Ethos Vegan Kitchen: Mouthwatering Delights in Florida

ethos exterior nightWhile winter weather bites into my home state, I was able to escape last week and head to the warm, enveloping arms of Orlando, Florida.  With temperatures in the eighties, I was feeling like I’d traveled in time to spring with sundresses, tank tops, and sandals.  As if the sunny weather and beautiful beaches weren’t reason enough to envy the Floridians, they also have an ample amount of delicious vegan options.  Not the least of which is the all-vegan restaurant, Ethos Vegan Kitchen, in Winter Park.  The interior has a sleek but casual look with a long bar serving wine and beer, including some organic varieties.

interior ethos nightgarlic knotsThe first night that my husband and I got into town, we headed to Ethos for dinner to celebrate our entrée into the world of R&R.  We ordered a bottle of organic Tempranillo and garlic knots to start.  They have a large oven for making pizzas and calzones (more on those later), and the same dough is used for their garlic knot appetizer ($3.95).  It’s served with melted vegan butter, and all of the knots are brushed with garlic butter and sprinkled with vegan parmesan.  When they arrived at the table, they were steaming hot, wonderfully soft, and melt in your mouth delicious.  I tried to slow myself with plans of “not ruining my appetite,” but those knots went down too easily.

chickpea cakesFor dinner, I ordered the Bay Cakes ($13.95), which are made with chickpeas.  Old Bay Seasoning always entices me, and it didn’t let me down this time.  The cakes have a dense, cakey texture and crisp exterior that’s like a cross between falafel and a veggie burger.  It’s dotted with celery and fresh herbs and served with wonderfully creamy remoulade.  It came with the vegetable of the day, asparagus, and plain white Basmati rice.  I would have preferred brown rice and/or some spices on it, and so next time I’d probably ask for more vegetables or mashed potatoes as a side.

pecan encrusted eggplantMy husband had the pecan encrusted eggplant ($12.95), which was topped in a red wine sauce.  The rich wine reduction elevated the dish to something special with its notes of umami and depth.  It was served with asparagus, mashed potatoes, and gravy.  Instead of being completely smooth, the mashed potatoes had chunks of potatoes that were not fully blended, making it a dish with contrasting textures and reminiscent of the kind of mashed potatoes Grandma used to make.

interior ethos daymimosaWhile we were there, we noticed that they serve brunch from 9 to 3 on Saturdays and Sundays, and so we headed back on the weekend to take advantage of their brunch menu.  Staying true to the revelatory vacation vibe, David ordered the mimosa with orange juice ($3.50).  They also offer it with cranberry or apple juice, but when in Florida, orange seemed appropriate.

breakfast burritoUpon our server’s suggestion, I ordered the breakfast burrito ($7.95).  She said that’s her favorite of their brunch items, because they include a bit of everything.  I’m glad I took her advice, because I was loving every bite of the burrito filled with a tofu scramble, home fries, veggie sausage, and then topped in their sausage gravy.  I normally opt for a whole wheat tortilla, but this tortilla was so fresh, soft, and pillowy, I had no regrets.

tofu scrambleDavid had the tofu scramble ($7.50), which came with a choice of sides.  He chose the sausage patties.  He was hoping the scramble would have more in the way of vegetables in it, but he really liked the flavors.

On our last night in Florida, we headed to Ethos one more time for dinner.  I was having the toughest time deciding between their calzones and their Philly cheesesteak made with seitan called What’s the Dilly, Philly.  I’d heard rave reviews about both of them, but after watching calzones and pizzas getting removed from the fiery oven, I had to go with the calzone ($10.95).

calzoneThere’s a large array of toppings from which to choose, and I sided on artichokes, garlic, and Gardein (which they have listed on the menu as chickun).  In addition to those fillings, the calzone was stuffed with marinara and plant-based mozzarella.  (It seemed like Daiya, but I didn’t ask.)  After baking, the calzone is brushed with garlic butter and served with a side of marinara.  I will be dreaming about that calzone for months to come.  It was huge, crisp on the outside and soft as a cloud on the inside.  Stuffed with fillings, I loved making the perfect bite and dunking it into the side of marinara.

pizzaMy husband also opted for an Italian dish, choosing a ten-inch pizza ($10.95).  For toppings he went with garlic, tomatoes, mushrooms, and pepperoni.  (It seemed like the Yves brand of pepperoni, but I didn’t ask to find out for sure.)  Typically, it comes with vegan cheese, but David requested that it come without it.  Diners can choose between pesto or standard marinara for the sauce.  He savored every bite, and his only complaint was that he would have preferred the pepperoni was sautéed first to get a crispier texture.  (That’s what we do at home, and it makes a big difference.)

ethos exterior dayI can’t tell you how much I wish that we had an Ethos location in my town.  It’s the kind of place where a vegan could easily bring relatives and kids with no worries that they’d be happy with their dinners.  Comforting and familiar, it truly is food anyone would love.  The atmosphere is inviting without being stuffy, and our server at brunch was particularly gracious, giving us lots of tips for our beach plans later that day.  The prices are very fair, they are open late, and if I lived in town, it’s definitely a place I’d be visiting regularly.  I’ll be back, Ethos.  Save a Philly for me!

