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The 28 Best Restaurants in Orlando

The tried and true staples of Orlando’s culinary scene

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Sushi spread from Seito Sushi
| Seito Sushi/Facebook

As Orlando’s restaurant landscape slowly returns to a state of normalcy, locals and visitors alike are dining out in greater numbers. Therefore, the Orlando Eater 28 is back with a list of the city’s most essential restaurants spanning the best cuisines and neighborhoods. The restaurants on this list are reflective of all Orlando has to offer — legacy restaurants with loyal followings, chef-run boites and bistros, and those that stepped up to the challenges of serving during a worldwide pandemic.

Looking for the fresh faces in Orlando’s ever-evolving restaurant scene? Find them on the Heatmap.

The latest CDC guidance for vaccinated diners during the COVID-19 outbreak is here; dining out still carries risks for unvaccinated diners and workers. Please be aware of changing local rules, and check individual restaurant websites for any additional restrictions such as mask requirements. Find a local vaccination site here.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. 1921 Mount Dora

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142 E 4th Ave
Mt Dora, FL 32757
(352) 385-1921
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The restaurant may have gone through numerous chefs in its five-year lifespan, but its latest, Chris Edwards, turned heads at Holeman & Finch Public House, Restaurant Eugene, and King + Duke in Atlanta before taking charge of the most gorgeous restaurant in all Central Florida. Edwards exhibits a fierce commitment to Florida ingredients, just as his predecessors did, but employs them in ways his predecessors never did: quail with a confit of Athena melon and brebis from Blackberry Farms; peach and green tomato pizza with blue crab and bacon lardons; braised rabbit thigh with Charleston Gold Rice risotto, just to name a few. A studied cocktail program and stellar weekend brunch solidify 1921’s cred.

2. Sushi Pop Restaurant

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310 W Mitchell Hammock Rd
Oviedo, FL 32765
(407) 542-5975
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A conversation about the best sushi restaurants in town will eventually turn to chef Chau Trinh’s creative and pristine cuts at Sushi Pop. The talented chef, whose done stints at Le Bernardin and Atera in New York City, carved out a niche in Oviedo with his spirited and sophisticated anime-themed eatery, then brought his talents to Winter Park with an outpost off Lyman Avenue. Trinh is never one to rest on his laurels and is constantly experimenting with ideas and techniques to fuel Sushi Pop’s progression. 

3. Kai Asian Street Fare

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1555 FL-436 Suite 1171
Winter Park, FL 32792
(407) 821-3430
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Just one in a string of joints to offer street eats with a pan-Asian bent, Kai has been luring them in with the sticky crunch of Korean-style chicken wings, Vietnamese garlic noodles and other standbys. But it’s their ambitious daily specials that get foodie folk stoked to make the drive out to the Casselberry border – spicy tantanmen ramen, duck shoyu ramen, cumin lamb with hand-pulled noodles, uni pasta with truffles and on it goes. Owners Quan Van and Isra Sunhachawi traveled all over Asia prior to perfecting their recipes, and the adherence to tradition shows.

4. Luke's Kitchen and Bar

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640 S Orlando Ave
Maitland, FL 32751
(407) 674-2400
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Executive chef Jason Campbell has been outdoing himself since coming on to lead the kitchen at Brandon McGlamery’s inviting Maitland restaurant. His blackened fish collar with salsa verde is takeout (and dine-in) gold, especially when paired with poblano-crema corn and smoked okra. Yes, there’s a slight seafood bent to the menu (cobia, redfish, Gulf shrimp, yellowtail ceviche, and oysters can all be found) but there’s plenty of seasonal fare for landlubbers as well. The restaurant recently expanded their already sizeable outdoor area to include additional seating, yard games, and a retractable awning. The brunch is also worth a checking out.

5. Orlando Meats

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1035 Orlando Ave #105
Winter Park, FL 32789
(407) 598-0700
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Eliot Hillis, as non-conformist and unconventional a culinarian as they come, seems to have amped up the wizardry at his butcher house/restaurant along with chef de cuisine Seth Parker. The “Goblin,” an infernal dish of udon noodles, fried chicken, black curry, and koji butter, is a straight-up sensation, as are the pizzas and the “medium-rare” burger fashioned from beef ground in-house. With the new Winter Park digs comes a new cocktail menu that’s nothing short of experimental.

6. Prato

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124 N Park Ave
Winter Park, FL 32789
(407) 262-0050
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Not far from Luke’s sits Brandon McGlamery’s other restaurant concept spotlighting Italy’s dynamic duo of carbs – pizza (fired in imported, wood-burning Acunto ovens) and pasta (rolled and shaped in-house). The menu, naturally, is seasonally directed and combines McGlamery’s love for wood-fired foods and pasta. Oak-roasted duck breast and a whole branzino cooked in the Acunto are rustic dishes of the highest order. Pizzas are some of the best in Winter Park, while pasta offerings (think lamb pansotti and sunchose casarecce) change constantly.

