Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Florida >
Apr 7, 2007 06:01 AM

Orlando 1st timer- review these choices & add pls

Hi, my name is Crystal and this is my 1st post here. My family likes fun restaurants with good food. Dh likes steak, burgers, crispy chicken, salads, guy food and I like grilled chicken, pork, steak, most cooked veggies, mexican, japenese, etc but are open to trying most new foods except fish or lamb. (I've been on a 1,200 cal diet all year, but am splurging for vacation!)The kids are average are happy if they have mac & cheese & basic kids meals.

This is my family's first visit to Disney/Orlando/ Florida and we are 27 (dh), 27 (me), 6 (dd), and 5 (ds). We are going 2 character meals at Disney for the kids, Chef Mickey dinner and Garden Grill lunch as well as 50's Prime Time lunch for dh. I don't want to spend $70-90 for every meal though, maybe $25 for lunch & $50 for dinner for 4? :).

We will be at Disney offsite for 8 days. Breakfast is at the condo, so I'm wanting to plan the rest of our meals at places with good/great food & fun atmosphere or just great food with kid foods too. I love nice finer restaurants too, but don't think the patrons would appreciate my hyper 5 year old. I don't really like fast food, buffets or cafeteria style resteraunts, or those that have a lot of smoking, but I don't care if they are chains. Hopefully I'm specific enough, lol.

So far on my tentative list are: Flame Tree Grill, Bahama Breeze, Tijuana Flats, and Black Bean Deli, Tu Tu Tango, and Bubba Gumps? How are these restaurants and any others to recommend? Thanks,

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Sounds like you've done some research!,Bahama Breeze, and Tijuana Flats are both good choices,(try the key lime pie @ Bahama) ,i am not familiar with Flame tree,Tu Tu ,or Bubba Gumps,it sounds like you want places you can sit down and eat ,Black bean only has seating for 4-5 people,but the food is exceptional,and very affordable,not to mention the people that run it are always friendly,good luck ,and enjoy your stay!

    1. Where are you from? If you're from a coastal region where you have access to good seafood (and shrimp and shellfish in particular), I'd skip Bubba Gump's. It's pretty expensive for what you get, I've always thought -- and you said you don't like fish!

      Tu Tu Tango is lots of fun, but keep in mind they give you small plates so you can share and try many different things. A lot of the food might be too exotic for kids who love mac and cheese, even though it's all really good. It's not the cheapest place in the world if you really want to get full, but I'd just worry about the kids liking it. Here's their menu on their website:

      Tijuana Flats is a local Tex-Mex chain (started right here in Orlando), and we like it a lot. The chimichanga is just awesome. Don't let the kids play with the hot sauce dispensers, though! :)

      1. I hope you have a great time at Disney. Just a word of warning. You will probably spend more than your budget for lunch and dinner. Orlando is a tourist area and they have great places to eat, but a lot of the locals don't eat around Disney. I really like Tijuana Flats. It is kind of fast food, but very good. There is a place on Sandlake Rd called Jockamos that has great seafood New Orleans style and it is very casual and right next to it is a burger place that people think are good. It really isn't close to Disney though. I like BW3 which is a buffalo wing place and it accomodates kids(this is near Disney) and there is a chinese buffet that is down the street that is pretty good and fairly inexpensive.
        I am not sure, but I know I was exhausted when I would go to Disney for the day....have a good time. Oh....if you don't feel like going out, Publix has great subs and fried chicken.

        1 Reply
        1. re: kimocorb

          Publix also does a better key lime pie than about 90% of the restaurant key lime pie out there.

        2. If you are staying in a Disney property -- your note isn't specific, as I'm not sure what you mean by "offsite" -- you should investigate the Disney Dining Plan, as so many of your dining experiences seem to be there.

          If not, my guess is that with two smaller children, you will spend the bulk of your time in the parks, or in the water, and you will not want to make very many long trips on unfamiliar roads in heavy traffic.

