Vegetarian Treats & Live Music at Dandelion Communitea Cafe in Orlando

Dandelion Communitea Cafe - vegetarian restaurant in OrlandoHello from the frozen tundra! Yesterday I went to the grocery store like everyone else in the state and was met with Thanksgiving-levels of crowds. I heard that lines in some grocery stores reached the back of the store, and workers were even handing out bottles of water to people waiting. David and I have spent the day shoveling piles and piles of snow and stopping to take a break for lasagna. And it just keeps falling…

So while I watch the snow blow in the air, let’s think back on warmer days when I was recently in Orlando…

Dandelion Communitea Cafe - a vegetarian restaurant in Orlando, FloridaWe visited Dandelion Communitea Café several times while we were on vacation. Dandelion is a vegetarian restaurant in a bright green house. It’s a very casual, order-at-the-counter kind of place with seating both indoors and outdoors.

Dandelion Communitea Cafe - a vegetarian restaurant in Orlando, FloridaWe ate outside both times, because when you get the opportunity to get some sun on your skin, you take it.

Dandelion Communitea Cafe - Orlando, FloridaDandelion Communitea Cafe - Orlando, FloridaSome other locals had the same idea, and we admired them while we waited for our lunch.

Lizards at Dandelion Communitea CafeLizards at Dandelion Communitea Cafe

Tempeh BLT at Dandelion Communitea Cafe - Orlando, FloridaI ordered the tempeh BLT. I tend to be more of a seitan bacon fan, but this was a step above standard tempeh bacon with the perfect amount of smokiness and crispness.  You get a choice of sides, and I had it with chips and whirled peas guacamole. Curiously, their guacamole is made without avocadoes and solely has a pea-base. It didn’t match the heights of your typical avocado-based guac, and so I’d go with a different side in the future.

Black Bean Burrito at Dandelion Communitea Cafe - a vegetarian restaurant in Orlando, FloridaDavid had the black bean burrito in a whole-wheat wrap with tomato, corn, red onions, quinoa, salsa, and the whirled peas guacamole. They pressed it until nice and toasted. On the side, he had chips and vegan queso, which was terrific.

We went back later one evening, after we’d already gotten dinner elsewhere, for drinks and to take in some live music. They offer a variety of teas, wine, and beer.

Live music at Dandelion Communitea Cafe - Orlando, FloridaOn their website they highlight the different events that they feature in the evenings, including outdoor drum circles, art openings, and a variety of musicians. That night Patty Pierzchala and Benji Beach were playing. They don’t typically play together, but they shared the slot and did a few duets. Both singers had really nice voices and a good rapport with the crowd.

Dandelion Communitea Cafe - a vegetarian restaurant in Orlando, FloridaFinally, on our last day in Orlando, before catching a flight back to the land of snow and ice… (What were we thinking???) We stopped for lunch.

The giddy up at Dandelion Communitea Cafe - Orlando, FloridaI repeated the same dish I’d tried and loved when we were in Orlando in 2013the Giddyup. It’s made with tempeh chili, vegan queso, and a choice of greens or quinoa. I had enjoyed the burrito so much that I made a burrito inspired by it called the Southwestern Chili Cheese Burrito. The Giddyup was every bit as good as I’d remembered with Green Goddess dressing on the side plus chips and salsa. David went with the BLT that I’d ordered on a previous visit.

For a casual lunch or relaxed evening out, Dandelion Communitea Café is a fun place to grab a bite or beverage or take in some live music. I’ll look forward to going again on a future visit to the area.

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.