10 Orlando Locals’ Restaurants You Must Try

Orlando , Eating and Drinking
Outside of a restaurant where there are bushes to the left of a terrace are, with American circular flags and a black cover over the area. The building is orange/red.
By AttractionTickets.com’s Florida Experts, Susan and Simon Veness
You won’t find these in the tourist areas, but they are all well worth seeking out for a real local dining experience.

When it comes to food, Orlando has got everything you could possibly want, in spades. The main tourist areas are packed with tempting choices, from Michelin-starred fine dining to all the fast food choices you could imagine.

The theme parks certainly do their bit these days to keep visitors well fed, and the areas around them are suitably bulging with ways to satisfy your tastebuds.

But there is also another array of options, off the beaten tourist track for most, but well worth seeking out if you are looking for that something different factor, and especially the real locals’ choices when it comes to dining out.

Outside of a restroom with grey brick terrace and people sat beneath red umbrellas. There is a wooden sign which says Santiago's Bodega in black.


They also run the gamut of fast to fine, and just about everything in between, so get ready for a real rollicking restaurant extravaganza. We haven’t done this for a while, so here are our current Top 10:


Beefy King: If all the fast food options seem dull or passe, head to North Bumby Avenue in downtown Orlando’s thriving Milk District (so named for the TG Lee Dairy, which opened in 1925). Sliced beef sandwiches are their stock in trade – think Arby’s only meatier – but they also offer turkey, ham and pastrami, as well as some superb shakes and their own version of the tater tot, known as Beefy Spuds. Now, is that something you can turn down?

Paper white plate with tater tots on and a burger bun with pulled pork/beef inside with a white sauce. In the background there is a white cup.


Yellow Dog Eats: When it comes to eclectic, it’s hard to beat this sandwich specialist in the tiny suburb of Gotha, not far from Disney, but you’ve really got to be looking for it. Dating back to 1998, and located in the historic Brockman House from 1910, this is the place to come for smokin’ barbecue sandwiches, imaginative salads and tempting desserts. A kind of offbeat deli, Yellow Dog smokes all of its succulent meats in-house and serves them up with plenty of panache. 

Se7en Bites: Another eatery located in the heart of the Milk District, this is the place to come for breakfast. And brunch. And lunch. Until 3pm (3.30 Thur and Fri). Specialising in Southern comfort food – notably Chicken & Biscuits, Buttermilk Pancakes, Meatloaf Sandwich and Chicken Pot Pie – their signature Vanilla Bean Bourbon Bacon Nighttime SkyPie is worth coming in for on its own, but beware: It usually sells out each day (NB: The restaurant is closed Mon-Wed).

Woman with red hair stood holding pie in front of building with yellow and black art piece painted on side of woman holding a steaming hot pie.


Santiago’s Bodega: Get ready for a genuine tapas experience at this delightful indoor/outdoor restaurant that offers true tastes of Spain. Originally from Key West, the Orlando location in Ivanhoe Village (just north of Downtown) is a phenomenon all of its own, with two daily Happy Hours, lively bar scene and superb open air patio. The food is as good as the setting, too, with excellent soups, salads and hot and cold tapas. Come in for Weekend Brunch and you will have discovered a rare local gem. You’re welcome!

Hamilton’s Kitchen: For a more upscale and distinctive experience, head to East New England Avenue in Winter Park (the city suburb to the north of Orlando), where The Alfond Inn has this classic Floridian dining experience as its flagship restaurant. Ideal for a leisurely lunch or special occasion dinner, it also features a highly recommended brunch menu (voted the best in Winter Park, which is no mean feat) that offers the likes of French Toast, Eggs Benedict and Shrimp & Grits, all with top chef flair. 

Large burger full of puller pork, bacon and a red sauce served in metal tray.


Maxine’s On Shine: Touting itself as Orlando’s favourite neighbourhood restaurant (tucked away in a residential part of downtown), Maxine’s is all that, and a lot more. Owners Kirt and Maxine have invested much of their quirky personalities into the style and décor, but the food remains the standout item, especially for their hugely popular weekend Rejuicination Brunch (Fri-Sun, 10am-3pm, reservations usually required). Omelettes are a real delicacy, as are the Fried Green Tomatoes and Crab Cakes. 


Little Saigon: A little-known part of Orlando for visitors is its Vietnamese community, which is centred around Colonial Drive and Mills Avenue in the Mills 50 district of downtown. Here in Little Vietnam, as it is still mostly known to locals, you’ll find this 1970s original that brings all the flavours and delicacies of south-east Asia to Central Florida. The noodle and rice dishes are all well worth trying, while the fish and prawn soups are positively divine, and all at relatively modest prices.

Long wooden table with black stool chairs in modern restaurant, with a waitress stood in the background and a clear into a kitchen, where a chef is stood.


Domu: Ask anyone in the Audubon Park Garden District for the best restaurant in Orlando and most will tell you it’s Domu, a relatively plain but flavour-packed noodle specialist tucked away in the trendy East End Market on Corrine Drive (but also newly open in the Dr Phillips area and in Jacksonville). All the noodles are made fresh in-house, and you choose from one of 12 main ramen choices and add any of 20-plus extras, such as fried tofu, Thai basil and Kimchi. This was the formula that earned it a Michelin Guide Bon Gourmand rating for great taste at a good price.

Nile Ethiopian: The only restaurant of our locals’ selection that you’ll find in genuine tourist territory is this true African taste sensation located in an undistinguished side plaza off busy International Drive. Don’t let the plain situation put you off, though. Nile Ethiopian serves up the kind of flavour-packed feast that regularly picks up foodie awards, and the warm, inviting interior is just the thing for creating a special occasion meal. Take your pick from authentic lamb, beef, chicken and vegetarian options, and, even if you’re not a vegetarian, the Gomen (a collard greens stew) is an outstanding choice.

Have you tried any of our Terrific Ten? Tell us about your experiences on the friendly Attraction Tickets Community Facebook page, on Twitter or Instagram.


Orlando , Eating and Drinking