In Orlando, more than 5,000 restaurants provide for the physical well-being of the many visitors from all over the world. Award-winning kitchens and celebrity chefs, cozy cafes and internationally renowned restaurants offer something for everyone from the discerning gourmet to the more cautious eater. From a wide range of spices, cuisine, ambience and services, every guest can put together their own culinary experience according to their taste and budget.
According to lawschoolsinusa, Zagat’s renowned food critics published a 2015 ranking of Orlando restaurants in the Zagat Survey: Orlando City Guide. It includes helpful reviews of Orlando’s top restaurants based on cuisine, location, and features. During September, Orlando visitors enjoy the benefits of Visit Orlando Magical Dining Month. Then restaurants in the area offer three-course meals for a fixed price of 33 dollars, part of which goes to a charity in the region.
California Grill – Disney’s branded restaurant has had a makeover and reopened as a new classic American diner with crisp 1950’s inspired decor. Many guests initially come for the panoramic view of the fireworks over Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom, but then keep coming back for the sushi and wood-fired dishes, such as the carrot and cilantro soup, the scallops with gnocchi, or the smoked one Pork meat. The wine list is outstanding.
Capa – Located in the Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort, this rooftop steakhouse, named after a matador’s red cape, offers both superior service and views of the Magic Kingdom fireworks.
The COOP – Classic Southern cuisine with a twist defines the new self-service restaurant, The COOP, from John Rivers, owner of the area’s 4 Rivers Smokehouse chain. Russian eggs, buttermilk biscuits, chicken Po’ Boys, waffles and homemade pies are served.
Disney Springs , Food Trucks – Downtown Disney will be transformed into an even larger entertainment district called Disney Springs. This also increases the gastronomic offer. Four new food trucks will offer reasonably priced Disney-themed meals depending on the theme park. For example, at Enchanted Fare there are specialties such as the Croque Monsieur from the Be Our Guest Restaurant in the Magic Kingdom Park; the other mobile food trucks carry favorites from the Epcot Food & Wine Festival, Hollywood-style dishes or exotic dishes from the tandoori oven.
Eddie V’s Prime Seafood – Fresh seafood is served with a modern twist at this surf ‘n’ turf restaurant on Orlando’s Restaurant Row. The dining room gleams, the terrace overlooks the lake, and the hip lounge plays live jazz daily.
Hamilton’s Kitchen – This restaurant at the Alfond Inn boutique hotel in Winter Park uses locally sourced ingredients to create traditional Southern dishes with a modern twist. Chef Christopher Windus was voted Best New Chef by a local magazine for his interpretations of classic American dishes, such as cheese and macaroni with local bacon.
Mango’s Tropical Cafe – This large themed restaurant and club seats 2,500 and is located on International Drive. Las Vegas-style shows and Michael Jackson tribute events will be part of the concept, as will lemonade mojitos and flavored daiquiris.
Santiago’s Bodega – Small plates of appetizers from around the world, handcrafted cocktails, and an ultra-relaxed vibe have made this new dive bar a fast hit on Lake Ivanhoe, the mecca of the diverse arts and culture scene near downtown. The bodega is modeled after a Key West pub.
Scratch – The eatery in Winter Park serves modern American tapas and emphasizes fresh, seasonal, locally sourced ingredients.
The Smiling Bison – This eatery near the Milk District of downtown Orlando has a laid-back, laid-back vibe. Most of the ingredients for the dishes, which taste good with freshly tapped beer, come from the farm. The menu changes regularly and, depending on the season, ranges from sausages, burgers and pizza to braised baby squid or ham steak tossed in wheat beer.
Universal CityWalk – Universal Orlando Resort recently added eight new restaurants along the CityWalk. These include the Hog Dog Hall of Fame, CowFish, Antojito’s Authentic Mexican Food, Bread Box and the Red Oven Pizza Bakery. The new locations complement existing popular restaurants such as Emeril’s Restaurant Orlando, Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, Hard Rock Cafe and Pat O’Brien’s.
Yard House – More than 100 beers, creative American food, classic rock music and art by Jerome Gastaldi create the modern California atmosphere at Yard House on International Drive.
Chatham’s Place – Located on upscale Restaurant Row, this intimate restaurant offers signature European favorites like rack of lamb, as well as signature Florida dishes like black grouper with pecan butter.
Chef’s Table at the Edgewater Hotel – This restaurant is a favorite among local food critics. Outstanding are the intimate setting with only 15 tables and an inner window with which the guests can look over the chef’s shoulder. The hotel is located in the heart of the historic district of Winter Garden, a small, family-friendly town north of Orlando’s tourist district.
Chez Vincent – Visiting this cute little bistro in Winter Park’s Hannibal Square, with its candlelit tables, French cuisine and French wines, is like taking a trip to Paris.
Seasons 52 – As the name suggests, the menu in the two ‘Seasons 52’ branches is tailored to the respective season. All dishes on the menu are under 475 calories. The upscale restaurants value a relaxed atmosphere.
