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CLOSED: Garden Cafe

  • Vegetarian Vegetarian
    ( 35 reviews )


Contact 407-999-9799

810 W Colonial Dr (at Edgewater), Orlando, Florida, USA, 32804

Vegetarian Chinese restaurant. Extensive menu features many dishes with soy meat substitute and some western items like pasta and veggie sandwiches, non-alcoholic wine. Offers bargain lunch specials. Prices cheap to moderate. A venue for area animal rights groups like ARFF. JUN 2016 REPORTED SHUT. Open Tue-Sun 12:00pm-10:00pm.

Category: Vegan-friendly, Lacto, Ovo, American, Chinese

Reviews (35)

First Review by lunabelle

Great vegan selections - Edit

Don't let the outside looks of this building scare you away. The inside is clean and uniquely painted in pink or mauve.

The food was great and they have a ton of vegan/vegetarian options. Meals are very inexpensive. The chef has studied extensively in vegetarian cooking according to the menu front.

I'll be coming back and bringing my healthy friends.

Pros: Great food. Great vegan variety., Great service. Wait was short.

Cons: Bars on the windows look ominous.

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Okay, that's all. - Edit

Garden Cafe is located in what was clearly once a Pizza Hut, with the interesting trapezoidal windows intact. The interior is pretty basic, but hundreds of hours of someone's impeccable cross stitch hang in frames on the walls.

Our visit was as part of a large party which had been booked in advance. There were no problems, even though more people showed up than had been booked, and some were late. More tables were simply added to the end with no complaints.

Our server upon being asked about vegan options pointed out the egg-drop soup and said that was the only non-vegan item - not actually true as a number of items contained honey, though that was indicated. She was helpful on a number of other matters that the menu did not mention.

I had the fried tofu to start and old standard, General Tso's "Chicken" as a main. The tofu was coated dry in either corn starch or rice flour and deep fried, then served with a sweet and sour sauce. It was okay, but not really crispy enough. It wasn't oily or soggy, just not quite there.

The main course also fell just short of good. It just seemed, well, meh. Nothing actually wrong, and it was perfectly edible, but nothing stood out.

The Omnivore expressed satisfaction with the Singapore vermicelli (a dish we have discovered does not exist in Singapore!), though I suspect this was mostly due to a lack of the broccoli that was in everything else I saw.

We were handed our bills without even the slightest attempt to ask if we wanted dessert (some of our party did). Maybe, we thought, they did not do desserts - there were none on the menu. But, as we left, we saw a whiteboard by the door, listing a number of desserts. You'd think they didn't want money, or something.

It was a little sad really. With a tiny bit more effort, this place could be really good. Instead, it was okay, in the mildly derogatory British sense of the word.

Pros: Almost all vegan, cheap, generous portions

Cons: stunningly average, staff think honey is vegan, lots of little let-downs

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Terrible - Edit

The worst service I've ever experienced, and the food was bad, too. Dandelion is a short drive away, so save yourself the time and terrible food and go to Dandelion and order the Giddyup or any of their other delicious dishes.

The waitress at Garden Cafe cannot answer any questions about the food, so if you have allergies or concerned about your food, this is not the place for you. We asked the waitress to recommend a soup and she said she didn't like any of the soups--what a ringing endorsement. Also, if you're unable to eat your food because it's cold and so hard that your fork can't even pierce it, the waitress will give you a hard time and claim that it's your fault for ordering it.

Cons: Terrible food, Awful service, Bad attitude

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Less than average (C minus at best) - Edit

I was ordering from another vegan restaurant and the order taker actually recommended this place. I went solely on his recommendation and the reviews here. As soon as I entered the place I was reminded of the mediocre restaurant in Atlanta, GA called Harmony. I ordered anyway all the food to go. The order was ready in 20 minutes. My family of 5 was very hungry, but at first taste I got all kinds of yuck looks from the kids and then me. Okay it is edible but that's about it. My husband thought he was smart to order fries only. Well his fries looked horrible and were barely edible. They were over cooked. What a waste of his $3. I would not return to this place since none of the 5 members of my family really liked their order. I've had MUCH better vegan food including the restaurant where the guy made the recommendation. The food is not fresh tasting at all. Just stuff thrown together on a plate. Service timing isn't bad, but not all that friendly. You are not even safe with the basics like lo mein and fried rice. Simply nothing special.

