Florida’s close access to the ocean means we get some of the freshest seafood around. And Big Fin Seafood Kitchen, located in the Dr. Phillips area, prides itself on serving only top-of-the-boat selections. Start things off with one of their two signature Oyster Shooters or a martini at one of the indoor or outdoor bars. Then you’ll be primed for the bevy of seafood platters served on ice like Eat’em Raw Fresh Oysters, chilled Snow Crab Clusters, Lobster Cocktail or fresh sushi. Hot plates feature endless surf and turf options with everything from chicken and pasta to steak and salmon but since this seafood mega house is known for their surf, the Whole Main Lobster and Maryland Style Crab Cakes prove Florida is one spot that can serve up fresh seafood with the best of them.
Orlando Area Locations: Dr. Phillips
Open daily; 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
High Tide Harry’s: hightideharrys.com
Boston’s Fish House: bostonsfishhouse.com
Florida might not necessarily be known as the South but that doesn’t mean we hold back when it comes to good ole Southern comfort food. Over the past 10 years, Chef Eddie and Mrs. Jesse James have brought their 20-some years of expertise in Southern cooking to this downtown hotspot, appropriately named, Chef Eddie’s. Chicken and Waffles are at the forefront of the menu with 10 different flavor combos from Sweet Potato and Butter Pecan to Banana Walnut and Red Velvet, meaning these dishes work well from breakfast to dinner and on through to desert. And while the masses come for the waffles, they also come for top sellers like their Fried Chicken Dinners, “I Love Hamburgers” menu, BBQ, pasta and a plethora of Southern sides that include Jalapeno Crackling Muffins, Collard Greens, and Parmesan Cheese Grits. Food doesn’t get more soulful than that.
Orlando Area Locations: Downtown
Open Sunday to Thursday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Soul Food Kitchen: soulfoodkitchenorlando.com
Tibby’s New Orleans Kitchen: tibbys.com
BEST SPORTS BAR
Duffy’s Sports Grill
From Gators and Knights, to all of the out-of-town teams in between, sports fans can agree on two essentials when it comes to game watching day: good beer and big TVs. Duffy’s Sports Grill, with various locations throughout Orlando, gets bonus points for proudly pouring the “Coldest Beer” and the “Best Burger” in town. When it comes to the TV scene, their wall-to-wall screens mean you’ll always find a spot in the house to cheer on your favorite team. And with a menu that is packed with sports bar favorites like their Fiesta Nachos and a bevy of burgers, as well as their famous Zingers, Duffy’s famous chicken tenders, it’s no wonder sports fans flock here come game time.
Orlando Area Locations: Altamonte Springs, Waterford Lakes, Lake Mary, Millenia
Open daily; times vary
Miller Ale House: millersalehouse.com
Gators Dockside: gatorsdockside.com
Reservations at a quality steakhouse are usually saved for special occasions. Kres Chophouse is one of those spots you save in your holster for that extra-special night out. And rightfully so, their Prime Beef is aged and cut to order, in house. As for the décor, modern meets elegance with original artwork and an upscale bar that transcends time in this 1930s landmark building, located on downtown’s Church Street. From Beef Wellington to Lobster Tails, their menu is all about class. But no visit here is complete without a selection from their Steaks and Chops menu featuring aged and hand cut New York Prime steaks, Deer River Ranch Elk Loin, and Filet Mignon. With such high quality meats, you may realize you don’t need a special occasion at all to treat yourself to a nice steak dinner.
Orlando Area Locations: Downtown
Open Monday to Friday; 11:30 to 12 a.m.; Saturday 5 p.m. to 12 a.m.
The Palm: thepalm.com
BEST SUB SANDWICH
What’s the secret sauce in a sub? Ask the sandwich makers at Jersey Mike’s and they’ll tell you it’s about finding the right mix of red wine vinegar and olive oil. Add in their locally sourced fresh produce, as well as the leanest cuts of meat and the finest of cheeses, sliced right in front of you, and you’ll find yourself eating one pretty spectacular sandwich. Their Certified Angus Top Rounds are trimmed and cooked right in the store and a favorite for roast beef fans. When it comes to the bread, they stick with authentic Jersey bread, made fresh in the stores daily. But no matter how you like your subs, you can’t go wrong with the authentic taste prepared Mike’s Way with lettuce, onions, tomatoes, spices and of course, that now, not-so-secret sauce.
Orlando Area Locations: Downtown, College Park, Winter Park
Open daily, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
A-Aki Sushi & Steakhouse
Freshness is a priority when it comes to sushi. A-Aki Sushi & Steakhouse, located on Sand Lake Road, boasts not only some of the freshest sushi and sashimi in town, but also the biggest cuts of fish. The sushi bar’s colorful display of signature and create-your-own rolls make for a fun way to sample different flavorings like their Mexican Roll and their Crunch Seaweed Roll. Meanwhile, the All-You-Can-Eat sushi bar is evidence that sushi can be a healthy way to indulge in the overeat, guilt-free. Vegetarian selections like the Tempura Sweet Potato Roll or the Avocado Roll deserve to be on everyone’s plate. But no matter what type of way you like to enjoy your sushi, it doesn’t get fresher, or bigger, than this sushi lover’s hotspot.