- Helen Armitage
Named the region’s Best Kept Secret in the 2015 Orlando Magazine Dining Awards, Eleven is a stunning steakhouse on the 11th floor of premier Kissimmee hotel, the Reunion Resort. Alongside fancy starters like Yuengling-battered lobster tail with caramelized onion syrup and Applewood bacon or French onion and shallot soup, Eleven’s mouth-watering mains include 12 ounce prime New York strip steak, Mongolian-style hoisin lamb chops and pan-seared salmon with cucumber slaw and key lime butter. Post-dinner, head outside to Eleven’s beautiful rooftop patio for handcrafted cocktails while taking in the stunning views; between 8 pm and 10 pm, you’ll have the best seats in the house for the neighboring Magic Kingdom’s nightly firework displays.
Eleven, 7593 Gathering Drive, Kissimmee, FL, USA, +1 407 662 1170
Haiti-born, Florida-raised chef Pouchon Savion opened Savion’s Place in late 2012. Since then, the restaurant has become one of downtown Kissimmee’s most popular haunts, with its unique mix of Caribbean island-inspired fare and modern American flavors. Just last year, Savion’s Place was featured on the Cooking Channel show Emeril’s Florida, in which celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse visits the state’s best dining establishments. Chef Savion cooked up some of his restaurant’s signature dishes including jambalaya – a lightly-spiced version based on his grandmother’s tried-and-tested recipe. Other standout dishes include the tostones bowls (fried plantain bowls stuffed with prawns and pulled pork) and the pork ribeye with sweet potato mash and fresh green beans.
Savion’s Place, 16 East Dakin Avenue, Kissimmee, FL, USA,+1 407 572 8719
Voted the Best Breakfast in the County in the 2014 Best of Osceola Reader’s Choice Awards, Woodsby’s Café is a friendly, mom-and-pop-style joint that lives by its motto, ‘good food and plenty of it.’ Its award-winning breakfasts – think omelets, pancakes and loaded hash browns topped with grilled onions, diced ham and American cheese – are served all day alongside a lunchtime menu of burgers, sandwiches, hot dogs and salads. Daily specials include beef tips with noodles and meatloaf with gravy.
Chef John’s Place
Southern flavors meet classic American cuisine at Chef John’s Place – an upscale-casual restaurant opened in 2012 and given celebrity chef approval on the Cooking Channel’s Emeril’s Florida last year. With an eclectic menu featuring everything from steaks and seafood dishes like Cajun-grilled mahi-mahi to pasta and smoked baby back ribs, Chef John’s Place has something to suit every diner. If you try one thing only, make sure it is Chef John’s much-loved gumbo – a favorite with diners and made fresh daily – and finish with a slice of the restaurant’s famous Key Lime pie. There’s also live jazz on the patio every Thursday.
Chef John’s Place, 3753 Pleasant Hill Road, Kissimmee, FL, USA, +1 407 343 4227
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King O Falafel
Serving delicious food since opening in 2009, King O Falafel is the place to go in Kissimmee for authentic, affordable Middle Eastern and Mediterranean fare. It’s a casual, modern haunt run by owner and chef Jamal Blan and is a hidden gem among Central Florida’s ubiquitous chain restaurants. It is definitely a break from the dining norm with delicacies including appetizers like hummus, babaghanouj, kibbah (cracked wheat stuffed with onions, beef and spices) and, of course, falafel, while bigger dishes include gyros, kabobs, chicken tikka and gamberi.
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Opened in early 2014 by chef-owners Marvis Ramirez and Meliza Checo, who named the cafe after their mothers Maria and Martha, M&M’s Café serves Latin American fare specializing in authentic Dominican eats. Its homemade dishes include the chicken empanada appetizer and lemon-garlic infused tilapia fillet entrée, but for a true taste of Dominican cuisine, order the mofongo – a mashed, fried plantain-based dish served with a choice of accompaniments like fried pork chunks, tomato-garlic shrimp and chicken crackling. Finish with an authentic Latin American dessert of tres leches – a deliciously moist cake made with evaporated milk, condensed milk, and cream.
M&M’s Café, 2533 Old Vineland Road, Kissimmee, FL, USA, +1 407 465 1974
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German’s Restaurant & Bierhouse
Located right on the edge of Walt Disney World, German’s Restaurant & Bierhouse is a great option after a hard day’s riding the rollercoasters and for hearty, authentic German cuisine, it’s one of the best places in town. Start with a bowl of traditional linseneintopf – a home-style, lentil-based soup with carrot, leek, salted and smoked meat, potatoes and sausage – and choose from mains like wiener schnitzel with a side of roast potatoes, salad and handmade ketchup, or sauerbraten with homemade dumplings and fresh red cabbage. Wash down with a selection from the Bierhouse’s extensive beer menu – there are plenty of authentic German beers including Warsteiner and Köstritzer.
Bruno’s Italian Restaurant
Bruno’s Italian Restaurant is a homey, casual dining establishment specializing in traditional Italian fare and, with over 20 successful years in business, it must be doing something right. You’ll find plenty of Italian favorites and classics on Bruno’s menu, from veal marsala and spaghetti with meatballs, to mussels marinara and creamy shrimp alfredo. They also serve a number of thin crust, New York-style pizzas with toppings like pepperoni, sausage and onion or spinach, garlic and artichoke hearts. Make sure you leave room for a classic Italian dessert like tiramisu or cannoli.
Serving authentic Mexican eats since first opening in 2012, El Tapito is headed by owner Oscar Perez who, after years spent managing restaurants in Central Florida and Texas, decided to branch out on his own. Fresh ingredients and a made-from-scratch ethos are the order of the day at the cozy, casual haunt with standout dishes like cheese-topped pork tamales served with rice and fried beans, and coctel de camaron – a Mexican take on shrimp cocktail with onions, cilantro and fresh avocado in El Tapito’s special sauce. There are plenty of authentic drinks to quench your thirst too, from Mexican beers to margaritas and micheladas.
El Tapito, 1804 West Vine Street, Kissimmee, FL, USA, +1 407 572 8500
Seasonal, regionally-inspired fare with a focus on fresh seafood is what guides MOOR. This beautiful restaurant located within the Gaylord Palms Resort is headed by chef Phillip Fisher, who works closely with local producers to ensure each dish is full of Floridian flavor. There’s a choice of three dining locations – a cozy, living room-like dining space, an outdoor patio, and the deck of a 60-foot sailboat moored in the world’s largest indoor saltwater lagoon. Though MOOR’s menu changes on a daily basis, diners can expect tempting, creative dishes like white Gulf shrimp with creamy grits, Andouille and brown butter or Cedar Key clams with scallions and a beer and bacon broth.
MOOR, 6000 West Osceola Parkway, Kissimmee, FL, USA, +1 407 586 1101