So you’ve made it to Orlando, Florida? Home of big household names such as Disney and Universal Studios. Orlando has a pretty great and growing food scene as well as a growing craft beer market. Here are my recommendations on where to go when in the town of Mickey Mouse.
- Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’: Three words – Buttermilk Fried Chicken. It is not cheap, but it is delicious. Splurge here and you will not regret it. The sides are great as well. If you love moonshine the restaurant also has a large list of them available for sampling and enjoying.
- Morimoto Asia: No expense was spared in the creation of this restaurant. It is beautiful inside and out. The menu changes pretty regularly, but you really can’t go wrong with Morimoto’s Signature Peking Duck. The cocktail selection is also great and incorporates some interesting mixtures from soft drinks in Japan as well tea cocktails. Come ready to spend money and enjoy.
- Wine Bar George: Master Sommelier George Miliotes opened his first wine bar at Disney Springs. It features over 135 wines by the glass, bottle, and ounce. The servers are just as passionate about wine as George himself. The food selection is great and the wine selection is vast with many countries, styles, and price points represented, some that George personally prefers that might be difficult to find elsewhere. I recommend coming here for a glass or two or three.
- STK: The rooftop bar at STK is what lands it on this list. There is this tower with a fire pit inside that is just really the perfect backdrop to sip a glass of wine and to look over Disney Springs from the sunset into the evening.
- Aku Aku: Sweet little tiki dive in Downtown Orlando. Prices are pretty fair even if the menu is a little limited, don’t be afraid to ask the bartenders to make you a cocktail and they will try their best accommodate. It does get pretty busy so get there early if you want a seat or come earlier in the week.
- The Woods: This has been one of my choice spots to go drink for some years. Many of the bartenders are affiliated with the bartender’s guild in Tampa and the drinks here are always made well and are nice and strong. They have a large liquor selection and their craft beer list isn’t half bad either.
- Pharmacy: I’m a fan of speakeasy concepts. This one eluded me for nearly 30 minutes on my first visit while I searched for the front door. Once you find your way inside (hint there is a button) you will be impressed with the drink selection and food. Pharmacy is really a great spot and probably one of the best speakeasy concepts I have seen in Florida. 8060 Via Dellagio Way, Orlando, FL 32819. (407) 985-2972. http://thepharmacyorlando.com/
- Izziban Sushi & Korean BBQ: People like to talk smack about Izziban, but if you ask me Izziban has one of the best deals I have ever seen. All you can eat Korean BBQ, appetizers, and sushi for under $22. I absolutely love sliced pork belly so this is a goldmine for me. Most Korean restaurants in Florida will charge you over $20 for one entry. The tip is included for AYCE but the service is almost always great. This is a quality business and I always have to stop by here when I’m in town. I just wish they would hurry up and open one up in my hometown in Tampa. 5310 E Colonial Dr, Orlando, FL 32807. (407) 270-8811. http://izzibanrestaurant.com/
- Boi Brazil Churrascaria: I wandered into one here one day on a trip to Orlando and was not disappointed with the meat cuts or price. Come hungry because the meat just keeps coming and coming at you. 5668 International Dr, Orlando, FL 32819. (407) 354-0260. http://www.boibrazil.com/
- Cafe Tu Tu Tango: This spot is filled with art and culture – even if its a touristy spot it is good and very close to several hotels on I-Drive if you’re staying around this area.
- Player 1 Video Game Bar: If you want a blast to the past take a visit to this video game arcade bar. They have dozens of old school arcade machines as well as an extensive beer list. Quite a few emulator consoles will also let you take your pick of video games long past their time including classic SEGA and Nintendo games. 8562 Palm Pkwy, Orlando, FL 32836. (407) 504-7521. https://player1orlando.com/
- KTV Karaoke Orlando: I am a fan of private karaoke rooms. This korean bar and karaoke facility (called a noraebang) has hundreds of songs available to sing and rooms available to rent for an hourly fee. The service has been attentive I have made there. Try to come in a larger group if you want to save money because the rates aren’t that cheap. 7130 S. Orange Blossom Trail #200 Orlando, Fl 32809. http://www.ktvorlando.com/
- Millenia Mall: This is a pretty huge upscale mall in Orlando and was one of the top places you could find designer brands until Disney Springs stepped up their shops. You’ll find all your big name brands and also quite a number of places to eat around here. If you want to get some shopping done indoors and avoid the weather outside, its a good pick. 4200 Conroy Rd, Orlando, FL 32839. http://www.mallatmillenia.com/
- Domu: Domu has a very contemporary feel to it and delivers a solid ramen menu with prices that easily destroy any business in my hometown of Tampa. The other must-try thing on this menu is the KFC “Korean Fried Chicken” which is excellent. It isn’t traditional, but it is delicious. East End Market, 3201 Corrine Dr Suite 100, Orlando, FL 32803. (407) 960-1228. http://www.domufl.com/
- Foxtail Coffee Co.: My favorite coffee shop in Orlando. This shop is beautiful and has a coffee is roasted on-site. They also have plenty of pastries, food, beer, and wine. The shop is filled with seats and plugs for device charging. The Wi-Fi here is great too. 1286 N Orange Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789. (407) 951-7931. https://www.foxtailcoffee.com/
- Gideon’s Bakehouse: This small bakery inside East End Market is almost worth a drive to Orlando by itself. They have some of the most delicious cookies I have ever tried. You must make an effort to come here, but beware that they sometimes are sold out of their supply completely. http://www.gideonsbakehouse.com/
- Krungthep Tea Time: One of those places easily made famous across I-4 thanks to Instagram. Krungthep has a famous pink drink which is a Thai street drink. I hear their sandwiches are also delicious, but haven’t had a chance to try them myself yet. Don’t forget to get a photo on their couch. 1051 W Fairbanks Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789. (407) 733-3561. http://www.krungthepteatime.com/
- East End Market: One of the first food halls in Florida. East End Market was once a church and now is a facility that hosts a variety of vendors from various concepts – most of them involving food. There is even a bar there if you want to have a drink and Domu is located right next door.
- Inay’s Kitchen Filipino Cuisine: Quality Filipino food is hard to come by, but Inay’s delivers that homemade touch and the food is great. Prices are reasonable too. They also have karaoke for those of you into that. 1097 S Clarke Rd, Ocoee, FL 34761. (407) 601-2126.
- Junior Colombian Burger: This guide is mostly free from chains, but Orlando is one of the only places in the world with a Junior Colombian Burger and I personally love it. It’s true that their beef is frozen, but the burgers are the perfect composition of flavors and I love their sauces (the pineapple sauce is amazing) and the potato chips on top in genius. I feel like this concept would be so successful in my hometown – I always get a craving for it when I’m in Orlando and end up making a trip. They have a few locations around Orlando – I feel like this one is really convenient for people traveling on I-4. Best thing is they are open until at least 3AM everyday. 5389 S Kirkman Rd, Orlando, FL 32819. (407) 355-3506. http://www.juniorcb.com
- Kissimmee Bakery & Latin Food: Puerto Rico meets El Salvador at this restaurant which has amazing pupusas. Best you might find outside of San Francisco and California. We always try and grab a bag to take home when we visit family in Orlando.
- Korean BBQ Taco Box: This food truck sells excellent Korean food and is regularly out on the road around Orlando. They have traditional as well as fusion food. I highly recommend Korean BBQ Taco Box at least once on a visit to Orlando. I love their food. They post their schedule on Facebook and Twitter, but you might want to give them a call too if you want to order ahead. (407) 453-2250. http://www.facebook.com/KBBQBox/