Whats hot for Spring? Check out 10 of Orlandos hottest new eateries
Sometimes Spring is something you taste: radish, asparagus, tomatoes, sweet corn. Other times, it’s an essence, a tip in the weather scales that in places like Orlando, moves the thermostat from boots weather to beach weather in what feels like a blink. Similarly, spring menus feature fresh, local produce and often, vibrant places with outdoor spaces where locals look to warm up after an Arctic blast pushes our overnight temps dangerously close to freezing.
The views, of course, are varied. Over at Susuru, you can dine amid retro Japanese pop-culture and enjoy anime-inspired drinks topped with clouds of cotton candy. In Lake Nona, Boxi Park‘s new collection of eateries housed in shipping containers combine a food-truck vibe with one of your favorite outdoor live music venues. And in historic Lake Eola Heights, a friendly corner grocery isn’t just where you can pick up farm fresh eggs, but stock a picnic basket with wine, cheese, sandwiches and perhaps even a booze-infused popsicle for dessert!
The Sanctum is among Orlando’s top choices for vegan and vegetarian dining, so when its owners announced plans for a new upscale concept in Winter Park, those with plant-based preferences kept their organic ears to the ground. Now, its doors (and thusly its kitchen) are open and scratch-made delights including fancy plant-based charcuterie platters with cashew cheeses and tasty sourdough flatbreads are treating vegans and vegetarians who are tired of salad-based options to a colorful array of options. What’s more, organic coffee, juices and wine/beer/kombucha are also on its menu. Happy hour goes from 3-5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, and with it comes a whole new menu of light, fun bites.
Recommended for Best Restaurants for Spring because: Proper & Wild’s upscale and largely plant-based menu will pique vegans and vegetarians with truly unique and impressive offerings that stray way beyond good salad.
A.D.’s expert tip: The shiitake skillet, with its creamy, tofu-based ricotta, showcases how diverse and surprisingly decadent plant-based eating can be.
Sanford is no slouch when it comes to dens of the drink, but the Sullivan is a primo addition, a pub in the traditional sense, where family is welcome, a generous portion of fish comes with a generous portion of chips and music is often of the order. Its truly beautiful and intricately carved bar and pressed tin ceiling help to create that across-the-pond vibe, while tap-pours such as Guinness and Magner’s – along with tasty Scotch eggs, Shepherd’s pie and bangers and mash – seal the deal. A nice place for a cold one – or a warm, cozy dinner with the family. Just like a pub should be
Recommended for Best Restaurants for Spring because: In a jewel that’s already well-equipped in the bar department, the Sullivan adds a brilliant new facet with its authentic Irish pub atmosphere.
A.D.’s expert tip: Check the Sullivan’s Facebook page to see who’s playing, then come in to discover all the trad Irish talent this fair city offers!
Chef Ryan Manning cut his professional teeth, in part, in the kitchens of Orlando – Disney and the Ritz-Carlton, for example – but it was the time he spent working in Mexico that truly fed his culinary soul. So, he came back to the city he loved, opened a tiny taco palace in the Milk District, and promptly began making a name for himself. MX Taco features the foods of modern and pre-Hispanic Mexico – cochinita pibil, carnitas, mole and more – in friendly environs. Like it spicy? They also make three kinds of hot sauce you’ll want to sample!
Recommended for Best Restaurants for Spring because: MX Taco’s an exciting addition to Orlando’s Mexican offerings, one where flavor comes at reasonable prices (and within walking distance of choice MD watering holes).
A.D.’s expert tip: Holy, mole! You’ve got to try this tender chicken infused with relatively mild, but flavorful, poblano peppers.
Egg sandwiches in the morning, meatball parm in the afternoon or evening and hey – if there’s no room for cannoli, just take some home. Staples of the Italian pantry are available at this Milk District deli, where varied pronunciations of words like “mozzarella” and “capicola” (you can call it “coppa” for short) are as common as full, sated bellies. Ideal for dine-in, take-out or embellishment of your cupboard stores, Stasio’s also has a coffee counter at which you can grab cappuccinos and the like along with bakery items for enjoyment on site or off. Advice to those popping in for supplies: come on an empty stomach, you’ll likely end up eating something anyway.
Recommended for Best Restaurants for Spring because: Whether you call it a sub, hoagie, grinder or in this native New Yorker’s (correct) option, hero, Stasio’s is a great place to
A.D.’s expert tip: You’re at an Italian deli, so unless there’s a compelling reason to avoid fatty, salty sliced meats (I mean, why’d you even come?!) go for the Stasio – their house-named take on an Italian hero.
Jose Andres has become synonymous with fine Spanish cuisine throughout his storied career and early in March of 2019 opened his fifth and largest Jaleo location at Disney Springs. An extensive tapas menu that mines the diversity of Spain’s cuisine is on deck for adventurous samplers in the mood for a shared experience and sumptuous paellas (allow 45 minutes for their preparation) are doubtless a highlight. Highlights such a hand-carved Jamon Iberico de Bellota and classic Pollo croquetas (chicken fritters), among other delicacies, will doubtless prove popular.
