Instagram influencer Christina Petsos couldn’t wait for the start of Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining and finagled some early previews. Get her guide to seven participating restaurants for 2022, including The Venetian Chop House at Caribe Royale Orlando (pictured).
Updated Aug. 31, 2022
It’s the most wonderful time of the year: Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining® has returned, offering three-course, prix-fixe meals for $40 per person at high-end Orlando restaurants. This amazing program we wait all year for is finally back from Aug. 26 – Oct. 2, 2022, and I was able to preview the menus for Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining at some fantastic venues. I am pumped to share my experiences and hopefully introduce you to a new restaurant you have not been to yet. After all, that’s what Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining is all about. Let’s dive in!
Learn more: Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Is Back
The Venetian Chop House at Caribe Royale Orlando
I was super excited to go to The Venetian Chop House to experience their menu for Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining, as I really enjoy this restaurant. It’s located at Caribe Royale Orlando, which is participating in the Visit Orlando’s Magical Nights program, giving you the chance to pair dinner for two with a one-night stay in one of their renovated rooms at a very affordable price.
Learn more: Visit Orlando’s Magical Nights
I got to experience the Local Burrata and Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail appetizers. I truly believe you cannot go wrong with burrata, and if it is on a menu, I order it. For my entree, I chose the Wild Salmon, which is expertly cooked and seasoned to perfection. I don’t typically choose salmon, but I was blown away by this one! I also tried my friends’ Grilled Airline Chicken Breast and 14-oz. New York Strip, both enjoyable.
For dessert, I highly recommend the Trio Crème Brûlée or the Ultimate Chocolate Sphere, which provides a little show at the table with the flambée. Every dish is presented beautifully, and I was definitely impressed by the Venetian’s offerings for Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining!
My top picks for The Venetian Chophouse: Local Burrata appetizer, Wild Salmon entree and Ultimate Chocolate Sphere dessert.
HAVEN at Lake Nona Wave Hotel
Lake Nona Wave Hotel is one of Orlando’s newest properties, and it never disappoints on aesthetics. The ambience is very sleek and modern with something new to see every time I step inside. This trip took me to HAVEN, which is located on the second floor. This beautiful, botanical-inspired restaurant boasts Mediterranean dishes with a Florida twist. The space is beautiful, and I could honestly sit in here for hours talking. The adjacent HAVEN Lounge and hotel pool are connected and offer two different atmospheres to dine.
Learn more: Lake Nona
Their first-ever menu for Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining offers some great selections like the Smoked and Grilled Chicken Wings appetizer, Gemelli Pasta entrée, and Key Lime Tart dessert. Every dish is artfully crafted with unique flavors. I was blown away by the wings, which are adorned with a chimichurri sauce. The chicken falls right off the bone and melts in your mouth. These are some of the most unique and tasty wings I have had. The pasta was truly fantastic, as well, and I would order it again. It is topped with burrata, which always elevates any dish for me. The Key Lime Tart has a stunning presentation and is perfectly tart.
My friend tried the Fried Calamari, Salmon (a special Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining choice), and the Cherry Clafouti. She enjoyed them all. I want to make special mention of the desserts at HAVEN. They are truly art, and it was tough to want to mess them up to eat them. I am so glad I did though, because they taste so great that I would consider coming here and ordering dessert first!
My top picks for HAVEN: Smoked and Grilled Chicken Wings appetizer, Gemelli Pasta entrée, and Key Lime Tart dessert.
RusTeak Thornton Park
Oh, how I love RusTeak Thornton Park! Just east of downtown Orlando in the historic Thornton Park neighborhood, this sleek restaurant is a favorite of mine that I continuously support because the food is that good. Their menu for Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining boasts something for everyone, even those trying to stick to a healthy lifestyle.
Learn more: Orlando Neighborhoods
The Keto Keto Keto entree is grilled wild raised salmon, blackened asparagus, and loaded cheddar and pancetta cauliflower casserole. The combination of flavors here is on point. Throw some cheese into some cauliflower and I am sold!
For dessert, the Coquito Bread Pudding is addictive — I would eat this daily if I could. It just melts in your mouth and all I wanted was more, even though I was full from all the other food.
My top picks for RusTeak Thornton Park: Spread Hummus Not Hate appetizer, Keto Keto Keto entree and Coquito Bread Pudding dessert.
Tapa Toro Tapas Bar & Paella Pit at ICON® Park
Paella all day! At least that’s how I feel when I think about Tapa Toro Tapas Bar & Paella Pit and their incredible Spanish-inspired cuisine. I don’t go out for paella that often, but when I do, it’s to this restaurant at ICON Park® in Orlando’s International Drive Entertainment District, aka I-Drive.
Learn more: ICON Park
I am absolutely thrilled that their menu for Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining includes two different individual paella choices: Vegetarian Paella and Seafood Paella. I chose the seafood option for my entree, and my friend got the Skirt Steak. Both were fantastic, but the paella was obviously my choice as the star. I of course had to order Tres Leches for dessert, because I am a sucker for it. The one here is very light and authentic!
