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10 of the best places to eat in Orlando and restaurants near Disney World

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When we visit new places, one of the things I look forward to most is eating at all of the fantastic local restaurants. If you’ve been to Walt Disney World you’ll know there are no shortage of fantastic restaurants on property – but not only are they sometimes a bit overpriced, but it can get a little boring to eat the same type of ‘theme park food’ over and over.

I’ve made a list of some of the best places to eat in Orlando and restaurants near Disney World (and made a particular note if they are locally owned small businesses, as those are my favorite to visit). All of these restaurants are family friendly with kids menus and high chairs provided, so perfect for taking the kids out to dinner. Also check out my list of family friendly things to do in Orlando outside the theme parks.

10 of the best places to eat in Orlando and restaurants near Disney World

1. Yellow Dog Eats Cafe

places to eat in Orlando

 

Where: Gotha
What type of cuisine: BBQ-style smoked meats
Locally owned: Yes
Tell me more: Yellow Dog Eats is one of those local places where you walk in the door and immediately feel like you belong. The restaurant is located on a quiet street in the small town of Gotha, and from the outside, it looks pretty much like any other old-style Florida house.

Inside the restaurant and on the outside patio, however, you’ll find vibrant colors on the walls, live music, pictures of the locals dogs on the walls (it isn’t called Yellow Dog Eats for nothing!) and a welcoming, friendly atmosphere. The food ranges from salads to sandwiches, with specials daily, and everything centers around their amazing smoked meats.

My favorite menu item is the pulled pork nachos, piled high with their amazing bbq smoked pork, tortilla chips, salsa, queso, black beans, Thai sweet chili sauce, jalapenos, cilantro sour cream, and their homemade gold bbq sauce – and you should definitely wash it down with their house made red sangria!

There are a variety of vegetarian and vegan options available, as well as gluten free menu items, kids menus, and pretty much something for everyone.

Website: www.yellowdogeats.com

2. The Big Easy

places to eat in Orlando

 

Where: Locations in Winter Garden and Windermere
What type of cuisine: New Orleans Style Creole home cooking
Locally owned: Yes
Tell me more: Located a few miles up the Florida 429 towards Apopka will put you in Winter Garden, a small town with some of the most amazing independent restaurants (OK so I live here, so I might be a bit biased!)

One of the first ones I visited when I moved here was a locally owned New Orleans-style restaurant called The Big Easy – and it’s now one of my favorite restaurants ever! Rated among the top 3 restaurants in Winter Garden by Trip Advisor, The Big Easy offers up the most mouth-watering New Orleans style home cooking, as well as some fantastic cocktails and specials.

I always get the Louisiana low country shrimp and grits, with plenty of shrimp tossed in a tomato alfredo sauce served over curry grits, served with their fantastic corn bread, and you need to same room for the beignets!

The restaurant has both indoor and outdoor seating in a casual atmosphere, and as well as featuring a kids menu, kids eat free on Tuesdays. They recently opened a morning coffee bar, so if you stop by early, you can grab a coffee and a beignet for breakfast!

Update: The Big Easy has a new location in Windermere on State Road 535 – literally 10 minutes from Disney Springs!

Website: www.thebigeasyfl.com

3. Seasons 52

places to eat in Orlando

Where: Sand Lake Road in Dr Phillips
What type of cuisine: fresh, locally sourced seasonal plates and drinks
Locally owned: No
Tell me more: Seasons 52 is part of what is locally known as ‘Restaurant Row’ on Sand Lake Road in Dr Phillips; this stretch of road has some of the most amazing restaurants, and you can find all types of different cuisine there.

One of my personal favorites is Seasons 52, where you can find everything from small plates and cocktails to seafood and tempting desserts, all with a fresh, seasonal flavor. The menu changes regularly to match the season, but the food is always fresh and tasty, filled with locally sourced ingredients.

This is one of my favorite places to eat in Orlando because there are plenty of healthy options (the calorie count is listed next to every dish on the menu), and this is a great place to go if you are watching your calories or have a particular dietary requirement.

I always make a point of asking my server what their recommendation is since everything changes so often, and have never been steered wrong yet!

Website: www.seasons52.com

4. The Melting Pot

places to eat in Orlando

Image used with permission of The Melting Pot

Where: Sand Lake Road in Dr Phillips
What type of cuisine: Fondue, with cheese, meat, vegetable, and chocolate options
Locally owned: No
Tell me more: Found on the same ‘Restaurant Row’ as Seasons 52, The Melting Pot is a really fun place to eat, especially if you’re going as a group. The menu focuses on different style of fondue, all cooked at your table (by you!) with a number of different options to choose from.

