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Jan 24, 2007 12:27 PM

Help in Orlando

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?

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  1. 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

      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

        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!

      2. re: Covert Ops

        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

          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

            Thanks so much. I heard about Jiko

        2. 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. 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

              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

                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. 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. Timpano Italian Chophouse is good
                  Bonefish Grille

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: bevoray

                    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.