Eat Your Heart Out in Orlando!
Hidden restaurant jewels of Orlando, Florida
8 Ways to Eat Your Heart out in Orlando, Florida
Whether you're a visitor, a native central Floridian or a prospective Orlando resident, you know that enjoying a meal at the best little-known restaurants is paramount to enjoying the City Beautiful. Orlando offers much in the way of chain restaurants that appeal to some tourists or families, but the best dining experience awaits those who seek out the hidden jewels. Here are eight restaurants around the central Florida area with cuisine dishes worth exploring.
One of five amazing restaurants nestled in the Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate, Zen offers pan-Asian cuisine prepared by renowned executive chef Robert Ash. He hand-created the menu at Zen, and he is known for his impeccable palate and innovative kitchen techniques. This restaurant offers some of the best sushi in the Orlando area. For another adventure, simply head out the door. Some of Florida's most beautiful golf courses are just a stone's throw away from the restaurant.
Hemingway's sits in the beautiful Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, a resort with tons of amenities for families and some of the best dining Orlando has to offer. Situated near the hustle and bustle of Downtown Disney, this restaurant is primed for culinary success. The menu is based on the cultures and cuisines of Ernest Hemingway's book, Cayo Huseo, and it features his favorite dishes and personal libations.
3. Infusion Tea
Infusion Tea is located on Edgewater Drive in Orlando's College Park neighborhood. As its name suggests, this restaurant offers a tea menu with more than 75 options, ranging from white teas and oolongs to yerba mate and everything in between. The ambiance is quirky and fun, with many unique artistic items for sale throughout the space. During the week, you may find an art exhibit, a massage therapist, a book reading, an open mic night or a bridal shower celebration. Infusion Tea is well-known by central Floridians as the place to go for an impressive and delicious vegetarian menu, and its fare is perfect for light summer dishes and refreshing teas.
Disney's Animal Kingdom is an experience within itself, and its accompanying lodge is no different. Guests and visitors alike can enjoy an authentic African meal at the fine dining restaurant, Jiko - The Cooking Place. Featuring boutique South African wines and spices, with food prepared in a wood-burning oven, you'll almost forget you're sitting in the middle of Florida. The restaurant also offers a wine tasting, with South Africa's best-tasting wines paired with complementary cheeses.
5. Rocco's Tacos and Tequila Bar
Situated on Restaurant Row, the strip of Sand Lake Road in the Dr. Phillips area of Orlando, Rocco's Tacos and Tequila Bar is a fairly new restaurant that features mouthwatering Mexican fare. Its signature staple, fresh guacamole made for your table side, has the perfect amount of spice to satisfy your craving. Rocco's Tacos and Tequila Bar features a four-page tequila menu with 425 varieties of tequila, ensuring a drink for everyone at the table to enjoy. The patio seating offers stunning lakeside views where diners can watch a stellar Florida sunset while pleasing their palate.
6. Chef's Table at the Edgewater
If you venture out to Winter Garden in West Orlando, you will not be disappointed in the restaurant scene. Historic Winter Garden has a variety of places to dine, with the fan favorite being the Chef's Table. Tied for "Best Food in Orlando" in Zagat's "Top Restaurants in America," this restaurant pleases locals and traveling foodies alike. The Tasting Room is connected to this restaurant and offers a more casual dining option with the same great culinary team, a full bar and a resident mixologist. Both restaurants are located in the Historic Edgewater Hotel, an Orlando-area bed and breakfast-style inn that offers what the owners call the 'antique elegance of old Florida.' The building is situated directly on the West Orange Nature Trail.
7. Yard House
With countless craft and signature beers on tap, delectable tapas-style tacos and other tasty Gardein menu items, plus a late-night food last call, Yard House is a favorite of many Orlandoans. It is situated in the bustling International Drive area at the I-Drive 360 entertainment destination, but locals brave the traffic and crowded streets to enjoy the outdoor patio, art exhibits and chalkboard beer series. The impressive Orlando Eye Ferris wheel, which overlooks the City Beautiful, is poised near the Yard House, offering a cool backdrop to an even cooler eatery.
8. Ethos Vegan Kitchen
A full-service vegan restaurant, Ethos Vegan Kitchen, is located in Winter Park, just north of downtown Orlando. Its specialties are homestyle dishes, and it now offers a weekend brunch menu. Established in 2007, this restaurant is 100 percent vegan and uses approximately 50 percent organic ingredients. Owners Laina and Kelly Shockley describe their cuisine as simple and homey, with many gluten-free and soy-free items, and some seasonal menu options peppered in, too. Yo Mama's Lasagna -- a dish with five layers of lasagna noodles, mozzarella, vegetables and marinara sauce -- is worth the drive to visit the kitchen.
The only thing better than tasting the fare at one of these amazing central Florida restaurants is calling Orlando your home - and cooking in your own gourmet kitchen.