Orlando’s Food Scene Evolves with Celebrity Chef and New Flavors
A dynamic dining scene worth a visit.
Orlando, FL – Named one of the Best Foodie Cities in the nation by Wallethub in 2017, Orlando has been developing a dynamic dining scene worth a visit all its own, with a roster of celebrity chefs, home-grown culinary talent and inventive new concepts. All tastes and price points can find a mouth-watering menu to fit them here, for the perfect complement to Orlando’s world-class attractions.
ORLANDO’S SIGNATURE DISH
Orlando now has a new must-taste experience: a signature dessert developed to showcase the region’s culinary evolution and connection with honey. A destination-wide culinary competition involved public voting as well as a celebrity panel of judges including two-time James Beard Award winner Chef Art Smith. The winning dish, “Orlando’s Honey Nougat Glacé,” is an Italian meringue prepared with honey, nougat and fruit confit, on a red berries sorbet from Chef Catherine Delrieu of Mon Petit Cheri.
AWARD-WINNING CELEBRITY CHEFS
Years ago, Orlando’s fine dining saga sparked with a handful of celebrity chefs like Wolfgang Puck and Chef Emeril Lagasse. Today, newcomers have flocked to join them, many of whom chose Walt Disney World Resort’s Disney Springs as their home base, with restaurants including Jose Andres’ Jaleo, Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin', Chef Rick Bayless’ Frontera Cocina, Chef Masaharu Morimoto’s Morimoto Asia and Guy Fieri’s collaboration with the new Planet Hollywood Observatory.
As the area’s reputation for good food has developed, local chefs have also stepped up their game. The destination is the proud home of local celebrity chefs and 2017 James-Beard Award Nominees Kathleen Blake of The Rusty Spoon and Brandon McGlamery of Luma on Park. In total, Orlando is home to 17 current James Beard Foundation Award winning or nominated chefs, representing 21 restaurants between them, with more on the way.
Other local favorites include Winter Park’s 4 Rivers Smokehouse (with multiple locations), a casual BBQ joint with a cult following. In downtown Orlando, Artisan’s Table chefs use global influences to create modern twists on classic dishes. DoveCote Brasserie brings a French twist to downtown Orlando. In nearby Thornton Park is Chef Greg Richie’s Soco (for “Southern Contemporary Cuisine”), while in Winter Park, Boca focuses on creating savory farm-to-table dishes.
DINING WITH A VIEW
From rooftops to waterfront, Capa at the Four Seasons Resort at Walt Disney World Resort makes for stellar views of Disney’s Epcot and Magic Kingdom fireworks from the 17th floor. Also at Disney, California Grill boasts a view of the Magic Kingdom, with the music for the fireworks piped into the restaurant. Sharks Underwater Grill at SeaWorld Orlando offers an entirely different kind of view, but no less spectacular, with walls of shark tanks bathing diners in their entrancing glow. For above-ground waterfront views, guests can head to Hillstone in Winter Park to watch the sunset, The BOATHOUSE at Disney Springs or Canvas Restaurant in Lake Nona.
ON A BUDGET
Low cost doesn’t mean low-bar flavor in Orlando. Taco lovers can savor the bold fusion of Mexican flavors at Gringos Locos, with tacos and beers for as low as $3. Super Rico Colombian Bistro in downtown Orlando offers a taste of traditional street dishes for less than $10. With two Central Florida locations, Lazy Moon is the place to savor extraordinarily large (and cheap) pizza slices and enjoy refreshing beers on tap or by the bottle.
There are concentrated pockets of culture all over Orlando, offering up a variety of cuisines from Latino to Ethiopian, and Peruvian to French. Mamak Asian Street Food in the Mills 50 District celebrates Asian street fare, especially Malaysia varieties. Nile Ethiopian Restaurant on International Drive offers flavors of Africa, while Domu restaurant at East End Market specializes in delicious ramen and more. For Spanish cuisine, Tapa Toro at I-Drive 360 features fresh-made paella and live flamenco dance entertainment; for Cuban, Black Bean Deli is a must. The cozy Mynt in Winter Park prepares savory Indian cuisine, while Bosphorous serves Turkish delights and Le Coq Au Vin offers classic French dishes.
VEGETARIAN & VEGAN
In Orlando there are limitless options for everyone. Dandelion Communitea Café offers organic teas, homemade soups, wraps, salads and more, all vegetarian and all made with Florida-grown produce. In Winter Park, Ethos Vegan Kitchen’s daily menu features hearty home-style traditional and intercontinental fare along with vegan baked goods. The Vegan Hot Dog Cart is popular with hungry Orlando visitors craving “notdogs” like Philly cheese dogs. The Sanctum Café in the Mills 50 District prepares every single item from scratch, while Heirloom Deli, a new vegan eatery coming in 2018, features plant-based comfort food. Other delicious options include Yellow Dog Eats, offering a variety of sandwiches, tacos, nachos and salads, and Walt Disney World’s Sanaa, serving salads and vegetarian specialties with an African-Indian fare.
BARS & LOUNGES
Craft cocktails and locally brewed beers are on tap throughout Orlando. The new Wine Bar George in Disney Springs is the only Master Sommelier-led wine bar in Florida where wine-enthusiasts can experience storied vintages and endless varietals alongside George Miliotes, Master Sommelier. Wine lovers should also check out The Wine Room in Winter Park for the chance to taste tons of varieties from all over the world by the ounce. For the original local brew, Orlando Brewing’s beer is made only in accordance with the German Purity Law of 1516, using all organic ingredients. In historic downtown Winter Garden, Crooked Can Brewing Company offers a selection of locally crafted beers on tap, showcasing a variety of seasonal and limited edition beers, sourced from unique ingredients to produce unrestricted beer styles. On International Drive, Howl at the Moon’s high-energy piano players entertain while the crowd drinks and sings along. Mango’s Tropical Café Orlando is a high-energy dining, entertainment and dance club featuring live entertainment. Also on International Drive is the world’s largest ice bar – ICEBAR Orlando. And with over 70 tons of hand-carved ice, this lounge is a cool place to enjoy ice-cold drinks with friends in a frosty 22 degrees – a perfect way to escape the Florida heat.