The Venetian Room – Located in the Caribe Royale Hotel on World Center Drive, this restaurant offers an elegant and intimate ambience in quiet booths. The restaurant’s signature dishes include lobster bisque with puff pastry, sole and lavender-coated lamb loin with sour orange glaze.
Victoria & Albert’s – Orlando’s only AAA Five-Diamond restaurant, is the cream of the crop when it comes to fine dining, located at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. The dining room with harp music, butler service and a seven-course menu that changes seasonally conveys luxury and romance. The adjoining room, the Queen Victoria Room, is even more luxurious.
Bull & Bear – This sumptuous restaurant at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando features rich furnishings and excellent service. The menu features generous portions of classic dishes, just like at the esteemed New York City original.
The Boheme – A fine dining experience at Orlando’s artsy The Grand Bohemian Hotel consists of award-winning American cuisine in an ambience filled with artwork and music.
A Land Remembered – Located in the Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel, this upscale AAA Four-Diamond restaurant celebrates classic Florida with its cuisine. The menu features Prime Black Angus Beef and fresh seafood dishes, paired with top quality wines.
WHERE THE LOCALS EAT
Luma on Park – One of the area’s trendiest restaurants, Luma on Park is a progressive, high-energy American eatery in the Winter Park neighborhood. James Beard Chef Award nominee Chef Brandon McGlamery uses only the freshest seasonal ingredients and offers an impressive wine list.
The Ravenous Pig – Much like London’s popular ‘gastro pubs’, this venue not only offers traditional pub grub but has an extensive menu including raw food bar, fresh fish, steak frittas and homemade pasta. The Ravenous Pig is famous not only for its monthly whole pig spit roasting events, but also for its two owners and James Beard-nominated chefs, Julie & James Petrakis.
4 Rivers Smokehouse – Texas-style brisket is the house specialty at this local chain of grill restaurants. Other specialties include the smoked pork. The chicken and bacon-wrapped jalapenos are now iconic and have garnered national attention. The Sweet Shop’s desserts are ambitious versions of American classics.
The Rusty Spoon – Chef and owner Kathleen Blake brought the farm-to-table concept to Orlando and implements it daily in her sprawling yet cozy restaurant in the heart of downtown Orlando. The menu changes seasonally, but the buttermilk-soaked onion rings, Dirty South Seafood Stew, and Grown-Up S’more are always good choices.
K Restaurant – This nationally renowned fine dining restaurant with a charming wraparound patio offers eclectic American cuisine with an Italian influence helmed by James Beard nominated Chef Kevin Fonzo. The menu always corresponds to the season and is based on fresh ingredients from our own organic garden.
Cask & Larder – Often referred to as the “Southern Public House,” this popular haunt offers homebrew beer, butchery meat and home-style pickles. The restaurant is owned by chefs Julie & James Petrakis, who already own the well-known insider’s restaurant Ravenous Pig.
Prato – Progressive Italian fare, from homemade pasta to hand-cured salt beef, features at this popular Winter Park restaurant. It’s a lively meeting place with rustic elegance. Owned by the same owners as Luma on Park, it has been named a Top Italian Restaurant by the Zagat Orlando Guide.
Graffiti Junction – There are quite a handful of these restaurants in Orlando. This simple yet hugely popular American burger bar is a hit with local residents, where traditional hamburgers meet a well stocked bar, character and fun.
Maxine’s on Shine – Maxine Earhart and her husband Kirt are the outgoing owners of this intimate restaurant, where the diners are as eclectic as the menu. Light and soft live music plays regularly in the background.
Dexter’s – A fourth will soon be added to the three existing restaurants. Dexter’s is the locals’ insider tip, as it combines casualness with big-city chic. Here you can find hearty dishes at reasonable prices. The brunch is particularly popular, where traditional things like Eggs Benedict or Bloody Marys become something special.
Be Our Guest – Moderate French dining enchants parents and children alike at this restaurant in New Fantasyland, inspired by the film Beauty and the Beast. The inn, located in its own castle and only accessible via a swing bridge, is the only restaurant in the Magic Kingdom that serves beer and wine. During the day it’s a self-service restaurant; in the evening guests are traditionally served at the table.
Bahama Breeze – With five locations in the Orlando area, Bahama Breeze serves flavorful poultry, steak and seafood specialties with colorful Bahamian ingredients. While waiting for your meal, you can listen to live Caribbean music on the terrace.
Chef Mickey’s – The delicious buffet and ice cream bar become an even more unforgettable experience when the monorail glides silently overhead and the popular Disney characters do their rounds in the restaurant.
Mama Della’s Ristorante – Here diners can enjoy Italian specialties from Tuscany, Naples or Piedmont while buskers play music at their tables.
Rainforest Café – This restaurant is part adventure, part restaurant, as a tropical jungle stretches around the tables, complete with waterfalls, dense vegetation and giant electronically controlled animatronic creatures.
