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Spinach “Oshitashi” with roasted sesame dressing from Salt & the Cellar
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The 13 Hottest Restaurants in Orlando Right Now

The best new eats in “The City Beautiful”

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Spinach “Oshitashi” with roasted sesame dressing from Salt & the Cellar
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Eater editors get asked one question more than any other: “Where should I eat right now?” Orlando dining obsessives want to know what’s new, what’s hot, and what favorite chef just launched a new spot. And while the Eater 28 is a crucial resource covering trusted standbys and neighborhood essentials across the city, it’s not a chronicle of the “it” places of the moment.

In the face of COVID-19, restaurants continue to open while some have expanded operations. So here they are – the fresh faces on our ever-evolving restaurant scene; the newish spots setting tongues awagging from the theme parks to downtown Orlando to the city’s suburban enclaves; a list specifically created to answer the question, “Where should I eat right now?”

New to the map are Doshi, Edoboy, Salt & The Cellar, SoDough Square, Bacan, Juju, Plantees and CrunCheese, while The Monroe, Soupa Saiyan 3, Jam Hot Chicken, The Hall on the Yard, Four Flamingoes, Isan Zaap, Immersion at London House, and Knife Burger have departed.

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This contemporary Korean restaurant snagged ex-Immersion at London House chef Rikku O’Donnchu to lend some refined theatrics to Gene Kim’s dishes. Two options are offered – a 10-course tasting at the chef’s counter or a six-course tasting menu in the zen dining room. No matter the choice, the dishes are gorgeous, be it the wagyu bulgogi with shiitake and oyster mushroom, date puree, and kimchi fried rice, or the Florida mackerel served over a charred leek dressed in gochugaru, danmuji, and algae pearls.

AVA Mediterraegean

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The sister resto to Miami’s Mila, Ava opened to much buzz this year thanks to its attractive space, dishes, and clientele. The place certainly gets lit, what with its tableside firings of honey-slicked haloumi and salt-crusted branzino, not to mention the keftedes served inside a flaming stone bowl. Mediterranean flavors seep into the cocktail arena as well – Ava’s Gibson is flavored like a Greek salad, though the impressive selection of Greek wines is hard to overlok. The mille-feuille tart with its marscapone cream and Lillet-infused berry coulis between layers of phyllo has proved popular.

Camille

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Offering one of the best tasting experiences in the city, Camille is the first of a rotating series of chef’s tables to pop up at the second-floor Neighbors inside East End Market. Chef Tung Phan delivers an astounding seven-course, seasonal menu of modern French-Vietnamese cuisine at the eight-seat bar for a very reasonable $125. Wine, beer, and cocktail pairings are offered as well. A sure sign of the concept’s success: Camille is slated to move into a permanent space in Baldwin Park this fall.

Plantees

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The team behind Mathers Social Gathering, The Wellborn, and Robinson Room got into the vegan burger game and, so far, they’re winning. Plantees’ Impossible-pattied burger has drawn comparisons to In-N-Out’s burger, right down to the sponge-dough bun for all the squishy mouthfeels. Also worth ordering – the Oatly-based shakes and the shoestring fries slathered in vegan cheese, grilled onions, and chives.

The 8-person standing sushi bar from Domu and Tori Tori chef/founder Sonny Nguyen lets on-the-go gourmands with no time to waste to feast on standout slices of fish and seafood. Orders are limited to 12 pieces of nigiri (selections range from otoro to Faroe Island salmon to sweet red prawns) ensuring quick turnarounds. A nice selection of Japanese beers and canned sake keep things fluid.

“Juju” is the Japanese word for the sizzling sound made from grilling meats, but the vibe inside this sister restaurant to Susuru nearly upstages the binchotan-seared yakitori, kushiyaki and dry-aged fish. Stepping into the Showa-era-styled izakaya is like time-warping onto a Japanese movie set from the 1960s. It only serves to enhance the dining experience here, which features a 10-course meal at the 6-seat kappo bar, or Japanese soul food faves in the izakaya dining room. Enjoy a cocktail or two while watching old Japanese music videos in the lounge.

Cruncheese Korean Hot Dog

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Expect lines to bottleneck at the entrance of this Waterford Lakes Town Center joint where throngs come for the boffo corn dogs and its ‘Gram-worthy cheese pulls. Hot dogs are coated in a rice flour batter, rolled in cheese, sugared, sauced and, in some varieties, rolled in potato cubes so, yeah, who needs fries? The result is a crunchy filler of a snack that’s as fetching to eat as it is to post. A squid-ink batter is also offered so play around with the combinations – this is fun food after all.