7. Hunger Street Tacos

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2103 W Fairbanks Ave
Winter Park, FL 32789
(321) 444-6270
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As sons of missionaries in Guadalajara, Joe and David Creech appreciated the intricacies and nuances of Mexican cuisine at a very early age, and that appreciation has  blossomed during the COVID-19 pandemic when they began making tortillas from scratch using imported blue Oaxacan corn. The result: tacos and quesadillas of the highest order, stuffed with items like veal cheeks or chorizo and potato. But their birria “machete” – a giant tortilla rolled in a spicy beef stew – not only speaks to the Creech’s Jaliscan roots but set the town ablaze (in a good way). Douse the fire with prickly pear margaritas and white wine sangrias, both available by the quart or gallon.

8. The Ravenous Pig

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565 W Fairbanks Ave
Winter Park, FL 32789
(407) 628-2333
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One of the biggest surprises during the pandemic was Dovecote Brasserie chef Clay Miller leaving the restaurant he founded (and partially owned) to become executive chef of the Ravenous Pig. It’s a powerhouse move for the powerhouse Winter Park fixture, but even before Miller’s arrival, the Pig impressed with its creatively unpretentious bill of Southern fare incorporating uniquely Floridian ingredients. Owners James and Julie Petrakis used the pandemic as an opportunity to create a beer garden adjacent to the restaurant serving brews from the Ravenous Pig Brewing Co. next door. It’s a family-friendly (and pet-friendly) space to guzzle, play games, or watch a film on the outdoor screen.

9. Kadence

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1809 Winter Park Rd
Orlando, FL 32803

Kadence became one of the city’s best restaurants the moment it opened back in 2017, and four years on, the eight-seat sushi and sake bar inside an all-black edifice still offers one of the best dining experiences in the city with its intimate omakases. While Lordfer Lalicon, one of the restaurant’s founders, left to focus energies on the soon-to-open Filipino restaurant Kaya in Mills 50, co-founder Mark Berdin and Jennifer Banagale, along with a dedicated team of cooks and servers, continue to serve impeccably presented omakases. The sake program, meanwhile, is second to none.

10. The Osprey

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4899 New Broad St
Orlando, FL 32814
(407) 960-7700
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When the Osprey Tavern, a centerpiece in the city’s restaurant scene, changed concepts mid-pandemic into a seafood restaurant, locals took notice. In fact, a seafood restaurant is precisely what owners Jason and Sue Chin had in mind prior to opening Osprey Tavern in 2015, so better late than never. With ex-Luma luminary Michael Cooper at the helm, the restaurant is now locally focused, with dishes like Pompano Beach swordfish, Florida Bluehouse salmon, or Cedar Key clam chowder.

11. Seito Sushi Baldwin Park

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4898 New Broad St #32814
Orlando, FL 32814
(407) 898-8801
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Sushi of the highest order can be had at either of Seito’s locations, the slick sushi house in Baldwin Park run by Jason and Sue Chin or the swish Sand Lake spot run by Jason’s sister Jennifer and husband Eric Springer. Both restaurants are equally dedicated to impeccable service, quality sourcing, and gorgeous plating. There’s a “Roll-O-Dex” of signature rolls as well as a bevy of pieces de resistance ranging from wahoo to ora king salmon to shima aji. Lavish omakases are also offered, but don’t overlook izakaya faves (okonomiyaki, uni pasta) or from-scratch ramen bowls.

12. Taste of Chengdu

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4856 New Broad St
Orlando, FL 32814
(407) 286-4850
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Chinese restaurants have disproportionately suffered during the pandemic thanks to a rise in anti-Asian sentiments, but chef Xiong “Tiger” Tang, a skilled perfectionist with a commanding kitchen presence, continues to churn out some of the most impeccable and wickedly peppery Sichuan fare anywhere in the Sunshine State. That said, Tang and his restaurant partner Paula Ahn were forced to close the Baldwin Park location in early July following a rift between servers and management, but the pair plan on reopening the restaurant later this summer as a reservation-only, chef’s tasting experience. They’ll also reopen the original West Colonial Drive location in August following a kitchen remodel. On the menu: Chongqing-style hotpots, braised fish filet in spicy chili oil, tongue-numbing Laziji chicken, and more electrifying choices for the capsicum-deprived.

13. Black Rooster Taqueria

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1323 N Mills Ave
Orlando, FL 32803
(407) 601-0994
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John and Juliana Calloway met in L.A. opening restaurants for renowned chef/restaurateur Richard Sandoval, so no surprise that the taqueria they opened here in Juliana’s hometown took on an unmistakable SoCal vibe. BRT has shades of Trejo’s Tacos and Ray Garcia’s B.S. Taqueria, but it’s the made on-site corn tortillas, enveloping everything from smoked lengua to pork fat to Angus brisket, that really impresses. Pozole verde and beef achiote bowls shouldn’t be overlooked either. On the horizon: a second Black Rooster Taqueria is slated to open in the Hourglass District this year.

