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Orlando + Disney World Restaurants

California Grill
4600 N. World Drive
Disney's Contemporary Resort
Orlando , Florida
Tel: 407 939 3463

Disney's modern-cuisine showpiece, located on the 15th floor of the Contemporary, overlooks the Magic Kingdom and its Castle and serves elegant fare from an open kitchen. An ample selection of California wines overseen by multiple certified sommeliers, a slate of sushi and sashimi, and season-specific, produce-focused dishes (like warm Delta asparagus with hazelnut vinaigrette, golden raisins, and St. George cheese) make it a splurgy night out. The only downer is the decor, which has the geometric, primary-colors mentality of an early 1990s music video. Reserve three months ahead for the dinner seating that coincides with the nightly fireworks display—the kitchen temporarily halts service so diners can enjoy the show without interruption from outdoor observation decks.

Hotel Photo
Hawkers Asian Street Fare
1103 N. Mills Avenue
Orlando , Florida
Tel: 407 237 0606

Orlando's Little Saigon district has long drawn adventurous eaters to its authentic Vietnamese, Korean, and Thai restaurants. But Hawkers Asian Street Fare, which opened in 2011 on the edge of downtown's Asian zone, wins for both authenticity and atmosphere. Co-owned by Malaysian and Cantonese families ("and one white guy," as the waitstaff likes to tell you), the restaurant has an industrial feel. There's corrugated iron on the walls, along with black-and-white photos of Kuala Lumpur food hawkers; tabletops are covered with Chinese newspapers under a shiny coat of resin. The large menu incorporates Vietnamese, Chinese, Malaysian, Indian, and Thai flavors with a spread of small, shareable plates that are actually quite ample, and best of all, overwhelmingly affordable. Pass on standard items like lettuce wraps and pad thai in favor of more interesting fare such as the Korean bulgogi beef sliders wedged in a crunchy baguette, and Malaysian-style prawn mee, a spicy soup laden with boiled eggs, jumbo shrimp, and egg noodles. There are a few outdoor tables under umbrellas on an enclosed patio, if you don't mind the din of passing traffic with your dinner.—Terry Ward

Open Mondays through Thursdays 11 am to 10 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 11 am to 11 pm, and Sundays noon to 10 pm.

Le Coq au Vin
4800 S. Orange Avenue
Orlando , Florida
Tel: 407 851 6980

In a neighborhood better known for burgers than blood sausage, this French kitchen, installed in a onetime private home, has become a beloved city institution. Festooned with quirky rooster memorabilia, it is run by chef Louis Perrotte and his wife Magdalena, who have been brandishing the pans here for over 30 years. Their perennial threats to hang up their oven mitts are finally being taken seriously, so the dining rooms are packed most nights. Service may be as casual as any local joint but dinner can take up to three hours. The namesake dish—chicken stewed in white wine—is as flavorful as expected; other standbys include the duck garnished with lavender honey and breast roasted, and a range of soufflés that runs from Gruyère to chocolate.

Luma on Park
290 S. Park Avenue
Winter Park , Florida
Tel: 407 599 4111

At Luma on Park, floor-to-ceiling glass doors fold open to views of leafy Central Park, the leather banquette seating is accented with omnipresent candlelight, and diaphanous curtains catch the breeze. This is one of Orlando's most sophisticated dining experiences, and there's a focus on Florida-sourced vegetables, sustainable seafood and meats, and prowess for presentation that holds its own with any world-class establishment. The menu, which changes daily, might feature Key West wreckfish with walnut-braised scallions and apple chutney, housemade conchiglie with Florida spiny lobster and Zellwood corn, or for more daring foodies, pig head terrine with foie gras. Even the condiments are made in-house, combining interesting flavors into basil aïoli, vanilla salt, and lemon verbena butter. The building itself was once a bank—you'll find a nod to its financial past in the subterranean wine cellar, where LED-lit bottles glowing blue and green surround a private dining area in what was once the vault.—Terry Ward

Open Mondays through Thursdays 5:30 to 10 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 5:30 to 11 pm, and Sundays 5:30 to 9 pm.

Mama Della's Ristorante
5601 Universal Boulevard
Orlando , Florida
Tel: 407 503 3463

Your friends (especially anyone with Italy in their heritage will call you crazy for suggesting an authentic dinner from the old country at a theme park hotel's restaurant. But the food at Mama Della's Ristorante, inside the Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando, is so good it's worth tolerating the kitschy tableside appearance of "Mama Della" herself—a theme park character who makes the rounds during dinner, trading ciaos. The restaurant was modeled on a trattoria in Italy, yet the resulting look is more like Nonna's house, with floral wallpaper, antique-looking mirrors, and random family portraits. And just like at Grandma's, don't come here looking for a light meal. Start with the delicious antipasto platter, an authentic spread of prosciutto, soppressata, fontina cheese, and marinated vegetables and olives. The enormous pasta platters are served family-style, and the frutti di mare overflows with fish and shellfish. By the time the group of musicians come around to your table to serenade you with Italian opera, you'll be ordering a round of limoncello and crying out mama mia.—Terry Ward

Open daily 5:30 to 10 pm.

Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes Orlando
4012 Central Florida Parkway
Orlando , Florida
Tel: 407 393 4333

Chef Norman Van Aken, a hero among Florida foodies, oversees the flagship restaurant of the Grande Lakes development. The decor may be of the un-noteworthy convention-hotel type, and the clientele rigorously expense-account, but the menu is gutsy and phenomenally flavorful. Van Aken's "New World Cuisine" adds an inventive Latin and Caribbean (and sometimes Asian) twist to classic ingredients. Popular options include a Cuban-style roasted pork marinated in citrus sauce for two days, and a gently fried jumbo shrimp stuffed with yuca and habanero-infused tartar. Rounding out courses: ceviches, tapas plates, and ice creams so rich (chocolate with chilis, cinnamon) that they're served by demi-scoop.

Ravenous Pig
1234 N. Orange Avenue
Winter Park , Florida
Tel: 407 628 2333

Orlando's current must-have reservation may be accented by a few pubby touches—such as naked Edison bulbs and a ceiling of pressed metal—but it's a stretch to call it a true "gastropub," as chef-owners James and Julie Petrakis do. Still, if the decor merely evokes the spirit of English tradition, the dining amplifies and Americanizes it, offering an ever-changing roster of fine fish and meats, including grilled duck, flatiron steak-frites, and barbecued leg of lamb. Some of the sides, like house-made gnocchi, Gruyère biscuits, and truffle fries served in a pint glass, are delicious enough to have become signatures dishes, but the specialty of the house, which appears on the menu at monthly intervals (usually on the first Saturday), is suckling pig, roasted whole on the premises. Reserve ahead or miss out.

Open Tuesdays through Thursdays 11:30 am to 2:30 pm and 5:30 to 9:30 pm; Fridays and Saturdays 11:30 am to 2:30 pm and 5:30 to 11 pm.

Seasons 52
7700 Sand Lake Road
Orlando , Florida
Tel: 407 354 5212

This burgeoning chain is a tonic for diners sick of the deep frying that dominates the area's kitchens. The gimmick is to change the New American menu weekly (hence the name) as new harvests come to market, and none of the choices have added fats or more than 475 calories. That means natural cooking methods (mesquite-grilling, stone-hearth-roasting) are favored, and side dishes are chosen to nutritionally balance the entrées, with portion controlled desserts served in oversized shot glasses. The atmosphere is as breezy as a California ranch house, although wait times can run steep.

Shari Sushi Lounge
621 E. Central Boulevard
Orlando , Florida
Tel: 407 420 9420

Thornton Park hipsters treat Shari like their own little Nobu and pack the restaurant during happy hour, from 5 to 7 pm daily, for a $3.95 menu of sushi rolls, cocktails, and Japanese beers. The crowd may come for the scene, but the food is actually worth it. There is the expected range of rolls, plus a nigiri/sashimi menu that encompasses quail egg, conch, and scallops plus duck tacos, melt-in-your-mouth Kurobuta pork belly, and Japanese lobster tail fried tempura-style with a spicy Asian aïoli. The high-backed metallic booths and sea of halogen lights dangling from a high ceiling coupled with the easy flow of sake and the constant preening and flirting give the restaurant a nightclub feel, and that's part of the fun.—Terry Ward

Open Sundays through Wednesdays 5 to 10 pm and Thursdays through Saturdays 5 to 11 pm.

Todd English's Bluezoo
1500 Epcot Resorts Boulevard
Lake Buena Vista , Florida
Tel: 407 934 1111

Now that Orlando has proved to be fertile ground for celebrity chefs (Emeril Lagasse and Wolfgang Puck both have locations in the busy tourist corridor), seemingly every culinary marquee name is unpacking his utensils in O-Town. Todd English, the Boston-area impresario behind Olives, is pulling the strings at the seafood-oriented BlueZoo, located at the Michael Graves–designed Dolphin Hotel near Epcot. In addition to a selection of simple, fish-first dishes such as miso-glazed Chilean sea bass and raw-bar oysters and clams, English adds fusion touches, such as Cantonese lobster with a sticky soy glaze, plus a selection of flatbreads. The dining area, done by Jeffrey Beers, is a bit "Disney-fied"—a pleasing but intense environment of cobalt neon, twisting glass sculpture, wooden slats, and copper light fixtures.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.