Thursday, September 15, 2016

Top 6 Reasons to Visit New Rubio's

Finally! We got a Rubio's Coastal Grille in Orlando...Winter Park Village, to be exact. As a seafood lover, I have been watching this California taco/ burrito chain for years and hoping it would eventually come to Florida. That is because many fast casual eateries - even if they offer tacos and burritos - are very light on seafood dishes. But not Rubio's. And the seafood they use is high quality. Wild salmon and pollock from Alaska. Delicious mahi mahi. And yummy shrimp. Of course, they offer all sorts of delicious vegetarian, chicken and steak dishes too.

The restaurant officially opens September 15, and we were fortunate to get a sneak peek the night before. Here are the top 6 reasons to visit the new Rubio's:

1. The location. Next to the AMC Theater in Winter Park Village, this is the perfect spot to grab an affordable dinner - and wine or beer - before the show. Since it's a fast casual eatery, prices are reasonable at between $3.99 for tacos and $8.49 for salads and rice bowls.

2. The Grilled Shrimp & Bacon Burrito was one of our favorite things on the menu. Ingredients include bacon, avocado, toasted cheese, blackened jalapenos, citrus rise and salsa fresca. However, if you are wary of heat, ask for little or no jalapenos - they can really surprise you!

3. The service. Even though the restaurant just opened, the managers, cashiers and other employees are all friendly, helpful and knowledgeable. We had a great dining experience, and every need was taken care of.

4. The Original Fish Taco, which features a battered and fried fish, was one of our other favorite dishes. We love how crispy it is - without being overcooked - and how flavorful the breading is. We will definitely order this again.

5. The California Bowl is delicious. With a base of citrus rice, guacamole, black beans, lettuce, chipotle sauce and salsa fresca, you can choose from shrimp, mahi mahi, Alaska coho salmon, all natural chicken or grilled veggies to top off your bowl. Everything tasted so fresh and the shrimp was cooked perfectly. Also, this is not greasy like the rice bowls I have had at Jimmy Hula's.

6. The ambiance. We love the modern, comfortable decor with wood tables, cool lighting and glass fish art on the wall. 

What are you waiting for? You must try this delicious, fresh Baja California-style food soon!

Where: 510 N. Orlando Ave., #100, Winter Park, Fla.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Why TR Fire Grill is a new favorite

I'm glad one of our friends introduced TR Fire Grill in Winter Park to us recently. Even though it has been open a few months, little did I know that we were missing out on delicious food and cocktails, as well as outstanding atmosphere and service!

The restaurant sources locally-produced meats and you can tell in the flavor of the dishes, such as the Bibb Salad with Chicken, which was very interesting and fresh. Our favorite dish, though was the Salmon & Zoodles, which features a large portion of perfectly-cooked salmon, zucchini noodles and a scrumptious cream sauce with Feta and Romesco. This is definitely a treat - and an original dish compared to other restaurants.

Ending the meal, we enjoyed one of the best desserts I have had in awhile: Chocolate Mayhem. (Tip: order the "small" size for two to three people). The decadent chocolate cake was accompanied by a crunchy coffee ice cream and a mouthwatering chocolate ice cream. We will never get tired of this dessert!

We also want to try the Bacon-Wrapped Smoked Meatloaf, Smoked Meatballs and the Chicken and Waffles.

Beyond the tasty, high quality food, we were most impressed with the service. Servers are very professional and friendly, and even bring hot towels at the end of the meal in order to clean your hands. We also love the modern decor and lighting!


Top 5 reasons to try new Lakehouse restaurant at Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

Top 5 rolls at Fuji Sushi

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Top Eateries in Fort Lauderdale

My husband and I recently enjoyed a quick getaway to Fort Lauderdale. Besides the 100 degree temperatures (and everyone on the beach staring and pointing at me because my skin is so white!), we had a great trip! 

