HOME > Chowhound > Florida >


Orlando in November

Hello Florida Hounds! Philadelphia Hounds headed down for a week in November. What is new and noteworthy in the area? We will be staying at Disney, but will have a car. It has been probably 4 years since we have been to Orlando. We are open to just about anything. My husband does not eat sushi.

We usually hit the California Grill since that is where we had our wedding reception a number of years ago. How is their reputation these days? We like the steak at Charley's. We have ALL of the usual chain restaurants in our area. We don't go to them here, so there is zero chance we would go to one in Orlando.

The Florida board has always been a fabulous source for us and I look forward to hearing from you!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. how far are you willing to drive? 10 minutes? 20? Orlando is freaking huge and disney isn't really in the most convenient locale. Charley's has gone downhill (IMHO). Overpriced tourist steak. Blah.

    K wine bar had an excellent steak last I was there, and I thought it was a great restaurant. People rave about Ravenous Pig, but it's been hit or miss for me. I like 4 Rivers for some brisket, Pom Pom for a fun and cheap sandwich, and Bikkuri for very reasonably priced sushi (and other stuff). Pho 88 is good Vietnamese, Yellow Dog Eats is in BFE but supposedly great, Victoria and Alberts is in Disney and excellent fine dining (but bring your wallet!)

    Yellow Dog Eats
    1236 Hempel Ave, Gotha, FL 34734

    Victoria and Albert's
    , Orlando, FL 32830

    1. I was at California Grill last night and thought the food had gone down hill a bit. Flying Fish is doing some great food these days. I'd also recommend Primo , La Luce, TRP, K and Ocean Prime..

      Ocean Prime
      7339 W Sand Lake Rd # 400, Orlando, FL

      California Grill
      Disneys Contemporary Resort, Orlando, FL 32830

      Flying Fish
      Disneys Boardwalk Resort, Orlando, FL 32830

          1. re: YosemiteSam

            <ctrl c>
            <ctrl p>
            Very inspired.

            1. re: cem3340

              actually these were list us Orlando area chow-hounds put together and I think we agree these vistor dining guide we put together represent some of the better if not the best places.

              we simply just omitted anything we didn't think was worthy, unlike the phone book :P

              1. re: Sandwich_Sister

                Eh, this poster isn't even a local - prob another out of area snob who thinks we only have 20 restaurants in Orlando so this must be the phonebook. What I always wonder is why they bother taking the time to be critical and add no value altogether - sad life of the internet troll I suspect

            2. re: YosemiteSam

              YS, Heading down to the Celebration area. Can you recommend anything outstanding down there? Will have a car but want a local, non-chain option. Thanks!

              1. re: FrkMD

                I'm not a huge fan of any of the Celebration restaurants - some are ok like Columbia for a decent Spanish/Cuban-ish meal, and Market Street Cafe has some good food, as does Jean Pierre. But since you have a car I'd recommend you drive a little.

                Since that area is a sea of chains, you can either stay close and eat at a hotel restaurant, or drive a little further and get a unique local place. If you want to stay closer you could try La Luce or Sanaa or California Grill. With about a 10 minute drive up I-4, you hit the I-Drive/Sand Lake area, and then your options open up. If you make it up there then I'd recommend Wa (fusion) or Hanamizuki (traditional) for good Japanese, Memories of India if you don't have good Indian where you're from, or Funky Monkey in Pointe Orlando.

                Market Street Cafe
                701 Front St, Kissimmee, FL 34747

                Memories of India
                7625 Turkey Lake Rd, Orlando, FL 32819

                California Grill
                Disneys Contemporary Resort, Orlando, FL 32830

            3. I will second Pho 88 and I think you would like the Ravenous Pig.

              for Turkish Mediterranean food I would check out Anatolia

              Anna's Polish Restaurant is getting some good press lately. Little polish woman owns and cooks and from the people I've heard who have gone have said it is delicious.

              4 Rivers is also very new and the messy pig, pulled pork, and the burnt ends sandwiches are good, however we've had a very HOT summer and this is an eat outside on picnic tables kind of place so try to go when it's not 99 degrees outside.

              13 Replies
              1. re: Sandwich_Sister

                I think I have heard of the Ravenous Pig. if it is 99° in November, I will be one very unhappy individual!

                1. re: crazyspice

                  Well it has been a dreadful summer here and we are hopefull that it will indeed be cooler in November.

                  And that reminds me if you are here before Nov. 14th there is Epcot's Food and Wine fest. From a foodie standpoint it isn't the best food fest but it is super fun to eat and drink around the world.

                  I went last year a few weekends in a row and some days it was nice a cool and others it was so hot.

                  1. re: Sandwich_Sister

                    We are actually arriving on the 14th. Staying until the 21st.

