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Food & Drink

Eleven great Orlando spots where you’ll eat and drink equally well

A bite and a beverage

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We’re privileged to witness our city in the midst of a culinary renaissance. A whole new crop of devoted craftsmen and women are reshaping the gastronomic landscape by fusing the ethical with the artisanal to elevate the craft of cooking and mixology to exquisite levels. Their will to transcend by pushing the boundaries of our historically conservative palates is reflected in the names of the establishments listed below – establishments dedicated to crafting and serving the finest in food and drink. Here, in order, are my picks of the best places to eat and drink in Orlando.

1. Pharmacy

Perhaps no other establishment in this city places a greater emphasis on both food and craft cocktails than the Pharmacy, the concealed Prohibition-era boîte from the same folks who brought us The Table. Pushing the green button opens the faux elevator doors, allowing entrance into this thoroughly fab speakeasy. Deliciously intense (and high-quality) drinks complement a menu catering specifically to gastronomes. Believe me, the roasted bone marrow paired with a stiff East Setauket Job cocktail is a healing prescription. (8060 Via Dellagio Way,407-985-2972; thepharmacyorlando.com)

2. Cask & Larder

What Pharmacy does for cocktails, Cask & Larder does for beer. Brew maestro Ron Raike’s sudsy creations (love me some Hammer Time!) are unparalleled in this city, and while the James Beard award-nominated duo of James and Julie Petrakis have tamed down the menu somewhat, their dishes still give new meaning to the term “Southern comfort.” (565 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park, 321-280-4200; caskandlarder.com)

3. Santiago’s Bodega

Perhaps best replicating the vibe and all-round camaraderie you’d find at a tapas bar in Seville, Santiago’s Bodega has already become an established destination for food-loving revelers, even after just six months in existence. Some may balk at the pricing, but there’s no bull coming out of the kitchen – and the house red, the least expensive bottle on the list, is nothing to sneeze at. (802 Virginia Drive, 407-412-6979; santiagosbodega.com)

4. Hawkers Asian Street Fare

Sure, the healthy selection of craft beers is enough to warrant a visit to this popular Mills Avenue resto, but when you can pair a specialty beer with the exotic flavors of Malay, Chinese, Viet and Indian cuisine, while maintaining the animated atmosphere of a Singapore-style hawker stall, it all adds up to a formula for success. With or without stinky durian fruit. (1103 N. Mills Ave., 407-237-0606; facebook.com/hawkersstreetfare)

5. The Smiling Bison

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