Instagram influencer Christina Petsos can’t wait for the start of Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining®. Get her guide to nine participating restaurants for 2023, including Luke’s Kitchen from James Beard semifinalist Chef Brandon McGlamery (pictured).

It’s the most wonderful time of the year: Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining® has returned, offering three-course, prix-fixe meals for $40 to $60 per person at top Orlando restaurants. This amazing program we wait all year for is finally back from Aug. 18 – Oct. 1, 2023, and I was able to preview the menus at some fantastic participating 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 — and supporting local charities — is what Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining is all about. Let’s dive in.

Discover: The Table Is Set for Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining

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Bulla Gastrobar

I have been a fan of Bulla Gastrobar for years. Specializing in tapas, this restaurant is an upscale, Spanish-inspired venue. The restaurant is beautiful, and they use only quality ingredients for their food.

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A feature I love about Bulla’s menu for Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining is that it is four courses, as opposed to three. Quite possibly, one of the best values you can get during the program. The first course is Manchego & Serrano. Bulla provides individual charcuterie boards for each person, and they have a good amount of meat and cheese on it.

For my appetizer, I ordered the Ham Croquettes, a staple. For the main course, I tried the Bulla Burger and Truffle Carbonara. These are both the best options, in my opinion. The Truffle Carbonara is a bigger serving than you get when you order it on its own (without Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining). I was extremely impressed by the burger. It has a thick beef patty, cooked to your perfect temperature. The addition of the tetilla cheese was a nice twist on your usual burger.

For dessert, I ordered the Churros Con Chocolate with chocolate sauce and dulce de leche. I am weak for dulce de leche, so I really loved these churros. The food at Bulla is fantastic, and a four-course meal for just $40 is a steal. Highly recommended.

My top picks: Ham Croquettes, Bulla Burger or Truffle Carbonara, Churros

Canvas Restaurant & Market

Situated on Lake Nona with a beautiful view is Canvas Restaurant & Market. Focusing on seasonal, regional produce and seafood, this new American restaurant provides a Florida-inspired menu with a Latin flair. Canvas can be romantic as well as a perfect space for a girl’s dinner. I recommend coming an hour before sunset to enjoy the beautiful lakefront views.

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This menu has fantastic choices all around. Appetizers include a beautiful Caesar Salad, a stack of Calamari Fries, or Canvas Wings. Be forewarned, the wings are very spicy but have a nice Nashville hot flavor. If you love spicy, these are for you. For something different, try the calamari fries.

Main course options include Fusilli Pasta with Pacific Sweet Shrimp, Steak Frites, and Chili Rubbed Tender Pork. The fusilli pasta with fresh shrimp has an enjoyable nutty flavor. The steak frites’ roasted garlic au jus is the perfect topping. For the pork, it is tender and falls apart with just a fork.

I loved the dessert options, prepared by the talented Chef Stuart Whitfield, of whom I have been a longtime fan. Options are a Blueberry Cobbler, Toasted Coconut Ice Box Cake, and Seasonal Cheesecake. If you like blueberry, do not skip the blueberry cobbler. Warm, crunchy and moist, you’ll not want to share this choice.

My top picks: Canvas Wings, Fusilli Pasta with Pacific Sweet Shrimp, Blueberry Cobbler

Chroma Modern Bar + Kitchen

At the heart of Lake Nona lies Chroma Modern Bar + Kitchen, which focuses on small, sharable plates. They do have bigger plates available, including those offered for Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining. I first became a big fan of Chroma when I went to their brunch and tried the Skillet Cinnamon Roll. I have been returning to try multiple new dishes ever since. They have a great menu, and I hope you go if you have never been.

Chroma has a wonderful selection for Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining 2023, giving you the perfect excuse to try it all. I had the Crab Cakes and Tuna Tartare appetizers. I also tried the Prime Skirt Steak Wedge Salad, Shrimp Orzo and Crispy Pork Belly Pad Thai. And for dessert, the Mixed Berry Cheesecake, Butterscotch Bread Pudding and Coconut Caramel Flan. Hungry yet from hearing all those options? I am too, as I am writing this.

I want to take a moment to express my unyielding love for the butterscotch bread pudding. This is a dish I have loved for some time and will stop in just to get it occasionally. The butterscotch soaks into the bread pudding, giving you the perfect warm bite every time.

Now, with the appetizers, I thoroughly enjoyed both that I tried. The tuna and avocado are fresh, but the pistachio oil really sets it apart from other tuna tartares, as it gives it a unique pleasantly toasted note. Of the entrees, I truly enjoyed them all. The steak comes with a good portion of meat and a wedge salad, making it a great value. The shrimp orzo is something I would order again.

