Jan 182017

It’s impossible to ignore the bustling restaurant scene that continues to emerge in Winter Park. Previously inhabited solely by Hillstone (or Houston’s if you’re a long time guest), Orlando Avenue is now home to a large collection of restaurants. From sushi to salsa, here’s where to dine in Winter Park beyond Park Avenue.

Bulla: New to the dining scene is Bulla (“boo-ya”) Gastrobar, which opened at Lakeside Crossing. Bulla, which is Spanish slang for “chatter”, boasts an energetic, vibrant atmosphere with traditional tapas and creative libations.


Hillstone: I’ve always enjoyed Hillstone for its food, but also for the notable atmosphere. Step outside and you will find a seating area unmatched by any other local restaurant. The outdoor seating is on the edge of Lake Killarney and is filled with an herb garden and Adirondack chairs perfect for wine and conversation. The sunsets here are unbelievable and you can even reserve the dining dock that overlooks the lake. Their menu is filled with simple, fresh flavors and a variety of entrées to satisfy even the pickiest diners.


Photo Credit: Hillstone

Chuy’s: Perhaps most surprising is the kitchen, with virtually no freezer space and everything from tortillas to drinks made-from-scratch, you can taste the difference with every bite. Flour and corn tortillas are hand-rolled and cooked every day on an authentic comal, a flat griddle traditionally used in Mexico and Central America to make tortillas. Chuy’s also features a myriad of signature sauces, you can even ask your server for a sampling of all 10 sauces and they’ll walk you through each one. And the drinks? No mixes here, the bartenders come in early each morning to squeeze the lime juice used for the day. So don’t expect frozen, re-heated food, because everything from the beverages to tortillas are crafted with care.


Luke’s: The third concept from the Luma and Prato crew, Luke’s Kitchen and Bar offers classic American cuisine and cocktails. Inspired by timeless American libations, the bar program will feature signature classic cocktails using house-made ingredients that complement the menu. Luke’s will offer a wide-ranging, hand selected array of fine wines and craft beer as well. We’ve yet to visit, but look out for a full report soon!


Photo Credit: Luke’s

Kona Grill: Located in the Lakeside Crossing shopping center, Kona Grill features a global menu of contemporary American favorites, award-winning sushi, and specialty cocktails in an upscale casual atmosphere. Their extensive sushi menu includes favorites like the Picasso Roll and Peppered Tuna Tataki Roll. If you’re not a sushi connoisseur, there’s plenty of other options such as Macadamia Nut Chicken or Pad Thai.

kona grill

While we love the charm and personality of Park Avenue, there’s plenty of places worth exploring off the well-beaten path.


Jan 172017

Sonny’s second annual Smokin’ Showdown Invitational returned last week! The competition brought together the nation’s top pitmasters in one arena for an epic BBQ battle. While attendees watched more than 50 professional BBQ competition teams, there was plenty of feasting between plates of Sonny’s for sale and a rib and doughnut eating contest alongside live music.

sonny's smokin' showdown

The BBQ teams were judged on five different meat categories: chicken, ribs, pork, brisket and a mystery meat. The grand champion team received $20,000 along with a myriad of other cash prizes for subsequent winners. Attracting exceptional talent from around the country, here’s who took home the bacon during last week’s #SmokinShowdown.

  • Mystery Meat: Pit Crew
    • Tina is a trained chef turned BBQ competitor. This pitmaster, alongside her husband, travel the competition circuit together while making friends and having fun along the way.
  • Beef: Wolf Revenge BBQ
    • With a host of accolades, this Virginia based team is turning out everything from tender beef brisket to Brunswick stew with a recipe that dates back to 1828.
  • Ribs: Real South BBQ
    • This George based business founded in 2013 has one simple mission, “to cook the very best BBQ!” And based on their latest accolade, it looks like the judges at Sonny’s Smokin’ Showdown would agree.
  • Grand Champion: Cajun Blaze
    • This competitive “cooking obsessed” duo took home the coveted prize along with a nice chunk of cash. With several grand championship titles to their name, these two friends are ones to watch for on the circuit.

For more information and upcoming details on future showdowns visit sonnysshowdown.com and sonnysbbq.com. Until next year!

sonny's smokin' showdown

Jan 172017

After a grueling day of emails, fire drills and endless presentations, a beverage is generally in order. With lower priced libations and creative fare, we’ve found the perfect spots to unwind after the demands of your day. When work comes to a close, grab your friends head to a “happier hour.”

