Good Food, Good Drink, Good Hair: Top Tables For An Orlando Autumn
Fall is glorious in Orlando, its cooler, drier weather signifying not only the end of another hurricane season, but the start of porch and patio season in all its glory. Good-hair season, too, but we digress…. Submitted here for your fall dining pleasure, a selection of varied venues chosen for a multitude of reasons. Some are ideal for enjoying the sublime al fresco eats and drinks the locals enjoy while their friends and relatives in the snow belt are putting chains on the tires. Others incorporate the flavors of the season into their menus – pumpkin and space and all that’s Fall-nice. Some offer both. But whether you’re in the market for fall-flavor-infused craft cocktail, a seasonal three-course dinner out or a steaming cup of coffee (or noodle-piled bowl of pho), the fact that you can do all of it in your flip flops makes for one happy, Floridian fall experience.
Soco offers up loads of plated Southern comfort, though its name is actually a representation of Southern contemporary, which means you’ll find some down-home diner favorites that have undergone an evolution into something more upscale. Think boiled peanut hummus, mac-and-cheese croquettes and chicken and dumplings that infuse the latter with lobster. Its dining room is warm and inviting but its al fresco sidewalk seating infuses meals with a hip, urban vibe that ticks everything up a notch. As appealing for dinner as it is for Sunday brunch or happy hour cocktails, Soco’s patio is lively and hip. But the food here is exemplary, and well worth the visit even if the Florida rain is teeming outside.
Recommended for Best Restaurants for Fall because: For the fall theater season, Soco offers 15 percent off your party’s food bill for pre-theater events at all shows.
A.D.’s expert tip: Soco’s “F-QUE” wings (jumbo and smoked with house-made pepper jelly) aren’t just cheeky, they’re spicy!
This quaint working Milk District bakery is open for breakfast and lunch with a manageable, fresh-made menu that changes near daily and makes choosing easy. Okay, that’s arguable, since how one chooses between creative, handcrafted moon pies and fresh, local fruit-infused cobblers. is subjective. Easiest method? Bring a friend and share everything! Cakes, cookies, cupcakes, pies … the smells emanating from the Se7en Bites kitchen are wrong in all the best ways possible. Be thoroughly prepared for a sweet-related impulse buy to take home. Eggs and biscuits, scones and soups, Southern comfort classics and lots of surprising modern twists.
Recommended for Best Restaurants for Fall because: Pie season is here, this is the place to be. The vanilla bean bourbon bacon moonpie is available daily until supplies run out arrive early.
A.D.’s expert tip: Se7en Bites is cozy. Keep your dining party small for best results or simply go the takeout route.
This off-the-beaten-path venue is charming and rustic, evocative of some diamond-in-the-rough surprise you’d stumble upon while road tripping. Its food is surprising, too. Sandwiches, salads, scrumptious starters and a whole lotta barbecue. A host of offerings showcase piles of YDE’s signature pulled pork, including the Fire Pig (a wrap with apple wood-smoked bacon, gouda, fried onions and sriracha) and the Rufus (pork topped with thick-cut Brie, cherry ring peppers and topped with raspberry melba sauce). Ribs are available by the half-rack, as well. And YDE’s house slaw is a sweet, tangy treat. Live music in the restaurant’s outdoor beer garden adds ear candy to the menu.
Recommended for Best Restaurants for Fall because: Live music every Thursday through Saturday 6 p.m. – 10 p.m.
A.D.’s expert tip: Get a side of the coleslaw with cranberries, nuts and a little spice, a YDE tradition.
Walt Disney World’s big, beautiful Boathouse venue can accommodate up to 600 seafood and steak lovers amid its nautically themed confines. Views of Lake Buena Vista beckon from throughout; in fact, you can drink and dine al fresco here, as well. Wine, craft beer and cocktails pair well with market-fresh catch and even caviar while diners watch the classic-car-themed amphicars sail past. A beautiful place for special-occasion lunches or dinners, the restaurant’s three distinct dining spaces set a lovely tone; private rooms are available for functions, as well. Come hungry. You won’t want to miss the wild-caught shrimp or decadent desserts.
Recommended for Best Restaurants for Fall because: The Boathouse dock seats more than 200 and overlooks Village Lake at Disney Springs for some spectacular sunsets.
A.D.’s expert tip: They say it serves four. We say it serves more. If you have the mouths to feed, don’t miss the Gibson’s S’mores Baked Alaska.
