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Dinner is Served

The 20 Best Restaurants in Greater Orlando…

We spent time scouring the local culinary landscape in search of the dining rooms, dishes, cocktails and more that help make the area’s fine dining scene truly special. From modern twists on traditional favorites to creative takes on good old-fashioned comfort food, dining out has never been better in Greater Orlando. So allow us to present the 20 best dining destinations, restaurants that satisfy with every bite yet keep us hungry for more. We’ll share the dishes you have to try, the drinks to match and some insider tips we’ve picked up along the way. We hope you brought your appetite.

Canvas Restaurant & Market
With all of the exciting announcements coming out of Lake Nona (Inflatable water park, anyone?), it’s easy to forget about restaurants in Southeast Orlando. And, honestly, options were pretty sparse for getting dishes of a certain caliber up until early 2016 when Canvas Restaurant & Market opened its doors and introduced a mix of offerings that touch on classic American southern food, Florida seafood and Latin American flavors, too.

Order this: The Oak Grilled Petite Beef Tender is wood-fired and served with chimichurri atop saffron rice and black beans.

Extra Bite: While you’re waiting for your table, you can kill some time perusing the market portion of the venue that offers homewares, books and some locally made goods.

Something to Drink: When you’re dining on the patio, we recommend you order the Nona Sunset cocktail, which is made with passion fruit, lemon, pineapple, Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur and Flor de
Caña rum. And for added fun, Canvas prices the drink by what time sunset is that day. For example, if sunset is at 5:35 p.m., then you pay $5.35.

Prato offers Italian classics with modern flourishes in an industrial space with a patio and wrap-around bar. This Park Avenue restaurant is named after an Italian city that is known for being a center of the “slow food” movement, and it’s a fitting name for a place that makes its pasta and pizzas by hand and takes the extra step of listing all of its local suppliers on the menu next to its list of dishes, which changes depending on what is available each season.

Order This: The Prato Meatballs, which are served with roasted tomato and cipollini agrodolce, are raved about by patrons here. Get an order for the table to share.

Extra Bite: Lunch is available here only Wednesday through Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Something to Drink: For something refreshing to go with your entrée, choose the Cetriolo beverage that consists of Crop cucumber organic vodka, agave, lime, white cranberry and basil.

Headed up by partner and executive chef Greg Richie, Soco brings all your favorite down-home Southern
cuisine favorites to the table but with a fine dining twist. Located in the heart of the Thornton Park District, this eatery is where to go when you want the flavors of comfort food from back home but in a contemporary style.

Order This: The Chicken-Fried Cauliflower “Steak” is a vegetarian take on the classic diner staple that
substitutes cauliflower for the traditional protein. It’s placed atop garlic mashed potatoes and vine ripe
tomato gravy and served with asparagus and artichoke.

Extra Bite: Every Thursday, the restaurant features a different “TV Dinner,” which comes with a protein,
a side and a little dessert, just like those prepackaged frozen meals you may remember from the ’80s.
But don’t worry, these are not the TV dinners from your childhood, as they are made fresh and, best of all, they’re not still frozen in the middle when you go in for a bite.

Something to Drink: Like the classic soda pop beverage but better, the Grown-Up Cherry Cola is a mix of Flor de Caña 4-year-aged rum, cola simple and barrel-aged bitters, with a whiskey-soaked cherry thrown in at the end.

DoveCote Brasserie
Since it opened in 2016, this Downtown Orlando brasserie has been delivering on its promise of approachable French-inspired comfort food and meticulously crafted cocktails. The menu changes seasonally with chef Clayton Miller as the mastermind behind the dishes, while co-owner Gene Zimmerman, who also owns the popular cocktail lounge The Courtesy, curates the drink list.

Order This: The Crab Cakes, two delectable crab meat cakes set atop cream corn and embellished
with marinated cherry tomatoes and basil, is an excellent dish to share with your dining companion
or devour on your own.

Extra Bite: The rapidly expanding homegrown Foxtail Coffee partnered with DoveCote last year to open its second location within the restaurant’s space, meaning you can sip on a Foxtail iced coffee during brunch, lunch or dinner. Additionally, the restaurant has taken the extra step of mixing up some cocktails with Foxtail ingredients, so be sure to ask your server about what’s available.

Something to Drink: The Dove75 is a customer favorite and one of the bar’s staples. It starts with a mix of Horizon gin, butterfly pea flower, orange oil sugar and lemon. Then it is topped off with champagne poured tableside so you can watch the color change from violet blue to bright purple.

The Rusty Spoon
The exposed brick walls adorned with close-up shots of farm animals set the tone for this restaurant’s hyper focus on fresh ingredients sourced from area farms. Opened in 2011, The Rusty Spoon is led by owner and chef Kathleen Blake who has been repping local farms and fresh ingredients before it was trendy. Over the years, her focus on quality ingredients from local farms has given her four nominations
for the James Beard Foundation’s annual culinary awards.