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31 thoughts on “Ethos Vegan Kitchen: Mouthwatering Delights in Florida

  1. Definitely a comprehensive review, since you visited three separate times! When you find something you like, why look any further, right? Ethos also looks huge! That’s awesome that it’s entirely vegan.
    I definitely love eating out brunch the best but all of yr meals sound fantastic. And O those garlic knots call my name…

    • The menu was so varied, it was hard not to return again and again! Plus, I just love eating at 100% vegan restaurants. The space is quite large and roomy. I like it that they also have the bar available if a person just wants to grab a drink and appetizer or is eating alone.

      Morning meals in this country are so often egg and meat heavy. Finding vegan brunch isn’t always an easy thing, and so it’s a treat when it’s available!

  2. Were you there for work or did you visit Disney? I’m so jealous — not of the food which looks mighty tempting — but of the weather! Getting away from the cold and enjoying warmth and sunshine can be so healing. We’re having a cold snap here, though it’s also sunny so I shouldn’t complain, but it’s so cold it makes my eyes tear when I walk outside. I’ve resorted to long underwear and a quiltled vest under my coat. Brrrr. Thanks for the great review!

    • I was there for pleasure! David had a business trip to Atlanta, and we decided that he’d peg on a short flight to Orlando afterwards. I flew down and met him there, and then we just enjoyed the sights of Orlando, including Disney World for one day. (More on that to come!)

      Both of us had been to Orlando separately many years ago, but we enjoyed it even more this time around. I’d remembered it as very touristy, and of course, the areas around the amusement parks are touristy. However, when you branch out into surrounding neighborhoods, there are some very cool pockets with beautiful parks, farmer’s markets, quaint shopping areas, and of course, vegan and vegetarian restaurants! Now that we have something very specific outside of theme parks that we’re looking for, we found some areas that really appealed to us.

      And yes, the weather was nothing to sneeze at! Getting to pull out my summer dresses and feel the sun on my skin in January was an enormous blessing. If you can take a little trip to somewhere warmer to escape from the cold and give your long underwear a break, even for a few days, I highly recommend it!

  3. Looks like a great place, glad you got to check it out three times. I have been meaning to stop there when in Orlando, and I will go there next time after reading this. Glad you had a great time.

    • Yes, we had a wonderful time! Thanks! It’s definitely worth visiting the next time you’re in the area. I think you’d really enjoy it.

  4. I want to hop on a plane right now and head over to Florida. It sounds like they have a fantastic selection of food – the garlic knots, calzone and breakfast burrito all look incredible.

    Good to hear to you got some relief from the cold weather and a nice break!

    • Yes, their menu was definitely varied! It was hard to choose, but that’s a wonderful problem to have. :)

      The respite from cold weather was easily the best part of the trip. When we left Florida, it was in the low eighties. When we got back home and pulled our luggage out to the car at the airport, it was 18 degrees! I was wishing I could have packed up a little bit of that warm weather to take a drink of every now and again. :)

  5. lordy! that calzone looks OUT OF THIS WORLD! back in the day, i was obsessed with them. everything looks spectacular, though, and that pecan-crusted eggplant is making me wish there was an ethos close by, too!

    • Looks don’t deceive! That calzone was out of this world. I could have happily crawled inside and took a nap. ;) Plus, it’s not something you see on the menu of every vegan restaurant. It was a treat for sure!

  6. What a great find! You and David sound just like Chris and I- if we’re on vacation and we find a place we like, we have no problem going back more than once.

    You look absolutely gorgeous in that dress, by the way! Summery weather suits you well. :-)

    • When you know that your access to a place is short lived, I see no reason not to visit multiple times! Plus, the menu was so varied, it didn’t feel like we were eating the same thing again and again.

      Thanks so much for the kind words!! :) I do LOVE summery weather!!

