by Kristen Carlstrom
Fall 2007. I was just a small town girl moving into a bigger city and was excited to live on my own or as alone someone can be while living in dorm rooms. My parents were now six hours away and I had the freedom to control my own life. Too bad my stomach was growling through most of my freshman year.
Most other freshmen that I knew utilized the meal plan; this allows hungry freshman to eat at the local school cafeteria. I wasn’t really concerned about food at first. I was simply ecstatic to strike out on my own for once. Too bad my independence didn’t come with home cooked meals. I began to miss good, healthy, home cooked food by my second week of college. An oven in the dorm would have made the hungry disappear (but freshmen can’t be trusted with potentially flammable objects).
I had no real idea of the surrounding area. I knew I was in Orlando and that Disney was about twenty miles away, but that was the extent of my knowledge. I figured that there was good food lurking about in city, but I had no clue where to start looking. My roommate and I decided to get in the car one day and just drive. We turned right off campus and kept driving until we hit Oviedo and a local diner.
Oviedo: The Townhouse Restaurant
The Townhouse is located about 10 miles from UCF. The diner is locally owned and operated and has been decorated based on town surroundings. If you have ever driven through Oviedo, then you have most likely seen the chickens that wander freely about. Across from The Townhouse is an antique store that sells, “I stop for the Oviedo chickens” bumper stickers and t-shirts.
Once you walk inside of the diner, it is clear that the Oviedo chickens are loved. Everything is decked out chicken fashion. There’s even a chicken riding a broom dressed as Harry Potter to welcome you to the restaurant. For the early risers, breakfast is delicious every time, and your mouth will water at the great food and exceptional prices. Starting with Biscuits and Gravy at 3.99, the prices only go up to 9.49 for the “Double Your Pleasure” Country Fried Steak breakfast. Lunch prices range from 5.49 to 8.99 and dinner ranges from 8.99 to 10.79. There is also a different special every day of the week. Every meal I have ever tried has been delicious at the Townhouse. It’s served with a smile and an “enjoy” and makes you want to come back for more. If you miss mom’s cooking, the Townhouse is the place to go.
- Website: http://www.oviedotownhouse.com/
Orlando: Bananas- A Modern American Diner
Banana’s is located in Orlando at the intersection of Colonial Drive and Mills Drive; it’s about a twenty minute drive from Campus. The diner has great food and service at absolutely affordable prices, but the dining experience is quite different from anything you’ve experienced before. If you visit this restaurant in the lunch time hour, you won’t notice anything out of the ordinary. However, if you’re looking for a good time and a new experience, I suggest you dine late on the Weekend, Sunday afternoon, or Tuesday night.
Who knew that royalty dined so close to where the learning happens? And when I say royalty, I mean Queens in specific, Drag Queens that is. If you want to have a great time and eat great food, then go to Bananas on a Tuesday night. Every Tuesday is Broadway night and a new show is performed every week. There are two showings per night, but I would definitely recommend making a reservation online before going. Sunday morning, late morning that is (Queens don’t have to be up early), the Gospel Brunch is done. Danielle Hunter leads the brunch and “they can’t save your soul but they can get you drunk on the blood of Christ.” Menu prices range from 5.95 to 12.95. If you’re looking for a classic burger, look elsewhere. The burgers served here are as unique as the people serving them. The Funky Munkey burger comes with fried goat cheese crusted with almonds, panko, and tomato jam. You can also find classic diner food such as country fried steak and meatloaf. Salads and a Topless (vegetarian) burger are also featured for the healthy eater. If you ever dare to venture into Bananas, prepare yourself for great food and a good time.
- Website: http://bananasdiner.com/bananas.html
Cocoa Village: Ryan’s Bar and Pub
Many college students that attend UCF travel to Cocoa Beach on occasion and know that the area, while beautiful, is surrounded by tourist traps. The food is standard and nothing really stands out, especially for the overinflated prices. However, I have some good news. About ten or fifteen minutes from the beach is a little area known as Cocoa Village. Once there, it almost seems as if you’ve traveled back in time. Locally-owned shops always have their door open and you can smell the homemade ice-cream as you walk down the street. There’s even an old-fashioned convenience store that still sells Coke in glass bottles. Located in this area is Ryan’s Bar and Pub. If you’ve been to New York, then you have most likely tried New York pizza; there’s just no turning back after that first, cheesy bite. Ryan’s can help you fulfill your pizza needs. All their pizza is cooked in an brick oven. The slices are larger than your head and deliciously warm and cheesy. If you’re not into pizza, Ryan’s has a large selection of warm and hot sandwiches that will make your mouth water. The cost of food ranges from about 5 to 12 dollars and is worth every penny. If you’re ever at the beach and don’t feel like fighting the crowds to purchase overpriced and greasy foods, then just travel on down to Ryan’s. They’ll make you feel like part of the community.
- Website: http://www.ryansvillagepizza.com/