Discover Something New at Home in Orlando
New restaurant:East End Market
The East End Market -- a chef-driven food hall that opened in early November in Audubon Park -- calls itself a "hub for food and culture" and rightfully so. From a market selling wild-caught Florida seafood (finally!) to an Italian bakery and authentic French fromagerie, it's a stomach growl-inducing collection of global purveyors. Book a table at the hot new restaurant here, Txokos Basque Kitchen, for authentic tapas from Spain's Basque country.
Newly Hip Hood: Audubon Park Garden District
All eyes of late are on the Audubon Park Garden District, a lovely neighborhood just north of downtown where the bricked streets are lined with classic Florida bungalows and one restaurant after another is springing up. Neighborhood cornerstone Stardust Video and Coffee was the indie establishment that paved the way for newcomers like Blue Bird Bake Shop, East End Market and soon-to-open Sushi Lola's.
Word on the Street
Sports-crazed Orlando is getting even more on the ball with renovations to the Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium slated to replace the lower bowl completely by early 2015. Construction kicks off on a new city soccer stadium in this spring, and everyone is still buzzing from the recent announcement that Orlando City SC, the team's soccer club, will join Major League Soccer as the newest expansion team in 2015. On downtown's culture scene, the long-anticipated Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, huge on the skyline wow factor, is slated for completion in 2014.
Freelance travel writer Terry Ward called downtown Orlando neighborhood Thornton Park home for many years. She's on a constant mission to show visitors the other Orlando and avoids International Drive and the theme parks except for when her four young nieces insist.