12 Places to Stay, Eat & Shop In and Around Orlando
Disney's New Luxury: Four Seasons Orlando
Visitors staying overnight at Disney World can sleep everywhere from a faux-Polynesian village to a tent in a wilderness reserve stocked with armadillos. Until recently, however, they didn't have a true luxury hotel. That changed last August with the opening of the Four Seasons Orlando at Walt Disney World. The hotel winks at Disney history: To get to the lobby coffee bar and its Japanese-style cold-brew machine, guests must pass minimalist white sculptures of crowns reminiscent of Sleeping Beauty's.
The juxtapositions continue at Capa, the modern Spanish steakhouse on the 17th floor. Easily one of the most ambitious restaurants in Orlando, it draws both visitors looking for a serious meal and those whose main goal is a prime view of the theme park's nightly fireworks. Overseeing the traditional Spanish wood-fired grills is chef Tim Dacey, a Florida native who helped open restaurants at New York City's Nomad and Wythe hotels. In addition to steakhouse classics like dry-aged beef and buttery potato puree, his menu includes a para picar (for the table) section of small snacks like deviled eggs spiced with vadouvan, and raciones like radishes with cold-smoked crème Fraîche. The cocktail list was created by Joe Cleveland, the gin expert at another notable Spanish restaurant, Michael Chiarello's Coqueta in San Francisco. 10100 Dream Tree Blvd.; fourseasons.com/orlando.
Smoky Brisket: 4 Rivers Smokehouse
As someone who needs barbecue on a regular basis, I've found the mini chain 4 Rivers in Winter Park to have the best in the region. These folks serve amazingly smoky and moist brisket and poultry, plus stunning St. Louis-style ribs. And recently, the Rivers family opened The Coop, a café serving Southern classics like shrimp and grits. —Andrew Zimmern
1600 W. Fairbanks Ave.; 4rsmokehouse.com.
Street-Food Spot: Hawkers Asian Street Fare
The food at this small, Formica-tiled Orlando space has lots of big flavors. Roti canai and laksa (Malaysian flatbread and curry), Canton noodles (right) and everything else I've tasted is shockingly good. —Andrew Zimmern
1103 N. Mills Ave.; facebook.com/hawkersstreetfare.
Gastropub Greatness: The Rusty Spoon
A proud torchbearer of Central Florida's food movement, Kathleen Blake hosts farm tours and changes her Orlando gastropub menu as often as O Town boy bands change their hairstyles. Recently, she's been serving charred squid and octopus with local watermelon and pickled vegetables. —Andrew Zimmern
55 W. Church St.; therustyspoon.com.
Vast Wine List: Luma on Park
At this restaurant in Winter Park, the menu is laser-focused and the wine cellar—7,000 bottles—is gigantic. Brandon McGlamery makes brandade from salt-cured grouper, then fries it churro-style with saffron; his banana pot de crème with milk jam is divine. —Andrew Zimmern
290 S. Park Ave.; lumaonpark.com.
Epic Cuban Menu: Black Bean Deli
Local wisdom holds that this Winter Park lunch spot (which just opened an Orlando outpost) serves the best fried plantains this side of Cuba. The cliché might be true. They also make a nice, thin Cuban sandwich and really tasty lechón (suckling pig) with garlicky mojo. —Andrew Zimmern
325 S. Orlando Ave., Winter Park; 1835 E. Colonial Dr., Orlando; blackbeandeli.com.
Fancy Ham and Biscuits: Cask & Larder
James and Julie Petrakis, the chef-owners of Winter Park's well-regarded The Ravenous Pig, offer fancy ham and biscuits and roast oysters with corn bread and sea urchin at this self-styled Southern public house. They make their own craft beer as well. —Andrew Zimmern
565 W. Fairbanks Ave.; caskandlarder.com.
Amazing Stationery: Rifle Paper Co. and Makr
Local Coffee Hangout: Barnie's Coffee
"It's the coffee shop where my creative circle hangs out," says Bond, who recommends finding a seat in the courtyard. The local chain roasts single-origin beans on-site, including a Tanzanian Peaberry blend grown in volcanic soil. 118 S. Park Ave., Winter Park; barniescoffeekitchen.com.
Indie Entrepreneurs: East End Market Area
This market is home to what Bond calls "the new indie businesses." Her favorite vendors include Kappo, a seven-seat Japanese restaurant that serves a short daily menu of omakase-style sushi and dishes like matsutake mushroom dashi. Lineage serves "the only coffee I've ever been able to drink black," says Bond. Walk two blocks over to check out local bands at Stardust Video and Coffee, a VHS rental store turned kitschy café. 3201 Corrine Dr., Orlando; eastendmkt.com; 1842 Winter Park Rd., Orlando; stardustvideoandcoffee.wordpress.com.
Films and Food: Enzian
Home to the Florida Film Festival, this independent theater (which shows new releases in addition to classics like Citizen Kane) is near the Maitland Art Center, a former artist colony, whose museum includes a Mayan-inspired chapel. Waiters from Enzian will deliver drinks and dishes like shrimp with green onion grits to your seat before the film starts. 1300 S. Orlando Ave., Maitland; enzian.org.
Craft Beer Expert: The Imperial
If you like the stool you're sitting on, you can take it home with you at this cheerfully cluttered furniture shop and bar, where the chairs and tables have price tags and the wine and beer list has about 85 options. "This shop has been around since I moved here, but I never went in until they partnered with a woodworking friend of mine to build a bar. They have a lot of great Florida craft beers, like ones from Cigar City Brewing in Tampa," says Bond. 1800 N. Orange Ave., Orlando; imperialwinebar.com.