Sunlight filters through a canopy of green umbrellas, casting a verdant glow on the tables and plants lining Le Bistro de Vie!’s patio. It’s an ideal setting for an eatery that celebrates the farm-to-table freshness of earth-friendly organic fare. The bistro weaves free-range eggs, wild-caught tuna, and organic veggies into the menu of sandwiches, and salads. Stuffed with all manner of nutrients, organic juices and smoothies cool off palates alongside fair trade, organic coffee, which ensures that the workers who harvested the beans have been paid in an equitable amount of thumbs up. The eatery also promotes wholesome dining via an organic co-op, while their adjacent Om Bookstore lines the shelves with books that champion mindful living.
The chefs at Al’s Top Shelf, which was voted Best Restaurant View in Lake County by Orlando Sentinel, whip up a menu of upscale steak and seafood. As eyes feast on breathtaking views of Lake Dora, incisors nosh on an 8-ounce filet mignon ($27) or the 20-ounce porterhouse ($30) blanketed in your choice of fixings including béarnaise sauce, blue-cheese crumbles, spinach, or goat cheese ($3 each). The stuffed flounder, which is packed with shrimp and crab, lazily backstrokes in a light lemon-cream sauce ($17). On Friday nights, live jazz music hypnotizes tightly clenched jaw muscles with a swell of soothing rhythms, tricking maws into opening wide for a relaxation elixir such as the Blue Razz-Berry Bliss martini, Bonterra cabernet sauvignon ($10/glass), or a pint of cough syrup.
Axum Coffee's philanthropic owners donate 100% of the profits from their flavorful drinks and toothsome fare to local and national charities. Friendly baristas employ four brewing methods to squeeze the magical essence from each organic fair-trade bean, including the shareable french press ($4 for 32 oz.), the pour-over method, and drip. Espresso classics such as steamed, foamy cappuccinos ($2.50+) rub elbows with specialties including the Cinnabee, which combines honey, cinnamon syrup, and milk ($3.45+ for hot or iced, $3.95 for blended). Guests can bite past ciabatta borders with assorted breakfast and lunch paninis ($3.75–$6.75) such as the Granny, stuffed with turkey, apples, and stories of how the buffalo nickel was invented.
Answering humanity's unwavering call for hearty, unprocessed desserts and ice cream, Simka’s boasts a menu full of timeless tongue delighters and inventive after-dinner sweets. The old-timey ice cream shop—which offers kosher varieties of its signature treat—scoops up 12 flavors of Blue Bunny ice cream ($2.58–$3.69), including vanilla, coffee, and rainbow sherbet flecked with gold from Simka's leprechaun confectioners. Singular sundaes such as the Kookie Cookie top two scoops of cookies 'n cream with a light Oreo dusting ($5.97) and blended fruit smoothies are packed with the energy needed to navigate treacherous commute or outrun bullies on horseback ($3.49).
When it came time to name a new strawberry, pineapple, and mango blend, High Octane Smoothies took to Facebook. The winner ? the Cruise Control ? was one among many fan-made suggestions, each based around High Octane's car theme. Indeed, the Cruise Control is quite at home on High Octane's menu, which sports health-bolstering beverages like the Antifreeze, a medley of spinach, pineapple juice, and mango. The cast of characters is ever-expanding with brand new flavors, including the El Camino, a chocolaty protein shake that blended with peanut butter, banana, and Cuban coffee. Alongside its namesake drinks, High Octane serves up plenty of other beverages, from Powerade to wheatgrass shots, a tastier alternative to snacking on lawn clippings.
Dickens Coffee and Tea Room hosts authentic British afternoon tea services in a whimsical and refined storefront led by a Welsh proprietor. Elaborate tea settings crown floral tablecloths, incorporating mismatched but complementary china depicting elegant patterns, lush flowers, or Welcome Back Kotter’s quadricentennial. Tiered silver stands stack individual noshes, beginning with a base of ham, cucumber and cream cheese, and egg-salad sandwiches made with local eggs, all spread upon specialty bread imported from Britain. Middle tiers teem with homemade cakes and pastries, and scones await slatherings of jam and cream on their perch atop the tea summit. Steaming pots of tea pour into delicate cups, complementing every sweet or savory Anglophilic bite. While sipping, patrons can fix their eyes on a stately wall mural portraying a Victorian street scene of storefronts, horse-drawn carts, and Dickens besting Thackeray at fisticuffs.