Why go: Although originally set up in Key West, Santiago’s now boasts two additional locations in Orlando, each with a particular personality. This communal spot embodies the sharing mentality behind Spanish-style small plates. Come here with a large group to sample the breadth of the menu but make sure not to leave before really delving into the space’s look. The reclaimed wood bar top, stained glass windows, Gaudi-esque furniture and one-of-a-kind artwork all over the restaurant make it that much more special.
Prato’s style of cooking can be defined as classic Italian with an emphasis on local ingredients. This, coupled with the restaurant’s sleek wood-and-brick decor, makes for a modern dining experience with a cool, rustic vibe. A signature special beloved by locals is the Widowmaker pizza, which is topped with caciocavallo cheese, romesco, fennel sausage and an egg in the center. A small yet eclectic selection of pastas and secondi awaits, where dishes change seasonally – and daily, depending what fresh ingredients are available. Chef Brandon McGlamery, who is also responsible for the success of the hugely popular Luma on Park, located a few steps down Park Avenue, reassures that his restaurants ‘stick to seasonally directed and ingredient-driven as our motto’.
Ainu American Chinese Anglo-Indian Arab Assyrian Balochi Balinese Batak Bengali Berber Betawi Buddhist Cajun Cantonese Chechen Chinese Indonesian Chinese Islamic Christian Circassian Crimean Tatar Greek American Hindu Inuit Italian American Jain Javanese Jewish Sephardic Mizrahi American Bukharan Syrian Komi Kurdish Livonian Louisiana Creole Malay Manado Maharashtrian Mordovian Native American Okinawan Ossetian Padang Parsi Pashtun Pennsylvania Dutch Peranakan Punjabi Sami Sikh Sindhi Soul food Sundanese Tatar Udmurt Yamal Yup'ik Zanzibari
When I move to the evaluation portion, however, I immediately realize I am in way over my head. Any hubris I had cracks when I pop my first sample, a soft-ripened cheese, into my mouth. I chew. It just tastes like … soft cheese. I am supposed to evaluate this based on 70 characteristics and flaws in four categories (appearance, aroma, texture and flavor). And not just the presence of, say, a nutty or herbal aroma or an animal or grassy flavor, but “much too little,” “too little,” “just about right,” “too much” or “much too much.” At the table in front of me I see another candidate spit into a bucket. Wait a minute! I think. Are we supposed to spit cheese when we taste it, like wine? I spit my soft-ripened cheese into the bucket on my table (which is gross, to be honest). Still, I gamely trudge on for almost three hours. When I get to the evaluation sheet for Emmental-style (i.e., Swiss) cheese, there is a category for “Eye Development,” with characteristics such as blind, underset, irregular and dead/dull eyes. So cheese has eyes? When I approach the cheesemongers for a sample of cheddar, I steal a glance at the clipboard of a bearded guy in a Hawaiian shirt and Birkenstocks standing next to me. He marks “seamy” on one of his score sheets. What does it mean to have a seamy cheese? I am so out of my league, I don’t even know what I don’t know.
Variety, in both cuisine and atmosphere, characterizes Orlando dining. Fun, casual meals and reliable chain restaurants fill the bill for many hungry tourists. Kids especially relish character breakfasts at Disney's Contemporary Resort and dinners at Universal's three resorts, where folks dine in good company – alongside Mickey Mouse, Goofy, Scooby Doo, and Curious George. The International Drive and Sand Lake Road areas feature a number of chain favorites that make good stand-bys, and themed eateries abound as well, including the jungle-like Rainforest Café and the Nascar Café. For upscale dining, restaurants like Atlantis at SeaWorld's Renaissance Resort and Victoria and Albert's at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort serve fresh seafood and impeccable American Continental cuisine. Plus, Disney's Lake Buena Vista area, EPCOT, Downtown Disney, and Universal Studios CityWalk promise eateries for all appetites and price ranges. Even celebrity chefs get in on the action: Emeril's features Continental cuisine with a Cajun kick. And if you're in downtown Orlando, take advantage of dining gems like Manuel's on the Twenty-Eighth, located atop the Nations Bank building. Suave, monied Winter Park also features superb restaurants, including the fashionable Park Plaza Gardens.

I love chicken parmesan… SO much.  But I definitely don’t love the tedious breading process, so many dishes to wash, and how long it can take to make it!  I dreamt up this dish a while ago, then found out The Cookie Rookie had already made a great version… so I headed over to her page and made some tweaks based on what I had on hand.  This version is made with everyday ingredients, and is incredibly flavorful!
Hi Evi 🙂 As an entree, it serves about 6 people, so you’ll have to make some adjustments to the recipe to get it to serve that many people. There’s no way it’ll all fit in one pot, so you’ll more than likely have to have it going in various pots. I’ve never made the recipe for that many people, so I can’t say for certain how it’ll hold up by increasing it that much.
While most of the restaurants here might eat into your vacation budget, they’re all well worth it if you're looking for anextra special dining experience. From fine diners located in the city’s most famous theme park resorts, to authentic smoke houses in the suburbs where you might have to queue outside on the weekend to get a seat, check out our full list of Orlando’s best restaurants below.

When I visit Armenteros at the shop in Princeton, he guides me into the humidor, amid shelves of boxes and hundreds of cigars. “The most fulfilling, exciting thing we do,” he says, “is when you take a customer to another level. When you open up their enjoyment. That’s the greatest thing a tobacconist, or any sommelier, can do.” He talks excitedly about the differences among Nicaraguan, Dominican and Cuban tobacco, wrappers grown in Connecticut or Ecuador, the size or “ring gauge,” from skinny lancero to coronas to robustos to thick Churchills. A Padrón cigar, from Nicaragua, “is a steak, a wagyu.” Meanwhile, another cigar from the Dominican Republic “is like fish. It’s an elegant, delicate cigar.” We compare what spirits to pair with cigars, and both of us agree that describing flavors is not easy. “Not just in cigars,” he says, “but in any world of organoleptic delicacies.” He points to some cigars he’s been aging for close to a decade. I ask if cigars can age like wine. “F— yeah,” he says.
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