HOME > Chowhound > Florida >

Help in Orlando

awaxdirect Jan 24, 2007 12:27 PM

I am going to Orlando for 5 days and have yet to find anything better Pizzeria Uno to eat. Can you recommend anything (no Disney restaurants, please!) for a decent dinner?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Covert Ops RE: awaxdirect Jan 24, 2007 01:24 PM

    I'm sorry that out of the thousands of high-quality restaurants in Orlando, you don't think anything is worthy. But this board is spilling over with great information on Orlando restaurants of all price points and cuisines. I know the search function on CH has been spotty this week, but those threads should be on the first two pages or so of this board.

    Since Orlando is a rather large metropolitan area, if you need specific help we'd like to know a) if you have a car, where you're staying and how far you're willing to drive; b) price/cuisine preferences; c) any special needs, like kid-friendly, large groups or dietary restrictions. And if you come up with some places you think you'd want to try, please list them and the O-Town hounds will be happy to weigh in. But I can guarantee you that a blanket "Orlando stinks" statement won't get you too much response.

    That said, don't discount Disney. Some of the area's best restaurants are there. It's not all Mickey-Mouse-shaped ice cream on a stick.

    Good luck in your search.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Covert Ops
      daynaholly RE: Covert Ops Nov 29, 2008 10:28 AM

      Hi, I will be going to Disney in late January and staying on Hilton Grand Vacations Club on International Drive with my husband and three and a half year old. Can you suggest some places that might work for us? We will have a car; we dislike chains and prefer ethnic foods. My daughter is well behaved in restaurants, but since we are going to be spending a lot of money on the trip overall we don't anything fancy. Thanks for amy tips you may have.

      1. re: daynaholly
        Bengaliwife RE: daynaholly Dec 14, 2008 05:11 AM

        When my husband and I were stranded in Orlando for 10 days due to the lack of power in our area of south florida after Hurricane Wilma came through, we discovered a fabulous restaurant on Sandlake Dr. Just past University drive called Cedars. We at there 3 out of 10 nights and absolutely loved it. It wasa lebanese restaurant( cuisinewhich we had never tried before) with great pita bread cooked in a brick oven and fabulous chicken and beef kabobs. They have many other menu items which we did not try. The service is great, very friendly and accommodating, and they even can bring you a hooka to smoke featuring different types of tobacco.
        We also found a great south indian vegetarian restaurant on Orange Blossom Trail called Mysore Woodlands. They have great Dosas and their deep fried vegetable fritter appetizers are good as well.
        Good luck!

        1. re: Bengaliwife
          daynaholly RE: Bengaliwife Dec 14, 2008 12:07 PM

          Thanks so much -- both sound great.

      2. re: Covert Ops
        wendy928 RE: Covert Ops Dec 10, 2008 06:50 AM

        The Blue Zoo is one of the best restaurantsin the Orlando area! Located in the Swan Hotel, don't be put off b/c it's on Disney Property. Jiko, also absolutly wonderful, is in the Animal Kingdom Lodge. The selection of wines and sparklings from New Zealand are not to be missed.

        1. re: wendy928
          Bengaliwife RE: wendy928 Dec 14, 2008 05:18 AM

          If you look through previous chow hound threads you will find quite a discussion on this very topic that proves to be very helpful. Bob Mervine seems to know alot about this area and you will see his recs alot.

          1. re: wendy928
            daynaholly RE: wendy928 Dec 14, 2008 12:07 PM

            Thanks so much. I heard about Jiko

        2. b
          budcar RE: awaxdirect Jan 25, 2007 04:25 AM

          We're in Orlando visiting right now and it seems that the truly Chowish places are small restaurants, mostly Thai, japanese and Cuban hidden in shopping centers. We tried the Viet Garden in the Vietnamese shopping area on Colonial Drive and while the seafood pho was okay , my wife's chicken with lemongrass dish was prepared with dried out chicken. We returned it and the chef offered to prepare an alternative which my wifew declined so it was graciously removed from the bill. I had been there before and I think, I'll try others in the area.There is a Cuban place where we're staying near Seaworld off International Drive that, my wife fell in love with. We were there twice; the first I had shrimp with green sauce which was liquidy, bland but fresh, my had had fried pork which she loved. The place is new, named Nacho's ..Their menu is limited but it is vey clean.


