A lively little neighbourhood set far off the tourist trail, Ivanhoe Village is fast becoming one of the hippest ‘hoods in Orlando. While offering enough superb restaurants, bars, boutiques and sights to make even the most jaded traveller smile, this district is still quiet enough for an evening stroll or a relaxing afternoon amble. Check out our neighbourhood guide to Orlando’s Ivanhoe Village.
Ivanhoe Village does not want for incredible restaurants – whether you’re craving Italian or Greek, American or Spanish, there’s a local menu that can satisfy every craving. White Wolf Cafe has your morning pick-me-up covered with delicious breakfast staples like French toast and poached egg with hollandaise sauce. Santiago’s Bodega turns dinner on its head with their hot and cold tapas plates, and when it comes to pairing great food and scenery, The Greek Corner’s traditional Mediterranean fare and shoreside view of Lake Ivanhoe certainly excels.
Orlando’s craft cocktail scene, particularly in Ivanhoe Village, has taken off in recent years. And no one in Ivanhoe Village shakes and stirs cocktails better than The Matador. Sip a Root of Fall scotch cocktail in the crimson-walled parlour, or order the Ragoon Gimlet for something a little lighter. If it’s craft beer that whets your palette, The Thirsty Topher’s petrified oak bar is the spot to peruse 20+ brews on tap.
Menswear boutique Cloak and Dapper have plenty of fetching threads and grooming products on offer for the fashion-savvy gent. For something ingenious to entertain the kids, stop by the Orlando Science Center and pick up a puzzle, documentary film, or illustrated book from the gift shop. Boom-Art by Rogers Studio, however, is the place to go for one-of-a-kind curiosities. Equal parts gallery and boutique, this Ivanhoe Village standout sells custom pop art trinkets that will delight the most eclectic friend on your shopping list.
Ivanhoe Village’s parks and winding walking trails are some of Orlando’s best. Meander past sleepy oak trees and bungalows on the Orlando Urban Trail, or wander the eponymous Lake Ivanhoe’s picturesque shore at Gaston Edwards Park. The Orlando Shakespeare Theatre has your performance arts needs covered, producing a bounty of stage productions every year for residents and travellers alike. Or, mix your arts and parks by spending an afternoon among Lock Haven Park’s public sculptures and modern art installations, not to mention The Mayor, Central Florida’s oldest and largest living oak tree.
Even among Ivanhoe Village’s stellar bars, The Imperial breaks the after-hours cantina mould. This one-of-a-kind watering hole does double duty – it’s an antique furniture store by day, and a swanky wine and beer lounge after 5pm. The wood-hewn tables and chairs and great drinks menu make for a perfect night away from I-Drive. Mills Avenue’s Bart bar and arcade provides a midnight trip down memory lane of old-school classic games like Qbert and Galaga, all with craft beer or wine on deck. Local food trucks roll by every week to serve the late-night grub (pizza, empanadas, even sushi) to match.
But late night bar food and drink specialists, The Hammered Lamb reigns supreme in Ivanhoe Village. This local favourite serves the city’s top bacon-grilled cheese sandwich, best enjoyed paired with a vodka tonic on the Lamb’s covered patio. Be sure to keep your ears open for passing freight trains – “train shots” are on the house every time one thunders by.
Written by Scott Horn
Image credits: Ivanhoe village © Mark Inglert, The Matador © Chris Martin