Florida ethnic restaurants are found everywhere in the state. First, let's define "ethnic" food. Be advised that there is a small but growing group of people that object to the term. They consider it offensive, racist, and politically incorrect.
I don't agree. To me it just means food that is not part of our typical American mainstream food. It is food typical of different cultural groups, nationalities, and countries. For example, a hamburger is not an ethnic food. It is quintessentially American.
Lamajoun (or lahmacun), for example, which is a round piece of thin dough topped with minced meat, vegetables, herbs, and spices is an Armenian and Turkish delicacy and is also common in other Mediterranean cultures. I consider that to be an ethnic food.
Some foods that originated in other countries have become so common in America, we hesitate to call them ethnic. This includes Italian Pizza, Chinese, and Mexican. But I list my favorite such places anyway.
French, Japanese, and Polynesian cuisines are sometimes referred to as "international foods" instead of ethnic, but I include some of them also in the listing.
We have personally eaten at all of the restaurants on this list. The brief reviews are based on my own Tripadvisor reviews or on separate stand alone reviews I've written that are featured elsewhere in our website.
Links are to the Tripadvisor reviews.
ALEXANDRIA MEDITERRANEAN GRILL, Melbourne. I lived in Brevard County for many years, and it was always difficult to find a good Mediterranean restaurant in the old days. I was in the area for lunch recently and discovered Alexandria in what I had known in the old days as the Suntree shopping center that was anchored by a Winn Dixie. The center has completely changed, and one of the best changes is this new Mediterranean restaurant. It is neat as a pin inside, and the menu the typical Mediterranean offerings. I had a Greek salad and an appetizer of fried kibbe. My friend had a bowl of delicious chicken soup. We were both very pleased with our meals, and highly recommend it to anybody who likes Mediterranean food.
ATHENA RESTAURANT, St. Augustine. This small Greek restaurant is in downtown on Cathedral Square. Although St. Augustine is a tourist town, this restaurant always seems more like a local place to me than a tourist trip. I especially like going there for breakfast before it gets busy. It's easy to find parking downtown at that time. I was in recently and my server was Tonya. She was friendly and service was prompt. I had eggs over well, bacon, hash browns, and whole wheat toast. It was excellent. Tonya photos of all guests and gets to know them and posts their pictures on Athena's Facebook page.
BAITONG THAI AND SUSHI RESTAURANT, St. Augustine Beach. This restaurant is in a well kept strip shopping center and has a friendly and inviting interior. I was greeted quickly by a friendly hostess and seated at once. I had an excellent meal with great service and a couple of glasses of good wine. The portions were generously sized. I had Tom Yong soup and stir fry ginger chicken. Both were delicious.
BOSPHOROUS, Winter Park. This is a Turkish restaurant worth visiting more than once. The hostesses and servers were very friendly and helpful, and the atmosphere and lighting are upscale and comfortable. I had a "sis" kabob, which was marinated grilled chicken breast served on jasmine rice with pickled cabbage and other vegetables. Not only was the meal delicious, it was very amply sized. Lots of protein in all of that great chicken breast. I looked at the drink menu and decided that wine and liquor was too expensive for my tastes, so I had a bottle of San Pelligrino for $5.50. I think a glass of wine or a glass of scotch were each priced at about $10. The meal itself was very reasonably priced, especially for Park Avenue in Winter Park. I will definitely visit again to try other menu offerings.
CAFE MARGEAUX, Cocoa. Cocoa Village is a great place for shopping, dining and entertainment. Cafe Margaux is one of my favorite restaurants. It's fine dining in the heart of Cocoa Village. Most of its selections are French. You can eat inside or outside, and I'd define it as upscale casual. I always wear long pants when dining here, and I'm a long time Floridian so you know what I mean. Great seafood and everything else. Decor is wonderful, service is friendly and attentive. You will not be disappointed.
CAZADOR GRILL, Temple Terrace. This small Peruvian restaurant is in a strip shopping center on 56th St in Temple Terrace just east of the University of South Florida. Clean and neat and great service. I had lunch and it was delicious.I had Arroz con Marisco, a dish based on rice that includes shrimp, mussels, calimari, peas, carrots, green beans and red peppers. It was delicious and very filling. Server Juan was very informative and made lunch a pleasure.
