Next Time You're in Orlando, Eat Here
Even though Orlando is mostly known for its theme parks, the food scene offers so much more than the obligatory chain restaurants and fast-food joints most visitors frequent. This Central Florida area is home to some of the best multicultural cuisines in the southern part of the country.
Within the last decade, top-notch chefs and restaurant owners have settled in the Sunshine State to open restaurants with locally sourced ingredients that can only be found in the area.
While you may be tempted to park your butt at one of Disney’s famous restaurants or head over to Universal Studios to have a Butterbeer in Harry Potter World, there’s a whole other side of Orlando that you should explore and eat in.
From a Winter Park brunch spot that has some of the best seasonal pancakes ever to a James Beard-nominated restaurant that is worth emptying your wallet for, here are the best 14 restaurants in the Orlando area.
When it comes to breakfast, nothing beats this classic Central Florida joint.
Briar Patch has been an Orlando staple since 1980 due to its drool-worthy brunch menu and fresh, local ingredients.
While there’s usually a long wait during the weekend, it’s definitely worth the wait to enjoy the restaurant's seasonal pancakes or one of its many eggs benedict varieties (one comes with short ribs, another with corned beef, another with smoked salmon).
Or, if you’re not busy during the week, indulge in its brunch menu during the week to beat the line.
Yellow Dog Eats
Take a 15-minute drive down to Gotha, Fla., to check out one of the best lunch menus in Orlando. Whether you have a hankering for BBQ, salad or a healthy sandwich with a side of chips, Yellow Dog Eats has you covered.
The restaurant's porks and bacon are smoked directly in the kitchen, and you can buy its jams, jellies, condiments and BBQ sauce to take home with you.
Plus, this restaurant is built in an old historic home, covered with random finds and a dream-come-true-sized backyard that’s home to a cat and a Volkswagen van that you can sit in.
Jeremiah’s Italian Ice
If you’re heading to Orlando during the summertime, we highly recommend checking out Jeremiah's Italian Ice to combat the Florida heat.
With over 36 flavors to choose from (that wasn’t a typo), this 1996-born frozen-treat shop creates delectable desserts that can be served by themselves or alongside soft serve ice cream.
Don’t be afraid to taste test all the flavors and mix and match. This shop is completely chill (pun intended) and will accommodate all your different cravings.
Dandelion Communitea Cafe
In addition to serving tasty, health-conscious, vegetarian meals, Dandelion Communitea Cafe is known for its social and environmental practices.
Thanks to the restaurant's 100 percent plant-based menu that’s created with organic and local ingredients, you’re able to order tasty bowls, soups, sandwiches and burritos without feeling guilty by the end of the meal.
When you have an extra bit of cash in your pocket, La Luce is a must-visit.
Between its traditional Italian cuisine and sublime wine list, this Orlando fine-dining staple will give you a one-of-a-kind meal. Standout dishes include a salami pizza adorned with grilled eggplant and scarmoza cheese, and a braised lamb shank with mint salsa verde.
Make sure to book a reservation in advance to get a chance to dine here before the space fills up.
LUMA on Park
After strolling the streets of Park Avenue in Winter Park, you should end the night at LUMA on Park for an upscale, locally-sourced dining experience.
Open the menu, and you’ll find dishes like lamb ravioli, sesame-crusted salmon and brown sugar pecan tart. However, don’t expect to have the same meal twice, as the menu changes daily and seasonally.
The Ravenous Pig
If you’re looking for a spot that could easily compete with New York and L.A. restaurants, then you have to make a reservation at The Ravenous Pig.
Husband and wife duo, James Petrakis and Julie Petrakis, have been recognized for their outstanding food creations from media outlets such as the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.
Arrive hungry so you can explore the distinctive menu. Our suggestion? Order the steak frites and the “Cuban” mac & cheese, and make sure you explore the dessert menu to end the night on the highest note possible.
Another Italian spot that we can’t help but drool over is Prato. Located on Park Avenue, this restaurant houses some of the best wine-and-food pairings your taste buds will have the honor of exploring.
While the space inside is warm and inviting and home to a great bar, we highly suggest sitting outside to enjoy the beautiful Florida weather while you sip on a glass of red and fill up on a carb-filled Italian dish.
Cask & Larder
Just because you’re leaving Florida doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have one last good meal before you take off on a plane at the Orlando Airport. The Ravenous Pig’s sister restaurant, Cask & Larder, is home to some of the best Southern-style food you can sink your teeth into.
With a breakfast, lunch and dinner menu, you have no excuse not to check out this farm-to-terminal restaurant.
If you don’t have time to sit and eat, the restaurant also has a gourmet grab-and-go market where you can purchase something to snack on during your plane ride home.
Bosphorous is the only place that should be on your Orlando to-do list when Turkish food is on your mind.
Because of its authentic spices, amazing lunch/dinner options and tasty teas, you’ll be able to order literally anything off the menu here without a single worry.
And if you can only order one thing? Go for the hollow bread, or Lavas — a type of bread that’s filled with air and meant to be popped the minute it arrives at the table.
4 Rivers Smokehouse
When you don’t have the cash to travel to Texas for good, wholesome BBQ, 4 Rivers Smokehouse is the next best thing you can put in your stomach.
While relatively new on the Orlando scene, this smokehouse has taken over by continuing to open spots across Central Florida. From homestyle sides like jalapeno cornbread and Krispy Kreme bread pudding to old-school BBQ meals and sandwiches, there are plenty of reasons to come back to this fast-casual spot.
Have a sweet tooth? Then Valkyrie Doughnuts will answer all your dessert prayers.
Among the regular flavors, this Florida shop will wow your taste buds with unique vegan-friendly doughnuts such as Churro, Mocha Chip and Fruity Pebble.
And don’t shy away from ordering a root beer float or a doughnut sammich — either one of these will take your dessert experience to a whole other level.
Black Bean Deli
A Cuban café that’s after our own hearts, Black Bean Deli is an extraordinary fast-casual join that’ll satisfy any empty stomach.
The restaurant has a couple of locations in the Orlando area; we suggest heading over a couple different times to explore daily specials like ropa vieja, carne con papa and Havana pork.
It wouldn’t be a Florida food roundup if we didn’t include this grocery store staple.
Publix, while known for being one of the best grocery stores in the southern corner of the country, is also home to some of the best subs, fried chicken and baked goods you’ll ever taste.
We suggest getting the chicken tender sub with a sweet tea and side order of coleslaw. Once you try a bite of these subs, it’ll be hard to order them anywhere else. We promise.