Pros: Fast service, Accurate order taking, Mostly vegan menu

Cons: Not fresh tasting, Some foods over cooked, Not worth going out of your way

1 Response

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WarmWhite 22 Dec 2013 - Thanks for the helpful review!

Hits the spot. - Edit

Oh how I miss going to Chinese restaurants. This place sure did cure my long time craving for it. My kids opted for the veggie burger and fries while my husband and I split an order of lo mein and some general tso's mock meat. The portions were huge and the flavor was great. Very pleasing.

Pros: Decent prices, Great selection

Cons: Exterior/Interior

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Good value - Edit

Had a cheap lunch here, main courses are 5-6 dollars. Had a sweet and sour, mapo tofu and special fried rice. The place was quiet, but we were there bang on 12. The portions were decent for the price, and all three mains were good, service was good and quick as well.
My only negative would be to say they need some elbow grease in the gents.

Updated from previous review on Monday November 26, 2012

Pros: Quick, Well priced, Tasty

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Still a staple restaurant after years - Edit

First of all, I have written a review (along with several others) on Happy Cow that have managed to disappear over the years. Garden Cafe was one of the first. I do recommend this place to all veggies and vegans alike. There are some things on the menu that are much better than others so it's always good to go with someone who has been there before or ask the waitress (the one I usually get steers me in the right direction). I love the General Tso's chicken, the house steak, there's some kind of "lamb" entree I had once that I loved but forget what it was, I miss the steamed dough-y bread, the soups are delicious, and the old reliable fried dumplings. I have had a couple of so-so dishes, sort of spongy or made of the dried bean curd which is good in soup but not as an analog - typically I am able to figure it out from asking the waitresses. Yes, the staff can be stoic, and sometimes I think they can come across as rude but I really don't think they mean to be that way if that makes sense. In any event, I always enjoy my food and have seconds and thirds at home.

Pros: tasty , variety

Cons: location, could be updated and cleaner

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Love it - Edit

Superb food. I've been going here for years. Go with the waitress suggestion of the best dishes or get a description. Each fake meat differs. I love the ying yang soup, turnip cakes, house chicken, and mushroom oyster dish. The staff will seem nice if you understand Asian culture.

Pros: sketchy area

Cons: yummy, good prices, very clean

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Beyond Disappointed - Edit

Today I planned to met a friend for lunch at your establishment. I had heard some great things and was excited to finally see what the hype was about. I entered the doors and spotted my friend sitting at a table. I was also greeted with a smell that turned my stomach. I looked around and so others in the place and thought maybe it was just me ultra sentitive nose.
I sat down and begin to conversate with my friend who was drinking tea. My friend asked the waitress where was the restroom was located, in less than 5 minutes she was back at the table telling me that the smell was raw sewage that appeared to be backing up in the restroom. I was beyond disgusted and no longer had a desire to dine in that establishment.
I could not believe that the owners were operating a kitchen and dining room under those conditions. As a lover of food and one who recognizes that health and safety are vital in restaurants I was not going to be subjected to that environment. It would have been optimual to close down and get the problem resolved so that they do not have larger issues.
The experience at this restaurant was beyond disappointing for me and my guest.

Cons: major health violations, not concerned for the public, not offering a pleasant experience

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Terrible Service - Okay Food - Edit

We drove a long way to find this place after looking on Happy Cow for Veg restaurants but were thoroughly disappointed! The server was rude and obnoxious. When we asked her to recommend something she recommended the most expensive dishes on the menu! When we asked if we could move tables to accommodate for space to put all the dishes we ordered on the table, she said that we hadn't ordered that much food - we ordered several appetizers and 5 main courses. The server was impatient and angry. The food wasn't anything to rave about so why bother with the terrible service!

Cons: Bad service, Not very tasty food

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Would retry and see if experience would improve - Edit

GOt the Hong Kong Style Ribs, basically puffed bread with sauce and veg. General Tso's Chicken, squishy and not very good. Wonton Soup, still cold in center of wontons. Spring Roll, average. Portions were large, dinner portion requires a take-home box. The food was okay, the staff was quick and friendly. There were only 2 items on menu that were not Vegan, and the staff pointed them out immediately. No raw sugar or agave available to sweeten iced tea. I would definitly go back and order some noodle dish, the mock-meats weren't executed very well. The flavors were good though thankfully from the sauces.