CEDARS RESTAURANT, Orlando. This Lebanese restaurant is in Dr. Phillips. Wonderful ambiance in this restaurant. Dim lighting just right, comfortable dining room with tables not too pushed together. Also an outside dining area where the smokers gather. Too bad, I love to dine outside but in this topsy turvy world smokers sit outside and nonsmokers have to stay inside. The food is great; I had kafta babob, a ground meat mixture formed into three long patties and grilled on a skewer. It was excellent, and so was the pita bread and rice and vegetables that came with it. House chardonnay was $7/glass, which seems to be standard in this part of Orlando.
CHAI THAI CUISINE, Orlando. Great local lunch crowd enjoys this small restaurant on South Orange Avenue. Clean, bright, friendly prompt service and delicious Thai cuisine. One of the best.
COPACABANA, Mount Dora. I love Cuban food, and have been dining here since moving to Mount Dora in 2010 and it just keeps getting better. The ambiance is comfortable and quiet, the staff is efficient and courteous, and the owner, Alberto, makes you feel like a member of the family. I just ate there yesterday - Christmas Eve - and it was fantastic. We each had fish dinners - mine was mahi mahi and hers was salmon - and both were pronounced excellent and delicious. The $2.50 Margarita specials also were a pleasant addition to the meal.
DE LA VEGA, DeLand. Dropped in on a Sunday for lunch and it was great. Wonderful atmosphere, service and food. They focus on Spanish and Mexican cuisine. We made a meal of several different kinds of tapas and soups. It was all delicious. We started with banderillas, little skewers of chicken, roasted peppers and mango vinaigrette. Then Taquiza de Pescado, which is grilled fish marinated in quajillo sauce and served with corn tortillas, cabbage, tomatoes, onions, cheese and sour cream. Also had plantain soup, delicious. Everything was great.
DORAL SEAFOOD, Miami. Whenever I'm in the Doral area I stop at Doral Seafood either for lunch or dinner or both. I love their wide selection of fish and other seafood prepared in the Peruvian style. Great neighborhood ambiance and wonderful service.
EATON'S BEACH SANDBAR & GRILL, Lake Weir. Wonderful ambiance in this place and a great view of beautiful Lake Weir. Wonderful seafood offerings including a lot of Cajun offerings. I had Shrimp Creole and my companion had grilled salmon. Both dishes were excellent. Service was prompt and friendly. It was a cold day so the outside dining decks were closed. This place is probably even nicer when the weather is warmer and you can sit outside.
EL KORITA, Eustis. El Korita is a small Mexican restaurant in an older shopping center on SR-19 in Eustis. The interior is neat and festive, and the place has 6 booths and two or three tables. The owner and chef, Lorena, is very friendly and always checks with customers to make sure they are enjoying their food. I had ground beef tacos with flour tortillas and a bowl of chicken soup. All of the food was delicious. The restaurant has no wine, but does have a fair selection of beer.
FERDOS GRILL, Fort Lauderdale. I love Mediterranean food, and used to eat at Ferdos weekly when I lived in Fort Lauderdale about 10 years ago. Now I am lucky to visit two or three times a year. I have never been disappointed. I love their chicken kabob; never get tired of it. Prices are also reasonable, especially for Fort Lauderdale.
FLAME KABOB, Orlando (Dr. Phillips). I can't get enough of this place. I do get in a rut and usually have the kafta kabob because it is so delicious. Recently I had the shish tawok (marinated grilled chicken kabob) and it was fantastic too. For an appetizer, I can't pass up the fried kibbeh. This is a great place. Wonderful food and friendly service. No alcohol, which I miss, but the food makes up for it.
GURU RESTAURANT, Clermont. This small Indian restaurant is very popular and is in a building that is hard to find if you are a tourist. I look for the Harley Davidson dealer's sign on the west side of US27 just south of State Road 50 and it's in a strange building with three stories and it's very dark at night. But once you find it, you will be sure to go back. Excellent food and very attentive service from the owner and staff. I had tandoori chicken tikka and it was excellent and so was the nan bread.
HARRY'S SEAFOOD BAR AND GRILL, Lakeland. I live in Mount Dora and am a long way from a Cajun restaurant. I love it when I go to Lakeland because I then can eat at Harry's. Always great food and wonderful service. I can't remember the name of the Cajun/Creole dish I had yesterday but it included shrimp, rice, fish, rice, bowl of gumbo and was great. Spiced just right for my palate.
HOLLERBACH'S WILLOW TREE CAFE, Sanford. There are only a few German foods I like, but this place has them. Had lunch on a Sunday. Nice sized crowd, good service, good food. Had German potato pancakes and bratwurst sandwich. Very good food. The brats made me homesick for tail gate parties at Lambeau Field and the late Brathaus in Madison, Wisconsin.