  7. That is a detailed review indeed. I am the same way. i would eat at the same place again and again. but on a third visit, hubbs will look at me like.. really.. there are more restaurants around ;) he loves to eat at new places.
    he used to be a bit wary of asking the server about vegan options in non vegan restaurants earlier. now he just tells them, options, questions and all. :)

    • Good for him! There’s no reason to be shy. Restaurants want your business, and so you might as well be clear about what you need to find out what’s possible.

      I don’t mind asking questions in a non-vegan restaurant either, but I certainly love going to vegan restaurants where the questions aren’t as necessary! :)

  8. We like Ethos a lot. We are residents in the area. It’s nice this time of year. Ethos is great although it lacks a little for gluten-free customers, I mean they try to have some choices but I think they could do better.

    • How lucky for you to have easy access to Ethos! I hadn’t thought about it, but it is a gluten-heavy menu. It seems like more restaurants are becoming cognizant of their gluten-free guests. Hopefully Ethos will too.

    • They don’t have Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at Disney World! Isn’t that a surprise? Although, I must confess, that ride always struck me as a weird one. On a kids’ ride, Mr. Toad ends up in Hell??? What the…?

  9. I am so behind on my visits to your delightful blog – but on this cold and snowy January day in Wyoming, I can think of no better time or way to start catching up than with your Orlando vacation posts! :-)

    First of all, you look adorable in your pretty sundress! Like a local who belongs there by the sunny beaches. :-)

    I seriously doubt I’d have had your self-control, and would have done a David Copperfield on those garlic knots. *poof!* Gone. And I would have had a very hard time deciding between the two entrées you guys chose. They both sound wonderful – the chunky mashed potatoes would probably have been the tie breaker, though.

    Ethos looks and sounds like such a wonderful place (great name!) – and that mimosa is gorgeous! Love that photo!

    Cheeseless vegan pizza from scratch is my husband’s most special specialty, but calzones are a rare and special treat, and that is definitely what we’d have gone for (as long as they came with more garlic knots, lol). Your description of it nearly has me in tears. It’s such a mixed blessing, finding a wonderful vegan restaurant on a vacation like this – it’s such an enjoyable treat and you’re so grateful for it, but it’s so hard to leave it behind! Ethos sure sounds like one of those kinds of places.

    • It’s so nice to “see” you again! Thanks for dropping by! I’m sorry to hear about the frigid temps, but glad that I benefit! :)

      How lucky for you that your husband’s specialty is cheeseless pizza. We usually opt for pre-made crusts when we make them at home. Calzones are a rare treat for sure! In fact, I can’t think of any other vegan calzones I’ve come across. The only way that I kept myself from ordering more of those garlic knots was knowing that the calzone was basically one huge garlic knot wrapped around tasty fillings!

  10. This is my second lengthy comment on Cadry’s in March 2014. I figured people would appreciate an updated point of view as sometimes management and chefs change and service and food doesn’t always stay the same. The second night in Orlando we ate at Ethos. Once again due to my research and finding Cadry’s blog and getting great insight. We normally eat high raw vegan, but decided to make a few allowances. I have to say I am starting to feel it and that’s not because the food is bad. Quite the opposite. It’s fabulous! We left Disney and drove to Ethos in Winter Park. It took an hour + / – in the evening (after 6pm) traffic. Ethos was busy, but we were seated fairly quickly. Ordering was a bit of a-to-do even with Ethos being vegan. I called before we left to get a few questions answered after looking at their menu online. One of them being the brand of DF cheeze they use. I was told Daiya and Follow Your Heart, so it seemed like we could easily navigate around the soy issue and still have plenty of options. Well…that’s not true….they don’t use Daiya brand. Just the FYH brand which contains soy. The Chick-un (forget the brand she said) contains soy, wheat and pea protein. Seitan is vital wheat gluten and the All American Burger is TVP. There’s a blackened Tempeh (fermented soy, which in small amounts we can handle). Getting back to the soy issue…I let the waitress know that in this day and age there is no reason why people with soy allergies can’t be accommodated. They have Daiya cheeze, Soy free mayo by both FYH and Earth Balance, and Soy free Earth Balance Buttery Spread….none of which they use. I don’t get it. So, that being said, this is what we ordered.
    Samson Burger (ordered additional to take with us for next day lunch & it was still just as good), Blackened Tempeh, Sheep’s Pie, and Kid’s Pasta Primevera (which I felt was a little heavy on the Rosemary). We all shared and it was plenty of food and very good. Here is their menu http://www.ethosvegankitchen.com/menu.html
    I was hungry for a calzone, but I wanted one with cheeze. If they would offer the soy free options I mentioned, this would be an excellent place to eat in my opinion. Again my family was happy we went. Due to the long drive, I don’t know if we’ll visit again. Nile is closer and so is Whole Foods.

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