Orlando Restaurant Ideas….

April 10, 2018, 8:29 AM

Hello fellow TPI’s – as I am doing some planning for our annual trip to Orlando in about 1 month from now, I am looking for some different ideas for a new place to try.

If the past 12 years or so we have tried many Restaurant in the Orlando area. We always have a rental car so we can go anyway…

Some of the places we have been to include – the Boat House, Bahama breeze, CowFish, Oishi Japanese Restaurant plus many others.

So I am looking for something new. I was looking at a place called Rocco’s Tacos or the Flying Fish… If you have been to either one of these, enter a small review...

Or maybe you can suggest something you enjoy…

Replies (21)

Edited: April 10, 2018, 9:35 AM

I have a detailed review of the Flying Fish Chef's Counter from 5+ years ago...


I really enjoyed Artist Point (at Wilderness Lodge)...


It really depends on what you're looking for and at what price point. Are there any cuisines you prefer or want to avoid? Are you looking for something "nice" or "once in a lifetime"? It also depends on where you're going to be in Orlando. You say you have a rental car, but it's no fun trying to drive from one side of the city to the other in rush hour just for dinner. I'm also not a fan of going to CityWalk just for dinner because it's such a hassle getting in and out, plus if you have an earlier reservation, you might have to pay for parking.

There's always this too, but I doubt the table will be available on 1-month's notice - The Queen Victoria Room probably has availability though...


All the restaurants you noted visiting are chains (or part of larger restaurant groups), so are you looking for something unique, or something established and consistent? We always try to dine at someplace new every trip while still finding room for our favorites. We're probably going to eat at BICE for the first time on our trip in June, while having lunch at Mythos (something we missed on our trip last October).

Edited: April 10, 2018, 1:49 PM

Thanks Russell: That Flying fish looks great...

Not looking for the once in a lifetime experience. When we are in Orlando we are more casual. For us in the New England - Orlando is pretty damn Hot so it's more like shorts are the only thing I pack....

Places where I do not have to dress up for....
BICE and Queen Victoria Room might be too nice for me....

Therefore Nice but also casual places..

How dressy is the Flying Fish?

April 10, 2018, 9:52 AM

Are you interested in getting out of "Tourist Town"? Orlando offers so much more than the Theme Park corridor. You mention having a car, but there is the problem of all the construction happening on I-4 right now that may wisely put one off trying to get in to Downtown Orlando or further up to Winter Park. If you are thinking of heading outside of the usual theme park zone here are a couple of ideas:










The only theme park restaurant I've included is Mama Della's at the Portofino Bay Spa and Resort at Universal Orlando. The rest are in Orlando and Winter Park. I also included my favorite cupcake place. All of these (save Mama Della's) may be further away than you want to drive, but they are places as a former resident of Orlando I miss and would recommend to anyone who enjoys great food.

Have a great trip.

Edited: April 10, 2018, 10:30 AM

I just checked the dress code for Flying Fish, and they require men to wear collared shirts and dress shorts or slacks/khaki pants. They will not serve guests wearing tank tops, cover-ups, swimsuits, or flip flops. When we ate at the Chef's Counter, I wore a button-down collared shirt, slacks, and sport coat (no tie). I would say it's pretty "nice" on the level with Artist Point, Citrico's, Narcossee's, California Grill, Jiko, and Yactsman. It's not a "jacket required" establishment like V&A's, but don't be surprised to see guests dining in their Sunday Best.

There are tons of places in Orlando to eat if you want to go outside the theme parks and resort areas, particularly downtown. We tend to stay in the resort areas, and even though we usually have a car with us, we don't go very far beyond Disney/Universal because it just takes too much time, particularly in the evenings.

Also, if you're in DAK, I highly recommend Tiffins (that was the new restaurant we visited on our last trip). It deservedly won TPI's best full service restaurant last year, and if you're planning to see River's of Light, the pre-fixe dinner package gets you reserved seating without having to waste a FP+ reservation.

April 10, 2018, 10:29 AM

Brian ..... what type of restaurants are you looking to eat at ... ? We have such a huge variety that the list would be overly long and you wouldn't have chance to get to hardly any of them. i.e ... do you like Sushi? steaks? fish? Indian? Mexican? Irish pubs? ... the choice is endless. If you could narrow it down I can give you some places to try, but also my colleagues at work would no doubt chip in with a few suggestions of their own as well :)

Edited: April 10, 2018, 1:34 PM

Thanks for the Many Ideas...

