Despite appearances, Orlando is not exclusively preoccupied with theme parks, adventure playgrounds and Disney paraphernalia: the city has a culinary scene to satisfy the most discerning of taste buds too, with food from a vast range of countries and cultures on offer. We've picked out some of the best spots to sample gourmet Orlando.
Ming Court, Orlando
Don’t even think of ordering run-of-the-mill Chinese food when in town. Instead, find a not-so-little taste of China at Ming Court on aptly named International Drive. The Orlando staple has been serving up menu favourites like its Peking Duck (served over two courses) for more than 20 years. Flanked by dozens and dozens of neighbouring restaurants, there’s no mistaking Ming Court’s spectacular aesthetic with its meticulous gardens, koi ponds and dragon-like wall.
Ming Court, 9188 International Drive, Orlando
Skip across continents at Sanaa (“Sah-NAH”) at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas. Sanaa’s food is appropriately described as African with Indian flare, and here you'll be able to tuck into Lamb Kefta or Garlic-Ginger Naan while admiring giraffes and gazelles roaming the 'savanna' just beyond the windows. For an even more memorable experience, true animal lovers can dine on a four-course feast while learning about some of the resort’s 200 creatures from one of Animal Kingdom's specialists.
Sanaa, 3701 Osceola Parkway, Lake Buena Vista
For an escape from the popular tourist spots, Prato in downtown Winter Park is simply one of the hottest restaurants in Orlando. The vibe is trendy, the décor is contemporary, the people are beautiful and the food is what you’d imagine of modern-day Italy. Can't decide what to order? Served with a tasty farm fresh egg in the centre, the Widowmaker pizza served piping hot from the wood-burning oven will not disappoint. Make reservations early, this restaurant promises a lively crowd nearly every night of the week.
Prato, 124 North Park Avenue, Winter Park
Wantilan Luau, Orlando
If you’re feeling adventurous, free up a Saturday night during your stay and reserve your spot for the most colourful dinner in town at Wantilan Luau at Loews Royal Pacific Resort in Universal Orlando. The all-you-can-eat Polynesian feast is served up against a backdrop of live Hawaiian music, hip shaking hula dancers and daring fire dancers. Careful, though, you just might be asked to join in.
Wantilan Luau, 6300 Hollywood Way, Orlando
Le Coq Au Vin, Orlando
Locals know that Le Coq Au Vin is not-to-be-missed. You need not be a fan of French food – just a fan of fine dining – to realise why this is easily ranked year after year as one of the best restaurants in Orlando. The chef's focus on a “farm to table” philosophy pays dividends in the freshness of each entrée. Another perk: half portions, meaning more room for dessert!
Le Coq Au Vin, 4800 South Orange Avenue, Orlando
What are the best international eats you've had in Orlando – any tips? Post your recommendations in the comments.
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About the author: KimTaylorKim Taylor
Kim Taylor is vice president and partner with Curley & Pynn Public Relations, and co-founder of PulseofCentralFlorida.com, a Central Florida activities blog. A resident of Florida for more than 25 years and a Central Floridian for more than 10 years, Kim co-founded the blog PulseofCentralFlorida.com in 2008 with the hope of sharing an insider’s view of Orlando that goes beyond the theme parks. In her spare time, Kim can be spotted checking out her favorite musicians at one of many Central Florida music venues, on the tennis courts or rowing starboard with the Orlando Rowing Club.