Ethos Vegan Kitchen in Winter Park, Florida

Ethos Vegan Kitchen in Winter Park, FloridaWhen heading to the Orlando area, there were a few restaurants that we were certain to revisit from our last trip in 2013. At the top of that list: Ethos Vegan Kitchen in Winter Park. The menu at Ethos is full of comfort foods and homestyle sandwiches.  It looks like so many other American restaurants with one big difference – all of the food is vegan. The food isn’t too expensive with sandwiches in the $8 dollar range, appetizers around $4 and $5, and entrees coming in around $12.

The restaurant is spacious with a long bar and plenty of seating, and yet one of the nights we went, there was a 20 minute wait. Coming from a place with one vegan restaurant, it’s always a novelty when we have to wait at a restaurant. Most of the places we frequent in small town Iowa, we walk right in and sit down. However, it makes my heart happy that they are doing such good business at Ethos that the place requires a wait on a Friday or Saturday night. So that night we grabbed a seat at the bar once one became available.

Another cool thing about Ethos is the mix of customers. It brings in a diverse crowd and a mix of young to old. I don’t know the percentage of their customers that are vegan, but it felt like Ethos was a place that people just liked, regardless of how they ate at other meals.

What's the Dilly, Philly at Ethos Vegan Kitchen in Winter Park, FloridaOn our last trip to Florida, I’d skipped one of their most well-known sandwiches, and I’d been kicking myself ever since. So this time I knew I wouldn’t leave Orlando without trying their What’s the Dilly, Philly? The Philly is made with big chunks of seitan, sautéed peppers and onions, and melted Daiya on a long hoagie bun. It was served with a mango-tomato salsa that tasted fresh and popping with flavor and reminded me of the mango salsa I make in the summer. The Philly had a great chew to it and was filling and hearty.

Pizza at Ethos Vegan Kitchen in Winter Park, FloridaDavid ordered the pizza with his choice of toppings. He went with mushrooms, onions, garlic, and sausage. The sausage was sliced Italian sausage from Tofurky. Having a taste of it really took me back to my early vegan days when we’d buy that sausage regularly.

Garlic knots at Ethos Vegan Kitchen in Winter Park, FloridaSpeaking of David, the appetizer that was his obsession to repeat again were the garlic knots with melted vegan butter for dipping. So on another trip we ordered them to start the meal, and they were just as heavenly as remembered. The light knots almost melt in your mouth, so hot and soft. They are brushed with vegan butter and a smattering of parmesan-style cheese.

BBQ Chickun Plate at Ethos Vegan Kitchen in Winter Park, FloridaFor that meal, I went with the BBQ Chickun plate, which came with sautéed collard greens, coleslaw, mashed potatoes, and gravy. I believe that the chickun they use is Gardein. The barbecue sauce was a little sweeter than I prefer and the coleslaw on the bland side, but everything else was tasty.

Chickun Marsala at Ethos Vegan Kitchen in Winter Park, FloridaDavid ordered the Chickun Marsala with button mushrooms and a chickun that I believe was Gardein in a Marsala wine sauce on top of spaghetti. He enjoyed it, but barely put a dent in it because the serving size was so large. This is definitely not a place where you’re leaving hungry.

Tofurky Reuben at Ethos Vegan Kitchen in Winter Park, FloridaWe hadn’t planned on going to Ethos a third time on our trip, but a failed attempt at going to another restaurant took us back to a sure thing. As luck would have it, it was a Monday, which is the day they have their reuben special. As a huge reuben-fan, that was a major bonus. Their reubens are made with Tofurky slices, a layering of sauerkraut, and Thousand Island dressing.

The reuben was reminiscent of the one at Follow Your Heart, because the sauerkraut and dressing take center stage (unlike the reuben at Chicago Diner, say, where the focus is all about the pickled seitan). I paid a little extra for a side of sautéed asparagus, which came in a generous serving amount. I seriously could have split my plate with someone else, and there would have been plenty for two.

All American Burger at Ethos Vegan Kitchen in Winter Park, FloridaDavid ordered the All American burger, which I believe was the Gardein beefless burger, David’s favorite veggie burger. It was stacked with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and onions on a Kaiser roll and served with chips and mango-tomato salsa.

So what’s my plan for next time? I’m not going to miss getting one of their sundaes. The night we were seated at the bar, we saw the bartender making them all night with vegan ice cream, chocolate syrup, whipped topping, and a maraschino cherry on top. We had big hopes that we wouldn’t be so full after dinner, but alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Next time!

 Heading to the Orlando area?  See more things to see and do in Winter Park in this recent post.

