For visitors to Orlando who want good food at a great price, there are hundreds of eateries to choose from.
Orlando of course has all the chain restaurants to be found in every large city – but as such they are not unique to the city. Visiting locally-owned Orlando restaurants delivers that “Orlando experience” that makes a visit to the city so special.
Calling ahead for reservations is always a good idea.
- Scratch 223 W. Fairbanks Ave, Winter Park
Scratch (so called because the food is made from scratch) is located in the Orlando suburb of Winter Park, which is about 6 miles northeast of downtown Orlando. While it can be quite a trek if you’re staying in southwest Orlando, close to the theme parks, foodies say that Scratch is worth the drive. (Plus there’s plenty to see and do in Winter Park!)
It’s a tapas restaurant, meaning the portions are small – appetizer size. In order to make a meal, diners typically order 3 to 5 different plates, and share between them. Folks who come to Scratch are looking to have good conversation, while at the same time sharing their food and embracing a variety of different tastes all at once. Scratch’s menu is divided into “This” (deviled eggs, potato leak soup, Belgian style fried fries, etc.), “That” (grilled asparagus, caramelized fennel torellini, etc.) and the “Other” – pan seared salmon, roasted pork chop, pan roasted quail, rib-eye steak frites and chicken piccata, and Desserts – carrot cake or apple pie.
- The Ravenous Pig 565 W. Fairbanks, Winter Park
Also located in Winter Park, just a few blocks from Scratch, is the new home of The Ravenous Pig. This restaurant was founded by James and Julie Petrakis, Winter Park born-and-bred celebrity chefs and graduates of the Culinary Institute of America. It now occupies the space where the Petrakis’ Cask & Larder used to be. Never fear – the Cask & Larder has simply relocated to the Orlando International Airport.
The Ravenous Pig serves lunch and dinner, and their offerings vary with the seasons. For dinner, their menu consists of starters such as Crispy Oysters, Shrimp and Grits, and Suckling Pig. Their cheese course consists of Boxcar Camp, NC, Mareke Gouda, WI, or Bermuda Triangle, CA. Entrées – Tortellini, Kombu Tagliatelle, Flounder, 48 Hr Shortribs, and Pork Porterhouse. Cocktails such as Gin & Jam, Rosemary Clooney and Romeo & the Lonely Girl can be had as well, and there is a full selection of wines.
- Maxine’s on Shine 337 N. Shine Ave, downtown Orlando
Maxine’s, just a bit northeast of the Central Business District in the area called Colonialtown South is a very popular restaurant, so be sure to book online or give them a call. They’re closed Mondays, opened for dinner Tuesday through Friday and for brunch onward on Saturday and for brunch on Sundays.
Even if the food weren’t as great as it is, the 40’s-style décor, the work of local artists on the walls and local musicians at Maxine’s would make it worth the visit. For romantic evenings out, nowhere beats Maxine’s.
Their dinner menu consists of the “Opening Acts” of Key West Crab Cakes, Drunken Mussels, or Cheese Cigars among other offerings. The “Green Room” consists of a Poached Pear, Spinach, Kale Cobb, or a choice of two house soups. Maxine’s Mainstage offers Lobster Ravioli, Skillet Lasagna, or Chicken Maxine among other delectable dishes. In the Marquee are choices of Market Fresh Fish (changes seasonally), Ribeye, Sea Scallops, or Filet Chez Nous. For the Encore, daily in-house baked desserts.
- Artisan’s Table 22 E. Pine St., downtown Orlando
Artisan’s Table is situated to the west of downtown, just a bit to the southwest of Lake Eola, and just south of Central Boulevard. The Table serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Their menu changes daily, because as the name implies, their chefs are artisans who create dishes from the freshest ingredients possible.
The menu is classified as “modern American.” A sample menu would offer Short Rib Poutine, Chorizo & Chicken Quesadilla or Baked Feta as a few of their appetizers. Entrées might include Pan Roasted Salmon, Shrimp & Qinoa Fried Rice, Artisan Burger, Blacked Shrimp Tacos and Sofrito Chicken Breast.
For dessert – crème brulee, goat cheese cheesecake, and vanilla, chocolate or dulce de leche icecream are always hits.
- Schumann’s Jager Haus 25 W. Church Street, downtown Orlando
Come to Schumann’s Jager Haus for German cuisine and German beer – any day except Monday or Tuesday. Their hours vary on the remaining days, sometimes open for lunch until midnight, at other times until 2 am.
On draft, they’ve got Radeberger Pilsner, Schöfferhofer Hefeweizen, Schöfferhofer Grapefruit Hefeweizen, Köstritzer Schwarzbier, Altenmünster Oktoberfest, König Ludwig Dunkel, and Spaten Optimator.
The foods they can accompany?
Their appetizers include Haus Smoked Salmon, Käse Spätzle (Potato Noodles and Black Forest Ham Gruyere), and Kartoffelpuffer (Potato Pancakes). Potato-Wurst Soup and Soup of the Day can be accompanied by a variety of salads as well.
Sausage (Wurst) include Bratwurst, Knockwurst and Bockwurst. Among their sandwiches are The “Schumann” – Chicken Schnitzel with Haus-made Spec and a Fried Egg, or a Traditional Reuben with Corned Beef and Sauerkraut. Entrées include Pork or Chicken Schnitzel, Traditional Veal Goulash and Zigeuner Steak.
