Every time that I mention Central Florida in the same sentence with words like gastronomy, food, or foodies, the looks towards me are of total disbelief. As rare as it sounds, the Orlando area is stealthily becoming one of the culinary meccas of the southern part of the United States.
The Kissimmee area, where Disney parks are located, is a favorite of all travelers worldwide when traveling with family and enjoying vacations. Just 25 minutes north, between Downtown, Mills50, and Winter Park there is a varied, diverse, and creative gastronomic movement in which you will not believe it until you live it. What has been the evolution of this area in terms of gastronomy? Many factors have positively affected the culinary development of the city: the emigration of chefs to a warmer state, lower-income, and taxes, ample opportunities, proximity to a wide variety of agricultural products native to the area, and real estate.
During these last years, I have given myself the task of visiting Orlando only with the mission of eating, tasting, and experiencing the best of its culinary culture. Here I include a list of 10 places that you should not miss in this gastronomic area:
- KADENCE: it is already synonymous with sushi. This is an omakase of Asian dishes where fresh fish and traditional sushi techniques prevail. It is an experience alone, but it is essential to make reservations.
- BETTER THAN SEX DESSERTS: a restaurant with only desserts, sweet drinks, and more sugary delicacies. The dream of every candy lover came true. It is only open at night, and reservations are recommended.
- FOXTAIL COFFEE CO: this establishment is an ode to coffee. It has its own roaster on its premises, an exclusive bar to serve coffee in every way imagined, and has another area with a more extensive menu of food and wines.
- HANSON’S SHOE REPAIR: a world-class speakeasy. Once you have the keyword, you will enter this place, which was once a shoe store, and you will enter a super cool bar with rooftop and everything.
- DOVE COTE: located in the financial zone, this place surprises all its guests. If you go for lunch, you will have to make a difficult decision among your sandwiches, since each one is at another level. The fried chicken with a honey and mince sauce is finger-licking good.
- DISNEY SPRINGS: what was once an area of night activities has now become a vibrant gastronomic area. It already has Jaleo from Chef José Andrés, Morimoto from Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, Guy Fieri’s chicken chain, and other local alternatives such as 4 Rivers Smokehouse. It is the best Disney park. Entrance and free parking.
- THE GLASS KNIFE: There is no better brunch in all of Central Florida. From pastry to breakfast dishes, they are a work of art. Any choice is going to be the right one. The weekend menu is broader than that of the week.
- THE SANTCTUM: this vegan / vegetarian place is super well thought out. It doesn’t matter if you are a carnivore; the plates they have created are tempered to all palates. His new sister restaurant, Proper & Wild, is also a tremendous conscious and healthy option.
- WINTER PARK FARMERS MARKET: The already famous market is located in the heart of Winter Park County, an upscale but lovely area. After walking and shopping in the market, you can continue walking around Park Ave and enjoy a variety of restaurants (Prato, Luma, The COOP) and cafés (Barnie’s).
- EAST END MARKET: this is a hipster boutique food hall but with a lot of character. Here you will find Domu and his ramen, the famous Gideon’s cookies, and the local Linage Coffee chain, among others. EEM is a must!
This is a small sample of what the Orlando, Florida area has become. With the increase in population, the arrival of professional millennials, and the rediscovery of more local products, this area will continue to flourish. This is one of the most frequented destinations for all travelers. Still, we no longer have to go to visit the amusement parks, now our vacations can be focused exclusively on gastronomic experiences.
Paul E González Mangual is an author of four books, founder of FOODIEcations, columnist for Sabrosía Puerto Rico, TEDx speaker, Guinness World Record Holder, whiskey enthusiast, coffee addict, and producer of the Coffee & Chocolate Expo.
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