While we were running errands in Hunter’s Creek, we decided to try Jimmy Hula’s Restaurant for a late lunch. The brand has several Central Florida locations, and the atmosphere is very casual. They have tables with reclaimed car bench seats as well as chairs, and the overall vibe is that of a surf shack on the beach. This is kind of cool, in a kitschy way.
The menu has several burger options and sides, as well as a variety of tacos, sandwiches and appetizers. When you walk in the front door, you order at the counter, and they give you a number in order to bring the food to you.
Jeremiah’s Italian Ice, a fun shaved ice/ soft serve ice cream place, recently opened a location in Hunter’s Creek, so we went to check it out.
It is a walk up, order at the window type of place. We first tried it on their Grand Opening. It was very loud, and very busy. We had to try the gelato as that is what they are known for. Their version of gelato is a combination of the shave ice and soft serve, and it’s served in a cup. There are so many possible combinations, it’s hard to decide. Some options are fruity flavored and very refreshing on hot days here in Central Florida. Other options are very indulgent and good for when you are in the mood.
I am a big fan of Tijuana Flats, but most of my visits center around their great Taco Tuesday promotion (2 huge tacos of your choice of ground beef or chicken, plus chips and a drink for $5.49). But recently I attended a Central Florida Lady Bloggers event where I got to try some of their other yummy menu items.
First a little history on the brand. It was formed in 1995 by a UCF student named Brian Wheeler, with the first location in Winter Park. So this is a local brand. In the course of the twenty years since that first store, Tijuana Flats has grown to 100 restaurants in six states. Each location is also decorated differently with local artist drawn murals and ceiling decor.
As Downtown Disney transitions into Disney Springs, new eateries are opening. One of the newest is Vivoli Geletaria, which sells authentic Italian gelato.
How authentic? The company was founded in 1932 in Florence, Italy, where today they are well known for their gelato. The location at Walt Disney World is their first storefront outside of Italy, with the exception of a counter located at Macy’s in New York City .
This past Sunday, my friend Joan and I made a day trip up to St. Augustine. Our primary goal was to see one of our favorites, Bryan Adams, in concert at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre, but we figured we’d go early and try out one of their restaurants.
We left around 2pm and got up there just before 4pm, slowed slightly by a thunderstorm en route. But as we rolled into the Historic Downtown area, it was sunny skies.
My connection at the St. Augustine CVB recommended A1A Ale Works as a restaurant to try, citing their craft brews and water-side dining. The restaurant is actually upstairs in a converted building on the corner next to the historic Bridge of Lions, with a bar area downstairs.
After a day at a local water park, my family and I decided to eat supper at Mellow Mushroom‘s newest Orlando location on I-Drive.
The décor is modern and comfortable. We were at a booth that faced outside as the sun was setting. Our one complaint is that they did not have blinds or coverings on the door to block the sun for the 2 that were facing that way. They do have a very cool guitar chandelier, but I failed to get pictures of it or any of the décor. I was focused on the pizza.
I haven’t eaten at this chain before, however my husband has eaten at them other places around the country. We started with a spinach artichoke dip that was very good and gone before I could get a picture. Yep, we were hungry.
We ordered 4 different pizzas for us to try: a small plain cheese for our son; a small Funky Q. Chicken; a medium that was half Thai Dye and half Philosopher’s Pie; and a small House Special.
Saturday we were invited to try out the new brunch at American Gymkhana. Having enjoyed the restaurant’s modern Indian cuisine for dinner, I was very interested in trying out their brunch offerings.
When we arrived, we were seated on the recently opened veranda, at a table for two next to the windows. We received menus and our drink orders were taken. We opted to go with the day’s special cocktail creations.
The brunch menu was divided into four sections – sweet, savory, classic, and egg dishes. It was hard, but my friend Joan and I narrowed the choices down to three dishes to try.
From the egg dishes we selected the Desi Omelet with a side of Marsala potato wedges. The vegetarian omelet featured serrano peppers, sauteed onions, cilantro, and Amul cheese, and the ingredients complemented each other well. The Indian cheese was creamy with a bit of tang, while the peppers provided a mild heat. The potatos tasted like potatoes. I couldn’t taste any spice, but it made a good base for the roasted onion chutney served with it.
