Local Flavor in Orlando, FL
Okay, barbecue connoisseurs, this is it on the line: You haven't had real Q until you've watched the chef massage the brisket. At 4Rivers, they pay a decidedly personal sort of attention to their meats, ensuring the leanest, juiciest and just plain best cuts make into their sandwiches or on to their platters. And this devotion carries over to their sides, with choices like smokehouse corn, sweet potato casserole and bacon-wrapped jalepenos. For large parties, give them some advanced notice and 4Rivers can whip up extra special items like whole turkeys, leg of lamb and smoked salmon. Get there before you're hungry. The line out the door of this little space (with only picnic table seating) is often so long, you'll be starving before you order.
Cress is one of those joints that just screams originality. For starters, the head chef/owner is a mathematician. Intrigued yet? How about when you read menu items served with “blackberry-habanero reduction” or “seasoned thyme grits”? Not only are Cress' offerings singularly inspired, they're singularly made as well, all being seasonal and many using local ingredients. This includes fish from Cape Canaveral and roasted game from local farms. The prices ($14-$23 an entree) might make this more of a special occasion place (plus the drive out to DeLand), but at least you'll be including some real culture while culturing your palette.
“King Cajun Crawfish of Orlando was founded in 2010 via New Orleans via Vietnam,” is this simple restaurant's simple history, and their menu follows suit. Quality seafood served two ways: in a Po'Boy sandwich or as a platter with your choice of seasoning. This dedication to uncomplicated cooking allows them to really focus on making that food delicious. Mixing and matching makes for a complete buffet of choices when you're deciding between loading your belly up with Cajun-spiced jumbo shrimp or lemon pepper Alaskan snow crab. Try one one way, try the other the next and then spin them around and start over.
Sometimes, food is every bit about where you're eating it as what you're having. Pom Pom's feels at once like an extra room in your house and a low-key indie club. The works of local artists adorning the walls always goes with the menu, which is composed mostly of unique twists on the soup-and-sandwich tradition. Gourmet sandwiches include the seasonal berry melt with fresh berries and brie, just as an example. But if none of their prepared items get it perfect, you can build your own. Have a cup of one of their specialty teas, finish up with a homemade cupcake and relax … in style.
There comes a time in every modern person's life when he or she has to answer the question, “Thai?” In the City Beautiful, that's more of a question of “Where will we have Thai tonight?” There are upscale and downscale options, but none of them offer Thai iced tea as sweet as Thai Villa. All the usual suspects line up here: Pad Thai, Thom Yum and Thom Kai soups, curry chicken and the rest. And the ambiance is ambivalent, suitable for either romantic dinner or casual lunch. You may wonder how you decided, but once you sip that tea (or taste it as an ice cream dessert), you'll be happy you've found a Thai place you can call home.