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Orlando’s neighborhood hangs, comfy dives and places to kick back

Bars and lounges where you can kick back while you throw one back

Photo: Independent Bar, License: N/A

Independent Bar

Just a stone’s throw away from the Rollins College campus, this low-key joint has pool tables, darts, arcade games and cheap drinks. It’s popular with the Rollins crowd, and unlike a lot of the bars and restaurants in the Park Avenue area, it’s open past midnight on most nights.

Stardust Lounge
431 E. Central Blvd., 407-839-0080, stardustorlando.com

This place is like Orange Avenue and Thornton Park had a baby and let the Lake Eola swans raise it on their own. It’s got just enough fratty energy to keep you buying drinks but without the caterwauling and beer can tossing that happens just up the street. There is a retro-VIP feel to this underground lounge, which is perfect for the burlesque shows produced by Baby Blue, so bring lots of singles.

St. Matthew’s Tavern
1300 N. Mills Ave., orlandobeergarden.com

This newly opened tavern in Mills 50 used to be known as Orlando Nights, and before that it was called Paradise. It has undergone significant renovation and today the bar has the distinction of hosting church services on Sunday mornings. It’s also got a full-service bar and some serious drink specials – $2 margaritas on Mondays, and $3 Smirnoff martinis on Wednesdays.

118 S. Orange Ave., 407-246-1529, vixenbar.com

A friend described it like a good date, “narrow and long.” The bathrooms are always clean, and it’s rarely too crowded that you don’t get a good seat at the bar. The crowds are usually friendly and the staff is happy to serve.

Wall St. Plaza
19 N. Orange Ave., 407-849-0471, wallstplaza.net

Special occasions, from New Year’s Eve to Oktoberfest, belong to this cantina-themed meeting place. Located at the epicenter of downtown Orlando and always throbbing with music, booze and vitality, Wall St. Plaza and its eight venues take up an entire city block, but it’s easy to navigate, heavy on drink specials and stocked with eye candy for all. It’s not exactly upscale, but it gets the job done with laughter, music and a hangover souvenir.

Wally’s Mills Avenue Liquors
1001 N. Mills Ave., 407-896-6975, wallysonmills.com

When you walk into Wally’s, you’ll find a devoted crowd of seasoned regulars who mean serious drinking business. It’s smoky, it’s dark, and if you can find a seat (there are maybe 25 total) at the bar, stiff cocktails are coming your way. (Note: Most other bars in the Mills 50 area only serve beer and wine.) Those looking for booze on the go can purchase from the liquor store that makes up one side of the joint.

Whiskey Lou’s Lounge
101 N. Bumby Ave., 407-898-2593

Always a good time at this raucous dive bar, which is best known for its cheap drinks, heavy pours, bright neon sign marking it as a haven for drinkers and its life-sized Blues Brothers mannequins.

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