Regarding Orlando Weekly’s Best of (Food & Drink) 2010

The Orlando Weekly came out with their yearly “Best of Orlando” for 2010. The winners are chosen by the people, not Orlando Weekly directly, and it is free form voting, so it’s not even a list fabricated by Orlando Weekly. This means anyone can win, even the smallest of businesses, if they’re deserving.

I have to admit, this is the first year I’ve paid much attention to it, and I was rather disappointed with many of the choices for Orlando area food and drink. Granted, this is a very subjective subject, but the number of national, and multinational chains on the list was surprising.

While I have many grievances with this list, these are the choices that really stand out to me.

Best Chinese
#1 P.F. Chang’s China Bistro
#3 Pei Wei Asian Diner

P.F. Chang’s is good, but far from great. Add in a mix of high prices, and an upscale atmosphere, and P.F. Chang’s moves much further down my list. Upscale Chinese food is like having an upscale wing place or upscale barbecue. They just don’t mix.

After seeing number one on the list, it’s not surprising to see Pei Wei at number three. Pei Wei is owned by P.F. Chang’s, and is basically a cheaper, lower quality version of it’s parent. Already not liking P.F. Chang’s much, Pei Wei falls even further down my list.

There are numerous mom and pop Chinese restaurants in Orlando. Some are bad, but some are excellent, and offer unique flavors. One great example is Summer Palace on South Alafaya Trail. The food is great, both in taste and portion sizes, the atmosphere is nice, but not too upscale, and it is unique to Orlando.

Best Breakfast
#2 Ethos Vegan Kitchen

As a disclaimer, I will say that vegan does nothing for me. However, breakfast without eggs, bacon, sausage, cheese, or milk leaves little to be desired. I don’t need a breakfast filled with heart attack inducing foods, but these items are staples of great breakfast. A notable absentee from this list, and a great replacement would be Brian’s Restaurant. Brian’s is a diner only open for breakfast and lunch. While I’ve driven by it for years, I only recently had the chance to try it (I rarely have ambition to go out for breakfast). After my first time trying it, I fell in love, and went 3 times in as many weeks. All the food at Brian’s is excellent, the eggs, bacon (giving you 4 strips, not just 2), omelets, pancakes, french toast, home fries, their famous sweet rolls, and anything I may have missed. The service is also great, not only being on top of your needs, but being friendly and striking up conversation with you too.


Best Wings
#1 Buffalo Wild Wings Grill & Bar

Based on wings along, this place is good. Account for their atmosphere, where you can’t hear the people at your own table, but can hear every TV in the place, the fact that any food other than wings is barely edible, and their consistently bad service, and Buffalo Wild Wings shouldn’t even be a consideration. An excellent place for wings, and in my opinion the best place for wings period, is Flyers Wings and Grill. Flyers has a quiet atmosphere, amazing wings, and great service.

My main gripe with this list is that Orlando is a hub for people from all over. These people often bring their cuisine with them. There are plenty of local only places that could top any of these categories. When friends or family visit Orlando, do you rave about the restaurant chains they most likely have in their home town, or do you tell then they have to try this local barbecue, or wing place, or Italian place, or whatever other place you love?

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