Locals told us about some not-to-miss eateries and here our favorites:

1. Jaxson's Ice Cream Parlour & Restaurant. Located in Dania Beach, this is a not-to-miss treat when you visit the area. A 30-year-old, family-run business, the shop makes all their ice cream from scratch. You can choose from four different cones, malts, shakes, banana splits, sundaes and regular ice cream. Our Chocolate Malt was delicious and tasted exactly like it was supposed to. I tried the sugar-free Strawberry ice cream, and it was outstanding. 

2. Colada Cuban Coffee House & Eatery. Craving authentic Cuban Cafe con Leche, we sought out this coffee house near the Victoria Park neighborhood in Fort Lauderdale. Not only were we impressed with our coffee, but the food and service were outstanding. The staff was very friendly, and Steven was the one who helped us find outstanding local restaurants. The coffee house gets all their authentic Cuban pastries and bread from the nearby Miramar Bakery. I would recommend the Bacon Egg & Cheese sandwich with avocado on croissant and a side of plantains. 

Runner up: The Brass Tap off of Federal Highway in Fort Lauderdale. Yes, it is part of a chain. But we really enjoyed the live music on the night we went and the in-house brewed craft beer. Our Pepper Jack Mac 'n Cheese was very tasty, as was our Mahi Tacos.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Dine on Healthy, Yummy Food at Whole Foods

When dining out, many people don't think of a going to a grocery store. However, after visiting the new Whole Foods Market in Altamonte Springs, Fla., I want to return for healthy and tasty lunches and dinners.

Of course, the new store - close to the Altamonte Mall - is gorgeous. In addition to the large selection of good-for-you products to buy in-store, I was most impressed with all of the dining options. The self-serve hot bar just seems to go on and on, offering all types of vegan and vegetarian fare, as well as Indian, Mexican, Italian, American and other cuisine from around the world. 

The in-store Asian foods provides sushi and rice bowls, such as Teriyaki, made to order. So, you can ask for whatever type of sushi you would like and for the rice or pasta bowls, you can customized your veggies, meat and seasonings. I tried a bowl with chicken, white rice, asparagus, brussel sprouts, peanuts and chili seasoning. It was delicious and light - I felt like I was eating healthy.

There is also a pizza eatery in the store - I sampled a piece and it was pretty good! I want to return to try some of the many meals and snacks available from the hot bar, including plantains.

Also see:

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Top 5 ways to dine out and support Orlando

The outpouring of love and support for victims and others affected by the Orlando tragedy has been heartwarming. Let's keep the good vibes going and support these restaurants that are donating a portion of their proceeds to the OneOrlando Fund and other funds:

1. Dine Out for Orlando United. Several Florida restaurants will be donating proceeds on June 30 to the OneOrlando Fund, designed to respond to the needs of the local community, now and in the time to come. Participating restaurants in the Orlando area include: A Land Remembered at Rosen Shingle Creek, Baoery Asian Gastropub, BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse, Bonefish Grill, Boston Lobster Feast, Christner's Prime Steak and Lobster, Funky Monkey Bistro & Bar, Hawkers, Krispy Kreme Dougnuts, Morimoto Asia, Miller's Ale House and many more. See the full list on the web site. 

2. Benefit Barbecue for the GLBT Community Center of Central Florida on July 10. Hosted by Chef Kevin Fonzo of K Restaurant Wine Bar and Jamie McFadden of Cuisiners Catered Cuisiner and Events, it will be held at East End Market from 4-8 pm.

3. 4 Rivers Smokehouse and The Coop are giving guests the option to round up their purchase or donate any dollar amount to the victims and families affected by the Orlando tragedy. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone involved," the restaurants said. 

4. The Sanctum Cafe: During June, the vegan eatery's Karma Bowl will be offered for $5. Any proceeds donated above that, will go directly to the GoFundMe account benefiting victims who have been affected by the tragedy. 

