Open since 2010, Nona Tap Room has been drawing beer fans for the staggering 50 beers on draft. But food is no afterthought here. The menu is one of Central Florida's best, according to Orlando Sentinel readers who voted the east Orange County watering hole the best for bar food in last year's Foodie Awards.
Nona Tap Room occupies a choice corner spot in the LaVina Marketplace, which is also home to a Tim's Wine Market outpost and 407 Café, which specializes in gelato, paninis and crepes.
A few outdoor tables face the not-to-far-off control tower of Orlando International Airport, offering prime views for diners enamored with flight.
Inside is a mix of high-top and regular tables. A long black bar runs the length of the 50 taps along the wall near the entrance.
Tap Room's menu is pure pub fare, focusing on appetizers, sandwiches and salads.
We started with the smoked fish dip ($7.49), a mild blend of wahoo, mahi and whitefish. The creamy mixture, which had crushed almond undertones, was pleasantly not over-smoked. Crisp yellow corn tortilla chips and toasted ciabatta bread points came on the side.
The bacon and bleu burger ($10.49) was cooked a spot-on medium. The salty bacon was nicely crisp-tender and the bleu cheese crumbles top-notch.
Our juicy bratwurst ($8.99) was served on a long pretzel roll with sautéed sweet peppers and onions. The thick sausage was marinated in Guinness beer before being cooked on the grill. A little spicy mustard brought the whole thing together.
Sandwiches come with a choice of house-made chips (russet or sweet) or house salad on the side. We tried both kinds of chips, which were crunchy good and needed only a slight dusting of salt. By far, the sweet chips were the best.
The blackened mahi tacos ($8.99) were dressed with lettuce, tomato and a mild Cajun sour cream sauce. Our two soft-tortilla tacos were plump with fillings. So much so, we took on the second with a knife and fork.
Our server was eager, engaging and efficient.
Restaurant and bar selections are slowly building in the Lake Nona area, which is home to Medical City, the University of Central Florida medical school, and the Lake Nona Golf & Country Club with its championship course designed by Tom Fazio.
In addition to Nona Tap Room, culinary explorers might want to check out nearby Nona Sushi, golfer Graeme McDowell's Nona Blue Modern Tavern, Sweet Mama's, and Durian Durian Asian Thai Cuisine.
With so much growth potential, the Lake Nona restaurant landscape may soon be similar to the Waterford Lakes scene.
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Nona Tap Room
** out of 4
Where: 9145 Narcoossee Road in Orlando (in the plaza near Dowden Road)
11 a.m.-11 p.m. Sunday-Thursday,
11 a.m.-2 a.m. Friday and Saturday
How much: $8-$13
Beverages: Beer, wine, soft drinks
Wines by the glass: From $5
Extras: Family-friendly, good for groups, outdoor dining, takeout and vegetarian options
Wheelchair access: Easy
Noise level: Nice conversational buzz
Credit: American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
Diningon a budget
There is nothing on the menu more than $15. Servings are generous.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun