After the Vietnam War, Orlando saw an influx of war refugees. Southeast Asian immigrants set up shop just north of Downtown Orlando. Today the area is thriving and beloved by Orlando; it’s our “Little Vietnam”, our “Little Saigon.”
Orlando’s Little Vietnam is more than just pho. The area is speckled with Asian influences from Korean to Chinese, Japanese, Taiwanese, Thai and even Lao. Have a fun and cultural date night by strolling the streets of Mills 50 and exploring the diversity that makes Orlando “The City Beautiful.”
Grab a Cup of Boba
As you stroll, sip on a cool cup of Boba tea. The drink, popularized by the Taiwanese, is cool and refreshing and served with a thick straw to capture the tapioca balls that fill the bottom of the drink. Try a truly authentic flavor, like Durian, Lychee or Taro.
Chewy Boba Company
1212 E Colonial Dr, Orlando, FL 32803
ViVi Bubble Tea
1111 E Colonial Dr, Orlando, FL 32803
Pho, Noodles, Pad Thai—Oh MY!
A visit to Little Vietnam wouldn’t be complete without stopping for food. Fortunately, there are a plethora of places to choose from whether your fancy is pho, bulgogi, Asian street food, or bahn mi.
For Authentic Vietnamese try Anh Hong or Little Saigon:
1124 E Colonial Dr, Orlando, FL 32803
What to try: “Anh Hong’s special”–a bahn mi French sub with pate, baloney, pork and vegetables.
1106 E Colonial Dr, Orlando, FL 32803
What to try: Stir-fried beef with lemongrass and chili.
For the best pho in town try Pho 88:
Pho 88 Vietnamese Restaurant
730 N Mills Ave, Orlando, FL 32803
What to try: Any variation of their Pho, a traditional rice noodle soup. Add a protein like brisket, meatballs, or eye round steak. Make sure you order all the fixins: basil, jalapenos, and fresh limes.
For Asian Street Food try Mamak Asian Street Food:
Mamak Asian Street Food
1231 E Colonial Dr, Orlando, FL 32803
What to try: Malaysian Coconut Kari, a traditional Malaysian curry with pick-your-own proteins.
For something new, try Sticky Rice—Traditional Laos Street Food:
Sticky Rice Laos Street Food
1915 E Colonial Dr, Orlando, FL 32803
What to try: Sticky Street Wings and Papaya Salad. BONUS: Come here on a double date and order everything on the tapas-style menu for a full meal for four.
For a mid-date snack try King Bao:
710 N Mills Ave, Orlando, FL 32803
What to try: Hogzilla and Kickin’ Chicken Baos. Don’t forget an order of their fancy tater tots to share.
If you can’t decide, try Noodles and Rice:
Noodles and Rice
813 N Mills Ave, Orlando, FL 32803
What to try: Make your own bowl by customizing your noodles, broth, protein, and veggies. Then head to the spice bar to sample a little of everything.
Have a Photo Shoot
Little Vietnam is also commonly referred to as the Mills 50 District. The area has developed its own grass-roots organization that creates initiatives to cultivate a strong community of cultural diversity. One such initiative is the street art. You’ll know you’re in Mills 50 when you see painted electric boxes and full-scale wall murals. Wander down Mills Ave and create your own photoshoot with some of Orlando’s finest public art as the backdrop.
All images by Kelsey Glennon unless otherwise noted