Yes. Orlando has theme parks. Lots of ‘em. The best in the world, some might say (we certainly would). But we’re also a city of real-live people who might spend some of our date nights drinking around the world at Epcot... but not all of them. In recent years, our foodie scene has exploded. We’ve got James Beard nominees among our elite. We’ve got fancy eats and food trucks and quite frankly, we like them all. And so do our record-breaking numbers of visitors. Sure, they love Dole Whip as much as we do. Who wouldn't?! But we also think they'll love the bleu cheese-laden pub burger at the Ravenous Pig or the incredibly fresh and creative offerings at Kabooki Sushi as much as the rest of us. On this list, you’ll find Asian soup in spades, from silky Japanese ramen at Domu to mouthwatering Malaysian Kari mee at Mamak Asian Street Food. You'll find phenomenal high-rent steaks and snappy, spicy, house-made currywurst at a neighborhood butcher shop. We've got spectacular Spanish and sublime internationally-infused fare the shadow of a grand, gorgeous fountain. So, step away from the kiosk chicken tenders, tourists. Our impressive culinary scene awaits….
This rundown of the best restaurants in Orlando highlight just why the city is acclaimed as one of the top fine dining destinations in Florida. Even though the Michelin star team haven’t covered these parts yet, if they did, many of these top picks would surely scoop at least a few stars between them with a good mix of celebrity chef-run restaurants in hotels to good old-fashioned family-style BBQ joints.
A gourmet doesn't see food as a means to an end. To a gourmet, food is art. These food enthusiasts are into edible luxury. Gourmets enjoy the experience of eating, making, or displaying food. Some even explore the history and the anthropology of the foods they eat. A gourmet takes time and care in preparing food and usually eat food slowly. Gourmets frequent places that offer extra information about a food's origin and where ingredients are of top quality, foods are prepared from scratch, and the dishes are served in a luxurious manner. The person you may have called a gourmet years ago might today be called a "foodie."
Our server was exceptional.  Not only did she greet us upon being seated, she was knowledgeable and attentive. Sangria is a must, but if that isn't your thing, their wine selection is very good.  The menu isn't extensive but can be a challenge if you don't eat meat and don't want to be limited to a salad.  Make sure you don't miss the specials, the server goes over it but it's detailed at the back of the restaurant on a chalkboard.
Since I just spent a year writing a book about cider, the first credential I seek out is to become a Certified Cider Professional (or CCP), a brand-new professional title created by the United States Association of Cider Makers. I attended an introductory seminar on the CCP Level 1 exam at CiderCon in Baltimore in the winter of 2018. The following summer, one afternoon on a whim — without any further study — I decide to log in to the cider association website, pay $75 and take the exam. There are 60 questions on apple history, apple classifications and genetics, cidermaking techniques, styles of cider, detecting flaws, and food pairings with cider. I submit my answers, then find out instantaneously that I’ve gotten 89 percent correct — a passing grade. It has taken me 37 minutes 47 seconds to complete the exam, which includes the interruption of a 15-minute work call. I am now proudly a Level 1 Certified Cider Professional — a cider sommelier. I receive a felt CCP patch in the mail — one that I might have proudly ironed onto my acid-washed jean jacket back in the ’80s. Within months, I am teaching cider classes to candidates who also hope to pass the CCP Level 1 test.
Lake Nona’s burgeoning food and beverage scene continues to progress and this pizza joint with showcase brewery by the Tavistock Restaurant Collection (who also operate Lake Nona’s Canvas and Chroma restaurants) is one luring downtowners to the airport-area enclave. With head brewer Marco Reyna tapping 12 sudsy creations, there’s no shortage of pie-pairing quaffs. Jason Bergeron (who also serves as executive chef of Canvas and Chroma) fires up pizzas in two gorgeous wood-burning ovens – pizzas like the infernal “Pepperoni Picante” and the “Awesome Saus!” with sausage and elephant garlic. It’s one worth riding the bus to Lake Nona town for.
There aren’t many good food options around Sand Lake Road, the tourist-y strip near Universal Studios. However, Rocco’s Tacos and Tequila Bar is trying to change that. There’s nothing mind blowing going on here, but the tacos, Texas-style queso, and specialties like chile rellenos and mole poblano are all better than anything else in the area. They also have a great late-night menu for when you get hungry again after sampling from their wall of tequila, which includes more than 400 varieties.
These programs prepare you to be a taste authority, a sensory expert, an arbiter and evangelist in the field, but you’re likely not producing anything. Even so, they’re in demand. What is it about this epoch that values such mastery over taste? Were we all truly so clueless and naive about these matters once upon a time? Has life become so fraught and complicated that even decisions over our smallest pleasures now require expert intervention?
Why go: The Ospery Tavern is a treat for the tastebuds and the eyes. The design of this modern American spot leaves you feeling luxurious but cozy, with camel colored leather seating, a long marble bar, reclaimed-wood walls and brass detailing characterizing the space. The menu then wows the palate with dishes like pork chops in a whiskey glaze, oak charred shrimp and a very good whole grilled branzino. Come here with a group so you can order even more without feeling too guilty.