Sanaa – Families looking for adventure will find African and Indian Spice Island cuisine with exotic flavors at this Disney hotel restaurant. You can watch giraffes, zebras and gazelles grazing through the window.
T-REX – In the interactive prehistoric environment of T-Rex, guests are greeted by life-size animatronic dinosaurs living between bubbling geysers and a fossil dig site. Guests can order dishes from the Fire Kitchen, such as Cretaceous fried chicken steak or a Tyrannosaurus T-bone steak.
Primo – Celebrated chef Melissa Kelly, winner of the 1999 James Beard Foundation Awards for Best Chef in the Northeast, is known for using fresh farm-to-table and organic produce and infusing her dishes with Italian finesse. Primo has its own organic garden for vegetables and herbs.
Kouzzina – Inspired by its celebrity chef, Cat Cora, this family-friendly restaurant specializes in Greek and Mediterranean dishes with lots of flavor. The recipes for it come from Cora’s ancestors.
Todd English’s bluezoo – Chef and TV personality Todd English is known for his daring culinary style. The restaurant at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel features a celestial dining room that provides the perfect backdrop for English’s maritime cuisine, from New England clam chowder to ‘dancing’ fish on a rotating grill.
Roy’s – Celebrity chef Roy Yamaguchi presents imaginative Hawaiian fusion cuisine that blends fresh local ingredients with European sauces and daring Asian spices. While Roy’s is known for its seafood dishes, don’t miss the Melting Hot Chocolate Soufflé.
Norman’s – Chef and cookbook author Norman Van Aken specializes in sophisticated cuisine inspired by influences from South America, the Caribbean and the southern United States. The luxurious dining room features marble floors, floor-to-ceiling windows and views of the Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes pro golf course.
La Luce by Donna Scala – Designed by famed Nappa Valley restaurateur Donna Scala, this authentic Italian restaurant at the Hilton Bonnet Creek is reminiscent of Italy’s finest cafes. The menu is based on traditional family recipes that have been passed down through the generations. It is located in the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek.
Vegetarian and vegan
Dandelion CommuniTea Café – This homely eatery is a meeting place and entertainment area in one. Here you will find organic tea, homemade soups, wraps, salads and much more. All dishes are made from Florida grown produce and are free from artificial ingredients.
Bikes, Beans & Bordeaux (B3) – A casual but contemporary café that offers hearty food in a biker atmosphere. B3 is part coffee house, part wine bar. The menu features organic, vegetarian and low-fat options along with the tastiest beans and bottled wine around.
Ethos Vegan Kitchen – The menu is 100 percent vegan and includes hearty home-cooked fare, both traditional and intercontinental. Attached is a vegan bakery.
Infusion Tea – Salads, wraps, and quesadillas make this College Park cafe a magnet for people who want a quick bite to eat. The selection of teas is impressive.
Green Day Café – The eco-friendly fast food restaurant serves a wide range of wraps that are low in calories but offer more nutritional value. The salads are made from fresh ingredients and whole grains.
Power House Café – Only healthy, fresh food such as wraps, sandwiches, smoothies, soups and salads and Mediterranean specialties are on the menu here. Power House is very popular with the locals, especially for lunch.
To sit outside
Enzo’s on the Lake – In 1979, the secluded, pretty Italian lakeside villa was transformed into a restaurant with spectacular views. Enzo’s on the Lake is known for simple yet sophisticated cuisine from Rome, the owner’s city of origin.
Peperoncino – This intimate Italian restaurant with its pretty courtyard changes its menu frequently and is known for the fact that chef and owner Barbara Alfano prepares almost every dish from scratch.
Hillstone – Hearty steaks and other American specialties are enjoyed by diners at this elegant restaurant in a casual, graceful and scenic setting.
SPICE Modern Steakhouse – Here guests can enjoy the view of Lake Eola while eating steak or sushi. The on-site restaurant combines the generosity of an American steakhouse with an outdoor atmosphere.
Beefy King – This retro-style sandwich shop has been an Orlando trademark for 45 years. Only roast beef is used here, which was also prepared on the same day in the in-house kitchen. There are also homemade milkshakes.
Hamburger Mary’s – The menu at this gay-friendly hamburger joint is distinctly American: Juicy burgers, chicken casseroles, meatloaf, fried Twinkies, and Mary Tyler S’mores. Every Tuesday evening, visitors can take part in the HAMBINGO – singing, fun and enjoyment guaranteed!
Lee & Rick’s Oyster Bar – This 63 year old family restaurant consists of a 42 meter long bar where guests can watch the staff prepare the oysters.
Sweet! By Good Golly Miss Holly – The only two-time winner of the Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars” to date, Miss Holly makes making her cupcakes an art form. Made fresh daily using first-class, high-quality ingredients, the cupcakes are richly filled with fresh fruit, melt-in-the-mouth chocolate, nuts or delicious creams.