With more than 5,300 restaurants in the Orlando area, choosing which to visit can be quite the challenge. We’ve taken out the guesswork with this list of Orlando’s best and most buzz-worthy eateries.
Sanaa at Animal Kingdom Lodge
Character dining doesn’t hold a candle to the authentic animal encounters at Sanaa, the African-inspired eatery inside Kidani Village at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Inside the multi-hued dining room, guests enjoy vistas of the Sunset Savanna where giraffes, zebra and ostriches freely roam. The very shareable and not-too-spicy dishes, including the Indian-style bread service and delicious butter chicken, make for fun, family-style eating while less exotic items offered on the kids menu cater to more reserved palates. Be sure to make a reservation for lunch or dinner and arrive early to spend some time checking out the wildlife via the outdoor observation decks.
It will feel as though you’ve just discovered a Cuban café hidden down an authentic Havana side street when you arrive at Cuba Libre, a dining and nightlife spot at Pointe Orlando. Authentic Cuban food, including more than a dozen varieties of mojitos, dominates the menu, which is why the 15 Tastes of Cuba experience is ideal. Guests choosing this option are treated to small-plate versions of the restaurant’s signature dishes, including ceviche, plantains and empanadas. After dinner, this elaborately designed locale turns into Orlando’s hottest Latin dance club with DJs and salsa dancers spinning on two floors and outside on the patio.
Deep Blu Seafood Grille
The local dining awards continue to flow in Deep Blu Seafood Grille’s direction thanks to a stellar steak and seafood menu. Must try items at this restaurant located inside the Wyndham Bonnet Creek Resort include the legendary house crab cake, which is packed with giant nuggets of lump crab, and Chef York’s Key Lime Pie Gelle, made with a graham-cracker, short-dough crust and sprinkled with “mango caviar.” After dinner, wander out to the patio to sip a Central Florida Cosmo and watch the Disney fireworks light up the sky in the distance.
Hash House a Go Go
Gigantic proportions aside, Hash House a Go Go’s allure stems from its breakfast, lunch and dinner menu of comfort food served with unexpected twists and atypical flavor combinations. Fried chicken is served atop a tower of bacon-infused waffles, and burgers come slathered with cheesy mashed potatoes. This eaterie's farm-chic milieu and "wow factor" menu make for a memorable foodie experience. With a nod to good ol’ Indiana farm food, these hearty and generous bites make for great leftovers, so be sure to ask for a doggy bag.
This Church Street gem presents a menu packed with dozens of Spanish-style tapas best enjoyed with pitchers of Ceviche’s renowned sangria. In addition to a happy hour featuring $4 drinks and tapas weekdays from 5 to 7 pm, Ceviche also features live music in the Flamenco Bar where guitarists and dancers perform on weekends starting at 9:30 pm.
Cask & Larder
This sister restaurant of the outrageously successful Ravenous Pig opened in Winter Park in late 2012, bringing with it Southern comfort cuisine that pairs perfectly with the magnificently brewed, on-site beers. In the cozy, chic setting (think Cracker Barrel meets South Beach), diners choose from a meaty menu of creative concoctions designed by James Beard Award-nominated, husband-and-wife-chef-team James and Julie Petrakis.