14. Reyes Mezcaleria

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821 N Orange Ave
Orlando, FL 32801
(407) 868-9007
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Chef Wendy Lopez commands the kitchen of this NoDo stalwart by restaurateurs Jason and Sue Chin (The Osprey, Seito Sushi, The Monroe) giving representation to Mexico’s regional gastronomic riches, including charred octopus with squid ink chimichurri and duck enchiladas from her native Michoacán. Her tequila-cured arctic char with pineapple aguachile is a mesmerizing (and fun) north-meets-south take. The gorgeous interior design inspired by Tulum and Quintana Roo practically compels guests to sample one of the 150 agave-based spirits in various cocktails. Enjoy with a bowl of chapulines (tiny fried grasshoppers seasoned with tamarind, chilies, and spices) for an inimitable arthropodic crunch.

15. The Strand

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807 N Mills Ave
Orlando, FL 32803
(407) 920-7744
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The Mills 50 fixture embodies the sort of casual urbanity and close-quartered seating that fosters lingering and getting social. Folks get cozy over chef and owner Joe Rees’ pretense-free dishes highlighting local ingredients, think dishes like snapper cakes, saffron-crusted grouper, and poached Gulf shrimp with tomato chow chow. The buttermilk chicken and steak frites are classic standbys begging to be paired with a bottle from their focused, yet stellar, selection.

16. Tori Tori

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720 N Mills Ave
Orlando, FL 32803
(407) 735-0999
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Yes, it’s technically a bar, but it’s a bar that just so happens to serve some of the best Japanese pub grub around. There are bites like whole binchotan-grilled Japanese flying squid and blue crab and corn croquettes that dazzle. But it’s with the yakitori where Tori Tori’s kitchen really struts its stuff. Chicken skin tare and chicken oyster can’t possibly be done any better than it is here, and lamb karubi lollipops offer a red meat alternative to prime-grade beef from Revier Cattle Co. Plus, there’s a stellar okonomiyaki for purists and some top-notch cocktails for the bibulous.

17. Kabooki Sushi

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3122 E Colonial Dr
Orlando, FL 32803
(407) 228-3839
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From humble beginnings helping his parents run two restaurants at the age of 15, to opening Kabooki Sushi at the age of 22 and becoming one of Orlando’s most creative sushi chefs, says a lot about the drive and passion of Henry Moso. His extravagant omakases are legendary and the ingredients he sources from local waters and those in the Pacific are unparalleled. After opening a second Kabooki Sushi in Dr. Phillips, Moso expanded and completely renovated the original restaurant on E. Colonial Drive as the pandemic raged. The result: one of the sexiest sushi spots in town.

18. Z Asian - Vietnamese Kitchen

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1830 E Colonial Dr Ste B
Orlando, FL 32803
(407) 601-6024
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Z is a relative newbie in a sea of old Vietnamese standbys, but what husband-and-wife team Hien Pham and Huong Nguyen bring to their Colonial Drive restaurant is a focused menu with dishes amplifying the clean flavors of Vietnamese cuisine. Soups, be it marinated duck noodle, pho with bone marrow, or anchovy-based seafood bun mam, are stellar. The new street food menu with such items as banh beo (steamed rice flour cakes), banh khọt (stuffed pancake-like tarts), and bo la lot (beef wrapped in betel leaves) not only made Vietnamese fare trendy once again, but positioned the restaurant at the very top of Vietnamese joints in the city. Bonus: many of these dishes are offered as vegan options.

19. Maxine's On Shine

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337 Shine Ave
Orlando, FL 32803
(407) 674-6841
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A neighborhood restaurant in every sense, Maxine’s has been entertaining guests since 2012 thanks to the antics of owner/slam poet Kirt Earhart and his animal-print-loving chanteuse of a wife Maxine. Both gleefully work the room (which looks more like a boudoir) making sure each and every one of their guests are having as much fun as they are. The menu is about as eclectic as the clientele with everything from escargots en croute to cioppino to skillet lasagna offered. The parking lot has been converted to an outdoor seating area with private covered cabanas with fans, plants, and mosquito netting.

20. Nikki's Place Southern Cuisine

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742 Carter St
Orlando, FL 32805
(407) 425-5301
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There are restaurant institutions and then there’s Nikki’s Place. The Parramore stalwart has been plating meat-and-threes through 70-plus years of systematic segregation and residential displacement and always doing so with class and dignity. Fronted by 78-year-old Nick Aiken, his wife Inez, and daughter Nikki, the restaurant has established itself as a gathering ground for the community and has hosted a who’s-who of African American icons, politicians and civil rights leaders since 1949. That Aiken’s brand of soul food is incomparable cements Nikki’s as the go-to place for Southern fare, be it smothered anything (oxtails, pigtails) to fried chicken to meatloaf. Best of all, meals can be made from stellar sides alone.