The Ravenous Pig: Sample a wine from Slovenia, Spain or wash the day away with a Gold Rush filled with Buffalo Trace bourbon. Their taproom menu ranges from oysters to Southern staples like shrimp and grits or Nashville hot chicken. Between the hip vibe and range of fare, this Winter Park mainstay is always a solid choice. Check out their new digs on Fairbanks where Cask & Larder previously resided.


Photo Credit: The Ravenous Pig

Luma on Park: Skip discounted cocktails and bar bites because Sunday – Tuesday this trendy Park Avenue spot serves a prix fixe menu for just $35. You’ll be presented with a range of options for each of the three courses – a total steal for a pricier place. Their wine list features mostly small boutique wineries with ample room for sampling as you can order half glasses from their extensive by-the-glass list.



The Guesthouse: This hipster Mills 50 spot is a nice respite from the craziness that Downtown Orlando often brings to nightlife. Boasting an extended period for happy hour, stop by this urban oasis daily from 5-8 p.m. for cocktails, wine and beer.


Photo Credit: The Guesthouse

RusTeak: Here happy hour comes not once, but twice per day. Drop by this college park restaurant Monday through Saturday from 4-7 p.m. and also from 10-11 p.m. for $5 glasses of wine, beer and select appetizers or $6 bucks for a signature cocktail. A recipient of Wine Spectator’s award of excellence, there’s plenty of vino options at this Edgewater restaurant to pair with your starters.


Photo Credit: RusTeak

Del Frisco’s: Their newest happy hour, Del’s at Dusk, takes places Monday through Friday, 4-6:30 p.m. Available in their downstairs bar on I-Drive, the happy hour special includes $8 bar menu selections, $8 wine and $9 signature cocktails as well as $5 select draft beer. Menu offerings include Wagyu corn dogs, tenderloin served over chateau potatoes and more!


Photo Credit: Del Frisco’s

K Restaurant: If you like to save your drinking for the weekend, head to K’s Friday night flights on the last Friday of every month. From 6-8 p.m. gather in their garden for a casual wine tasting with six different wines for just $20. We’d recommend staying for dinner to feast on a filet and friend green tomatoes.

Just remember……it’s always 5 o’clock “somewhere”. Cheers!

Jan 082017

Sonny’s second annual Smokin’ Showdown Invitational BBQ competition and festival returns this Saturday! The competition will bring together the nation’s top Pitmasters in one arena for an epic BBQ battle. While attendees watch more than 50 professional BBQ competition teams and taste their award-winning recipes, guests can also participate in rib and doughnut eating contests and enjoy live music. The BBQ teams are judged on five different meat categories: chicken, ribs, pork, brisket and a mystery meat, which will be announced at the event. The grand champion team will receive $20,000.

So this Saturday enjoy lots of BBQ, fare from local vendors, family-fun activities and musical performances, all for a mere $5! For more information visit sonnysshowdown.com and sonnysbbq.com. Here’s to an epic day of BBQ at  the Central Florida Zoo, 3755 Hwy 17-92 (Exit 104 off I-4), Sanford, FL 32771.

Dec 312016

We’re closing out 2016 with an idea for welcoming your new year in tasty style. Trade black-eyed peas for baguettes and bubbles when you ring in 2017 at Dovecote for brunch tomorrow.

Chef Clay Miller’s menu features a variety of French-inspired dishes, including his signature Croque Madame, Chicken & Sausage Casserole, Pearl Sugar Waffle and, naturally, a classic French Fine Herb Omelet.

To wash down all that fabulous fare, Dovecote offers daytime cocktails, exceptional barista-crafted coffee and rosé all day. They’ve brought this now popular phrase to life with $15 unlimited rosé during Sunday brunch{!!} In addition to their menu classics they’ll be offering a New Year’s Day special featuring one dozen oysters and a bottle of Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne for $79.

Here’s some of our favorite menu items to welcome the new year:

Caramelized Onion Soup: Brimming with oxtail, fresh horseradish and gruyère cheese, this soup is worth enjoying even if it’s 90 degrees outside. The perfect start to your Dovecote experience anytime of day.


