Located in the heart of Florida, Orlando is known as Theme Park Capital of the World®. But what many visitors don’t realize are the diverse offerings the destination has when it comes to food with great places to eat in Orlando. Named one of the Top Foodie Cities in America by WalletHub in 2019, Orlando has a broad range of culinary hotspots that will take visitors on an adventure through food. From international food festivals to magical dining, lively dinner shows to intimate chef’s tables, here are five unique culinary experiences in Orlando, Florida.
- Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival
Travel around the world through food exploration at Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival. Each year, countries from across the globe are represented at the theme park by putting their best food forward. More than 30 kiosks are placed around Epcot’s World Showcase, offering small portions of delicacies from each location. Try a Brazilian favorite, pão de queijo (cheese bread). Hop over to India and sample pickled garlic, mango salsa and coriander pesto dips with warm Indian bread. Sail to the coast at the Coastal Eats kiosk and sample lump crab cake with Napa cabbage slaw.
When guests enter the park, they can pick up their very own Festival Passport, a guide filled with menus of each location. The passport also includes stickers from each kiosk for visitors to collect, so they can keep track of each place they have visited.
For an additional fee, visitors can also have a more immersive experiences by partaking in special culinary demonstrations, cooking classes and wine-pairing seminars.
Another festival favorite is the Eat to the Beat Concert Series at the American-Gardens Theater. Well-known bands such as Boyz II Men and Plain White T’s come to Epcot each year and perform some of their classic songs. This year, 36 acts will be headed to the park, which will be its biggest lineup ever.
- Mills 50 District
Head to the intersection of creativity and culture at The Mills 50 District. Home to the largest Vietnamese-American community in Florida, the district offers a variety of authentic dining options featuring different takes on Asian cuisine.
For traditional Vietnamese cuisine, visit Pho 88, a family-owned restaurant specializing in the popular rice noodle dish. The eatery offers a variety of pho such as beef and chicken pho, while also serving other dishes like chicken curry, pot stickers and fried rice.
For those looking for a unique Asian fusion experience, head over to Tako Cheena. This food-truck-like restaurant serves up innovative bites including an Indian butter chicken burrito, Korean cheese fries and Thai peanut chicken tacos.
Pig Floyd’s Urban Barbakoa is a barbecue joint that combines cultural influences with traditional fire, smoke & pit methods. Visitors looking for a light bite can enjoy one of their Urban Tacos such as the butter chicken taco or the shrimp and sausage taco. Those craving more should try one of their famous Barbakoa Platters that come with a meat, two sides and sauce.
One of the newest bars in the area is Tori Tori, a modern pub serving up delicious Japanese food and drinks. The bar features an open fire yakitori grill, serving unique grub like Japanese flying squid and fried tempura corn balls. They also feature a wide array of signature cocktails from their full-service bar. The joint will soon be offering an exclusive six-seat udon bar chef’s table experience called Udon Fifty.
- Victoria and Albert’s Chef’s Table
For guests looking for a more intimate dining experience, they can visit Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, where Victoria and Albert’s Chef’s Table awaits. Accommodating groups of no more than eight people, this luxurious dining experience is a three-hour service that offers a personalized menu made from the freshest seasonal ingredients. The dinner begins with a champagne toast and takes guests on a journey of up to 11 courses through the chef’s Dégustation Tasting menu.
The dinner offers a variety of samplings from caviar tastings to Japanese beef. The table is located right in the heart of Victoria & Albert’s kitchen, allowing you to get up close with the action. For an additional fee, you can have a sommelier select the ideal wine to go along with each portion of your meal. Only one party per evening is served at the chef’s table, and reservations are available up to 180 days in advance.
The restaurant has been awarded AAA’s Five-Diamond Award every year since 2000, and is the only Five-Diamond restaurant in the Orlando area.
- East End Market
Located in the Audubon Park Garden District of Orlando, East End Market is a food hall concept with a variety of merhcants for guests to choose from. The market showcases the vibrant food culture in the community and is inspired by Central Florida’s local farmers and food artisans.
One local favorite in this market is Domu. This neighborhood restaurant and bar serves up dishes all based on true Japanese techniques, fused with the head chef’s modern day takes on each creation. Specializing in ramen, visitors can enjoy unique takes on the noodle like chuka, cold ramen, or curry ramen with Thai chili paste. Those wanting a more traditional experience can try yuzu chicken or black tonkotsu ramen.
Family owned café Farm & Haus is a farm-to-table eatery that features local, organic and nutrient-dense ingredients in their food. They offer breakfast all day serving dishes such as avocado toast, buckwheat pancakes and their signature “Wakey Wakey Bowl.” Their “Not Breakfast” menu has a variety of sandwiches, wraps and bowls, all made from scratch daily.
For those of us with a sweet tooth that occasionally needs to be indulged, Gideon’s Bakehouse is the place to be. Named “Best Cookie in Florida” and one of “Earth’s Best Cookies,” this bakehouse in Orlando prides itself on their selection of cookies, cakes and pies. Their famous cookies are almost half of a pound each and sell out daily. Some of their favorite cookies include Pistachio Toffee Dark Chocolate Cookie, Cookies and Cream Cookie and of course, the Classic Chocolate Chip Cookie.
- Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining
For five weeks starting each August, more than 120 Orlando-area restaurants partake in Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining. Guests pay $35 at a participating restaurant and enjoy a three-course prix-fixe dinner. Through the official tourism association, $1 from every meal benefits a deserving local charity.
There are always a broad variety of participating restaurants each year from popular theme park area restaurants to local Orlando neighborhood establishments. Many of these eateries include award-winning and celebrity chefs, such as José Andrés and Wolfgang Puck.
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