GA 2 TO

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This simple, and coolly modern, noodle house in the heart of Mills 50 serves up bowls of mien ga (Vietnamese chicken noodle soup) that’s “just like eating in Hanoi,” so says Top Chef champion Hung Huynh. Free-range chicken is used in each of the stellar slurps incorporating imported mung bean or vermicelli noodles. Also on the focused menu: an invigorating chicken salad, creamy egg coffee, and homemade ice cream, the latter helping to offset the swelter when dining outside on their rattan furniture.

SoDough Square

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The crispy comfort of SoDough Square’s Detroit-style pizzas is warming the hearts of many a Motor City expat and converting neophytes to the airy pie with a frico’ed edge. The “6 and Conant” pays homage to Buddy’s – the birthplace of Detroit-style pizza – with red sauce, basil, pecorino-Romano, and a brick cheese blend. The “#24 Enforcer” with its holy mess of meat is named after late Detroit Red Wings goon Bob Probert. And, yes, Faygo is served.

YH Seafood Clubhouse

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The seafood towers may not reach the jaw-dropping heights of Toronto’s famed Fishman Lobster Clubhouse Restaurant, but the salvers of fried seafood at this modern Cantonese restaurant in Dr. Phillips impress nonetheless. Other prized catches to consider: XO-style clams, jumbo oysters with steamed ginger-soy-black bean sauce, Hong Kong-style roasted chicken, and whole flounder done two ways (crispy fried and sauteed). Cantonese-style dim sum is pricier than others in town, but dazzling nonetheless.

Twenty Pho Hour

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It’s hard not to be enamored by the optics of this tourist-area restaurant – it resembles a cross between the two-dimensional pages of a monochrome coloring book and a Roy Lichtenstein painting. Dubbed “America’s first 2D noodle bar,” Twenty Pho Hour is modeled after the Greem Café in Seoul and serves a bevy of boffo bowls of pho. Whether slurping on the relatively straightforward “White Chicks” with chicken lolling in a beef broth, or the blingy “Pho King” with filet mignon, lobster, and foie gras, the soups satisfy. Warning: Instagrammers abound. 

Pretty plates of food influenced by the “Americas” embody plenty of flavor to go along with those aesthetics – lobster and burrata tostadas, charred baby leeks nestled in smoked romesco pimenton and a swirl of preserved rainbow Swiss chard wrapped around sous-vide breast crested with foie and a crisp, undulating tapioca chip to name a few. Pay no heed to the gimmicky robot servers that provide minimal function and seem so out of place. Do take a stroll through the world-class sculpture garden filled with Henry Moores, Arturo di Modicas, and Fernando Boteros.

Salt & the Cellar by Akira Back

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Chef Akira Back’s global reach touches the Sunshine State at this high-priced Mediterranean-Asian restaurant inside the equally high-priced Ette Hotel. The “wellness” ethic means no alcohol is served anywhere on the property though guests are free to bring their own wine to the restaurant. Back’s menu impresses, particularly his tuna pizza with white truffle oil and the A5 wagyu tacos served in wonton shells. The NY strip is served with an assortment of salts, but don’t overlook the grilled eggplant or miso black cod. Mocktails incorporate tableside theatrics and flair.

Doshi

This contemporary Korean restaurant snagged ex-Immersion at London House chef Rikku O’Donnchu to lend some refined theatrics to Gene Kim’s dishes. Two options are offered – a 10-course tasting at the chef’s counter or a six-course tasting menu in the zen dining room. No matter the choice, the dishes are gorgeous, be it the wagyu bulgogi with shiitake and oyster mushroom, date puree, and kimchi fried rice, or the Florida mackerel served over a charred leek dressed in gochugaru, danmuji, and algae pearls.

AVA Mediterraegean

The sister resto to Miami’s Mila, Ava opened to much buzz this year thanks to its attractive space, dishes, and clientele. The place certainly gets lit, what with its tableside firings of honey-slicked haloumi and salt-crusted branzino, not to mention the keftedes served inside a flaming stone bowl. Mediterranean flavors seep into the cocktail arena as well – Ava’s Gibson is flavored like a Greek salad, though the impressive selection of Greek wines is hard to overlok. The mille-feuille tart with its marscapone cream and Lillet-infused berry coulis between layers of phyllo has proved popular.

Camille

Offering one of the best tasting experiences in the city, Camille is the first of a rotating series of chef’s tables to pop up at the second-floor Neighbors inside East End Market. Chef Tung Phan delivers an astounding seven-course, seasonal menu of modern French-Vietnamese cuisine at the eight-seat bar for a very reasonable $125. Wine, beer, and cocktail pairings are offered as well. A sure sign of the concept’s success: Camille is slated to move into a permanent space in Baldwin Park this fall.

Plantees

The team behind Mathers Social Gathering, The Wellborn, and Robinson Room got into the vegan burger game and, so far, they’re winning. Plantees’ Impossible-pattied burger has drawn comparisons to In-N-Out’s burger, right down to the sponge-dough bun for all the squishy mouthfeels. Also worth ordering – the Oatly-based shakes and the shoestring fries slathered in vegan cheese, grilled onions, and chives.

