Have you heard the saying what is old is now new again? Well do you remember the old Rangetsu on International Drive that was there for 24 years then closed in 2010. Well it’s been brought back to life in Maitland. Rangetsu is a Japanese restaurant where the focus is refining and re-defining Japanese dining.  I was recently in Vegas for a fun trip and went to many restaurants as usual.  When I walked into Rangetsu of Orlando, I immediately felt like I was back in Vegas. Rangetsu has high energy and great ambiance and a vibe that does not stop.  This place reminds me of Dragon Fly on Sandlakde Rd; both are Japanese concepts, both have robata grill items on their menu, and both places have a sushi bar.

I started with the Spicy Soft Shell Crab $11. I liked this appetizer very much. It was cooked with a spicy batter and it turned out very crispy to my liking. It was served with a sweet soy aioli sauce. This dish was very well executed.  For my entrée I ordered the Yakisoba $14. It was a traditional Japanese dish with stir fry noodles with beef and vegetables. It was just ok, nothing amazing. Reminded me of PF Changes lo mein dish but PF beats them hands down just on pure flavor. My guest ordered the Tokyo Chicken $16. This is a bone- in chicken breast served with Japan style teriyaki sauce.  It was just ok, again, nothing amazing.

What is amazing? The architecture, the décor, the bar area, the restaurant‘s look and feel as a whole. But the food was just OK on this night. Would I go back and try the sushi and other things on the menu? Yes.  At this point do I feel PF Changs food is better than Rangetsu? I would say YES.

The service was very good at Rangetsu; she did not miss a beat. Lots of managers were very visible to make sure the restaurant was firing on all cylinders.  That was a nice change to see restaurant leadership everywhere.

Parking was tricky. Rangetsu is located on the bottom level in an apartment complex so parking was limited so we used the valet service.  It was raining that evening and the valet guys did an exceptional job making sure we did not get wet at all because its not covered from the valet area to the building itself.

Rangetsu is located at 901 S Orange Ave, Maitland, Fl 32751.

Hours are: Lunch served Monday – Saturday 11:30-2:00, Dinner Sunday-Wednesday 5:30-9:30 bar open till 11. Dinner Thursday- Saturday 5:30-10:00, bar open til midnight.

Ph #- 407-345-0044

Website: www.rangetsu.com


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Well the local guy has been in search for a long time for a great authentic Philly Cheese steak sub in the metro Orlando area. I have always liked the local Gabriel’s Subs in College Park. But trust me when I say this, I think I discovered the best Cheese steak restaurant outside of Philly?  LaSpada’s Original Philly Cheese Steaks is the name. This  is my new current  favorite place to go for a authentic Philly Cheese Steak Sub in town.  LaSpada’s is located in Orlando, off of Lee Road in the Lee Road Shopping Center. The place LaSpada’s occupies used to be a Sobiks Sub Shop.

LaSpada’s is owned  and operated by the LaSpada family. Originators of the LaSpada’s of Florida third and forth generations of the LaSpada family. This family has been serving Philly Cheese Steaks since the first LaSpada’s opened up in 1938. That folks tells me this family is serious about making good cheese steaks. Heck,  they have been making Phillys for over 70 yrs.  They got to be doing something right regarding making cheese steaks.  

I knew something was special about this place when I walked in at lunch. Most of the workers had on their Philly garb for starters.  It was packed. Jammed packed. Always a great sign good food is in the house. On my first visit I had the Original Cheese steak 8 inch $6.10. The subs come in 8/10/12 inch sizes.  My cheese steak came with top sirloin steak chopped up perfectly, with onions, and white American Cheese and I also added fresh hot peppers which only kicks it up a notch, all in a nice fresh warm hoagie roll. The sub came right off the grill into the basket and they then  called my name. I picked up my fresh hot Philly and thought I was at Geno’s or Pat’s for a few seconds.  Folks, this place knows how to make a Philly, period. I also ordered a side of French Fries$2.29. The fries were good and hot as well, they don’t keep their fries sitting around very long at all, the fries are cooked to order for the most part, and I like that.