21. Pizza Bruno

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3990 Curry Ford Rd
Orlando, FL 32806
(407) 270-6833
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Bruno Zacchini got this city excited for neo Neapolitan-style pizzas as pie hounds lost their minds over the intriguing topping selection at the cozy Curry Ford West pie house. Zacchini’s starter dough undergoes a 48-hour ferment before being pulled, tossed, topped, and fired at 1000 degrees, resulting in a charred and flavorful crust. And while Zacchini placed expansion plans for the pizza brand on hold, he’s branched out into the bagel realm having opened Bagel Bruno in College Park.

22. Tabla Indian Restaurant

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5847 Grand National Dr
Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 248-9400
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The city’s best Indian restaurant just so happened to open its second location mere weeks before the pandemic hit, but that hasn’t affected the resolve in the kitchen any. Tabla has the potential to be Orlando’s very own Gymkhana, Brigadiers, or Junoon thanks to chef Sajan Prem and owner Nora Jain’s focus on Desi fare. But it’s the specials where Prem really shines, guests won’t find soft-shell crab pakoras, Keralan-style mussels, or luscious paya served with lachha paratha served anywhere else in the city. Plush lamb chops and a redolent palak ghosht have been known to induce head wobbling.

23. Nile Ethiopian Restaurant

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7048 International Dr
Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 354-0026
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Ermias Hailab and Abeba Gonetse introduced many in this town to fare from the “Cradle of Humanity” when they opened Nile in 2006. Now, 15 years later, tourists and locals alike come to scoop boldly spiced stews and meats with spongy, tangy injera from communal plates. The post-meal coffee ceremony is worth braving the I-Drive traffic for.

24. Knife & Spoon

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4012 Central Florida Pkwy
Orlando, FL 32837
(407) 393-4333
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Oh, sure, a case could be made for Linda’s La Cantina and Christner’s for their old-timey steakhouse vibe, but the simple fact is that no one ages beef the way chef John Tesar does. His Dallas restaurant, Knife, is widely considered to be one of the best steakhouses in the country and its sister chophouse, situated inside the Ritz-Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes, has attracted steak-lovers for the exceptional prime cuts dry-aged inside a $70,000 meat locker. Of note is the 240-day aged bone-in ribeye. It’s as funky as it is life changing. Tapping fellow Top Chef alum Gerald Sombright as chef de cuisine certainly lends the restaurant additional cred.

25. Ravello

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10100 Dream Tree Blvd
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32836
(407) 313-7777
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Executive chef Fabrizio Schenardi oversees all the restaurants at the Four Seasons Resort, but Ravello with its modern Italian flair, is one nearest and dearest to his heart. Dishes veer in the direction of Schenardi’s native Piemonte (he was born in Rivoli), with the veal-stuffed ravioli, duck breast with glazed chestnut, and pan-seared trout with Arneis wine sauce being the restaurant’s most-loved items. Alba white truffles make a customary appearance during the season, while Rabii Saber, the James Beard-nominated pastry chef, ensures a worthy ending will be had.

26. Susuru

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8548 Palm Pkwy
Orlando, FL 32836
(407) 778-4813
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Manga paraphernalia and a décor steeped in 1950s Japanese nostalgia festoon this “retro-themed izakaya” by the team behind Jade in College Park. But even all the eye candy can’t distract from some of the best yakitori found in the city, the chicken thigh and skin in particular. Binchotan coals are also employed for the grilled hamachi collar, mackerel, and yuzu street corn, but to pass on the takoyaki as well as the rarely found tori paitan, featuring a 24-hour chicken broth reduced to a rich, creamy, tonkotsu-like consistency, could draw the ire of Godzilla.

27. Morimoto Asia

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1600 E Buena Vista Dr
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830
(407) 939-6686
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It’s clear that Morimoto Asia executive chef Yuhi Fujinaga and executive sushi chef Alex Munkhbilguun are bent on offering the absolute finest cuts of fish and seafood procured from Toyosu Fish Market and around the world inside their sprawling, two-story Disney Springs behemoth. The relationships the restaurant (and the Morimoto empire) has forged over the years have clearly placed them in an advantageous position as far as sourcing is concerned. Preferential treatment? Maybe, but either way the consumer is the ultimate beneficiary of these prized ingredients and the respect and deference with which the chefs and their discriminating kitchen staff present them.

28. Jaleo by José Andrés

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1482 E Buena Vista Dr
Orlando, FL 32830
(321) 348-3211
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Jose Andres’ paean to traditional and postmodern Spanish gastronomy re-established itself as one of the finest restaurants in Disney Springs post-pandemic, and one that many a local have gladly ventured to despite the location. The restaurant behemoth highlights the regional diversity of Spain with plenty paellas and copious amounts of jamón ibérico de bellota to go around. As a bonus, the first brick-and-mortar location of Pepe, his popular D.C. food truck, is situated next door for those needing a quick bocata on the go.

