Orlando Food Guide:
The Best Places to Eat from a Local
We love food. We love everything about food; watching food documentaries, cooking and experimenting in the kitchen, learning about and trying new cuisines. We especially love a great meal out. We don’t waste our time with chain restaurants, we avoid them like the plague. We search high and low to find the best local restaurants that are creating quality, delicious, and creative menus. When we do dine out we treat ourselves to the best (expensive isn’t always the best). That’s why we created this Orlando food guide, to show you the best spots in Orlando to eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and drinks.
Dennis a born and bred Orlandoian (if that’s even a term), and Liz spent the last 10 years of her life there before hitting the road to RV. We feel lucky to call Orlando home because it has an amazing food scene! We will miss the restaurants on this list greatly, and by the time we return there will be a bunch of new places we could add to this list, but for now here is Orlando food guide: the best places to eat from a local. We hope if you’re in town you can try a few of our favorite restaurants, and share with us if you did!
Best Breakfast in Orlando
Buttermilk Bakery is in Winter Park and is a newer addition to the Orlando food scene. Only open in the morning/early afternoon for breakfast and lunch. They are our #1 recommendation in our Orlando food guide and we never go to Orlando without stopping here. They have a killer baked goods selection, daily quiche that is to die for, and awesome brunch menu. Their ingredients are fresh, everything made daily, and is super flavorful. It’s a family owned business with the head chef (the mom) of French origin. With that being said their pastry game is on point. Our favorites: Daily Quiche, Deviled Egg Tartine, Avocado Toast, any and all pastries!
Shaker’s Cafe has a small town feel to it. It’s a mom and pop breakfast and lunch joint in College Park (near downtown). Only open for breakfast and lunch you can grab a delicious omelette, pancakes or traditional breakfast (egg, sausage/bacon, and toast). While I loved to get breakfast no matter the time of day, their lunch choices are great too. They have a deli style menu, with choices from salads, sandwiches, or homestyle menu items (like meatloaf). Our favorites: Turkey Melt, Hungarian Beef & Cabbage Soup, Vegetarian Omelette with hash browns.
Se7en Bites is a bakery, a breakfast and lunch spot that serves all things southern, heavy and delicious. Every weekend they have a line that goes out the door and around the shop. If you’re willing to wait – it’s worth it. We loved their sweets so much we had them make our desserts for our wedding (and they were delish)! Our favorites: Southern, 7th Trimester, Vegetable Bread Pudding, Biscuits and Gravy. (Also good for lunch).
Best Lunch in Orlando
Market on South is a shared market that is home to Dixie Dharma and Valhalla Bakery. Both are plant based and 100% Vegan. Before you let that turn you off and move on to the next suggestion, I will say – we are not vegan but we love good food. There food is great and their menu is delicious! If you’re willing to go out of your element they will not let you down. We’ve taken friends that are by no means open to vegan and vegetarian cooking, and they were blown away by the menu (after they ate and enjoyed it we told them it was vegan). Just look at the online reviews – they speak for themselves. Our favorites: Tiki Takos, The Orange Bird, Florida Fried Green Tomato, Crispy Brussles, and Cheesy’ Homies (these cheese home-fries would make anyone a convert). (Good for lunch or dinner)
East End Market is a neighborhood market that has incredible food vendors, artisan shops, farm fresh produce, and boutique merchants. It’s a place where you grab a beer or a glass of wine and walk up and down the indoor, open air stalls looking at the most beautiful plants, artisan cheeses, adorable home decor, and trying any of the delicious food vendor stalls. It’s the perfect way to spend an afternoon. Bonus: If you go on a Saturday there is live music! Our favorites: Gideon’s Bakehouse you MUST eat this. No exceptions, Lineage Coffee, Bird of Paradise, skybird.
Krungthep Tea House is the perfect lunch spot. Affordable, delicious, and fun. Their sandwiches (think grilled cheese-esque) are asian inspired and loaded with flavor and creativity. They have a huge variety of teas (3 pages of the menu worth) and amazing desserts. Our favorites: Sweet and Sour, Tomyum Goong, Green Curry.
