Making plans for a dinner and a movie is easy stuff, but it's a challenge when you're trying to build pit stops into an all-day marathon of cinema.. And that's a typical scenario during the Florida Film Festival. You see one movie and before you know it, you're hooked, trying to grab some chow before the next screening.
Fortunately, a good part of the festival is centered at Enzian Theater, which has a full-service cafe that turns out everything from hot dogs and beer to penne pasta and Cabernet. But if you want to branch out, you won't have to go far. There are plenty of options near the Enzian as well as the festival's other screening venue, the Colonial Promenade. It just depends on what you want.
Nicole St. Pierre sits on the same piece of property as the Enzian and features upscale Continental cuisine. Be forewarned, it's pricey, and because it's such an obvious choice, make sure to call ahead for reservations.
You'll probably find more available seats down the road at Copper Rocket Pub, which offers a global selection of beer and heavy-hitting pub fare. Also in Maitland, Noah's Cafe & Crepes specializes in European style "dinner crepes" in the $5 range, and The Melting Pot has a wide selection of fondue that's been drawing customers for years.
In the Lee Road area, feast on pad Thai and satay at Thai Place, tackle a boatload of sashimi at Fuji Sushi, or dig into a down-and-dirty smoked-pork dinner at Bubbalou's Bodacious Bar-B-Que. At the Winter Park Village, check out a fusion of Far East cuisines at Siam Garden on Webster Street or P.F. Chang's. There's a huge selection of vegetarian cuisine at Chamberlin's. And to keep your eyes open, there are the ultimate Sumatra beans being ground to perfection at Starbucks Coffee, which has a roomy lounge with plush sofas, perfect for unwinding and discussing the films.
If atmosphere doesn't matter and you're in a hurry, explore the goulash and other Hungarian comfort food at North Park Ave. Deli & Market; just be prepared to take a seat on a plain barstool by a window counter or order your food to-go. But if you have time to burn, visit Antonio's and ponder the impressive selection of wine and Italian food. There's the casual downstairs cafe and the more formal upstairs restaurant.
In the Colonial Promenade area, there's a plethora of chain restaurants, but don't overlook the humble little Burrito Espacial right next door -- it might not look like much, but it specializes in restaurant-quality Mexican dinners with fast-food timing.
On Semoran Boulevard there are several fantastic ethnic restaurants: Cafe Italiano dates back to the 1960s, serving home-style pizzas that are so good, you'll be telling your friends about them six months later. Garibaldi Mexican Restaurant is a south-of-the-border type of diner, which offers combo platters of burritos, enchiladas and quesadillas guaranteed to impress. The Caribbean Feeding Tree offers a rotating selection of Jamaican jerked chicken and curried lamb specials, and the owners are wonderful about guiding newcomers through the selections.
And if all else fails, buzz over to Hot Dog Heaven for Chicago-style dogs, frosty root beers and probably a couple of customers who look like they're straight out of a John Waters movie.