Order This: The “Dirty South” is everything you want in Southern seafood dining. It comes with Canaveral shrimp, the catch of the day and littleneck clams in a rich shrimp-peanut broth, with garlicky greens and creamy grits.

Extra Bite: Depending on availability, the restaurant often runs a $1 oyster happy hour special from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on select nights.

Something to Drink: The Crisp Cucumber Martini—a mix of Effen cucumber vodka, St-Germain, fresh squeezed lemon and lime juice—is excellent for slurping down the oysters here.

Luma on Park
Luma on Park has quite a reputation as a trendy place to go on Winter Park’s Park Avenue for meals that are fresh and locally sourced. It’s a well-earned repute that James Beard-finalist chef Brandon McGlamery has obtained with his upscale, casual American cuisine. This eatery begs to be revisited over and over again, especially with a menu that changes often to accommodate the season and the availability of local ingredients.

Order This: We recommend the Crystal Valley Chicken, which comes with quinoa, apple, kale,
Point Reyes blue cheese and a pecan mustard jus.

Extra Bite: The Truffle Popcorn, which has truffle oil and freshly grated parmesan, is a simple but tasty before-dinner snack to munch on while you figure out your order. Ask your server about getting a bowl as it’s not listed on the menu.

Something to Drink: The White Linen is Luma’s signature cocktail. It’s made with Hendrick’s gin, St-Germain, white cranberry juice and sour mix.

The Boheme
Located on the first floor of the Grand Bohemian Hotel, The Boheme restaurant offers an upscale but comfortable dining room accented with crimson-colored chairs and matching fringe dividers that give diners just a semblance of added privacy. The restaurant boasts an eclectic menu of salads, soups, steaks, seafood and small plates, along with a number of plates that change with each season’s harvest.

Order This: Light and flavorful with hints of Meyer lemon, the Sea Bass is a must-try. It comes with capote capers, Mediterranean olives, grilled artichokes, oregano and Osborne sherry. Fingerling potatoes are served on the side.

Extra Bite: The Boheme’s award-winning Sunday Jazz Brunch features some of Central Florida’s best jazz musicians.

Something to Drink: House-barreled for 30 days, the White Oak-Aged Manhattan is a concoction of Basil Hayden’s Bourbon, Carpano Antica vermouth, Solerno Italian Blood Orange liqueur and Fee Brothers chocolate bitters.

Chef’s Table at the Edgewater
The dinner-only Chef’s Table at the Edgewater is nestled in the walkable Winter Garden Downtown Historic District in the Edgewater Hotel. Quaint and intimate, this dining establishment was founded by Kevin and Laurie Tarter who both previously worked for top-of-the-line Disney restaurants. Laurie is an alumnae of California Grill, while Kevin was previously a chef at Victoria & Albert’s.

Order This: Chef’s Table offers a three-course prix fixe menu. We recommend the Mushroom and Chive Crepe Torte for your first course. It comes with roasted shallot cream and truffle salt.

Extra Bite: To get to Chef’s Table, you must walk through the Tarters’ other concept, the Tasting
Room, which is a great alternative if you find yourself unable to get a last-minute reservation at Chef’s Table.

Something to Drink: Each dish is paired with a pre-selected wine but don’t let that stop you from looking over the handcrafted cocktails list. We suggest the Fig Mule, a concoction of Figenza fig-flavored vodka, lime and Stoli ginger beer.

Enzo’s on the Lake
Perched on an idyllic lakefront spot in Longwood, Enzo’s On The Lake is a veteran establishment run
by family and staff that are as warm and Old-World Italian as it gets. Enzo’s boasts a large menu of
classic favorites, new inventions and seafood specialties that are all fresh, authentic and served with care.

Order This: Their Spaghetti Alla Carbonara is a dish not to be missed. Roman-style noodles are tossed in a skillet with fresh onions, bacon, egg yolks, and plenty of black pepper and Romano cheese for a rich, creamy treat that will make you beg for more.

Perfect For: The beautiful lake views really take you away from the bustle of city life, so Enzo’s is ideal for a romantic night out, or a relaxing evening with friends.

Extra Bite: The head chef prepares special dishes every evening, so be sure to ask what the nightly selection is when you go.

The Ravenous Pig
With the amount of ink that local and national publications have devoted to restaurant power couple Julie and James Petrakis, it would be completely remiss to leave one of their restaurants out of the conversation of Orlando’s food scene. This James Beard Award-nominated couple first brought The Ravenous Pig to life 10 years ago, and it’s still going strong even after moving from its original location in December 2016 into the space previously occupied by Cask & Larder.

