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Spotlight

Spotlight: The Halal Guys


If you’ve ever been to New York City and wandered around the around the area of 6th Avenue and West 53rd Street — and as a tourist, there’s a pretty good chance you have since it’s in the area of Rockefeller Center and the corner that the New York Hilton is on — you’ve undoubtedly seen an omnipresent food stand there where meats and onions are cooked on a griddle day and night and mounded in a corner of the hot surface awaiting customers. You may have even ordered a pita sandwich there. I did, many, many years ago, on one of my early visits to the city, while attending a convention, at the Hilton, in fact, in the days …
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Spotlight

Spotlight: Orlando Meats


I pretty much knew what I wanted as soon as I scanned the small menu board over the ordering counter at Orlando Meats, a small butchery on Virginia Drive. As someone who always orders his burgers medium rare, I couldn’t pass up one whose entry on the menu actually reads “Medium-rare Burger.”
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Spotlight

Spotlight: Kona Grill


Silly me, I was expecting Hawaiian, or at least Polynesian. I mean, what else should one infer from a name like Kona Grill? And there are a lot of Asian and Pacific Rimmy kinds of dishes on the menu. There are sushi offerings and the requisite poke bowls, some egg rolls and some stir-frys. But of course the first thing I spot on the large menu is Jambalaya. The second thing is a Cuban Sandwich. So immediately I’m thinking WTF, which stands for What’s the Theme? I’m going to go with “big and splashy,” with a side of “feed as many people as you can at once.” It’s a very large space, and it doesn’t appear to have been cheaply …
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Spotlight

Spotlight: Naguará K’arepas


Are you an arepas fan? If so, you’re going to want to get over to the intersection of Curry Ford Road and Chickasaw Trail and try Naguara K’arepas. If you’re not an arepas fan, you should also go here; you’ll soon be a fan. If you’re not sure whether you’re a fan or not, it might be that you just aren’t familiar with them. Arepas are essentially little round corn cakes made with masarepa, a ground cornmeal. Think of a fatter type of tortilla or a South American version of a pita. Like those devices, arepas can be stuffed sandwich-like with any variety of good fillings. They’re especially popular in Colombia and Venezuela, where they’re part of the daily diet. …
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Spotlight

Spotlight: Laurel Latin


There’s something about the name Laurel Latin Cuisine that I find quite forgettable. And that’s not good for a restaurant that’s hidden off the main thoroughfare, tucked in the back of a building on Park Avenue. So when I arranged to meet a friend for lunch in Winter Park, I said, “Let’s go to that new restaurant.” “Fine,” she said, “what’s the name?” “I can’t remember,” I responded, “but it’s where Paris-Bistro used to be.” “Paris Bistro is gone?” She was shocked, even though she works just a few blocks away. That might help to explain why Paris-Bistro is gone. Now that I’ve eaten there, I think I’ll have an easier time remembering Laurel Latin Cuisine. The menu is an …
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Spotlight

Spotlight: Magical Dining Month Returns


It’s here! Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month, which somehow defies all principles of the modern Gregorian calendar by running more than five weeks, runs through Oct. 1. More than 100 restaurants are participating this year, up from 65 in 2016, including for the first time some well-known Disney restaurants. So even with 38 days, you’re not going to be able to visit them all. (No. NO. Stop arguing, you just can’t do it.) Also up this year is the cost, $35, two bucks more than 2016, and they’re not even paying Emeril Lagasse an endorsement fee this year. So you’re going to have to do some research to narrow your decision. Here’s how I go about choosing which Magical Dining …
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Spotlight

Spotlight: LemonShark Poke


Sometimes when a food fad starts trending, we scratch our heads in befuddlement of what all the fuss is about. (I’m looking at you, cupcakes.) But occasionally, you’ll happen upon someone who is doing the current food a la mode in such a way as to produce an aha moment, where you say, “OK, now I get it.” If you’ve been wondering about the surge in restaurants offering Hawaiian raw fish bowls, your eureka! is waiting for you at LemonShark Poke on Restaurant Row. For those still unfamiliar with it, poke is similar to Japanese chirashi, which features raw fish served over rice. But whereas the fish in chirashi is basically the same as sashimi — that is, sliced in …
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Spotlight

Spotlight: El Pueblo


El Pueblo’s sign says it is a grocery as well as a restaurant, but unless I missed something I saw nothing in the way of a market. It operates as a quick-serve — order at the counter and the friendly staff member will bring your food to you when ready. What the sign should say is: We serve authentic and good Mexican food I chose No. 4 on the menu, the Chilaquiles. As is traditional in Mexico, the chilaquiles is available with a red or green sauce and a choice of meat. It’s a simple dish with squares of tortillas as the base, with sauce, meat and cheese on top. I cheated. I got the green sauce and requested some …
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Spotlight

Spotlight: Brooklyn Coffee


For a place called Brooklyn Coffee Shop, there is quite an extensive food menu at this new Mills 50 spot. Also, for a place named after a New York borough, there’s a lot of South American influences. Seattle, too. Also Miami. It takes the space most recently occupied by Restaurant Ash, which was also the original Funky Monkey Wine Co. So there’s a kitchen to be put to use. It’s clear that empanadas are a specialty, so I had the Pastel de Carne when I stopped in for a late lunch. It was filled with lots of shredded brisket, seasoned with garlic, onions and chili spicing. The turnover-like device had a wonderfully flaky crust, at least on the top. When …
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