Oh I forgot to mention last year we tried Morimoto in Disney Springs...
I got the Tonkotsu Ramen which has some small pieces of Duck..

So we want nice but not so nice where I have to wear a tie... I might bring a pair of damn Dockers and a button down shirt since Russell mentioned dress codes... Hahahahah..

(I am researching the above links while "Working")....

We do like - like Sushi\fish - Steaks - Fresh home made Mexican.....

Edited: April 10, 2018, 11:13 AM

Morimoto looks very good, but it's hard for me to eat at the Disney Springs location when his original restaurant in Philly is a little over 2.5 hours away.

I think you would be very satisfied with Flying Fish, especially the Chef's Counter if it's available (the pre-fixe includes the wine courses as well). The best Mexican food I've personally had at WDW is probably LaCantina de San Angel (the counter service outside the Mexico pavilion). We ate at Maya Grill (at Coronado Springs) over a decade ago (along with The Inn at San Angel - inside the pavilion), and while they were both nice (and on the old DDP where you got 3 courses and drinks), I've heard the quality has gone down recently at Maya Grill, and it's slated to be replaced when the resort finishes its renovations and expansion.

I've heard good things about Antojito's, but have never personally eaten there since it relaunched (the old Mexican restaurant in that spot was essentially a dressed-up Chi-Chi's). It's hard to criticize anything from Rick Bayless, who has a Frontera Cocina at Disney Springs, but like Morimoto, I would want to eat at one of his original Chicago eateries before trying one of his franchises.

April 10, 2018, 11:21 AM

Rocco's Tacos is big fat fun! Great selection of Mexican food, freah tableside made guac and margaritas. Busy, noisy atmosphere. Same area you'll find Seasons 52, and Eddie Vs.

April 10, 2018, 11:34 AM

Our best meal on Disney property, and one of our best meals period, was at Artist Point at the Wilderness Lodge in Disney World. I honestly can't recommend this place enough.

April 11, 2018, 5:27 AM

For Sushi, Dragonfly at Dr Phillips or Ari on Semoran just north of the airport are worth a try. People at work like Amura at Dr Phillips, and I have to say it is good, but I prefer Dragonfly. There's a huge selection of restaurants in the Dr Phillips area, and you you may want to try Seasons 52, or the excellent, but expensive !!, Ruth Chris steak house. Check the area out, you won't be disappointed.
Another great place to eat, and walk around, is the Gaylord Palms hotel. The old hickory steak house, and Moor the seafood place, are both excellent restaurants. I've never eaten at Villa de Flora, but people at work reckon that's worth a try as well.
For fish, we normally head for Narcoossees at the Grand Floridian if want something "grand" but the chain restaurant Bonefish is pretty good as well.
If you want a great choice of steak and fish, then Le Cellier in Epcot is hard to beat.
For Mexican we always head to Chuy's on I-Drive. A cantina style eatery, it's great for a social night out and enjoying some good Mexican fare.
Millenia mall has a few good, but not great restaurants ..... PF Changs, Cheesecake factory, and Brio to name just 3. Capital grill is OK, but expensive.
.... and finally, 2 of my favourite restaurants are on I-Drive down towards the convention center. Tommy Bahama is great, and for a good Italian we always go to Maggiano's.
Plenty of choices ... have a great time in Orlando, and enjoy the food.

Edited: April 11, 2018, 7:57 AM

Once again - 1 million thanks to all of you..

Rob - I am looking at many of your options.. We stay at a Sheraton on RT 535 - Vineland RD and I am not sure If I want to venture to Winter Park - North of Universal...
4rsmokehouse look interesting also..

Mak - I have stopped by the Gaylord Palms hotel once by accident. It was our first trip to Florida many years ago and we got lost, We were stuck on South international drive and we wanted International Drive... This was long before navigational systems were popular...

4rsmokehouse look interesting also..

April 11, 2018, 9:27 AM

Brian .... 4 rivers is a great BBQ place. The one on Osceola parkway in Kissimmee is most probably the best one for you to get to. On the way you can call into Gatorland .... !!! Similar to the Dr Phillips area, there's plenty of shops (The Loop) and other restaurants close by, so have fun down there. It gets busy in the evenings, but if you like smokehouse, then that's the place to go.