Porkie’s BBQ is a questionable addition to our Orlando food guide because it’s actually located in Apopka, a suburb of Orlando about 20 minutes from downtown. If you’re into meat and Barbecue this is the place for you. They have awesome brisket, pulled pork, ribs, and 3 different sauces to choose from to lather your BBQ up. The sides are also great too. While Liz doesn’t eat meat, she is happy to have any of the vegetarian side dishes. Our favorites: The Sloppy Cow (pulled brisket with sauteed onions with horseradish sauce on a bun), mac n cheese, fried okra, and tater hash.
The Strand is everything I wish an American dinner was. It’s cozy space and seasonal (mostly local) menu is simply perfect. While their menu is short, it has enough variety to have something for everyone, and is changed often enough to keep you coming back for more. We used to live around the corner form here and were so thankful. It felt like you were coming home for a good home cooked meal with quality ingredients and great service. Our favorites: Warm Pretzel with Pimento Cheese, Snapper Cakes with Comeback Sauce, Fish & Chips, Strand Burger, Panna Cotta. (Good for lunch or dinner)
Best Dinner in Orlando
Tako Cheena is the holy grail of late night eating and delicious Asian-Mexican fusion. Their creative menu puts asian flavors in hispanic packaging. Think arepas with asian braised beef, or tacos with curry spiced tofu. They have burritos, tacos, arepas, and empanadas jam packed with flavor at a super reasonable price. They are almost always busy (especially late night). Our favorites: Three Cheese Arepa, Asian Braised Beef Arepa, Indian Yellow Curry Dusted Crispy Tofu Tako, Panko Crusted Cod Tako, Chinese BBQ Char Siu Pork Belly Tako, (Ghost Pepper Hot Sauce is the Jam). – Good for lunch and dinner
Domu is located in the East End Market, a shared market with vendors of all types. East End is a great place to visit if you have some time to kill. Domu is a modern ramen shop that also offers great craft cocktails, sake, and beer or wine. I know, I know, another ramen shop – I get that this is the cool new thing to eat, and everywhere you look a new Ramen shop is popping up, but a quality bowl of ramen is actually much harder to find than you would think of. We previously were obsessed and in love with Sapporo Ramen but were happy to replace it once we tried our first bite at Domu. They use high quality ingredients, are meticulous with their craft, and creative with their flavors. Our favorites: Shishitos, KFC, Cheezus, Tako, Richie Rich, Chuka (vegetarian), Mazemen (Uni aka Sea Urchin). Cocktail Suggestions: New Japan
Pizza Bruno is a neighborhood favorite, local pizza shop, and hidden gem. Off the beaten path in the family friendly neighborhood, Curry Ford, it shells out to die for pizza with creative and delicious toppings that are made by some of Orlando’s top chefs. This is not your average pizza joint and is probably our favorite restaurant in Orlando. Everything on their menu is amazing – we even had our rehearsal dinner for our wedding here we love it so much. Our favorites: Wood Fired Cauliflower, Octopus, Garlic Knots (order these immediately they sell out and you will be very sad if you miss these), Kale Salad (seriously this is the best salad we’ve ever had), Meatballs with Lemon Ricotta, Kbar, Viva Verde (we add Mozzarella).
Memories of India is located in Lake Mary (about 30 minutes North of Orlando & 15 minutes from Sanford). It’s a typical indian restaurant with relatively little decor or ambiance but their food is excellent and well priced. Indian food might be our favorite type of cuisine. We’ve traveled all over Orlando to try and find the “Best” indian restaurant. While there are a lot of great ones in Orlando (Mynt is our 2nd favorite), Memories of Indian just couldn’t be topped. Our favorites: Vegetable Samosas, Palak Paneer, Dal Makhani, Bhindi Masala, Baingan Bharta – Good for lunch and dinner
Smiling Bison is a delightful gastropub in downtown Sanford. We have never had a bad meal here and it doesn’t hurt that their wine, beer, and craft cocktails are on point. We love trying their ever changing, seasonally inspired menu that highlights the chef’s creativity and southern routes. Our favorites (although their menu changes often): Poutine, Pizza (any and all of them are good), Bison Burger, or Pasta Dish of the menu (they have super creative pasta dishes with their pasta made in house). – Good for lunch and dinner
Enzo’s will be the only higher priced restaurant on our list because not everyone is able or willing to drop a pretty penny on a nice night out. If you are interested in finding a restaurant for a special night or simply for an amazing meal in an intimate setting, Enzo’s on the Lake is the place for you. Located in an older home on a Lake in Longwood (about 20 minutes from downtown Orlando), it’s charming and intimate with a southern Italian inspired menu. This is not your typical Italian restaurant with meatballs, eggplant parmesan, and chicken piccata. Their menu has delicious homemade pastas made daily (variety of stuffed raviolis, gnocchi, linguini, pappardelle, and more), variety of fish dishes, and a few meat menu items. We almost always order the special of the day for the pasta and fish and have a salad or antipasti selection for their antipasti bar. The found and the night will not disappoint you. Our favorites: Fish or Pasta of the Day, Lobster Linguini, Antipasti della Casa, Homemade Ice Cream (3 different flavors), Almond Cookies.