          1. a
            awaxdirect RE: awaxdirect Jan 25, 2007 06:34 AM

            Sorry, but my experiences over several years have not been good. I will be staying near the convention center and will drive up to 25 minutes. I prefer not to be in a Disney location and prefer smaller restaurants that are not kid/group populated. Italian, Mediterranean or any Asian ethnic restaurant would be great.

            2 Replies
            1. re: awaxdirect
              Covert Ops RE: awaxdirect Jan 26, 2007 06:28 AM

              If you like Vietnamese, there's a pretty large Little Saigon neighborhood on Colonial (State Road 50) just east of I-4. The restaurants range from upscale bistros to more casual, with some boba tea places as well. I don't know the names of any off the top of my head, but if you search this board for "Orlando Vietnamese" you'll find some good recs. :-)

              1. re: awaxdirect
                Chef_Rich RE: awaxdirect Dec 14, 2008 02:39 PM

                I know you said you prefer not to be in a Disney location. But, you mention Asian food as a preference. In the Dolphin, yes at Disney, is the Komono. It is definitely not kid nor group oriented. As a matter of fact, except for the walk to the restaurant you would not even know it was in Disney. The Sushi is exceptional. The prices are are average for an elegant, high quality sushi dinner. If you do decide at some point to try it, try the beer by Chef Morimoto of Iron Chef. OH OH OH, and you must try the 'dragon tail' (I think that's what its called) it is spectacular.

                Please bear in mind that most of the restaurants in the Disney hotels are privately run. They are held to a high standard, and they are not Disney centric in design. Blue Zoo, Don Shula's and the Kimono are just 3 EXCELLENT choices, love Disney or hate it... these 3 places deserve their own accolade.

              2. m
                mellie RE: awaxdirect Jan 25, 2007 09:08 AM

                I too have been searching for chow possibilities for my upcoming trip. Feel free to check out my short list. When initially searching on chowhound, I would also google the rest name to see if others had feedback about it. As you can see, we have more choices than lunches and dinners. There are no Asian or Italian restaurants on my list as we were more looking for cuisines that we can't find in Toronto.


                1. b
                  bevoray RE: awaxdirect Jan 25, 2007 11:35 AM

                  Timpano Italian Chophouse is good
                  Bonefish Grille

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: bevoray
                    starbucksbrew RE: bevoray Apr 10, 2008 05:59 AM

                    I have to respectfully disagree, bevoray. Timpano is the worst restaurant I've eaten at in Orlando, in the 7 years I've lived here.

                    For great Italian, try Il Pescatore on Primrose near downtown. Some may tell you to try Stefano's in Oviedo, because Stefano used to own Il Pescatore. I have eaten at both, and they have the exact same menu, and there is no difference in quality. It will take you a half hour longer to get to Stefano's, and Il Pescatore has more of the family-owned Italian feel/decor, whereas Stefano's is more modern.

                  2. hitachino RE: awaxdirect Jan 25, 2007 12:47 PM

                    sometimes where you're staying might limit your experiences just a tad ;) -- ie, if something looks like a tourist trap, smells like a tourist trap......

                    when it comes to local folks i know personally, we avoid I-drive and the attractions areas, but in my limited experience of dining in that area i can recommend cafe tu tu tango, bahama breeze, cricketers arms, and there are a few (pricey, but just about everything in that area is going to be pricey) restaurants on sandlake road that are quite good. (antonios, roys etc -- google or search this site for 'restaurant row, sandlake, orlando' )

                    if you wanted to better expand your selection and do as the locals do, you'd need to be able to branch out to areas that surround orlando (winter park, longwood, altamonte, lake mary, winter springs, maitland, etc etc) and / or go into the city of orlando itself.

                    imho. ;)

                    unfortunately, people say "orlando" and everyone immediately thinks of the attractions area. look at a map and you'll see that there's a large area to consider over and above the attractions area.

                    1. m
                      Mrs. LoveToTryNewRestaurants RE: awaxdirect Mar 12, 2007 11:28 AM

                      If you're in the downtown area, try Harvey's Bistro on Orange Ave., Hue's in Thornton Park, and for extremely nice dinner, try Manuel's on the 28th - - restaurant on top of Bank of America.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Mrs. LoveToTryNewRestaurants
                        Orlando Vic RE: Mrs. LoveToTryNewRestaurants Mar 11, 2009 08:38 AM

                        Unfortunately, both Harvey's Bistro & Manuel's on the 28th have closed - victims of the poor economy.

