Orlando Dinner Suggestions for 1st Anniversary
My wife and I will be vacationing in Orlando for our 1st wedding anniversary between Nov. 1 and Nov. 8. We are staying in the general vicinity of Downtown Disney. We have a rental car and don't mind driving a reasonable distance or paying a pretty penny for a great meal.
That being said, I'm looking for any suggestions you may have for our 1st anniversary dinner. Our tastes are fairly eclectic. We rarely dine at chain restaurants, so none of that. Our favorite cuisines are from Asia (India, Japan, Middle-Eastern, Thai, Vietnamese, and especially Korean...). We enjoy African cuisine, but don't eat a lot of it. Italian is out.
Any suggestions are greatly appreciated. Thanks a bunch...
There are several high-end restaurants on "Restaurant Row" on Sand Lake Drive, closer to Universal Studios, as well as a few top-notch establishments in the better hotels nearby. I'm sure the usual suspects will be along soon enough to recommend places around there. Cedar's is known for upscale Lebanese food, but I've never been there. Also, the Animal Kingdom Lodge on Disney property has two African restaurants that are both supposed to be outstanding: the high-end Jiko and Boma, an all-you-can-eat buffet that even buffet skeptics end up loving. I've never been to either (but want to). Jiko in particular always gets rave reviews.
As for me, my favorite restaurant in town (which I've admittedly only been to once so far) is the Ravenous Pig, a "gastropub" on the edge of Winter Park. They should come highly recommended around here. You'll want to call ahead to make reservations, and it will be about half an hour from where you're staying, but you'll be very pleased. They change their menu a lot, but they have a sample menu on their website: http://theravenouspig.com/
Since you mentioned Vietnamese food, Orlando is known for its ViMi neighborhood with several Vietnamese restaurants, markets, and shops clustered around Colonial Drive (SR 50) and Mills Avenue (17-92), east of downtown and not far from I-4. I always recommend Lac Viet Bistro, which I think has nicer ambience than most of the other Vietnamese restaurants in the area. They have an expansive menu, decent price-to-portion ratio, and I've never been disappointed in anything I've ordered there. Check out http://lacvietbistro.com/ .
Another nice date/anniversary place that might appeal is the trendy Japanese restaurant Wazzabi, in Winter Park. They have teppanyaki tables, great sushi, and plenty of other good choices. http://www.wazzabisushi.com/
re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou
I agree completely with Lou. I try to hit the Ravenous Pig at least twice a month. The menu is simple. The owners use quality local ingredients. The shrimp and grits may be the best I have ever eaten. The bar has a great buzz and the staff is attentive. Wazzabi is likely the better choice for you. The Pig draws the local Winter Park crowd meaning older. You indicated it is your first year of marriage. I am assuming you are young. Wazzabi is more eclectic and has a wide range of Asian dishes. They have the best sushi in Winter Park and they may have the second best steak, behind Del Frisco's. The crowd is younger. If you go, stay in the main dining room. Avoid the teppanyaki room at all cost. The bar staff is great. Go early and sit at the bar. You will likely hear some interesting conversations. Of note, my wife and I are celebrating our 4th year of marriage tonight at Wazzabi.
Everyone has given you good advice here. Do try to get to Ravenous Pig and Lac Viet (Lac Viet is different from most of the area's Vietnamese restaurants in that it features North as well as South Vietnam dishes).
Jiko is worth the drive. Although the menu is not authentically Aftican, it does offer a creative twist on it. And it boasts the largest selection of South African wines in North America. We also have a good Ethiopian restaurant, Blue Nile, on International Drive.
For a special occasion meal in downtown Orlando, there is Manuel's on the 28th, with its top-floor view of downtown (the chef there is doing some very nice things these days) and the Boheme at the Grand Bohemian hotel.
You may also want to visit College Park (a neighborhood west of the downtown area) for K Restaurant & Wine Bar.
Enjoy your visit, and happy anniversary.
re: Scott Joseph
I can vouch for La Boheme in the Grand Bohemian being top-notch. I'm not up on all my fine dining establishments around town, but my girlfriend and I celebrated our second anniversary there in August, and were wowed by a wonderful Saturday night dinner and an awe-inspiring Sunday brunch. I think I liked the brunch even better, in fact!
re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou
Ravenous Pig is wonderful, but I'm not sure I'm on board with the others. Lac Viet woudl be good for another night, but it's just a dumpy little Vietnamese place. For a special anniversary, I'd choose Norman's, a New World Cuisine restaurant in the Ritz-Carlton, Grande Lakes. The food is beyond wonderful and it has a really sexy decor--the whole package. For Old World fun, The Venetian Room in the Carib Royale, a hotel near your hotel, is an old-fashioned continental restaurant with domed service. Get the lobster bisque. You might also want to try The Chef's Table a the Edgewater Hotel, a romantic little 30-seat restaurant in Winter Garden.
Ravenous Pig for hip and contemporary
Le Coq au Vin for French
Zen at the Omni Resort for sushi or Asian (far better than Wazzabi)
Norman's for your typical fancy restaurant
Cypress (?) on Sand Lake Road for Middle Eastern
Samba Room for upscale Cuban
Jiko and Boma are both great for African
Chefs Table in Winter Garden for intimate and contemporary
Manuel's on the 28th for the best view in town