Central Florida is starting to make a name for itself as a top culinary destination, with many well-known chefs opening restaurants in the areas around the attractions and beyond. If you’re looking to have the full foodie experience, be prepared to visit a variety of locations. Central Florida’s celebrity chefs have restaurants in upscale hotels, theme parks and classic homes scattered around the area, offering everything from standard Italian fare to modern flavor fusions. Here are some of the locations you have to try before you can call yourself a Central Florida restaurant connoisseur.
La Luce by Donna Scala
Any tour of Orlando’s best celebrity chef eateries has to include a stop at La Luce, which offers fine Italian dining in a sophisticated setting. Tucked in the Hilton, the restaurant still honors the vision of its late founder, serving classic Italian comfort food made with fresh, quality ingredients. The extensive wine list and sumptuous desserts make the perfect complement to any menu items you order.
Wolfgang Puck Grand Café by Wolfgang Puck
The name alone is reason enough, but if you need more convincing, the location in Downtown Disney makes the Grand Cafe perfect for people watching or grabbing a bite before hitting the clubs on a Saturday night. For sushi lovers, there is a full menu to choose from, while superfans of the chef can taste some of the California-inspired cuisine Puck has served the rich and famous.
Emeril’s Tchoup Chop by Emeril Lagasse
Louisiana’s favorite son has two restaurants in the Universal Resorts area, and both serve food with his signature spicy style. Tchoup Chop, located at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort, features food that takes inspiration from the South Pacific just like the surroundings. Polynesian style combined with Cajun spices makes these dishes interesting for the eye and the palate.
1921 By Norman Van Aken
It’s not within the city limits, but it’s well worth the drive out to Mount Dora to eat at the chef’s newest spot. Funkier than the Ritz-Carlton Orlando, where the chef became a Central Florida fixture, the restaurant is the newest life of a house built in 1921. Accented with art from the art of Modernism Museum, the space serves the New World Cuisine Van Aken is legendary for pioneering.
The Ravenous Pig: An American Gastropub by James and Julie Petrakis
In Winter Park, James Beard award nominees James and Julie Petrakis are part of a new, younger generation of chefs gaining acclaim. With seasonal roasts and rotating craft beers on tap, the eatery elevates pub food to a heavenly level. The Ravenous Pig has gourmet food in a casual atmosphere, making it perfect for a Sunday stop in or a weekday happy hour.
Eating your way through the best restaurants in Orlando and the surrounding area can take some time, and with more famous chefs opening restaurants in the area, the list of places you must visit just keeps getting longer.