During the past decade, Orlando has matured into a culinary destination, and the latest batch of restaurants to enter the market certainly bears this out. From high-end seafood, supper clubs and sophisticated taverns, to Greek, Cuban and Brazilian entries, these establishments will happily surprise visitors seeking something new and adventurous. Reservations are generally recommended at all eateries.
The Oceanaire Seafood Room’s high-energy atmosphere is reminiscent of the great seafood supper clubs of the 1930s and 1940s featuring a spacious dining room complete with traditional table-style and horseshoe booth seating. The Oceanaire offers more than 25 types of seafood and shellfish flown in daily from around the world.
Opening during the fall, Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar is part eatery, part dance club. Dinner service focuses on modernized Cuban fare like grilled skirt steak, ropa vieja, honey-mango glazed salmon and mojo-marinated roast pork, among other highlights. However, as the evening goes on, Mojitos are poured, tables are cleared and the massive 18,000 square foot space transforms into a late-night Latin destination complete with DJs, floor shows and salsa dancing.
B.B. King’s Blues Club is a supper club-style restaurant and live music venue features cuisine that ranges from ribs to Carolina glazed salmon. It showcases four full-service bars, a mezzanine level and open-air patio. B.B. King’s also has three VIP rooms for private dining. Live music is performed nightly by the B.B. King All Star Band, an 11-piece house band.
Redrock Canyon Grill specializes in Southwest and American cuisine served in a casual, energetic atmosphere. The menu features fresh items such as their signature wood-fired rotisserie chicken, grilled or smoked fish, ribeye steak and St. Louis ribs.
Taverna Opa features traditional Greek cuisine and festive entertainment including belly dancing and Greek music. Specialties include tzatziki, spanakopita, kebabs and numerous variations on lamb. A family-style menu is available for parties of six or more. While lunch is served at Taverna Opa, dinner time provides a unique, lively experience as patrons are encouraged to dance on the tables and napkins are routinely tossed into the air.
Gol! The Taste of Brazil, a recently opened Brazilian-style Churrascaria steakhouse on International Drive, is changing its name to “Nelore” to reflect the high-quality beef it prepares, as well as its more upscale surroundings. The restaurant features 17 cuts of beef, pork, chicken and seafood that are grilled over an open pit. These items are then served table-side by a steady stream of “Gauchos,” who slice the meat to-order. A unique salad bar that includes 46 hot and cold items is also available.
Citrus Restaurant emphasizes fresh American cuisine with a definitive Latin influence. Located on Orange Avenue, the restaurant provides a contemporary atmosphere with an emphasis on locally sourced ingredients. The menu includes blue crab cakes, marinated skirt steak, bacon-wrapped Maine scallops and yellow fin tuna. Operated by Urban Life Management Restaurant Group, Citrus was presented with a Golden Spoon Award as one of the “Top 20 Best New Restaurants in Florida” by Florida Trend magazine.
The Village Tavern, located on Conroy Road near The Mall at Millenia, celebrates freshly prepared, classic American food in a chic and modern atmosphere. All menu items are made from scratch, with its aged beef cut onsite. Favorites include bacon-wrapped scallops, Maryland-style crab cakes, steak frites, grilled Ahi tuna, marinated flank steak and wood-oven pizzas and flatbreads. The tavern also serves specialty cocktails and martinis, micro-brewed beer and fine wines. A brunch menu is available on Sunday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. that features a complimentary glass of sparkling wine or a mimosa, in addition to modernized classics like steak Benedict, a southwest frittata and an Italian quiche.
Replacing the former Dan Marino’s space at Veranda Park, Tavern on the Lake emphasizes fresh seasonal ingredients and an international wine list. Its menu serves indulgent, yet lighter fare such as roasted salmon, grilled quail, skirt steak, jumbo sea scallops and rack of New Zealand lamb. The wine list offers nearly 60 selections by the glass or the bottle. Tavern on the Lake has also been remodeled to include an enhanced interior color palette and re-styled ambient lighting, in addition to incorporating environmentally friendly practices such as using as recycled paper and glass products.
Serving U.S. Prime and aged Midwestern corn-fed beef, PorterHouse at the Orlando Airport Marriott thrives on generous portions and attentive, old-school service. The menu, developed by Executive Chef Anthony Hull, features 100 percent natural Angus beef that is also certified “Humane” by Humane Farm Animal Care, an independent, non-profit organization that monitors the ethical treatment of feed cattle. From a 12-ounce N.Y. strip steak or a 36-ounce Porterhouse big enough for two, to pan-seared breast of duck and grilled Atlantic swordfish, the eatery sets a new standard for hi-end steakhouses.
Located at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin resort, Il Mulino New York Trattoria is an award-winning Italian eatery features fresh seafood, steaks and imported ingredients. Diners may select from wild mushroom risotto, grilled ribeye steak or tortellini alla panna, among many other classically prepared dishes.
Information courtesy of Orlando Convention & Visitors Bureau