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- Photo by Rob Bartlett
- The 'BLT' at Dexter's New Standard: Bacon, fried green tomato, heirloom tomato, mizuna, garlic aioli.
Dexter's New Standard
With executive chef Ryan McLaughlin from K Restaurant, Ben Roche from 1921 Mount Dora and pastry chef Lydia Murphy from the Smiling Bison, the new Dexter's is indeed setting a new standard in this rapidly gentrifying sector of Winter Park. Their brand of "elevated American cuisine" is seasonal, with many ingredients sourced from local farms and fisheries.
(Open; 1035 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park; newstandardwp.com)
El Jefe Tequilas Taco Cantina
The new Mexican concept from Chicago's Blue Agave Restaurant Group serves a vast selection of tequila (more than 200 varieties) along with south-of-the-border cuisine inside a 5,100-square-foot space at the Sunset Walk entertainment complex at Margaritaville Resort.
(Opened January; 3227 Margaritaville Blvd., Kissimmee; facebook.com/eljefetequilastacocantina)
Rusty who? When Michelle Lagerweij took over the Rusty Spoon from Kathleen and husband William Blake, the city's food-obsessed lamented. But a stylish makeover of the space, and stylish Euro-inspired dishes courtesy of Dutch celebrity chef Leon Mazairac, have won Rusty Spooners over. The pair are still tweaking and refreshing the menu and hope to celebrate a grand opening in late February or early March.
(Opened October; 55 W. Church St.; elizefoodwine.com)
She shuttered Bongo's Cuban Café at Disney Springs (it'll transform to the flexitarian-friendly Beatrix in the spring of 2021) last summer, but Gloria Estefan, along with hubby Emilio, got back in the game by opening a Cuban restaurant at the Margaritaville Resort's Sunset Walk in late December. Expect long conga lines.
(Open; 3269 Margaritaville Blvd., Kissimmee; estefankitchenorlando.com)
F&D Woodfired Italian Kitchen
The Hourglass District eatery will expand into the old Bayridge Sushi space in Longwood, bringing their brand of Neapolitan pizzas and pastas with noodles provided by Trevi Pasta.
(Opening April; 400 Savage Court, Longwood; fdwoodfireditaliankitchen.com)
- Photo by Rob Bartlett
- Lemon meringue tart at Financier Patisserie
Croissant lovers rejoiced at the news this NYC-based patisserie with Parisian panache was moving into the old Rustic Table space on Park Avenue, and now they're indulging in pastries, cakes and, bien sûr, financiers.
(Opened December; 212 N. Park Ave., Winter Park; financierpatisserie.com)
The Food Factory
This venue, part of the Oviedo on the Park development, will see eight "micro restaurants" run by local chefs, restaurateurs and food truck owners surrounding the Factory Bar – a rooftop bar and restaurant. Tenants include Kai Asian Street Fare, Swan City Bagels, Dixie Dharma, Grain & Ember, PokeKai, the Steak, Rockstar Lobster and Dulce Pecado. Sanford Brewing Co. will also be on site.
(Opening fall; 299 Center Lake Lane, Oviedo; facebook.com/thefoodfactoryoviedo)
A nearly 100-year-old edifice on Old Cheney Highway will transform into a neighborhood marketplace and food venue with various restaurant options. Puerto Rican outfit El Chinchorro 75 has signed on, as has vegan vendor V's Diner.
(Opening March; 5565 Old Cheney Highway; fortpittorlando.com)
Kevin O'Donnell, co-owner of the Local Butcher and Market and the Porch, is behind this SoDo food hall venture that will see Cavo's Pizza (from the same folks behind Cavo's Bar & Kitchen in Thornton Park), Da Kine Poke and a dessert vendor join the Local Butcher & Market at the redeveloped Fort Gatlin Shopping Center. Gatlin Hall Brewing will anchor the 4,000-square-foot space. Owner Mike Brady has brought on Cigar City's Tyler Rosenberg as head brewer.
(Opening April; 4721 S. Orange Ave.; gatlinhallbrewing.com)
Hall on Franklin
Tampa's first food hall will expand into a 13,000-square-foot space at the Yard at Ivanhoe with tenants including local players Orlando Meats and Humbl along with Tampa's Fork & Hen and Fork & Gallina Mediterranean. The full-service food hall will see 10 restaurant vendors situated downstairs, with the second floor reserved for overflow seating, private dining, stage performances and events. Two full liquor bars will reside on the upper floor.
(Opening summer; 1460 Alden Road; thehallonfranklin.com)
The Hampton Social
The island-inspired flair of the old Tommy Bahama Restaurant in Pointe Orlando will soon be supplanted by the East Coast nautical swankdashery of the Hampton Social. Expect plenty of seafood, shellfish, brick-oven pizzas, and – not to sound like a broken Michael McDonald record – plenty of yacht rock, I'm sure.
(Opening April; Pointe Orlando, 9101 International Drive; thehamptonsocial.com)
While cocktail bar the Basin has opened inside the Sanford food hall, gourmands will need to wait a bit longer before the food stalls open. Genghis Juan's Crafty Tacos & Beastie Bowls, Poke Rose and Mahogany Coffee will join the lineup of vendors, which include Greenery Creamery, Grain & Ember, Salvatore's Prime Sandwiches and Dixie Dharma.
(Opening February; 212 W. First St., Sanford; henrysdepot.com)
Kavas Tacos + Tequila
Local restaurateurs Katerina and Vassilis Coumbaros will add a Mexican concept to their portfolio, which includes Taverna Opa and Tapa Toro. In addition to fare paying "tribute to Mexico's rich culinary history," there will be a cigar lounge and, like their other two ventures, plenty of post-dinner dancing.
(Opening September; Pointe Orlando, 9101 International Drive; kavastacos.com)
Knife & Spoon
Top Chef Season 10 and 14 alum John Tesar, a four-time James Beard Award semifinalist for "Best Southwest Chef," will open one of the year's most highly anticipated restaurants: a modern steak and seafood concept with fellow Top Chef Season 14 cohort Gerald Sombright tapped as chef de cuisine. Both have a thing for bovines, so guests can expect beefy cuts above the rest.
(Opening May; Ritz-Carlton Orlando, 4012 Central Florida Parkway; johntesar.com)