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Showing posts with label International Drive. Show all posts
Showing posts with label International Drive. Show all posts

Cafe 34 Istanbul


8255 International Dr.
144 B
Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 601-7712
View Website Here


Cafe 34 Istanbul is an elevated halal bar and eatery with old world decor, Turkish cuisine, a hookah lounge, and they are open 24 hours.

The executive chefs here have years of experience in making some fine foods that highlight Turkey's geographical and cultural boundaries. The dishes served up here are inspired by the fresh and local ingredients one would find at a Turkish farmer’s market mixed with organic imported spices from Turkey.

The menu here is a Halal menu. Halal is Arabic for permissible. Halal food is that which adheres to Islamic law, as defined in the Koran. Therefore, halal foods are foods that are allowed to be consumed under Islamic dietary guidelines.

Appetizers served up at Cafe Istanbul range from Hummus, Dolma(Stuffed Grape Leaves), Baba Ganoush, Tabouli and Falafel. Entrees start with classic items like Doner Platters with chicken, beef or lamb, Shish Kebab’s served in a variety ways, Lamb Chops, and Kofte(Turkish Meatballs).

They serve traditional Turkish Coffee and Tea here, in addition to having a full bar with a variety of cocktail selections and of course they also carry Efes Pilsen beer, brewed in Izmir Turkey as well as a large variety of Hookah flavors to enjoy at the table. 


We started with a combo plate of cold appetizers and dips with Hummus, Shakshuka(sauteed eggplant dip), Ezme, a Turkish salsa, Tzatziki dip and Haydari. This was very flavorful and unique, and a great way to sample a few different items.

From the hot appetizer section we enjoyed the selection of Pacanga, which is a Yufka dough wrapped with Turkish Pastrami, tomatoes, pepper and kashkaval cheese, and sides of Cigar Borek made with Feta cheese rolled into filo pastry dough.

The Grilled Hellem at Cafe 34 Istanbul is pretty damn good. It’s a grilled Hellim cheese with fresh tomatoes on top. It is slightly crispy and a tad chewy, but with really great textures and flavor. 

This is the big boy of the day... the Meat Coma inducing combo platter with Lamb Kebab, Beef Doner, Beef Shish Kabob, Turkish Meatballs, Lamb Chops and Chicken Doner. Everything was really good with great flavors, and this is also really great to share at the table with guests.

Of course when you get Turkish food, you can't forget the desserts, like this Kunefe that is a most delicious oven shredded pastry with soft cheese filling in thick syrup. They have Baklava and Sultac, a rice pudding dessert available as well. 

There is some space inside Cafe 34 Istanbul, but the vast majority of the seats are on the large patio that seats 150. This is where all the action takes place with plenty of room and seating at the bar as well.

Stop by Cafe 34 Istanbul and immerse yourself in not only good food and conversation, but in a vibe that truly captures the essence of Turkey, right here in the heart of Orlando, and they are open 24 hours.


Cafe 34 Istanbul Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Rocco's Tacos and Tequila Bar

7468 W.Sand Lake Road 
(Restaurant Row)
Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 226-0550

It’s been quite a while since I’ve done a review or write up for Rocco’s Tacos. My last write up for Tastes Of Orlando was back in 2012 for Rocco’s, and lots of things have changed since then.

I have visited a few times intermittently since then for friends and family members birthday events or corporate gatherings, so I was excited at the opportunity to return and revisit for a proper blog write up.

As I said back in 2012, the one of many things I love about this location of Rocco’s is the fact that it makes me feel like have arrived at an upscale version of the bar from the movie "From Dusk till Dawn".

Do you remember that movie with George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino? It's the one where they get stuck at a crazy and wild bar on the dark side of Mexico and everyone turns into vampires. Although I never feared anyone at Rocco's turning into a vampire, the ambiance and feeling of the place certainly reminded me of the film.

Owner Rocco Mangel opened his first location in West Palm Beach in 2007, and has had quite a good following with a total of eight stores that have opened since then. The Orlando location was still in its infancy when I went for the first time in 2012, but they have maintained a steady business since then.