5. The Osprey Tavern has added the Orlando Strong cocktail to its menu, and 100% of the sales of this cocktail will be donated to Equality Florida's Pulse Victim Fund.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Support Orlando restaurants helping our city

Sanctum Cafe
I, for one, am not going to hide in my house after the crisis in Orlando. Now is the time to get out and be social with friends and family, celebrating the lives that we have. Several Orlando restaurants are donating a portion of their sales to help families of the victims. I have included a few examples below, and I hope you support these businesses:

4 Rivers Smokehouse and The Coop are giving guests the option to round up their purchase or donate any dollar amount to the victims and families affected by the Orlando tragedy. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone involved," the restaurants said. Plus, 4 Rivers is opening its Winter Park location on a Sunday for the first time in its history this Sunday, June 19, from 11 am to 3 pm. Proceeds from the day will go toward the One Orlando Fund to benefit victims and their families. 

The Sanctum Cafe: During June, the vegan eatery's Karma Bowl will be offered for $5. Any proceeds donated above that, will go directly to the GoFundMe account benefiting victims who have been affected by the tragedy. 

K Restaurant continues to donate a portion of its sales to benefit the family of Cory Connell, an Edgewater High graduate who was killed.

The Osprey Tavern has added the Orlando Strong cocktail to its menu, and 100% of the sales of this cocktail will be donated to Equality Florida's Pulse Victim Fund.

Sweet by Holly in Orlando and Jacksonville will donate 50% of the sales of its Orlando Pride cupcakes (available in regular and gluten-free via special order) to Equality Florida.

Also kudos to the Waterford Lakes Chik-fil-A, which stayed open on Sunday to pass out water to those donating blood. There are a number of other restaurants that donated food and water - and continue to help during the aftermath. Please let us know about other Orlando restaurant benefits and fundraisers in the comments section below!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Enjoy outstanding food & more at Beau Rivage

When visiting Biloxi, Miss., recently, I was so impressed with the hospitality, food, decor, guest rooms and casino at Beau Rivage Resort and Casino. I cannot say enough great things about this gorgeous facility.

From the moment you walk in, you realize that you have employees who really care about Beau Rivage. Thousands of fresh flowers line the walkways around the lobby and, on this visit, a bicycle of fresh flowers had been built. What a unique touch! 

I like to gamble a bit - just slots and roulette - and this casino has so much to offer. You can choose from a variety of card games, poker tables, and slot machines. But, if anyone goes here just to gamble, they are seriously missing out. First, from Orlando, you can catch an inexpensive direct flight to Biloxi via Allegiant Airlines. So, this is  fun, easy trip.
By Shad Bookout

Plus, I would stay here again, just for the food. It is seriously some of the best food I have had in a long time - and I have been lucky enough to dine at the top restaurants in New Orleans, Orlando and elsewhere. There are five outstanding restaurants on property, including an endless buffet. When we dined at the buffet, we enjoyed fresh boiled crawfish, filet mignon, snow crab legs, a huge assortment of Italian and Asian food, a number of desserts (including sugar-free options) and the list goes on and on. I was impressed how each type of food was high quality and tasted so fresh - not like typical buffet food.

We also got to try the new menu at Coast restaurant, which will be unveiled soon. The revamped menu features a lot of small plates, along with entrees, that are mostly from local food and seafood, in season. We sampled the unique and scrumptious Crawfish Deviled Eggs, as well as a whole snapper cooked on rock salt with star anise and Indian spices. The raw and stuffed oysters here are not to be missed. The restaurant buys only top-notch oysters from places like Murder Point, Alabama. Some of the stuffed oysters are topped with house-made bacon, which you will love. 
Photo by Shad Bookout

Other favorite dishes include the Fried Oyster Slider and Shrimp and Oyster Po' Boy sandwich.The gumbo at all the restaurants on property also has the perfect amount of heat and is truly delicious. 

The Beau Rivage guest rooms are also luxurious, including a huge sunken tub and a comfy bed. Of course, the views of the Gulf from your room are outstanding. I even spotted dolphins on my walk on the beach near the resort!