Left to right: Braccia’s Portuguese pizza includes a distinctive combination of toppings, including turkey ham, hard-boiled eggs and green olives. Fried chicken at The Coop might be served with such delectable sides as macaroni and cheese, fried okra, creamed corn and candied yams. At Scratch, the smoked duck is delivered to the table beneath a glass dome. As the dome is lifted, the scented smoke drifts about temptingly. LIVING IN WINTER PARK 107 Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen is renowned for freshly made light noshes (and impressive latte art). Palmano’s serves simple French coffees and lunches indoors and out. Parkview, posing as a wine bar, actually serves a full and surprisingly ambitious dinner menu. It isn’t on Park Avenue — it’s on nearby Morse Boulevard — but let’s not forget The Coop, for counter-service Southern staples and, now, a salad bar. Need a sweet? Le Macaron has those namesake light little confections in a rainbow of pastel colors. HANNIBAL SQUARE Despite its polished exterior, Hannibal Square gives off a distinct coziness vibe, probably due to its compact size and plethora of intriguing mom-andpop businesses. Among the best places to eat are Mynt, which elevates Indian cuisine to a high level, and venerable Dexter’s, a casually noisy spot with an eclectic menu, for-sale art on the walls and a nice wine list. Chez Vincent provides a plush French experience, while its offshoot, Hannibal’s on the Square, is more of a swanky lounge with burgers. Rustic chic Armando’s serves Italian specialties, Pepe’s Cantina appeals to the margarita crowd, and the all-outdoor Park Café & Bakery adds a Turkish twist to the coffee shop concept. ORANGE AVENUE The Winter Park strip of this major Orlando thoroughfare encompasses some of the metro area’s most renowned restaurants. The Ravenous Pig, owned by native Winter Parkers and James Beard nominees Julie and James Petrakis, was the area’s first gastropub, and it continues to break new ground. “The Pig,” as locals call it, begat Cask & Larder, a Southern “public house” and brewery, which in turn begat Swine & Sons, for sandwiches and takeout with an all-scratch orientation. Nearby, you can pick up quick-serve chow at BB Junction, which offers thoughtfully prepared burgers and fries; Winter Park Fish Company, which features simple but scrumptious takes on fresh seafood; and 4 Rivers Smokehouse, a Texas-style barbecue destination that has grown into a small chain. There’s also Buttermilk Bakery, a newcomer offering sweets and sandwiches, and The Porch, a laid-back choice for a casual night out with friends. ORLANDO AVENUE Not long ago, dining along the Winter Park section of lengthy U.S. Highway 17-92, here called Orlando Avenue, meant you were at one of four places: Rocco’s Italian Grille, a warm and romantic Old World hideaway; El Bodegon, featuring Spanish tapas; the tiny Black Bean Deli, which is über-popular for its Cuban comfort food; or Hillstone, an upscale chain that evolved from its sister concept, Houston’s. In recent years, burgeoning North Winter Park has become a magnet for higher-end chain restaurants. Among those plating up meals along Orlando Avenue today are P.F. Chang’s, TR Fire Grill, Ruth’s Chris, Fleming’s, Another Broken Egg, The Cheesecake Factory, Carmel Café & Wine Bar, Square 1 Burger, Marlow’s Tavern, Mitchell’s Fish Market and Shake Shack. On Lee Road just off 17-92, the humble Café Noir has a strong local following. Bubbalou’s Bodacious BBQ, also on Lee Road, is as down-home as it gets and remains the only place in town where you can order a basket of fried chicken gizzards. At the new Lakeside Crossing on U.S. 17-92, where the Mt. Vernon Inn stood for years, will be Bulla Gastrobar, Kona Grill and Chuy’s Tex Mex. FAIRBANKS/ALOMA Not far from Orlando Avenue, on Fairbanks Avenue, several restaurants are worth noting: Scratch, with inventive tapas served at a leisurely pace; The Wine Barn, which is now also a place for personal pizzas; and Lombardi’s, a seafood market with a café. Serious vegans have Ethos, with its 100 percent vegan kitchen. Antonella’s Pizzerea, an unassuming pizza and pasta house, was recently opened by second-generation restaurateurs and has attracted legions of fans, particularly Rollins College students. Also on Fairbanks, the delightfully downscale Winter Park Diner boasts an equally passionate following for hearty breakfasts and blue-plate specials. Far further east, long after Fairbanks turns into Aloma, are Tibby’s, offering an authentic New Orleans experience, and Toasted, featuring a variety of grilled-cheese combinations. That may sound like a lot of dining choices — but it’ll only get you started. We’re missing far more Winter Park dining venues than we included. If reading this made you as hungry as writing it made me, then let’s indulge ourselves and meet up later at the gym.
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