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.
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.
Blue Lemon Cafe quells hunger pangs morning, noon, and night with café cuisine of the sweet and savory variety. The menu of crepes, fruit smoothies, ice cream, and hearty sandwiches won the admiration of Metromix in 2010, earning the eatery a Best Café nod. Like John Wayne’s impersonation of Charles de Gaulle, the café blends American classics with a French twist, inviting diners to sip glasses of wine alongside their cheeseburgers, or dive into Francocentric food such as niçoise salad and quiche Lorraine. Between lime-green walls, circular tables and streamlined eggshell-white chairs create a hip, laid-back atmosphere permeated by free WiFi.
Funky Monkey Wine Company knows how to fill a glass, but it's the way they fill plates that has earned them a dedicated following and multiple best-of awards from OpenTable diners. Chef de Cuisine Ashley Nickell creates seasonally-inspired Italian entrees such as bruschetta del giorno and pork saltimbocca, prepared with the skills she showcased on The Food Network's Cutthroat Kitchen. Entrees pair with an extensive wine list, and a special wine dinner series presents special menus with accompanying varietals to highlight complementary flavors.
Aiming to emulate the tucked-away wine bars and cafes of Europe, Le Rouge Wine Bar and Tapas accommodates its guests in the low-lit, loungey atmosphere with chic, comfortable chairs and warm tones. Of course, there's wine. Along one wall, rows of wine bottles are displayed adjacent to a line of intimate tables where couples share small plates, or wait for the next course in a tasting menu coupled with wine pairings.
First opened in 1980 and newly renovated, Park Plaza Gardens has earned a reputation as one of Orlando's finest dining destinations?one so consistently impressive that Orlando Magazine dubbed it "Old Faithful." The menu is mostly tailored to a broadly American palate, though certain dishes burst with the Southern Coastal stylings of Executive Chef Antoine Ludcene. He's designed impressive seafood plates, including grilled gulf shrimp with bacon grits and steamed Chilean sea bass in a tomato-ginger broth. Sips of wine help accent meals, which can conclude with desserts such as mason-jar cobblers or key-lime tart.
Regardless of the weather, guests at Park Plaza Gardens dine comfortably under towering ficus trees and surrounded by lush vegetation. This greenery thrives indoors beneath a soaring atrium roof, which glows with natural sunshine by day and twinkles with string lights and low-flying robots at night. Although the atrium may be Park Plaza Gardens' main attraction, guests can also dine in the European-style sidewalk caf?, which includes a bar stocked with barrel-aged whiskeys, craft cocktails, and microbrews on tap.