                    What do you think of Citrus?

                    1. re: crazyspice

                      It's OK - more of a nice place to eat if you're downtown but not sure I'd make the trip there for it. If you want to eat downtown I'd go over to K in College Park for a nice meal or one of the Vietnamese places if you want cheap and casual.

                      1. re: YosemiteSam

                        We are definitely not looking for cheap eats. I am on vacation. That means fabulous food!

                        1. re: crazyspice

                          This is super cool. We get a lot of people coming here for vacation that have budgets and kids and sometimes we go more mild than wild with the suggestions.

                          While there are great places to eat that aren't expensive its nice to see that you in the mood to splurge.

                          Winter Park has some great restaurants. There is Luma which I am quite fond of.

                          And as mentioned Victoria and Alberts if you haven't been there.

                          I still say Anatolia and The ravenous pig.

                          Tapas downtown Ceviche or Tapas on I-drive Cafe Tu Tu Tango. A lot of these places have menus or sample menus online which could really help you decide.

                          Nile Ethiopian has been tested recently with great results and I'm still really curious about the Everglades restaurant near I-drive.

                          Oh and Normans in the Ritz Carlton - Norman Van Aken Restaurant is pricey but fabulous.

                          Near Normans if you take central florida parkway to john young parkway there is a bakery called Fortuna Bakery. It's a latin bakery, the menu is in spanish, the clientele are spanish but the coffee and pastries are awesome.

                          Cafe Tu Tu Tango
                          8625 International Dr, Orlando, FL 32819

                          Victoria and Albert's
                          , Orlando, FL 32830

                          1. re: Sandwich_Sister

                            Orlando was not my first choice in destinations this vacation. But because my tour director (aka the hubs) slacked, we couldn't trade our timeshare week for the Caribbean.

                            BUT, fabulous food will make this vacation a winner! Thanks so far for the suggestions. I have started a list and please keep the recs coming!

                            1. re: crazyspice

                              do you mind me asking which timeshare company or the ware abouts of where you are staying perhaps. Or is it Disney Vacation club in particular. Just makes it easier when suggesting places.

                              1. re: Sandwich_Sister

                                We have both Disney and Marriott. Home base is Orlando. We generally trade out. Saratoga Springs this trip. We are really not planning on "doing the parks". Maybe one. When we first started dating, we came down 2X each year for the parks experience. We had a destination wedding at the Grand Floridian. We are over the park thing. ;-) We are all about great food wherever we travel. Cooking is my most favorite hobby.

                            2. re: Sandwich_Sister

                              Has anyone been to Normans since the new chef came on board about 3 months ago? Wondering if there is any change in food?

                              Right next door at the JW Marriott is Primo, which is definitely on my top 5 list for upscale dining with exceptional food in the Orlando area. If you haven't been in awhile they have a new chef de cusine who is doing some great creative stuff these days.

                                1. re: crazyspice


                                  Lately they have been offering it torchon (verbal) and lobe style. The torchon portion is huge and delicious.

                2. Just my two cents worth:

                  RAVENOUS PIG: Go for lunch when it is cheaper and they have a lot of the same menu items. Also, you won't need a reservation since they're usually less full. The truffle fries are awesome! Closed Sunday & Monday.

                  4 RIVERS BBQ: Indeed a very casual place, but the beef brisket can't be beat. No reservations and outdoor seating only. Don't miss the roasted corn salad or cheese grits! Closed Sunday.

                  VIET GARDEN: If you're coming to Orlando, you won't want to miss visiting our Vietnamese / Thai / Chinese area mostly along Colonial & Mills. This place in particular serves amazing soups like Pho and lots of Clear Noodle versions (I like #25 myself) that allow you to add garnishes at your own whim.

                  JOHNSON'S DINER: A soul-food institution in Orlando, this place serves tasty oxtails, turkey wings, and fried chicken along with southern-style sides like turnip greens, macaroni & cheese, and corn casserole. Don't forget the sweet potato pie!

                  DEL FRISCO: A fairly expensive steakhouse with dry-aged beef and sides priced separately. Every person I've brought here scoffs at the cost at first, but by the time the meal is over, each one of them tells me it was totally worth it. It makes me proud to be a carnivore (sniff sniff).

                  MARAYA AT SABRINA’S: A little out-of-the-way Lebanese restaurant with really, really, really good food. Don’t be put off by the lack of cars in the parking lot, this place totally rocks. The tabouleh, hummus, and babaganoush are some of the best I have ever had anywhere. For your main, try the kibbeh & kefta dinner or the lamb, you won’t be sorry. For desert, order the kenafa (a fried cheese dish with syrup). This place is a hidden gem.

