Well the local guy was in the mood for some BBQ for lunch. My first choice would have been 4 Rivers BBQ off of Fairbanks. But I had visitors with me from out of town and we did not want to blow our lunch waiting in line for 30 min and then have to eat their great BBQ outside in 90 degree weather, which would have felt like 98 degrees with my tie on. Been to that rodeo before. So off we went to Bubbalou’s Bodacious BAR-B-QUE. Bubbalou’s has been around for over 20 years. Bubbalou’s is locally owned by Sam Meiner, his family has been catering in Orlando since 1907. Bubbalous’s has several locations around the Orlando area. However, I wanted to go where this BBQ concept started out. So we went to the original Bubbalou’s location on Lee Road in Winter Park. This is a typical BBQ joint. You walk in, place your order at the counter, they give you your drink, and then the staff brings out your food about 5-10 min later. I must say we did not wait too long at all for our food after our orders were placed and it was extremely busy. So service was prompt and efficient this day at lunch. I ordered the Smoked Turkey sandwich basket $7.79 with sweet tea. The turkey is served on garlic toast like most of their sandwiches, however you can ask for a bun instead depending on your preference. The sandwich basket comes with 2 sides’ baked beans and French fries. I was not in a baked beans state of mind so I substituted the beans for collard greens. I also ordered a side of black eyed peas $2.29. The smoked turkey was real tender, and it was a meaty sandwich meaning they gave you plenty of turkey. I like my smoked turkey more” smokey” in flavor but overall it was still a good bbq sandwich. I like the fact they have plenty of accessible sauces to choose from already on the table, like mild, hot, killer, mustard sauce, and ketchup, and they even have pepper type vinegar sauce for your collards, nice selection (good concept on having all the sauces at the table). My favorite side was the collard greens. They reminded me of how my grandmother used to make collards. Bubbalous’s collards was seasoned with a ham hock. This old southern style cooking method Bubbalou’s uses is what makes their collards so special, very impressed. Some restaurants use nothing on their collards just salt& pepper (bad recipe) some use bacon (a short cut), some use turkey parts like turkey necks to season collards(not bad and healthier), but good ole collard greens are made with a real ham hock ladies and gentlemen. I also added the pepper sauce to my collards for an additional kick, what can I say, I am from the south. My sandwich basket came with French fries, they were hot and tasty, no complaints, good fried taters. I also ordered the black eyed peas. The black eyed peas were tender and seasoned properly, again it’s all about the ham hock folks. One of my guests ordered the fried okra. I was very disappointed is this southern side favorite. It was fried up well but it had ZERO flavor, extremely bland. Don’t understand how do you have great collards, and great black eyed peas and awful fried okra? It did not appear that salt or pepper or other spices were used before or after the okra was fried, disappointing. I had the sweet tea to drink, there is just something right about sweet tea and BBQ, that is a match made in heaven. So is Bubbalous’s the best BBQ in Orlando, probably not as good as 4 Rivers but overall good Cue and the lines are not as long. Diners can eat inside or outside at Bubbalou’s. Parking can be tricky at the Lee Rd location. The do have additional parking across the street. Bubbalou’s is open daily for lunch and dinner.
