, was good.

OakWood Smokehouse & Grill
230 Citrus Tower Blvd
Clermont, FL 34711
(352) 394-0036
https://www.yelp.com/biz/oakwood-smokehouse-and-grill-clermont-2