There are cheese fondues served with bread, apple, and vegetables, meat fondues such as chicken, shrimp and steak, and, best of all, chocolate fondues served with marshmallows, fruit, and pound cake.

You can pick as many or as few courses as you like, and if everyone at the table picks a different option, you get to try a little of everything! The menu can be a bit pricey, but there is so much food, and it’s a great experience.

An insider tip: if you’re looking for places to eat in Orlando in September, The Melting Pot takes part in Orlando’s Magical Dining month, where certain restaurants offer pre-fixe menus for $35 per person – and at The Melting Pot, you can get all three courses for that low price!

This is a great option for traveling with kids, since cooking the food keeps them occupied during the meal, and even my pickiest eater loved preparing his food so much that he was willing to try some different foods!

Website: www.themeltingpot.com

5. Dixie Cream Cafe

places to eat in Orlando

Where: Windermere
What type of cuisine: Southern home-style breakfast and lunch options
Locally owned: Yes
Tell me more: Located in the small village of Windermere, we used to drive past this little local restaurant and bakery every day without even knowing it was there! One day a friend recommended it as a great place to get breakfast – and my goodness, they were right!

Think comforting home style options served with a little flair, such as Bananas Fosters French Toast, Strawberries and Whipped Cream Pancakes, and their famous Smoked Brisket Hash; their Lemon Ricotta pancakes are my go-to, and they are SO GOOD! The food is warm and comforting and the perfect way to start your day!

They offer a kids menu, high chairs are available, and you can sit inside or outside – we always like to sit outside to watch the locals pass by!

Website: www.dixiecreamcafe.com

6. The Ravenous Pig

places to eat in Orlando

Image used with permission of The Ravenous Pig

Where: Winter Park
What type of cuisine: sustainable gastro-pub style food using locally sourced Florida ingredients
Locally owned: Yes
Tell me more: The Ravenous Pig is one of those rare restaurants that is so good, I am willing to get on I4 during rush hour to visit – and if you’ve ever driven on I4, you’ll know why not many places to eat in Orlando make that list!

Sustainable food created with local Florida ingredients, The Ravenous Pig combines incredible seasonally inspired high quality food with a comforting, friendly atmosphere where locals gather on a local basis to enjoy the seasonal food and fantastic drinks.

The owners are local Winter Park residents, and own a number of other restaurants in the area, including the fabulous Polite Pig at Disney Springs. The food at each location is ever so slightly different, meaning that once you’ve been to one of their restaurants, you’ll want to visit all of the others too.

A little tip: if you;re flying out of Orlando International Airport and looking for somewhere to get a great meal before your flight, the Cask and Larder is owned by the same people, and is so much better than anything you’ll be eating on the plane! 

Website: www.theravenouspig.com

7. Celebration Town Tavern

places to eat in Orlando

Where: Celebration
What type of cuisine: a primarily seafood based menu, with some amazing beer options
Locally owned: Yes
Tell me more: Celebration is a small town located right off the 192, with a straight shot right from World Drive at Walt Disney World. The town has a real Southern feel to it, with classic clapboard houses, beautiful lakes and walking trails, and some amazing local restaurants, including the Celebration Town Tavern.

The Town Tavern is somewhere pretty much any Disney Cast Member will know about, as it’s a great local hangout, with amazing seafood, a huge beer selection (99 in total!), and a dog-friendly patio where you can bring your furbaby to have dinner with you!

The Boston style fish and chips and the Maine lobster roll are two of my personal favorites, and you’ve got to try one of their local Florida beers as you sit out on the patio overlooking the water.

They have also have a really varied kids menu, which is a welcome change from just the regular mac and cheese or chicken tenders!

Website: www.thecelebrationtowntavern.com

8. East End Market

places to eat in Orlando

Where: Orlando
What type of cuisine: all kinds of different kinds, with a variety of locally owned merchants
Locally owned: Yes
Tell me more: This is one of our absolute favorite places to eat in Orlando, and the perfect place to go if everyone in the family is looking for something different.

Rather than a traditional sit down restaurant, this indoor market has a variety of independent merchants selling all kind of amazing goodies. Our favorite options include Farm & Haus (try the avocado toast, it really is – as advertised – the best in Orlando!), La Femme du Fromage (who make fabulous cheesy goodies like flatbreads, grilled cheese sandwiches, and mac and cheese) and my personal favorite, Gideon’s Bakehouse (which does hands down the BEST cookies in Orlando, maybe even in Florida, which are among my most Instagrammable Sweet Treats in Orlando).

This is a fantastic locals location and can get busy around peak lunch and dinner times, as well as on the weekends, so bear that in mind. There are some indoor and outdoor seats, but if you have some time and it’s a nice day, I’d recommend getting food to go and taking it over to Lake Eola to sit and watch the swans (Lake Eola is one of my favorite family friendly places in Orlando).

