Saturday, January 4, 2014

Orlando Eats

Traveling or moving to a new city when you follow a diet outside the norm can be tricky. I hope that those of you who are somewhere on the meatless spectrum know about the website HappyCow which lets you search by city or zip code for veggie and veg friendly restaurants and stores. If you use that search for Orlando you will find some of the big names in Orlando veggie eats: Ethos Vegan Kitchen, Dandelion Communitea Café, Raphsodic Bakery, and Drunken Monkey to name a few.

I have sampled 3 of these 4 (haven’t made it to Ethos yet, it’s more vegan comfort food which isn't my style), and highly recommend them – especially Drunken Monkey. I thought I’d write a post about some of my favorite eats in Orlando that are omnivore-friendly too. My partner and all of my friends in Orlando eat meat, so I often eat at non-veg restaurants.

Here are my top picks:

Infusion Tea 

Infusion Tea is in the College Park neighborhood where our favorite bike shop is. They have soups, salads, sandwiches, and of course tea. They make an amazing tempeh chili, tempeh tacos, and variety of interesting salads. Everything I've had there has been great, and they often have vegan desserts/gelato available. For the vegetarians/omnivores, the egg salad is Carly approved.

Kabooki Sushi 

We've only been here once, but it was enough to cement Kabooki’s place on my list of Orlando Eats. I love vegan sushi and I especially love places where I can have something other than avocado/cucumber/asparagus in my rolls. Kabooki has a vegetable moriawase plate that features a maki roll, a hand roll, and several pieces of vegetable nigiri. They also have great appetizers and were happy to veganize the fantastic Mr. Mario mushroom dish.

Izziban Sushi

Our favorite sushi place is Izziban. They have a great daily happy hour for food and drinks, the best sake selection I've ever seen, and a banana cashew roll that is perfect for dessert. They just re-did their menu with some new cooked options (at least 8 with tofu) and focus heavily on Korean dishes as well as Japanese. The servers are very knowledgeable about what is and is not vegan. We've never had a bad dish there.

Lac Viet Bistro 

The intersection of Mills Ave and Colonial Drive in Orlando is chock full of Asian restaurants, shops, and markets. It’s one of our favorite neighborhoods, and we’ve sampled many of the Vietnamese restaurants in the area. This one is our favorite. I recommend the tofu bun (tofu, tons of veg & noodles), Carly recommends the banh xeo: a crepe filled with pork, shrimp & bean sprouts. The summer rolls are great too!

Hawker’s Asian Street Fare 

Hawker’s can best be described as Asian tapas. Their menu is huge and the portions are generous for a low price. They have a wide variety of vegan options including jicama salad (my favorite!), tofu lettuce wraps, sautéed bean sprouts, and tofu banh mi sandwiches. This is a great place for mixed groups because of the small plates and emphasis on sharing. They also have a great beer list.

Bob Marley – A Tribute to Freedom

If you are in the theme park area, the Bob Marley restaurant at Universal’s CityWalk is a great choice. Universal’s CityWalk is free (except parking), and so is Downtown Disney (free parking) so it’s a good place to meet guests from out of town who are staying at the parks. Most of their sides are veg friendly, and I had the Ital Eats Stuffed Peppers which were super filling and delicious.

Oblivion Taproom 

Oblivion is a great place to go for beer nerds, plus their menu is labeled based on which dishes are vegan/vegetarian. They have recently been doing monthly menus, but will always have a vegan burger and often other options like hummus and falafel. They have cheap darts and pool so this is a great place to hang out before/after a meal.

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