Pros: Big portions, great prices, good flavor sauces

Cons: mock meats not amazing

1 Response

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wendymerissa 05 May 2012 - I do hope you try it again and focus on their house specials. I agree that most their mock meats are either spongy or soft, not fun in your mouth.
My all time faves, which are juicy and tender inside, near crispy shell on the outside: Orange Chicken (balls), Orange Beef (strips), both served with lots of fresh broccoli and carrots, bamboo shoots & I prefer brown rice to white rice.

Combination Lo Mein has great noodles, though the mock meats are so-so. The ham strips taste good, but I can never get into faux shrimp. :/

Good luck!!!!

Chinese food for vegetarians!!!! - Edit

I only ate meat for a short time in my life and when I did for some reason Chinese style food appealed to me. Like General Tso's Chicken and the fried rice. If you have ever eatan meat or want to experience chinese food from a vegetarian perspective this place is it in Orlando. Garden Cafe provides an awesome dining/take out experience for those who seek food properly and nutritiously prepared with our preferences in mind. The chef and owners seem to be dedicated to providing healthy foods for us in the area. I would say it is a great choice! The Lunch Specials are priced and a large portion of food is given prepare to eat!

Pros: Fast, Tasty, Take-Out

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Great food, unfriendly waitress - Edit

Our family is vacationing in Orlando and we recently had dinner there and we enjoyed everything we ordered. The food is very good. The only thing we didn't like is the attitude of the waitress, she seemed very unfriendly and rushed even though we were the only ones in the restaurant. Perhaps she had a bad night. Overall food is good and glad to see a vegetarian option.

Pros: Good Food, Big Portions, healthy food

Cons: Unfriendly staff

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Long-time regular at Garden Cafe - Edit

I have been eating at Garden Cafe for at least 13 years. Orange chicken is by far my favorite meal there. It has broccoli and vegetables and the "chicken" is crispy on the outside and delectably juicy on the inside. The sauce is savory with a bit of orange zest-- delicious. Their lunch menu is very affordable and I love their noodles.
Nice place for birthdays or get-togethers; great for take-out; lovely for dinner-for-two. The server as of late can be a bit stiff but she means well!!!

Pros: Delicious food, Generous portions, Vegan-friendly

Cons: No fresh salads, Need better social media outreach, n/a

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Inspiring Health & Wellness - Edit

I love the Garden Cafe. If I am ever in the area I will always stop in. I often order the WonTon soup, Pork chops in Peking Sauce, Rice Vermicelli Singapore w/ Hot Tea. I think the Pork Chops are the best thing I have ever eaten, I do wish there were more veggies in the dish but order a Veg dish if you would like to mix & match with someone it's perfect!!! So much creativity goes into the food and the chef really cares about health and well-being. I always leave feeling full-filled and harmonious. Must try!!

Pros: Great Taste, Affordable, Serenity in a meal

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Veggie Asian- can't go wrong - Edit

Friendly staff, really large extensive menu. Asked the waitress what she recommends and she said the house chicken with curry sauce (not actually on the menu). Was really good except the mock chicken was a bit too chickeny for me. Would probably fool a non-veggie. I don't eat much mock meat at this point so I think I would skip the mock meat and just get the yummy veggies. The veggies and sauce were very good, I had started to pick around the mock chicken. Will try Garden Cafe again when I am in the area. They also had some veggie burgers on the menu that 2 other patrons were eating and looked really good. Don't hesitate to ask the staff questions as they were very happy to help.

Pros: Great sauces, Nice restaurant, Friendly staff

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Too many fried fake meats - Edit

If you like fried fake meats then Garden Cafe is your place; if not then you will need to discuss your order very carefully with the service staff. We ordered three "meat" dishes and did not realize that everything was going to be battered and fried and in a sweet sauce. When we ordered plain bok choy, we had to repeat that we did not want any "meat" in the dish, just vegetables. Clearly, the kitchen has skill cooking Chinese cuisine because the bok choy and turnip cakes were excellent but we were disconcerted with our other dishes. Our soups were way too salty and prompted us to ask the kitchen to please limit salt in our other dishes.

I think careful ordering could get you a great meal at Garden Cafe but we did not have that kind of experience. I can totally recommend the turnip cakes which were excellent!

Pros: friendly staff, reasonable prices, will modify dishes

Cons: too much fried mock meat, too salty, too much sugar

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YUM - Edit

I love this place! The orange beef is incredible! Two of us are vegan, one vegetarian, and one eats meat - all of us love to eat at Garden Cafe! We travel 1 hour 15 minutes to get here - but worth it every time! Incredible portions. Food is always fresh and perfect!