1. 1921 Mount Dora

142 E 4th Ave, Mt Dora, FL 32757

The restaurant may have gone through numerous chefs in its five-year lifespan, but its latest, Chris Edwards, turned heads at Holeman & Finch Public House, Restaurant Eugene, and King + Duke in Atlanta before taking charge of the most gorgeous restaurant in all Central Florida. Edwards exhibits a fierce commitment to Florida ingredients, just as his predecessors did, but employs them in ways his predecessors never did: quail with a confit of Athena melon and brebis from Blackberry Farms; peach and green tomato pizza with blue crab and bacon lardons; braised rabbit thigh with Charleston Gold Rice risotto, just to name a few. A studied cocktail program and stellar weekend brunch solidify 1921’s cred.

142 E 4th Ave
Mt Dora, FL 32757

2. Sushi Pop Restaurant

310 W Mitchell Hammock Rd, Oviedo, FL 32765

A conversation about the best sushi restaurants in town will eventually turn to chef Chau Trinh’s creative and pristine cuts at Sushi Pop. The talented chef, whose done stints at Le Bernardin and Atera in New York City, carved out a niche in Oviedo with his spirited and sophisticated anime-themed eatery, then brought his talents to Winter Park with an outpost off Lyman Avenue. Trinh is never one to rest on his laurels and is constantly experimenting with ideas and techniques to fuel Sushi Pop’s progression. 

310 W Mitchell Hammock Rd
Oviedo, FL 32765

3. Kai Asian Street Fare

1555 FL-436 Suite 1171, Winter Park, FL 32792

Just one in a string of joints to offer street eats with a pan-Asian bent, Kai has been luring them in with the sticky crunch of Korean-style chicken wings, Vietnamese garlic noodles and other standbys. But it’s their ambitious daily specials that get foodie folk stoked to make the drive out to the Casselberry border – spicy tantanmen ramen, duck shoyu ramen, cumin lamb with hand-pulled noodles, uni pasta with truffles and on it goes. Owners Quan Van and Isra Sunhachawi traveled all over Asia prior to perfecting their recipes, and the adherence to tradition shows.

1555 FL-436 Suite 1171
Winter Park, FL 32792

4. Luke's Kitchen and Bar

640 S Orlando Ave, Maitland, FL 32751

Executive chef Jason Campbell has been outdoing himself since coming on to lead the kitchen at Brandon McGlamery’s inviting Maitland restaurant. His blackened fish collar with salsa verde is takeout (and dine-in) gold, especially when paired with poblano-crema corn and smoked okra. Yes, there’s a slight seafood bent to the menu (cobia, redfish, Gulf shrimp, yellowtail ceviche, and oysters can all be found) but there’s plenty of seasonal fare for landlubbers as well. The restaurant recently expanded their already sizeable outdoor area to include additional seating, yard games, and a retractable awning. The brunch is also worth a checking out.

640 S Orlando Ave
Maitland, FL 32751

5. Orlando Meats

1035 Orlando Ave #105, Winter Park, FL 32789

Eliot Hillis, as non-conformist and unconventional a culinarian as they come, seems to have amped up the wizardry at his butcher house/restaurant along with chef de cuisine Seth Parker. The “Goblin,” an infernal dish of udon noodles, fried chicken, black curry, and koji butter, is a straight-up sensation, as are the pizzas and the “medium-rare” burger fashioned from beef ground in-house. With the new Winter Park digs comes a new cocktail menu that’s nothing short of experimental.

1035 Orlando Ave #105
Winter Park, FL 32789

6. Prato

124 N Park Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789

Not far from Luke’s sits Brandon McGlamery’s other restaurant concept spotlighting Italy’s dynamic duo of carbs – pizza (fired in imported, wood-burning Acunto ovens) and pasta (rolled and shaped in-house). The menu, naturally, is seasonally directed and combines McGlamery’s love for wood-fired foods and pasta. Oak-roasted duck breast and a whole branzino cooked in the Acunto are rustic dishes of the highest order. Pizzas are some of the best in Winter Park, while pasta offerings (think lamb pansotti and sunchose casarecce) change constantly.

124 N Park Ave
Winter Park, FL 32789

7. Hunger Street Tacos

2103 W Fairbanks Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789

As sons of missionaries in Guadalajara, Joe and David Creech appreciated the intricacies and nuances of Mexican cuisine at a very early age, and that appreciation has  blossomed during the COVID-19 pandemic when they began making tortillas from scratch using imported blue Oaxacan corn. The result: tacos and quesadillas of the highest order, stuffed with items like veal cheeks or chorizo and potato. But their birria “machete” – a giant tortilla rolled in a spicy beef stew – not only speaks to the Creech’s Jaliscan roots but set the town ablaze (in a good way). Douse the fire with prickly pear margaritas and white wine sangrias, both available by the quart or gallon.