ICHIBAN CHINESE AND JAPANESE BUFFET, Leesburg. This place has a huge number of buffet bars and a correspondingly large number of fat people huddling around the fried offerings. It is, after all, an all you can eat buffet. But the surprise was the large number of pretty healthy offerings that are also available. Boiled shrimp, barbecued chicken, lots of salad makings, a sushi bar and a stir fry bar where the chef cooks your meal for you on a hot grill. I had ginger stir fried chicken and it was great. I also tried some fried chicken wings. Very good. All in all, a bargain for only $11.25 plus tip.
JAPAN EXPRESS HIBACHI & SUSHI, Tavares. This is a nice sit down restaurant in a shopping center on US-441 in Tavares. It offers fresh sushi, and seems to be a popular sushi spot. I had the hibachi dinner - filet mignon and chicken. It was great and just as tasty as Kiku and Lampu, the other Japanese restaurants in the area. Food is less costly than the other places because the meal is prepared in the kitchen quietly and with no show as in the other places.
J K THAI GARDEN & SUSHI, Mount Dora. This restaurant changed ownership since I first ate here in 2011. I think it has improved under the new ownership. Delicious entrees and reasonable prices.
KHOURY'S MEDITERRANEAN RESTAURANT, South Miami. I have been enjoying this family owned restaurant since it opened in the early 1990's. They have all of the standard Lebanese favorites, and their kafta and hummus are very good. A nice wine selection and pleasant ambience add to the dining experience. I feel like one of the family when I eat at Khoury's.
LAS PALMAS, Mount Dora. There is another Cuban restaurant in Florida, Copacabana, that has been my favorite for several years and I've been reluctant to try this newer one. Today was Easter, however, and this one was open and the other was not. I stopped in for dinner and am glad I did.. Wonderful meal and great ambiance with wonderful service. Had a shrimp creole with yellow rice and plantains. Two for one Chardonnay was delicious. Server Angie was bright and efficient. This is a good place.
MAGICAL MEAT BOUTIQUE, Mount Dora. Great restaurant in downtown Mount Dora. British food, great owners, fun customers. Near the Lakeside Inn. I had great beer, scotch eggs, fish and chips. Everything was delicious and cheerfully served. This is a very popular place for locals and tourists alike.
MAROOSH MEDITERRANEAN RESTAURANT, Coral Gables. Maroosh has captured the authentic flavors of Mediterranean food right in the heart of Coral Gables. This cozy place with comfortable ambiance and middle eastern decor is great for lunch or dinner. It is owned by Samir al Barq, a Lebanese-American with a wonderful memory, and after your first visit will remember you and what you like to eat and drink. The food at Maroosh is great, with Lebanese favorites like baba ghannouj, falafel, couscous, anoush, kefta kabob and other shish kabobs, grape leaves, hummus, chicken wings and fried or baked kibbe. For meats they have chicken, fish, lamb and beef.
MEMORIES OF INDIA, Lake Mary. This small restaurant is located in a strip center in Lake Mary north of Orlando. It is a small plainly furnished restaurant with several tables and booths in two separate dining rooms. I like Indian food, but usually get in a rut when I go out to eat. The rut is this: if I like something I order it again and again. My favorite Indian dish is Chicken Tandoori. Tandoori is a style of cooking that puts marinated meat over an intense fire in a tandoor. A tandoor is a large clay pot used as an oven. The direct heat that cooks the meat gets as high as 500 degrees F. This place has great Tandoori.
MOMIJI, Sorrento. I love hibachi and this is one of the best in the Lake County/Mount Dora area. Clean, quiet, bright, friendly service, prompt, delicious. In a Publix shopping center in a fast growing area of Sorrento. I had filet mignon and chicken. The meat and vegetables were delicious, service was great, wine was good and reasonable priced.
MR GYRO'S, Palm Beach Gardens. This little Greek restaurant is great. You order at the counter and they have a wide selection. Portions are large.
MYKONOS, Tarpon Springs. This restaurant is in the middle of the busy tourist area along Dodecanese Boulevard but is very good at getting people in and out in a reasonable time. I was able to get the only empty table for two on a busy Friday lunch period, and the wait time was reasonable and the food was great. I had keftedes (a form of Greek hamburger patty), and glass of Greek wine and a nice small Greek salad. The owner was there and I swear that more than half of the customers were talking to him in Greek. The restaurant has its own parking lot and that alone will save you a $5 parking fee.