My top picks: Tuna Tartare, Shrimp Orzo, Butterscotch Bread Pudding

La Luce

A signature restaurant at Signia by Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek, La Luce is a beautiful space that serves contemporary Italian food, including handmade pasta. La Luce also strives to use local and sustainable ingredients in all their dishes. The atmosphere is classy, making for a wonderful date night — one fun feature is all the handmade chalk art on the wall.

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For their appetizers I tried the Zuppa Del Giorno (Soup of the Day) and the Olive Fritte. I am not typically an olive fan, but these ones are fried! I ended up really enjoying them. For the main course I tried the Pollo Arrosto and the Silk Handkerchiefs. The chicken was a large portion, presented beautifully. It is moist with a nice crunch on the outside. The pasta is a thin sheet with pesto that was enjoyable, as well. The precision used to make these thin handkerchiefs is wildly impressive! They melt in your mouth.

For dessert, they offer their famous Butterscotch Pudding. I obviously needed to try it, as this pudding has its own dedicated Facebook page. That is how much people love it. I must say it was amazing, and I can understand the obsession. I would not normally order butterscotch pudding, but at La Luce, I make an exception. I also tried the Flourless Chocolate Cake served with coconut gelato, which is another very solid choice.

If you dine at La Luce, you can get your parking validated and will not need to worry about paying the parking prices in the garage. So, go stroll through the beautiful hotel before or after you enjoy this lovely restaurant.

My top picks: Olive Fritte, Silk Handkerchiefs, Butterscotch Pudding

Luke’s Kitchen

Headed by James Beard Award semifinalist Chef Brandon McGlamery, Luke’s Kitchen is in Maitland, just north of Winter Park proper. (McGlamery also heads up the nearby Prato.) This American cuisine restaurant continues to be highly regarded by locals, and for good reason. They strive to locally source their ingredients as much as possible and make everything fresh in house. It is no surprise that they offer a wonderful menu for Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining.

From the appetizers, I tried the Carrot-Coconut Soup and the Chips and Dip. I’ve gotten the latter multiple times, and I love it. The dip is topped with bacon, lettuce and marinated tomatoes, giving a burst of flavor with every bite. The carrot-coconut soup has a wonderful lime cilantro flavor, which I can see myself eating daily during the fall. It gives a warming island vibe.

For the main course, I tried the Swordfish Schnitzel and the Chairman’s Reserve Pork Chop. I have tried the swordfish schnitzel multiple times, and I must say that it is fantastic. Perfectly fried with a green tomato tartar to dip it in, every bite is better than the previous. The pork chop is tender with a lovely glaze. The navy bean puree provided a mild flavor that was enjoyable when mixed.

For dessert, I tried the Florida Blueberry Upside-Down Cake and the Milk Chocolate Custard. The Blueberry cake was fresh and delightful. The milk chocolate custard was perfectly creamy with a crunch from the puffed riced praline inside. With so many wonderful options, it is easy to see why I always return to Luke’s. This is a must-try restaurant.

My top picks: Chips and Dip, Swordfish Schnitzel, Milk Chocolate Custard

The Nauti Lobstah

This gem of a restaurant is in Apopka, but well worth the drive from anywhere in the Orlando area. They serve fresh Maine lobster daily. The Nauti Lobstah’s head chef and owner, Mike, is from up north and knows a thing or two about how to cook the perfect lobster. I am very excited that they are participating in Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining this year, and you should be, too. I highly recommend checking them out.

Off this year’s menu I tried the Bowl of New England Lobstah Bisque, the Connecticut Style Lobstah Roll, the 6-oz. Filet Mignon with an upgrade to the 7-oz. Maine Cold Water Cracker Crusted Lobster Tail, and the Homemade Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie. Everything I ate was amazing.

I especially loved the bisque and could not stop eating it. It is creamy with large chunks of lobster. Perfection. I am a huge lobster roll fan, but of the Connecticut type, not New England. It’s rare to find Connecticut style in Central Florida, which I believe really sets The Nauti Lobstah apart from other restaurants (aside from having live, fresh lobsters in house).

It’s hard to say which part of the meal I enjoyed the most though, as dessert was superb, too. I love a homemade dessert, especially if there is peanut butter and chocolate involved. The Nauti Lobstah is a homerun. This is a necessary stop during Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining.

My top picks: Lobster Bisque, Connecticut Lobster Roll, Homemade Peanut Butter Pie

The Tap Room at Dubsdread

This beautiful restaurant is on the historic Dubsdread Golf Course in Orlando’s College Park Main Street district. The Tap Room at Dubsdread has become a local favorite because the food is excellent. Anytime I come here, I feel fancy (I’m really not), but I also feel welcomed. The service is great, and I am never rushed. I love that they continue to participate in Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining year after year, as it is a lovely place to enjoy an evening.