My husband and I were recently invited to American Gymkhana for dinner, and we were eager to try this new restaurant out. We discovered this is an upscale place, perfect for a date night. Our children eat Indian food all the time, but I would think twice before taking them here, as the atmosphere is better for adults. The faire is modern Indian from the colonial India era. For this evening, my husband, Kirk, and I went as a date – no kids. Yay us!
We ordered two appetizers: the Tandoori Portobello, Broccoli & Onion skewer, and the Malpe Shrimp (seasoned with fennel butter-pepper and garlic-cilantro-curry leaf pesto). Both were very good. The skewer was more spicy than I normally order (yes, I’m a wimp), but my hubby thought it was great.
Our first appetizer was the Crab-stuffed Deviled Duck Eggs with bacon and truffle oil ($12). The dish was well-balanced but very rich and creamy. One or two of these would do as a meal starter.
Next up was Cornmeal Crisped Oysters on a bed of chicharrones, with pickled green tomato relish and herb cream ($9). If you love oysters, you’ll love this different take on them. The dish really works if you can manage to get all four components in the same bite.
Seasons 52 menus change with the seasons, to better reflect foods that are in season. On a recent afternoon, Carol, our family writer, and I tried out their spring lunch menu at the Dr. Phillips location.
We arrived shortly after they opened at 11:30am, so we were immediately seated for our reservation. After perusing the menu, we decided to order a few items and share. While we waited for our food, we took in the decor. Dark wood and plenty of skylights gave the room a upscale feel that wasn’t stuffy. The living trees and plants gave the main room an outdoorsy feel, as well. Classy but understated.
Last fall, Margaritaville Orlando revamped its menu adding in a lot of new items. We decided to try out the new menu and headed out on a Friday night to Universal Orlando.
We arrived a little before our reservation time, but were seated immediately on the main floor, near the stage. Margaritaville has nightly musical entertainment on the stage, but we were dining too early for that.
We each ordered a margarita, and started our meal with a trio of appetizers. The “Drunken” Shrimp Skillet ($13.99), recommended by our server Linda, was a big hit with my dining companion, Joan. She said the shrimp were so well done they just popped in her mouth, and the combination of the tequila lime butter and the trinity of garlic, onions, and peppers made for a wonderful flavor with the shrimp. She also tried the Asiago Crab Dip ($13.29), which she said was good, but not as good as the shrimp skillet.
Seasons 52 is known for their changing menu, which reflects foods that are in season, but one of the highlights of a recent visit was their new Mini Indulgences desserts.
As the name implies, these desserts are tiny, served in a shot glass, but they are so full of flavor, you really don’t need a bigger size.
In order to give a proper review, we did, of course, have to sample all nine flavors currently on the menu. When they arrived at the table, Carol and I decided to sample them in order of lightest to heaviest, to build up our taste buds.
The Key Lime Meringue Pie featured a dollop of meringue on top of a key lime curd that was a perfect mixture of sweet and tart. It was layered with thin ribbons of graham cracker crust.
Earlier this week we were invited to a pre-opening event to get to know the new Yard House, which opened April 24 in Orlando. It is located on International Drive, in the new I-Drive 360 complex that is currently being constructed.
The Yard House is known for its extensive beers on tap – the Orlando location has 150 of them, ranging from domestics and imports to craft beers, ales and lagers. The kegs are kept in a specially cooled room with blue lights, and distributed to the taps on the floor through a literal pipeline that travels the ceiling down to the bar area. Inside the pipes are dozens of individual beer lines.
As a preview of the upcoming Central Florida Home + Garden Show, I was invited to join several bloggers at Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen in Winter Park to sample some of their menu offerings and hear about the Edible Orlando food stage at the show.
We started with several different wines, and got seated at the lovely outdoor patio area in back. I also tried two of their sparkling wine concoctions, a Spiced Apple Royale (so yummy!) and a Ginger Ruby Red, made with flavored ice in a glass of sparkling Cava wine.
Cristian Moore, producer of the Central Florida Home + Garden Show, gave us an introduction to his event, and what to expect. Then Jonathan Smiga, President and Chief Executive Officer of Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen, told us the history of his company, and then invited us to sample dishes served on its lunch and dinner menus.