This was on my must do​ list for a while. Down in the area and did not want to fight traffic. Halloween night and they were closing early. Not crowded at all as we arrived around 5 pm​. The first​ impression was good as I am a bit knicked up and using a knee walker. One of the staff grabbed the door and they suggested a table out of the heavy traffic. A/C was cranking so bring a light coat. Steve was our waiter and he was knowledgeable​. Ordered up the bacon wrapped gorgonzola​ wrapped dates and they came out very quickly. The bacon was a little too charred to be flavorful and the cheese was not as warm I would have thought based on how charred the bacon​ was. I would love to taste it with well-cooked​ bacon and melty cheese. Also,​ order some shrimp and grits......big order enough for a ​meal and the highlight of the night. Ordered up fried chicken open faced club and a chicken caesar​ salad.​ The sandwich was a sight to behold and the batter was crunchy​ but really did not have any flavor that wowed me. The salad was a good portion but the caesar dressing lacked​ a little on garlic. It is the small things that make the experience and having the manager realize the bathroom door was not cooperating as I tried to navigate and helping me was very much appreciated. Overall​ I think this is a do-over​ maybe on a weekend night and a little later so they are on step when we order......I can see the potential for what others have written but I did not see it that night. Gets a one star bump for a great staff but they can't make up for the star of the show, the food, falling a little short. @Kodiak_kuisine


What is considered gourmet is different depending on the time and geographic region. What is gourmet historically depended upon what ingredients the people of that region had access to and how easily they acquire them. For instance, seafood could be considered a luxury in an area that lacks fish, whereas it would not be seen as such in an area near the ocean or a great river. Gourmet tended, and still does in many parts of the world, to be revered by a person with access to wealth because gourmet food has always been expensive. The expense was the result of a scarcity of ingredients for a particular food in the region at the time[5]. This fact meant they needed to be brought in from far away, which brought a variety of risks to the merchants. Merchants would have to deal with weather conditions, thieves, and broken equipment, intermediaries, and other such factors that could delay or interrupt the shipment of the good at the cost of their lives and fortune[6]. Thus they asked for higher prices. For millenniums, about 10% of the population could eat food that may have been considered gourmet in their time[7]. Potentially 80% of the global population worked in food production and would have eaten more typical meals to survive[7]. The typical meal would be what they could most easily get their hands on. In Britain, for instance, that was gruels, vegetables, small amounts of wild game, and grains[8].

Why go: Although Orlando is not brimming with the largest cluster of Greek eateries, there is some pretty flaming saganaki to be eaten in Central Florida—courtesy of The Greek Corner. The authentic experience involves overflowing flower pots, white-washed walls and a breezy patio overlooking the water. Make sure to order some grape leaves with a frappe—not on the menu, sure, but still available to those in the know.


