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Feb 8, 2007 11:53 AM

Deliver me from Orlando Chain Restaurants

Please help me plan some decent meals.
I will be in Orlando with my family for a week in April. My parents have a timeshare and go to Orlando one week each year. I usually only join them for a night or two and can put up with their mediocre restaurant choices for at least that long. However, I am planning to join them for the whole week this year and I would really like to eat some decent food.

The restrictions:
My mother is a germaphobe and won't eat anywhere that looks the least bit sketchy (as a chowhound, I know that some of the best meals come from unassuming Mom and Pop type places, greasy spoons, diners and roadside restaurants. My mother does not agree and while she will on occasion eat at one of these places, she will make the experience unpleasant for everyone.)
My father is cheap, but always differs to my mother. If she likes a place, he feels it is worth while to pay extra for a meal that she enjoys. Choices from several price ranges would be helpful (He won't want to pay $30 - $40 per person for dinner every night). Places that offer senior discounts would be appreciated (There will be three people with AARP cards, and my father loves to see a discount even if it is only 5%).
My cousin will be with us. She is five. She is reasonably behaved at restaurants but is still five and prone to use her outdoor voice on occasion. Family-friendly would be great but not necessary.
As far as cuisine goes, almost anything is fine. Indian, German or Cuban suggestions would be especially appreciated. Fish restaurants are great, but must have some non-fish items and no fishy smell (Sometimes you get a place that throws their used oysters shells out back and the smell makes my Mom sick).
Total, we will have one child and 4-6 adults.
As far as locale, anything within about a 40 minute drive of Downtown Disney would be our preference.
Thank you in advance for your help. Despite the title of this post, I am more than willing to try a chain restaurant if you have a good recommendation. Mostly, I just want some decent meals that enhance the time I'll be spending with my family (or at least don't detract from it).

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  1. Although you said no Chains, I'd recommend sweet tomatoes, its over by the outlets on International Drive. It offers a low price and senior discount.

    1 Reply
    1. re: cherylp3

      Thank you for the suggestion of Sweet Tomatoes. I know my parents love it there. Although I generally don't do buffets myself, maybe I’ll give it try on this visit.

    2. Where will you be staying? It sounds like having transportation is not an issue. Have you -- or they -- had any experience with any of the Disney restaurants (not in the parks, but others)? How does the five-year-old do with ethnic?

      Personally, if I were a restauranteur and saw your group coming, I'd quickly put up the closed sign, turn the lights off and tell everyone to be quiet until you left. However your group is representative of a large part of the dining customers in Orlando this time of year. Disparate, difficult to please and likely to make at least one group member unhappy no matter what a restaurant can do.

      One you've answered, I'll try to give you some specific suggestions. But I also suggest some due diligence on your part by searching this board with various key words (Disney, Kissimmee, Davenport, Universal) because most restaurants are mentioned here at some point.


      2 Replies
      1. re: Bob Mervine


        Thank you for taking the time to provide feedback.

        We are staying at the Sheraton Vistana, which is just around the corner from Downtown Disney. Transportation will not be a problem (my parents always drive down so we will definitely have a car).

        Other than our mandatory trip to one of the Disney parks, we generally try to avoid the Disney properties (too much walking for my mother). I have had a few meals at Disney restaurants (mostly enjoyable but overpriced) out in California, but none in Florida.

        My little cousin does just fine with ethnic food. We usually have to find something relatively plain on the menu (especially when we eat Indian) but we never really have a problem. Unlike most kids who ask for peanut butter and jelly or hot dogs everywhere they go, she is happiest with an undressed salad, veggies and grilled chicken or fish.

        I realize we are a difficult group to please which is why I have asked for help. I have combed through the Florida board, but it is hard to tell what will work given our unique requirements. I appreciate any assistance you can provide.

        Just so you know, based on your prior posts (and others’ posts) I am currently considering the following:

        Dinner for my parents private night out:
        Dell Frisco Steakhouse
        Seasons 52

        Meals for the whole family:
        The Breakfast Club
        Memories of India
        Don Pepe's
        Taquitos Jalisco

        1. re: Ineverwrit

          Amanda ( whom I think I know if you went on the DVC cruise )

          One recommendation I have is to not go to Don Pepe's and maybe go to Ole Ole in Winter Park instead.


      2. Leave the grandparents with the child one night and splurge on Charley's Steakhouse on International Drive.

        1 Reply
        1. re: carallard

          Thank you for your comment. Funny enough, I am actually planning to do the opposite one night, and send my parents out for a night alone (they are raising my cousin and haven’t had a night alone in over a year). I have eaten at Charley’s once on a business trip and was reasonably happy with the experience. I’ll put that on my list of suggestions for their night out.

        2. Is Season's 52 considered a chain? I know there are more than one any rate I suggest you check it out. I had several fantastic meals there the last time I was in Orlando and wish there was one near where I lived. Great menu, fresh healthy dining options, nice decor, friendly staff, reasonable prices.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Windsor

            Based on your recommendation and the restaurant website, Season’s 52 is spot on as a suggestion for my fiancé (if he is able to go on the trip) and me. Any restaurant with a seasonal menu and local ingredients is a great start for us. I’ll also include it in my suggestions to my parents for their night out for sure. Hopefully, I’ll get the opportunity to eat there myself, if not this trip then sometime in the near future.

          2. Fish Bones on Sandlake.Charley's steak w/ great seafood.Bring an extra wallet $$$$$$.Gotta pay to play.

            3 Replies
            1. re: clean plate

              Clean plate,
              Thanks for the suggestions. Another Charley recommendation makes it sound like I can’t go wrong with that choice. Fish Bones looks like a good choice as well. I'll add it to my list.

              1. re: clean plate

                I personally do not see the fascination with Charley's Steakhouse. To me it is a mid-level steak house that serves, at best, a mid-level steak. No way it is Prime beef and if I am going to extend myself that much paying for that quality of a steak which is a little extreme then I will go a little further and go to Del Friscos on Lee Rd. or Shulas at the Dolphin. To me any place that, at least use to, give a free Steak on your birthday, to me is trying to bring you into the restaurant for things other than the food. You can do better IMO

                1. re: theflytyr

                  I agree with you about Charley's. Totally boring dining experience. Average to below average food. Average service. No atmosphere.

                  I'd much prefer Del Frisco's. Old school steakhouse with premium cuts of beef. Excellent wait staff.