Downtown Orlando’s fusion hot spot takes tiki in a different direction

Church Street Station is hallowed ground, especially for long time Orlando residents like me. Memories of Rosie O’Grady’s and Cheyenne Saloon still seep from the walls and brick laden street. And for quite some time this once iconic part of downtown Orlando seemed like a ghost town.

Now things have changed. Nearly every available space in the historic buildings of Church Street Station is occupied with a restaurant or bar. The latest restaurant to join the ranks is El Buda.

This Latin Asian fusion restaurant fits nicely in what is probably the most awkward location in Church Street Station. Rather than facing the main street, El Buda is tucked into the side of the Bumby building and faces the SunRail tracks. Not the most prominent location, but definitely worth the exploration.

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The first Tuesday of every month is Tiki Tuesday at El Buda. I was invited to visit during this month’s Tiki Tuesday and indulged in tropical drinks, most of which are on special for $5 ,as well as dined on a tropical bento box full of fusion nibbles.

img_9048The bubbling Maui Waui was the hit of the night, it is an Instagram worthy drink for sure. Served in a coconut cup with smoking dry ice, the blue libation is made with rum and tropical juices, very fruity with hints of pineapple. It is a great deal at $5 during Tiki Tuesday.

As I reviewed the Tiki Tuesday menu I decided this mama needed to also try a Mai Tai. Any Tiki enthusiast will tell you that a Mai Tai is a staple of a tiki drink menu. I found El Buda’s Mai Tai to be a little heavy on cherry flavor, but otherwise pretty true to this classic cocktail.

The tropical bento box is the perfect way to sample the delicious Latin Asian fusion that is executed so well. This is a great way to get introduced to El Buda’s creative approach to Latin and Asian foods. The pineapple rice is addictive and the rice nigiri croquettas topped with hot mustard smoked salmon landed as my favorite of the box.

This is one of those rare finds that actually gets fusion right. Each dish perfectly blends Latin and Asian food. I will definitely return because Latin and Asian foods are some of my favorite flavors. The space is beautiful and intriguing. Every person working at El Buda was warm and inviting.

El Buda is not the place to go if you are looking for a true and authentic Tiki experience, such as what you’ll find at Ft. Lauderdale’s The Mai Kai. But, El Buda is most definitely worthy of anyone’s time. It is a treasure to have such a creative and interesting place in downtown Orlando, especially on Church Street.

Although Tiki Tuesday isn’t an authentic Tiki experience (Tiki culture is far more than just tropical vibes after all), El Buda excels in elevating the dining scene at Church Street Station. Whether you’re an Orlando local or visiting, put El Buda on your list of places to visit soon!

Salmon Poke Bowl_preview

Salmon Poke Bowl (Image credit: El Buda)

Cocktail Flight_preview

Cocktail Flight (Image credit: El Buda)

Pork Dumplings & Dragon Estrella Cocktail_preview

Pork Dumplings & Dragon Estrella Cocktail (Image credit: El Buda)

More important info:

Roberto Headshot_previewEl Buda is the brainchild of Next Iron Chef Contestant and Beat Bobby Flay judge, Chef Roberto Trevino. His latest concept, El Buda, specializes in Latin/Asian fusion, blending the flavors of two unique cultures in a new and interesting way. A dedicated brunch menu is also offered on Saturdays and Sundays. Not to be missed is “The Cellar,” El Buda’s prohibition-era, speakeasy style bar with signature drinks and craft cocktails made with high quality ingredients. The restaurant is located on historic church street in the heart of Downtown Orlando.

Happy Hour:

Guests can enjoy El Buda’s Happy Hour promotions on Tuesday through Saturday from 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. Happy Hour drink specials include the following: $5 single well drinks, $4 house wine, $4 draft beers, $15 Kona Beer Bucket (5 beers), and $5 sangria. Happy Hour food specials include the following: $4 Vegetable Samosa, $4 Edamame Frito, $4.75 Chimichaga Eggroll

Tiki Tuesday:

Tiki Tuesday is every first Tuesday of the month from 4:00 p.m. to close and all Tiki Tuesday drinks are $5. One of the signature Tiki Tuesday drinks is called the “Maui Wowie,” a rum-based concoction poured over dry ice to create a mystical smoking effect. Other favorites include rum runners as well as the classic pina coladas and mai tais. The Tiki Tuesday food menu includes the “Tropical Bento Box” for $18. Pescatarian and vegetarian versions of the Tropical Bento Box are available upon request.

Regular: Rice nigiri croquettas topped with hot mustard smoked salmon, pineapple rice, two pork ribs, and grilled chicken kebabs served over tropical slaw

Pescatarian: Rice nigiri croquettas topped with hot mustard smoked salmon, pineapple rice, swordfish kebabs, veggie samosas

Vegetarian: Rice nigiri croquettas topped with a peanut sauce infused with mustard seed, signature Ho Fun rice noodles, veggie bao bun served over tropical slaw

El Buda
116 W Church St, Orlando, FL 32801
(407) 203-8171
https://www.facebook.com/ElBudaDowntown/
Corner Table with Feature Wall_preview

Image credit: El Buda

Upstairs Bar Close Up_preview

Image credit: El Buda

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