2103 W Fairbanks Ave
Winter Park, FL 32789

8. The Ravenous Pig

565 W Fairbanks Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789

One of the biggest surprises during the pandemic was Dovecote Brasserie chef Clay Miller leaving the restaurant he founded (and partially owned) to become executive chef of the Ravenous Pig. It’s a powerhouse move for the powerhouse Winter Park fixture, but even before Miller’s arrival, the Pig impressed with its creatively unpretentious bill of Southern fare incorporating uniquely Floridian ingredients. Owners James and Julie Petrakis used the pandemic as an opportunity to create a beer garden adjacent to the restaurant serving brews from the Ravenous Pig Brewing Co. next door. It’s a family-friendly (and pet-friendly) space to guzzle, play games, or watch a film on the outdoor screen.

565 W Fairbanks Ave
Winter Park, FL 32789

9. Kadence

1809 Winter Park Rd, Orlando, FL 32803

Kadence became one of the city’s best restaurants the moment it opened back in 2017, and four years on, the eight-seat sushi and sake bar inside an all-black edifice still offers one of the best dining experiences in the city with its intimate omakases. While Lordfer Lalicon, one of the restaurant’s founders, left to focus energies on the soon-to-open Filipino restaurant Kaya in Mills 50, co-founder Mark Berdin and Jennifer Banagale, along with a dedicated team of cooks and servers, continue to serve impeccably presented omakases. The sake program, meanwhile, is second to none.

1809 Winter Park Rd
Orlando, FL 32803

10. The Osprey

4899 New Broad St, Orlando, FL 32814

When the Osprey Tavern, a centerpiece in the city’s restaurant scene, changed concepts mid-pandemic into a seafood restaurant, locals took notice. In fact, a seafood restaurant is precisely what owners Jason and Sue Chin had in mind prior to opening Osprey Tavern in 2015, so better late than never. With ex-Luma luminary Michael Cooper at the helm, the restaurant is now locally focused, with dishes like Pompano Beach swordfish, Florida Bluehouse salmon, or Cedar Key clam chowder.

4899 New Broad St
Orlando, FL 32814

11. Seito Sushi Baldwin Park

4898 New Broad St #32814, Orlando, FL 32814

Sushi of the highest order can be had at either of Seito’s locations, the slick sushi house in Baldwin Park run by Jason and Sue Chin or the swish Sand Lake spot run by Jason’s sister Jennifer and husband Eric Springer. Both restaurants are equally dedicated to impeccable service, quality sourcing, and gorgeous plating. There’s a “Roll-O-Dex” of signature rolls as well as a bevy of pieces de resistance ranging from wahoo to ora king salmon to shima aji. Lavish omakases are also offered, but don’t overlook izakaya faves (okonomiyaki, uni pasta) or from-scratch ramen bowls.

4898 New Broad St #32814
Orlando, FL 32814

12. Taste of Chengdu

4856 New Broad St, Orlando, FL 32814

Chinese restaurants have disproportionately suffered during the pandemic thanks to a rise in anti-Asian sentiments, but chef Xiong “Tiger” Tang, a skilled perfectionist with a commanding kitchen presence, continues to churn out some of the most impeccable and wickedly peppery Sichuan fare anywhere in the Sunshine State. That said, Tang and his restaurant partner Paula Ahn were forced to close the Baldwin Park location in early July following a rift between servers and management, but the pair plan on reopening the restaurant later this summer as a reservation-only, chef’s tasting experience. They’ll also reopen the original West Colonial Drive location in August following a kitchen remodel. On the menu: Chongqing-style hotpots, braised fish filet in spicy chili oil, tongue-numbing Laziji chicken, and more electrifying choices for the capsicum-deprived.

4856 New Broad St
Orlando, FL 32814

13. Black Rooster Taqueria

1323 N Mills Ave, Orlando, FL 32803

John and Juliana Calloway met in L.A. opening restaurants for renowned chef/restaurateur Richard Sandoval, so no surprise that the taqueria they opened here in Juliana’s hometown took on an unmistakable SoCal vibe. BRT has shades of Trejo’s Tacos and Ray Garcia’s B.S. Taqueria, but it’s the made on-site corn tortillas, enveloping everything from smoked lengua to pork fat to Angus brisket, that really impresses. Pozole verde and beef achiote bowls shouldn’t be overlooked either. On the horizon: a second Black Rooster Taqueria is slated to open in the Hourglass District this year.

1323 N Mills Ave
Orlando, FL 32803

14. Reyes Mezcaleria

821 N Orange Ave, Orlando, FL 32801

Chef Wendy Lopez commands the kitchen of this NoDo stalwart by restaurateurs Jason and Sue Chin (The Osprey, Seito Sushi, The Monroe) giving representation to Mexico’s regional gastronomic riches, including charred octopus with squid ink chimichurri and duck enchiladas from her native Michoacán. Her tequila-cured arctic char with pineapple aguachile is a mesmerizing (and fun) north-meets-south take. The gorgeous interior design inspired by Tulum and Quintana Roo practically compels guests to sample one of the 150 agave-based spirits in various cocktails. Enjoy with a bowl of chapulines (tiny fried grasshoppers seasoned with tamarind, chilies, and spices) for an inimitable arthropodic crunch.

