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Orlando Like a Local - Chinese


While most visitors are familiar with Orlando's theme parks, many are unaware of the personality, character and charm Orlando neighborhoods have to offer. From unassuming eateries to quirky and stylish nighttime spots, these local favorites are hidden gems in the theme park capital of the world. From upbeat and energetic to urban and tranquil, Orlando has a surprising variety of unique neighborhoods to explore. 


Downtown Orlando is a collection of different neighborhoods, all with a unique look and feel. Neighborhoods in downtown Orlando include Church Street District, Thornton Park, Wall Street Plaza and many more. Orange Avenue is central to downtown Orlando and offers unique restaurants and cocktail bars, such as Artisan's Table and The Courtesy. A highlight in downtown Orlando is the Doctor Phillip's Center for the Performing Arts. The 2015 schedule is bursting with big name musicians, comedians and shows.


The Church Street District, located in the heart of downtown Orlando, offers a view of the past with all the excitement of modern venues and trendy restaurants and nightclubs. Visitors can explore Historic Church Street with a Downtown Orlando walking tour, catch a game at the Amway Center, where the NBA Orlando Magic and ECHL Orlando Solar Bears play. This dynamic district offers numerous nightlife options and swanky restaurants, including Kres ChophouseThe Rusty Spoon and The Boheme, located within the boutique Grand Bohemian Hotel. The area is also home to several performing arts venues like Mad Cow Theatre, specializing in both classic and contemporary plays and musicals.


One of downtown Orlando's most charming neighborhoods is Thornton Park, the city's center of new urbanism, local boutiques, eateries and nearby Lake Eola Park. Restaurants in Thornton Park appease a multitude of cravings, with options ranging from brunch to BBQ and burgers to tacos. Mucho Tequila and Tacos and Relax Grille are just two of the alfresco options available. Wildside Bar and Grille and Graffiti Junktion offer a fun atmosphere to watch a game. Thornton Park is also home to Eola Wine Company and World of Beer. Both have their obvious spirit specialties but also offer great food.      


Just northeast of downtown Orlando, Mills 50 is an expanding enclave of authentic Asian restaurants, shops and markets and is home to one of the largest Vietnamese-American communities in Florida. Visitors can enjoy delicious and diverse Asian cuisine at restaurants like Hawkers Asian Street Fare, Pho 88 and Shin Jung. Mills 50 offers a variety of other cuisines, including modern American at Funky Monkey Wine Company and The Strand, BBQ at Pig Floyd's, and vegetarian at Dandelion Communitea Cafe. Local markets like Dong A Supermarket and 1st Oriental Supermarket are also worth a stop. Florida's only sustainable winery, Quantum Leap can be found in this dynamic neighborhood.


Ivanhoe Village, a cultural destination, is just two miles from Dowtown Orlando. Arts and culture are abundant in this area, featuring Orlando Repertory Theatre, Orlando Shakespeare Theater and one of Orlando's most noticeable and popular parks, Gaston Edwards Park. The area also features a number of vintage-inspired shops, including Rock & Roll Heaven and Elephant Walk Antiques. The Imperial is a local favorite with an extensive beer and wine menu, located inside a unique shop, Washburn Imports. Locals flock to  White Wolf Café for a causal bite to eat as well as new-comer, Satiago's Bodega.


Located northwest of downtown Orlando is the distinct neighborhood of College Park, with streets named for famous Ivy League universities such as Harvard, Yale and Dartmouth. The neighborhood is home to various colorful shops and businesses, including Metal Works Gallery, The Beauty Spot Spa & Boutique and Truffles and Trifles Cooking School. The Jack Kerouac House is where the writer penned his famous "On the Road" and is the current home of a "writer in residence" program. A College Park staple is K Restaurant, a nationally recognized restaurant featuring eclectic American cuisine with an Italian influence. Another local gem, Paxia Modern Mexican Cuisine & Tequila Lounge, serves classic Mexican dishes with fine-dining quality, plus an extensive tequila list.


Audubon Park, The Garden District, is a hip, diverse area just north of downtown Orlando. Brand new to the area is  East End Market, a cultural hub and marketplace home to 10 local, independently owned food enterprises as well as Txokos Kitchen, a dine-in restaurant featuring farm-fresh menu choices. Redlight Redlight Beer Parlour, offers seemingly endless beer options with more than 200 bottles, including a vast selection of vintage and sour beers. Other notable eateries and hang-outs include Blue Bird Bake ShopBikes, Beans & BordeauxP is for Pie, and Smiling Bison. An eclectic mix of shopping venues such as Dear Prudence offer everything from designer fashion to DYI jewelry and more. True to its name, Audubon Park is home to Harry P. Leu Gardens, a 50-acre botanical oasis with various gardens featuring local flora as well as a beautiful rose garden.


A short drive north of downtown Orlando, Winter Park was originally created as a retreat for wealthy northerners. More than 130 years later, Winter Park features Central Park, a shady canopy of oaks that features beautiful gardens and special events. Winter Park is also home to Park Avenue, which features 10 tree-lined blocks of more than 140 shops with everything from high-end footwear and designer lingerie to fine wines and pooch-friendly pastries. Noteworthy restaurants such as Cask & Larder and its sister restaurant The Ravenous Pig, as well as Luma on Park and Prato, help contribute to Winter Park's reputation as a foodie hub in Orlando. Winter Park is also home to local-favorite 4 Rivers Smokehouse and THE COOP, it's sister restaurant focusing on southern comfort food, both owned by John Rivers.