Before too much time goes by I want to write about one of my new favorite places in Orlando, which I discovered on my recent trip to Florida. It has nothing to do with the theme parks that Orlando is so famous for, so if you are looking for a change of pace from what Orlando typically has to offer, this place is for you.
It's called East End Market, and much like the name suggests it is an indoor market featuring small shops, restaurants, bakeries and cafes that are refreshingly out of place amid the typical American sprawl that surrounds it. My mom had been talking about coming here with me the whole three weeks that I was in Florida, and on my second to last day we finally made it there.
We arrived around lunch time, so our first stop was somewhere to eat. After browsing the lunch options we decided on Skyebird, a quick-service restaurant and juice bar serving all organic, raw vegan foods. Given my recent attempts at a (mostly) vegan diet, I was very excited about this place, and it did not disappoint.
Their menu contains a short but sweet assortment of exciting vegan dishes. For example, I ordered the zucchini pasta with alfredo, which uses zucchini noodles and macadamia nut alfredo sauce instead of the usual wheat pasta and cheese. If you like macadamia nuts like I do, I highly recommend trying this. The macadamia flavor really comes through but is not overwhelming. Topping this unique dish are basil, sun-dried tomatoes and vegan parmesan. (Please excuse the mediocre picture quality. I am by no means a food photographer and my iPhone can only do so much.)
My mom ordered the falafel salad with tahini dressing, which was also very good.
As you can see in the corner of the previous picture, the bar-like seating area was stacked with a variety of books about food, including books about raw food, juicing and eating healthier. So if you need something to occupy you while you wait for your food to arrive (which shouldn't take more than a few minutes), they've got you covered.
One last thing that I loved about this place and that really brought the concept of healthy, organic food together: if you would like to take your leftovers home, Skyebird will provide you with a glass Mason jar as a to-go container, free of charge! It's a win-win: no plastic waste and you get a practical, reusable household item to take home.
Next it was time for dessert, so we decided to take advantage of the treats at Olde Hearth Bread Co. As well as selling a wide variety of fresh-baked breads, they also sell pastries, cookies and scones, including several vegan options.
Everything looked so good, my mom and I spent several minutes just trying to decide which goodies we wanted to try. We eventually decided on a ginger-orange scone and a vegan almond cookie, both of which were good and not too sweet, which I appreciated. After spending as much time as I have in Germany, I'm used to desserts being less sweet than the desserts in America. If you like your desserts sweeter, though, and you're looking for something vegan, I would go for the fig bar. The woman working there that day said she liked the fig bar the best.
My one regret about my visit to East End Market was the I didn't get to try some of Olde Hearth's bread. If I had had more time left in Florida I would have bought at least one loaf of their bread. It looked so good!
And of course our dessert wouldn't have been complete without some coffee, and we were in luck: located at the other end of the market is Lineage Coffee Roasting. This classy-looking place makes a good first impression, but given my mixed experiences with coffee and espresso in the U.S., I was skeptical of what we would find here.
I didn't need to be skeptical at all. My mom and I both ordered a drink they call a piccolo, which is a smaller-than-usual shot of espresso with steamed milk, and it absolutely blew me away. It was one of the most flavorful espressos I've ever had in my life (this is not an exaggeration), and it passed my "good espresso" test: I didn't need to put any sugar in it.
In addition to the piccolo, Lineage Coffee Roasting also serves your typical assortment of drip coffee and espresso drinks. They have a menu for different varieties of regular drip coffee and another menu for espresso drinks. The staff were very helpful in explaining the differences between all the espresso drinks and were more than happy to answer our questions and make recommendations. I highly recommend getting an espresso (or espresso-based drink) here, and I am so glad to see quality coffee places like this becoming more popular in the U.S. Lineage is setting a trend that I hope to see continue.
After we finished our coffee and snacks, we wandered into the bookstore Bookmark It, which sells a selection of novels, local travel guides, cookbooks and books by local authors. Our wanderings continued through several more stores, including:
Porch Therapy, which sells plants and home decor items;
Local Roots Farm Store, which sells local food, craft beer and produce.
In addition to the wonderful stores inside, there are also several nice seating areas outside, including one that looks over a garden out front.
Throughout my visit to East End Market I was very impressed with what I saw. I like the focus on supporting and promoting local businesses and the emphasis on healthy, high-quality local food and drinks. At the risk of repeating myself, this is a trend and business model that I would love to see continue in the future.
The next time I'm in Orlando I definitely want to go back here, and I recommend that you do, too! The places I wrote about here are only a portion of what is available here, and I encourage you to explore the rest of them for yourself. You can find East End Market at 3201 Corrine Drive in Orlando. For more information and for a full list of stores, visit www.eastendmkt.com.
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