Orlando’s Mills 50 District — also known as “Little Vietnam” or “Little Saigon” — is the new neighborhood for nosh (say that five times, fast). Not only will you find the best authentic Vietnamese and Asian cuisine, you’ll also find a host of fusion restaurants blending the flavors of international cultures that call Orlando home. Many restaurants here pride themselves on sourcing locally, and some even grow their fare on premises. Whether you’re craving a hot bowl of pho, vegan queso, or a crunchy Cuban sandwich, you’ll find it amid the painted streets of Mills 50.
Dandelion Communitea Cafe Orlando | | photo by Kelsey Glennon
You can’t miss Dandelion Communitea Cafe, a bright green earthy beacon on the edge of Downtown Orlando. It lights up the outskirts of Little Saigon with its brightly painted 1920’s bungalow and the community garden that sprawls out on its lawn. You won’t find a healthier lunch in town, with menu options like Abundant Harvest, a nourishing mix of local greens topped with house-made dressing. Their tea is a pride point, and daily specials with unlimited refills are the deal. Dandy is also where you’ll find a holistic-loving community of poets, musicians, artists. Join their drum circles, full moon parties, and spoken word nights for an authentic local experience.
Owners John and Julia Calloway refer to their small Mexican joint as “farm to taco.” You don’t get any fresher than this taqueria, serving a simple but flavorful menu of authentic soft corn tacos. The local shrimp ceviche isn’t bad, either.
The Strand is a hip restaurant, keen on indoor plants and wooden accents, serving rotating farm-to-table fare. They are right at home in the Mills 50 District, with their mission to bring the community together over good food. Follow their Instagram for the latest updates to their menu.
If your group can’t decide on pho, ramen, or tom yum for dinner, don’t worry — there’s a restaurant for that. Noodles & Rice is a simple purveyor of warming Asian bowls and bites, principally of Thai, Korean, Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese origin. Spice lovers will love their condiment bar with options like garlic chili oil, or if you’re feeling brave, fermented tofu. Noodles & Rice is unassuming from the outside, but inside are warming bowls of broth and scents reminiscent of that backpacking trip through Southeast Asia.
Meet halfway between Mexican and Chinese at Tako Cheena, where the best of both worlds have come together in a beautiful marriage that has spawned offspring such as Tom Yum Mojo Shrimp or Chinese BBQ Pork Belly tacos. Don’t forget to try their “Asian Hot Dawgs” or a hearty burrito, featuring flavors from Africa, Thailand, India, and Korea. Flavors have never been so beautifully fused than at this Asian-inspired taco haunt.
Black Bean Deli is a beloved 15-year-old Orlando institution serving authentic Cuban food. Find dishes like Masitas de Puerco or Ropa Vieja, alongside a bed of rice, beans, and plantains. Also famous for their empanadas, Black Bean is good for a light bite too.