                  ARTIST POINT: This is the “fancy” restaurant in the Wilderness Lodge at Disney World. The menu leans heavily towards NW fare. I’ve never had a bad dish here. Seriously. The dishes are varied and well-thought out. I love that they have a cheese plate and that they take their sides seriously. I can never decide whether I want the Goat Cheese Tart or Vanilla Chocolate Terrine for dessert, so I usually force my fiancé to order one so I can order the other and have both. Glutonony is awesome.

                  Hope this helps!!!

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: rgcblackie

                    Thank you! Great suggestions. We have a Del Frisco here in Philadelphia. We will want a good steak dinner while we are there. Do you have another suggestion?

                    1. re: crazyspice

                      Del's is the best traditional steakhouse in Orlando, but if you have one back home, I strongly recommend Texas de Brazil, a luxurious, decadent dining experience with all-you-can-eat rodizio-grilled steaks and other delicious meats brought to you on never-ending skewers, as well as the fancy-schmanciest salad bar ever. It's on the north end of International Drive, easily reached by taking the Kirkman exit (75A) off I-4.

                      1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                        Texas de Brazil really is a decadent dining place (definitely an "experience"). Gaucho-style meats and sauces (think chimichurri and the like). If you're looking for fun, and yes, a little glutony, then that's the place to go. For me, vacations always = glutony.

                        IMHO, for quality dry-aged, prime steak, I'd probably recommend heading elsewhere, however, especially if you already have a Del Friscos where you live.

                        Other steakhouses I've really enjoyed are:

                        Old Hickory Steakhouse
                        Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center
                        6000 West Osceola Parkway (in Kissimmee)

                        Bull & Bear Steakhouse
                        Waldorf Astoria Orlando
                        14200 Bonnet Creek Resort Lane

                        Morton's the Steakhouse
                        7600 Dr. Phillips Boulevard (Orlando)


                        1. re: rgcblackie

                          Vacation always mean gluttony for me! Twice a year I let the dog off the leash. Thanks for the suggestions.

                          1. re: crazyspice

                            crazyspice.... I just found a great Turkish restaurant in Sanford (about 20+ miles N or Orlando)....


                            It is right on Lake Monroe and is pretty awesome food..... The location cant be beat and it is definitely not a chain..... Its a bit of a drive but worth every mile... See the website above and make reservations just before sunset and its a guarantee..... If you dont like it, I'll make you and your hubby the steak of your choice at my house.... I guess we will have to trust the honor system here. There are other good Turkish restaurants closer to you but this one is the only one that I know that is on the water... Surprising to me with all of the lakes in FL that we dont have more water front venues.... Anyway... Good luck and I'll keep my radar on for more unique suggestions.....

                  2. crazy - it's another Philly Hound. I'm headed to Orlando (Marriott Grande Vista) late Feb to early Apr. Where did you wind up going and what can you recommend to me?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: bucksguy14

                      Hey bucksguy! We are actually headed down on Saturday. I started a list, but we all know how that goes. I am looking forward to trying many of the suggestions. I will keep you posted. :-)

                    2. We ate at Wa tonight and it was excellent. Menu did a great job pairing flavors and the plating was beautiful. I'll throw some pictures up as soon as I download them from my phone, had an impromptu tasting and a bottle of wine, all around $100 for the two of us. Great meal.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: askdrtodd

                        I love Wa but sometimes I worry about them surviving. There business is almost all word of mouth, and their location is somewhat hard to find and unique.

                        Was it busy when you went?

                        Glad to see they are going to be present today for the Orlando Japan fest.

                      2. The comments have been great. I have only a few things to add:

                        * According to the Orlando Sentinel, Johnson's Diner closed about three weeks ago.

                        * 4 Rivers is outstanding, but so is a lesser known entertainment complex in Sanford (I saw you mention the drive to Sanford, so I'll put it here) called Route 46 (located conveniently on Hwy 46 in Sanford, just west of BJ's warehouse). It has several restaurants, a saloon, and live music on the weekends. It's a large place with lots of parking, but it gets crowded on weekends with Seminole County locals. Of their restaurants, we usually go to The Smokehouse. I think their smoked meatloaf beats anything at 4 Rivers (don't get me wrong, I love 4Rivers too). The Smokehouse also has the best creamed spinach I've had anywhere. Plus, I usually don't care for sweet potato fries, but theirs are superb.

                        * I heart Ravenous Pig.

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

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: starbucksbrew

                          As of today, Ravenous Pig is very close to the top of my list of "Musts"!

                          1. re: starbucksbrew

                            Yes I was sorry to hear about the closing of Johnson's Diner. I feel that is a great loss.

