August 24, 2019

The 25 hottest restaurants in the Orlando area right now

Orlando's restaurant scene has never been hotter. This summer, our team spotted the best restaurants for special occasions, date nights, or even just a lunchtime bite outside in the fresh air. These eateries include cheap bites to top-dollar treats, but all of them are part of Orlando's foodie explosion.

 

Photos by Rob Bartlett
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The 25 hottest restaurants in the Orlando area right now
Coco Cocina Mexicana
Who knows whether serving regional Mexican fare in upscale digs is enough to reverse the curse of this South Eola space, but dishes like a bracing aguachile negro and crunchy/creamy chapuline-and-guacamole tacos give one hope. Weekend brunches are highlighted by $4 margaritas. 
100 S. Eola Drive, 407-601-5750; $$
cocococinaorlando.com
Rob Bartlett

Coco Cocina Mexicana

Who knows whether serving regional Mexican fare in upscale digs is enough to reverse the curse of this South Eola space, but dishes like a bracing aguachile negro and crunchy/creamy chapuline-and-guacamole tacos give one hope. Weekend brunches are highlighted by $4 margaritas.

100 S. Eola Drive, 407-601-5750; $$


cocococinaorlando.com
Wine Bar George
George Miliotes is one of the 140 wine professionals in the U.S. known as Master Sommelier, and he might just be the man to seat you at your table. The family-style wine-braised chicken ($59) is an entire, purple-hued chicken served in a large cast-iron-style casserole with mushrooms, pearl onions, Yukon potato hash, asparagus, and its own braising liquid perfectly transformed into sauce. A favorite small plate is the grilled octopus salad ($18), which is presented like a ceviche. There are plenty of wines offered by the glass, and there are lots of bottles within budget, starting at about $60. There's also an "Outstanding by the Ounce" section, which highlights the best-of-the-best bottles from all over the world. Open daily at different times. 
1610 East Buena Vista Dr., Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830; $$$$
winebargeorge.com
Rob Bartlett

Wine Bar George

George Miliotes is one of the 140 wine professionals in the U.S. known as Master Sommelier, and he might just be the man to seat you at your table. The family-style wine-braised chicken ($59) is an entire, purple-hued chicken served in a large cast-iron-style casserole with mushrooms, pearl onions, Yukon potato hash, asparagus, and its own braising liquid perfectly transformed into sauce. A favorite small plate is the grilled octopus salad ($18), which is presented like a ceviche.

There are plenty of wines offered by the glass, and there are lots of bottles within budget, starting at about $60. There's also an "Outstanding by the Ounce" section, which highlights the best-of-the-best bottles from all over the world. Open daily at different times.

1610 East Buena Vista Dr., Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830; $$$$
winebargeorge.com
Kabooki Sushi Sand Lake
Henry Moso, one of our city’s finest sushi chefs, brings his brand of high-end Japanese dining to Dr. Phillips. Stellar omakases (a one-week heads-up is recommended) are worth the pricy ($175-$250) admission, though an a la carte version is offered daily based on available ingredients for $150. Nigiri purists can readily indulge in a 10-course tasting for $65, but don’t overlook the cold and hot tasting items. Cocktails get crafty in a good way.
Closed Monday. 7705 Turkey Lake Road, 407-776-2001; $$$
kabookisushi.com
Rob Bartlett

Kabooki Sushi Sand Lake

Henry Moso, one of our city’s finest sushi chefs, brings his brand of high-end Japanese dining to Dr. Phillips. Stellar omakases (a one-week heads-up is recommended) are worth the pricy ($175-$250) admission, though an a la carte version is offered daily based on available ingredients for $150. Nigiri purists can readily indulge in a 10-course tasting for $65, but don’t overlook the cold and hot tasting items. Cocktails get crafty in a good way.

Closed Monday. 7705 Turkey Lake Road, 407-776-2001; $$$
kabookisushi.com
À La Cart
Inviting Milk District food truck park hosts five food trucks at an open-air pavilion with 15 rotating taps, surrounding a square patch of faux grass that acts as an informal beer garden. Brazilian steak, poke and Viet-Korean fare are offered every day, with Brazilian-style empanadas and SwedeDish’s Scandinavian offerings splitting a fourth spot. A daily rotating vendor keeps things interesting. 
609 Irvington Ave., 407-776-4693; $$
alacartorlando.com
Rob Bartlett

À La Cart

Inviting Milk District food truck park hosts five food trucks at an open-air pavilion with 15 rotating taps, surrounding a square patch of faux grass that acts as an informal beer garden. Brazilian steak, poke and Viet-Korean fare are offered every day, with Brazilian-style empanadas and SwedeDish’s Scandinavian offerings splitting a fourth spot. A daily rotating vendor keeps things interesting.