Edoboy

The 8-person standing sushi bar from Domu and Tori Tori chef/founder Sonny Nguyen lets on-the-go gourmands with no time to waste to feast on standout slices of fish and seafood. Orders are limited to 12 pieces of nigiri (selections range from otoro to Faroe Island salmon to sweet red prawns) ensuring quick turnarounds. A nice selection of Japanese beers and canned sake keep things fluid.

Juju

“Juju” is the Japanese word for the sizzling sound made from grilling meats, but the vibe inside this sister restaurant to Susuru nearly upstages the binchotan-seared yakitori, kushiyaki and dry-aged fish. Stepping into the Showa-era-styled izakaya is like time-warping onto a Japanese movie set from the 1960s. It only serves to enhance the dining experience here, which features a 10-course meal at the 6-seat kappo bar, or Japanese soul food faves in the izakaya dining room. Enjoy a cocktail or two while watching old Japanese music videos in the lounge.

Cruncheese Korean Hot Dog

Expect lines to bottleneck at the entrance of this Waterford Lakes Town Center joint where throngs come for the boffo corn dogs and its ‘Gram-worthy cheese pulls. Hot dogs are coated in a rice flour batter, rolled in cheese, sugared, sauced and, in some varieties, rolled in potato cubes so, yeah, who needs fries? The result is a crunchy filler of a snack that’s as fetching to eat as it is to post. A squid-ink batter is also offered so play around with the combinations – this is fun food after all.

GA 2 TO

This simple, and coolly modern, noodle house in the heart of Mills 50 serves up bowls of mien ga (Vietnamese chicken noodle soup) that’s “just like eating in Hanoi,” so says Top Chef champion Hung Huynh. Free-range chicken is used in each of the stellar slurps incorporating imported mung bean or vermicelli noodles. Also on the focused menu: an invigorating chicken salad, creamy egg coffee, and homemade ice cream, the latter helping to offset the swelter when dining outside on their rattan furniture.

SoDough Square

The crispy comfort of SoDough Square’s Detroit-style pizzas is warming the hearts of many a Motor City expat and converting neophytes to the airy pie with a frico’ed edge. The “6 and Conant” pays homage to Buddy’s – the birthplace of Detroit-style pizza – with red sauce, basil, pecorino-Romano, and a brick cheese blend. The “#24 Enforcer” with its holy mess of meat is named after late Detroit Red Wings goon Bob Probert. And, yes, Faygo is served.

YH Seafood Clubhouse

The seafood towers may not reach the jaw-dropping heights of Toronto’s famed Fishman Lobster Clubhouse Restaurant, but the salvers of fried seafood at this modern Cantonese restaurant in Dr. Phillips impress nonetheless. Other prized catches to consider: XO-style clams, jumbo oysters with steamed ginger-soy-black bean sauce, Hong Kong-style roasted chicken, and whole flounder done two ways (crispy fried and sauteed). Cantonese-style dim sum is pricier than others in town, but dazzling nonetheless.

Twenty Pho Hour

It’s hard not to be enamored by the optics of this tourist-area restaurant – it resembles a cross between the two-dimensional pages of a monochrome coloring book and a Roy Lichtenstein painting. Dubbed “America’s first 2D noodle bar,” Twenty Pho Hour is modeled after the Greem Café in Seoul and serves a bevy of boffo bowls of pho. Whether slurping on the relatively straightforward “White Chicks” with chicken lolling in a beef broth, or the blingy “Pho King” with filet mignon, lobster, and foie gras, the soups satisfy. Warning: Instagrammers abound. 

Bacan

Pretty plates of food influenced by the “Americas” embody plenty of flavor to go along with those aesthetics – lobster and burrata tostadas, charred baby leeks nestled in smoked romesco pimenton and a swirl of preserved rainbow Swiss chard wrapped around sous-vide breast crested with foie and a crisp, undulating tapioca chip to name a few. Pay no heed to the gimmicky robot servers that provide minimal function and seem so out of place. Do take a stroll through the world-class sculpture garden filled with Henry Moores, Arturo di Modicas, and Fernando Boteros.

Salt & the Cellar by Akira Back

Chef Akira Back’s global reach touches the Sunshine State at this high-priced Mediterranean-Asian restaurant inside the equally high-priced Ette Hotel. The “wellness” ethic means no alcohol is served anywhere on the property though guests are free to bring their own wine to the restaurant. Back’s menu impresses, particularly his tuna pizza with white truffle oil and the A5 wagyu tacos served in wonton shells. The NY strip is served with an assortment of salts, but don’t overlook the grilled eggplant or miso black cod. Mocktails incorporate tableside theatrics and flair.

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