The Essential 28 Restaurants in Orlando

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The tried and true staples of Orlando’s culinary scene

It’s well-known that theme parks and Orlando are inextricably linked and, yes, if it wasn’t for Disney, an Eater Essential list for Orlando would be, well, it wouldn’t be. Nearly a quarter century ago, Disney made a conscious effort to offer tourists and Orlandoans alike fare a notch above the middling meals served at Olive Garden and Bennigan’s. They nurtured home-grown chefs and fostered a culture that, in the ensuing years, allowed Orlando’s restaurant scene to thrive and expand beyond the parks. Independent, chef-run boîtes and bistros added a layer of diversity; celeb cooks from Emeril to Morimoto brought a little glam; and Gen Xers and Millennials challenged Orlando’s culinarians to innovate.

This list is a reflection of all that Orlando has to offer – the legacy restaurants that legitimized the food scene, and those that helped give it some distinction. It’s a list across all price ranges, styles and neighborhoods, but one thing these restaurants all have in common is that the food-conscious denizens of Central Florida hold them in high regard.

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