That is a testament to the brand and quality that owner Rocco Mangel brings to his establishments, especially when you consider how many restaurants have opened and closed in Orlando and Restaurant Row since then.

They have a few new additions to the menu and also have reinvigorated some of the old classics and kicked things up a notch now in 2018.


Inside, or Outside, both of the bars at Rocco’s are pretty impressive. This is the inside bar with just about every type and brand of tequila you can imagine.

Whether you choose to dine inside or outside, there is plenty of room, with great views no matter where you are. The inside is full of unique chandeliers, skeletons, bizarre statues and an array of interesting things to look at. Outside they have seating lakeside with a great view of Little Sand Lake and plenty of tiki torches to light up the night.

The Chips and Guacamole here have always been a favorite of mine, with guac made table side and the seasoned chips that are good by themselves.

Jalapeno Rellenos are stuffed and fried jalapeño poppers with cotija cheese, lime crema, avocado ranch and cilantro for a really good appetizer to share at the table.

Pollo Al Carbon is a generous platter from the Especiales de la Casa section of the menu with chicken, green bean and frisee salad, pickled red onions and sweet plantains.

Of course Rocco’s has the tacos as well, and they do a pretty good job of serving them up with a variety of protein options, like this platter with Chorizo, Carne Asada, and Pollo.

Camarones Patron are a cool item on the menu that I really enjoyed, with shrimp sauteéd in tequila and rojo chipotle butter sauce, padrón peppers and served with flour tortillas.

Hey… they have salads here too, and they are pretty darn good. The Ensalada de Espincaca at Rocco’s is made with blackened chicken, spinach, mixed greens, goat cheese, bacon, grilled onion and a very delicious charred jalapeno vinaigrette.

Enchiladas are always a good choice, especially these Mole Poblano ones filled with pulled chicken in adobo drenched in a mole poblano sauce.

For all you meat lovers out there, I strongly recommend the Gaucho Platter with grilled steak, chicken breast, shrimp, chorizo, chimichurri, grilled green onions, radishes and corn tortillas.

You can not go to Rocco’s Tacos and Tequila bar and not get a margarita. They make some of the best margaritas in Orlando. One of my favorites is the Cadillac Margarita made with El Mayor Anejo, Grand Marnier, and Rocco’s Housemade Sour Mix.

Back in the beginning phases of Rocco’s, Rocco himself went and scoured the globe and visited Mexico more than 20 times to get a better vision for his concept. His goal was not just getting the food right, but more importantly...to bring the best and widest selection of Tequila's in the southeast to his loyal patrons.

At any given time Rocco's can have as many as 300 different Tequila's on hand. A single shot of a lower end Tequila may cost you around $5.00, But, for the discerning customer, they have a shot of "1800 Coleccion Anejo" for a mere $250.00.

Back in his heyday, Rocco was known for visiting his establishments and donning the shoes Pee Wee Herman made famous during the “Tequila” song and dance in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. He would jump on the bar and pour tequila shots down patrons throats and the place would go crazy.

Nowadays, Rocco Mangel is a little laid back and not as crazy as he once was. He was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis not too long ago, so he has undergone a lifestyle change, but it’s all for the better. Rocco has a made a big effort to be part of the National MS Society because as he says, he wants people to know that his life, and those of others with MS, can continue to thrive.

In addition to all the walks and fundraisers Rocco is a part of, he has also added a special drink to the menu called the MS Miracle Margarita that is made with Maestro Dobel Diamante, Cedilla Acai Liqueur, Agave Nectar, Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice, and best of all, the proceeds go entirely to The National MS Society.

I said it in 2012, and I’ll say it again... The only thing that would have made our experience better at Rocco’s Tacos, is if Salma Hayek playing the part of Santánico Pandemonium would have been our server. The food is always good here, and it’s an atmosphere that is so fun and enjoyable and they make a damn fine margarita.