April 11, 2018, 10:59 AM

Thanks Mak - That is the One we were looking at in Kissimmee...

We stayed at a Hilton Orange Lake once in Kissimmee... I believe it is in the same area..
(Getting excited - still 1 month away) Looks like Fast and Furious might be open also!!!!!!!!!

April 11, 2018, 12:38 PM

Great Suz's - Thanks... Hahahahahahaha..

Edited: April 11, 2018, 12:52 PM

I don't mean to belittle anyone here, but there have been a lot of chain/franchise restaurants being suggested here. I don't know about you Brian, but I don't go on vacation and look forward to or plan a meal at a restaurant I can experience at home. Perhaps some people vacationing in Orlando just don't live near cities/towns that have a multitude of chain restaurants or think any restaurant where food is brought to their table is a treat, but I'm shocked at some of the recommendations.

There's something to be said for the known typically being better than the unknown, but (not to pick on Suzanne here) Uno's (the only Uno anyone should go out of their way to visit on vacation would be Numero Uno in Chicago) and Cracker Barrel???? Those chains have hundreds of locations scattered around the country (don't think you'll find too many Cracker Barrels in New England though), while places like Seasons 52, Ruth's Chris, Tommy Bahama, Maggiano's, and Eddie V's have dozens of locations around the US.

To each their own, but when I'm on vacation, I want to have meals that I can't get at home, and avoid nationwide chains at all cost, especially if I'm planning a meal weeks in advance. I will almost always try to go out of my way to try something new and unique that I can't get at home for as many meals as I can. It doesn't always have to be fancy meals either. Whenever we're on the west coast, we always have to track down places like In-and-Out, Taco Cabana, El Pollo Loco, and others, because we don't have those chains in the Mid-Atlantic (sadly our best local fast food chain is now EVERYWHERE, Five Guys - we used to live within walking distance of one of the five original locations).

April 11, 2018, 12:58 PM

Actually mentioning Cracker Barrel .... :) reminded me that Olivia's at the Old Key West resort is also definitely worth a visit. If we end up at OKW, we have dinner, then take the boat ride to Disney Springs, wander around then get the boat back. It's a really nice trip, with plenty of wildlife to be seen, especially at dusk. You don't have to be staying on Disney property to go, and I'd liken it to an upgraded (Disney style) Cracker Barrel. Home cooking at one of Disney's more relaxed eateries.

April 11, 2018, 1:42 PM

Hey Russ - I do not think I will be hitting Uno or Cracker Barrel - I took that as a funny joke... (We do have both of these in New England)

Really interested in - The Flying Fish, Rocco Tacco's and 4rsmokehouse...
Already getting a reservation at Flying Fish for our first night in Orlando...

April 12, 2018, 5:04 AM

One thing that's come out of this is I have learnt of some places in Orlando that I didn't know existed, and I will definitely be trying them out. I know of some great gator and catfish eateries off the beaten track south of Kissimmee in the Kenansville and Yeehaw junction area .... but that's a whole different kinda' eatin' .... :)
Have a great time in Orlando Brian.

April 12, 2018, 9:03 AM

Makorider - please share those catfish joints. I grew up in Georgia going to a place called the Swamp Guinea. There is nothing quite as delicious as whole fried catfish. Finding that in Southern California is as difficult as Brunswick stew (in that it is impossible). I don't get back to Orlando as often as I'd like, but next time I go, I'd appreciate a recommendation for a place that serves whole catfish. Please and thank you.

April 12, 2018, 12:05 PM

Rob ..... I get out that way once in while for fishing or hiking, and usually the place we'll end up at is Griffis cafe in Kenansville. If you take the scenic route down Canoe Creek Road, you might also see some of the other local catfish eateries. I've been in one of those, but sadly I have to admit I have no idea where it was .. :( Depending on where we are hiking, we sometimes end up at the air-boat place on Cypress Lake. Their little cafe is more catered to the tourists, but they still have good catfish and gator bites. If you're into watching/photographing wildlife then that's a great place to spend time just wandering around. Although I prefer Joe Overstreet Landing on Lake Kissimmee. It's less touristry and the wildlife is plentiful. It's one of the few places I've ever watched Bald Eagles fishing ... truly a wonderful sight. It's a rough ride down the beaten track, but if you want to experience the real wild Florida, then it's those areas you need to visit.

April 12, 2018, 1:44 PM


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