- The Rusty Spoon 55 W Church Street, downtown Orlando
The Rusty Spoon, located inside the 55 West building, is owned and operated by husband and wife chef team Kathleen and William Blake, who were perhaps the first to popularize the “from farm to table” movement. The Rusty Spoon is what’s called a Gastropub – a drinking establishment first, but one that serves fantastic food as well. It’s located in the Church St. Historical District. It’s open for lunch and dinner. They serve only lunch on Mondays.
The Rusty Spoon offers plenty of draught and craft beers, as well as cocktails and white and red wines.
For food, or Bites, they offer First Plates such as Carpaccio (pepper crusted tenderloin beef), and Lake Meado “Red Devil” Stuffed Eggs.
Leafy Greens include Charred Squid & Octopus.
“Handhelds” include The “55” (a half pound of grass fed beef stuffed with bacon & guyere), and Slow Braised Lamb.
For dinner there’s such entrees as Johnson Farm Lamb Shank and Coffee Rubbed & Grilled White Oak Pastures Culotte.
- Citrus Restaurant 821 North Orange Avenue, downtown Orlando
The Citrus Restaurant is located in the North Quarter district of downtown Orlando, and serves lunch Monday through Friday, and dinner Monday through Saturday. They are closed on Sundays. Citrus’ executive chef is Alex Myers, whose mission is to “explore life through food.”
Citrus serves regionally inspired New American cuisine. For dinner, guests Begin with such offerings as Venison Sausage, served with welsh rarebit, grilled sourdough and persimmon jam, Wagyu Beef Carpaccio, with garlic confit, manchego, crostini, and champagne mustard aioli, and Seated Tuna with pickled leeks, sorghum popping berries, bourbon honey, pumpkin puree.
There are three Salad offerings, including a Seasonal Salad, a Caesar, and a Bibb Wedge. For the Main dish, guests can choose from Pan Seared Golden Tilefish, Faroe Island Salmon, Orlando Farms Half Chicken, or a Molasses Brined Pork Chop among others.
For Dessert, try the White Chocolate Mousse Bar, the Chocolate Chip Blondie, or even the Orange Avenue Cake.
- Taverna Opa 9101 International Drive (inside Pointe Orlando)
Taverna Opa serves traditional Greek and Mediterranean cuisine for lunch and dinner, and every night at 7, traditional Greek entertainment consisting of belly dancing. Taverna Opa is located on the 2nd floor of the Pointe Orlando shopping mall. International Drive has been compared to the Las Vegas Strip, as it’s a great tourist mecca with shops, restaurants and theme parks along its 11-mile length. Pointe Orlando Shopping Mall is only a couple of miles north of SeaWorld and Aquatica.
What’s on the dinner menu?
Traditional cold appetizers include Tzatziki, Melitzanssalata and Dolmades. Hot appetizers include Lamb Ribs, Keftedes Greek Meatballs and Lamb Sliders. Seafood appetizers include Octopus and Crispy Calamari. They also offer Vegetarian appetizers like Falafel, Lemon Potatoes and Opa Fries.
Entrees include Lamb Chops, Lemon Chicken and Filet Mignon. The traditional Greek entrees include Kleftiko (lamb), Mousaka, and Kebobs. Seafood includes Chilean Seabass and Santorini Shirmp. For dessert, there’s Baklava, Sokolatina (chocolate cheese cake) and Yogurt with Honey and Walnuts among other offerings.
- Copper Canyon Grill 9101 International Drive (inside Pointe Orlando shopping mall)
Copper Canyon Grill is a chain restaurant, but since its other 3 restaurants are all in Maryland, chances are you’ve never eaten in one and so it will be new to you and a true Orlando experience. Copper Canyon Grill, inside the Pointe Orlando Shopping Mall, is open every day for lunch and dinner. Their dinner menu consists of a variety of salads, and entrées such as home-made Chicken Pot Pie, Eastern Shore Crabcakes, Big Meatloaf Stack (featuring ground beef tenderloin, spicy pork sausage and mixed cheeses) and Hickory Grilled Tenderloin Filet.
Although the food is good, bear in mind that it is also quite pricy.
- Aashirwad Indian Cuisine 7000 S. Kirkman Road, near International Drive
Aashirwad Indian Cuisine, open for dinner every day except Monday, is only a few minutes away from Universal Studios. If you love authentic Indian cuisine, chances are you’ll love Aashirwad – though it can be a bit pricy.
Appetizers include Samosa, Palak Chat and Paneer 65 (Crispy Cottage Cheese sauté in a spicy sauce). Tandoori offerings include Tandoor Balti Chicken, Tandoori Salmon and Fish Ambedi. Vegetarian plates include Tadka Daal and Daal Banjara.
Chicken offerings include Chicken Tikka Masala, Chicken Korama and Chicken Vindaloo. Lamb dishes include Laal maas, and lamb Hyderabadi. Seafood dishes include Grouper/Shrimp in Coconut Lime Curry and Grouper/Shrimp Madras.
They also offer delicious breads salads and soups, and such desserts as Mango Cheesecake, Lychee Rabri and Pistachio Kulfi.