Magical Meals, from Orlando’s Restaurant and Catering Scene
- Meredith Bethune
- 3 Min Read
New restaurants keep popping up everywhere in Orlando. Thanks to Walt Disney World and Universal Studios, Orlando is one of the biggest tourist destinations in the world. But according to Time Out, the Orlando catering and dining scene offers so much more besides family friendly dining, thanks to a local economy that’s currently booming. The city has been hijacked by tacos, food trucks, internationally inspired eateries, and more. Read on for guidance on the thriving restaurant scene here in Orlando.
How to Eat Your Way Through the Orlando Restaurant Scene
Orlando manages to pack a plethora of excellent restaurants in this city that sprawls along the lakes and wetlands of Central Florida. That’s why we’ve mapped out the very best neighborhoods for using your time wisely in the areas outside of the theme parks.
Not only is this Orlando neighborhood home to towering office buildings, but it’s also home to a range of great eateries that cover everything, including elevated new American cuisine from three-time James Beard Award semifinalist chef Kathleen Blake at the Rusty Spoon. Plus, the Orlando catering options include satisfying sandwiches and healthy smoothies at Tropical Smoothie Cafe and Middle Eastern fare at Zoës Kitchen.
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Stroll down Edgewater Drive in this vibrant, walkable neighborhood located just to the north of downtown. Choices range from salads, pita pizzas, and pub fare at Ollie’s Public House, and upscale Italian delicacies at Adriatico Trattoria Italiana. As for Orlando catering options in this neighborhood, choose from bagels and sandwiches, at Einstein Bros. Bagels, and a taste of the Northeast in the form of Jersey Mike’s Subs.
Head to this trendy nightlife and shopping district just east of Lake Eola Park for craft beer paired with street tacos at Tin & Taco, fresh sashimi at Shari Sushi Lounge, or epic burgers at Graffiti Junktion.
Exploring Trends of the Orlando Restaurant Scene
Orlando’s cosmopolitan dining scene stands out with its diversity, quality, and exceptional value. Try these trends now.
Orlando’s residents just can’t get enough of down-home cuisine like smothered pork chops and mac and cheese at Nikki’s Place Southern Cuisine, New Orleans-style po’ boys and jambalaya at Muddy Waters, and grilled catfish and fried shrimp at Soul Food Fantasy. Chef Eddie’s, with its more than ten different flavors of chicken and waffles, is a local institution.
South American Food
Orlando is unsurpassed when it comes to Latin cuisine, particularly dishes from South American countries. Find the famous rotisserie chicken of Peru, always served with a spicy green sauce and tres leches cake, at Pio Pio Restaurant. Marita’s Latin Bites specializes in delicious steak with zesty chimichurri sauce by way of Argentina. Appetizers make ideal nibbles for mingling and happy hours. In particular, try the taquitos, avocado eggrolls, and empanadas. And at family run Pio Pio Latin Cuisine, tuck into a traditional Colombian breakfast—the Bandeja Paisa comes with grilled steak, fried egg, pork belly, Spanish sausage, rice, beans, ripe plantains, avocado, and an arepa.
In Orlando, your choices for Mexican cuisine go way beyond guacamole and enchiladas. With dishes like Veracruz snapper and yellowfin tuna tostada, Reyes Mezcaleria showcases Mexican-style seafood. On North Mills Avenue, Black Rooster Taqueria is doing a contemporary spin on fast-casual Mexican with tacos stuffed with shiitake mushrooms or smoked greens, as well as kale salads topped with red radish, queso fresco, green grape, and candied pecan. As for Orlando catering, Moe’s Southwest Grill can roll up some mini burritos bursting with everything from steak to tofu.
The balmy Florida weather is the perfect match for this traditional Hawaiian dish of sliced raw fish served over rice. The bricks-and-mortar opening of Da Kine Poke, previously occupying a food truck, means the trend has officially arrived in Orlando’s restaurant and catering scene. Also, try the dish at LemonShark Poké and Too Much Sauce.
Orlando’s Claims to Fame: Dishes Popular in Orlando
Located smack in the middle of Florida, Orlando’s culinary culture pulls influences from all areas of Florida. Here are a few signature items you’ll spot on menus around town.
- Cuban Sandwich: This iconic sandwich composed of melted Swiss cheese paired with ham, roasted pork, pickles, and mustard is inspired by the flavors of Cuba, but it was formalized and solidified in Florida. While the Orlando Sentinel favored the version from Black Bean Deli, Pio Pio Latin Cuisine also does an admirable job.
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- Rock Shrimp: Named for their hard-as-a-rock outer shell, this type of shrimp culled from Florida’s warm waters are prized for their sweet, lobster-like meat. Don’t miss chef Loren Falsone’s heavenly version tossed in a garlic butter sauce at the Pharmacy.
- Key Lime Pie: Although the origins of this sweet-and-sour pie made of Key lime juice, egg yolks, and sweetened condensed milk can be traced back to Key West, the beloved dessert is now rooted in all parts of Florida. Orlando’s restaurant and catering scene is no exception. You can’t go wrong with Desserts Gourmet and Sister Honey’s traditional from-scratch versions. Also, find modern takes on the classic dessert like Key lime shooters at Khasiyat and bread pudding at The Waterfront.
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