Don’t forget to nominate your own Orlando favourites in the comments below!
Rocco’s Tacos, 7468 W Sand Lake Rd
The menu at this Tex-Mex joint in southern Orlando is truly extensive, and you can team your food with over 300 different types of tequila. It’s rambunctious and lively, with live DJ sets most of the week, although the lakeside location (we recommend nabbing a seat on the quieter patio) makes it ideal for couples, too. The ground beef and chorizo molcajetes ($24 between two) are one to try, and diners can even watch their dishes come to life, with many menu items prepared tableside.
Morimoto Asia, Disney Springs: The Landing
This huge restaurant in the brand new Disney Springs area of the Walt Disney World resort looks spectacular, thanks to Chinese, Korean and Japanese influences, a bold colour scheme of red, white and black, and a huge open kitchen on the ground floor. On the menu? Everything Asian, from calamari and tempura chicken to sushi rolls, dim sum and lots of crispy duck. Prices are surprisingly reasonable, with main courses starting at under $15.
Slate, 8323 W. Sand Lake Rd
Local, seasonal ingredients are the star of the show here, but there’s a wood-fired oven, exposed brick walls and steel beams to keep the fashionistas happy at this Sand Lake Road restaurant. Although there’s plenty for veggies at Slate (including some creative meat-free pizzas), carnivores will be spoilt for choice thanks to a menu filled with prime cuts, ribs and brisket. The dessert menu is just as impressive – the starfruit upside-down cake with olive oil ice cream ($7) comes highly recommended.
Pharmacy, 8060 Via Dellagio Way
This quirky establishment in Southwest Orlando is hard to find, but worth the effort. In typical speakeasy fashion, it’s accessed through an elevator door, while drinks are referred to as pharmaceuticals and the bar staff pride themselves on their ability to whip up bespoke creations according to a customer’s mood. But it’s not all about the drinks, because the menu is excellent, too, with locally-sourced classics like burgers and fried chicken and a weekend brunch deal with cocktails for $25 a head.
Monsieur Paul, Epcot: World Showcase
Didn’t think Disney did fine dining? Then head to Epcot’s Monsieur Paul, its sweeping staircase lined with faded pictures from the restaurant’s illustrious past, the decor vast expanses of dark wood teamed with thick carpets and plush banquettes. The linen napkins emulating a chef’s coat are tiny works of art, but the service is silver without being stuffy. Foodwise, think French with an American twist – Rouget Atlantique en écailles de pommes de terre (red snapper with potatoes, $42.00) and Homard à l’Américaine (Maine lobster, $29.00).
Seito Sushi, 4898 New Broad Street
Seito Sushi can be found in the up-and-coming area of Baldwin Park in Downtown Orlando. The menu is described as “New Japanese” but there’s equal amounts of experimentation and traditional favourites here: kimchi, ramen and tuna alongside barbecue calamari and green curry mussels. Sushi fans won’t be disappointed with the selection of creatively named rolls, with special praise going to the Distinguished Gentleman – a feast of lobster and Wagyu beef with truffle aioli ($12).
Soco, 629 E. Central Blvd
It just wouldn’t be right to come to Orlando without sampling some traditional southern food and Downtown establishment Soco is the perfect place. The menu’s filled with dishes transforming typical Floridian ingredients in contemporary and imaginative ways, from cornmeal crisped oysters and crab-stuffed devilled duck eggs to crispy grits cake. We’re drooling just thinking about it. Small plates start from $7.
Yard House, 360 International Drive
Yard House on Orlando’s iconic International Drive is known for its enormous range of beers, but ignore the menu at your peril. Over 100 items to choose from is no mean feat so whether you’re after a salad, steak or seafood, there’ll be something to tempt you. Yard House is famous for its fish dishes, with many raving about the miso-glazed sea bass ($29.65). Fan of a brew? Don’t forget to check out the glass-enclosed keg room, home to no less than 5,000 gallons of beer!
Café Tu Tu Tango, 8625 International Drive
For something completely different, head down the I. Drive to Café Tu Tu Tango. It’s a tapas-style hangout with an art theme, complete with in-house artists to sketch your portrait (if you wish!) and an interior like an explosion of colour, with brightly patterned tables and walls heaving with artwork. Tasty sharing plates round things off, and don’t miss a classic Florida experience – chowing down on some alligator. The ‘gator bites’ here are served with a delicious key lime mustard for $9.
Victoria and Albert’s, Magic Kingdom Resort Area: Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
This Disney World restaurant is one of Orlando’s most popular eateries, so you’ll need to book months in advance if you’re here in summer. The rewards are endless though and hardcore foodies will also love the restaurant’s intimate Queen Victoria’s Room, where dishes are carefully finished off before your hungry eyes. The menu is diverse and high end, with amuse-bouches of Siberian Osetra caviar and main courses including Australian kobe-style beef and fennel crusted Nantucket scallops, all of which can paired with bottles from a gloriously long wine list. Mains start from around $35.
Fancy making a posh weekend of it? Stay at the Grand Floridian and you can simply slip upstairs to bed after your tenth course…
Texas de Brazil, 5259 International Drive
Texas de Brazil is a colourful, family friendly affair, with servers dressed as gauchos, and enormous portions which you’ll struggle to finish. This restaurant has one of Orlando’s largest salad bars but we love the attention to detail in the side dishes, which include Deep South classics like garlic mashed potatoes and sweet fried banana. Set prices for dinner are $46.99, and just $24.99 for the salad area only, or come for a pre-dinner happy hour drink from $3.
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