I needed to get away from winter in Toronto: I knew that for a fact. The where was proving to be a bigger problem. Where could I go for a quick weekend getaway with a short, direct flight from Buffalo to find warmth, sun and poolside bevies? The answer was surprising: my mom suggested a city that I never thought would escape her lips: Orlando.
Long story short, Orlando is where we headed. My mom, my sister Bridget and I decided to pack our bags and jet off to the Waldorf Astoria in sunny Orlando to escape the winter blues. Beforehand, I tried to research some delicious food spots, but to my dismay, I wasn’t coming across much.
And I know what you’re about to say: “Kelly, we’re talking about Orlando here. It’s a tourist mecca; a chain-addicted city. Of course there aren’t going to be amazing foodie spots.” And yes, you’re right, for the most part. But that’s also why I decided to write this blog post: I hope to help someone else who loves good food as much as I do out there, someone who is heading to Orlando in hopes of finding a good meal… someone who doesn’t have to resort to one of the “Orlando’s Top Ten” lists I found, littered with chain names like Ruby Tuesday’s. And I’m not a chain snob… it just wasn’t what I was looking for. I was looking to R&R&E (Read, Relax and Eat)!
So here is a list of where we went, what we experienced and if I’d recommend it.
Let’s call it “Orlando for Food Loving Adults.“
1- Aquamarine- First lunch was at the pool bar at the Waldorf. We were all thoroughly impressed with the size of the feta in the Greek salad!
2- Deep Blu Grille- Dinner on our first night was the best meal of the trip. We headed over to the Wyndham Grand to check out the Deep Blu Grille, which was voted by Orlando Magazine as one of the best restaurants in Orlando, and boy were they right. Check out some of our amazing dishes in the photos below, but here are the Coles notes:
- Their crab cakes won best app in the city two years in a row. I have never had crab cakes so beautifully crafted in my life!
- The Chef is also a Top Chef Orlando winner.
- I am not a sushi person but the sushi bar was impressive and was enjoyed thoroughly by mom and Bridget.
- The Mahi Mahi was superb
- The service was impeccable
- Please get the scallops. Just do it.
- The shrimp in the jumbo shrimp cocktail were practically the size of my hand. Need I say more?
- Bottom line: everyone must go here.
3- Oscars- Breakfast at the Waldorf was dynamite, and although I am not typically a buffet person, it is definitely the way to go. Everything is fresh and delicious and the options are plentiful.
4- Bull and Bear- Our second evening was spent sipping on wine and chewing on skilfully marinated steaks at Bull and Bear, the renowned restaurant in the Waldorf Astoria. The food was divine; I highly recommend the corn chowder and lobster bisque to start. Bridget and I split an incredible two person filet mignon and had tasty seasoned mushrooms to boot. The only thing that made this experience lacking is the overly-helpful wait staff. It was an overwhelming experience, especially for someone like me who has a nut allergy. There were just far too many servers and people checking in on us that it got to be too much. It really took away from the overall experience and we found ourselves wishing we were back at Deep Blu Grille.
5- Wolfgang Puck’s Grand Café In Downtown Disney– I’ll admit it: going to Downtown Disney was my fault. I thought it would be way cooler than it was and dragged my mom and sister in a cab and off to the unknown. It was just like Clifton Hill in Niagara Falls, but with Palm Trees and noisier. We picked Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant because we wanted something casual. I had eaten at one of his restaurants before in Vegas and it was okay, so I thought we would be fine. It was our worst dining experience of the trip; the food wasn’t tasty and the service was horrible. But then again, since it is such a touristy spot, I don’t know what the alternative would have been… Fulton’s Crab House maybe? Or an Irish pub that a guy at our hotel recommended?
Other “Adults Doing Orlando“ ideas:
Other than the amazing Waldorf Astoria spa, the only other thing we did besides lying by the pool and working out was shop. If you are in Orlando and it isn’t for a Disney vacation with kids, I would definitely recommend checking out both the spa and the Outlets. The Waldorf was one of the nicest hotels I have ever stayed at. The service was off the charts, and our overall experience was phenomenal.
Note: We were there for a relaxing vacation and then plan was to lay low. So we didn’t have an event-based trip like a lot of others may want. There are a ton of different bars and things to do in Down town Disney like Cirque De Soleil and the giant AMC cinemas, so take those options into consideration for your own trip.
For more food reco’s see below:
(Shoutout to Lauren Shum who found this awesome Orlando food reco list for me): http://www.orlandomagazine.com/Orlando-Magazine/May-2013/2013-Dining-Awards/
Places we didn’t make it too but sounded cool:
– Pio Pio for rotisserie chicken (their speciality)
– Ossorio Bakery & Cafe in Cocoa Village apparently has great breakfast with yummy bread and homemade ice cream. Obama even ate there once.
– A Shake Shack is opening. So all the New Yorker snowbirds can feel at home. YUM!
– The Ravenous Pig www.theravenouspig.com
– Cocina 214 www.cocina214.com
– Agave Azul www.agaveazulorlando.com
– Tijuana Flats www.tijuanaflats.com
Hope this helps anyone heading to Orlando without kids, or even with kids and in search of some quality eats!