NIGHT OWL CARIBBEAN RESTAURANT, Eustis. I have never cared for some of the items on the menu of most Jamaican restauarnts. My old standby is jerk chicken and Night Owl is my favorite place in Central Florida for that particular item. The restaurant is in a small yellow building on State Road 19 (Bay Street) Eustis. It doesn't have many parking spots, but a lot of its business is take out. There are four tables in the neat and clean dining room, and you are surrounded by colorful portraits of Bob Marley and other reminders of Jamaican culture. The jerk chicken is great. I got mine with rice and red beans and some huge green beans. I good place to eat.
NALAN MEDITERRANEAN, Eustis. This is a must go place if you like Mediterranean food. I loved Elijah's Cafe in Eustis and when he closed I went into mourning. Now Nalan Sultan has filled the void with a Turkish version. Great hummus, kefta, gyros, and more. This place is great.
NOBLE THAI AND SUSHI, Jupiter. Small clean and neat restaurant in strip center in Jupiter. The night I visited it was obvious they have a large local clientele. Food was prompt and delicious and service was with a smile. They have a Japanese menu including sushi and a Thai menu. I went for Thai: Tom Yong Goom soup with shrimp, and ginger stir fried chicken for dinner. A couple of glasses of pretty good Chardonnay.
PASSAGE TO INDIA, Naples. I eat at Passage To India several times a month, and have never had anything but a great meal. My favorite is chicken tandoori with a Mulligitawny soup appetizer. The nan is always hot and crispy, and the service is excellent. Be prepared to wait for a long time to get a table during season (December -April); the rest of the year you can usually walk right in and not have to wait long. Service staff is friendly and helpful.
PITA PARADISE, Cocoa Beach. This is a Lebanese restaurant. I had a ground beef kabob lunch and it was very good. Alhough the restaurant was not crowded, service was not a quick as I expected. I attribute that to a very brisk takeout business. But server was friendly and seemed to be busy with quite a few takeout orders.
SAFFRON INDIAN CUISINE, Orlando (Dr. Phillips). This is a worthwhile dining experience. Great Indian food and fine wine. A little bit of outside dining if you are so inclined. Great ambiance and wonderful service. I had chicken tandoori; it was plentiful and delicious. I also had an Arnold Palmer Chardonnay in honor of one of Orlando's icons. It was also great. Would recommend for folks who love Indian food.
SAIGON FUSION, Tavares. I had lunch at the place was busy. It has only been open a short time, but service was prompt and Vietnamese food was great. It is in the same location as the Wasabi Buffet used to be.
SERGIO'S, Miami. I get to Miami frequently and Sergio's is one place I always to go. Cuban food, good drinks and plenty of outdoor seating. It's a great spot not only for dining and drinking, but for people watching. My favorite Sergio's - there are a few in Miami - is the one on Coral Way (SW22nd St.).
SKEWERS MEDITERRANEAN, Indialantic. I have been eating at Skewers for more than 30 years, going back to when it was called Lebanese Gourmet. The same family owns it and it gets better every year. You can't go wrong in here. I wanted kafta kabob but they had just run out of kafta. It was an unusually busy Sunday night. So we had Shish Taook, marinated chicken with jasmine rice and delicious mixed vegetables and a great house salad. As an appetizer, we enjoyed ceviche with some kind of wonderful baked chips. Great place, great wine too.
SOL DE MEXICO, Eustis. This small restaurant has a festive and happy interior. The service is also friendly and efficient. I am always in a rut in Mexican restaurants, usually having either tacos or fajitas. This restaurant has good ones. I have enjoyed both soft shell and hard shell ground beef tacos, and they also have shredded beef tacos. I have also had chicken fajitas. All dishes were very good and reasonably priced.
TACO LU, Jacksonville Beach. Taco Lu is very popular with locals and serves a nice selection of Mexican dishes reasonably priced. The restaurant is in a remodeled older building that is noted for being haunted. I saw no evidence of ghosts while there, but my fish tacos were delicious and my beer was cold.
TACO MIX, Bonita Beach. Tacos and other offerings are delicious and economical. I wish I lived closer to Bonita Springs so I could eat here more often.
TAIYO SUSHI AND THAI CUISINE, Port St. Lucie. This small restaurant serves both Thai and Sushi. I had Tom Yum something (a shrimp soup) and stir fry chicken with ginger and they were both very good. Very friendly service. I also noticed they do a great takeout business on sushi. Exit the Florida Turnpike and go about 10 minutes east on Port St Lucie Blvd. This restaurant is on the right.
