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Brunch spread from Black Rooster Taqueria
Black Rooster Taqueria/Facebook

The 15 Best Restaurants in Mills 50

Mills 50 offers a true taste of the “real” Orlando.

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Brunch spread from Black Rooster Taqueria
| Black Rooster Taqueria/Facebook

Visitors craving a taste of the “real” Orlando will want to spend their non-park hours getting to know the city’s many distinct neighborhoods, and there’s no better place to start than Mills 50. Named for the intersection of Mills Avenue and Colonial Drive (State Road 50), the centrally located urban district celebrates its eclectic and progressive makeup through its many businesses, particularly the diverse medley of restaurants. Whether it’s Vietnamese or Laotian, Mexican fusion or Malaysian, Mills 50 offers a melting pot of eats like no other in the city. Here are the most notable.

The latest CDC guidance for vaccinated diners during the COVID-19 outbreak is here; dining out still carries risks for unvaccinated diners and workers. Please be aware of changing local rules, and check individual restaurant websites for any additional restrictions such as mask requirements. Find a local vaccination site here.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Pig Floyds Urban Barbakoa

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The Latin influence in Pig Floyd’s quality barbecue comes courtesy of owner Thomas Ward’s Puerto Rican heritage – maduros, fried yuca, and rice and beans go along faultlessly with everything from luscious brisket to succulent St. Louis-style ribs to flavorful pulled pork. Even juicy spiced-rubbed chicken is worth coming back for. Those meats can also be enjoyed inside sweet rolls, flour tortillas, or bento boxes. Sauces are just as diverse. Tikka masala with ribs anyone? 

Black Rooster Taqueria

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John and Juliana Calloway met in L.A. opening restaurants for renowned chef/restaurateur Richard Sandoval, so no surprise that the taqueria they opened here in Juliana’s hometown took on an unmistakable SoCal vibe. BRT has shades of Trejo’s Tacos and Ray Garcia’s B.S. Taqueria, but it’s the housemade, corn tortillas, enveloping everything from smoked lengua to pork fat to Angus brisket, that really impress. Pozole verde and beef achiote bowls shouldn’t be overlooked either.

Hawkers Asian Street Food

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They were the first to sling Singaporean-style hawker fare in this town nearly a decade ago, and now Hawkers’ signature roti canai, char siu, and Singapore mei fun noodles can be enjoyed in outposts from Dallas to Charlotte. The original on Mills Avenue, with its raucous atmo, tight dining quarters, and outdoor patio is still an intergenerational pleaser.

The Strand

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This Mills 50 fixture embodies the sort of casual urbanity and close-quartered seating that fosters lingering and getting social. Folks get cozy over chef/owner Joe Rees’ impeccable, pretense-free dishes highlighting local ingredients like snapper cakes, saffron-crusted grouper, and poached Gulf shrimp with tomato chow chow. The duck cassoulet and steak frites are classic standbys begging to be paired with a bottle from their focused, yet stellar, selection of wines.

Tori Tori

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Yes, it’s technically a bar, but it’s a bar that just so happens to serve some of the best Japanese pub grub around. There are bites like whole binchotan-grilled Japanese flying squid and plush blue crab and corn croquettes that dazzle, but it’s with the yakitori where Tori Tori’s kitchen really struts its stuff. Chicken skin tare and chicken oyster can’t possibly be done any better than it is here, and lamb karubi lollipops offer a red meat alternative to prime-grade beef from Revier Cattle Co. Plus, there’s a stellar okonomiyaki for purists and some top-notch cocktails for the bibulous.

Deli Desires

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Bialys, not bagels, are the focus at this Colonialtown breakfast and lunch spot run by Hannah Jaffe and Nathan Sloan. The pair worked for some big names in L.A. — Jessica Koslow (Sqirl), Michael Voltaggio (ink), and Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo (Son of a Gun) — so no surprise their humble little deli is on the regular rotation of many in-the-know eaters. Bialys come in caramelized onion or smoked jalapeno and muenster varieties with fillings ranging from gravlax to labneh to scrapple (this is not a kosher deli). The corned beef “big mac” layered with lettuce, American cheese, pickles, onions, and special sauce served on a Martin’s sesame bun explains the lines Deli Desires draws.

