Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Orlando: Backyard Burgers

No, no, no, this hasn't devolved into a "burger blog". But, hey, maybe this is my first "theme week" here on the blog. Not a bad idea...

Anyway, remember how I said before that there were other burgers I liked here in Orlando as well, or almost as well as Five Guys? Well, this is the main one- BackYard Burgers. I'm not sure if these are anywhere except here in Florida. Maybe they are, but it's got to be a fairly small chain as I don't see them when I'm out of state.

For years, the BYB on Orange Blossom Trail (OBT) here locally was mine and my oldest daughter's once a week hangout as we read our comic books from Coliseum of Comics right up the street. BYB's burgers taste a lot like the burgers you remember from your youth that Dad cooked on the backyard grill. Hmmm... wonder if that's where they got the name from? ;D

Great burger with a deep, flamebroiled taste. Good waffle fries, and terrific milkshakes. A fairly close second overall to Five Guys and In-N-Out.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Orlando: Five Guys Burgers and Fries

Now for my local favorite burger! Alright, yes, Five Guys Burgers and Fries are all over the place now, not just in Orlando. But I of course go to the one near me here in O-Town. I decided awhile back, when I first started on my new "fitness lifestyle" ( I never say "diet", BTW), that when I eat junk food I am going to eat the BEST junk food. Five Guys fits that bill perfectly!

Big, greasy burgers that are some of the best around ( I'll talk about a few others I like in future posts), and THE WORLD'S BEST FRENCH FRIES are what keeps me coming here. For those watching their calorie intake, the small FG cheeseburger with lettuce and tomato that I eat comes in at around a very manageable 300 calories.

So what are you waiting for?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Los Angeles, Las Vegas: IN - N - OUT Burgers

Okay, before I give you my local favorite burger, it's time to give you the burger I WISH WAS LOCAL. The legendary, elusive In- N- Out Burger. These gems of true "Burger Americana" are only found out West. I'm not sure exactly of the States, but I know whenever I'm in LA or Vegas I make sure to go at least once to whatever In-N-Out I can find. I drew caricatures ( my day job) at a private party for In-N-Out execs and owners a few years ago here at Disney. I made sure I grilled them ( pun intended ) about why they are only out West. They were all very nice, and told me that it was because over the decades they've built up relationships with their produce and meat suppliers out there. To start up anywhere else, with other partners, they'd possibly have to sacrifice quality... something they're simply not willing to do. I had to respect that answer. A franchise that's run like a Mom and Pop place. It made me want them over here even more.
The burgers are simple, good old fashioned fare. Just like the burgers I remember at drive ins when I was a kid. The fries are hand cut and delicious as well ( not QUITE as good as Five Guys, though...more on that in a future post).
Look at this menu... simplicity at it's best. Love it! Just like stepping back in time.

Also, I personally love this touch.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Cocoa Beach, FL: FishLips

Cocoa Beach is the nearest beach to Orlando, only about 45 minutes away. We go there for a week each Summer to our condo, and it's a great, relatively un-tourist spoiled place that even locals can enjoy. But for fifteen years now, the entire time I've been going there, I have been trying to find good restaurants in Cocoa Beach. Particularly seafood restaurants. I mean, come on, it's the beach! Each year I have high hopes I will find something, anything, that compares to the fish places I knew and loved in Myrtle Beach.

FINALLY, this year, I found somewhere. FISHLIPS is by far the best seafood place I've tried in
It's probably the best fish place I know of anywhere near Orlando, actually. And I've tried everyone I've seen!
Right on the port, where you can see the cruise ships come and go to the Atlantic, is where it's positioned. Great, scenic location.

I actually went here twice in one week this year, my family and I liked it so much. I had the fresh fish skewers, by the way: grouper, scallops, and shrimp. Yum! It's a casual, "families welcome" kind of place, with good servers, live music on the deck and a busy bar.
Plus, ya gotta love this sign.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Columbia, SC: Maurice's BBQ

Actually, Maurice Bessinger's famous BBQ restaurants are in several small towns in lower South Carolina, my homestate, but I know the ones in Columbia best. Lower SC BBQ typically has a mustard based sauce, and since I don't normally like mustard, it's odd that I like the sauce so much. I'm sure all of their sandwiches are great, but Maurice's "Sauci-Chic" sandwich with a big Sweet Tea is absolute heaven to this Southerner.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Myrtle Beach, SC : Dino's House of Pancakes

I grew up in Greenville, SC, and we went to Myrtle Beach at least once a Summer. I've been in Orlando, FL for a LONG time now, but the Greenville Parhams still make the four hour trek to MB. My Florida branch has been up there twice recently, once last week and once two years ago.
There's a TON of great places to eat in Myrtle and the surrounding areas.

