PHOTO: A Beer Flight flight served up by Deadly Sins Brewery in Orlando. (photo by Susan Young)
Craft beer, a neighborhood winery, authentic Southern cuisine, smelling the roses in a lush garden: Orlando’s got it all.
But this stuff just might be a little difficult to find if you’re not a local.
Look past the crowds, and you'll find plenty of unique things to do.
Quantum Leap: Orlando’s (not so) secret winery
Tucked away in the Mills/50 District (near downtown) lies a local treasure: Quantum Leap Winery. The name is derived from the owners' strategy to “reinvent the wine-to-market delivery process.”
Their method of transporting the juice of freshly crushed grapes from around the world—then completing the process of blending and bottling in their own facility—creates a sustainably grown product with a small carbon footprint.
On a typical tasting trip, you might be served their new Pedaler’s Hard Cider, which was named the Best Cider in Florida by the brewer’s guild. An Italian white blend Garda from Veneto, Italy, might also be on tap. A Merlot from Napa Valley, or the Snowbirds Gruner Veltliner from Lake Chelan, Washington could be your choice.
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Their selection is vast, and they’ll give you a free tour (if they have the time).
Having recently expanded their hours, Quantum Leap is currently open to the public Tuesday through Saturday from noon to 8 p.m. Also offered are a limited amount of edibles including cheese, charcuterie and chocolate from the local Peterbrooke Chocolatier.
Pairing a sea-salty dark chocolate with some cheese and just the right red makes for a mouthwatering experience you won’t want to miss. You’ll even find chocolate-covered bottles filled with your favorite wine for the perfect gift.
The Quantum Leap winemakers’ expertise and amazing knowledge of every aspect of wine-making is impressive. The passion that couples with their extensive know-how produces a fine product, of which Orlando can be proud. They also have an environmental conscience, making sure the business model follows sustainable philosophies in all aspects of production.
Though this special place might be hard to find, it’s worth the trip.
Deadly Sins Brewery: The kind of place where everyone knows your name
The Deadly Sins Brewery tap room lies in the middle of an industrial hub of European auto mechanics. More friendly than its name, you might find a group of local runners gathering on a Thursday for a 2 or 3-mile run with plenty of rehydration afterward.
Tom and Ana are the proprietors who, after years of brewing beer as a hobby, (and an insightful trip to Asheville), decided to jump into the business and brew full time.
Their efforts have given birth to many a fine draught with names like Deadly Sins Liquid Sympathy, Does the Body Good milk stout and She Just Smoked You!
The lighter Crème Del Diablo or Margarita Saison might be your preference instead, or perhaps it's the darker Down Town Gingerbread Brown. Whatever your taste, Deadly Sins Brewery will not disappoint.
Following the philosophy, “Drink Local”, Tom and Ana have created an atmosphere full of friendly vibes and tasty brews. The taproom features special event nights with live music or improv. Food trucks like SwedeDISH, (Orlando’s only food truck serving authentic Swedish cuisine), might show up in the parking lot.
Drive a Saab or Volvo? Just down the street you’ll find SwedeCentral, a European mechanic specializing in repairing your ride. Just a few blocks away is the newly opened Hunger Street Tacos, with its authentic, fresh Mexican street fare. You can’t miss the building covered in gorgeous Lapiztola wall art.
This quirky neighborhood has it all!
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The Coop: A southern affair and true, down-home taste experience
Chef John Rivers has spent 20 years becoming a local favorite with his signature BBQ. He's partnered with Masterchef’s first season’s winner, Whitney Miller, to create this penultimate Southern home-style neighborhood eatery. (His 4Rivers Smokehouse is just a short walk from Deadly Sins Brewery.)
The Coop, however, is a different experience: Located off the main road connecting Orlando and Winter Park, this regional gem serves up everything your grandma might have offered, (if you had a real Southern grandma).
When you need comfort food, you’ll find Chicken and Waffles with Maple Bourbon Drizzle, Fried Green Tomatoes, Low Country Shrimp or Catfish and Grits. Or how about a dose of Mom’s Meatloaf?
Did your grandma make Mississippi Mud Pie or Old School Banana Pudding? You’ll find them at The Coop, along with homemade Moon Pies.
There are times when the line goes out the door, so plan to stop, smell the coffee and savor the deliciousness that awaits…Just make sure you’re hungry!
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Harry P. Leu Gardens: Camellias and roses mixed with giant bugs or dinosaurs
In the middle of a residential area, around the corner from the Mills/50 District, lies a horticulturist’s dream. Leu Gardens was donated to the city of Orlando by Harry and Mary Jane Leu in 1961, covering 50 acres, just a few minutes from downtown.
Located on Lake Rowena, the park wraps around the Leu House Museum—a restored 19th century home listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Stay for the tour, and you’ll learn some interesting facts about old Orlando before it became one of the top tourist destinations the world.
With more than 12,000 plants on the property, you could spend several hours identifying all the varieties of flowers and shrubs. The Gardens also rotate sculpture and art throughout the grounds. Currently, a Dinosaur Invasion is taking place through April 30. (As you can tell, this experience is great for kids, too.)