The Best Restaurants In Orlando

Whether you’re a longtime local or just visiting, here’s where to have your next great meal.
The Ravenous Pig in Orlando.

photo credit: Blake Jones

If you have a haphazard idea that the best Orlando dining happens at theme park restaurants, we need to talk. There are tons of great restaurants in the city proper, including trendy spots in the Milk District and Mills 50, and longtime staples that have fed locals and hoards of rabid conference-goers for years. Whether you’re looking for burger and barbecue joints perfect for the whole family, some excellent Cuban food, or top-notch seafood in a place that screams Old Florida, this guide has all that and more. And if you are hitting up the theme parks, check out our guides to Disney World, Epcot, and Disney Springs.


photo credit: Carlos Amoedo


Milk District

$$$$Perfect For:Drinking Good CocktailsLate Night Eats
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You’ll be reeled into Otto’s for the drinks. They have over 30 cocktails like the paracaidas made with mezcal and guava, and we love the highballs served during Happy Hour. But you should also order some of their Cuban food and linger in the often-bumping dining room. They do a great ropa vieja that’s particularly cinnamon- and ancho pepper-forward, and a perfectly moist tres leches flecked with orange zest for dessert. You might even see them roast a pig on the patio, which they use in the medianoche, a sandwich that’s essentially the same as the cubano, except the pork is flanked by some sweeter bread. It’s basically impossible to have a bad time here, especially if you sit at the bar and watch the bartenders shaking up orders like they’re Energizer bunnies.

photo credit: Blake Jones



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Kaya is fine dining that’s not stuffy—it’s more like being at your chef friend’s apartment rather than a white-tablecloth affair with tuxedo-clad waiters. No one will give you the side eye here for wearing a T-shirt, but it is the type of place where you need a reservation. Once you’re in, focus on the chef’s nightly menu: five courses that might include adobo with local mushrooms or fried fish sinigang in a clay pot whose lid, coated with tamarind miso paste, becomes the bowl. If you can’t get in, they do reserve a couple tables for walk-ins where you can order a la carte and have Happy Hour specials daily from 5-6pm. 

If you’re looking for a place you, your kids, your mother-in-law, and the entire extended family will be happy with, go to this Winter Park gastropub. While you can order things like dry-aged steaks and goat cheese tortellini in the restaurant and taproom, the beer garden is more casual and fun. The dog-friendly space usually has a food truck menu (think giant pretzels, smashburgers, and wings), Jenga and shuffleboard that will keep the kids occupied, and a long list of house-brewed beers on tap that can last you well into the afternoon.

There are a lot of great omakase menus happening in Orlando, but Soseki is much more laid-back and personal than the others. Chefs share the story behind each of the 15 to 18 courses in the same way they might talk about their clarinet-playing kids or gifted nephews. They also never repeat menu items, so you might eat chawanmushi with Cape Canaveral shrimp one day, and saba with battered kombu another. 

Nothing says splurge like a dinner at Norman’s. The spacious dining room at the Dellagio Town Center has a shining brass bar and windows into the 4,000-bottle wine cellar, along with a constant flow of double-digit anniversary dinners and corporate types schmoozing with potential clients. They do fancy fusion dishes like french toast stuffed with foie gras and blue crab beignets with yuzu aioli, along with a worthwhile wine pairing that’ll get you access to some of the best stuff from their big selection.

Udon is the reason you're eating at Zaru. You can come here 1,000 times and never have the same bowl twice since there are so many ways to customize a bowl. But if you need help narrowing it down, go for the mentaiko tsukimi that comes with an egg yolk, marinated pollock roe, shiso, and noodles that have just the right amount of chew. This casual spot doesn't take reservations, so kill time waiting for the “your table's ready” text at the Vietnamese market next door or one of the nearby boba shops.

After the longest week ever (of meetings that could’ve been emails), head to Reyes Mezcaleria for a boozy brunch that’ll reset all the bad juju before Monday. Yes, there are plenty of great mezcal cocktails, like the spiked strawberry agua fresca and the option to get a paloma made with the smokey spirit. There’s lots of space to breathe in the big dining room and there’s probably a bridal shower in matching red dresses cheersing with a round drinks. And unlike some boozy brunch spots, the food isn’t an afterthought. The tortilla’s runny egg tastes great with the saltiness of the chorizo and the pan de uchepos is an excellent feat of engineering that’s like a creamy souffle meets sweet cornbread.

Ava Mediterraegean, with its arches, columns, and limestone, might remind you of that Mediterranean vacation you’ve been meaning to take, while the tableside preparations add a touch of drama. Beyond the daily fish and grilled halloumi, both served flambéed, there's a Greek salad tossed before you and a rack of lamb unveiled from a smoke-fogged glass dome. It’s all a bit over the top, but if you’re looking for a dinner spot that’s a little extra, this is where you’ll find it. 

Come to this walk-in-only Japanese pub to unwind with fun food that comes on a stick and Happy Hour deals. They have 35 types of sake, plus fizzy highballs and bites that are way better than your typical bar sliders: delicious salty chicken skin yakitori skewers, spicy yuzu pepper shrimp, and grilled shoyu quail eggs. The huge space is always full of people chatting, and perfect for sharing small plates with whatever new friend you made at the bar because you were eyeing their snacks.

If you’ve ever been to a BBQ and thought, “why aren’t people putting pulled pork on other carbs besides buns?” you’ll love this self-described Italianish joint. They do things like pizzas with braised brisket, grape jelly BBQ sauce, and smoked mozzarella and cheddar melted all over. But there’s more to this pizza than just the toppings—the sourdough crust has a subtle tang with a pillowy and softer texture than your average pie. Enjoy each hefty slice with cacio e pepe fries and Pigzza’s riff on a whisky smash with pistachio orgeat, grapefruit, and tarragon.

Edoboy isn’t your regular sushi spot. There’s a one-hour time limit, you’ll be standing the entire time, and there’s not a lot going on in the space besides the chefs blowtorching and slicing up raw fish. But that’s exactly why we like it, especially for hanging out with a good friend you don’t mind stretching your calves with. You can select up to a dozen pieces—the Faroe Island salmon and butter-smooth bluefin fatty tuna are standouts—and each nigiri is served on a banana leaf. 

Sometimes, a burger is the only thing everyone can agree on for dinner, and that's when you should beeline it to this sports bar. There might be a game on TV, a live Bob Marley cover band, or a round of trivia happening, but it’s the long burger menu that keeps the place busy. There are nearly unlimited options here, and some of them are quite weird—you can exchange buns for waffles and beignets and layer on toppings like avocado slaw, ghost pepper cheese, and guava barbecue sauce. There’s an underground menu that requires a password from their Facebook page (but you can also nicely ask your server about it). It unlocks even more options and you can pretend you just won the toppings lottery.

The downstairs cafe of Antonio’s sort of reminds us of food halls in Italy. It’s an always-busy market setup where the tables are scattered among the merchandise, so you might end up seated by boxes of risotto or bottles of amarone as you share a spread of pizza and pasta. They’re open all day, so it works if you want a slab of lasagna for lunch, a stromboli for dinner, or a meatball sub at 3pm. Don’t leave their market without picking up some almond cookies from Tuscany or a ball of smoked scamorza from Puglia. They also have a restaurant upstairs that’s more formal with steaks and a full bar, but we like the market best. 

This casual Mexican restaurant is an ideal family dinner spot where everyone can get what they want: an excellent spicy jalapeño margarita for you, and a simple quesadilla for your cousin who only eats things with cheese. The menu is overloaded with options, but we like coming here for a dinner of poblano rellenos with tequila bacon and the birria tacos with extra tender slow-braised brisket. Don’t let the strip mall exterior fool you—inside you’ll find a newly renovated dining space and an upscale, almost country club atmosphere. Agave Azul also happens to be 10 minutes away from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, in case your colby jack-loving cousin wants to know.

The Monroe does excellent, upscale comfort food dishes that go heavy on nostalgia in a loungey space that’s like a more upscale version of the Brady Bunch’s living room. Go for the crispy cauliflower as an appetizer, then double down on the fried chicken with skin that’s just the right level of crunchy before desserts like an ice-cream-topped brownie. This spot has a different vibe during the morning and afternoon, when it’s a coffee shop filled with college students studying and corporate types grab lunch.  

Ask around for the best bánh mì in Orlando, and lots of folks will send you here (including us). This simple shop nails every aspect of a bánh mì: The still-warm baguette crackles when you grip it and the meat-to-herb-to-vegetable ratios are all perfectly calibrated. They have five sandwich options, and our favorites are the marinated-to-sweet-perfection grilled pork and the special combination with ham, pork, and pate (the best choice if you’re really hungry). There’s a small counter to sit on a stool and eat, but this is more of a takeout spot. So consider eating your sandwiches while exploring the options in this huge strip mall, like Sun Pearl Bakery, an excellent cash-only Chinese bakery.

If your wealthy but eccentric uncle had an antique store and a speakeasy in his 100-year-old mansion, it might look a bit like Mathers Social Gathering. Bartenders in suspenders whip up creative cocktails, there are sashaying burlesque dancers performing around the space, and everybody is passing around plates of brie and manchego or pepperoni flatbread. Come here to snack and drink a gin cocktail with lavender and honey served in a mini bathtub or a smoking oak decanter of bourbon with whiskey barrel bitters and green apple. They even have a general store in the corner of the room for the essentials, like candy cigarettes and absinthe.

This trattoria with candles, white tablecloths, and jazz music playing in the background is a top date night spot in Orlando. But despite all the typical sexy stuff, the real thing that makes this place shine is the freshly made pasta. Try the cannelloni, filled with just the right amount of ricotta, mozzarella, and parmigiano, or a plate of pappardelle allo scoglio that’s loaded with a generous portion of shrimp, scallops, mussels, clams, and calamari. Save room for the citrusy panna cotta that’s drizzled with amarena cherry syrup.

The fact that there’s often no lunchtime parking at Black Bean Deli is a testament to how good this Cuban food is. Circle a few times to snag a spot, and your reward will be some of the best pan con bistec, empanadas, frita burgers, and cortaditos you can find in town. The cubano is their specialty, but don't overlook the medianoche. This is more of a grab-and-go deli with limited seating indoors, although there are a few picnic tables out front.

When you step inside Lee & Rick’s after parking in front and realizing the facade is shaped like a ship, you’ll know you're in genuine Old Florida. Since opening in 1950, this nautically-themed restaurant has become an Orlando institution, and it’s reliable for a casual weeknight dinner. Find a spot at the 80-foot concrete bar and go to town on peel-and-eat shrimp, raw oysters fresh from the Gulf, and gator bites.

There are classic barbecue joints, and then there’s Pig Floyd’s. It’s probably the only place in town where you can find smoked brisket, ribs, and pulled pork on tostadas and bánh mìs with the option of slathering everything in tikka masala sauce. And somehow, it all works. Their bento boxes are also pretty good, especially the chopped chicken with pineapple and a side of spicy BBQ sauce. Come for a casual lunch or dinner, preferably on the large covered patio. 

Light on the Sugar has two locations, and you should go to the one on Orlando Avenue in Winter Park. It’s a chill space to meet a friend over a sakura latte or tiramisu float, and there’s always an available mini booth or a chair by the window. The pastry case is filled with crepe cakes and European classics like mille-feuille and macarons in flavors like lychee and ube. The best thing here is the crème brûlée cream puff, with a light, almost cheesy cream that somehow isn’t super heavy.

You can find everybody from firefighters and city officials to drag queens and DJs at this tiny, art-plastered teahouse. They’re all here to grab a quick lunch or casual dinner of some super creative sandwiches. Go for options like brisket, strawberry jam, and blue cheese on the Billy Chang or the Thanksgiving sandwich complete with turkey, ginger cranberry chutney, and mashed potatoes. Wash it all down with one of their milk teas, like the taro or mango option. 

Haan Coffee is super casual and constantly packed after 9am, likely because they serve some of the best coffee drinks around. The black sesame latte has a nice sweet-and-nutty flavor that’s even better with a shot of espresso, and on a hotter day, their espresso-elderflower tonic is a bubbly way to get a hit of caffeine. Grab one of their croffles—yes, that is the flaky cross between a croissant and waffle—when you need a light breakfast before lunch plans where you’ll end up raving about the latte you had two hours prior.

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