HOME > Chowhound > Florida >

Discussion

ORLANDO VISITOR'S DINING GUIDE - A Hound Perspective - Downtown-Winter Park-College Park areas

  • 45
  • Share

Here's the third in our series to use the Crowdsourcing method to create a series of threads for the most commonly asked questions for visitors to Orlando. This will hopefully create a more centralized place for visiting Hounds to find recommendations from like-minded folks in the community rather than relying of other travel boards where you never know the "standards" or agendas of the contributors. These threads are meant to be created by locals and frequent visitors as a general guide, but in no way should they preclude individual threads asking specific questions - just trying to create a central repository so that visiting Hounds don't have to wait in vain for answers.

A few guidelines:
- Let's avoid chains that are available in most places across the US.
- Visitors who use this board should report back on our recommendations - a positive experience can confirm and several negatives may be a cause for re-evaluation of the recommendation
- Hopefully this will be a useful guide for locals as well

I'm prediciting this topic will have more local participation because 1) I'm less familiar with it and therefore my initial list will probably be too limited, and 2) there seems to be more active local Hounds who live and frequent these locations.

So today we're doing the:

DOWNTOWN-WINTER PARK-COLLEGE PARK AREAS

Foodie Favs

Ravenous Pig
Four Rivers Smokehouse
K
Luma on Park

Hip Urban Upscale

Kres Chophouse
Hue
Shari
Citrus

Hip Urban Casual

Cityfish
Dexter's
Grafitti Junktion
Ceviche
Ember
Hot Olives

Ethnic Hotspots

Lac Viet
Pho 88
Little Saigon
Ming Bistro
Shin Jung
Bosphorous
Shin Sushi
Rocco's Italian Grill

Romantic Escapes

Boheme
Chez Vincent
Paris Bistro
Juliana's

Expense Account Impress the Client Locations

Kres Chophouse
Boheme
Luma on Park
Del Frisco's

Oenophiles

Lake Eola Wine Co.
Dexter's
Wine Room
Luma on Park

Cheap Eats

Four Rivers Smokehouse
Little Saigon
Pho 88
Beefy King
Blackwater BBQ
Chili Daddy
Hamburger Mary's
Johnson's Diner
Virgin Olive Market

Alternative Spots

Pom Pom's Teahouse
Dandelion Communitiea
Harmoni

-----
Ming Bistro
1212 Woodward St, Orlando, FL 32803

Graffiti Junktion
900 E Washington St, Orlando, FL 32801

Citrus Restaurant
821 North Orange Avenue, Orlando, FL 32801

HUE
629 East Central Blvd, Orlando, FL 32801

K Restaurant & Wine Bar
2401 Edgewater Dr., Orlando, FL 32804

Luma on Park
290 S. Park Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789

Shari Sushi Lounge
621 East Central Blvd, Orlando, FL 32801

The Ravenous Pig: An American Gastropub
1234 N. Orange Avenue, Winter Park, FL 32789

Dexters of Thornton Park
808 E Washington St, Orlando, FL 32801

Little Saigon Restaurant
1106 E Colonial Dr, Orlando, FL 32803

Beefy King
424 N Bumby Ave, Orlando, FL 32803

Hot Olives
463 W New England Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789

Boheme Restaurant
325 S Orange Ave, Orlando, FL 32801

Kres Restaurant
17 W. Church St., Orlando, FL 32801

Juliana's Fine Tuscan Cuisine
2306 Edgewater Dr, Orlando, FL 32804

Chez Vincent
533 W New England Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789

Cityfish Restaurant
617 E Central Blvd, Orlando, FL 32801

Johnson's Diner
595 W Church St Ste E, Orlando, FL 32805

Ember
42 W Central Blvd, Orlando, FL 32801

Dexter's Wine Bar Cafe
558 W New England Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789

Paris Bistro
3586 Aloma Ave Ste 7, Winter Park, FL 32792

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
Posting Guidelines | FAQs | Feedback
Cancel
  1. thanks for starting this guide yosemite sam, you rock ! hopefully this will cut down on those "where do i eat" requests lol

    3 Replies
    1. re: pdpredtide

      Thanks - I had hoped these topics would drive more discussion and perhaps disagreement. When I lived in South Florida posting a list like this would have resulted in 200 replies with new ideas and challenges to my thoughts. Orlando restaurants are pretty full, I wonder where all the passionate food people are online.

      Now don't get me wrong, I don't miss the "we ate there once and the waiter was rude so I'm never going back and no one else should either" lines of argument. But I'd like a "Shin Jung is ok, but for real Korean check out Beewon" type reply.