Order this: The Chef’s 30-Day Dry-Aged New York Strip is seasoned with peppercorn spice, topped with salsa verde and bearnaise aioli and served with a seasonal side.

Extra Bite: The restaurant’s Birds & Bubbles Monday special is an excellent way to start off your work week. For $50, you and a guest can split the crispy chicken, pimento mac and cheese, a seasonal vegetable, and a bottle of bubbly.

Something to Drink: The Gin & Jam is immensely popular and made up of persimmon-cardamom
jam from local purveyor Smiling Goat, Blackwoods gin and lemon.

Morimoto Asia
In the heart of newly renovated Disney Springs, you’ll find chef Masaharu Morimoto’s signature upscale Japanese eatery, Morimoto Asia. Situated in a stunning glass building with multilevel dining options, the restaurant boasts a unique and sophisticated menu that includes inventive rolls, specialty towers, authentic dim sum and much, much more.

Order This: We love sushi as much as anyone, but their Angry Chicken is a dish operating on its own level. A generous half portion of crispy chicken breast is tempura-fried and served with fresh bell peppers, bamboo shoots, green beans and Japanese eggplant, all of which are tossed in sweet and tangy Thai red curry sauce.

Extra Bite: For those who want a truly immersive evening, reservations are available for Omakase (Japanese for “to entrust”), a five-to-seven course dining experience that allows their chefs to take total control of your meal.

Something to Drink: While you’re taking in the views, we recommend ordering a Kinjyo Cocktail, which includes traditional Japanese Milk Tea, Stoli Vanilla Vodka, Thai Tea and Bailey’s foam for a sweet and
savory kick.

Yachtsman Steakhouse
Tucked away on the beautiful grounds of Disney’s Yacht Club Resort is the Yachtsman Steakhouse, a world-class signature dining option that clearly exhibits an unrivaled mastery in both land and sea dishes. Soft music and a classic wood interior give off vibes of a New England bound boat, and the servers are dressed to match in elegant nautical attire that feels almost Titanic-era in nature.

Order This: The steaks alone are worth the trip, and we recommend the 10-ounce Black Angus Filet Mignon. A prime cut is seared in a house blend seasoning before being grilled, then served with smooth mashed potatoes and a cabernet wine sauce that complements every bite.

Perfect For: The stage of this restaurant oozes charm and sentiment, so we recommend that you celebrate a special occasion here with loved ones.

Extra Bite: Arrive ahead of your reservation time so that you can marvel as the chef on duty cuts the meat right off the bone in a unique pre-dinner show that will awaken your appetite.

Hamilton’s Kitchen
An unpretentious, cottage-style restaurant at The Alfond Inn, Hamilton’s Kitchen proudly offers traditional Southern fare that sources local ingredients and often incorporates a modern touch to much-loved favorites. Executive chef Jason Klingensmith offers a local approach that is visible in every dish and is sure to make patrons into friends.

Order This: We recommend the Hash-Browned Halibut for a trip of Southern hospitality. Halibut is crusted with hash browns and served with sweet potato puree, roasted baby parsnips, arugula-apple salad and a decadent vanilla vinaigrette that ties the entire dish together.

Perfect For: The atmosphere of Hamilton’s Kitchen is best described as family hearth, so we recommend bringing those who offer the best company and staying awhile.

Something to Drink: Try the Everything For Love cocktail, a smooth drink that incorporates Ron Za Capa Aged Rum, chocolate mole bitters, orange bitters and grapefruit peel for a rich, tart treat.

The town of Dr. Phillips is no stranger to fine dining and endless entertainment, and we find Slate to be an admirable entry into their canon. Executive chef Jacob Woolf leads the menu, which offers a little
bit of everything, but rotates based on season and availability. On top of that, a master sommelier pairs well with an expansive curated wine and cocktail list, all amidst a perfect, modern American setting.

Order This: The choices are overwhelming, but the Smoked Brisket is a crowd favorite. Tender brisket is
treated to a brown sugar chili rub, then smoked and paired with house bacon, squash-potato hash and horseradish bread crumbs for an explosive culinary adventure.

Extra Bite: Take your loved one(or whoever, we don’t judge) out for a limited three-course dinner on
Valentine’s Day. Woolf will prepare one of two pre-planned options that are sure to satisfy your palate and your wallet.

Something to Drink: Try the sophisticated Cristo Redentor cocktail, made with Avua Prata Cachaca, Giffard Triple Sec, muddled blackberries and simple lemon syrup for a tantalizing mix.

Artisan’s Table
Situated in the heart of The City Beautiful, Artisan’s Table is an on-trend modern restaurant that boldly offers dishes for every hour of the day. If that wasn’t adventurous enough, they pride themselves on creative twists to American and Southern fare, and offer at least one low-priced menu steal every single day of the week.