          Do not be intimidated by the children, however. Rug rats are ubiquitous to Central Florida and in all but the very finest restaurants, 1 percent or less, will you ever be uncomfortable with childen, Even in those restaurants, kids are accomodated gracefully and treated well by the staff.

          You don't mention where you are staying, and knowing that might allow me to be more helpful. A rental home in Davenport as compared to one on West 192 or in Poinciana can provide equally different logistal challenges.

          If you have not found the all ears restaurant listings
          <>, I would encourage you to use them as a daily guidline to your Disney area restaurants. The information is very current and a good general guide to what they offer.

          Smoking is banned in all Florida restaurants and, for the most part, all of Disney is smoke free. That should not be a problem.

          As to your named choices (Flame Tree Grill, Bahama Breeze, Tijuana Flats, and Black Bean Deli, Tu Tu Tango, and Bubba Gumps) i agree generally with the other posters.
          Flame Tree Grill is a barbecue-style restaurant in the Animal Kingdom park which is pretty good.
          Thye closest Bahama Breeze to Disney is in lake Buena Vista on SR 535 just south of I-4, next to Landry's. Also good, and it will give you a sampling of some of the foods, spices and flavors of Florida and the Caribbean. (Not sure where you are from, either, so not sure how novel seafood is -- other than Crystal's mention that she doesn't like fish).
          It looks like the closest Tijuana Flats location is at , 2320 S Kirkman Rd, (407) 822-4257. Depending on where you are coming from and how tired you are, that might or might not be worth the trip. T.F. is good, but there's a real Mexican restaurant in Kissimmee called Azteca ( 809 N Main St, Kissimmee, FL 34744, (407) 933-8155) that is far superior, if that location and type of food suits you. <>
          I've also been told La Fontera (1804 West Vine Street, Kissimmee, FL 34741,
          (407) 933-0774), also in Kissimmee, is quite good for chain Mexican.
          Black Bean Deli is too far away to consider. It's mostly take out, no seating, and by mid-afternoon -- since everything is made fresh daily -- they have run out of half the menu items.
          Bubba Gump at Universal's CityWalk does fit the definition of fun and kid friendly. The food is marginal, especially at those prices. Try one of the Joe's Crab Shack locations for less money, comparable, if not better food, and still fun.
          Cafe tu Tu Tango, which is up on International Drive , really only makes sense if you are doing Universal Studions or SeaWorld -- which you haven't mentioned -- and with the caveat about small plates mentioned elsewhere, it can be a fun place.

          You might like Rainforest Cafe, there's one at Animal Kingdom and another at Downtown Disney. <>
          A better recomendation, at least foodwise, is Boma, which serves lunch and dinner at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Buffet style, but not in any kind of cafeteria sense. A number of small, staffed food stations offer selections of different kids of food from mac and cheese to African-style dishes.
          For value, if you are located in the Kissimmee/192 area, here are three good choices in St. Cloud, just east of Kissimmee and worth the extra 10 minute drive.
          The Catfish Place <> has been preparing this Florida delicacy for 20-plus years. The owners only buy wild, not farmed catfish, from fisherman who know the Florida lakes. It's real Southern-style food and quite good. Sides are wonderful, and if you are adventureous, there's gator, frog legs -- all fresh -- and they even serve a fried lobster appetizer that's really good.
          The Muffin & Grill in St. Cloud (3195 13 St., St. Cloud, (407) 891-2100).is a brightly painted little place that serves breakfast, lunch and an $11 all-you-can-eat nightly buffet that includes crab claws. The lunchtime sandwiches easily contain a pound or more of meat. They literally cover the plate and cost $4.95. Everything is excellently prepared and, while plain, it's chowhound heaven.
          Bonnie Lee's Fried Chicken (900 13 SSt. Cloud, (407) 892-8318) -- you mentioned hubby likes crispy chicken -- also serves huge portions of chicken, fish, etc. with a crunchy batter. The pieces are huge, very moist and succulent. Also very inexpensive. I think their catfish is as good as The Catfish Place, plus they do great corn fritters, shrimp, etc.
          Another good, family friendly restaurant with a Florida theme and good barbecue is
          JT's Prime Time, 16299 W. Irlo Bronson Highway, Kissimmee, FL 34746, 407-239-6555.over on the western side of 192, out towards US 27. JT's has a loyal following among tourists, deep in the heart of time share country, along with families from nearby Four Points neighborhoods and a lot of Disney employees. There are big portions, great prices and a large, noisy and blissfully separate game room.

