Hot Krust Panini Sandwich, owned by Evan Dimov (third from right), offers fresh, all-natural panini, soup and salads in a casual, fun environment.
Panini have emerged as today’s popular comfort food. At the recently opened Hot Krust Panini Kitchen, these highly evolved and Americanized versions of the Italiano sandwich are consistently fresh, tasty and served with cheerful and personal attention to detail.
The restaurant, located in the Phillips Crossing shopping center at the corner of Turkey Lake and Sand Lake roads, is not a chain eatery. It is the kind of place — a small, casual neighborhood spot with good casual food — where high school and college students liked to frequent years ago, before the proliferation of fast-food chains and online menu ordering.
According to owner Evan Dimov, its concept is to use freshly roasted or grilled meats — without preservatives, deep-frying or grease — and to serve fresh homemade soups, salads and desserts, while still keeping prices as low as possible. Here, sandwiches are not pre-made and then heated up. Dimov’s interest in the environment is reflected in his insistence on fresh, natural foods prepared appetizingly in a clean, minimalist space.Among the establishment’s offerings are various chicken, turkey, steak and shrimp panini, freshly baked cookies and brownies, and the popular Cactus Chili Soup, made with ground beef, diced tomatoes, onions, corn, Northern beans, spinach and cactus in a spicy, slightly sweet broth. Just in time for football season, the restaurant now offers alligator panini, roasted in-house so it is especially tender and juicy. A stark contrast to the traditional preparation of breading and deep-frying, roasting the gator meat gives it a distinct flavor, distinguishing it from other meats, including chicken.There also is a children’s menu that includes panini, such as peanut butter and jelly, turkey and cheddar cheese, and Nutella.Soup prices begin at $2.99, children’s panini at $3.99, salads at $3.99 and panini at $5.99.The staff at Hot Krust Panini Kitchen goes out of its way to please. On a recent afternoon, friendly servers greeted customers as they entered, promptly delivered orders, and then stopped by to inquire if everything was satisfactory.When a diner asked if a small alteration could be made to the panini he ordered, the staff responded by re-making the entire sandwich and delivering it piping hot.The restaurant is a good choice for both a quick bite or solo dining. Takeout is available, and tables and chairs for al fresco dining are in front of the entrance, which is next to Barnie’s Coffee & Tea and near Whole Foods Market.Although this is the first Hot Krust Panini Kitchen, Dimov reported being inundated with inquiries from people interested in obtaining franchises.But for now, diners at this Southwest Orlando location can go back in time to when comfort food was quick, tasty and, above all, very fresh.
Hot Krust Panini Kitchen is located in Suite 200 at 8015 Turkey Lake Road in Orlando. Operating hours are Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. For more information, call 407-355-7768, or visit www.hotkrust.com or find Hot Krust on www.facebook.com on the Web.
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