I also love that you can watch the chefs prepare the paella in front of you at their paella pit. They even have a flamenco dancer that performs every night starting at 7 p.m.! I was able to catch this entertainment, and it was so fun.
My top picks for Tapa Toro Tapas Bar & Paella Pit: Meatballs appetizer, Seafood or Vegetarian Paella entree, and Tres Leches dessert.
SLATE Restaurant on Restaurant Row
A modern American restaurant, SLATE is bringing the flair with food that is made from love, which is always the goal of Chef Kevan Ho. This Restaurant Row venue is a spot I could just hang out at for hours. The drinks are fantastic, the dishes made with the freshest possible ingredients, and the vibes are impeccable.
Learn more: Restaurant Row
I was fortunate enough to try all the dishes on their menu for Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining and was impressed with it all. The Basil Hazelnut Hummus had to be some of the best I’ve tried lately. The other appetizers on this menu are Pancetta & Pepper Jack Hushpuppies and a Caesar Salad.
The presentation of every course was beautiful. The Wood Grilled NY Strip and Milk Cake were both so creatively plated that I had to make myself stop taking photos and eat them. The Herb Roasted Bronzini entree was my favorite dish of the evening, and I would order this on a regular basis. The fish itself was tender with a pleasantly crispy outside. The third option for entrees is the Slate Chicken, which had an amazing gravy. For the dessert, my friend absolutely loved their Croissant Bread Pudding, and I was a huge fan of the Triple Chocolate Cheesecake.
My top picks for SLATE Restaurant: Basil Hazelnut Hummus appetizer, Herb Roasted Bronzini entree and Triple Chocolate Cheesecake dessert.
The Kitchen at Hard Rock Hotel® at Universal Orlando
The Kitchen is located inside Hard Rock Hotel® at Universal Orlando. This is one epic resort, and I am no stranger to The Kitchen. They are always serving up rock star-worthy dishes, so I just knew their menu for Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining would be nothing short of fantastic. It was a pleasure to try this amped-up comfort food made and served by their executive chef, Jeffrey Hileman, who is as charismatic as his dishes! I loved chatting with him about each one.
Learn more: Universal Orlando Resort’s Awesome Hotels
This menu boasts fantastic appetizers like their Sweet Corn Bisque (poured tableside!), the Tierra Madre Burrata Caprese Salad, and the Smoked Chicken Wings. The bisque had a subtle sweetness that was balanced perfectly with the soup. I of course loved the burrata, and the wings were amazing! They have a peach barbecue sauce that I am a huge fan of. Run, don’t walk, to get these.
Their entrees include Pan Seared Sustainable Salmon, Crispy Skinned Joyce Farms Chicken Breast, and the Ancho Marinated Bone-In Pork Chop. I loved them all, and you won’t go wrong with anything you pick. The dessert was the best part. (This is always the case with me. I have a huge sweet tooth!) I am obsessed with the beauty and taste of their Crème Brûlée. It’s also hard to go wrong with either the Mascarpone Strawberry Cheesecake Bite or Chocolate Mousse Bite, as they are perfectly portioned for one person.
My top picks for The Kitchen: Smoked Chicken Wings appetizer, Crispy Skinned Joyce Farms Chicken Breast entree and Crème Brûlée dessert.
Taverna Opa at Pointe Orlando
Every time I step into Taverna Opa at Pointe Orlando on I-Drive, I think of my YiaYia and Papou, which means grandma and grandpa in Greek. It’s the real deal. Opa is owned by a local Greek family, the Coumbaroses, who pride themselves on authenticity and straight-up good food that reminds you of your YiaYia’s cooking. Their menu for Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining has some of their best items, and I was lucky enough to try it all.
Learn more: Pointe Orlando
For appetizers, they offer their Saganaki (cheese lit on fire), Horiatiki Traditional Greek Salad, and Falafel. The falafel recipe is created by the owner, Vassilis, himself, and it is amazing. The saganaki is for sure my favorite though. I just cannot get enough of it. The entree choices are Lamb Chops, Filet Mignon or Lavraki Bronzino. I am a huge fan of their tender lamb chops and the lemon potatoes. Dessert offerings include Baklava, Opa Ekmek and Loukoumades. If you do not know what ekmek is, it is shredded phyllo with custard and whipped cream. The loukoumades are Greek donuts with honey and walnuts. I love them all, and it is honestly hard for me to choose just one.
In addition to the food, this place is a straight up party! They have a belly dancer that starts performing every night at 7 p.m. and encourages guests to get up and dance with them and on the tables. If you come here for any occasion, expect a big celebration and a waterfall of napkins.
My top picks for Taverna Opa: Saganaki appetizer, Lamb Chops entree and Loukoumades dessert.
There are so many wonderful restaurants on the Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining list and only a little over a month to take advantage, so it is understandable it might be hard to choose where to go. I hope this breakdown helps you a little bit with your decision and you get out there and support local!
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