Fish places and pancake places are everywhere. This is probably my fave breakfast place so far.. Dino's House of Pancakes.
Check out the cool old sign.
Not retro... just old. And cool as can be. The interior has remained unchanged since probably the 60s, as well. It's the kind of place where the waitresses call you "honey" and "sweetie". Oh, and if you want tea WITHOUT sugar in it, you better tell 'em. Otherwise, it's thick, South Carolina specialty "SWEET TEA". Man, it's gotta be a lot of calories. But man, is it good. I am a Southern boy at heart.

Anyway, the food here is all good, and the omelettes here are amazing. My oldest daughter tells me the pancakes are great, too. And I don't know what it is about MB, but everywhere I went, the bacon was incredible. REAL bacon, thick and greasy like it should be. Like all restaurants in SC, there is smoking allowed, so that can be a little disconcerting for those of us from states where indoor smoking is frowned upon (any smoking really). But in a weird way, in a place like Dino's, it adds to the ambience. It's just like so many places I remember as a kid.

Dino's is right on HWY 17, technically in North Myrtle ( although all these little towns run together so much you can't tell where one ends and the other begins). If you're in the neighborhood, stop in, why dontcha?

Orlando: Beefy King

The myth, the legend.... BEEFY KING! Is that a cool sign, or what?
Forget Arby's, and all those other pretenders. There is no comparison to Beefy King's roast beef sandwiches.
An Orlando institution since 1968, this family owned business on Bumby Avenue is tops in my book.
Please.... a great sign, amazing roast beef with tater tots on the side, and an interior that looks like you've stepped back in time to the Brady Bunch era... what's NOT to love?

Long live the King!

Orlando: Lawless Subs

That's what I've said for over sixteen years, ever since my father in law first took me into Lawless Subs on Hwy 436 in Altamonte Springs, and I still haven't changed my mind. I took my oldest daughter there a few weeks ago, the first time she remembers going there at least, and she totally agreed with me. Is it the homemade bread? The highest quality sandwich meats and cheeses? I don't know, but whatever it is, don't change it! Subway can't even hold a candle to this place.

For the record, "my" sub is an 8 inch turkey on white, with melted provolone, hot AND sweet red peppers, lettuce, and tomato. All with a sliced dill pickle on the side.

Now doesn't reading that make you hungry? ;D

Orlando : Ichiban Japanese Restaurant

I've lived in Orlando for over sixteen years now, and Ichiban Japanese Restaurant on Orange Avenue in Downtown Orlando is still a fave of mine. Great Sushi, great food ( love those Bento Boxes) and a cool, funky atmosphere. They even have their own blog:

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Orlando: Fresco Italian

For my first review, it HAD to Fresco Italian Restaurant and Market on Turkey Lake Road in Orlando. Tucked into the end of the shopping center, by the Bayhill Kmart, is a hidden treasure of Orlando dining. The Parham clan can be found here at LEAST once a week. Owners Achille and Teresa Scailoia are from "The Old World", and the food here reflects that. Their sons, A.J. (head server/maitre de) and Luigi ( head chef), are also integral parts of this family run business.

My wife and I went to Italy twice several years ago, and stayed with her sister while she lived there. We experienced true Italian food and wines, and this restaurant reminds of those more than any other we've ever been to, anywhere. Achille was a top wine and food importer here locally for many years, and he refuses to skimp on quality.
The interior of Fresco is all Tuscan elegance, and there's plenty of room for large parties. They'll even make custom menus for large groups.

The food is amazing, the wine selection is incredible. And the tiramisu just has to be eaten to be believed ( if you can get it... it sells out fast!). Go visit, and tell em Keelan sent you!


Ya know, my family and I eat out so much, this blog was inevitable. We don't cook at home much, and are raising two princesses with very extensive palettes. No picky eaters in our house! We're not food snobs, and will eat anywhere...as long as it's good! So, I may mention a burger joint or two, but I may just as well mention our fine dining faves. Plastic red and white plaid, all the way up to the finest linen tablecloths. Hence the "Restaurant reviews for the rest of us" tag at the top.

I'll also probably mention some chains I like, but for the most part, the Parhams search out small "Mom and Pop" type places. Anyway, I hope you like "Keelan Eats", and find it useful. Let me know!