821 N Orange Ave
Orlando, FL 32801

15. The Strand

807 N Mills Ave, Orlando, FL 32803

The Mills 50 fixture embodies the sort of casual urbanity and close-quartered seating that fosters lingering and getting social. Folks get cozy over chef and owner Joe Rees’ pretense-free dishes highlighting local ingredients, think dishes like snapper cakes, saffron-crusted grouper, and poached Gulf shrimp with tomato chow chow. The buttermilk chicken and steak frites are classic standbys begging to be paired with a bottle from their focused, yet stellar, selection.

807 N Mills Ave
Orlando, FL 32803

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16. Tori Tori

720 N Mills Ave, Orlando, FL 32803

Yes, it’s technically a bar, but it’s a bar that just so happens to serve some of the best Japanese pub grub around. There are bites like whole binchotan-grilled Japanese flying squid and blue crab and corn croquettes that dazzle. But it’s with the yakitori where Tori Tori’s kitchen really struts its stuff. Chicken skin tare and chicken oyster can’t possibly be done any better than it is here, and lamb karubi lollipops offer a red meat alternative to prime-grade beef from Revier Cattle Co. Plus, there’s a stellar okonomiyaki for purists and some top-notch cocktails for the bibulous.

720 N Mills Ave
Orlando, FL 32803

17. Kabooki Sushi

3122 E Colonial Dr, Orlando, FL 32803

From humble beginnings helping his parents run two restaurants at the age of 15, to opening Kabooki Sushi at the age of 22 and becoming one of Orlando’s most creative sushi chefs, says a lot about the drive and passion of Henry Moso. His extravagant omakases are legendary and the ingredients he sources from local waters and those in the Pacific are unparalleled. After opening a second Kabooki Sushi in Dr. Phillips, Moso expanded and completely renovated the original restaurant on E. Colonial Drive as the pandemic raged. The result: one of the sexiest sushi spots in town.

3122 E Colonial Dr
Orlando, FL 32803

18. Z Asian - Vietnamese Kitchen

1830 E Colonial Dr Ste B, Orlando, FL 32803

Z is a relative newbie in a sea of old Vietnamese standbys, but what husband-and-wife team Hien Pham and Huong Nguyen bring to their Colonial Drive restaurant is a focused menu with dishes amplifying the clean flavors of Vietnamese cuisine. Soups, be it marinated duck noodle, pho with bone marrow, or anchovy-based seafood bun mam, are stellar. The new street food menu with such items as banh beo (steamed rice flour cakes), banh khọt (stuffed pancake-like tarts), and bo la lot (beef wrapped in betel leaves) not only made Vietnamese fare trendy once again, but positioned the restaurant at the very top of Vietnamese joints in the city. Bonus: many of these dishes are offered as vegan options.

1830 E Colonial Dr Ste B
Orlando, FL 32803

19. Maxine's On Shine

337 Shine Ave, Orlando, FL 32803

A neighborhood restaurant in every sense, Maxine’s has been entertaining guests since 2012 thanks to the antics of owner/slam poet Kirt Earhart and his animal-print-loving chanteuse of a wife Maxine. Both gleefully work the room (which looks more like a boudoir) making sure each and every one of their guests are having as much fun as they are. The menu is about as eclectic as the clientele with everything from escargots en croute to cioppino to skillet lasagna offered. The parking lot has been converted to an outdoor seating area with private covered cabanas with fans, plants, and mosquito netting.

337 Shine Ave
Orlando, FL 32803

20. Nikki's Place Southern Cuisine

742 Carter St, Orlando, FL 32805

There are restaurant institutions and then there’s Nikki’s Place. The Parramore stalwart has been plating meat-and-threes through 70-plus years of systematic segregation and residential displacement and always doing so with class and dignity. Fronted by 78-year-old Nick Aiken, his wife Inez, and daughter Nikki, the restaurant has established itself as a gathering ground for the community and has hosted a who’s-who of African American icons, politicians and civil rights leaders since 1949. That Aiken’s brand of soul food is incomparable cements Nikki’s as the go-to place for Southern fare, be it smothered anything (oxtails, pigtails) to fried chicken to meatloaf. Best of all, meals can be made from stellar sides alone.

742 Carter St
Orlando, FL 32805

21. Pizza Bruno

3990 Curry Ford Rd, Orlando, FL 32806

Bruno Zacchini got this city excited for neo Neapolitan-style pizzas as pie hounds lost their minds over the intriguing topping selection at the cozy Curry Ford West pie house. Zacchini’s starter dough undergoes a 48-hour ferment before being pulled, tossed, topped, and fired at 1000 degrees, resulting in a charred and flavorful crust. And while Zacchini placed expansion plans for the pizza brand on hold, he’s branched out into the bagel realm having opened Bagel Bruno in College Park.