Rocco's Tacos and Tequila Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Bartaco


7600 Dr Phillips Blvd.
Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 801-8226
View Website Here


Tacos, tacos, and more tacos, it seems to be the craze all over Orlando right now.

We have traditional tacos, street tacos, craft tacos, custom tacos, recently, a once popular higher end restaurant just decided to call the old menu quits and serve up tacos. 

I'm not sure how long the taco craze will last. We all love tacos, but in my opinion, it’s getting out of control in Orlando. The good thing is that for Andy Pforzheimer and Sasa Mahr-Batuz, they got onto the craze before it ever hit mainstream, and they have a brand that I think will outlast the makeshift overnight taco places popping up.

About seven years ago Andy Pforzheimer and Sasa Mahr-Batuz had the idea to emulate casual al fresco dining experiences they experienced in Brazil, a dream deferred but later realized when the partners found a waterfront space in Port Chester, Connecticut, and the rest as they say is history.

Bartaco is inspired by the beach culture of Brazil, Uruguay and Southern California. They focus on an upscale brand of street food with a coastal vibe in a relaxed environment. The duo expected the restaurant to be a sort of gourmet taco truck turned inside out and a late night hang out for the younger crowd, but they quickly found families gathering to the concept as well.

With freshly squeezed juices, specialty cocktails and beer out of a bottle, Bartaco is reminiscent of a stylish beach resort with a great atmosphere made by woven basket light fixtures, and a wrap around bar that is front and center. It’s easy to forget where you are for the moment, and that's a great thing.

Bartaco’s mostly Cali-Mexican menu focuses on tacos with clean flavors and a price point of $2.50 to $3.50, depending on choice of protein. Tacos and sides are ordered a-la-carte similar to the way one would order sushi off a little check box menu that you fill out table side. The list of tacos available is pretty amazing and includes items like chorizo, pork belly, baja fish, falafel, duck, lamb, cauliflower and more.

They also serve rice bowls with curried shrimp, Mexican style tamales and sides including street corn, spicy cucumber salad, plantains, soups, and desserts.


Inside at Bartaco is very spacious. You may not think so from the outside, but with a big wrap around bar, an outdoor seating area, and plenty of booths and tables on the left and right, this place can hold a quite a crowd. We also really appreciate that Bartaco puts foot rests on the ledge of their booths.

On the "Not Tacos" list for starters is a trio of delicious and fresh made in house Roja salsa, Salsa Verde and Guacamole. 

Drinks are also a major focus of the restaurant, which has a stout tequila list of blancos, reposados, anejos and mezcals. A Paloma Fresca is on the left and the Bartaco Margarita on the right. Both are made with fresh squeezed juices and ingredients for a super fresh and tasty cocktail.

I love sweet plantains, but never thought of dipping them in a sauce. The ones here at Bartaco come with a side of a garlic aioli sauce that make them the perfect salty and sweet treat.

The Tuna Poke was pretty good. It's a tad bit on the salty side and maybe a little heavy on the sauce, but getting a bite with the avocado helps out a lot.

I've had some pretty authentic Tamales in my time, even while in Mexico, but I do have to admit the Pork Tamale here was pretty on point. It's surprisingly good.

The Cauliflower Taco and The Sesame Ribeye Tacos with a side of Stewed Black Beans was really good, but man the Cauliflower Taco was spectacular. Lots of crunch with immense flavor.

All tacos at Bartaco can be made with bibb lettuce instead of a tortilla, for a low carb option, but the Tuna Tatako comes on lettuce only. We had this with a side of Spicy Cucumber Salad for a cool Asian style taco experiment. It was very good.

The Reviver with Martin Miller's Gin and an Old Thymer with Four Roses Bourbon on the right.

We really enjoyed all the really cool and unique tacos at Bartaco. They really have something for everyone, even vegetarians. Our order here consisted of a Falafel, Mojo Pork Carnitas, Duck, Crispy Rock Shrimp, and Pork Belly tacos. All of it was superb, especially the pork belly and the falafel.

Of course, nothing finishes off your meal at Bartaco better than these wonderful Churros with a not too sweet chocolate sauce to dip them in.