Pros: excellent food, huge portions, friendly staff

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Best Orlando has to offer - Edit

I have been going to Garden Cafe for about 5 years and it has been consistently delicious. The waitresses always know us and our order before we even say anything. The only thing on the menu that is not vegan is the egg drop soup so you don't have to worry about finding something vegan. There are SO many choices on the menu that I still haven't scratched the surface in five years. They have everything from mock poultry, beef and ham to mock fish. Even if you aren't in the mood for Chinese style food, they have veggie burgers. The portions are perfect, the atmosphere is great (always playing relaxing, traditional Chinese music), and the staff is very nice. Avoid Ethos like the plague and hit up Garden Cafe. They never disappoint!

Pros: Price, Portion, Quality

Cons: N/A, N/A, N/A

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Worth every penny - Edit

Went alone for dinner on a Saturday night then again on Sunday afternoon. Both times I had hot and sour soup. The first was the best I have ever had; the second still good. I was tempted to try the eggdrop soup as I have never seen it done vegan. I am gluten intolerant so I always have to ask about wheat. I was told that the faux meats are soy and I did not react to anything I ate. I had the Kung Pao "Chicken" which is soy breaded in corn starch (I think) and deep fried. The sauce is sweet and spicy and it comes with wokked broccoli. It was good but the "chicken" was kind of puffy, not chewy. Next day I had "Beef" with Rice Noodles. It had mushrooms and green peppers in a spicy sauce to which I added some duck sauce. Delicious.

My friend came in and had a glass of non-alcoholic wine and I tried it. Not a drinker myself, I was pleasantly surprised that it tasted good.

My friend is a big eater and ordered several dishes which I was more than happy to try. The rice vermicelli Singapore is thin rice noodles with faux shrimp, ham and veggies. It was good but the ham might have gluten in it so be forewarned or ask. The Ma Po Tofu is saucy, spicey and goody. I enjoyed the Orange Chicken too.

My advice to people is to go get the lunch special. Frequently I will order two or three even if I can't finish them. That way you get to eat "family style" even if by yourself. And cold chinese reheated makes a great meal later on, though I never seem to be able to get any home as I usually manage to finish it. I may sound like a glutton, but vegan chinese food is so digestible that I can eat it without gaining weight.

The service is pleasant and they speak English which is sometimes abit of a challenge when trying to discern what has gluten and what doesn't.

The atmosphere is pleasant with white tablecloths and linen napkins. Each time there are always pleasant meetings with other patrons. And they frequently offer a taste of their dishes, as do I. Ah that the entire world were a vegan restaurant, n'est pas?

Try Garden Cafe. It's worth every penny.

Pros: big portions, friendly , easy to find

Cons: too far from home

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meh - Edit

I certainly have had way better vegetarian chinese/asian food. The only things on the menu worth eating are the General Tso, and also the fried spring rolls. I would and do chose Loving Hut over this place anytime. In addition to the food not being worth your while, the service and the atmosphere are both unsatisfactory as well.

Cons: service, atmosphere, food

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Garden Cafe is simply the best.. which is why it has been around the longest. The food is amazing, great hours, great service, and centrally located to downtown Orlando right off I-4. YUM!!!!!

Pros: delicious food, great service, centrally located

Cons: none, none, none

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Perhaps I didn't choose the right entree - Edit

This restaurant is easy to find and offers a wide variety of choices. It is totally meat-free and I am truly impressed with that. There was even a sign on the front door stating that they only offer a meat-free menu (I guess folks had been coming in and expecting something different). I ordered the dumplings (as an appetizer) and the curry stew as an entree. The dumplings were alright...not spectacular, but alright. The curry stew which I was greatly looking forward to was a disappointment. Far too much tofu (was either not marinated or not marinated long enough) and not enough flavor overall. I ended up having to pull out all of the tasteless tofu slices and avoiding what appeared to be potatoes that were cooked many moons ago to simply eat the rice and the sauce. Perhaps I just chose the wrong entree...but I know what NOT to get if I ever dare to try this place again.

Pros: many choices, completely meat free

Cons: do not accept AMEX, tasteless tofu, preoccupied staff

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a dream come true - Edit

This was an excellent vegetarian restaurant to go to with my carnivore husband. The menu was just like a typical American/ Chinese restaurant except everything was meat substitutes. I had pepper ``steak`` for the first time in my life and my husband had ``chicken`` balls. Awesome experience!! I need to go back to try the ``fish`` and ``shrimps``. Lots of parking available. The restaurant was clean and cute for a chinese restaurant.

