Southern Belle in Training

Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle Blog || Est. 2012 || Virginia Beach, VA

March 21, 2023

RESTAURANT GUIDE: 5 Great Restaurants in Orlando, FL

       I just got back from a recent long weekend trip to Orlando. This was the first time I've been in Orlando and haven't visited Disney World at all. I was pleasantly surprised not only by how much there is to do in the area that isn't related to Disney, but also by how many great local restaurant options there are in the Orlando area! I felt like such a foodie on this trip, as it was one great meal after another! While there were some meals that were amazing standouts more than others, we didn't have any truly bad meals on this trip. 

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      Here are five great restaurants I ate at on this recent trip to Orlando, and an honorable mention for my favorite restaurant within Disney World that I've eaten at on past trips:

     1. Briarpatch (252 N. Park Avenue, Winter Park) - While we did have some phenomenal dinners on this trip, the meal that stood above all the rest for me was our breakfast at Briarpatch. I ordered a brown butter waffle with pecans and a side of home fries, and it very well might have been the best waffle and best breakfast potatoes that I've ever eaten! Everything was incredibly flavorful, without a trace of grease. I don't go out for breakfast nearly as often as I do lunch or dinner when at home, so a really delicious breakfast meal when on vacation is always a treat. I haven't been able to stop thinking about this breakfast! The service was also excellent and so fast. Briarpatch is also open for lunch and dessert. I was drooling over seeing the giant slices of homemade cakes on display at their counter fridge case. I would 100% eat here again!

      2. Bosphorous Turkish Cuisine (Multiple local locations, we went to Winter Park) - In the 10+ years that I've been blogging and influencing, I've never gotten more recommendations for a restaurant to eat at while traveling than I did for Bosphorous Turkish Cuisine. While I love international cuisines like Indian and Thai, I've only had Turkish food a few times before and I'm not as familiar with it. But with that many people recommending it, I wanted to give it a try. (For what it's worth, this is also the #1 restaurant in Winter Park on Trip Advisor, and the #2 restaurant in all of Orlando on there!) Ryan is not as into international cuisine as I am, so I knew this would be out of his food comfort zone but told him to trust me on it. This ended up being his favorite meal of the trip, and my (close) second favorite meal!! The food here is just phenomenal. Filling and flavorful and so unique. I got a lamb and rice dish and Ryan had a cream-based chicken dish and both were excellent. We split the pistachio gelato for dessert, and it was also great. This place is worth the hype!

     3. Kobe Japanese Steakhouse (Multiple local locations, we went to Kirkman Road) - This restaurant was the biggest surprise of the trip for how much we both loved it! We had an evening flight into Orlando, and by the time we got to our hotel we were both very hungry and ready to eat at somewhere close by. Kobe had a location near our hotel and there were still reservations available for that evening on OpenTable. It had been a few years since I've had a traditional hibachi meal, and it seemed like a fun way to start our trip. This was some of the best hibachi that both Ryan and I have ever had! Their fried rice especially was just divine. Our chef put on quite a show for us, and it was such a fun way to kick off our trip. The Kirkman Road location of Kobe is in a very touristy area, but most of the people we were seated with at our communal table were all Orlando locals! They told us it was indeed the best hibachi in Orlando, and that they don't mind coming to a touristy part of town to eat at this location since it's so good. That's the best endorsement of all!

     4. Bice (at Loews Portofino Resort at Universal) - Universal Resort has eight unique hotels, ranging from more affordable family resorts to luxury properties. Lowes Portofino Resort is the most luxurious of all. It's themed out just like Portofino and the Amalfi Coast in Italy. I had eaten at one of the more casual restaurants on property when I was in Orlando in 2016, and I remembered how beautiful the whole resort grounds were. The Portofino Resort was way out of our budget to stay at on this trip, but I knew I wanted to at least eat here again. We made a dinner reservation for the final night of our trip at Bice, which is one of the upscale Italian restaurants at the resort. I just loved it! Excellent Italian food and a great cocktail menu as well. I ordered the risotto, which was a seasonal special offered on the night we were there. Pro tip: make an early reservation for 5:30pm when Bice opens, so that you can snag one of the four tables outside! The outdoor seating is so romantic and perfect for date night. 

     5. Big Fire (at Universal CityWalk) - Big Fire is an American restaurant serving all of their dishes fire grilled on a variety of different wood planks. Essentially it's an upscale campfire themed restaurant! Since I picked out our dinner at Bice, Ryan picked out this restaurant for another dinner. Big Fire is located right within Universal's CityWalk entertainment complex. They only serve food and alcohol that originates from the US. Ryan and I bother ordered NY strip steaks with came with grilled potatoes and carrots. The taste of the wood planks that everything was cooked on really came through the food, which was delicious! The vegetables were great. I did however find my steak to be a bit dry. We ordered the s'mores platter for dessert, and I had very high expectations as it's not often that you get to order s'mores at a restaurant that is campfire themed. Unfortunately, I found the s'mores to be pretty underwhelming (although the mini grill to make them at your table was cool!). I still think this restaurant is worth a visit, as they had good cocktails and I did really like the wood plank taste in the dinner food! Truly some of the best veggies I've ever had. I would just probably not order the NY strip steak or the s'mores next time. 

           Bonus: Restaurant Marrakesh (at Epcot at Disney World) - We didn't make it to Disney at all on this most recent Orlando trip, but all four times that I've been to Disney World over the course of my life, my family has always eaten a meal at Restaurant Marrakesh at Epcot! It's probably a unique Disney tradition, but it's uniquely ours and this restaurant is so special to me. Plus the food has always been delicious through the years! It's located in the Morocco Pavilion at Epcot. I'm not sure if they still do this, but back in the day there were live belly dancing performances in the dining room during meals! There is some old family video footage somewhere of me absolutely enthralled by the belly dancers during my first family Disney trip at age 2.

     Here's my parents and I at Restaurant Marrakesh on our 2010 Disney trip when I was in high school!

     God Bless,

     xoxo Annaliese


1 comment

  1. Ahhh, I loved the throw back! You are so cute! I know this post will help so many people plan their non Disney Orlando trips!


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