Orlando-Near Hilton on International Drive?
We're going to be staying at the Hilton on International Drive first week of March for a medical convention. I posted earlier looking for seafood places, but the responses were not enthusiastic. With that in mind, what would be our best options within a 10-15 minute cab ride from the hotel? We're hoping to avoid giant chains, but local ones might fit the bill. Does locavore exist in Orlando? Thanks in advance.
Well, the distances in Orlando were daunting, so we stayed in the Intl Dr, Sand Lake area. Made no sense to spend $50 on a cab each way to eat in Winter Park. Got my stone crab fix at Big Fin--excellent oysters, terrible bloody mary. Dining companion had a superb swordfish "filet mignon". Cafe Tu Tu Tango was fun, and the tapas were inventive--liked the rabbit taquitos. Went with a group to Cuba Libre--can't vouch for the authenticity of the food, but it beats anything in New Hampshire. One of our group sent back a dish (too spicy) and we were comp'd four desserts. The restaurant even called the next day to apologize(!) Last night at Roy's, the Hawaiian place. I have to say the misoyaki butterfish was one of the best dishes I have ever tasted. The 3 course prix fixe for $35 was a bargain. So...we had our fill of "themed" restaurants, which seems like the only option in that part of town. Service in each restaurant was excellent--seems like customer service is a huge focus in Orlando. Overall, we had a great experience, and next time we will have a car, so we can venture a little farther afield.
The locavore movement has made its way too Orlando in a small way, however the side of town you'll be staying on is definitely chain heavy. My favorites in that area are Cafe Tutu Tango- a lively tapas joint just a few blocks from the convention center, Nagoya- tiny sushi spot on the strip called restaurant row about a 5 minute cab ride away, Thai Thani- upscale Thai on Idrive near Seaworld. A few other suggestions if you'll be with a group of drinkers- Moonfish, Vines and Ocean Prime all do great happy hours with food menus- all on restaurant row as well. If you'd like to travel away from that area and try some of the places that are actually committed to serving some good local grub I'd be happy to offer some other suggestions!
Cafe Tu Tu Tango is fun
Also to think about
Anatolia - Turkish
Press 101 - Sandwiches/ panini's / lunch
Red Bamboo - Thai
Cedars - Lebonese
Memories of India - Indian
Saffron - Indian
Aashiward - Indian
and if you want something fancy with some seafood dishes go to Norman's at the Ritz.
Johnny's Hideaway near downtown Disney is a great spot for stone crabs and they have some other great apps (portobello fries!), plus it doubles as a steak house so it's kind of a crowd pleaser. Most of my favorite places are in an area of town called winter park- about a 25 minute drive from your area in moderate traffic. Luma on Park is my go to spot for a nice meal, lots of small plates and entrees- local ingredients. Ravenous Pig is another great spot for locally sourced ingredients- it feels a bit more casual than Luma though prices are pretty comparable- make a reservation though! If you can track down the Big Wheel Food Truck then give that a try for sure- the chef is local obsessed and puts out some proper 4star dishes. Some super casual choices like Greens and Grill (salads and sandwiches by the same chefs as Ravenous Pig) near the Millenia Mall and Yellow Dog Eats (BBQ, salads, sandwiches) in Gotha which is only about 10 minutes or so if you take Apopka Vineland most of the way. Good Luck!