Bubbalou’s is located at:
1471 Lee Road
Winter Park, FL 32892
Well the local guy was in the mood for some good Cajun New Orleans style food, however, I did not want to fly to the Big Easy. Been there done that many times. So I drove over to The Big Easy. Yes, the new Big Easy in Winter Garden. A friend of mine told me about it and highly recommended it. Well, it did not disappoint. The Big Easy is located down the street from the Stonybrook West community. When you walk in the place it really has a New Orleans vibe. Purple and gold colors all around and genuine New Orleans artifacts all around. I really did feel I was in NOLA. The place has an open kitchen so you see what they are working on, nice set up. The menu has many New Orleans favorites to choose from, starters from gumbos, to Po Boys sandwiches to old specialties like Jambalaya to Etouffee, Red Beans and Rice and fried Cajun seafood. Just a nice New Orleans style home cooking menu for sure. I started off with the Chicken and Sausage Gumbo 8oz $4.99 (comes in bowls sizes only). Like I said I have been to New Orleans and have eaten at NOLA, ACME Oysters, Mothers, Delmonico, Central Grocery just to name a few and the Chicken Sausage Gumbo was the best I have ever had. The dark roux was done perfect. It was accompanied by chicken; andoullie sausage caramelized okra and topped with white rice. The Gumbo had a nice rich spicy taste but not overly spicy that you would have to add hot sauce. For my entrees I had Grandma’s Jambalaya $9.99 and I also had a side of Red Beans and Rice $1.99. Grandma’s Jambalaya consisted of Andouille sausage, chicken, caramelized vegetables with special seasoning and dirty style rice cooked to perfection. I really liked the rice; it was light versus the traditional sticky type of rice. The dish also came with 2 big pieces of freshly made corn bread. You could almost share this dish with another person due to the portion size. The dish was well put together and the flavors were very balanced in spice and consistency. I like the fact you can get the Red Beans & Rice $9.99 entrée as a side for $1.99. The slow cooked red beans were cooked to perfection along with the white rice and smoked andoullie sausage. Spicy in flavor but not too much. Ordered a diet coke and they serve it in a can with ice on the side, no fountain drinks I don’t believe, I love fresh coke out of can vs. fountain style. The service was good and friendly. I noticed a lady dressed business like. She appeared to be the manager or owner? She was working really hard with the serving staff and the kitchen team. She also made sure the place was spotless. They even moved empty tables around and cleaned under them so no trash or garbage existed under the table where guests were dining. I also noticed her wiping down chairs when guests vacated. She was doing a fine job. However, if she was the manager or owner I never observed her going around to the tables and thanking her guests for stopping by. This type of added touch from the management team or ownership just makes you feel even more special about your dining experience. Don’t get me wrong the food is the focal point here and they have the best New Orleans food in Orlando in my opinion. I can’t wait to go back and try some other Big Easy dishes. The Big Easy is in a Publix plaza in Winter Garden. Plenty of parking is available. The Big Easy is open Monday – Thursday 11am- 9pm, Friday and Saturday 11am-10pm. Did not see a website on the menu.
15502 Stoneybrook West Parkway
Winter Garden, Florida
Ph #- 407-654-3279
For the most part I try and not write about chain restaurants but on occasions I can’t resist. This is one of those occasions. I recently had breakfast out on a Sunday morning at Peach Valley Café. This establishment is owned and operated by the Stonewood Grill & Tavern folks. Stonewood has about 16 locations (including Dr Phillips and Lake Mary) in Florida and they have have one location in North Carolina. Peach Valley has about 4 locations in Florida, and growing. I went to the Peach Valley location in Dr Phillips in Southwest Orlando off of Conroy Rd, and ironic enough the older brother Stonewood restaurant is right next door only about 30 yards away, interesting business strategy they have, I might add. What sets Peach Valley apart from Stonewood is Peach Valley is only open for Breakfast and Lunch only, and Stonewood is mainly a place for dinner. The Peach Valley location I was at had seating outside and seating inside and they also have counter service, I like these 3 options. We choose for inside. I am glad we did. I guess and assume this place is pet friendly? I witnessed several folks eating breakfast outside who brought their dogs with them. Personally I would never do this nor would I have a desire to do this. I love animals, and dogs are no exception but there are places you bring pets and places you don’t. I don’t believe in bringing pets to a restaurant, even if outdoor seating is available, period. I bet you even Cesar