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Nov 28, 2011 07:54 AM

Orlando: Family friendly non-chains?

Hi, I am taking husband and 3.5 year old with me to a work conference as we'll have evenings free and 1 day to hit Disney. Would love to have 1 dinner that's more authentically Orlando, i.e. not fast food, not in a resort/park and not a big chain restaurant. I'm realistic with family dining, in that we'll eat early and relatively quickly. We are also staying at the Hilton Bonnet Creek if that helps with locations. Type of restaurant can be just about anything! Thanks!

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  1. Will you have a car and how far/long ae you willing to drive?

    2 Replies
    1. re: YosemiteSam

      No car but would take a taxi 20-30 minutes since it will just be for a night or two.

      1. re: dahlsk

        There's not a ton in that location but we can get you a decent meal or two. Nearly all Orlando-area restaurants welcome kids even if they don't cater to them. Head to Celebration and try Celebration Town Tavern (casual seafood), Cafe d'Antonio (casual Italian) or Colombia (upscale Cuban). Or, cab it Sand Lake Road. There, you'll find Anatolia (Turkish), Cedar's (Lebanese), a Greek place on the other end of the Anatolia strip mall, Seito Sushi (a great small local sushi chain), Roy's (upscale Hawaiian with a great set-up for kids), Saffron for decent Indian, and I'm sure a few others that fellow hounds will share. Your third choice is International Drive. There I'd recommend Taverna Opa, our unit of a three-restaurant chain with good Greek food and live entertainment. It is very family oriented, but quite loud.

    2. I agree with Rona on a few of her suggestions.

      Anatolia - Turkish/ Mediterranean is delicious
      Cedars - Lebanese
      Saffron - Indian or if you are looking for more of a spicy authentic look Memories of India

      If going with Sushi skip Seito and go with Nagoya I've had better food and service with Nagoya

      City Fire - American, flat breads, etc

      Cafe Tu Tu Tango - tapas

      1. We were in Orlando last week, and ended up spending Thanksgiving at La Luce at the Hilton Bonnet Creek. We brought our 19 month old daughter and ate at 5:15. The restaurant was accomodating and the food was excellent - excellent fritto misto - especially the rock shrimp. The pizza is decent - neopolitan style, but not great. The pastas were very good.

        We liked two restaurants in Downtown Disney. Ragland Road has excellent Irish fish and chips. Portobello is another good Italian restaurant - on par with La Luce in my opinion.

        We also ate at Boma - we think it's very overpriced and not very interesting. I've been to South Africa and ate all kinds of game meat. They don't have any!

        1. I'll add my two cents to the above.

          Sand Lake Road is a pretty far cab ride, so unless you are really in thrall of those options you may want to consider others.

          The problem is where you are is geographically isolated and at that mostly surrounded by resort-style resties or chains - that's the WDW model after all and Bonnet Creek is taking advantage of that.

          I agree with Worldwide in that your hotel restie La Luce is a great option (IMO one of the 5 best resties in all of Orlando) - it is a hotel restaurant but the food is unique, fresh and excellent and being on property at WDW they are used to kids. That said as the parent of a 5 and 2 year old myself, I think that feeding a 3 year old there is overkill. What I'd do is take your hotel transportation right next door to Downtown Disney and have the kid eat an early meal at T-Rex (food is OK but the experience is great for small kids, especially a boy but girls like it too) and you can enjoy a fruity alchoholic drink, then once the little one is full and getting tired, book a later dinner at La Luce at your hotel and bring along a coloring book/iPad/Leapster/DVD with headphones or whatever (again, it's WDW no need to worry about the kids having a device with them) and enjoy a fantastic meal for the two of you.

          My other recommendation is what Sister said - taxi it to Cafe Tu Tu Tango - so much going on it will keep the toddler's attention and the food is really good too.

          4 Replies
          1. re: YosemiteSam

            I'm not sure about T-Rex as an affordable alternative. I just took two teens there for lunch and a steak is $31. The other one got a fried mozzarella sticks appetizer for $8.99. Strawberry lemonade is $4 plus refills are $1. I'm sure a kids' meal is less than $31 but add in the cost of a taxi and you might as well give the little ones a plate of spaghetti or a pizza ("no green stuff") at La Luce.

            1. re: Rona Gindin

              Yes, but does La Luce have dinosaurs? :) Just trying to show the 3 year old a good time - not necessarily to save money

              The "no green stuff" is so true - the number of times I hear "there's grass on my pizza/pasta/etc" is in the hundreds - please chefs stop putting oregano/italian seasoning on children's menu items

            2. re: YosemiteSam

              "The problem is where you are is geographically isolated and at that mostly surrounded by resort-style resties or chains - that's the WDW model after all and Bonnet Creek is taking advantage of that."

              So true - I was thinking maybe hunters creek is closer than the i-drive area - nope still about 10 miles away which will run you about 20-25 minute cab ride.

              Cafe Tu Tu Tango is a nice choice, lots to see and plenty of tapas to choose from.

              1. re: Sandwich_Sister

                "No Green Stuff". Ha, boy you've got my son pegged! We are going to do a late dinner one night at La Luce, and I had looked at Tu Tu Tango, agreeing that the visual stimulation would help make the dinner go by successfully. Thanks everyone for the ideas, we'll have to see how each day goes in terms of what kind of dining challenge we'll take on with the boy ;)