                      2. b
                        Bodeybuilt RE: awaxdirect Jan 21, 2008 10:49 AM

                        Fish Bones and Moon Fish both on Sand lake rd down I drive.Applewood grill at both, the steaks are to die for. I never pass up Fish Bones.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Bodeybuilt
                          mzshan RE: Bodeybuilt Jan 24, 2008 05:49 PM

                          www.nypdpizza.net NY STYLE PIZZARIA
                          www.Crackerbarrel.com Breakfast
                          other then that.... its mostly chains.

                          1. re: mzshan
                            Orlando Vic RE: mzshan Apr 9, 2008 08:33 PM

                            Cracker Barrel is also a chain! Good home cooking, but not haute cuisine.

                            1. re: mzshan
                              winechic RE: mzshan Apr 10, 2008 08:08 PM

                              Orlando really offers some nice (independant) brunches and breakfasts....I hope that folks are venturing out from Cracker barrel while in town.


                          2. h
                            horvath42 RE: awaxdirect Apr 11, 2008 05:51 AM

                            Here are my suggestions for Orlando for very good food.
                            1. Primo @JW. Marriott
                            2. Bice@Portofino Bay Hotel
                            3. Texas de Brazil on International Drive
                            4. Maggiano's on International Drive
                            5. Vito's Chop House on International Drive
                            6. Bergamo's on International Drive
                            7. Seasons 52 on Sand Lake Road
                            8. Moonfish on sand lake Road

                            This should give you a few choices. Good eats.

                            1. j
                              jesakarose RE: awaxdirect May 15, 2008 08:43 AM

                              Originally from Chicago, it has been hard to find great food, but so far my favorites, in no order:
                              Ravenous Pig (Winter Park)
                              FiFi's (Orlando, Lake Eola)
                              Fish Bones (Lake Mary)
                              Cafe Tu Tu Tango (I Drive)
                              Gentils Pizza (Debary, far North but the best pizza)
                              Any other suggestions on what to try? I am North of Orlando, love trying new places.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: jesakarose
                                starbucksbrew RE: jesakarose May 18, 2008 10:56 AM

                                jesakarose, I was in Chicago last year and had great fun trying their food. If you're looking for more places to try in the north Orlando area, one of our favorite places is Bill's Elbow South at Oviedo Marketplace. It's a big restaurant with a great bar and sometimes live music. We go for the perogies and green beans - omg, so good! They also have the best wings that we have found - they're big as your head and a bunch of different sauces to choose from. AND there's more, the King of Oviedo and Queen of Oviedo desserts there are must-tries. The King is a pastry topped with fried ice cream, whipped cream, cinnamon, and honey. The Queen is a brownie topped with fried ice cream, whipped cream, and chocolate. However, they recently changed the pastry on the King from a pillowy sopapilla to an ordinary danish, so it's not quite as good as it used to be, but still pretty darn good.

                                For Italian up in your area, try Stefano's. There is also an Indian place in Lake Mary that my DH has been to and he said it's awesome. I can't remember the name right now, but I think it's near Ruth's Chris and Fishbones in that area.

                                1. re: starbucksbrew
                                  jesakarose RE: starbucksbrew May 19, 2008 12:19 PM

                                  I will have to try them might try Stefano's tonight, Italian sounds GREAT... Indian place... The only thing I can think of is Jinja?? They are no longer there. I will have to look into it. Thanks again!

                                  ALSO of all the places I have lived/visited Chicago is always number one for food, such variety and never disappoints.

                                  1. re: jesakarose
                                    winechic RE: jesakarose May 19, 2008 06:39 PM

                                    Kohinoor is always a safe bet for good Indian, it's in Altamonte Springs.


                                    I haven't been to the Clay Oven since it changed hands again, they are in Longwood.

                                    1. re: winechic
                                      Big Bad Voodoo Lou RE: winechic May 19, 2008 07:57 PM

                                      Clay Oven closed some time ago, and it's now the all-vegetarian Udipi Cafe. I haven't been yet despite living so close to it, but I highly recommend Kohinoor.

                                      1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou
                                        winechic RE: Big Bad Voodoo Lou May 23, 2008 07:53 PM

                                        Oops! Forgot the name changed with the new owner. I've heard the Udipi Cafe is good, though. I'll have to swing by there sooner than later.

