With its abundance of theme parks, Orlando is a prime destination for thrill-seekers. Yet one of the most tantalizing draws in O-Town are thrills of the culinary kind. From world-class fare to lip-smacking street food, this central Florida city promises a grand adventure for the taste buds.
Here are our favorite eateries around town, listed in alphabetical order:
- Bull & Bear Steakhouse –This award-winning restaurant, located at the Waldorf Astoria, offers a culinary journey of epi proportions. The menu is filled with trend-setting fare, while the décor exudes a club-like warmth, compliments of handsome furnishings and impeccable service. We opted for the specialty of the house, a 36-ounce, 28-day, dry-aged Tomahawk Rib Eye. Not that it left much room for sides or dessert, but we managed some of the Bull & Bear Frittes and the Seasonal Wild Mushroom Melange before a fruity finish with the Baked Apple Galette. Simply divine.
- The Capital Grille – As with all of this national chain’s locations, Orlando’s Capital Grille provides an experience of comfortable elegance, with a renowned selection of dry-aged steaks, fresh seafood and world-class wines. Begin with the Spinach Salad, served with a savory warm bacon dressing, before moving on to the Gorgonzola and Truffle Crusted Dry Aged NY Strip, in a cherry cabernet reduction. If you’re in the mood for seafood, try the Pan-Seared Sea Scallops with Asparagus Risotto. The Roasted Fingerling Potatoes, with green onions in a mustard vinaigrette, are a terrific side, while we wouldn’t round out our meal with anything but the Warm Double Chocolate Cake, with port wine-infused cherries and ice cream.
- Chatham’s Place – In a hard-to-find spot just steps from Restaurant Row, this cozy, comfortable charmer is where the locals eat – a place to feel welcome while indulging in exceptional Continental cuisine. For a fascinating start, kick things off with the Tropical Salad – mixed greens in a passion fruit vinaigrette, with slices of mango, papaya and kiwi, topped with goat cheese. Get a healthy taste of the bayou with the Spicy Chicken Louisiana Creole or, for an Old World entrée, check out the Italian Combo – filet mignon Bolognese lasagna and ravioli in a pink sauce. For dessert, the Chocolate Truffles are heavenly, as is the Florida staple of Key Lime Pie.
- Eddie V’s Prime Seafood – Fine seafood expertly prepared, with a charismatic vibe that draws you in and holds you close, invites you to be seen or just sit back and savor. The feast begins with Chilled Gulf Shrimp (love the Atomic Horseradish and Spicy Mustard!) and the Jumbo Lump Crab Cake, then proceeds with the Wild Mushroom Salad (with warm goat cheese; the Iceberg BLT makes an intriguing second choice). For our main course, we’re all about the Georges Bank Scallops, sautéed with citrus fruit and roasted almonds. Alternately, we’re happy to grace our plate with the Texas Red Fish, served meuniere style with fresh lump crab. The dessert menu is a decadent dream, kicking off with Dark Chocolate and Crushed Toffee S’mores (can I get a “Yum!”?) and melting into Hot “Bananas Foster” Butter Cake, with butter pecan ice cream.
- Jiko – The Cooking Place – Located in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Jiko offers a delicious blend of traditional African, Indian and Mediterranean cuisine. Vibrant spices, crackling wood-burning ovens and boutique South African wines transport you to the heart of Africa. A welcome detour from the usual dinner selections, starting with the Peri Peri-roasted Chicken Flatbread and the Inguday Tibs in Brik (with mushroom, spinach and cheese wrapped in filo dough with apples and curry). Among main selections, the Chermoula-rubbed Colorado Lamb Chops are a highlight, with chickpea-cumin dumplings in a fig-port wine reduction. The Nigerian-spiced Pork Shank is another fascinating favorite. For a side dish, don’t miss the Braai Macaroni & Cheese, with four types of cheese and homemade sausage. And for dessert, the African flavors carry through in the Valrhona Chocolate Mousse and Hazelnut Dacquoise Cake (with Ghana chocolate glaze). Wow.
