Innovative chef Nora De La Vega blends the rich flavors, textures, and traditions from ancient foods such as chiles and corn with unique Spanish and Latin influences to create a vibrant menu of modern Latin cuisine. Drawing from family recipes and using only fresh, sustainable ingredients, dishes combine the contemporary with the traditional. Guests share and sip in time to guitar chords strummed by live musicians, while colorful artwork adds to the festive atmosphere in this casual-yet-chic eatery.
Café Rouge sprinkles worldly charm all over its selection of salads, sandwiches, and house-made entrees. Culinary concoctions, such as a warm poached egg and crispy bacon salad ($9) and olive-oil-baked garlic and chili shrimp ($10), prepare flavor savorers for main dishes, including crispy salmon on sautéed asparagus with lemon and tarragon mayonnaise ($17), and shrimp and scallops over honey Sriracha fettuccine ($17). Just like the young substitute French teacher, Café Rouge is upscale and European, but at the same time, laid-back and soothing.
La Crepe en Haut has crafted fine French and Nouvelle cuisine for more than three decades. Customer's senses pique upon entry into La Crepe's elegant dining room, enveloped in warm lighting, lunar-dust-lined walls, and rich green accents, before being greeted by a menu of entrees made from fresh meats and seafood in a variety of traditional French preparations. Vichyssoise, a cold potato and leak soup ($8.50), sets the stage for the main event of blackened fillet with blue cheese and cabernet glaze ($36.95), or canard à l'orange or au poivre rouge, a roasted duckling bathed in orange sauce or peppercorn brandy ($29.95). La Crepe en Haut slakes fermented thirst with an extensive wine list, which doubles as a yearbook for varietals graduating this year.
At Green Lemon Cafe, ceramic salt- and peppershakers masquerade as pairs of flamingos, crabs, and dairy cows. The figurines mirror the café's harmonious atmosphere: on any given day, patrons munch Fresh-inspired café fare, chat with owner Amanda Volence, or sprout goatees while browsing original artwork.
In the kitchen, chefs pack Boar's Head meats into savory crepes and paninis such as the black forest ham and swiss panini or the raspberry-chicken crepe with jack cheese and spinach. Alternately, cooks fill the apple-crisp crepe—1 of more than 30 crepe options—with cinnamon, apples, caramel, and graham-cracker crumbs.
The earthiness of freshly ground espresso mingles with the buttery scent of crepes cooking on the griddle all day at 407 Cafe. Chefs fold the lacelike golden circlets of batter around fillings such as roast beef and sharp cheddar cheese or Nutella and strawberries. With a sizzling drumroll, a panini press shuts on sandwiches until mozzarella cheese melts perfectly around grilled chicken, fresh spinach, and sweet yellow raisins. In the kitchen, cooks craft gelato, a delicate process of folding together eggs, milk, sugar, and loads of fruit. Glass vases on the white dining-room tables brim with coffee beans and bright-green stalks of bamboo like the diorama a biologist makes to get a PhD.
Twenty-nine stories separate Top of Daytona Restaurant & Lounge from the sands and rolling surf of Daytona Beach. From this vantage point, diners savor expansive, 360-degree views of the Atlantic Ocean, the mainland, and the Halifax River—views that the Orlando Sentinel lauded as "spectacular"—all while indulging in a menu inspired by classical pan-European cooking.
Executive Chef Vadim Vladimirsky incorporates Portuguese, Russian, French, and Italian flavors into his dishes, embracing the cuisines' rustic roots while adding his own refined, yet accessible touches. Accents such as homemade mozzarella cheese, a reduction of aged balsamic vinegar, and a rosemary-tinged port sauce demonstrate his dedication to upscale eating. And given the restaurant's oceanside location, an emphasis on fish and Caribbean lobster comes perfectly natural—Chef Vladimirsky even personally buys the seafood fresh from local suppliers each morning.
Should guests somehow tear their eyes away from the food and the view beyond the curving wall of windows, they find the dining room echoes Top of Daytona’s classic feel. A stone-circled fishpond bubbles in the center of the room, surrounded by stately chairs and tables draped with crisp white linens. The ambience grows most spirited on select Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday evenings as live musicians entertain the crowd and help teach passing seagulls to sing in tune.