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Best first date restaurant in Orlando

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I'm looking for a good first date restaurant. Since it would be just a first date I'm not looking for anything too expensive or too romantic, just a place that can impress with food. Plate prices in the $10-20 range, with a possible few exceptions above 20. Service should be good and it would be nice if the restaurant noise is not too loud as I'd like to be able to talk to my date, though fun choices for subsequent dates are also welcome.

I'm looking for both ethnic and standard American food choices as the date may not always be the "most adventurous" when it comes to food. But since I'm a fan of all varieties, I'm looking for all possible listings. The location is not important as long as it is in the Orlando vicinity. I'm hoping for an exhaustive list if possible. I know of a few places but I haven't been to them yet and therefore don't know if they are very "first date" conducive.

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  1. Any number of restaurants on Park avenue in Winter Park. Pannulo's is good and in your price range. Eat inside or out. Then you can walk the ave, eat ice cream, etc. Great spot.

    1. 1. Anaelle & Hugo -Restaurant Row, contemporary Mediterranean
      2. Blue Bistro, ViMi District on Mills, Eclectic or its just opened Thornton Park cousin, Midnight Bistro
      3. Cafe Tu Tu Tango, tapas style, I-Drive
      4. Cedars, Middle Eastern, Restaurant Row
      5. Dexter's, three locations -- I like Thornton Park best -- Contemporary American
      6. Don Pepe's Habana Grill - Aloma in Winter Park or Altamonte, Cuban/Latin
      7. Fuji Sushi - Lee Road, sushi
      8. Garibaldi's, Mexican, 436 & Colonial or 436 near Apopka
      9. Harvey's (might be pushing your price, look at menu on Website), contemporary American, downtown or Lake Mary
      10. Hot Olives, Hannibal Square, Winter Park, contemporary American
      11. Ichiban, sushi, downtown
      12. Jinja Cafe, Asian, Lake Mary
      13. K, College Park, eclectic (may also push your price constraint)
      14. Mona Lisa, Italian, Longwood
      15. Napasorn, Thai, downtown
      16. Taste, College Park, small plates
      17. Viet Garden, Vietnamese, ViMi, Mills & Colonial -- there are a half dozen comparable Vietnamese restaurants in the same area -- other favorites include Anh Hong (no alcohol), Little Saigon, (just renovated and expanded), Vietnam Town, Pho 88, Vinh's and others I have forgotten
      18. Winnie's, Chinese, Orange Ave. just off 17-92
      19. Doc's, contemporary American, S. Orange Ave. near ORMC-- budget may be an issue
      20. Bistro Paris, French, Aloma east or 436 just before Forsythe
      21. Babbo, Neapolitan Italian, College Park
      22. Seasons 52, (budget ?), healthy American, great wine list, Restaurant Row and 436 in Altamonte
      23. Le Coq Au Vin, French, S. Orange Ave (budget?)
      24. Gentry's, S. Orange, American

      I'm sure there are more I forgot or haven't thought of. I've deliberately left some out because of price.

      Hopefully your inquiry and this list will generate some more information.

      Bob

      2 Replies
      1. re: Bob Mervine

        Thanks Bob. I knew I could count on you for a good list, and all above looks good including some reasurance of some places I already heard about.

        1. re: frienetic

          Please report back -- not about the date, of course -- but the meal. I overloaded you, hoping to spawn some other response. So far, no luck.

      2. I went ahead and went to Dexter's at Thornton Park. It's relatively close to my place and I've been meaning to try it for some time. Also has a good downtown location, plus the prices seemed just right.

        Overall the experience was great and the food extremely thrilled my date. We started with an appetizer off of the changing menu. It was a chorizo manchego cheese risotto. It was very good but unfortunately all throughout the day I had been suffering from a bit of a stomach thing, though I hid it well. Overall it was a hit.

        For main entrees I went with the Mediterranean pasta toss, and she with the parmesan shells. At first I thought my pasta would have too many flavors and too much going on, but in the end the main flavor was a subtle olive oil and allowed myself to mix in a bite of chicken, spinach, or cheese with each forkload. It was great. The parmesan shells were extremely simple. Nothing really exciting in my eyes, but she loved it so that's all that matters.

        No dessert or wine for us. I'm currently on some medication that prohibits alcohol, and I'd much rather go around the corner for gelato at Il Gelatone if I fancy dessert.

        Service was efficient. Nothing to stand out, but kept the drinks full, food arrived in timely manner and he mostly kept out of the way which was just fine. It allowed us to talk and not be interrupted. The main regret I had is not eating outside. Dexter's has a nice little patio. I was worried about heat but it turned out to be a nice evening. Plus, it was a lot quieter outside. My main complaint was with the noise on the inside. It wasn't too much that I couldn't converse, but for the fact that the room wasn't full, it was a lot louder than I would have thought.

        Overall great first date restaurant. Nice range of dishes, including a changing menu that is particular to the location. Great wine selection. And with its close proximity to Lake Eola, it provides an excellent opportunity to take an after dinner stroll to talk and allow food to settle.

        Thanks again Bob for the suggestions and I fully plan on making use of the list for any future dinner dates.

        1. Glad it worked out. Hope you will provide periodic feedback as you work your way up and down the list.

          As an aside, I've come to realize that nearly all Orlando restaurants in this category are way too loud.
          Beluga has done a good job so far on capturing their market, but you can't hear yourself think in there on a busy night.
          Hue, Dexter's, Season's 52, Doc's -- all too loud.

          Is it because we're all getting hard of hearing?

          Bob