Some eateries just stick with me – the food, the ambiance, the service – and I can’t help but recommend them. Here are my top five favorite restaurants in Orlando.
- The Chef’s Table at Edgewater: Adam and I have had many special occassion dinners, prix fixe style, at The Chef’s table with Chef Kevin and his wife, Laurie, serving amazing treats. Both chefs are friendly, outgoing, and love what they do. The menu is seasonal and ingredients hail from local markets. The atmosphere is comfortable and romantic, and diners have a full view of the kitchen magic.
- G & G Thai: There are not many places in Orlando that offer superb Thai, but G & G Thai is definitely one of them. Located in a small plaza on the corner of Turkey Lake Road and Conroy Road, G & G is the home of my favorite duck dish, the Crispy Honey Duck. The duck is packed with flavor, sliced into strips, and served over a bed of salad. The duck is covered in a light honey glaze and garnished with sliced pineapples. The atmosphere is romantic and semi-casual. Plus, the prices are unbeatable.
- Disney’s California Grill: This gem is located on the higher levels of Disney’s Contemporary Resort. If you want delicious food in a romantic, semi-casual setting with a fantastic view of the nightly Magic Kingdom fireworks display, California Grill is the place to go. The seasonal menu features new offerings, but also keeps a few well-known staples. The interplay of flavors in every dish is divine. The martinis and cocktails are smooth and polished. Adam and I dined here for our fifth year anniversary, and we are definitely going back for more.
- Magic Wok: I don’t mind waiting a while on a busy night for this family-owned restauant’s fresh pork and bamboo shoot soup. This large, flavorful bowl of soup is transcendant and even contains house-made, twisted bits of pasta. I instantly feel at home and at peace with the world. I only love one comfort food item more than potatoes – yes, that’s possible – and that is soup. I’ve ordered other dishes at Magic Wok, but they’re always accompanied by an order of this soup. Oh yeah, and Magic Wok is located in the same plaza as G & G Thai.
- Pom Pom’s Teahouse and Sandwicheria: This sandwich house is located in a small, nondescript plaza on Bumby, but inside Pom Pom’s is an explosion of local art, colors, and textures. Most of the restaurant is taken up by the long sandwich counter, so seating can be a little tricky on a busy night, but the sandwiches and fresh tea are oh-so worthwhile. The featured teas and sandwiches change, and there are daily changing soups and salads. I dig Pom Pom’s hibiscus iced red tea with a hot-pressed sandwich, which I choose by closing my eyes and pointing to the menu. Wherever my finger lands, I know the corresponding sandwich will be delicious.
Honorable Mention goes to Lam’s Garden for their amazing dim sum selection! An Asian-style brunch has never been tastier than at Lam’s Garden. I order my barbequed pork buns and chicken feet, and I am happy. I love when places are reliably delicious.