Hello, hello! Is it already Wednesday? Time sure does fly when you’re away from your normal routine, doesn’t it?
While I normally participate in What I Ate Wednesdays by highlighting an entire day of eating in our household, today I am mixing it up and sharing a few days of eats and fun things from our Florida Trip so far.
You know… because when you travel, and especially travel to visit and catch up with loved ones, your life starts to revolve around food.
Sentences like “Okay, when and where are we meeting?”, “We have to go to that place!”, and “I’ve been craving that for so long.” have become all too familiar this week!
Since Scott and I only get to visit Orlando together once or twice a year, we always try to fit in as much as possible.
If you ever find yourself in Orlando and are in need of some lunch and dinner suggestions from a local, (orrr, if you like seeing pictures of my friends and family as much as I do…) here are some of our favorites spots.
Orlando Eats + Trip Highlights
• Megan + Jack’s Wedding (Tampa)
Gah. Tampa Bay is beautiful. I would totally move back there… but that’s entire other city and post to get into. Congratulations again, you two!
• Mom’s 60th Birthday
As soon as we hopped into the car to drive to Orlando, we hopped out of it at my sister’s to celebrate my mother’s 60th birthday!
To help get the party started, I picked up a chocolate ganache cake from The Fresh Market (<- oh, how I miss that place!) on the way over and adorned it with these funky and swirly multi-colored candles from Papyrus.
It was so nice to give her card and present to her in person, instead of having to mail in like most birthdays these days.
I was so happy to be surrounded by my family, and also by people I have known since I was in diapers (i.e. my other family).
I just love them so much!
• Park Avenue, Winter Park
Before we flew down, I asked my mom if she could get a day off of work to be able to spend some quality time with her.
Growing up, walking and window shopping on the streets and avenues in Winter Park was one of our favorite weekend past times.
Especially on Park Avenue.
They have a gorgeous botanical garden in the center and is filled with unique boutique style shops and specialty restaurants.
It’s a very popular spot to shop, stroll, dine, and even take professional photos. (Remember our Rock the Dress Wedding Shoot? Woot!)
• Blu on the Avenue
Speaking of dining, that is exactly what we set out to do on our visit over. My mom raved about a relatively new place I had never been to called Blu on the Avenue, and I knew we had to take her there.
The inside was absolutely gorgeous, but we decided to eat outside and enjoy the afternoon with my sister, Trish, and our friend, Jaclyn, in the fresh air instead.
It couldn’t have been more perfect weather for the special occasion. Eventually, we ordered and I split a Lobster Cobb salad and a volcano sushi roll with Mom.
Fresh Maine lobster meat, Boston lettuce, roma tomatoes, English cucumbers, shaved prosciutto di parma and sliced avocado with bacon bleu cheese on the side.
Traditional volcano roll minus the spicy mayo to accommodate allergies!
Everything was just… so wonderful. I will definitely be returning to Blu again and encourage anyone asking to give their menu a try as well.
• Dandelion Communitea Cafe
After walking the avenue a couple of times, we drove around to run some errands and made an equally tasty stop before heading back home.
I was introduced to Dandelion Communitea Cafe by my friends from church and often miss our meet ups there. It’s best described as an quaint and eclectic organic, eco-friendly eatery you could spend hours at.
The decorations are all unique and very hippy. You can tell everything in there has a great story of where it came from and who brought it there.
They offer a wide variety of vegan and gluten free options, including burritos, wraps, bowls, and even cupcakes!
As much as the balsamic and caprese flavors intrigued us, there’s just something about the thought of salad ingredients on my cupcake I didn’t agree with. Instead, we split a blueberry lavender and ordered the specialty tea of the day.
(I heart mason jars.)
• Cinco de Mayo with old amigos
We got home with just enough time to say hello to my grandma before getting right back out the door to celebrate Cinco de Mayo with friends!
To be honest, the place we decided on had great food, but horrible service. I am well aware that it was a Mexican place on a Mexican holiday, but everyone in our group who had previously visited said it’s always like that. Bummer.
So, we grabbed a couple of rounds of margaritas and made the best of it.
And it turned out to be a great night with wonderful people!
Next time, we’ll just have to chose a different spot in Baldwin Park. It really is a cute area!
• 4 Rivers Smokehouse
Scott and I both dream of 4 Rivers Smokehouse BBQ when we’re away from it for too long.
The very first location opened in Winter Park in 2009 and since then the business has boomed. They now have six locations and are slowly making there way out of Orlando with restaurants in Jacksonville and Gainesville.
Dining is so easy there with a quick order at the window and food ready to take with you by the end of the line. Even though the lines can be out the door, the wait is always worth it and every one we bring to try it loves it.
They always feature a special of the day and Scott always gets it. This one was called the Belly Buster with a side of corn and macaroni and cheese.
I opted for a light(er) option of pulled chicken without the bun and a side of green beans and cheese grits.
Ohhh those cheese grits are something else. I get them every single time! And don’t even get me started on their sauce. Everything is incredible.
Also, they now feature a sweet shop full of one-of-a-kind bakery treats.
When we didn’t see Scott’s favorite, they gladly whipped it up for him and even though we had to take it home, I couldn’t help but at least snap a photo of it.
Get this… Mountain Dew icing with Nacho Cheese Dorito crumbles.
• driving around Orlando
With our anticipated full bellies in tow, we spent the next few hours driving around our old stomping grounds stopping in here and there. My favorite part was around the theme parks, which also just so happens to be right down the road from where we used to live.
We used to live in an area of the city called MetroWest, which included the sight of running roller coasters and sounds of screaming on the way to work for me every day. Pretty neat, right?
• Bosphorous Turkish Cuisine
We thought we were full until we remembered dinner plans with a small group of friends back in Winter Park.
I had eaten at Bosphorous Turkish Cuisine on Park Avenue a few times and only expected wonderful things. Like these lavas hallow breads the size of our heads, for instance.
We ordered two for the table of five, along with the Karisik Meze as a mixed dip appetizer.
A combination of humus, babaganoush, sautéed eggplant, tabbuli, ezme, tarama, haydari, and stuffed grape leaves.
To play it on the safe side, Scott and I shared an entree of chicken kebab skewers and a Shepherd’s Salad (Coban Salada) for dinner.
Chopped cucumber, tomato, bell pepper, parsley, and red onion tossed in a specialty dressing.
And of course, we finished off the meal with their baklava for dessert.
It has been such a treat to see so many awesome, familiar faces so far! Fun fact, both Katie and Meggan were bridesmaids in our wedding and attended the University of South Florida with me. (Go Bulls!)
I can’t get over how good (and heavy!) we are eating on this trip. Except I should have expected it, as it happens every single time. Good thing we have plans to attend an outside Boot Camp with my sister this morning…
I’m looking forward to the next couple of days checking out more of our beloved stops. I will be sure to share more in a final Orlando eats and highlights post to come. Have a great Wednesday!
Questions of the Day
• What is your favorite place to visit and/or dine in Orlando?
• If you’ve never been to the city, what is your favorite place or thing about your hometown?