By Kristen Manieri
Just in case you're hungry, Magical Dining Month is back with Orlando's annual time to shine a spotlight on the area's best restaurants and chefs. This year, more than 90 restaurants will participate from August 29 through October 2, each serving an appetizer, entrée and dessert for a delicious $33.
Once again, new Orlando restaurants have jumped on board, adding to the continuous excitement of this annual epicurean celebration. And while buzz-worthy newcomers (including 2016 additions STK, Morimoto Asia, Urbain 40 and Cask & Larder) help to keep the program fresh, they join a long list of excellent Orlando-area restaurants, a few of which have been participating in Magical Dining Month since the very beginning.
That list includes Emeril's Tchoup Chop, a beautifully bedazzled restaurant inside the Loews Royal Pacific Resort where an artful array of fusion cuisine takes diners on an epicurean expedition through Asia and Polynesia. This year, Tchoup Chop will present a series of whimsical dishes, including a Kalua Pork Poutine, and Hawaiian Style Paella.
Another longtime favorite, Everglades Restaurant at the Rosen Center Hotel joined Magical Dining Month in its first year and continues to wow diners with its nod to native Florida cuisine through dishes like Alligator Bay Chowder and Key Lime Pie, both of which are offered on its Magical Dining menu this year.
It's worth noting how many spectacular participating restaurants are located in hotels and resorts, where chefs rival those cooking in independent, boutique restaurants in downtown Orlando and Winter Park.
A few standouts include The Kitchen at the Hard Rock Hotel, Mama Della's Ristorante inside Loews Portofino Bay, Todd English's Bluezoo at Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort, deep blu seafoodgrille at Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort and Urban Tide inside Hyatt Regency Orlando.
Not only do these restaurants regularly receive dining awards and praise from local critics, but they are some of the most beautifully designed restaurants in the area, making them an ideal choice for date night. And of course, for those staying in Orlando's hotels and resorts, it makes enjoying a Magical dinner out all the more convenient.
So, definitely use Magical Dining Month to explore Orlando's' newest culinary superstars. But don't forget to discover some hidden gems that may have escaped your notice. With prix-fixe menus priced so affordably, it's your chance to savor Orlando's burgeoning culinary scene and decide for yourself which ones rise to the top.
Kristen Manieri is Founder and Editor of the Orlando Date Night Guide. Formerly Great Dates Orlando, this website is THE place for local and visiting couples to find an endless list of ideas and recommendations for having fun and meaningful quality time together.