TAKIS RESTAURANT AND PIZZA, Eustis. Takis is still the best place around for Greek food, although many people love it for its pizza. I am still in my happy rut of enjoying their Gyro platter that comes with cheesy pita and a Greek salad. Also love their larger Greek salad and their dolmades (grape leaves). Friendly staff, great owners and wonderful food. What more can we ask?
THAI BLOSSOM, Winter Garden. Thai Blossom is a charming restaurant on the ground floor of the historic Edgewater Hotel in downtown Winter Garden. There are Thai restaurants all over this part of the state, but Thai Blossom is the best, in my opinion. Great food, atmosphere and service. Meals prepared as spicy or non-spicy as you want without a hitch. Everything always fresh and wholesome including the servers in their traditional costumes. We had a delicious appetizer of fried calamari. My guest had a large bowl of Tom Ka Ghai with chicken, the traditional coconut milk soup. I had stir fried chicken with ginger, onions, mushrooms, carrots, celery and bell peppers in a light sauce. All food was excellent.
THE GREEK CORNER, Winter Park. We had lunch on a very rainy Saturday and the only complaint is a few puddles in the parking lot. This cozy restaurant has a lot going for it. A warm inviting interior, and a pleasant friendly helpful staff. Our server - formerly known as waitress - was a delight. The restaurant was busy during our visit, but service was prompt and efficient. Our lunches consisted of great Greek salads topped with excellent slices of gyro meat and plenty of pita bread on the side. The salad ingredients were very fresh, and the gyro was cooked perfectly. Pita was excellent. Lunch topped off with a nice glass of Chardonnay made for a pleasant interlude. The server overheard me mention it was my partner's birthday, and she brought us a free dessert of delicious baklava.
TIBBY'S NEW ORLEANS KITCHEN, Winter Park. They have a full range of New Orleans style Cajun dishes and drinks. Jambalaya, crawfish pie, gumbo and many other offerings. I had chicken and andoulle file gumbo and crawfish pie and my companion had chicken Pontchartrain. All food was delicious and I will definitely be back.
THAI HOUSE, Sebring. This is a wonderful restaurant. Typical Thai looking interior with tables and booths. Attentive and friendly servers. If you like it spicy, ask for it because they usually assume you want it mild unless you ask. I had stir fry chicken with ginger and rice, along with an appetizer of a coconut based soup with chicken in it. Everything was very good, and so was the wine.
THAI JASMINE AND SUSHI, Tavares. All of your favorite Thai foods served promptly and courteously with your choice of beer wine. Great soups and stir fry dishes.
THAI STAR, Fort Myers. You have probably noticed I like Thai food. I used to enjoy this fine little restaurant several years ago when it was located in Bonita Springs. It moved to Fort Myers a couple of years ago and now it's even better. All of your Thai favorites are deliciously prepared and the service is friendly and prompt. This is where I go when I am in the area and want great Thai food. Owners Bill and his wife Vong are always on duty and will make you feel welcome.
WAVE ASIAN BISTRO, Mount Dora. This is a great place. Nice atmosphere, friendly prompt service, and a wide variety of entrees form Sushi to Hibachi and more.
WHOLE FOODS, Many Places. Don't laugh. They have these huge buffets where you can build you own meal. They include a lot of ethnic choices, but since Whole Foods is politically correct they may call them "international foods."
WINDSOR ROSE TEA ROOM, Mount Dora. I originally came from Michigan's Upper Peninsula many years ago. The Cornish pasty is the national dish up there, and I'm always looking for places in Florida that have it. The Windsor Rose has pasties. They are a classical meat pie, and one dish meal with beef, potatoes, rutabagas, carrots and other goodies baked into a nice light crust. Windsor Rose's are good, and so are their other entrees. The atmosphere reminds me of an English social club with all kind of Royal family mementoes and pictures adorning the walls. The pretty servers are all dressed like English country maids. Good food, reasonable prices.
ZORBA'S MEDITERRANEAN GRILLE & BAR, Bonita Springs. I had dinner at Zorba's and it was a great experience. I will definitely go back for more. I had Keftedes (meatballs) for an appetizer. It's a delicious ground meat appetizer. My entree was pan fried smelt, very tasty little fish accompanied by green beans and rice. Everything was fresh,hot and tasty. The restaurant is very clean with a nice ambiance. The owner was there, Sophia, and she is very gracious. My server was a young lady who was also very friendly and competent.
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