Recommended for Best Restaurants for Spring because: Enjoy a delicious meal sitting outside while overlooking a lake and people watching at Disney Springs.
A.D.’s expert tip: Reservations! Jaleo is a new addition to Disney Springs and a popular one.
If the words “pub” and “Japanese” don’t jibe with you, they should. Susuru’s playful space – a geek-out opportunity for anime nerds, but just as charming for those simply looking for a fun place to get their food and drink on. Ramen and izakaya (Susuru means “slurp” in Japanese and izakaya a type of informal pub) gets top billing on the venue’s bright exterior and those noods are definitely worth ordering. In fact, they’re complemented by the noshier offerings, from chicken skin skewers to street corn. Instagrammable cocktails and boba drinks, many accented by kewpie babies and itty-bitty kaiju are a delight.
Recommended for Best Restaurants for Spring because: It’s light-hearted in spirit with a fun, spirited vibe that lures you in, but Susuru’s quality grub easily cashes the check its Instagram feed writes.
A.D.’s expert tip: Like an extra kick in your cocktail? Try the Urama Rita, made with sake, mango, lime, and sriracha, rimmed with a spicy sesame mix!
New from the minds (and kitchen skills) behind the Milk District’s ridiculously successful Se7en Bites southern-style bakery and must-do brunch spot: Sette, a cozy Ivanhoe Village bistro of the Italian stripe. The small menu is something of a blessing, lest you spent too much time lingering over craft cocktails and endless options to make your final selection. We’d recommend dining with partners who don’t mind a shareable tapas experience sans tapas! Among the goodies: a sausage and blistered grapes appetizer, clam linguini, chicken cacciatore (with thighs – the only way!) and a unique brand of arancini (rice balls) that feature fig, gorgonzola and pancetta crumble.
Recommended for Best Restaurants for Spring because: Orlando foodies have been patiently waiting for Chef Trina’s latest venture to open; it’s one of Spring’s hottest venues for sure. Buon appetito!
A.D.’s expert tip: As the folks here are the same behind one of the city’s best bakeries (Se7en Bites), plan to save room for dessert.
Orlando was an early and enthusiastic adopter of food truck culture, and A La Cart capitalizes on the locals’ desire for fast, fresh and unique mobile offerings – while giving them the comfort and security of a single location in which they can camp out comfortably. No need for lawn chairs at A La Cart, a social dining experience where multiple food vendors can ply their varied wares and customers can opt for covered indoor seating or a friendly and clean courtyard where they can enjoy fresh air, lawn darts, and even a frosty beverage off one of the bars multiple taps featuring beer, wine, cider and cold brew coffee.
Recommended for Best Restaurants for Spring because: There are multiple food options in an outdoor venue, perfect to enjoy spring weather and please various appetites.
A.D.’s expert tip: Want to make your social dining experience even more so? Check A La Cart’s even listings for movie and trivia nights!
Food to suit every person in your party. Live music. Adult beverages. Fresh air. In one of Orlando’s fastest growing communities. Boxi Park Lake Nona is a unique venue, where indie food purveyors ply their wares from shipping containers that now serve as mobile (well, fixed mobile, anyway) outdoor kitchens. Think food truck park, except the trucks are static. Cute names abound – from Claw & Order’s lobster-heavy menu to Fowl Play’s poultry delights to The Grill Next Door’s flame-kissed offerings – and so do bars, of which there are multiple options. Great for your pickiest pal and also fans of live music. Boxi Park features bands and DJs for its guests’ entertainment.
Recommended for Best Restaurants for Spring because: A collection of shipping containers morphs into something of a backyard barbecue at Boxi Park, with vendors to satisfy the adventurous and the picky.
A.D.’s expert tip: Hops & Vine’s beer is brewed across the way at Park Pizza & Brewing Company – and its seats are among the best from which to enjoy the live entertainment.
Oysters are known as an aphrodisiac, right? Test out the theory at one of central Florida’s newest upscale restaurants. New Standard opened in January 2020 and is a spot you’ll want to hit with your honey. This place doesn’t just have oysters. They have an oyster car, a gorgeous uplit piece of custom glass art filled with oysters that arrive fresh daily. The raw bar also features stone crab claws and ceviche. Chef Ryan McLaughlin’s menu includes loads of locally-sourced ingredients. If you aren’t able to make it for a romantic dinner, New Standard also serves brunch. No need to worry, oysters are on the brunch menu as well.
Recommended for Best Restaurants for Spring because: This Winter Park restaurant opened at the beginning of 2020. It has indoor and outdoor seating, great live music every night and fantastic food.
Michelle’s expert tip: Oysters may be the main attraction, but the menu has something for everyone from meat lovers to vegans.