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On their menu is their famous Tap Room Bleu Cheese Chips. If you dine at The Tap Room, these are required for you to order. In fact, I would say if you live in Orlando and haven’t tried these, are you really an Orlandoan? Take that into consideration if you have not been here — this is your chance. I also had the Buffalo Shrimp, which I enjoyed. But really, you can’t beat those chips.

For my main course I had the 10-oz. Queen Cut Herb Encrusted Prime Rib and the Bone In Lollipop Center Cut Pork Chop 10 oz. Both are amazing and they are giant portions. This prime rib is tender and juicy, making it a must try. The Tap Room is well known for their prime rib, making it your best choice and bang for your buck. The pork chop was also fantastic with a sweet flavor.

For dessert, I had the Key Lime Pie and Brownie Sundae. You cannot go wrong with either of these choices. I am partial to the sundae as it comes with a Ghirardelli Brownie — my favorite.

My top picks: Tap Room Bleu Cheese Chips, Prime Rib, Brownie Sundae

Turci Pasta

You can find Turci Pasta in the ever-evolving College Park Main Street. This family-owned restaurant handmakes all their pastas and sauces. The quaint space is beautifully decorated, making it the perfect date night venue.

This menu really impressed me, and I got the chance to try quite a few different items from it. The Black Truffle Ravioli Side is my current obsession. I’m a sucker for black truffle anything, and this is no exception. The truffle, the olive oil, the pepper, the handmade ravioli: it all comes together for the perfect bite. You of course cannot go wrong with a Burrata Salad, either.

For the main course, I ordered the King Mushroom Pappardelle. This a long cut pasta with a delectable creamy sauce made in-house with a king mushroom.

I also tried all three dessert options: Tiramisu, Limoncello Delizia and Nutella Cheesecake. They are all great, and I had them all because I was having such a tough time deciding what I wanted. All were winners in my book. Something I love about the tiramisu is that it comes with a shot of espresso that is poured over the cake, giving you extra pep in your step.

My top picks: Black Truffle Ravioli, King Mushroom Pappardelle, Nutella Cheesecake

VINIA Wine & Kitchen

VINIA Wine & Kitchen is a small wine bar and scratch kitchen in Winter Park, nestled in the beautiful Hannibal Square. Owned by the wonderful Fabio and Paula, VINIA brings an Italian/Brazilian fusion that is sure to please the senses. In addition to the wonderful menu selections for Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining, you can choose to pair the dishes with wines Fabio has selected. Hailing from Italy, Fabio has an extensive knowledge on wine, thus curating the perfect pairing.

From the appetizers section, I tried the Pão de Quiejo com Crème de Vinho Branco, Burrata Al Pesto Viola E Verde, Vegan “Escargot” A La Bourguignonne, and the Empanada de Carne Con Queso. It’s hard to pick a favorite from this category, as it is all amazing, but the Pão de Quiejo has my heart. Fabio handmakes these beautiful cheese breads and pairs them with catupiry, which is a Brazilian cheese. Cheese on cheese! What more can you want really? The vegan escargot is certainly an interesting concept that works well. Fabio uses multiple vegetables in a beurre persille, giving it a nice-while-not-overpowering garlic flavor.

From the entrees, I tried the Rabo de Toro de Temporada and the Cocotte De Crevettes Et Riz Au Safran. The Rabo de Toro is their 24-hour braised oxtail au jus. For Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining, it’s served with mixed greens; however, you can upgrade and add gnocchi for just $5, which I suggest doing. Fabio’s oxtail over gnocchi is one of those things that will make you close your eyes and savor every bit. The gnocchi are honestly little pockets of heaven. The Cocotte De Crevettes is a mini casserole of shrimp and yuca cream with rice and saffron cake. This entree is creamy and gives such a sense of comfort.

I also tried all three desserts on the menu: Affogato, Pot du Crème au Chocolate, and the Bavarois Aux Franboise Et Rhubarbe (rhubarb Bavarian cream, raspberry dust, rose coulis and rum-salted caramel tuile). The affogato is something I will order, and I recommend it. The pot du crème is rich with a hint of salt. No matter what you order at VINIA, you will enjoy it.

My top picks: Pão de Quiejo, Rabo de Toro (with Gnocchi Upgrade), Afforgato

Map of Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining® Restaurants

Use this interactive map to track down all 132 participating restaurants in Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining 2023.

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