3990 Curry Ford Rd
Orlando, FL 32806

22. Tabla Indian Restaurant

5847 Grand National Dr, Orlando, FL 32819

The city’s best Indian restaurant just so happened to open its second location mere weeks before the pandemic hit, but that hasn’t affected the resolve in the kitchen any. Tabla has the potential to be Orlando’s very own Gymkhana, Brigadiers, or Junoon thanks to chef Sajan Prem and owner Nora Jain’s focus on Desi fare. But it’s the specials where Prem really shines, guests won’t find soft-shell crab pakoras, Keralan-style mussels, or luscious paya served with lachha paratha served anywhere else in the city. Plush lamb chops and a redolent palak ghosht have been known to induce head wobbling.

5847 Grand National Dr
Orlando, FL 32819

23. Nile Ethiopian Restaurant

7048 International Dr, Orlando, FL 32819

Ermias Hailab and Abeba Gonetse introduced many in this town to fare from the “Cradle of Humanity” when they opened Nile in 2006. Now, 15 years later, tourists and locals alike come to scoop boldly spiced stews and meats with spongy, tangy injera from communal plates. The post-meal coffee ceremony is worth braving the I-Drive traffic for.

7048 International Dr
Orlando, FL 32819

24. Knife & Spoon

4012 Central Florida Pkwy, Orlando, FL 32837

Oh, sure, a case could be made for Linda’s La Cantina and Christner’s for their old-timey steakhouse vibe, but the simple fact is that no one ages beef the way chef John Tesar does. His Dallas restaurant, Knife, is widely considered to be one of the best steakhouses in the country and its sister chophouse, situated inside the Ritz-Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes, has attracted steak-lovers for the exceptional prime cuts dry-aged inside a $70,000 meat locker. Of note is the 240-day aged bone-in ribeye. It’s as funky as it is life changing. Tapping fellow Top Chef alum Gerald Sombright as chef de cuisine certainly lends the restaurant additional cred.

4012 Central Florida Pkwy
Orlando, FL 32837

25. Ravello

10100 Dream Tree Blvd, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32836

Executive chef Fabrizio Schenardi oversees all the restaurants at the Four Seasons Resort, but Ravello with its modern Italian flair, is one nearest and dearest to his heart. Dishes veer in the direction of Schenardi’s native Piemonte (he was born in Rivoli), with the veal-stuffed ravioli, duck breast with glazed chestnut, and pan-seared trout with Arneis wine sauce being the restaurant’s most-loved items. Alba white truffles make a customary appearance during the season, while Rabii Saber, the James Beard-nominated pastry chef, ensures a worthy ending will be had.

10100 Dream Tree Blvd
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32836

26. Susuru

8548 Palm Pkwy, Orlando, FL 32836

Manga paraphernalia and a décor steeped in 1950s Japanese nostalgia festoon this “retro-themed izakaya” by the team behind Jade in College Park. But even all the eye candy can’t distract from some of the best yakitori found in the city, the chicken thigh and skin in particular. Binchotan coals are also employed for the grilled hamachi collar, mackerel, and yuzu street corn, but to pass on the takoyaki as well as the rarely found tori paitan, featuring a 24-hour chicken broth reduced to a rich, creamy, tonkotsu-like consistency, could draw the ire of Godzilla.

8548 Palm Pkwy
Orlando, FL 32836

27. Morimoto Asia

1600 E Buena Vista Dr, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830

It’s clear that Morimoto Asia executive chef Yuhi Fujinaga and executive sushi chef Alex Munkhbilguun are bent on offering the absolute finest cuts of fish and seafood procured from Toyosu Fish Market and around the world inside their sprawling, two-story Disney Springs behemoth. The relationships the restaurant (and the Morimoto empire) has forged over the years have clearly placed them in an advantageous position as far as sourcing is concerned. Preferential treatment? Maybe, but either way the consumer is the ultimate beneficiary of these prized ingredients and the respect and deference with which the chefs and their discriminating kitchen staff present them.

1600 E Buena Vista Dr
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830

28. Jaleo by José Andrés

1482 E Buena Vista Dr, Orlando, FL 32830

Jose Andres’ paean to traditional and postmodern Spanish gastronomy re-established itself as one of the finest restaurants in Disney Springs post-pandemic, and one that many a local have gladly ventured to despite the location. The restaurant behemoth highlights the regional diversity of Spain with plenty paellas and copious amounts of jamón ibérico de bellota to go around. As a bonus, the first brick-and-mortar location of Pepe, his popular D.C. food truck, is situated next door for those needing a quick bocata on the go.

1482 E Buena Vista Dr
Orlando, FL 32830

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