King Bao Mills

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The gratifying fillings this Mills 50 mainstay manages to stuff into its fluffy steamed buns are hard to beat, be it kimchi fried chicken, Korean short rib, or firecracker shrimp. Vegan and vegetarian options are also offered (try the bao filled with a sweet potato croquette) while a quartet of tater tots (go with the truffle) prove worthy sides. Check the board for a rotating roster of specials.

Black Bean Deli Orlando

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Sandwiches reign supreme for breakfast, lunch, or dinner at Andres Corton’s comfort-food spot housed inside a mid-century gem on East Colonial Drive. Media mananas, media noches, and perfectly porcine Cuban sandwiches are perennial go-to (and to-go) faves, though more substantial fare can be had in filling plates of shredded Havana pork and picadillo served with rice, black beans, sweet plantains, and salad. The coffee game here is strong.

Sticky Rice

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This popular Mills 50 restaurant isn’t shy about displaying the full spectrum of flavors of Laotian cuisine with the sweet, the spicy, the fishy and the fermented all presented in street snack form. Scooping wee balls of sticky rice in one hand then dipping it into jaew mak len (a charred tomato paste) or jaew bong (sweet chili paste with pork skin) is digital dining at its finest. Lemongrass pork sausage, sesame beef jerky, and pork tapioca dumplings shouldn’t be overlooked. The fearless can test their fortitude with the funky, fermented, fishy quintessence of thum maak thang, a spicy cucumber salad.

Chuan Lu Garden Orlando

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There’s no shortage of brazen Sichuan peppercorns in the tongue-tingling dishes at this Mills 50 stalwart, be it Chongqing-style la zi chicken, cumin lamb, or twice-cooked pork. The extensive menu is conducive to sharing, especially among those who like it hot. And that includes hot pots and hot-stone dishes.

Mamak Asian Street Food

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From beef bulgogi and seasoned cod in black bean sauce to char kway teow and kari mee, the dishes at Mamak bring a semblance of Malaysia’s food-stall culture to Mills 50. Exemplary pan-Asian noodle soups, wok-fired delicacies, and small plates ensure gratifying selections for all palates. Stir-fried green beans are a must. To end, sweet ice kacang is a cold comfort.

Paris Banh Mi Orlando

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This one-stop shop for baguettes, sandwiches, and pastries is notable for owner Hien Tran who possesses serious baking creds having graduated from Paris’s École de Boulangerie et de Pâtisserie and earning certificates of distinction at the École Gastronomique Bellouet Conseil pastry school. His wife, Doan Nguyen, ran a trio of banh mi shops in Vietnam and, together, the duo makes some mighty fine banh mis and sweet treats out of their sprawling Mills 50 bakery.

Anh Hong Restaurant

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The neon signage is its visual calling card, but what’s made this Vietnamese restaurant a Mills 50 pillar is its no. 13 (banh xeo), no. 17 (banh mi thit nuong), and no. 75 (bun bo hue) — classics that folks have been indulging in for more than a quarter century. There’s no shortage of beverages offered either — sugar cane juice is a favorite; the durian smoothie not as much.

Shin Jung Korean Restaurant Orlando

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After a fire destroyed much of the restaurant, Shin Jung rose from the ashes in 2021 with modern new digs and the same brand of DIY barbecue flair that’s made it a popular stop for nearly three decades. Kalbi, LA galbi and bulgogi are fixtures, but there are plenty of grilling proteins to pick from including pork belly, pork jowl, and beef tongue. Non-DYI offerings run the gamut from japchae to dolsot bibimbap. The rebuild also made room for a small outdoor patio.

