If you are headed to Walt Disney World or another attraction in the Orlando area, it can be a daunting task to find top-notch real food instead of the grub offered at seemingly zillions of fast-food restaurants.
The sprawling area, though, has come a long way in the culinary arts in the past few decades, and there are plenty of eateries serving delicious fare.
“In the 20-plus years I've been writing about the Orlando food scene,” says local food critic Joseph Hayes, “I've seen a great expansion of locally owned, independent restaurants making use of our uniquely long growing season for produce, the availability of some of the best seafood in the world from two coasts and a dining populace that recognizes the value of local sourcing.”
Many innovative chefs live or have established restaurants in the Orlando area.
"We have eight local James Beard Award nominees without including national names like Norman Van Aken, Morimoto, Rick Bayless and more who have restaurants in the Orlando area,” says Hayes, the dining critic at Orlando Magazine. “In a way, the caliber of our local chefs was the impetus for Disney having to totally revamp their Disney Springs area to include such world-class chefs, simply to compete.”
Here are Hayes’s recommendations if you are looking to find the best restaurants in the Orlando area. He includes many recommendations at the theme parks, several outside the parks in Orlando and some in nearby Winter Park and Winter Garden.