Orlando’s Happening Food Scene
For visitors to Central Florida who choose not to venture past the confines of Orlando’s incredible attractions, it may be hard to imagine that the city is growing into a foodie destination in its own right. Our diverse population of adventurous chefs, and the diners who love them, continue to bring fresh vision to the local food scene. With the help of some dedicated local food influencers, today we share the cool drinks, treats and eats that should be on your shortlist during a visit this summer. And if you want to be in the know, minute by minute, during your visit, we suggest you follow them on Instagram, too, just like we do. Read to the end for links to their Instagram accounts as well as their websites.
A well-made cocktail is always a treat, but during the summer, it’s fun to put away heavier liquors (we’re looking at you, bourbon) in favor of fun and fruity flavors. Even if you’re a fan of the classics, we’re betting that you’ll favor a classic daiquiri over an old fashioned when the temperatures soar.
The newly-opened Wine Bar George has made an impression on Lisa Wilk of Taste Cook Sip. The latest hotspot to open at Disney Springs, Lisa and her friends can’t get enough of WBG’s take on a classic cocktail, the American 75.
Says Lisa, “The cocktail is made with St. George Terroir Gin and lemon, topped with Roederer Estate sparkling wine and a misting of lavender tincture that is made in house. It’s crisp, bubbly and ever so refreshing. I highly recommend enjoying as a delightful aperitif to wake up your palate and prepare you for the indulgences to come at this must-visit spot.”
But what about refreshment while you’re actually in the parks? AJ Wolfe of Disney Food Blog has a few recommendations for you, whether you’re in the mood to imbibe, or enjoy a little refreshment, sans alcohol. At Magic Kingdom, AJ makes a beeline for Aloha Isle to enjoy one of her favorite treats, the cult classic Dole Whip Float.
“The float version of the treat with pineapple soft serve and pineapple juice honestly has been one of my favorite treats since I started visiting Disney World as a kid,” she says. That’s not to say that she doesn’t also enjoy a cocktail as well, and the new Choza de Margarita in Epcot’s Mexico Pavilion is serving up one of her new favorites, the Guava Pink Peppercorn Margarita.
Made with Zignum Mezcal Reposado, guava nectar, grapefruit liqueur, lime juice, Peychaud’s Bitters, and pink peppercorns, the powerful, sweet-tart drink is a DFB favorite.
For her pick, Christina Thomas of Go Epicurista heads to Winter Park notable gastropub, The Ravenous Pig, for their Neptune Cocktail — a drink that’s as pretty as it is delicious.
“The Neptune Cocktail is a work of art,” says Christina. “A dome of shaved ice resembling an ocean’s wave is filled with a teal blue concoction of Plymouth Navy Strength Gin, passion fruit, lemon, Falernum, coconut cream and blue curacao. It’s refreshing sweet-tart libation that will have you dreaming of sailing the seven seas.
Hey, you’re on vacation, right? And we all know what the first rule of vacay is: never skip dessert! So we asked our experts what their favorite go-to frosty treats are this time of year, and they shared some super delicious options.
When it comes to ice cream consumed creatively, both Ricky Ly of Tasty Chomps, and Stephanie Patterson, managing editor of Orlando Date Night Guide, have some terrific advice: head to Winter Park’s Krungthep Tea Time Thai Twist Sandwich and Tea Bar in Winter Park. After lunch, indulge in one of the brick toasts, a house specialty. “I love the delicious Japanese-inspired brick toasts at Krungthep Tea Time, made with a sweetened slices of thick bread, and topped with fresh fruit and ice cream,” shares Ricky.
Stephanie agrees. “The Instagram-worthy brick toasts are popular for a reason. Of the seven flavor options, the Sleeping Beauty is my go-to. Layers of crisp and sweet cubes of toast are stacked and then topped with ice cream, organic honey, Nutella and fresh strawberries.” While it’s normally served with vanilla ice cream, Stephanie says it’s even better with chocolate.
Christina prefers her treats in drink form, and loves the Espresso Root Beer Float at Foxtail Coffee, a favorite local hangout. “This float is the perfect solution for your love of coffee and your cravings for a classic root beer float. Made with house-made vanilla gelato, Foxtail espresso and root beer, it’s your dessert and afternoon coffee break in one.”
But AJ goes for Team Shave Ice for her pick, and suggests that you run — don’t walk — to the Japan Pavilion at Walt Disney World’s Epcot to try another cult classic, Kaki Gori.
Shaved ice is doused with sweet fruit syrups, with an option to add a sweet milk topping. “Kaki Gori is seriously so refreshing, cooling guests down from the inside out,” she shares. “And it’s worth its weight in gold on a hot Disney day!”
When it comes to real sustenance, there’s no reason to seek out a hot and heavy meal. Our experts found great examples of lighter savory fare to enjoy as well.
Lisa raves about the Smoked Salmon Tartine from Tartine Orlando, a delicate, open-faced sandwich of smoked Atlantic salmon, dill cream cheese, fried capers, crumbled egg yolk, shaved asparagus, avocado mousse and more, served on house-made pain de campagne bread. “Each bite layers a delightful play on textures and flavors that had me wishing for another taste, after I had fished every crumb. Paired with a glass of bubbly, it’s decadent.”
For Ricky, hot weather means just one thing: cold ramen. His favorite dish is the Hiyashi Chuka cold ramen noodles from Hanamizuki Japanese Restaurant, which are topped with assorted veggies, meat, and a vinegar dressing. Find this hidden gem on International Drive.
When the mercury’s rising, Stephanie prefers the acai bowls at Winter Park’s Create Your Nature.
Christina agrees; her favorite is the Lacey Caprese Bowl, a surprising combo of fresh tomatoes, avocado, Parmesan Cheese, olive oil and cracked pepper atop steel cut oats or quinoa. “It’s a hearty and filling breakfast or lunch,” she advises. And it’s the perfect meal for staying active and on the go this summer in Orlando.
Meet the Crew
Florida native and nationally-known food blogger Ricky Ly loves to explore the hidden treasures of the Orlando food scene. In addition to his blog, tastychomps.com, you’ll also find him moderating the Orlando Foodie Forum Presented by Tasty Chomps on Facebook, a great resource to all the latest restaurant happenings in the area.
Stephanie Patterson, Managing Editor
Orlando Date Night Guide was started by founder Kristen Manieri to give couples who both live in and visit Orlando an endless array of fun date night ideas. After all, as Kristen says — if you’re going to be in a relationship, you might as well enjoy it! Stephanie Patterson, a genius photographer and writer in her own right, helps to manage the day to day processes of the blog. Find her under her own handles as well, as @TravelTasteClick (and here on the pages of WhereTraveler, too!)
Food and travel enthusiast Christina Thomas is on a mission to #makesomedayhappen every single day. She believes that we should take the time daily out of our busy schedules to celebrate life today, and make every moment count.
Lisa Wilk enjoys exploring and participating in the food, wine and culinary scene in Central Florida in her off hours. Previously, she started the local wine education group, Orlando Uncorked, with the goal of making wine approachable, while also giving back to the local Orlando community. Orlando Uncorked eventually led to starting her own blog about her culinary adventures, both around town and in her own kitchen.
AJ Wolfe launched Disney Food Blog in 2009 as a hobby, but soon found that her love of all things Disney food-related was universal. These days, Disney Food Blog offers in-depth reviews of food at all of the Disney Parks and crave-worthy videos on their YouTube channel. Get your Disney food fix by following along.