Z Asian - Vietnamese Kitchen

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Husband-and-wife tandem Hien Pham and Huong Nguyen bring a focused menu with dishes amplifying the clean flavors of Viet cuisine to their recently renovated Colonial Drive restaurant. Soups, be it marinated duck noodle, pho with bone marrow, or anchovy-based seafood bun mam, are nothing short of superb. Street food items like bánh bèo (steamed rice flour cakes), bánh khọt (stuffed pancake-like tarts), and bò lá lốt (beef wrapped in betel leaves) not only made Vietnamese fare trendy once again, but positioned the restaurant at the very top of Viet joints in the city. Bonus: many of these dishes are offered as vegan options. 

Pig Floyds Urban Barbakoa

The Latin influence in Pig Floyd’s quality barbecue comes courtesy of owner Thomas Ward’s Puerto Rican heritage – maduros, fried yuca, and rice and beans go along faultlessly with everything from luscious brisket to succulent St. Louis-style ribs to flavorful pulled pork. Even juicy spiced-rubbed chicken is worth coming back for. Those meats can also be enjoyed inside sweet rolls, flour tortillas, or bento boxes. Sauces are just as diverse. Tikka masala with ribs anyone? 

Black Rooster Taqueria

John and Juliana Calloway met in L.A. opening restaurants for renowned chef/restaurateur Richard Sandoval, so no surprise that the taqueria they opened here in Juliana’s hometown took on an unmistakable SoCal vibe. BRT has shades of Trejo’s Tacos and Ray Garcia’s B.S. Taqueria, but it’s the housemade, corn tortillas, enveloping everything from smoked lengua to pork fat to Angus brisket, that really impress. Pozole verde and beef achiote bowls shouldn’t be overlooked either.

Hawkers Asian Street Food

They were the first to sling Singaporean-style hawker fare in this town nearly a decade ago, and now Hawkers’ signature roti canai, char siu, and Singapore mei fun noodles can be enjoyed in outposts from Dallas to Charlotte. The original on Mills Avenue, with its raucous atmo, tight dining quarters, and outdoor patio is still an intergenerational pleaser.

The Strand

This Mills 50 fixture embodies the sort of casual urbanity and close-quartered seating that fosters lingering and getting social. Folks get cozy over chef/owner Joe Rees’ impeccable, pretense-free dishes highlighting local ingredients like snapper cakes, saffron-crusted grouper, and poached Gulf shrimp with tomato chow chow. The duck cassoulet and steak frites are classic standbys begging to be paired with a bottle from their focused, yet stellar, selection of wines.

Tori Tori

Yes, it’s technically a bar, but it’s a bar that just so happens to serve some of the best Japanese pub grub around. There are bites like whole binchotan-grilled Japanese flying squid and plush blue crab and corn croquettes that dazzle, but it’s with the yakitori where Tori Tori’s kitchen really struts its stuff. Chicken skin tare and chicken oyster can’t possibly be done any better than it is here, and lamb karubi lollipops offer a red meat alternative to prime-grade beef from Revier Cattle Co. Plus, there’s a stellar okonomiyaki for purists and some top-notch cocktails for the bibulous.

Deli Desires

Bialys, not bagels, are the focus at this Colonialtown breakfast and lunch spot run by Hannah Jaffe and Nathan Sloan. The pair worked for some big names in L.A. — Jessica Koslow (Sqirl), Michael Voltaggio (ink), and Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo (Son of a Gun) — so no surprise their humble little deli is on the regular rotation of many in-the-know eaters. Bialys come in caramelized onion or smoked jalapeno and muenster varieties with fillings ranging from gravlax to labneh to scrapple (this is not a kosher deli). The corned beef “big mac” layered with lettuce, American cheese, pickles, onions, and special sauce served on a Martin’s sesame bun explains the lines Deli Desires draws.

King Bao Mills

The gratifying fillings this Mills 50 mainstay manages to stuff into its fluffy steamed buns are hard to beat, be it kimchi fried chicken, Korean short rib, or firecracker shrimp. Vegan and vegetarian options are also offered (try the bao filled with a sweet potato croquette) while a quartet of tater tots (go with the truffle) prove worthy sides. Check the board for a rotating roster of specials.

