Delicious Destinations: Orlando, Florida

Plant Street Market Eating in Orlando
(Photo: Bill Ward for VISIT FLORIDA)

Some people plan their vacation with no thought of where they are going to eat, while others plan their entire trip around the scrumptious bites and tasty treats they are going to try. No matter what camp you’re in, the brand new FamilyVacationist monthly food column, Delicious Destinations has you covered! Welcome to your number one food recommendation column that covers everything from family dining, the best places for solo travelers, and the number one spot to grab a snack.

Let’s Eat: Orlando

I’m Megan duBois. I am a full-time food and drink writer, and when I don’t have a fork in my hand, there’s likely an ice cream cone instead. In this Delicious Destinations column, you can come with me to a different city each month and we’ll explore great restaurants, bars, bakeries, and other eateries. I’ll offer recommendations for families, adults, and solo travelers in each city. I’ll also give you tips on finding great themed restaurants, mid-day snacks, and breweries.

This month, we’re traveling to one of my favorite destinations: Orlando, Florida. While you might think of Orlando as the theme-park capital of the world (which it is), this popular Central Florida city also got an impressive dining scene packed with celebrity chefs, international cuisine, and of course some highly themed restaurants.

And while you might visit for the Orlando theme parks or water parks, there’s no reason you can’t eat well while you’re there. Downtown Orlando, along with nearby neighborhoods and cities including Thornton Park, Lake Buena Vista, Winter Park, and International Drive, offer plenty of dining options. Here are some of the best places to eat in Orlando.

The Best Restaurant For Families: Splitsville Luxury Lanes

For a unique experience among Orlando restaurants, head to Splitsville Luxury Lanes at Disney Springs. Part restaurant and part bowling alley, your kids will love being able to enjoy top-notch burgers, sushi, and more while trying to outscore everyone in the family at a game of bowling. This spot does get busy on weekends, so it’s best to make a reservation, but you can stay for as long as you like once you’re seated at your lane or table.

Splitsville Luxury Lanes Must-Have: Loaded Fries and a Volcano Roll

The Best Restaurant For Adults: Wine Bar George

Wine Bar George at Disney Springs is the perfect spot to taste some of the best wines in the world. The restaurant boasts a menu of 140 wines, all selected by master sommelier George Miliotes. Pair your wine with small plates like burrata with tomatoes and grilled bread, grilled romaine lettuce, or crispy mac and cheese bites. And don’t miss the Santa Carota short ribs, a hearty main that’s a great match for a big red.

Wine Bar George Must-Have: The Burrata small plate and Santa Carota Short Ribs

The Best Restaurant For Solo Travelers: Sticky Rice Lao Street Food

Solo travelers have the freedom to explore, and in Orlando there’s no better place to explore for lunch or dinner than Little Vietnam. Located on the outskirts of downtown Orlando, Little Vietnam is packed with restaurants, and even among all the great options, Sticky Rice Lao Street Food really shines. Serving up traditional food from Laos in a cool night-market setting, Sticky Rice Lao has a devoted following who come for its ultra-affordable house-made noodles, sticky wings, dumplings, bao, and imported Laotian beer.

Sticky Rice Lao Street Food Must-Have: Jeow B Chicken Bao and Curry Ribs

The Best Themed Restaurant: The Three Broomsticks

Hungry Harry Potter fans should drive, fly, or apparate to Universal Orlando Resort and The Three Broomsticks. This restaurant, located inside The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, looks like it jumped straight out of the pages of the Harry Potter books. The restaurant specializes in British classics like fish and chips and shepherd’s pie. Before you leave, order an iconic Butterbeer, which is a sweet drink that wizards and witches of all ages will enjoy.

Three Broomsticks Must-Have: Fish and Chips and Butterbeer

The Best Mid-Day Snack: Gideon’s Bakehouse

Sightseers often need a mid-day bite, and in Orlando there’s no better place for an afternoon snack than Gideon’s Bakehouse. The bakery, located inside the East End Market (and soon Disney Springs), is best known for its outrageous, gorgeous half-pound cookies. You’ll have a hard time choosing among favorites like chocolate chip, cookies and cream, and peanut butter crunch. Don’t forget to sample the monthly special, which can include rocky road, Mexican chocolate chip, or coffee toffee. Fair warning: After you try your first Gideon’s cookie, you’ll likely stand in line all over again for a box to take home with you.

Gideon’s Bakehouse Must-Have: Original Chocolate Chip and Candied Walnut Chocolate Chip (Wednesdays only!)

The Best Orlando Brewery: Crooked Can

For many beer-loving travelers, finding a great local brewery is travel must. Just outside the gates of Walt Disney World you’ll find Crooked Can, conveniently located inside a food hall called Plant Street Market. The brewery offers up some of the best beer in Orlando. The Crooked Can also offers facility tours, so you can see how the beer is made before sampling the brews. The Florida Sunshine Lager is one of four signature beers, and is light and refreshing on a warm Orlando day. After trying a drink (or two), explore the attached food hall to try tasty temptations from local vendors.

Crooked Can Must-Have: Florida Sunshine Lager

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Megan duBois
Megan duBois is the Senior Theme Park Editor for FamilyVacationist. She's also a freelance journalist who covers theme parks, cruising, family travel, and wine tourism for outlets like Conde Nast Traveler, Business Insider, Forbes, Travel + Leisure, The Points Guy, and National Geographic. You can reach her via email at megand513 [at] gmail [dot] com.