Emeril's Restaurant Orlando
Plucky, ubiquitous, Louisiana-based chef and TV star Emeril Lagasse oversees this warehouse-like restaurant in CityWalk, where—despite the prices, some of the highest in the area—the tables are always packed. The draw is Emeril’s hearty New Orleans–style fare; though the menu changes several times a year, dishes like braised short ribs with celery purée and double-cut pork chops with caramelized sweet potatoes are perennial crowd-pleasers. Regardless of what you order, start your meal with a bowl of thick seafood-and-andouille gumbo: it’s the real deal.
Tip: Eight lucky patrons (who’ve booked weeks ahead) can sit at the bar of the open kitchen and watch chefs work.
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Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.