Why go: Hamilton’s Kitchen, named after the late and beloved Hamilton Holt (8th president of Rollins College), is a nod to the philanthropist's love for hosting guests from all over the world. Appropriately located in the Alfond Inn, Hamilton’s Kitchen donates profits to the Hamilton Holt scholarship foundation for students attending Rollins College.
Raved about far and wide, Lee and Rick’s Oyster Bar is the ultimate destination for top-notch Florida seafood at rock-bottom prices. When it opened more than half a century ago, the tiny venue only served oysters and quickly became known as the place to go for the freshest oysters in the area. Although it now serves a variety of dishes ranging from golden-fried, butter-filled fantail shrimp to the Cajun-style crawfish basket, the oyster bucket remains a firm favorite among customers. The understated, marine-style decor signals that this isn’t a fancy dining spot, but it does add to the ‘hidden gem’ atmosphere of this fantastic spot for seafood on the cheap.
Lalousis had been managing Maille’s retail boutique in London when he was tapped for his expertise. “My boss told me, ‘I think you’ve got a calling. You’ve got a love for mustard.’ ” He was sent to the factory in Dijon for six months of training and learned “everything there was to know about mustard.” As far as Lalousis is aware, he’s the only mustard sommelier in the world. That’s not to say, however, that he is the first mustard sommelier in history. “We had a mustard sommelier in 1747 when we opened a store in Paris,” he says. At that time in Paris, Dijon mustard was not well known. “Our founder wanted people to know how to use Dijon mustard. He wanted to show people that it was an ingredient and not just a condiment.” And if Lalousis has his way, he will not be the last. He’s developing an educational program that will certify future mustard sommeliers about types of mustard seed, harvest techniques, chemical compounds in mustard, regional differences, levels and qualities of pungency, various pairings and uses, and what Lalousis calls “the culture of mustard.”
This quaint working Milk District bakery is open for breakfast and lunch with a manageable, fresh-made menu that changes near daily and makes choosing easy. Okay, that's arguable, since how one chooses between creative, handcrafted moon pies and fresh, local fruit-infused cobblers. is subjective. Easiest method? Bring a friend and share everything! Cakes, cookies, cupcakes, pies – the smells emanating from the Se7en Bites kitchen are wrong in all the best ways possible. Be thoroughly prepared for a sweet-related impulse buy to take home. Eggs and biscuits, scones and soups, Southern comfort classics and lots of surprising modern twists.

Marchese tells me that when she detects a metallic taste in the honey, she knows the beekeeper has likely used rusty equipment. When she tastes too much smoky flavor, she knows the honey came from an inexperienced beekeeper who uses too much smoke because he’s afraid of bees. Which is to say Marchese’s palate is so finely tuned that she can literally taste the beekeeper’s fear in a smear of honey.
This bohemian-inspired cafe serves delectable foods such as Mediterranean, sliders, tacos, seafood, and many more diverse cuisines. But the best part about this cafe? Local artists paint throughout the restaurant and display their work all while individuals dine and watch the artists at work. Opera singers, tango dancers, interpretive dancers, puppeteers, and even magicians constantly make their way into the cafe on the regular.

That is certainly true — and that’s why “education” becomes a slippery term in the world of taste. The sommelier’s job is to monetize the educated palate. In wine, that might mean persuading someone to upgrade from a bottle that’s $30 on a list to one that’s $50. The cheese sommelier might try to sell a customer on a more expensive artisan, aged Gouda rather than the basic Gouda in red wax. For the honey sommelier, it may be about persuading someone to upgrade their $4 honey in a 12-ounce plastic bear to a buckwheat honey that’s $12 for four ounces. For the mustard sommelier, it’s about explaining why you’d want to pay for real Dijon mustard and not the cheap imitations you find in the supermarket.
That is certainly true — and that’s why “education” becomes a slippery term in the world of taste. The sommelier’s job is to monetize the educated palate. In wine, that might mean persuading someone to upgrade from a bottle that’s $30 on a list to one that’s $50. The cheese sommelier might try to sell a customer on a more expensive artisan, aged Gouda rather than the basic Gouda in red wax. For the honey sommelier, it may be about persuading someone to upgrade their $4 honey in a 12-ounce plastic bear to a buckwheat honey that’s $12 for four ounces. For the mustard sommelier, it’s about explaining why you’d want to pay for real Dijon mustard and not the cheap imitations you find in the supermarket.
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!
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