Hidden Gems in Orlando’s Dining

by GO GlobeHopper

Explore Orlando dining outside of the theme parks, where you’ll find hearty Italian, authentic Thai and Cuban offerings around the city.  From fine dining near the theme parks to speakeasy cocktails on Restaurant Row, these restaurants are bringing their A-game. Be sure to reserve a table on your next vacation to Orlando.



Restaurant Row is found in the upscale Dr. Phillips area of Orlando. (seen in the lead photo)

Christini’s Ristorante Italiano

Don’t be surprised if Chris Christini, owner of this upscale AAA Four-Diamond restaurant, greets you at the door or stops by your table to check on the meal. He takes pride in his establishment, with an emphasis on top-notch service and quality northern Italian cuisine, including homemade ravioli, prime filet mignon and the signature veal chop.

The Pharmacy

This hidden gem is a bit hard to find — the entrance is disguised as a tucked-away lone elevator. Enter, push the green button, and when the doors open, you’ll be transported to a prohibition-themed spot. In true speakeasy style, their specialties are craft cocktails (called “elixirs”) like Manhattans, smashes and fizzes, plus homemade, locally sourced fare, like Cape Canaveral rock shrimp, Bolognese pasta and Neapolitan pizza.

Rocco’s Tacos & Tequila Bar

More edgy than traditional, this Mexican joint features a vibrant atmosphere, thanks in part to the 225 varieties of tequila on the menu. In addition to the namesake tacos, the menu features handmade corn tortillas, tableside guacamole service and modern takes on classic dishes.

Chatham’s Place Restaurant

Voted one of the top restaurants in Orlando, this family-owned establishment has been a staple among locals since 1988. House specialties include jumbo lump Cajun crab cakes, Florida grouper in pecan butter, rack of lamb in rosemary au jus and center-cut filet mignon with a peppercorn cognac sauce.

Nagoya Sushi

A cozy sushi bar that takes its rolls seriously, treating their innovative creations as works of art. Their pride shows in the signature offerings and welcoming atmosphere.



Up for a drive? Trust us: The renowned restaurants in the nearby town of Winter Park are about 30 minutes from the theme parks — and worth the trip.

The Ravenous Pig

Chef owners (and James Beard Award semifinalists), James and Julie Petrakis, are passionate about locally sourced cuisine, evident in their classy gastropub. In addition to handmade pasta and charcuterie, the ever-changing menu highlights fresh Florida seafood and seasonal offerings from local farmers. Don’t miss the year-round Canaveral shrimp and grits and the brewed-on-site craft beer.


The atmosphere alone is enough to book a table at this refined-but-not-pretentious restaurant. The inviting lakefront setting is perfect for pre-dinner cocktails in Adirondack chairs or a lovely meal al fresco. The menu is seasonal and includes house specialties like jumbo lump crab cakes, miso-glazed Atlantic cod and center-cut filet mignon.

Bulla Gastrobar

Bulla Gastrobar makes waves in the Winter Park dining scene with its take on Spanish cuisine. The restaurant’s festive vibe and energy complement dishes like churrasco skirt steak, seafood paella, and a wide selection of small plates, along with inventive cocktails from the full bar. A worthy stop for brunch, lunch, dinner or anytime tapas.


This spot’s decor is rustic yet modern, while the daily changing seasonal menu puts a fresh twist on classic dishes. Homemade pasta like sweet potato gnocchi, fresh paninis with house-cured meats and pizzas topped with inventive ingredients like sage pesto and spiced acorn squash are just a few items you can expect during your visit.



This quaint town near Walt Disney World® is the perfect spot to take a walk and enjoy a meal.

Celebration Town Tavern

The Celebration Town Tavern is ideal for both families and sports fans alike. This New-England-style space serves steak and seafood as well as Boston-style offerings like chowder, fish and chips, Maine lobster roles and more. If you’re seeking a laid-back vibe with plenty of menu options, this is a must-visit after a day at the theme parks.

Columbia Restaurant

One of Florida’s oldest restaurant chains, this family-run business serves Spanish-Cuban cuisine in an elegant Mediterranean setting. Opt to begin your experience with Sangria, prepared tableside to your liking. You can either order tapas to share or select from an extensive menu of hearty entrees sure to satisfy after a day exploring Orlando. And don’t miss out on warm, cinnamon-dusted churros for dessert.

Upper Crust Pizza

Craving something quick and easy? Drop by Upper Crust Pizza. This counter-service space offers specialty pizzas, subs and stuffed calzones for takeout, so you can enjoy dinner lakeside.

Thai Thani

Established by the Thai Ministry of Commerce to encourage visitors to enjoy Thai cuisine, Thai Thani offers an extensive menu with chicken, beef, pork as well as spicy dishes with noodles and fried rice. Hand-carved tables, tropical plants and imported antiques add to the dining experience.




Dining Info Courtesy of Vistana

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