Think of Boxi Park as an outdoor, trendy food court. The 30,000-square-foot space is made up of 13 repurposed shipping containers, each serving up different delicious food offerings. You can get everything from a crispy cauliflower mango taco, to a herb lemon lobster roll to a bacon double cheeseburger on a potato roll and everything in between. There’s also ice cream, salads, doughnuts, the list goes on and on. There are even shipping containers dedicated exclusively to beverages, mostly adult. The park often hosts events or has musical acts performing making it a great outing for a few hours. Bring your children, those that are human and animal. There’s plenty of shaded seating, a volleyball court and outdoor games.
Recommended for Best Restaurants for Fall because: Your whole family can enjoy this place. There’s food options for everyone, a playground for the littles and a dog park for the four-legged friends.
Michelle’s expert tip: It’s only open Thursday and Friday starting at 4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday starting at 11 a.m.
Situated on Lake Jennie Jewel, The Waterfront is a great, casual, laidback joint. The restaurant was formerly known as Julie’s Waterfront before changing names, getting a renovation as well as a new menu. The chefs focus on “in-house” dishes including the French dip, which includes house-shaved pieces of roast sirloin. French fries also are made on the premises.
Check their Facebook page for daily specials including music bingo night, Sunday brunch and happy hour deals. The back of the restaurant is what Florida fall is all about. Adirondack chairs line the patio along the lake, an inviting spot to enjoy a beverage and the sunny skies.
Recommended for Best Restaurants for Fall because: The name of this place alone tells you it’s a must. Who doesn’t enjoy good food and brews while taking in a beautiful view?
A.D.’s expert tip: Visit on Taco Tuesday and get the friend shrimp tacos. You won’t be disappointed.
While brunch may be a big hit, this restaurant is a must for all meals. Open from 11 a.m. through dinner, this place has a massive menu including salads, sandwiches and small plates. There’s something for everyone no matter what your dietary restriction is. The restaurant is casual, yet hip and picturesque situated on a lake for a relaxing meal. Next to the restaurant is a market that’s combination boutique and community café. You can shop for gifts, home décor, smoothies, coffee or a treat to sweet treat to take home. The market opens at 7 a.m., which allows the perfect time to enjoy the sunrise and the peaceful view.
Recommended for Best Restaurants for Fall because: Bottomless mimosas and a spectacular lake view while enjoying bunch. Need we say more?
Michelle’s expert tip: A complimentary electric shuttle that drives around Lake Nona will take guests to the restaurant. For those headed to the airport, this is a convenient place to stop for a quick bite.
This is somewhat of a hidden jewel often overlooked. There’s something relaxing about being able to people watch while perched high above in a charming, intimate setting. Of course it also helps that there’s more than 140 wines available by the glass, bottle and ounce. Performers entertain on a nearby stage that is close enough to see and hear, but far enough away so the sound isn’t overbearing. The restaurant is open for lunch, dinner and brunch on the weekends. If you go for dinner, time your meal so you’re there at sunset for the best view and so the sun isn’t blinding you as it sets. The menu includes small plates, cheese and charcuterie, family style plates and desserts. All you dole whip fans, you’ll definitely want to order the Frozcato mimosa made with dole whip pineapple. It’s only on the brunch menu, but you can get it anytime.
Recommended for Best Restaurants for Fall because: The upstairs terrace is the place to escape, yet still enjoy the commotion of Disney Springs. People watch, listen to music and enjoy a delicious meal.
Michelle’s expert tip: Have your wine questions ready! Master sommelier, George Miliotes, is often seen milling around his restaurant interacting with diners.
Looking for a restaurant that has it all: impeccable service, outstanding food and drinks and spectacular view? Look no further. Capa is the place to book for special occasions or whenever you want to treat yourself. There are two large outdoor terraces that offer views of the resort’s gorgeous grounds. During a certain point in the evening, turn your head one direction and you’ll see fireworks for Magic Kingdom. Turn your head another direction and you’ll see Epcot’s nighttime spectacular. All this while dining on everything from caviar (starting at $172 an ounce) to A-5 Wagyu beef ($32 an ounce). There also are plenty of small plates and tapas starting at $5. Don’t let the “fanciness” deter you from brining your children. There is a children’s menu and the staff goes out of their way to accommodate the little ones.
Recommended for Best Restaurants for Fall because: Of course, body-warming red wine is fabulous for fall, but Luisa’s Cellar is a coffee shop, too, so get your pumpkin latte on!
A.D.’s expert tip: This rooftop restaurant on the 17th floor of the Four Seasons Orlando gives the quintessential view of fireworks from Walt Disney World theme parks.