They have a great outdoor spot as well for additional seating when the weather permits.

We really fell in love with Bartaco, it is one of the best restaurant/dining atmospheres I have been to in quite a while. The food here is exceptional, the cocktails were wonderful and the service was excellent. They have live music on various nights and they also feature new taco ingredients on a monthly basis for different options.

There are 14 locations in the U.S so far with two in Florida. One in Dr. Phillips and the the other in Tampa. The Dr. Phillips location is open from 11:00 am until 11:00 pm except for Friday and Saturday, they are open until 12:00 am.


Bartaco Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Mango’s Launches New A La Carte Menu


8126 International Dr.
Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 673-4422
View Website Here


International Drive’s award winning nightlife and entertainment destination Mango’s Tropical Cafe will now entice even more guests with their ultimate dining, dancing and live entertainment nightly.

Recently they launched an exciting and all new A La Carte menu crafted by Executive Chef Angel Ramirez of Mango’s South Beach that debuted on Friday, November 3rd.

Mango’s Tropical Cafe, now in its 25th year on South Beach’s iconic Ocean Drive, has hosted thousands of private parties for individuals, families, offices, as well as celebrity functions and special events for large multinational corporations.

Mango’s Orlando, which opened in 2015, is a dream venue that changes the game on International Drive. It is a decadent design across 55,000 square feet that creates an epic experience people will always remember.

The new menu features Mango’s signature gourmet Floribbean cuisine, specializing in Caribbean and Latin fare, delicious Italian and American favorites and still serving a plethora of Mango’s classic tasty cocktails.

In addition, after extensive meetings with suppliers, Mango’s will pass savings onto its guests by lowering its “all doubles” Specialty Drink prices across its menu, starting at $8.95. Mango’s Orlando will still offer a three-course Pre-Fixe menu available for special occasions and VIP guest parties. The popular hotspot will also feature a brand new reservation platform on their website to further enhance guests’ dining and nightlife experience.

All of the new menu items and cocktails will now be available to guests throughout the entire venue, including the main dining room.


Guests will be able to dine and enjoy open seating for Mango’s family friendly dinner and show every night of the week, which features paramount live stage entertainment including the Michael Jackson tribute, Brazilian Samba, Cuban Conga, new Belly Dancing and Rhumba Flamenca shows and many more high energy Latin inspired numbers.

Chef Angel Ramirez has definitely added that Latin flare with some sizzling dishes reminiscent of the Miami and South Beach dining scene. Some of the new items include, Chicken Al Jillo with White Rice, Creole Chicken with Yellow Rice, Ceviche Cups, Ropa Vieja Tacos and Cuban Sandwiches.


The Tropical Ceviche is a great starter at Mango’s with tender fish and fresh lime juice.

There are also some non Latin additions to the menu that are perfect bites to share during your experience here, like these Prime Rib Sliders topped with caramelized onions and radish cream sauce with a side of Au jus for dipping.

The Chicken Parmesan Sliders on homemade garlic bread with marinara sauce are also great to share, or eat all by yourself.

Mango’s also offers a few pizzas like this Wild Mushroom one with sauteed portobello mushrooms and button mushrooms with garlic, rosemary and olive oil.

Ropa Vieja Tacos were a big hit with our group. These featured shredded beef with cabbage, tomato, red onions, sharp cheddar cheese and a drizzle of cilantro aioli.

The Chicken “al Ajillo is a great dish that really accentuates what Chef Angel is bringing to the table at Mango’s. These are tender chicken strips sauteed in a garlic, white wine and lemon sauce and is served whiter rice and black beans with a side of maduros.

Caribbean Creole Chicken is another Miami centric dish with lots of flavor. This chicken breast is sauteed in a white wine base with garlic, onions, peppers, tomato, cilantro paprika, and lemon and is served with black beans, white rice and tostones.

You can never go wrong with a Cuban sandwich for simplicity and deliciousness. This version at Mango’s features slow roasted pork, tener ham and Swiss cheese. You can have fries, or onion rings with your order also.