Black Bean Deli Orlando

Sandwiches reign supreme for breakfast, lunch, or dinner at Andres Corton’s comfort-food spot housed inside a mid-century gem on East Colonial Drive. Media mananas, media noches, and perfectly porcine Cuban sandwiches are perennial go-to (and to-go) faves, though more substantial fare can be had in filling plates of shredded Havana pork and picadillo served with rice, black beans, sweet plantains, and salad. The coffee game here is strong.

Sticky Rice

This popular Mills 50 restaurant isn’t shy about displaying the full spectrum of flavors of Laotian cuisine with the sweet, the spicy, the fishy and the fermented all presented in street snack form. Scooping wee balls of sticky rice in one hand then dipping it into jaew mak len (a charred tomato paste) or jaew bong (sweet chili paste with pork skin) is digital dining at its finest. Lemongrass pork sausage, sesame beef jerky, and pork tapioca dumplings shouldn’t be overlooked. The fearless can test their fortitude with the funky, fermented, fishy quintessence of thum maak thang, a spicy cucumber salad.

Chuan Lu Garden Orlando

There’s no shortage of brazen Sichuan peppercorns in the tongue-tingling dishes at this Mills 50 stalwart, be it Chongqing-style la zi chicken, cumin lamb, or twice-cooked pork. The extensive menu is conducive to sharing, especially among those who like it hot. And that includes hot pots and hot-stone dishes.

Mamak Asian Street Food

From beef bulgogi and seasoned cod in black bean sauce to char kway teow and kari mee, the dishes at Mamak bring a semblance of Malaysia’s food-stall culture to Mills 50. Exemplary pan-Asian noodle soups, wok-fired delicacies, and small plates ensure gratifying selections for all palates. Stir-fried green beans are a must. To end, sweet ice kacang is a cold comfort.

Paris Banh Mi Orlando

This one-stop shop for baguettes, sandwiches, and pastries is notable for owner Hien Tran who possesses serious baking creds having graduated from Paris’s École de Boulangerie et de Pâtisserie and earning certificates of distinction at the École Gastronomique Bellouet Conseil pastry school. His wife, Doan Nguyen, ran a trio of banh mi shops in Vietnam and, together, the duo makes some mighty fine banh mis and sweet treats out of their sprawling Mills 50 bakery.

Anh Hong Restaurant

The neon signage is its visual calling card, but what’s made this Vietnamese restaurant a Mills 50 pillar is its no. 13 (banh xeo), no. 17 (banh mi thit nuong), and no. 75 (bun bo hue) — classics that folks have been indulging in for more than a quarter century. There’s no shortage of beverages offered either — sugar cane juice is a favorite; the durian smoothie not as much.

Shin Jung Korean Restaurant Orlando

After a fire destroyed much of the restaurant, Shin Jung rose from the ashes in 2021 with modern new digs and the same brand of DIY barbecue flair that’s made it a popular stop for nearly three decades. Kalbi, LA galbi and bulgogi are fixtures, but there are plenty of grilling proteins to pick from including pork belly, pork jowl, and beef tongue. Non-DYI offerings run the gamut from japchae to dolsot bibimbap. The rebuild also made room for a small outdoor patio.

Z Asian - Vietnamese Kitchen

Husband-and-wife tandem Hien Pham and Huong Nguyen bring a focused menu with dishes amplifying the clean flavors of Viet cuisine to their recently renovated Colonial Drive restaurant. Soups, be it marinated duck noodle, pho with bone marrow, or anchovy-based seafood bun mam, are nothing short of superb. Street food items like bánh bèo (steamed rice flour cakes), bánh khọt (stuffed pancake-like tarts), and bò lá lốt (beef wrapped in betel leaves) not only made Vietnamese fare trendy once again, but positioned the restaurant at the very top of Viet joints in the city. Bonus: many of these dishes are offered as vegan options. 

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