Got five years? That's how long it would take you to hit Orlando's more than 5,000 restaurants-if you ate out three times a day. They're certainly not all fast food places either, though you find plenty of places to get a good burger like Pine 22 for a 100 per cent natural antibiotic hormone and chemical-free. Visit Orlando has created six dining districts, outlined at OrlandoDistricts.com.
- You'll find fine dining and fun dining around the theme parks (we like The Flying Fish Cafe on Disney's Boardwalk and Bice Ristorante at the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel and to watch the fireworks from the California Grill (pictured above) atop Disney's Contemporary Resort where locals go for sushi.
- Orlando's Restaurant Row District, a one-mile stretch of Sand Lake Road is a mecca for upscale and casual restaurants, including Roy's Hawaiian Fusion, Bosphorous Turkish Cuisine and for seafood, Ocean Prime and Big Fin Seafood Kitchen. The centerpiece of Restaurant Row is the jewel-box sized The Table Orlando, which opened in August 2011 and offers just 22 people one seating each Friday and Saturday, for an ever-changing meal that can last three to four hours.
- Name-chef spots include Emeril's Tchoup Chop at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Melissa Kelly's Primo by Melissa Kelly at the Grand Lakes Resort with on-property organic gardens, Todd English's bluezoo (pictured above) at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin, Kouzzina by Cat Cora® on Disney's BoardWalk, serving Greek and Mediterranean specialties; and Wolfgang Puck's Grand Café in Downtown Disney.
Winter Park, Orlando's oldest community, is home to some of the region's top restaurants and most notable chefs, including James and Julie Petrakis and their venerable The Ravenous Pig, which has received rave reviews since it opened in 2007. The Petrakises, who trained at the Culinary Institute of America, opened a sister restaurant to "The Pig," Cask & Larder, in Winter Park-- a micropub with Southern artisanal food, hand-crafted beer by master brewer Ron Raike, and local ingredients, including Florida fishes and seafood. Come Saturday for Winter Park's Farmer's Market on its "Central Park."
Downtown is known for farm-to-table cuisine sourced from local farmers like at Dexters of Thornton Park and at The Rusty Spoon (pictured above). At Cityfish, the oysters are harvested from Apalachicola, FL and the fish is caught locally.
Near Orlando's Downtown is the ViMi district, named from the two main streets, Virginia and Mills, that intersect there, and home to one of the largest Vietnamese-American communities in Florida. The expanding enclave of Vietnamese, Korean, Thai and Chinese restaurants and grocery stores, which are stocked with everything from alternative medicines to exotic produce, cater mostly to Asian customers.
This special post was written by syndicated travel writer and mom, Eileen Ogintz. To read more family travel tips from Eileen, visit takingthekids.com.