Millan would even agree with me on this one?? Anyway back to my breakfast experience. I ordered the corned beef hash extra well done, the house potatoes and wheat toast $8. The corned beef was cooked perfectly to the requested extra well done, this gave it a nice crispy crust to its texture. It was seasoned with just the right amount of salt and pepper; it was not overly greasy like some corn beef hash you order. Its probably the best corn beef hash I have had in a long long long time…. The fresh chopped up cube potatoes were fried up well and crisp and seasoned up well with onions and peppers in them. I also added cheddar cheese to my breakfast potatoes. The cheese added a nice dimension of flavor to the potatoes, onions, and peppers, yes I know, lots of calories here, but those cheese potatoes were worth the extra calories. I also had the wheat toast. It was a nice big piece of toast that was filling. On my next visit I had the Buttermilk Drop Biscuits & Sausage Gravy. It came with two big freshly baked biscuits topped with homemade sausage gravy. Wow, talk about good. These biscuits were almost as good as my Granny’s. It was served with plenty of sausage gravy; it was a very nice size portion. My guests ordered Buttermilk pancakes. It was the classic buttermilk pancakes dusted with powered sugar and served with warm syrup. Trust me, you won’t leave hungry after you visit Peach Valley. The service was good and attentive and friendly. If you go ask for Diane, she was a great attitude and you can tell she likes what she does. If you are like me, you don’t usually go out for breakfast and lunch everyday of the week, so when you do, you want to go to the restaurant or café where you know you’ve going to have the vibrant, delicious flavors you crave. Peach Valley delivers on this, plus their dishes are very hearty. Peach Valley is open Monday – Friday 7am-2:30 and Saturday and Sunday 7am-3:30. Plenty of parking is available.
5072 Dr. Phillips Blvd.
Orlando, FL 32819
The local guy was in the mood for some local authentic Italian food once again. How many Italian restaurants do you know in the Orlando area that has been around since 1981? Well, I only know one, the name of this gem is Palma Maria. Its family owned and operated, which is always a plus. It’s more of a plus when the staff of servers are all sisters. Another plus is Pete the sister’s brother which is the chef and he is the person that usually comes around and talks to his guests and thanks his guests for coming in.
All entrees are served with a loaf of Homemade Bread, and your choice of House Salad or soup. We started off with the house salad. The salad is served so it can be shared amongst the table(family style). Besides the salad at Columbia their famous 1905 salad, the house salad at Palma Maria is better than fabulous! They use fresh lettuce, tomatoes, olives, onions, salt, pepper, garlic powder, with a base oil and vinegar dressing that is mixed and balanced perfectly I might add. I am Italian and I know how to make a fresh Italian salad, and the salad at Palma Maria’s is Outstanding! The only argument I have about this salad is it comes with cut up/sliced hard boiled eggs. I always request my salad without the eggs but that is me. I am not a fan when it comes to eggs being in an Italian salad. Your Italian meal at Palma Maria also comes with fresh Home Made bread. A full loaf of fresh Italian bread. It was warm, fresh, and I felt like I was eating bread in Naples, Italy. Make sure you bring your left over bread home with you. It freezes well. I use this bread in a variety of ways, sandwiches, garlic bread, I even use when I make homemade sauce on occasional Sundays.
I ordered the Eggplant Parmesan $15.95. They have an interesting way of making it. The Eggplant is stuffed with tasty seasoned ground beef, topped with marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese and baked to perfection. This dish reminded me of lasagna from a looks point of view. This eggplant dish was awesome. I felt like I was eating a dish from home. The dish came with a side of pasta, topped with a basic marinara sauce. The side of pasta was just typical did not set the world on fire but it was fine.
My wife ordered the Lasagna $13.95. Out of all the Italian dishes there are, lasagna is her favorite. She knows a good lasagna dish when encountered. Well, she was not disappointed. In her own words “it’s the best ever”. Enough said ladies and gentlemen. They also make their lasagna in a non typical fashion. Most lasagna is stuffed with cheeses and meat. The lasagna at Palma Maria is just stuffed with the Italian cheeses but not with any meat. They choose to give you two wonderful sized meatballs on the side. The meat balls were made just right with salt, pepper, garlic powder, cheese, parsley, garlic, bread crumbs, egg. The meat balls were browned just right and covered with the right amount of Italian red sauce. The meat ball I tasted was very good but I like my meatballs a little smaller in size.