609 Irvington Ave., 407-776-4693; $$
alacartorlando.com
Veranda Restaurant
The veranda-less Veranda presents Eastern European cuisine from Moldova and Romania, from such peasant staples as mamliga (polenta cakes served with salty cheese crumbles and sour cream) to Ottoman-influenced meat rolls and mince patties. For the less adventurous, Italian dishes (think pastas and pizzas) are also offered. 
Open daily. 1700 W. Sand Lake Road, 407-730-9190; $$ 
verandarestaurant.com
Rob Bartlett

Veranda Restaurant

The veranda-less Veranda presents Eastern European cuisine from Moldova and Romania, from such peasant staples as mamliga (polenta cakes served with salty cheese crumbles and sour cream) to Ottoman-influenced meat rolls and mince patties. For the less adventurous, Italian dishes (think pastas and pizzas) are also offered.

Open daily. 1700 W. Sand Lake Road, 407-730-9190; $$
verandarestaurant.com
La Boucherie
French steakhouse chain makes its U.S. debut inside the Bay Hill Plaza, offering fare a cut above Outback, but not quite the level of a Ruth’s Chris. Steaks, naturally, are the focus, including cuts like rump steak, top sirloin and various ground steaks. The “maquignon” – a burger with hashbrowns acting as buns – is an ideal lunchtime option. For starters, consider escargots, foie gras or a seasonal terrine. For the steak-averse, traditional preparations of pot au feu and blanquette de veau will give you all the French feels. There are 12 dessert options to choose from. 
7625 Turkey Lake Road, 407-930-1708; $$$
laboucherie-usa.com
Rob Bartlett

La Boucherie

French steakhouse chain makes its U.S. debut inside the Bay Hill Plaza, offering fare a cut above Outback, but not quite the level of a Ruth’s Chris. Steaks, naturally, are the focus, including cuts like rump steak, top sirloin and various ground steaks. The “maquignon” – a burger with hashbrowns acting as buns – is an ideal lunchtime option. For starters, consider escargots, foie gras or a seasonal terrine. For the steak-averse, traditional preparations of pot au feu and blanquette de veau will give you all the French feels. There are 12 dessert options to choose from.

7625 Turkey Lake Road, 407-930-1708; $$$
laboucherie-usa.com
Bolay
Fast-casual joint in Lake Nona (with more outposts to come in Winter Park and UCF) lets guests build beautiful guilt-free and gluten-free bowls of deliciousness. Choose from nine different bases (everything from black rice and orange-basil quinoa to Asian sweet potato noodles and kale), layer on cooked veggies like ginger broccoli and smoky cauliflower, add some meat, other add-ons and a sauce, and have at it. Meats, btw, don’t suffer from the over-charring so often found at Chipotle. 
12711 Narcoossee Road, 407-627-1990; $ 
bolay.com
Rob Bartlett

Bolay

Fast-casual joint in Lake Nona (with more outposts to come in Winter Park and UCF) lets guests build beautiful guilt-free and gluten-free bowls of deliciousness. Choose from nine different bases (everything from black rice and orange-basil quinoa to Asian sweet potato noodles and kale), layer on cooked veggies like ginger broccoli and smoky cauliflower, add some meat, other add-ons and a sauce, and have at it. Meats, btw, don’t suffer from the over-charring so often found at Chipotle.

12711 Narcoossee Road, 407-627-1990; $
bolay.com
Zero Degrees
Fresh-fruit slushies, teas and coffee are this Cali-based chain’s signature offerings, but “Hispanic-Asian” food offerings make ideal accompaniments to such boffo iced bevs as mangonada and spicy watermelon. Chilotes – elotes topped with crushed Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and chicharrones – are as street as it gets, though popcorn chicken, wings and noodles keep things heated. 
5282 W. Colonial Drive, 407-487-4597; also 1700 W. Sand Lake Road, 407-270-5164; $ 
zerodegreescompany.com
Rob Bartlett

Zero Degrees

Fresh-fruit slushies, teas and coffee are this Cali-based chain’s signature offerings, but “Hispanic-Asian” food offerings make ideal accompaniments to such boffo iced bevs as mangonada and spicy watermelon. Chilotes – elotes topped with crushed Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and chicharrones – are as street as it gets, though popcorn chicken, wings and noodles keep things heated.

5282 W. Colonial Drive, 407-487-4597; also 1700 W. Sand Lake Road, 407-270-5164; $
zerodegreescompany.com
The Ramen
This humble ramen joint by Suichi Tanida, the former chef at Epcot’s Mitsukoshi Restaurant, gives downtowners a healthy dose of traditional tonkotsu, shoyu and miso ramen. Don’t overlook gratifying donburi rice bowls or takoyaki. A handful of vegan options are offered. 
Closed Sunday. 486 N. Orange Ave., 407-233-4801; $$ 
facebook.com/pg/theramenorlando/
Rob Bartlett

The Ramen

This humble ramen joint by Suichi Tanida, the former chef at Epcot’s Mitsukoshi Restaurant, gives downtowners a healthy dose of traditional tonkotsu, shoyu and miso ramen. Don’t overlook gratifying donburi rice bowls or takoyaki. A handful of vegan options are offered.

Closed Sunday. 486 N. Orange Ave., 407-233-4801; $$
facebook.com/pg/theramenorlando/