Restaurant Row in Orlando

Orlando has more than 4,000 places you can go to eat and despite rumors to the contrary, they aren’t all chains or fast food establishments. There are a good number of fine independently owned restaurants and many of them within easy reach of your vacation rental home.

Just round the corner from International Drive is what the locals call ‘Restaurant Row’. It is effectively the stretch of Sand Lake Road west of Interstate 4 heading towards the famous Bay Hill area. It’s here you’ll find some excellent restaurants that will cater for every taste and flavor you can imagine.

If I may, I’ll start with my favorite(s) and then move down

Chatham’s Place — 7575 Dr. Phillips Blvd., Orlando; 407-345-2992
Chatham’s Place is small and upscale with a menu to match. The cuisine has touches of southern charm, and the pecan-crusted grouper is a local legend. You’ll enjoy the ambiance and top notch service if you go…and you’ll be sure to want a quick return.

Seasons 52 — 7700 Sand Lake Rd., Orlando; 407-354-5212
OK, I confess that technically this is really a chain with eight locations, but this is Darden’s latest concept and it’s a winner. I’ve eaten here on several occasions and I’ve never been disappointed. The original concept of the restaurant was that something, somewhere comes into season every week of the year, thus 52 seasons. Pretty much everything on the menu is superb but save a little room for the mini desserts as you’ll want more than one.

Vines Grille & Wine Bar — 7533 W. Sand Lake Rd., Orlando; 407-351-1227
If you love live jazz then this is the place for you. You can sit at the bar and enjoy a beer, a glass of wine or a cocktail and let the world drift by. If you prefer, enjoy dinner at one of the comfortable tables in the classy and upscale dining room.

Roy’s – 7760 W. Sand Lake Rd., Orlando; 407-352-4844
In Hawaii, there are two things of equal importance…food and the “aloha” spirit. The blending of these two dynamic principles is how Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion® Cuisine was born. European techniques and Asian cuisine meet Hawaiian hospitality to create a fine dining experience unlike any other. Where the “aloha” style of service comes straight from the heart, and where any occasion becomes an unforgettable evening.

Christini’s Ristorante Italiano – 7600 Dr. Phillip’s Blvd., Orlando;407-345-8770
This award winning upscale Italian restaurant is a favorite among the locals. The food is simply fabulous and the service unsurpassed.

Moonfish — 7525 W. Sand Lake Rd., Orlando; 407-363-7762.                                                                                                                           If seafood is more to your taste then Moon Fish has you covered. Daily fresh fish selections as well as Prime and Choice mid-western aged steaks cooked over a natural wood-burning pit and an intriguing sushi menu.

Those are just some of my favorite selections on “Restaurant Row” but don’t worry if they don’t appeal to you as there is so much more choice if you take a trip to the area. If you decide to make a trip there from your vacation home then allow around 20 to 25 minutes as you’ll pass the “Crossroads” area  which is where you’ll find  much of the tourist traffic around the Walt Disney World Lake Buena Vista entrance.

It’s important to remember that  “Restaurant Row” is split into three distinct areas;  Dr. Phillips Marketplace, The Fountains at Bay Hill, and Plaza Venezia.

The more established and long standing restaurants are located in The Dr. Phillips Marketplace since it was the only center in the area until about a decade ago and this is where some of the more long standing favorites can be found. Places like  Morton’s Steakhouse, Carreiras, and Christini’s.  But do lookout for some of the newer establishments that have come onto the scene such as Press 101, Pups, Einstein’s Bagel, Five Guys, and of course Starbucks.

The Fountains include Vines Grille & Wine Bar, Antonio’s, Moe’s Southwest Grill, The Melting Pot, Ruth Chris Steakhouse, and Moonfish. Over the road at Plaza Venezia you’ll find Timpano, Samba Room, Amura, Roy’s, Bonefish, and Season’s 52.  Timpano is an Italian Chophouse and the best place to listen to Frank Sinatra impersonators. Samba Room has great Cuban cuisine and on Fridays, as poetically coined by Gloria Estafan, a great place to shake your body to the rhythm of the conga until you can’t shake it any longa. If sushi and sake are to your taste then try out Amura.

Another area starting to make a name for itself on “Restaurant Row” is Dellagio and it’s here you can experience the style and magic of Tuscany in this premiere mixed use town center development that literally takes you to Italy with its intricate designs and authentic sophisticated architecture. Dellagio features a signature water fountain that was inspired by the famous Place de la Concorde and it is the focal point of the piazza, overlooking the tranquil lake.

Dellagio has some interesting restaurants such as Flemings Steak House, Cantina Laredo – a gourmet Mexican restaurant, Bravo Cucina Italiana, Big Fin Seafood Kitchen, Kilwins and Dragonfly Sushi.

Earlier in the blog I mentioned the “Crossroads” area and perhaps I should cover that in a little more detail as it is certainly a popular area with folks who are vacationing in Orlando.It is situated near the entrance to Walt Disney World’s Downtown Disney Marketplace on Apopka Vineland Road.  It offers about 25 specialty shops and restaurants, including stores such as Beyond Electronics, Whites Books and Gifts, Disney Character Connection, Foot Locker and Sunglass Hut, along with Gooding’s, a 24-hour grocery store that offers a big deli and variety of prepared food.

Restaurants include Chilli’s,TGI’s, Fuddruckers, Flipper’s Pizzeria, Johnnie’s Hideaway, Tacho bell, Red Lobster, Sweet Tomatoes, and an Indian restaurant.  Once you’ve dined, you might even fancy a game of crazy golf at Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf located toward the rear of the property.

Overall, I’m sure you’ll agree that Orlando has some great places to eat… enjoy this short video tour and see for yourself:

One Response to Restaurant Row in Orlando

  1. Your video is a big HELP!
    Now we have an idea where to eat outside of Disney.
    And, yes, we just booked a 7 day rental of one of your vacation homes.

    Rob Anspach
    August 17, 2010 at 8:53 pm

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