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Wine is best sipped in the enclosed courtyard at Palmano’s, the walls of which are decorated by wooden plaques displaying the logos of various vintages served. ood. Good food. Even extraordinary food. Winter Park residents are a well-traveled lot who expect to eat well wherever they go — even if their destination is just a few blocks from home. The breadth of choices include a diverse blend of kitchenistas, from local bakers who perfected their baguette-making skills in Paris to homegrown chefs who, after rigorous educations and years of practice, earned nominations for national awards. Without question, the city’s culinarians meet the demand for fine meals — be they simple or sophisticated. What’s more, locals often gather to enjoy the bounty. In the spring, you’ll find neighbors indulging and hobnobbing under the stars at Dinner on the Avenue, which stretches along Park Avenue. Another night, they’ll be sampling offerings from 40-plus restaurants at Taste of Winter Park, an indoor-outdoor affair with free wine and live entertainment. In the fall, Cows ‘n’ Cabs brings a Western theme to the taste-all-youwant format, with some honky-tonk-style music to boot. Winter Park Wine & Dine has a similar setup, without the cowboy attire. Before Thanksgiving, nearby East End Market hosts the annual Winter Park Harvest Festival. The event includes a market featuring locally produced foods and a Florida-themed meal prepared by several area chefs. You can eat well between events, of course. Here are some of Winter Park’s headliner restaurants, by location. The list includes some of our favorites, but is by no means comprehensive. PARK AVENUE Park Avenue is the vibrant heart of Winter Park. The retail and dining district, with its brick road and genteel bustle, is home to eclectic boutiques and an array of independent restaurants — many with outdoor seating, which facilitates people-watching. 106 LIVING IN WINTER PARK The Avenue is a regional dining destination and has been for decades. Well-established eateries now serve the children, and even the grandchildren, of original customers. Among the mainstays: Pannullo’s Italian Restaurant, for fine Italian cuisine; Café de France, with a classic Gallic flair; and Briarpatch, a quirky breakfast and lunch spot. Although it was closed for renovations at press time, no discussion of Park Avenue dining is complete without a mention of elegant Park Plaza Gardens, a date-night tradition. The Avenue’s additional restaurants continue this appealing mix of cuisines, styles and price ranges. James Beard Award regional nominee Brandon McGlamery oversees the kitchens of siblings Luma on Park, offering progressive American fare, and Prato, which applies a similarly creative approach to Italian staples. Paris Bistro is a cozy but lavish space featuring classic French entrées, while Boca is a bustling all-American choice. Umi offers superb Japanese cuisine, while Orchid Thai serves the foods of Thailand in an elegant setting where there really are orchids on every table. Popular Cocina 214 has earned raves for its tasty Dallas-style Tex-Mex as well as for its fun special events, such as the Running of the Chihuahuas and its Cinco de Mayo shindig. Braccia Pizzeria & Ristorante, a relative newcomer, puts a Brazilian twist on pizza. 310 Park South and its younger sister, Blu on the Avenue, serve up eclectic American dishes. Be sure to find time for a piping hot lavash bread at Bosphorus, a Turkish restaurant that prides itself on authenticity. Vegetarians favor Daya and Ethos Vegan Kitchen, both of which are a short walk from Park Avenue. Quick bites are just as tempting. Croissant Gourmet has earned a passionate following for its baguettes, pastries and crêpes. The no-frills Power House Café draws diners with its interesting array of Mediterranean-inspired sandwiches. F


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