Downtown Orlando plays host to some of the most innovative eateries in the city, with a steady stream of creative chefs hanging out their shingles every year. Culinary kudos go to these three downtown spots, not only for what graces the plate but for how they make us feel when huddling with friends, family or coworkers.
Maxine’s on Shine
Take the concept of a genuine neighborhood café, infuse it with eclectic cuisine and live local music – and you get something pretty close to Maxine’s on Shine. The eatery has literally grown up with downtown’s Colonialtown area, which has become a flourishing district just East of Lake Eola. But to long-time patrons, it’s the same as it’s always been: a downhome parlor room dishing out favorites such as Key West crab cakes, lobster ravioli, skillet lasagna and cioppino fish stew. Hosts and owners Kirt and Maxine meet and greet you like family when dining, brunching on weekends, or lounging with live music on Thursday through Monday evenings.
If the words “Southern” and “contemporary” can coexist on the same menu, then it’s most likely to happen at Soco Restaurant under the guidance and inspiration of award-winning Executive Chef Greg Ritchie. Soco perches prettily on the corner of Central and Summerlin in the beating heart of downtown’s Thornton Park.
Chef Greg keeps true-blue Southern cooking at the core of his menu but freshens it up a bit for modern (and healthy) palettes. You’ll definitely find Southern expectations such as piping-hot skillet cornbread, fried green tomatoes, and cornbread-fried okra. But surprises pop out in taken-for-granted staples like Chicken and Dumplings. The Soco-style version features lobster dumplings along with local Florida mushrooms, edamame and soy butter. Black-eyed peas come smoked or truffled, while hummus features boiled peanuts instead of chickpeas. Sorghum molasses? You’ll find it in the sorghum cured salmon.
For special-occasion fine dining, check out DoveCote Restaurant, winner of multiple “Best New Restaurant” awards when it opened in 2016. Like other eateries in Downtown Orlando that break proverbial rules, DoveCote dares to cross the lines of classical French cuisine. Contemporary interpretations emerge on everything from braised short ribs with cognac jus to souffles, vanilla crème brulee, and a chicken-and-sausage cassolet. A sassy raw bar spreads out oyster shooters, clams, crab cocktails, shrimp, charred octopus salad and more.
Note: In case you’re wondering, the name DoveCote comes from France in the 1700s, when a raised “dovecote” house held domestic pigeons for French nobility.
You’re never far from a special night out when living in one of our Orlando apartment communities. Call today to hear about specials, availability and how to schedule your own private tour.