A new year is about to begin and with it comes a fresh bunch of new Orlando restaurants to try for date night. From a food truck park to a carnivore’s paradise and a cozy wine bar to a new plant-based eatery, here are our top picks for a night out exploring Orlando’s ever-growing culinary scene.
Á La Cart Orlando
609 Irvington Ave, Orlando
Open daily 11:30 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Husband and wife duo Dustin and April Williams left their jobs, moved across the country and put their all into Á La Cart, a new food truck park in the Milk District. While living in Oregon, they frequented food truck parks and decided to return to Florida to open a space of their own. The result is a small but stylish indoor-outdoor hangout featuring five food trucks, outdoor seating and games, and an indoor craft beer and wine bar.
The current food truck line-up runs the gamut from Brazilian BBQ to Swedish specialties and Vietnamese-Korean fusion. The beer and wine selection incorporates a few local favorites (Playalinda Brewing and Quantum Leap Winery) alongside craft brews from around the country (the s’mores sour will blow your mind).
We’re thinking Á La Cart is the perfect place for a casual first date, or a frequent haunt for established couples and friends. It’s just the kind of space Orlando was missing and the first in a string of exciting food truck parks and food halls planned in Central Florida. PS – it’s super kid-friendly!
The H Cuisine
7512 Dr. Phillips Blvd Suite #80, Orlando
Prepare to be impressed by interactive tableside food presentation, stellar (if a bit pricier) cocktails and the upscale atmosphere at The H Cuisine. This newcomer to Dr. Phillips is a trendy Turkish steakhouse that will wow your taste buds—and your date. Multiple dishes are accompanied by tableside theatrics, like the Strozzapreti pasta, which is finished in a giant flaming wheel of Parmesan cheese.
Meat-lovers will be in heaven here, savoring dishes like butter-aged tenderloin slices, rib eye slices, a shareable filet for two, and more. There are ten meat choices in all on the dinner menu. While you’ll be tempted to fill up on carnivorous delights, save a little room for the grilled octopus salad appetizer. Signature cocktails are $14-$16 each, but worth the higher price tag. If it’s available when you visit, sip the Purple Jade Margarita, a visually stunning and tasty concoction comprised of tequila, St. Germain Elderflower, Arrogante Damiana, house lemon syrup, butterfly pea flower tea, lavender bitters and lemon juice.
Vinia Wine Bar
444 W New England Ave Ste 119, Winter Park
Winter Park’s Hannibal Square just got a little more romantic, thanks to VINIA Wine Bar, an intimate wine bar and eatery brought to life by husband and wife team Fabio Perricelli and Paula Gamba. The sweet-as-can-be couple is originally from Brazil (Fabio is also half Italian), but chose Central Florida as the magical place to bring their dreams of owning a wine bar to reality.
After an intense road trip through the state of Florida attempting to find the perfect place to open their wine bar, the duo wasn’t yet successful. Until Paula’s craving for Shake Shack led them to explore Winter Park, and they fell in love. VINIA officially opened in October 2018.
Apart from the carefully curated wine list (I loved the Cortese from Italy), there’s an impressive food menu featuring European-inspired dishes and daily specials prepared by the in-house chef. Check out live jazz every other Thursday evening and keep your eyes out for future tastings, wine-paired dinners, and date night events.
4R Cantina Barbacoa Food Truck
The Marketplace at Disney Springs
Two words for you: taco cone. The legendary taco cone, stuffed with your choice of meat (brisket barbacoa, pork sofrito, chicken tinga, grilled tri-tip steak or veg-friendly black beans and rice), lettuce, guacamole, sour cream, pico de gallo, queso, cilantro, jalapeno, and lime is just one of several tasty street food options being served at the new(ish) 4 Rivers Cantina Barbacoa Food Truck. The truck brings more local flare to Disney Springs, and all food prepared by the 4 Rivers team has our automatic approval.
Other dishes served out of the colorful food truck are tacos, a squash blossom quesadilla, burrito bowls, nachos, and beans and rice. You’ll find the food truck parked in The Marketplace at Disney Springs serving lunch and dinner daily. Check out these date night ideas to help you plan a full night out at Disney Springs.
- Root and Branch – Clermont
- Eggs & Oats – Winter Garden
- Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill – Disney Springs
- Susuru – Orlando (coming soon)
Proper & Wild
Fans of The Sanctum Café, listen up. If you haven’t heard by now (have you been living under a rock?), Chelsie & Jamie Savage of The Sanctum are opening a new concept, Proper & Wild, later this year in Winter Park. We got a taste of the menu at a pop-up dinner in October, sampling delicious plant-based twists on classic dishes like Beet Tartar and the decadent Heart of Palm Cake. The restaurant will be located on Morse Avenue, just steps from Park Avenue.
If you got excited reading about Á La Cart above, you’ll be equally thrilled to learn about Boxi Park, a new shipping container entertainment park opening this December in Lake Nona. At a whopping 30,000 square-feet, you’ll find everything from restaurants and bars to a concert stage and beach volleyball. There will even be a dog park for your furry friend.
The Donut Experiment
It was love at first bite when I experienced my first taste of The Donut Experiment at the location on Anna Maria Island, and now I’m waiting with bated breath for news on when the chain will finally make its debut in Orlando. The open date is currently scheduled for fall of 2018 but I don’t want to wait another day! Donuts are made fresh before your eyes and topped with goodies of your choice (caramel and sea salt, and vanilla frosting with Oreos are a few of my go-to combos). Our donut scene is already strong in Orlando, but there’s always room for more.
East Hampton Bait & Tackle
New life is being breathed into the space formerly housing TR Fire Grill as East Hampton Bait & Tackle prepares to open before the end of the year. The vibe will be New England-inspired, melding beachy and upscale elements like a high-end interior with nautical décor and a menu of fresh seafood. There will be oysters, lobster rolls (yum), stone crab and sushi, plus an indoor/outdoor bar space. And, true to Winter Park form, there will be brunch. Although you won’t have to wait until the weekend to get your fix; brunch will be served daily.
MORE RESTAURANT NEWS AND HAPPENINGS
- Kabooki Sushi is opening a new location in Dr. Phillips in early 2019. (via Orlando Weekly)
- Pizza Bruno recently took over the kitchen inside Orange County Brewers. Get your pizza and garlic knot fix while sipping on craft beers inside downtown Orlando’s only craft brewery.
- Sushi Pop, an Oviedo favorite, is opening a second location soon in Winter Park. (via Orlando Weekly)
- Montrose Street Market is opening before the end of the year in Clermont. Inside you’ll find beer and wine, coffee, crepes, ice cream, cake, steak and skewers, raclette cheese, plant-based eats and more.
- Disney Springs is getting another new addition! City Works will be an 8,000+ sq. ft. restaurant featuring craft beer and chef-driven American eats. It is set to open in summer 2019.
- The owners of Se7en Bites are opening a new concept, Sette, specializing in rustic Italian eats. The opening is planned for sometime around April of 2019. (via Orlando Weekly)
Know of a spot we missed? Let us know your favorite new Orlando restaurants in the comments below.
About the Author/Photographer:
Stephanie Patterson is a talented professional food and travel photographer and writer with a passion for creativity, the beach and great eats. When she’s not taking photos or writing, you can find her exploring the state for her Florida travel blog, Travel Taste Click. Find her online at www.spattersoncreative.com and www.traveltasteclick.com.
All photos by Stephanie Patterson unless otherwise noted