Website: www.eastendmkt.com 

9. Thai Blossom

places to eat in Orlando

Where: Winter Garden
What type of cuisine: authentic Thai food
Locally owned: Yes
Tell me more: Another shout out for Winter Garden here, and this time it’s for the best Thai food in Orlando! Thai Blossom can be found in downtown Winter Garden, which is a beautiful place to walk around as it is, with some fantastic local shops and places to get a drink or a snack.

This particular restaurant can be found on the ground floor of the Edgewater Hotel, and the owners authentic family Thai recipes make for an incredible experience. Even if you’re not a fan of Thai food, I’d highly recommend giving this place a shot; my husband is not a fan of anything spicy, but the restaurant will make everything to order and adjust the spice levels to your taste.The green curry is absolutely incredible, and their Pad Thai is the best I’ve ever had.

Once you’ve finished your meal, take a stroll down to the Plant Street Market for a drink at the Crooked Can or cupcake from Sweet Dee’s Cupcakes.

Website: www.mythaiblossom.com

10. Cafe Tu Tu Tango

places to eat in Orlando

Image used with permission of Cafe Tu Tu Tango

Where: Orlando
What type of cuisine: eclectic and diverse small plates and drinks, with everything from pizza to tacos to meats and seafood
Locally owned: Yes
Tell me more: Cafe Tu Tu Tango, another favorite of Disney Cast Members, is found on International Drive, close to the Universal Studios theme parks. When looking for authentic places to eat in Orlando, I would generally stay away from the International Drive area (the traffic alone might make you lose your appetite!) but this restaurant is an exception.

Both inside and out, this restaurant is a colorful, creative place, with local art displayed on the walls, and an eclectic, fun menu. You’ll find small plates for sharing, as well as amazing drinks and some really fun desserts – chocolate dipped cheesecake lollipops, anyone?!

I love this place to take kids because it’s so fun and vibrant, that kids will have lots to look at as they wait for their food (it’s also not super quiet, another thing I avoid when eating out with my kids!)

Website: www.cafetututango.com

places to eat in Orlando

What are your other suggestions for the best places to eat in Orlando and your favorite restaurants near Disney World? Let me know in the comments!

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Nicole Mickle

Saturday 20th of October 2018

Oh my goodness! You really know the real local favorites! BRAVO.

Definitely sharing this one! Thank you!

C Correa

Thursday 26th of July 2018

Thank you for this post! We love Orlando with the kids but my husband and I are visiting Orlando next week without the kids, yay! My mission is quality time and eating . Focusing on finding all the different, little, not your normal, out of the way Orlando places to eat (if that makes sense) so this was perfect for me. You also have a couple places on your list that I have not seen in the 20 or so different articles I have read.

Kate

Thursday 26th of July 2018

Oooh, yay for time without the kids! The places on my list are places we genuinely eat at all the time, and some of them are definite local favorites, so I'm not sure how many people know about them - but that's why we love them! Have an amazing trip, I hope you get to eat at some yummy places!

Jennifer

Friday 22nd of June 2018

We just got back from 10 days in Orlando and while we ate most of our meals at Disney, we did go to Columbia in Celebration for fantastic Cuban/Spanish food. They have an awesome salad that they make at the table (and sangria at the table, too) and one order of paella could easily feed two adults. I’d definitely recommend it if you’re looking to get out of the Disney bubble!!

Kate

Saturday 23rd of June 2018

Thanks so much for the recommendation! I've never been there but I love Spanish food, we'll definitely give it a try!

Tyler @ TheTravelingToddler.com

Sunday 11th of February 2018

Great Post. It's such a shame but our grandparents live in Orlando during the winter, but we always seem to spend most of our trip in the Disney bubble. But this list definitely gives us some good options for our next trip.

BTW saw that pic of crawfish above. Crawfish season runs approximately February to May, so if you have a place selling crawfish outside of spring, it's likely frozen or imported and not from Louisiana or Texas

Kate

Monday 12th of February 2018

Ah, that's good to know thanks! I know the Big Easy changes their menu seasonally so I would assume they only use crawfish in season, but I'll definitely keep an eye on that one. I love staying in the Disney bubble, it definitely makes the vacation seem more vacationy (if that's a word!) so I totally understand that - but it's nice to have other options too!

Carmelatte

Sunday 28th of January 2018

Aww I saved this post for my next trip to the US <3

http://carmelatte.co/sunset-desert-must-see-dubai/

Kate

Sunday 28th of January 2018

Thank you, hope you found it helpful!

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