Best Bars in Orlando
The Imperial at Washburn Imports was Dennis’ place of work and our favorite hang out spot. Liz spent most of her nights keeping Dennis company here while chatting with regulars, enjoying the great ambiance, and drinking delicious beer and wine. This bar is located inside an imported furniture store. You can sit, shop, or simply admire the beautiful furnitures all imported from India, Indonesia, Bali, or southeast Asia as you drink craft beers or wine. There is no other bar like this and was voted as the best bar for a first date by Orlando Weekly. Their food is great there too! Orlando Food Guide Tip: Make sure you go to the original Imperial in Ivanhoe Village.
Bitters and Brass is also a questionable addition to the Orlando food guide because it’s in Sanford (about 45 minutes North from Orlando). It’s a no frills bar that mixes up delectable craft cocktails that range from traditional to adventurous and unique. We loved the variety of the drinks on their tiki menu and it’s fun to watch them pick your ice from an enormous ice block. The same owners of Bitter’s and Brass have now opened Suffering Bastard, a speak easy style Tiki Bar that is the coolest! It’s located in the back of Tuffy’s Bottle Shop in Sanford. It is first come first serve and a very small space so don’t be surprised if you have to wait. It’s worth it. The drinks are super refreshing, boozy, perfectly tropical. The decor and ambiance is just perfect. I would be here every day if I lived nearby.
Hanson’s Shoe Repair is a speak easy in the heart of downtown Orlando. We don’t venture into downtown Orlando often anymore because honestly, we’re over fighting through crowds, trying to find parking, waiting a long time for crappy drinks, or dealing with lots of drunk kids. With that being said, we will go downtown for Hanson’s. To get in, you’ll have to call their phone number prior for the daily password. When you walk inside you feel like you are transported back into the 1920’s. They spared no expense on making this feel like a real speak easy. Their drink menu is small, but is focused on specialty cocktails that change seasonally. There is an outside patio where you can drink under the stars and enjoy each others company.
Thirsty Topher is a local one stop shop for great beer at an affordable price. Located in the Ivanhoe District (near Imperial Wine Bar & about a 5 minute drive from downtown Orlando), it’s a small bar that has a great craft beer selection. Most nights you can enjoy a cold one in with yummy fair from one of the several food trucks that frequent there. You’re extra lucky if Sushi & Seoul on the Roll is there!
Lil’ Indies is a local bar next to a music venue, Wills Pub, in the Mills District (near Thirsty Topher & about 5 minutes from downtown). It’s definitely an eclectic bar that features local artists, unique cocktails (the Curry Mule is bangin’), that caters to a specific “artsy/hipster” crowd. If you can look past the young hipsters that hang outside smoking waiting for their concert to start again next door, you will greatly enjoy their drinks and live music or DJ. You’re in for a real treat if Eugene Snowden is playing there (he often plays for special occasions).
Sanford Breweries are becoming more and more popular and are putting Sanford on the map for good reason; there is a ton and there making great brews. You can explore what Sanford has to offer through a walking tour or cycling tour (pedal your way to your next beer stop). Must visits on the map are Wop Hop’s, Sanford Brewing (get their pretzel with beer cheese), and Celery City.
Liz & Dennis
We’re two travel-loving, real estate investing, foodies exploring North America as full-time RV’ers. This blog is where we share our lessons learned, tips and tricks, and favorite places to eat, see, and RV across North America! We hope it helps you find your wanderlust, plan and prepare for RV life, and get out on the road!
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