      1. re: YosemiteSam

        "Steak and Salad". I'd have this small restaurant on my "ethnic" list for this area. Tasty Turkish dishes for a fair price, and lunch specials. On 17/92 (Mills ave) just south of Virginia.

        1. re: max5d

          I agree! I was just in there yesterday. They seriously have the most delicious baklava I've ever eaten. After some inquiry, I found out that it is shipped down from a specialty bakery in Philly. Sort of a bummer it isn't made in house but when its THAT GOOD, who cares?

    2. As much as I love Dexter's, I wouldn't call it an oenophile destination. Their list isn't the least bit ambitious or interesting to me. Their housemade chips with lava sauce are a must-have though.

      2 Replies
      1. re: orlwine

        Good point - it is a "wine bar" in style, but not very ambitious - more of a bar - still recommend it for an after work get together though

        1. re: orlwine

          Do tell more about these must-have chips, checked their menu and didn't see them.

        2. Vegetarian
          Ethos Vegan
          Loving Hut

          1 Reply
          1. re: pdpredtide

            A few nice veggie choices on the menu at Austin's coffee and film on Fairbanks

          2. Maybe add a section for best brunch. Dexter's Winter Park, 310 South, Park Plaza, etc...

            2 Replies
            1. re: Corporate_40

              Well, you could have just started the list, but here ya go

              Breakfast/Brunch

              Dexter's Winter Park
              Park Plaza
              310 South
              Briarpatch

              -----
              Briarpatch Restaurant
              252 N Park Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789

              1. re: Corporate_40

                Mmmmm...Dexter's Bloody Mary: a meal in a glass!

              2. Thanks for this! As a chowhound visiting Orlando next week(trying to decide we if want to relocate here - not going for the parks!) I totally appreciate this quick list. We will have our dog in tow so we may not be able to stop at some, but love the info!

                2 Replies
                1. re: taseymour

                  Sounds like a new category

                  Outside Seating, dog-friendly

                  Yellow Dog Eats Cafe
                  White Wolf Cafe
                  Dexter's (Thornton Park or Winter Park)

                  -----
                  Yellow Dog Eats
                  1236 Hempel Ave, Gotha, FL 34734

                  1. re: taseymour

                    Lots of places on park avenue are dog friendly... outside seating with water bowls by the door. Last time I was at the Wine Room we sat outside with several dog owners. There's also a nice park across the street so's they can get a little exercise!

                    Can't comment on the food at the Wine Room... never actually got around to eating there!

                  2. I just remembered another kind of old school Orlando place that is definitely worth a visit. I struggled where to place it geographically, but I think it fits best in the Downtown thread as it is pretty close and an easy taxi ride if you are staying in a downtown hotel.

                    Add it to the:

                    Romantic Escapes

                    Le Coq Au Vin

                    -----
                    Le Coq Au Vin
                    4800 S Orange Ave, Orlando, FL 32806

                    1. Fantastic list!

                      My only additions would be:

                      - Bento Cafe (sushi)
                      - Seito Sushi (Baldwin Park)
                      - Braxi's Burgers (for their version of the Manhattan Toasted Marshmallow Shake!!!!!)

                      -----
                      Seito Sushi
                      8031 Turkey Lake Rd. #700, Orlando, FL 32819

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: afluker

                        I liked the Braxi burger, (think 5 guys) but the service there when I went was not all that great.

                        1. re: afluker

                          I've been to the Seito Sushi in Celebration and at Dr.Phillips, too. Really like Dr. Phillips. Will try Baldwin Park next time.

                          -----
                          Seito Sushi
                          8031 Turkey Lake Rd. #700, Orlando, FL 32819

                          1. re: TiaRaye

                            Seito is really not the best Sushi you can get in town...it's good, but....the best is Fuji Sushi on Lee Road in Winter Park (the have a location in Lake Mary too, but WP is the original).

                            Largest selection, best prices and the biggest portions, I've ever seen on Nigiri style-sushi.

                            I'd recommend starting with the KOBACHI DELUXE - A bowl of Cubed Ahi, with Flying Fish Roe and Avocado and get it SPICY...with extra Togarashi spice on the side! It will blow your mind.

                            http://fujisushilakemary.com/menu.htm - MENU LINK

                        2. I'd like to add the Winter Park Saturday Farmers Market on here as a food destination. Local honeys such as Mangrove, Orange Blossom, and local Winter Park Honey)

                          There are plenty of things to try and eat, pestos, artesianal cheese, pastries, etc.

                          no real sit down restaurant type stuff but worth going to when visiting the area.

                          1. Excellent list! Have relatives visiting and still here for Thanksgiving holidays, so took a drive to Orlando for part of the weekend. We tried Dexter's and loved it. Fuji sushi was ok, but I think we might have better on the gulf coast/Tampa/Sarasota area.