Brioche French Toast: Holy moly, put down your fork and trade in your current meal for the fluffiest dish in town. Perfectly decadent and slightly sweet, make sure this breakfast item ends up on your table.


Quiche: A classic French item and one that’s so easy for restaurants to butcher, but at Dovecote someone in the kitchen clearly knows how to make a proper quiche.


Fromage Frites: I’d consider myself a bit of a french fry connoisseur (embarrassing to admit, I know) and these golden strips of glory are some of my favorites in town.


Selection of Pastries: On the particular Sunday we visited the menu featured a pumpkin coffee cake which was every bit seasonally relevant as it was plush and delicious.


Here’s to a fabulous 2017 full of brunch and good cheer!


Dec 202016

Have you ventured over to Epcot to experience their new global holiday marketplaces? Now through Dec. 30. indulge in duck confit and dumplings from the Alpine Haus Marketplace, celebrate with the shredded beef tamale from the Three Kings Feast Marketplace and toast with Williams Punch from Germany. Here’s a sampling of what you can experience around the world:


Crown Maple in Canada

Crown Maple, an artisan-crafted maple syrup brand from Dutchess County, New York, is currently the featured maple sugar in Canada. Maple Pecan Bark, made with Crown Maple sugar, will be available in the Canada pavilion until December 30. And here’s a recipe in case you’re still craving this treat when you get home!

Makes 24 Pieces:

  • 3/4 cup pecans
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar 1
  • /4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips, divided
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons maple sugar

1. Combine pecans and sea salt in a medium pan. Toast over medium heat, stirring constantly for 1-2 minutes, until brown and fragrant. Chop into small pieces and set aside.

2. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Once butter is melted, add sugar and water, stirring continuously until temperature reaches 295°F. Immediately pour onto baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat and spread into a 9×13-inch rectangle. Cool for at least 3 hours.

3. Melt 3/4 cup chocolate chips in a small bowl and spread over one side of the cooled bark. Immediately sprinkle half of the chopped pecans and maple sugar over the chocolate. Cool for 2 hours, until chocolate is set.

4. Melt remaining 3/4 cup of chocolate chips. Turn bark over and spread chocolate on the other half of the bark. Sprinkle with remaining chopped pecans and maple sugar. Cool for 2 hours, until chocolate is set.

5. Break into 24 pieces. Store in an airtight container for up to 7 days.


Alpine Haus

Sample the cozy comfort foods and robust libations of the North at this Alpine-inspired holiday kiosk. As you snack, take a peek at the selection of beautifully decorated Christmas trees and learn all about history’s most elegant evergreens.


Feast of the Three Kings
Dine like royalty as you enjoy scrumptious foods and delicious drinks from the Caribbean at this holiday kiosk inspired by the story of the Magi. While you nibble, learn about the celebration of Three Kings’ Day, El Día De Los Reyes Magos!


Watch mariachi dancers celebrating a Feliz Navidad, while imbibing on the zippy spices of Mexican cuisine. The carnitas tacos and horchata margaritas will have you singing, “olé!”

See you at the happiest place on Earth!


Dec 152016

There’s a bit of a taco renaissance happening in The City Beautiful right now. From Winter Park to Dr. Phillips, our little town is brimming with stuffed tortilla goodness. New to the scene and one of our favorites is bartaco. This open-air, chic spot is inspired by the beach cultures of Brazil, Uruguay and Southern California. Their upscale street food with a coastal vibe has finally made it’s way to Orlando. So, if you’re a taco connoisseur ,make sure you put bartaco on your “must try” list. From the atmosphere to the rustic, yet elegant tacos, you’ll want to return to this spot again and again and again.

Here’s what you should order during your visit:

  • Grilled Corn on the Cob with lime, cayenne and cotija cheese – a seriously savory, sweet explosion of flavors.


  • Guacamole that’s made in-house and served with perfectly salted crispy tortilla rounds. Good, simple guac done right.


  • Tacos (duh!) with so many options, you’ll be tempted to order the entire menu. Priced at $2.50 to $3.50 per taco, we’d suggest loading up your plate with an array of goodness including the shrimp “banh mi”, mahi mahi, duck, fried oyster and even the cauliflower version. Ordering is simple as is the presentation, which perfectly matches the overall laid back vibe at bartaco.



See you soon bartaco. We can’t wait to return for more of your delectable tacos (and grilled corn)!





Bartaco Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato