Food might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Orlando. Maybe it’s the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and wondering if they have a wandmaker on-site. Or maybe it’s how Orlando mysteriously ended up with an NBA team. But as the city continues to grow, so does the local food scene, and regardless of how much time you’ve spent here, it can be tough to keep track of where to eat and drink. Luckily, that’s where we come in.
Here you’ll find our favorite restaurants and bars in Orlando, from a few great brunch options to the best spots for Italian food and barbecue. This guide doesn’t include every place in the city, but the next time you need somewhere with servers that won’t be dressed up as cartoon characters, we’ve got you covered.
All restaurants featured on The Infatuation are selected by our editorial team. The Orlando City Guide is presented by the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express. Click here to learn more about the benefits you get from paying with a Premier Rewards Gold Card while dining out.
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Kadence is located inside a nondescript black building that looks more like a pop-up modern art museum than an actual restaurant. Inside, however, you’ll find some of the best sushi in the city, rather than installations that’ll make you wonder what is and isn’t “art.” Reservations at this nine-seat sushi counter in Audubon Park are hard to come by, but if you can’t wait three months to eat here, they also serve Japanese breakfast on the weekends and chirashi bowls filled with sashimi, vegetables, and sushi rice to go. Make this your first stop the next time you’re in Orlando.
This downtown bar looks like a cross between a library in an old mansion and a barn, with antiques and vintage furniture everywhere and bartenders dressed in suspenders. While it’s definitely a unique space, they also make some of the best cocktails in the city. Mathers also has a small food menu, which includes everything from chili rice cakes to charcuterie boards, and a general store for the times when absinthe and candy sound like the right combination to end a night.
There are a lot of different situations that call for a boozy brunch, like celebrating a birthday, or just surviving a weekend with your future in-laws, and the Stubborn Mule works for just about all of them. This spot in Thornton Park serves a wide range of morning cocktails, like peach sangria and a spicy Bloody Mary, along with $12 bottomless mimosas if you want to make an afternoon out of it. Besides the drinks, the food here is actually really good and includes brunch staples like steak and eggs and a cheese fondue-topped veggie hash. They also have a few things that will sound better after a few drinks, like the “Who Woke Up First,” a combination of fried chicken, eggs, cheese, and bacon pressed between two cinnamon cronies.
Per the name, The Guesthouse looks and feels like the pool house of someone’s friend who lives in a much cooler neighborhood than you, and will make you wonder, “How can I make my apartment look more like this?” It’s all of this, plus the excellent cocktails, that makes this spot in Mills 50 one of the most popular new bars in the city. You can stop by during their daily Happy Hour from 4-8pm, which includes everything on the menu for half off, and if you want to make a night out of coming here, a few food trucks park outside of The Guesthouse most nights of the week, too.
Part art deco bakery, part homage to Alice In Wonderland, The Glass Knife is a new spot in Winter Park that serves just about every sweet you can imagine, from pistachio orange donuts to a chocolate raspberry tart. Each of their baked goods is decorated by hand and you’ll likely see a lot of people taking photos of their desserts. However, if you come with someone who isn’t really into sweets, this place also has a full brunch and lunch menu with things like breakfast sandwiches, salads, and flatbreads available for the savory-only people in your life.
Landlocked Central Florida is not Italy, but when you want to temporarily forget that, go to Prato. This always-packed restaurant in Winter Park serves modern Italian food, like mustard spaghetti cacio e pepe and a variety of wood-fired pizzas, and has retractable doors and a patio, which almost makes it feel like you’re getting a nice breeze from the Mediterranean. There’s always a wait if you don’t make a reservation, but just grab a drink at the bar and start debating with your friends about how many pastas to order in the meantime.
After a long day at work, on the golf course, or riding Flight of the Hippogriff 12 times, you just want to go somewhere for dinner that you know will be good and that everyone you’re with will like. For us, that’s The Ravenous Pig. This neighborhood restaurant and bar in Winter Park has a dining room for larger groups, a bar for when you pop in solo, and a tap room if you just want to grab a snack and try a few of their beers brewed on-site. The seasonal menu includes everything from oysters and shrimp and grits, to braised pork belly and a short rib brisket burger that you’ll be thinking about the next day.
Antonio’s in Maitland is a split-level cafe/shop and restaurant where you’ll go to just buy some bread and cheese, and end up staying for lunch and a glass of wine. Downstairs is a super casual cafe and market where you can eat pasta, pizza, and rotisserie chicken, while also stocking up on things for your own kitchen. For the more formal experience, head upstairs, where you can still eat all of the Italian classics from the first floor, along with a wide range of steaks and seafood.
Whether you’re celebrating an anniversary, birthday, or finally cleaning out your garage, it’s good to have a go-to restaurant where you can eat and drink really well and get a little dressed up. For us, that’s Luma on Park. This place serves a mix of Italian food and things you might not expect, like soft shell crab and steak tartare, and between their basement wine cellar and cocktail bar, there are a lot of drink options. This Winter Park staple also has a $35, three-course prix fixe menu that includes things like kampachi crudo and homemade bolognese for when you don’t want to make a ton of decisions.
Located just a block from Lake Eola in Thornton Park, Soco is one of the best places in Orlando to spend an afternoon eating and drinking outside. This place serves high-end comfort food, like grilled meatloaf with lobster mash potatoes, Southern fried quail and waffles, and a weekly TV dinner special that yes, gets served on an actual tray covered in foil. Drinks-wise, they have a huge wine list, along with plenty of cocktail and beer options. When you want to pretend like you don’t have responsibilities, come to Soco for a long weekend brunch or to spend the entire day on a patio.
When you’re losing steam after a long day out with your family and need a snack and a drink to hold you over until dinner, head to Cocina 214 in Winter Park for Happy Hour. This Tex-Mex spot serves 12 types of margaritas and lots of things that are perfect for a small pre-meal, like tacos, queso fundido, and fried avocado bites. And if you don’t feel like relocating to another spot after a few drinks, the burritos and tamales should help hold you over until breakfast.
Inspired by food carts across Southeast Asia, this Mills 50 restaurant serves a wide range of small plates, soups, noodles, and rice dishes to eat-in or carry-out. The menu is a bit all over the place and includes things like Malaysian curry laksa and Hong Kong wontons, but it’s the variety of food that keeps us coming back here all the time. You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, but the roast duck lettuce wraps and the shrimp and pork #dimsumcrunchyballs are two of our favorites - yes, even if one of them does have a hashtag in front of it.
Ceviche is a downtown tapas spot that’s a great place to start a night out. There’s a long bar, which is ideal if you’re on a date or out with a friend, and if you’re with a group, the large restaurant includes tables of just about every size imaginable. The menu includes a variety of tapas, along with things like paella, ceviche, and pitchers of sangria. They also host live music and flamenco shows regularly, so if you want to simplify your night by going straight from dinner to dancing on a stage without leaving the building, you can do that at Ceviche, just hope no one has their phone out.
Picking somewhere for a group dinner can sometimes feel like an SAT question. Your cousin is a vegan, grandma just wants somewhere with good wine, and your best friend is taking their new Whole30 diet very seriously. Rather than stress over it, just tell everyone that you’re going to RusTeak in College Park. This restaurant and wine bar is casual enough for a quick lunch or a Happy Hour glass of wine, while still working just fine for a date or birthday dinner. Food-wise, they serve everything from burgers and flatbreads, to General T’s pork belly and plenty of fresh fish. Similarly, they have one of the biggest wine and cocktail menus in the city, so regardless of who is joining you, everyone should be able to find something to eat and drink here.
It’s hard to find one restaurant that you can take your family, friends, or the stranger you met at the bar next door to. However, that’s exactly what Santiago’s Bodega is for. This Mills 50 tapas restaurant serves everything from beef carpaccio to patatas bravas, with plenty of wine and cocktails to help get your friends ready for a night out or speed up the “getting to know you” phase of your impromptu date. They also have a great weekend brunch buffet and patio, which makes it a good place to spend a Sunday afternoon.
There aren’t many good food options around Sand Lake Road, the tourist-y strip near Universal Studios. However, Rocco’s Tacos and Tequila Bar is trying to change that. There’s nothing mind blowing going on here, but the tacos, Texas-style queso, and specialties like chile rellenos and mole poblano are all better than anything else in the area. They also have a great late-night menu for when you get hungry again after sampling from their wall of tequila, which includes more than 400 varieties.
Calling Pig Floyd’s Urban Barbakoa a barbecue place is kind of like calling The Lion King a movie about cats. It’s not wrong, but it doesn’t quite tell the whole story. Located in Mills 50, Pig Floyd’s smokes brisket, ribs, and pulled pork, but their barbecue is served in everything from tacos to bento boxes to banh mi sandwiches. You can stay traditional and get a meat plate with a few sides, or go for something that you won’t find anywhere else in town, like butter chicken tacos or a Mongolian brisket bento box.
When you’re on vacation, or even just hosting someone who is, you always end up eating meals between meals, having a few extra drinks, and accepting that it’s okay to have dessert twice in one day. But after a few days of that, you’re going to need a reset. When that happens, go to Dandelion Communitea Café. The entire menu at this restaurant and tea house is vegan, gluten free, and healthier than anything you’ve eaten in the past week. Get a salad or tempeh bowl, and while eating here won’t counteract the donuts and pie you ate yesterday, you should feel a little better afterward.
If there’s one place you should make a point to have brunch at in Orlando, it’s Se7en Bites Bake Shop in the Milk District. Sure, there will be a line out the door whenever you go, but it moves quickly and will give you plenty of time to decide between things like the Se7en Benedict, which is topped with fried green tomatoes and peppercorn hollandaise, and the bacon cornbread waffles. They also have a full lunch menu, plenty of cakes and pastries, and beer and wine, which means you can basically spend an entire afternoon here if you want.
While Orlando is in the south, it’s not really a Southern city. If you’re looking for some proper Southern food though, you can find it at The Coop in Winter Park. This place specializes in fried chicken, which you should definitely get, but they also serve po’boys, shrimp and grits, and plenty of traditional sides, if a bucket of chicken isn’t what you’re after. They also serve breakfast seven days a week, which includes classics like chicken and waffles and biscuits with gravy. Just make sure to schedule a nap for afterwards if you stop by.
Once you hit day three of a convention or a conference, you’re going to want to eat something that doesn’t weigh you down as you sit through four more hours of back to back powerpoint presentations. During your next break, head to Da Kine Poke. This former food truck now has food stalls at both downtown’s Market on Magnolia and at The Local Butcher and Market in Winter Park. There are a few signature bowls on the menu, or you can make your own, with a variety of fresh fish, vegetables, sauces, condiments, and bases to choose from.