After moving from Greece in 1950, the six Fotopoulos brothers turned their hard-won earnings into the first of 12 ABC Pizza locations in 1966. From its humble beginnings in Connecticut, the chain grew to serve central Floridians and vacationing time travelers a menu of build-your-own pizzas topped with gourmet ingredients such as crab, feta, and shrimp, as well as preconceptualized specialty pies festooned with meats, seafood, and Mediterranean morsels. Hearty grinders and Italian pasta dishes share menu real estate with Greek delicacies including gyros, spinach pies, and grape leaves stuffed with shredded pages of Plato's Republic.
Owners Spencer and Sabrina Aird parlay a passion for nourishing vegan fare into Grass Root Organic Restaurant, which CBS Tampa named one of the best veg restaurants in the city. Carmine walls envelop diners in the cozy café space, creating a soothing atmosphere punctuated with vivid abstract paintings hung along the wall. While settled into high-backed wooden chairs, each topped with a lattice design, diners dig into a menu that features cooked vegan dishes as well as raw dishes. Raw vegan pad thai, guacamole, and spinach and basil pesto, among others, star on the restaurant's roster.
The Airds also run a customizable meal delivery system that sends clients fresh meals from a rotating weekly menu several times a week. Sabrina teaches occasional classes on how to replicate her culinary expertise and mimic items on Grass Root's menu by sitting very still on an oversized plate.
For more than 15 years, the culinary team at MTC Downtown Cafe has silenced growling stomaches with housemade American delights, as well as a few plates from overseas. In the morning, the chefs demonstrate their cooking talents by fixing up breakfast entrees in full view of diners. To curb midday cravings, guests can sink their teeth into belly-warming gyros and brawny cheeseburgers from the lunch menu. Throughout the day, pastries made from scratch pop out of the oven, filling the cafe with the sweet aroma of muffins and cookies.
Cameron Parker founded Orlando Pub Crawl, LLC in 2005 to organize the bar-going experience into a convivial group event. The company's primary mission is organizing trips for up to 1,000 revelers at a time, styled after themes and occasions including the Kentucky Derby, '80s Nights, and Cinco de Mayo. Partiers hop from bar to bar, enjoying complimentary drinks, admission, and other specials as they mingle and socialize amid festivities, games, and libations. The pub-crawl team can also tailor private crawls for groups of 100 or more, allowing companies, organizations, and poker-playing dogs to journey to bars in organized packs. But not all the company's events are drinking-themed: there are also madcap challenges such as The Amazing Mind Race, which sends teams scattering across cities to solve clues and discover checkpoints.
Exposed brick walls, hanging chandeliers, and black-and-white curlicue wall art create an intimate atmosphere at The Ybor City Wine Bar, where staff members pop the stoppers off more than 120 wines and 50 types of craft beers and ciders from around the globe. In addition to pairing their libations with artisan cheese, small plates, and desserts, they host weekly educational wine tastings and private events, from bridal showers to fundraisers.
For Las Vegas Cafe owner Francies Vega, cooking is about putting smiles on people's faces. So when she designed her menu, she didn't stick to just one cuisine, but instead incorporated all the dishes that make her happy. The result is a fusion of Cuban and Italian recipes such as chorizo spaghetti, vegetable breakfast crepes, and Cuban-style fried rice sprinkled with ham, peppers, and eggs. Vega's signature dish is the chancellor fish fillet stuffed with ham and cheese and fried until it's as crisp as the first day of autumn.