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

                          2. Thank you all so much for the great suggestions. We had a really great trip and the weather was fabulous!

                            Sunday night we grabbed a quick bite at Portobello. It is a standby from years ago and a glass of wine with some roasted garlic and bread was just what I needed after traveling all day. Their bread wasn't as good as it used to be, but it got the job done.

                            Monday we opted for a late lunch at Fulton's. We had to hit Publix for some staples and by the time we were back, I felt like a walk and that's where we ended up. Their crab and lobster bisque is excellent. We had oysters and calamari, and followed with their seafood cobb salad. All very good.

                            On Tuesday we had dinner at the Ravenous Pig. I know some posters feel it can be hit or miss, but we were intrigued. For appetizers we ordered the Lobster Tacos and East Coast Oysters. Very good! We shared the Gatherer salad. Also very good, and I can't resist beets. Or goat cheese for that matter. For entrees, DH opted for the Florida Red Snapper and I settled on the Steak Frites. My flat-iron steak was perfectly cooked and I tried my best to eat all of the truffled fries. In the end I needed help. The Snapper was also perfectly cooked. I don't try the rice but DH claimed it was delicious. The service was excellent. Next time we travel to Orlando, we will definitely return to the Ravenous Pig!

                            Wednesday, we had dinner with family down in Sebastian at Captain Hiram's. Yikes! I won't be going back there!!

                            Thursday we went to BlueZoo. We shared the Seared Sea Scallop with the Braised Short Rib served over a cauliflower puree. What a delightfully surprising combination! This was followed with their Beet Salad with Goat Cheese "Fondue". The greens were quite tough and the "Fondue" was bland and really did nothing for the salad. The presentation was pleasant, but overall disappointing. For entrees, DH ordered the Simply Fish option with Grouper. The sauce was warm crabmeat, dijon mustard and chives. It was really tasty! I opted for the Dirty South Swordfish. BBQ rubbed and served over house smoked Tasso Risotto with rock shrimp and littleneck clams. Fascinating combination and very flavorful, but severely salty. I expect salty with Tasso, but this was over the top for me. The service was excellent.

                            Friday we decided on Primo. The service started out dicey, but it was addressed and the rest of the dinner service was fine. I ordered 3 small plates and DH ordered soup and an entree. They brought out his Butternut Squash and Sage Soup. Nothing for me. I ordered the Foie Gras as my first course. Our server saw this and came over. I expressed some concern and as I was talking to her, out came my Foie along with our Amuse from the chef! The Amuse was duck confit with caramelized onion and an apple relish. Nice! The Foie was served with a Mascarpone Crostada, Huckleberry Gastrique and Micro Greens. The dish was to die for! Next up for me was their Beet Carpaccio. Beautifully presented with a Goat Cheese Crostada, Hazelnut brittle, Mache and a Shallot Vinaigrette. It was perfect. DH ordered their Pork Saltimbocca and I got the Cavatelli Bolognese (1/2 portion). Both dishes were perfectly prepared and very good. The Smoked Caciocavallo was a great compliment to the Wild Boar and Pork Bolognese. Their pastas are made in house and the Cavatelli had a wonderful texture. The Pork Saltimbocca with a Mushroom-Medeira Jus, Spinach, Proscuitto and Roasted Garlic Mashed was incredible! Once we got the service situation addressed we had a wonderful evening.

                            On our last night of vacation, we chose to return to Winter Park and have dinner at Luma on Park. Again, I ordered 3 small plates and DH went with soup and an entree. I started with their Farm Salad. Haricots Vert, Radish, Beets, Avocado with a Tangerine Mustard Vinaigrette. Good, not great. The Chickpea and Roasted Onion Soup was average to me but DH really liked it. Next up was their Wagyu Beef Tartare. Pickled Baby Artichoke-Cippollini Salad, Truffle Pommes Frites and Soft Fried Egg. Very good dish. The Tartare was a tad on the salty side. Too much salt takes away from the flavor of the Wagyu for me. DH chose the Flank Steak served with Black Rice, Spinach, Eggplant and a Red Wine Jus. A perfectly prepared and flavorful dish. My final course was their Swiss Chard Ravioli. Made with Ricotta Salada, Chervil and Toasted Hazelnuts. Possibly my favorite dish at Luma.

                            Overall, it was a successful dining vacation! We are not dessert people, so I have nothing to share on that subject. Again, many thanks for the great suggestions and we will look for more option when we return.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: crazyspice


                              Glad you enjoyed The Ravenous Pig, sometimes people have a bad experiences or thing it's not work the money, I think it's easily one of the top Orlando restaurants.

                              Portobello - Didn't get a chance to try their meatball bar? I want to go over there and try it. It's a Tony Mantuano's type thing.

                              , Orlando, FL 32830