Mango’s Tropical Cafe Orlando is the largest restaurant and banquet facility & nightlife destination on International Drive. Located near the Orange County Convention Center and all the I-Drive Hotels & Resorts, it’s the perfect place to entertain your guests. The Orlando Mango’s features lavish, unique private party areas and can accommodate up to 2,000 guests, at once.

The world famous Mango’s Dancers like the ones from South Beach, are carrying on the tradition at the Orlando location. The shows are full force and come alive with a dazzling array of lights, music, and talented performers who love what they do.


Also.. Check out Mango's for NYE 2018. Pop the champagne at the biggest New Year’s Eve celebration in Orlando at Mango’s Tropical Cafeon Sunday, December 31 from 6pm-3am.

Mango’s NYE Extravaganza will include live entertainment, music, dancing, gourmet food and more featuring Mango’s special New Year’s Eve dining menu offering signature gourmet Floribbean cuisine, champagne and complimentary well drinks.

Several party packages are available: General admission tickets are $50/person until December 30. Café and Veranda packages are $125/person and include a buffet of Mango’s classic cuisine and open bar well drinks. 

VIP Stage Side Tables, 2nd Floor Mezzanine and Bar High-tops are $125/person and include a reserved table from 8pm to close, gourmet three-course menu and a bottle of Moet Champagne. Party goers can also indulge in the Main VIP Middle for $150/person that includes a reserved table from 8pm-close, gourmet three-course menu and a bottle of Moet Champagne.

Tickets for Mango’s New Year’s Eve Party (21 and up) can be purchased online at http://bit.ly/2AsPrzE.


Mango's is open from 6:00 pm until 2:00 pm everyday except Sunday, as they open at 5:00 on Sunday.

Mango's Tropical Café Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Four more great places to celebrate New Years Eve in Orlando


Orlando is always a great tourist destination, but even more so in the cold winter months up north. The weather is warm most of the time, and we have no shortage of world famous attractions. In addition to those great attractions, the restaurant scene in Central Florida has been booming for the last few years as well.

So whether you are a local or in town for a visit, check out one of these fine establishments for a great NYE dinner celebration.Two of them are located on International Drive and two of them are located in Winter Park, both of which are excellent places to see the sights and sounds of the final countdown to 2017.


Restaurant: Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House
Address: 9150 International Drive, Orlando, FL 32819
Hours: 4pm – last reservation at 11pm, open until 1am

Ring in the New Year at Del Frisco's where flavors are prime, hospitality is unsurpassed and our party has never found its equal. Join in on the celebration featuring our Filet Mignon 8 oz paired with a succulent 8 oz Lobster Tail. That's not all... Stay for the countdown and enjoy a celebration like no other!
Reservations: Call (407) 351-5074


Restaurant: TR Fire Grill
Address: 1035 North Orlando Ave. Suite 101, Winter Park, FL 32789
Hours: 11am – midnight


TR Fire Grill’s $50 4-course New Year’s Eve menu includes your choice of appetizer, salad, entrée, dessert and a glass of wine from one of the entrée wine pairings, plus sparkling wine to toast the new year at midnight! PLUS, the Winter Park restaurant will be open for brunch the next day starting at 11am – just in case you need to cure some hangover blues.
Reservations: Call (407) 708-3600


Restaurant: Tony Roma’s
Address: 8560 International Dr., Orlando, FL 32819
Hours: 12pm – midnight

Visit the newly renovated Tony Roma’s on International Drive to ring in the new year with their $45 New Year’s Eve menu that includes your choice of soup or salad, entrée, dessert and a glass of wine from the preferred wine pairings – and of course, sparkling wine to toast the new year at midnight.
Reservations: Call (407) 248-0094


Restaurant: Cocina 214
Address: 151 E Welbourne Ave., Winter Park, FL 32789
Hours: 11:30 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Cocina 214 will be serving their regular menu, but a complimentary glass of champagne will be given to each guest to help ring in the New Year!
Reservations: Call (407) 790-7997
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