Things to See & Do in Winter Park, Florida

Cafe 118 Degrees - Winter Park, FloridaEarlier this month David’s job took him to Florida, and I met up with him there after his work was done. While talking about the trip with friends, so many of them grumbled about the Orlando area with disdain. While it is an area to which tourists flock, that’s also part of what can make it unappealing for some. Admittedly, there’s no shortage of chain restaurants, mini malls, and shops advertising knock-off Disney memorabilia for under $5. Again and again we passed restaurants and wondered aloud, “Wow, that still exists?” I guess someone is still going to Ponderosa and Bob Evans. Who knew?

But David and I like Orlando, and not because we need 24 hour access to tchotchkes. If a person ventures farther than the theme parks, there’s so much more beauty and interest to the area than may initially meet the eye. Add in the warm temperatures and vegan restaurants, and you have a great wintertime destination.

The previous time we were in Orlando, we stayed in Kissimmee and then noticed that every day we were driving to downtown Orlando & Winter Park, about 40 minutes away. So this time we divided our stay – half in downtown Orlando and half in Kissimmee (to coincide with our one day at the Magic Kingdom). Next time we go, we’ll stay downtown 100% of the time. The hotel prices are higher there, but that’s also where we wanted to sightsee and dine 99% of the time.

Spice & Tea Exchange - Winter Park, FloridaSpice & Tea Exchange - Winter Park, Florida

One of the hubs of Winter Park is Park Avenue. It’s a main thoroughfare with shops, restaurants, museums, a commuter train, and park. It’s a fun place to walk around and people watch.

We stopped in The Spice & Tea Exchange to smell the various salts and spices. They have all of them out in large jars and encourage people to sniff before buying. (Don’t worry.  You don’t actually buy the spice from the jars. It’s sold separately in bags.) I bought some long spoons, and David bought new curry powder.

We also took in the Morse Museum of American Art, which had been highly recommended. They house the world’s most comprehensive collection of the works of Louis Comfort Tiffany of Tiffany glass fame. The large pieces of stained glass had light shining through them and were quite beautiful. Seeing the stained glass outside of a religious environment meant that you could really take in the beauty of the pieces themselves without other distractions.

Cafe 118 Degrees - Winter Park, FloridaCafe 118 Degrees - Winter Park, FloridaJust off of Park Avenue is Café 118 Degrees, a raw vegan restaurant with small outdoor seating area. We took a seat outside and enjoyed the weather that was a world away from the 1-degree temperature that I left. David ordered a smoothie with coffee & banana that tasted very similar to a drink he makes at home before heading to work. I sided with water, which tasted wonderfully of the fresh mint that infuses it in the pitcher.

Raw Pad Thai at Cafe 118 Degrees - Winter Park, FloridaFor lunch, I had Raw Pad Thai made with spiralized zucchini and carrot and adorned with fresh avocado and black sesame seeds. The flavor tasted strongly of sesame oil. It was filling and substantive without being heavy.

Kale salad at Cafe 118 Degrees - Winter Park, FloridaDavid ordered a Kale Salad with avocado, sliced dates, and hemp seeds. After several days of conference meals, he was eager to have a meal that was so green, fresh, and healthy.

Raw s'mores at Cafe 118 Degrees - Winter Park, FloridaI couldn’t resist dessert of Raw S’mores. I’d never seen that on a raw menu before, and it sounded too good to pass up. My instincts were right. It was easily the most delicious thing I ate on the trip. A thick vanilla cream was made with cashews and coconut, placed on top of raw graham crackers, and then drizzled with streams of melty cacao.

Before we caught our plane, we went back to Café 118 for drinks. I got the Super Green Juice that included kale, parsley, cucumber, and plenty of lemon, which was tart but refreshing. David ordered the Divine Cherry Milkshake with cherries, chocolate almond milk, and coconut butter that was also very tasty.

Rifle Paper Flagship store - Winter Park, FloridaAlso in Winter Park, we visited the flagship location of Rifle Paper Company. If I had my own store, I’d want it to be a stationery store. I love mail, and crisp paper, cute cards, and envelopes always delight me. It seems that wherever I live, I always have a favorite stationery store. Rifle Paper Company makes some of my favorite designs, and so I was excited to learn that they had a flagship store in that area with their complete collection. Plus, you could peek at their working studio, where they design and package their stationery.

Scenic Boat Tour - Winter Park, FloridaA few blocks from Park Avenue is the Scenic Boat Tour, which is an hour-long excursion on 18-person pontoon boats. Located on Lake Osceola, the boats traverse three of the seven area lakes, through manmade canals.

Scenic Boat Tour - Winter Park, FloridaScenic Boat Tour - Winter Park, FloridaA tour guide describes the local fauna, birds, homes and their famous residents.  While on the trip, we passed the house where Mister Rogers stayed during his time at Rollins College.  As an avid fan of his, that was exciting for me.

Scenic Boat Tour - Winter Park, FloridaScenic Boat Tour - Winter Park, Florida

In my next Florida post, I’ll be sharing our most recent visits to Ethos, the all-vegan restaurant in Winter Park. There are lots of photos, and so it definitely needs a post all of its own.

To be continued…