Pros: great service, delicious, great prices

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Orange Beef-Yum! - Edit

Ate here last night. They have a great Chinese menu with all the stuff that meat-eaters get to order at non-veg places. We ordered two dishes plus the spring rolls. Spring rolls were very good. Sesame Chicken was ok. But the Orange Beef was excellent.
The only thing that bothered me was that our waitress was not very friendly. Maybe she had a bad night but it's so important that veg places have excellent customer service. It helps support the overall cause. But the food was very nice. A great option for veggies visiting Orlando. Plus, very close to downtown.

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Wonderful, Wonderful - Edit

The chef and his wife own and operate the Garden Cafe with the mission of creating food that can be enjoyed by vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. Make no mistake - the flavor and texture are all there and then some. While most of the menu is Chinese; serving vegetable dishes with and without meat substitutes as well as tofu; one can also find western entrees such as Harvest Burgers, pasta dishes, Three Bean Rice, portabella sandwich and the best of the best, in my opinion, mushroom with vegetables which is sort of like a fragrant, thick portabella mushroom stew with the most extraordinary flavor. This is one of the original recipes served that requires an hours-long broth preparation to achieve a unique sweet vegetable taste. This is the restaurant of choice among many of our family and friends because any palate can be pleased at Garden Cafe. This glowing review isn't because I hold stock in the restaurant. Rather a vegetarian that loves to dine out with friends at an establishment where the food is carefully prepared and everyone can be pleased with the selections. The location is convenient, just to the west of downtown on Highway 50. One aside: If you are a vegetarian you know the frustration of trying to explain to wait staff that sea life and meat broths aren't vegetables. Here you know that the only flesh to darken the door will be you, your guests and the friendly staff at Garden Cafe.

Pros: Sooo Flavorful, Value, Selection

Cons: Closed Mondays, rare language barrier, Left turn is one is traveling south

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Great! - Edit

Simply great. This is a mock meat heaven. Every dish I have had has been excellent. Sadly, the area where Garden Cafe is is kind of run down, but it wont keep me from a great meal there! :)

Pros: Great Price, Great Food

Cons: Bad Neighborhood

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Garden Cafe Addict - Edit

My omni boyfriend and I go to Garden Cafe about every other week. They recognize us when we come in and know what we're going to order. He gets the cheeseburger (Beware: I don't think this cheese is vegan), and I get the pork chop in Peking sauce. Every time. It's awesome.

Pros: pork chop, staff

Cons: not healthy

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My home away from home - Edit

As a long time veggie, I am so thankful to have such a treasure as Garden Cafe. A huge menu with almost all vegan selection really makes my evenings out with friends and family. It is also great to know that we have such an established place, instead of one of those here today, gone tomorrow veggie places that you find in so many other cities.

Pros: variety, vegan selections, food

Cons: none

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fantastic meat-substitutes - Edit

this place is amazing! not a single non-vegetarian dish in the entire restaurant.... i reveled in being able to order "General Tsao's Chicken" for once in my life, since it was 100% meat-substitute. try everything on the menu... twice. this place is a godsend for vegetarians in the north-central florida area.

Pros: amazing variety of dishes, provides venue for AR lit, nice atmosphere

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Fantastic selection and quality; modest cost - Edit

My wife and I try to eat here every evening we are in Orlando. The building and decor are humble, but the selection and quality are unparalleled. The House Chicken and House Beef dinners contain the best "non-meat" I've ever tasted -- the perfect texture and taste. As in frequent as my visits to Orlando are, it will take a lifetime to work through their entire menu. Don't forget their appetizers and fresh carrot juice.

Pros: Fantastic selection, Consistent high quality, Great service

Cons: None

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Delicious! - Edit

This is a fantastic vegetarian restaurant in Orlando. The neighborhood is pretty rough though, so I wouldn't go here at night (at least not alone). Each time I travel to this city I make a stop here. The spring rolls are filled with flavor, wonton soup was excellent with a tasty broth. Also enjoyed my Kung Pao Chicken. Everything was tasty, fresh and reasonably priced.

Pros: Delicious Food, Friendly Staff, Reasonable Prices

Cons: Neighborhood

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deeelicious! - Edit

I just love the garden cafe! It is such a rare treat to look at a menu and know that I can order anything on it. I have never had a problem with service, although they are usually quiet. The turnip cakes are the one thing I order every single time and I love the simple vegetable stir fry, which is inexpensive and wonderful.

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