Orlando, FL

March 10, 2014 by Angie

We like to take one night trips to Orlando on a Saturday every once in a while. We went this past weekend and checked out some new bars that we really like. We kinda have it down to a science at this point. We stay at the Courtyard Orlando Downtown. We go to the always delicious Ethos Vegan Kitchen (now in Winter Park) for dinner. Then we drop the car off at the hotel and walk to bars downtown. Once it’s dance o’clock, we walk to the Bar-BQ-Bar/Sky Sixty/Eye Spy compound and hope the DJ plays all the favorites. As the night went on, my photos got darker, blurrier, and generally unusable so here are some highlights from the first few stops.

After getting Sookie settled in with her DogVacay sitter and checking in to the hotel, we went to an early dinner at Ethos Vegan Kitchen. We got the Boxty appetizer which is two potato pancakes with scallions and sour cream on top. It was good, but not incredible.

Robbie with boxty appetizer

Robbie with the Boxty appetizer

For our entrees, Robbie got the Bay Cakes which are vegan “crab” cakes. He said the dipping sauce was amazing and really made the dish authentic.

Robbie's Bay Cakes

Robbie’s Bay Cakes

I got a new dish, the Blackened Tempeh. It wasn’t blackened in the way that I understand blackened to be, but it was flavorful and good. I liked the collard greens and fresh salsa too.

Angie's Blackened Tempeh

 Angie’s Blackened Tempeh

After dropping the car off at the hotel and changing into our dancing clothes, we walked down Orange Avenue. Our first stop was The Courtesy. They take their craft cocktails very seriously. Robbie had a Blue Point IPA that he really liked and I loved my Seba Sour, recommended by the bartender. It is amongst the top three fanciest drinks I’ve ever had, was extremely tasty, and full of booze, so five stars on that.

Seba Sour at The Courtesy

Angie’s Seba Sour at The Courtesy

We tried another new-to-us bar just down the street called The Woods. I had a couple of pretty great vodka gimlets and Robbie had a Widmer Upheaval IPA then switched to whiskey with an Old Fashioned. The bar itself is cool and the bartenders were nice. The music was kind of bad in there but they have a very impressively stocked bar with just about anything you could want, including fresh ingredients for craft cocktails.

We walked to a secret speakeasy called Hanson’s Shoe Repair. I called the speakeasy on the drive to Orlando and left a voicemail. I was later texted back with the secret password. They only allow 30 people in at a time so we had to wait for a little while downstairs in another bar called NV Art Bar. NV is basically a really expensive, pretty lame waiting room for Hanson’s Shoe Repair. It has good reviews online but I honestly don’t see why; I have a better bar inside my house. Hanson’s Shoe Repair was definitely worth the wait for the kitsch factor and the expertly made drinks. I had the Danny Trejo and Robbie had an Old Fashioned. Both were excellent. Their outside upstairs patio is really adorable and would be perfect for a slightly warmer night. They have speakeasy rules posted and one of them is no photos so…I have no photos.

It was almost 11:00 so we hoped the dancing would be picking up over at Eye Spy. We entered through Bar-BQ-Bar. It took a little bit for things to get going and it wasn’t the best night we’ve had there as far as the music played or the fellow customers but it was still a great night. The DJ played some jamz and we danced and danced.

The next day we went to Frank & Steins for lunch before going to pick up Sookie-dog. We had been once before for drinks and to play tabletop shuffleboard and saw they have veggie hot dogs on the menu. Sadly, they sold out of veggie dogs the night before. We got a decent spinach dip but our entrees were pretty bad. Our drinks were good though. Robbie got Bell’s Hopslam on draft which is kind of a miracle. We would definitely go back to drink and play games and probably to give the veggie dogs a try.

Orlando Bars We Visited & Liked on Past Trips

Redlight Redlight: A craft beer and wine bar. It has been in three locations over the years. The latest incarnation is by far the best.

BART: A small bar offering a good but small selection of beer in bottles and wines. They have old arcade games you can play for free while having a drink. It’s a very unique place that I hope continues to live on. You should go to it and actually purchase something unlike most of the people in there.

Independent Bar: More of a dance club really. It has two levels and a big screen where they show music videos. There are almost always goth characters there to dance on the 80s/Industrial/New Wave nights. I do appreciate a good goth in 2014.

Milk Bar: A small but cute neighborhood bar. Robbie got a beer he was impressed with but they must not have had wine because I’m pretty sure I got a cider.

Sonoma Draught House: A nice place even if it’s a little corporate feeling. They have 49 draft beers and a full bar. We had good drinks and a cheese plate on our previous visit.

Orlando Bar We’d Like to Visit Next Time

Tap & Grind: A craft beer bar downtown. We read good things but didn’t make it there on this trip.


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