Known primarily as the home of Walt Disney World, Orlando also boasts a vibrant dining scene / PIxabay
Known primarily as the home of Walt Disney World, Orlando also has a vibrant dining scene where prime steaks, fresh seafood, oysters and local ingredients reign supreme. These are 10 of the best restaurants in Orlando.
Victoria & Albert’s
With its gorgeous, luxurious decor, marble features and portfolio of culinary accomplishment, Victoria & Albert’s is nothing short of magical – its location in Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa only confirming this status as a fairytale destination. Modern American cuisine combined with the highest quality ingredients from around the world – including Italian truffles and Japanese beef – gives rise to mouthwatering specials. These include the Colorado bison served with caraway seed vinaigrette, or the Alaskan king crab ‘jar’ with Siberian caviar. It’s no wonder that Chef Hunnel and his team have received nothing but rave reviews and top awards, including the AAA’s prestigious Five Diamond Award. Jackets are required, so dress up rather than down for a dinner at this classy establishment.
Raved about far and wide, Lee and Rick’s Oyster Bar is the ultimate destination for top-notch Florida seafood at rock-bottom prices. When it opened more than half a century ago, the tiny venue only served oysters and quickly became known as the place to go for the freshest oysters in the area. Although it now serves a variety of dishes ranging from golden-fried, butter-filled fantail shrimp to the Cajun-style crawfish basket, the oyster bucket remains a firm favorite among customers. The understated, marine-style decor signals that this isn’t a fancy dining spot, but it does add to the ‘hidden gem’ atmosphere of this fantastic spot for seafood on the cheap.
Being hailed as Orlando’s best restaurant in Orlando Magazine’s 2014 Dining Awards is only one of the accolades bestowed upon The Ravenous Pig since it opened in 2007. Unconditionally dedicated to high-quality local produce, the restaurant is masterful at taking classics of Florida cuisine and rendering them into spectacular flavor combinations. As the menu changes seasonably, it’s difficult to profile singular dishes, but past delicacies have included the Florida black grouper smothered in a lemon pepper rub and served with lollipop kale, coriander carrots and hen of the woods mushrooms, or the pork porterhouse with a peach barbecue glaze, sweet potatoes, radicchio and granola. The Ravenous Pig manages to combine its sophisticated yet local cuisine with a laid-back gastropub vibe, making it the perfect place for an excellent dining experience.
Prato’s style of cooking can be defined as classic Italian with an emphasis on local ingredients. This, coupled with the restaurant’s sleek wood-and-brick decor, makes for a modern dining experience with a cool, rustic vibe. A signature special beloved by locals is the Widowmaker pizza, which is topped with caciocavallo cheese, romesco, fennel sausage and an egg in the center. A small yet eclectic selection of pastas and secondi awaits, where dishes change seasonally – and daily, depending what fresh ingredients are available. Chef Brandon McGlamery, who is also responsible for the success of the hugely popular Luma on Park, located a few steps down Park Avenue, reassures that his restaurants ‘stick to seasonally directed and ingredient-driven as our motto’.
Restaurant, Healthy, North American, Vegan, Vegetarian, $$$
Located in Winter Park, part of Orlando’s sprawling suburban area, Ethos Vegan Kitchen does exactly what it says on the tin: serves up ethically sourced, vegan food while showcasing the potential of vegan cooking. Working with environmentally conscious local farmers and producers, and using organic ingredients as much as possible, the restaurant has built up a loyal following in the area. No wonder – it offers anything from pastas and pizzas to salads, sandwiches and mains, with a menu that is both tantalizing and rewarding, and which features regularly changing specials. Beer lovers will not be disappointed either, as Ethos Vegan Kitchen has sourced several high-quality organic brews to pair with any meal option.
Serving ‘food for the starving artist’, Café Tu Tu Tango is an artsy, colorful little venue with a huge spirit of fun and community. Local artists display their work on the restaurant’s walls and strike up conversation with guests, while local ingredients are turned into delicious, tapas-style concoctions perfect for sharing. Try the Argentinean-style orange chimmichurri steak, the adventurous guava-glazed barbecue pork ribs or the chorizo al fuego – a delicious mix of spicy Spanish chorizo served with brandy-glazed fingerling potatoes. The atmosphere at Café Tu Tu Tango is vibrant and bohemian, so prepare to dive into a world where creativity meets community.
Graffiti Junktion Thornton Park, East Washington Street | Courtesy Graffiti Junktion
For an alternative taste of Orlando, head to Graffiti Junktion, a wonder world of street art, no-frills burgers and live music. Essentially a neighborhood burger joint, the restaurant-cum-sports bar manages to craft a hip atmosphere without trying very hard at all: from a few basic variations on the venue’s famous melt-in-the-mouth burger to a choice of salads, the menu is defined by its simplicity. And perhaps this is what has earned Graffiti Junktion the unofficial title of Orlando’s best – and certainly the coolest – burger spot. One sign of its success is how much the restaurant has grown over the years. It now has several locations in and around the city. Our firm favorite, however, is the original spot in Thornton Park.
Plush and luxurious, The Boheme really lives up to its name. The restaurant is located within Orlando’s Grand Bohemian Hotel, a cultural spot that even features an art gallery displaying works by local artists. As you enter the dining room, you’re welcomed by sleek tones of red and elaborate art decorating the walls, while the menu pleases with its choice of succulent meats, fish and seafood, from the red pepper ahi tuna to the pan-seared kurobuta pork chop. Make sure you don’t miss the weekly jazz brunch. Here, delectable treats from the chef’s station and a la carte menu can be sampled to the gentle sounds of live jazz, played at the venue’s Imperial Grand Bösendorfer Piano.
A small, locally owned chain of tapas restaurants and bars, Ceviche has five locations clustered around Florida, and the Orlando branch is one of the liveliest. Its gorgeous interior decor, which features an original ceiling from a 16th-century abbey and dark, wooden elements, is reminiscent of an authentic dining establishment in the heart of Spain – a sensation only heightened by Ceviche’s live music and dance program. The extensive menu reveals numerous Spanish and Latin American-style options. Among these, the eponymous ceviche is one of the favorites; consisting of raw fish cured in a lime juice and spiced with chili peppers, this popular dish is a must-try for a real taste of Peruvian cuisine. Alternatively, drop by for Tapas Tuesday, a cheap and cheerful affair of tapas and heady sangria.
One of Orlando’s upscale steak venues, Christner’s breathes sophistication and old-fashioned charm with its dark wood decor and traditional yet intimate atmosphere. Specializing in prime meats and lobster, the menu offers an array of meats: the USDA prime rib-eye is a real treat for carnivores, while the sesame-seared tuna caressed with a soy ginger glaze and wasabi cream adds a touch of excitement to the otherwise simple menu. To ensure the highest quality possible, the steaks are all prime-aged and corn-fed, and the signature lobster tails are imported fresh from Australia and New Zealand. An affordable option for high-end dining, Christner’s is a popular spot among locals.