- K Restaurant – An eatery committed to offering guests the opportunity to not just enjoy great dishes, but to also reconnect with their passion for food and wine in a relaxed, welcoming atmosphere. The menus change regularly based on seasonal ingredients, but if you can time your visit to catch the Ricotta Gnocchi, you will be in for a treat. Ditto for the K Filet, dusted with wild mushrooms and served with parmesan-potato gratin. For starters, the Pork Rillette is a find, while the Potato Hash & Eggs is unlike anything you’ll find elsewhere in town.
- Norman’s – Found at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes, Norman’s unparalleled view looks out over the graceful and peaceful expanse of views that take in gardens, a lake and the manicured Greg Norman Signature Golf Course. Service is classical, friendly, informed and a graceful partner to the fare and the setting. The award-winning cuisine is eclectic and exceptional. For a tapas beginning, start with the Beef Tartare or the Steak Tataki. Then enjoy a “first plate” of Yuca Stuffed Crispy Shrimp or My “Down Island French Toast,” with foie gras, griddled brioche and passion fruit caramel (delish!). On to the main course, we couldn’t wait to dig into the Jerk Marinated and Roasted Chicken Breast (in a blood orange syrup) and the Chimichurri Rojo New York Strip.
- Pig Floyd’s Urban Barbakoa – Barbakoa is a form of cooking meat that originated in the Caribbean with the Taino people (and from which the word “barbecue” derives). Today, it refers to meat steamed until tender. At Pig Floyd’s, locals get together to relax, kick back and sip a beverage in a hip, urban environment. The Signature Sandwiches are wonderfully succulent creations, and we’re quite fond of the Mills 50 Cheesesteak, though the Big Floyd and the Matahambre (aka “Hunger Killer!”) are deliciously satisfying. For something different, the tacos sample from different cultures including Mexico (Shrimp & Sausage Taco, with chorizo) and India (Butter Chicken Taco, with chicken tikka and jasmine rice). Looking for something heartier? A Meat Platter, such as Pulled Pork or Smoked Ribs, is sure to satisfy. For dessert, the Black & Tan (chocolate chip blondie chunks, Mexican chocolate sauce, cookies & cream pudding) is a must!
- Scratch — Founded in 2013, this award-winning, critically acclaimed cuisine is designed using only the best, fresh, locally procured ingredients. The chefs prepare some of the most exquisite dishes designed to tantalize the palate. The chic and trendy dining area features artwork from local artists mixed with eclectic accessories. The menu – made up the signature small plates known as tapas – changes constantly; there are only three dishes available year-round: Broccoli & Cheddar (chili-seared broccolini), Grilled Loup de Mer (Mediterranean sea bass) and our favorite, Pork Belly Adobo (in a soy glaze, with toasted red rice).
- co Mezze & Grill – Voted the Best Parking Lot Diner in Orlando (though it’s located in nearby Maitland), Shish.Co (pictured) offers fresh, authentic Mediterranean cuisine, with family recipes that have been handed down over the generations. Many traditional favorites fill the menu, including Shish Kebab, Gyro, Kofte, Falafel and Hummus. Alternative tastes can be found among both appetizers – including Kisir (bulgur salad) and Borek (meat pie, or cheese-and-spinach) – and main dishes – Karides Guvec (marinated shrimp), Mucvar (zucchini pancakes) and Sigara Boregi (Turkish egg rolls, stuffed with mozzarella and feta).
- Victoria & Albert’s – The ultimate in fine dining at Walt Disney World Resort and one of the finest restaurants in the Southeast, Victoria & Albert’s features modern American cuisine with exquisite products sourced from around the world – such as truffles from Italy, the finest caviar, fresh herbs from Ohio, beef from Japan, poulet rouge from North Carolina and oysters from North Florida. You can choose your feast from a 7-course prix fixe menu or select from the Queen Victoria Room tasting menu. What tickled our taste buds were the Scottish Langoustine and the Australiam Kobe-Style Beef with Comte Potato Gnocchi. And we closed out the meal with the Green Apple Mousse with Sour Cream Ice Cream. Well-deserving of the accolades received from AAA, Forbes, Zagat, etc.