                                        I've eaten at Kohinoor pretty regularly for over 10 years, as my office is in that neck of the woods. It's consistently great, dine in or take out. The lunch buffet is a popular choice in my office. If I go that route instead off ordering Channa Masala off the menu...I still order the veggie somosas. Delish!

                                        Kohinoor has great options for both veg heads (me) and meat eaters (everyone else I dine with), my co workers are always pleased when they leave there.

                              2. o
                                oneofthesedaysAlice RE: awaxdirect May 19, 2008 12:27 PM

                                Having moved to Orlando five years ago, I've found the area to be a culinary wasteland. There's plenty of mediocrity and very little to get excited about. Sorry; that's just the way I see it.

                                8 Replies
                                1. re: oneofthesedaysAlice
                                  winechic RE: oneofthesedaysAlice May 19, 2008 06:35 PM

                                  It's a shame you feel that way.

                                  I'm from Chicago and the Balto/DC area, while Orlando may not be the tops for haute cuisine nationwide, there are some nice places to eat and some great local eateries around town.

                                  There are some nice recs on the board for most of the better places in town. I hope something tickles your fancy soon.

                                  1. re: oneofthesedaysAlice
                                    starbucksbrew RE: oneofthesedaysAlice May 24, 2008 08:25 AM

                                    To each their own. DH and I love the food in Orlando. It's when we travel that we are sometimes disappointed with the food - like (believe it or not) San Francisco and Washington DC. (the one glorious exception there being the Chinese pork buns in SF - yum)

                                    The only places we've been that top Orlando for food are Las Vegas (quality and variety) and New Orleans (quality, even if not variety). And NO CITY that we've been to tops Orlando for restaurant customer service.

                                    That being said, Orlando has suffered a huge culinary loss with the closings of Blue Bistro and Midnight Blue.

                                    1. re: starbucksbrew
                                      herbert1 RE: starbucksbrew May 24, 2008 11:38 AM

                                      Another loss as well... I have heard that Kathleen Blake has left Primo. Lets hope they find a quality replacement....

                                      1. re: herbert1
                                        rudykins RE: herbert1 May 24, 2008 01:46 PM

                                        Do you have any more details? This is the first I've heard of it.

                                        1. re: rudykins
                                          chrisinroch RE: rudykins Jun 6, 2008 04:51 AM

                                          It's true. I heard that the decision came from Marriott. Maybe financial?? I imagine that her and her husband will land on their feet even in this slow economy. Still it sucks. Primo was very good under her.

                                          1. re: chrisinroch
                                            herbert1 RE: chrisinroch Jun 6, 2008 12:06 PM

                                            It wasn't financial, but I think this isn't the appropriate place to discuss it. I certainly hope she stays in the area, but I'm not so sure there are many openings in the local market that would allow her immense talents to be utilized.

                                            1. re: herbert1
                                              beteez RE: herbert1 Jun 6, 2008 05:37 PM

                                              The last time we were there was mothers day & the food was exc. I do not know if se was still there or not. We will be back in July & plan on going then. will see how it compares. We ave been 6 or 7 times in the past year & will really miss it if te quality declines.

                                              1. re: beteez
                                                herbert1 RE: beteez Jun 7, 2008 08:28 AM

                                                I've been a few times in the last month and the food is still excellent, Hopefully they will do what is required to keep it that way....

                                  2. s
                                    skruse RE: awaxdirect Nov 29, 2008 03:59 AM

                                    As a concierge in the area, I would recommend The Oceanaire Seafood Room in Pointe Orlando ( yes it's a chain but they always impress here) Kres and Hue downtown, Le Coq Au Vin, Fama's Ristorante to name a few. Of the chains: Capital Grille, Roy's, and Emerill's Tchoup Chop.

                                    1. g
                                      glowworm RE: awaxdirect Dec 10, 2008 11:32 AM

                                      In the downtown-ish area you might enjoy Graze (I like it for cocktails and light food but they have a full menu), Le Coq Au Vin (French), Lac Viet (Vietnamese), Ceviche (Spanish tapas) and Nonna (Italian). Ceviche is the only "chain" but it's a chain of only 3 or so. Graze has a sophisticated, modern feel to it, Ceviche has a little bit of a touristy feel and the others are more mom-and-pop (all are good though and Le Coq au Vin is excellent.)

                                      Good Luck.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: glowworm
                                        DomFromParis RE: glowworm Dec 16, 2008 08:09 PM

                                        Citrus on orange avenue is pretty good, nice place.



                                      Show Hidden Posts