 On another visit I tried a Hoagie,  LaSpada’s Famous,  $6.95. This home style Italian hoagie consisted of Pepper Ham, Genoa Salami,  Cappicola, Prosciutto, Soppreatta, & Provolone Cheese with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, onions, oregano,  and oil and vinegar.  Choice of hot, sweet, or banana peppers.  The sub was fine. Nicely prepared. Fresh Italian cold cuts and all the fixins but it was a little too salty to my liking. My lunch guest ordered the Cheese Burger $4.25 and fries $2.25. He stated it was one of the best burger’s he has tasted in the Orlando area in some time. And this burger looked good too, see the photo.   

 Other menu items are hot dogs, various hoagies & deli sandwiches, sides, wraps and salads. But did I say they make fabulous cheese steaks?? Stick with the Philly cheese steak at LaSada’s ladies and gentlemen, they know how to execute on this old classic cheese steak sub.

Other items of interest about LaSpada’s. Plenty of parking is available.  You place your order at the counter. You then wait for your name to be called. It can take a while during the week at lunch for your name to be called. You can call ahead your order.  It’s a hole in the wall. There is lots of grease occupied here. It’s a place you might not want to take a first date to. It’s probably not the cleanest place you will ever go to, but did I articulate they make great cheese steaks?

LaSpada’s is open Monday – Friday 10:00-5:00. Saturday – Sunday 11:00-4:00.

Address: 1010 Lee Road, Orlando, Fl 32810.

ph# 407-539-0067 website: www.laspadas.com

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COCINA 214 Reply


Well the local guy was in the mood for Tex-Mex and I have been dying to try COCINA 214 since it opened on Cinco De Mayo 2011.  COCINA 214 is located in Winter Park, its right off of the elegant Park Ave on Welbourne Ave.  214 stands for the area code of Dallas, TX. Apparently after talking to the server, the new owners are from the  Big D.  Having numbers in your name is starting to get even more popular these days, even on Park Ave.  Have you heard of 310 on Park Ave?

In Mexico, cocina means  kitchen. In Winter Park, cocina means contemporary interpretations of traditional Mexican and Tex-Mex favorites.

 The Chef of COCINA 214 is Francisco (Chico) Mendonca.  The menu states Mendonca combines bold flavors from around the world with the freshest local ingredients to create exceptional Tex-Mex.  

This restaurant is very spacious. They have a nice size bar area, they offer covered outdoor seating, and their main dining,  well,  it has enough room to feed a small army this includes the extra dining space in the back for which they open when its busy. This area also has nice HD TVs playing in the background. The restaurant accommodates  small, medium, and large parties easily.  

We started with the house Chips & Salsa (gratis).  Their chips were crisp and not to thin and very fresh. I really liked their salsa. It was not the typical tex-mex  salsa (chunky) with cut up chopped  tomatoes, onions, garlic, parsley etc. COCINA’s salsa had all that but it looked like a side of marinara sauce or a smooth puree type of salsa with a slight kick to it but it had all the traditional salsa flavors.  I am convinced 214 knows how to make great chips and salsa.

However the rest of the meal was kind of 407ish. We had the Chicken Fajitas $15.  The chicken was lime marinated and char grilled with the usual onions and peppers in the skillet served with sour cream, guacamole, pico de gallo and fresh homemade tortillas on the side. This Fajitas are also served with rice and beans (was given red beans) on the side.  Overall the dish was good, but nothing exceptional.

We also had the Street Tacos $12. The tacos are made with chile rubbed filet beef, chopped onion, cilantro, and de arbol, and with a side of roasted garlic salsa. This dish also comes with rice and beans (was given black beans) on the side. The Street Tacos were just good, but nothing  exceptional.

In my opinion I believe the  Sea Breeze cocktail  was a little pricey for $8 plus tax and tip, but again we are close to  Park Ave, but again we are in a Tex-Mex establishment?

I found the service at COCINA 214 very good and attentive. The servers were great about refilling our chips and salsa and refilling our waters and generally checking back often enough. There is ample parking in the area but you might have to walk a short distance. On the night we went, Valet Parking was an option.  I am giving  COCINA 214 a good review but not great but if I lived in the area it’s a place I could see myself frequenting.  I really like the ambience and bar vibe as well,  Cocina is vibrant and has a refined setting and they serve good food.

COCINA 214 is located on 151 East Welbourne Avenue, Winter Park, Fl 32789.

Hours of operation: Tuesday -Saturday 11am-10pm and Sunday 11am-9pm.

Website: www.Cocina214.com


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