2 million in metropolitan area
Oranges and other citrus, authentic Vietnamese and Latin American cuisine
Orlando is probably not the first city that comes to mind when you think of good spots for cooks and food-lovers. Orlando — that's Disney World, right? Well, we chose to include Orlando in our list of city food guides for a couple of reasons. First of all, lots and lots of people end up there every year for conferences, meetings, and vacations; it's the third most visited city in America. Secondly, if you know where to go, Orlando actually has a lot of good little spots for cooks and food-lovers; it's not all Cheesecake Factory!
Here's a list of some great spots for food-lovers and cooks, thanks in large part to Gabi of Honest Fare, an Orlando-based food blog. Also, I used to live in Orlando, and the memory of the fresh avocados, mangos, papayas, and crisp greens in the middle of the winter is enough to make me homesick sometimes! If you get sent off to a work conference in Orlando, make sure you get away from the strips of chain restaurants in the resort areas south of town. They're not really part of Orlando; find some local food and enjoy!
Foods You Must Try
• Oranges, key limes, and other citrus, especially in the winter season
• Latin American products and cooking
• Vietnamese products and cooking
• Audobon Park Farmer's Market - Hosted by the extremely cool and popular Stardust coffee and video shop. On Wednesday evenings.
• Orlando Farmer's Market - Downtown on Sundays. More arts/crafts/entertainment focused.
• Winter Park Farmer's Market - Perhaps the most popular market, full of vendors and shoppers. Saturday mornings.
• There aren't any permanent food halls in Orlando. Farmer's markets are open in winter, early spring, and late fall. They're closed in the summer.
Best Grocery Stores
• Bravo Supermarket - 999 North Semoran Blvd. Orlando, FL 32807 (407) 380-1191 - This place is great! A full scale supermarket for Latin American products. They have EVERYTHING — veggies like yucca and plantains, and spices, grains, corn flour, coffees and weird sodas. Everybody speaks Spanish there and you feel like you're in another country. It rules. Very affordable too.
• Bumby Food Farm - 104 N Bumby Ave Orlando, FL, 32803 - This is another Latin American grocer. A lot smaller though, but still has a lot of ingredients and imports. Family run (sweet people).
• Sy's Supermarket - 600 West Church Street - This place is really weird but I know it's one of the only places in town where you can shop for things like pigs and chicken feet, tongue, ox tail, other weird cuts, collard greens.
• 1st Oriental Supermarket - 5132 W Colonial Dr Orlando, FL 32808-7604 - (407) 292-3668 - The size of a Publix and so clean! They have a lot of Japanese ingredients that are harder to find at the Vietnamese run markets, but also carry Korean and Viet ingredients.
• Abu Maher International Grocery - 6148 Hanging Moss Road, Orlando; 407-677-8000 - They have an awesome selection of canned and jarred ingredients, spices, teas, trinkets and treats imported from all the Middle East (Mediterranean, Mid-Eastern, Turkish, Persian, Indo-Pak). Nothing great produce wise but they do have Halal meats and a butcher. Giant vats of olives and the FRESHEST, biggest pitas ever.
• The most common chain grocery store in Orlando and the area is Publix, along with one or two Whole Foods.
Specialty Shops of Note
• Europol Polish Deli - 3090 Aloma Ave., Winter Park; 407-678-0909 - Pierogies and other deli items. Very popular.
• Lombardi's Fish Market - 1152 Harmon Ave. Winter Park, FL 32789 407-628-3474 - This is the only place to buy fish in town. Fresh, fresh, fresh. Great cuts...whole fish...great prices on crab claws!!! It's super old school and has a strong presence in Winter Park. Based out of a giant white warehouse building with old world lettering across the side that reads 'Lombardi's Seafood.' There's something charming about that to me....well, for a fish market anyway.
• Clemons Produce - 3325 Curry Ford Rd Orlando, FL 32806-3472 - (407) 897-1413 - So AWESOME! They carry the freshest (and cheapest!) veggies in town as well as in season varieties you don't see everywhere. Super bumpkin and humble place. They are great cause they're open 6 days a week unlike the farmer's markets in town. They also carry jams, local honey and all this Amish made stuff (candy, pastas, jams, pickled stuff, cheeses).
• Mom's Meats and Pop's Produce - 400 E. Compton St Orlando, Fl (407) 423-3309 - This place has been around forever. Well at least 50 years or something. Produce is great and the meat section is out of control. Butchers and giant slabs of stuff. Recently remodeled to look like a big old red barn!
Independent Food Artisans
• Palmano's Roastery in Winter Park - For fresh, well-roasted coffee.
A BIG thank you again to Gabi of Honest Fare, who hooked us up with a lot of these recommendations. Visit her blog here:
• Honest Fare
OK readers, your turn! Do you live in Central Florida? Did you find a good little spot there while on vacation or on a trip?
About The Kitchn's Food-Lover's Guides
We focus mainly on home cooking here at The Kitchn, and we know that one huge source of inspiration is travel. We want to give you ideas for things to eat and places to visit even when you're away from your home kitchen. We want to inspire your inner chef and introduce you to the best spots for food-lovers in a dozen or so major cities.
These guides don't deal with restaurants; there are plenty of other resources for that. These are the spots for food-lovers and cooks: the markets, specialty cookshops, and best small-batch artisans. If you're traveling in one of these cities this summer, we hope these guides help you find something inspiring. And if you live here, maybe you'll find a new resource to inspire your daily cooking!
We need your help, too, with these guides. Each city's thread will have at least some recommendations, but of course they will be incomplete. So we need your insider help. Tell us where the best markets, food shops, jam-makers, brewers, butchers, independent groceries, bakery supply stores, and quirky, strange, out-of-the-way food experts are. What are your favorite places to shop, as a cook?
(Images: US Dept of Justice; Faith Durand)