When people think of Orlando, Florida, the first thing that probably pops into their head is the mouse. For those willing to dig a little deeper the city has some very beautiful neighborhoods. One of those is Thornton Park nestled south of downtown. The area is full of cute cottages, parks, and boasts of numerous dining options including Graffiti Junction American Burger Bar. Graffiti Junction is located at the corner of East Washington and South Hyers Streets. I arrived a few minutes past noon and the on street parking around the restaurant was packed. After driving around the area I was able to find a spot about a block away on James Avenue.
From the street Graffiti Junction is a squat red building with beer advertisements stung along the exterior of the patio. Several neon signs occupied the windows facing the street. Two large guitars accompanied by a pair of American Flags sat on either side of the entrance. On the day I visited it was humid and instead of melting outside I decided to take advantage of their air conditioner. Opening the front door led me into a small front dining room. Several high top tables surrounded by brightly painted pink, blue and green chairs occupied the space. A large flat screen television broadcasting SportsCenter anchored a blue and white striped wall. The distances to other major American cities was painted along the top of the front windows. A bar with Bug Light and Budweiser stools ran the length of the right side. To the left of the bar was a second dining area.
I took a seat on one of the blue vinyl Bud Light stools and was immediately greeted by the bartender. She asked if I wanted a drink and I politely asked for a coke. While sipping on my non-alcoholic beverage and pining for a beer I looked over the menu. They offered bbq sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs, and their take on tacos. I almost asked for the Iron City burger (Canadian bacon, egg, fries, American cheese and onions) but ordered the slightly less heart attack inducing Brotherly Love burger topped with peppers, onions, mushrooms and provolone.
While waiting for the burger I chatted with the bartender and took stock of how other tables were being served. The service was attentive and the attention paid to keeping patrons’ drinks topped off was impressive. The restaurant was also very clean. Some bars that serve food during the day never seem to be able to get rid of the frat house smell of stale beer, but Graffiti Junction was free from this scent.
A few moments later my burger arrived on a white paper lined tray. A large pile of crisp golden brown French fries occupied the front of the tray. Some had the potato skin still on and they were piping hot. I took a bite. The fries were well seasoned and soft on the inside. Behind the French fry mountain was the burger. The roll was soft with a light dusting of flour. Underneath the top bun peppers, onions, and mushrooms spilled out onto the side of the provolone cheese covered burger. It was a very tall burger and was kept from toppling over by a long toothpick.
I decided that a burger with some many unique flavors did not need ketchup. I pushed the burger together and took a bit. The meat was cooked as I ordered (medium rare) and juicy. The bottom bun served its purpose and soaked up the burger goodness. The sautéed vegetables were still crisps. I was happy they did not skimp on the toppings. The bite of the green onion went well with the sweetness of the onions, the earthiness of the mushrooms and the sharpness from the provolone cheese. It was a great tasting and well assembled burger. My lunch at Graffiti Junction was very good. The bartender was very attentive and I cannot wait to try another one of their unique burgers the next time I am in Orlando.
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