The servers were friendly, attentive, and caring. It shows they have skin in the game. The brother Pete stopped by. He thanked us for our business. When was the last time the owner of a restaurant thanked you for coming in and thanked you for your business? The point is, it does not happen very much. Besides the great quality of food Palma Maria serves, the value is there. Where can you find a home made entrée that comes with high quality home made fresh salad, fresh baked bread (a full loaf), and all served by a family who CARES for $13.95-$15.95? Yes some items are slightly more but you get my point. I know a good value when I see and taste one. When you dine with the Rosinola Family you’re more than a customer, you’re a friend. Palma Maria is open Tuesday-Saturday 5pm-10pm. Early Bird hours 5:00-6:30 pm. Palma Maria is in the Summit Plaza shopping center located off of 436 and Red Bug Road in Casselberry. Plenty of parking is available.
Address 1015 East Semoran Blvd
Casselberry, Fl 32707
Well the local guy was out chowing down again in the Metro Orlando area. My travels this time takes me to the Maitland/Altamonte Springs area. I was in the mood for some Chinese food for lunch, so I headed out to Yum Yum Asia Café. The meal I had at Yum Yum was very good for a sit down/take out restaurant. It’s not a big place but there is ample seating inside or you can choose to eat outside. I chose to eat inside. You place your order at the counter, they give you a number, and they bring it to your table.
Yum Yum has a lunch special that includes an egg roll, vegetable spring roll or soup & choice of vegetable fried rice or steamed rice. Most dishes are $6.45 or $7.45 for lunch. I started my lunch experience with hot & sour soup. I must say I have eaten Chinese all over the place including China town in San Francisco, New York, Chicago, LA, Honolulu and I have never had better Hot & Sour soup then at Yum Yum Asia Cafe. It s to die for folks. Yum Yum’s Hot & sour soup does not get better than this. It was rich in flavor. The vegetables in the soup were cooked just right, they use fresh mushrooms as well, and the meat was tender enough and the soup was topped off with scallions. It was semi dark in color but not too dark (that’s important to me). I don’t like my hot & sour light in color and made broth like. The hot & sour soup had the right spiciness to it and boy it was kicked up a couple of notches, but in a good way! It is by far the best hot & sour soup on the planet in my opinion. Next, my entrée was brought out. I ordered the Chicken with Black Bean Sauce $6.45 with white rice. There was a pepper figure on the menu next to the item indicating this dish is spicy. The dish was very good in flavor but it was not spicy, I would eliminate the pepper figure on this dish on the menu. The chicken was tender, the vegetables were fresh and it was cooked in a nice flavorful dark sauce. There were enough black beans in the dish to balance out the flavors of the chicken and cooked vegetables (fresh onions, green peppers, carrots, mushrooms accompanied this dish). The dish was served piping hot! I like it just out of the wok, I like watching the steam coming towards my face.
My second visit I had the hot & sour soup again with just an egg roll. Did I share with you they have great Hot & Sour soup?? I also had the vegetable egg roll. The egg roll was just Ok. Nothing exciting but not bad. When I have an egg roll that’s just ok, I usually make a nice sauce on the side; I mix spicy mustard, duck sauce, and soy sauce together and dip my egg roll into this rich dark sauce. I can’t think of a better dipping sauce for an egg roll my friends. I know the sauce is not very ingenious but it works for me.
Yum Yum is located in a strip mall with Publix being the anchor store. Yum Yum Asia Café is nearby the Maitland exchange and Forest City Road (434) area. Yum Yum is open 7 days a week. Mon-Thur 11am -9:30 pm, Fri-Sat 11am-10pm, and Sun 12-9pm. They do deliver and cater and you can order online at http://www.yumyumasiacafe.net.
851 S.R. 434 #1120
Altamonte Springs, Fl 32714