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Scott Joseph | Nikki's Place

Chef and Owner, Nick Aiken. Photo: Nikkisplace.net
Chef and Owner, Nick Aiken. Photo: Nikkisplace.net

If you were to look only at the website for Nikki’s Place without first visiting the restaurant in the Parramore district, you might expect something quite different than what it actually is, which is a quaint neighborhood diner.

That’s because the website for Nikki’s Place was apparently designed by someone who was trying to get the attention of Internet search engines by inserting key phrases into the copy, mostly “best restaurants in Orlando”. Search engines don’t work like that anymore.

Better that it be at the top of a page for a search for “charming neighborhood restaurants with good food,” or “soul food restaurants with a friendly and welcoming staff.” Because both of those phrases more accurately describe Nikki’s Place.

I had two delightful meals at Nikki’s. On a lunch visit, my companion and I chose the special of the day, a rib stew, which featured cleavered bits of meat with a gravy that stuck to the ribs (both ours and the meat in the bright blue dish). And while the flavors were hearty and satisfying, the bits of bone and gristle made it a difficult dish to eat delicately. But I could have made a full meal out of the side dishes of okra stewed with tomatoes and collard greens.

On a breakfast visit I had the corned beef hash with two eggs, which featured two patties, flattened and griddled, served with my usual over-easy eggs and a dish of grits (it was either the grits or hash browns and my server recommended the grits without hesitation). It was a modest but satisfying way to start the day.

Both times the staff couldn’t have been more welcoming and friendly. I was treated as though I were a regular, which made me want to become one.

Nikki’s Place should be satisfied with being what it is: A comfortable and familiar place with a loyal following of friends and neighbors who appreciate a meal of simple but good food.