Where to Dine
Jiko – The Cooking Place, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
By the time you arrive at Jiko in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, you’re already in the safari mood. Set within a thatched roof lodge with views of animals grazing just beyond the floor-to-ceiling windows, the African savannah feels close. By the time the fragrant smells of African spices waft through, you’re truly transported. The seasonal menu offers a mix of brick-oven-fired flatbreads and oak-grilled steaks, alongside a large selection of wines that represent the regions of South Africa. Subtle lighting invokes the warm tones of an African sunset, and the open-show kitchen puts the culinary wizardry of chefs on full display.
Tom + Chee
Sometimes what you really want is a sandwich you’d create if you were in your own kitchen. What’s a kitchen-less tourist to do? Tom + Chee to the rescue. This unique restaurant in Orlando offers a selection of sandwiches that sound like the sort of thing a creative teen might come up with on the fly. They also sound delicious. Case in point: The crunchy garlic chicken sandwich boasts kettle chips, and grilled-cheese donuts—a delicacy of Tom + Chee’s own creation—comes in flavors like “bananarama” and “choco bacon bliss.” This quirky and unique restaurant in Orlando is located in the Crossroads Plaza right outside of Disney, and offers a great price-break from in-park offerings.
Tapa Toro, I-Drive 360
They’ll have you at “nightly Flamenco dancer,” but that’s not the only reason to visit this unique restaurant in Orlando. Tapa Toro’s commitment to authenticity means that 60 percent of its ingredients are imported directly from Spain—including the Iberian ham and manchego cheese you’ll find on the tapas menu. If you’ve got a larger group, book into the 12-person paella pit and watch as your dinner is prepared right before your eyes. And if you’re a party of two, a table further into the restaurant can net you another surprise: The art on the walls comes to life. But blink and you’ll miss it—and wonder if you imagined the handsome matador painting you could have sworn was on the wall only moments before.
Ace Café Orlando
Gear heads with a passion for bikes, cars, and rock and roll will love this place. The only North American location of the UK motor-themed café is in Orlando. Alongside the vehicles—in and outside of the restaurant—you’ll find delicious menu items and cool concepts. Billed as having “creative comfort food,” the gastropub offers everything from bangers and mash and chicken curry to blackened fish tacos and bread pudding, all in sizeable portions. Coming in for brunch? Catch a cab: Bottomless mimosas are paired with the gourmet spread.
The Vegan Hot Dog Cart
The most unique restaurants in Orlando come about out of creative passion that fills a void in the culinary scene. The Vegan Hot Dog Cart is no exception. The 100 percent vegan cart serves up late-night hot dogs from its home base in the downtown core. Looking for more plant-based goodness? Check out its full-service restaurant at Market on South.
Café Tu Tu Tango
Art meets dinner at Café Tu Tu Tango. The unique restaurant in Orlando invites local artists into the restaurant to paint and display their art. And its not just painters—the bohemian feel of the restaurant is accentuated by wandering dancers, singers, and colorful dinner plates. The tapas-style menu makes it easy to graze and browse the artists’ wares in between courses; you can even purchase a one-of-a-kind souvenir to take home.
Sharks Underwater Grill, SeaWorld Orlando
If nibbling on flounder while sharks swim by isn’t your idea of a good time, this spot might not be for you. But if you can get past that (maybe order the filet mignon, instead?), the chance to dine with a window into the world of these incredible underwater predators is an opportunity you won’t want to pass up. Reservations are recommended for this full-service lunch and dinner spot.