Order This: Home-style gets an update with the Chicken and Greens dish. Chicken breast is fried crispy yet light, and served with a fresh-baked cheddar and rice muffin, bacon braised Swiss chard and a tangy mustard barbecue sauce that you’ll absolutely want more of.

Extra Bite: A brand-new happy hour has just launched; it runs Monday-Friday from 5 to 7 p.m. and offers $5 draft beers.

Something to Drink: Aside from the happy hour, we recommend The Greenhouse cocktail, which is made with Hendrick’s gin, green chartreuse, lemongrass, lime and Dolin dry vermouth.

An author-inspired seafood and steak restaurant hidden in the lineup at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, Hemingway’s is an ocean-loving dive that boasts favorite dishes by Ernest in a Cuban lounge- style setting. This entry offers a fantastic assortment of seafood and steak that is prepared in every way imaginable, and a serene view of natural Florida vegetation that is hard to come by in these parts.

Order This: True to form, we recommend Hemingway’s “Cayo Hueso” Crab Cakes. Two crab cakes are prepared fresh and served with a side of sweet corn grits, corn salsa and steamed asparagus.

Perfect For: Given the prime location, this spot is perfect for a family meal while on vacation, or
for hosting an out-of-town visitor or a business luncheon.

Extra Bite: Don’t leave without trying the ever-famous Key Lime Pie, a favorite of Hemingway himself.

1921 by Norman Van Aken
A James Beard Award-winning restaurant, 1921 by Norman Van Aken is situated in downtown Mount Dora and offers big taste under the guise of a smalltime, tech-free display. This gem is housed in a building that was constructed in, you guessed it, 1921, and comes to bat with vintage style digs and a menu that offers elegance, creativity and Florida homage.

Order This: We can’t say enough about chef Camilo Velasco’s Maine Diver Scallops dish. Meaty, perfectly-cooked scallops swim in a Tom Yum broth (think hot and sour soup) with shrimp dumplings for a mouthwatering match made in heaven.

Extra Bite: Mount Dora establishments take their town charm very seriously, and 1921 by Norman Van Aken is no exception. Experience this feeling by booking an affordable Sunday Supper option that changes each week and offers limited seating.

Something to Drink: Much like the town itself, the sweet and cool Autumn and Eve cocktail comes with Monkey Shoulder Scotch, Benedictine, Allspice dram, lemon, cranberry and a splash of prosecco to finish.

Chatham’s Place
Leading the pack in fine dining in the Orlando area for over two decades, Chatham’s Place is the lovechild of chef Tony Lopez and Maurice Colindres. Lopez brings produce in from his own organic
farm and puts an artistic touch on every dish and Colindres treats every guest to a loving, energy-filled experience from start to finish.

Order This: The Breast of Duck dish is built to please. A 10- to 12- ounce duck breast is seared and sliced thin, and served with port wine demi-glaze and fresh blueberries to finish.

Extra Bite: Live music is available nightly, and you are allowed (and encouraged!) to bring your own bottle of wine for a small corkage fee.

Something to Drink: Drink to the tunes of live piano music with the Angel’s Envy Bourbon, a silky Kentucky blend that has notes of berry fruits, toffee, citrus and creamy vanilla.

La Luce
Heralded as a modern Italian kitchen with a country feel, La Luce is tucked inside the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek. The creation of late Napa Valley chef Donna Scala, La Luce offers thin crust pizzas, family pastas, signature dinners and Mediterranean inspired drinks. Each dish is carefully composed and served
with filling accompaniments that make it well rounded and worth the trek.

Order This: Try something a little off the beaten path. The Grilled Berkshire Pork Chop is cooked to perfection and served with Tuscan farro, fresh artichokes, tart kale and a prime aged balsamic sauce.

Extra Bite: La Luce is committed to the artists within the community, and each month they feature the artwork of a few select locals on the walls of the restaurant.

Something to Drink: The wine list here is expansive, and we recommend you bring the true taste of Italy right to your table with Saia—from the Nero D’Avola region in Sicily—a dark, fruit-infused wine with spicy notes.

K Restaurant
Kevin Fonzo sold his namesake restaurant (The K is for Kevin) in July of last year and Orlando foodies were initially skeptical that the same quality and pleasant subtle touches found in each dish would stay the same. But, after half a year, it’s safe to say that under the new direction of chef and owner Chad Phelps things are as tasty as ever.

Order This: The menu at K Restaurant changes often but currently the Duck Breast dish is a satisfying union of duck confit, leek, rainbow chard, flageolet beans, pork belly and herbs.

Extra Bite: Although the menu does change seasonally, the K Filet or French Toast Bread Pudding are always available to order.

Something to Drink: Wash down your meal with The Spritz cocktail: a blend of cappelletti, prosecco, sparkling water and citrus.

This article originally appeared in Orlando Family Magazine’s February 2018 issue.