                            1. I want to add the original Funky Monkey downtown to the list under Romantic Escapes. We had a sitter on Sunday and had a REALLY hard time finding a locl independent place open - I mean really does no one eat out on Sundays?

                              Anyway, we popped into here expecting a similar solid experieince to the one in Pointe Orlando, but while the menu was the same the vibe was completely different and to our taste much better.

                              This version is a romantic, intitmate place with only about 10 tables and low lighting - it fits the menu much better and delivers the kind of wonderful, quiet, adult experience often lacking in local places. The food was just as good as the other location.

                              So if you have a date night, I recommend the downtown Funkey Monkey, especially if you sample their appetizers in a type of small plates meal along with a few of their specialty sushi rolls.

                              1. As this supposed to be a "living, breathing" guide, there's been a few openings anf closings of note:

                                Johnson's Diner closed - has been replaced by another soul food joint called Fish & Loaves, I've heard no reports on it yet.

                                Also, early reviews are very positive for Tibby's, a cajun place that sounds like a perfect option for Mardi Gras, or anytime year-round. Let's add it to Ethnic Hotspots as I think Cajun is a very specific regional cuisine.

                                -----
                                Johnson's Diner
                                595 W Church St Ste E, Orlando, FL 32805

                                11 Replies
                                1. re: YosemiteSam

                                  Sam - any updates in these areas? I really liked some of the choices you recommended in this thread. I'll be back in Orlando in Feb. '12 and will certainly be spending some time & food money in Winter Park and College Park restaurants.

                                  1. re: RAGHOUND

                                    I put all my recs in the I-Drive thread, but from the list specifically for Downtown/Winter Park

                                    - Rusty Spoon
                                    - Funky Monkey Downtown (romantic)
                                    - Lac Viet
                                    - Pho 88
                                    - 4 Rivers

                                    Upscale

                                    - Luma on Park
                                    - Le Coq Au Vin

                                    Plus of course return trips to K and Ravenous Pig. Also Prickly Pear has great drinks and good appetizers

                                    -----
                                    Le Coq Au Vin
                                    4800 S Orange Ave, Orlando, FL 32806

                                    Luma on Park
                                    290 S. Park Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789

                                  2. re: YosemiteSam

                                    I absolutely loved your list, and found it very helpful. I'll be in Downtown Orlando (well, at the Crowne Plaza on Colonial at I-4) just for one night in late October, and wondered if you have any updates (closings, any places that aren't as good as they used to be). Looking for one lunch (perhaps an Asian place near the hotel) and one dinner. My past favorites have been K, Luma and Ravenous Pig. Would easily go back to any of these or try something new. I'll be dining solo, if that makes a difference.

                                    1. re: ClevelandRandy

                                      By then, the Cask & Larder, the new Southern-inspired restaurant from the Ravenous Pig folks, will be open in Winter Park (on Fairbanks, a few minutes from I-4). I'd check out the menu and just make a reservation there if it sounds good:
                                      http://www.caskandlarder.com/

                                      For Asian lunch places near your hotel, I recommend Bikkuri for sushi, Little Saigon for casual Vietnamese, and Lac Viet for slightly higher-end Vietnamese. Those are all on Colonial, and Bento Cafe on Orange also has great sushi and a pan-Asian menu of hot food (bento boxes, noodle bowls, multiple entrees) as well.
                                      http://www.bentocafesushi.com/orange....
                                      http://www.bikkurisushi.com/
                                      http://www.littlesaigonrestaurant.com/
                                      http://www.lacvietbistro.com/

                                      1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                                        Wow - Cask & Larder's menu is pretty ambitious. I'll look for reviews after it opens, but the R.P. folks know what they're doing, so I'm sure it'll be good. Thanks for the other rec's too.

                                        1. re: ClevelandRandy

                                          I don't disagree with Lou on any of his, but I prefer Pho 88 to Little Saigon - just a matter of personal taste. I also like Shari and Shin over Bento and Bikkuri

                                          One other option if you want walking distance is the Rusty Spoon - it's in the style of RP, etc if slightly less ambitious. However, the drink menu is good and there's something to be said for walking back to your hotel if necessary :)

                                          http://www.therustyspoon.com/

                                          The other place in this area that recently opened and is a must try at some point is Prato in Winter Park from the team that brought us Luma - but it is usually jammed

                                          http://www.prato-wp.com/

                                          1. re: YosemiteSam

                                            Prato was excellent the one time I went (back in December?), and I'd love to try it again some time. I also need to go to the Rusty Spoon AND Pho 88 one of these days. It has been too hot for pho for months, though...

