Lake Buena Vista and Kissimmee have restaurants galore catering to tourists, but it’s mostly chains and over-hyped disappointments. The best options are in Restaurant Row or those nearby in International Dr. If you’re looking for a quiet escape in the Disney area, head to Celebration. Downtown Orlando has some excellent eateries.
Field-to-Fork Eating around Orlando
The hum of the field-to-fork Orlando dining scene has developed into a strong and steady crescendo, making it easy to find locally sourced, creatively inspired and delicious food in a city that has built a reputation as a dark hole of national chains, fast food and overpriced theme-park fare. Craft cocktails and artisan beers are an important part of the experience, and it's not just for foodies or fat wallets either – we love the low-key authenticity that invites anyone who loves good food and quality spirits to come on in and enjoy.
- Ravenous Pig The cornerstone of Orlando's locally sourced restaurant trend, this chef-owned, hipster spot moved to its new location in 2016. Here, it's all about letting the food do the talking: locavore, omnivore, carnivore – take your pick. Really ravenous pigs can get their teeth into the pork porterhouse or the local seafood (the shrimp and grits is a must; $15). The menu changes seasonally. Happy Hour (from 3pm to 6pm) in the attached bar, its onsite brewery, offers $3 draft beers, $6 cocktails and cheap pub-fare plates.
- East End Market Look for the raised vegetable beds and picnic tables outside this earthy little organic-hip collection of locally sourced eateries and markets. Inside there's Lineage, a fabulous coffee stand (it's worth it for a good brew); Local Roots Farm Store, specializing in 'all-Florida-all year' and offering flights of Florida beer and wine at the tiny bar; Gideon's Bakehouse, with fabulous cakes and cookies; and the excellent vegan raw-bar Skybird Juicebar & Experimental Kitchen.
- Dandelion Communitea Café Unabashedly crunchy and definitively organic, this pillar of the sprouts and tofu, green-tea and soy-milk dining scene serves up creative and excellent vegetarian fare in a refurbished old house that invites folks to sit down and hang out. There's an informal fire pit, tables in the yard and microbrew beer; check the website for details on art openings, poetry readings and live music.
- K Restaurant Chef and owner Kevin Fonzo, one of Orlando's most celebrated and established field-to-fork foodie stars, earns local and national accolades year after year, but this neighborhood favorite remains wonderfully unassuming. There's a wrap-around porch, a lovely little terrace, and herbs and vegetables come from the on-site garden.
- Rusty Spoon Airy, handsome and inviting, with a brick wall covered in giant photos of farm animals, a trendy urban vibe and an emphasis on simply prepared, locally sourced produce. Expect pub classics with delightful (and much more sophisticated) twists. If it's on the menu, don't bypass the chocolate s'mores dessert. (We say no more.)