          There are a few ides and options. I'll try to be more specific if you need other information.


          5 Replies
          1. re: Bob Mervine

            Thanks for all your helpful replies! I appreciate it very much as I've spent hours on planning our trip and now I'm down to 2 months, yay!

            I am staying at Windsor Hills, which is near Animal Kingdom. Off Hwy 4 I think?

            We don't eat fish, but shrimp is good. We're from NC, triad area, about 4 hrs from the coast. That is great on the smoking ban down there, only wish so here :).

            1. re: Bob Mervine

              Forgot to answer one question, we are going Disney 6 days-MK twice, Epcot Future, Epcot World, AK, & MGM. We are doing 1-1/2 to 2 days of SeaWorld and if we can fit it in a 1/2 day at Gatorland & some outlet shopping. I can't sit still on vacation, lol. I'm searching all the recommended rest. now :).

              1. re: taterville4

                Hi, I have one recommendation for you. Maggiano's Little Italy just opened up on International Drive (which is just down the road from SeaWorld). It is a chain, but a very good one. They specialize in Northern-style Italian "family-style" dining. The food, in my humble opinion, is extremely good and you can eat there very affordably if you are willing to share entrees. I've eaten at three Maggiano's before (Durham NC, Las Vegas, and Orlando) and all have been very good, high quality Italian food.

                They have a "family-style" eating option on their menu, but I don't recommend it because it's just too much food. Instead, you can economize on your wallet and your waistline by sharing entrees, salads, and desserts (I assure you they are very used to this). Also, the atmosphere is boisterous enough to be kid friendly, so you can have better-than-casual style meal without worrying about having a normal, energetic 5 year old annoying other diners.

                Here's the link: I highly recommend their lasagna for those with traditional tastes, and the gnocchi for someone who is a bit more adventurous.

                Have fun!

                1. re: taterville4

                  You are in the west 192 area. That road is the main conduit to Kissimmee and St. Cloud, due east about 20 to 30 minutes (depending on traffic).

                  With the significant amount of time you will be spending in the parks, I again suggest strongly that you go through allears and make a checklist of places to eat, noting lunch/dinner choices, which should be reserved as soon as you arrive -- and have a backup choice or two because the reservations go fast. Also note snack and other places, especially if you want fresh fruit and such.

                  Choices at SeaWorld are pretty good. There's Shark's Grille, although with your aversion to fish you will have some problems there. I like the Spice restaurant a lot. Their web site has some additional information, but there's nothing comparable to allears for SeaWorld.

                  Gatorland is in between Kissimmee and St. Cloud, although north a bit, which might make that day a good one for trying one of those restaurants mentioned earlier.
                  The outlet malls, for the most part, are on north International Drive, which puts you near to Cafe Tu Tu Tango.


                  1. re: Bob Mervine

                    Gatorland is a 10-minute drive from Azteca, the very small, very authentic Mexican restaurant Bob mentioned earlier.

              2. There's also a Houlihan's down by you on 192 that's good - has good burgers and salads. Rainforest Cafe is fun right outside the gates of Animal Kingdom, but the food is expensive and is hit-or-miss. But my kids like it so I take them sometimes. You didn't say if you like pizza but there is a great mom-and-pop type pizza place on that side of 192 called New York Pizza World.