                                          2. re: ClevelandRandy

                                            Cask and Larder JUST opened this weekend - just want you to be aware as I usually avoid places opening month to let them work out the kinks with the waitstaff, kitchen, menus etc. You may feel differently but just wanted full disclosure in case you share my trepidation with brand new places

                                            1. re: YosemiteSam

                                              I think it opens on the 5th.

                                              1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                                                Yeah - I'd hear Labor Day weekend - it gets confusing with soft openings etc

                                              2. re: YosemiteSam

                                                I won't be there until the end of October, so that should give them time to work out the kinds. I totally agree about avoiding places during the first month.

                                      2. Never mind, you've aready updated!! I suspect not much has changed since November 2011 :)

                                        Sam, this is a great Resource - only wish I'd seen it before I posted yesterday, looking for exactly this info! Got a question, though, as a follow-up: you posted this in 2010. Any changes you'd make now? Looking foward to eating in your neck of the woods soon, LMC

                                        1. Prato!

                                          chili daddy is closed

                                          1. This is very helpful. I have to organize a large executive dinner for our team for one night and of those listed under the 'expense account' heading, which would combine the best of the traditional steak eating cigar chomping choices with something a little more foodie and eclectic? Does such an animal exist? Our group tends to be split down the middle between fat cat execs who eat steak as a hobby and locavore seeking types who appreciate variety and great food beyond just the simple steak house.

                                            While Im at it I notice theres no beer head list. is Orlando House of Beer still the best place for the craft beer seekers? Anything new open since I was last here in 09?

                                            7 Replies
                                            1. re: Insidious Rex

                                              Christner's (formerly Del Frisco's) in Winter Park is my favorite by far of all the traditional steakhouses, and it's the perfect place for a bunch of fatcats. It's on Lee Road, just off I-4.
                                              http://christnersprimesteakandlobster...

                                              If you want craft beers and an awesome locavore experience, you should definitely try to get into Cask & Larder, the new Southern-inspired restaurant in Winter Park owned by the Ravenous Pig people. The food looks amazing, and they have an in-house brewmaster and a menu of top-shelf whiskeys. Make a reservation as early as possible, though! This could be the perfect place for all of you.
                                              http://www.caskandlarder.com/

                                              A much more casual place (super-fun, but probably inappropriate for an executive dinner) is Oblivion Taproom on East Colonial Drive near Semoran Boulevard -- not terribly far from Winter Park. They have good burgers and an extensive beer list.
                                              http://www.obliviontaproom.com/

                                              1. re: Insidious Rex

                                                For Steaks...with an expense account
                                                Bull and Bear at Waldorf Astoria
                                                Shula's Steakhouse
                                                Texas De Brazil
                                                Christner's like Lou said!

                                                More Locavore
                                                The Ravenous Pig
                                                Napa at The Peabody
                                                Victoria and Alberts?
                                                The Venetian Room?

                                                For Craft Beer I def second Lou's recs. I hear there is a new place called Tap + Grind downtown that features craft beers too

                                                1. re: pdpredtide

                                                  I'd change the locavore list a little bit and add

                                                  Luma on Park

                                                  K

                                                  Rusty Spoon

                                                  and espcially Chef's Table and the Tasting Room

                                                  Also, for a hipper steak experience you could try Kres downtown.

                                                  Oooh, I have a good idea for you

                                                  Go downtown and have drinks and appetizers at Rusty Spoon (great cocktails and a locavore heavy small plates focus). Then walk 50 yards up the street for steaks and expensive Cabernets at Kres. Finish with cigars at Corona Cigars Company right around the corner.

                                                  http://www.therustyspoon.com/

                                                  http://www.kresrestaurant.com/

                                                  http://www.coronacigar.com/

                                                  1. re: YosemiteSam

                                                    that is a great plan!

                                                    1. re: YosemiteSam

                                                      I ate at Kres a couple months ago. Wow. Probably one of the better experiences I have had in a restaurant in all Florida. Great food and service.

                                                  2. re: Insidious Rex

                                                    Totally agree with Lou and pdpredtide

                                                    but yes House of Beer is still around. It's a great place in the Hunters Creek Area but you do have quite a bit more options now since 09.

                                                    1. re: Insidious Rex

                                                      For your beer question, something to consider (in additon to C&L and Oblivion - both great options) is Orlando Brewing

                                                      http://www.orlandobrewing.com/

                                                      They give brewery tours Mon-Sat at 6 pm and then have a tasting room open Monday - Thursday, 3:00 to 10:00PM and Friday & Saturday, 1:00PM to Late. Great beers and a lot of fun