Photo by: Jon Whittle
- There's a vibrant culinary scene percolating in Orlando with chef-driven restaurants making news. One of the top stops is the Ravenous Pig (theravenouspig.com), where co-chefs James and Julie Petrakis demonstrate their passion for food with their gastropub fare. Don’t miss the lobster tacos with pickled jalapeño or the duo of tomato soup and thick grilled cheese. Come on a night when the succulent pork belly is on the menu, and you’ll score a really great meal. Warm wood and brick walls make for a friendly publike ambience.
- In the College Park neighborhood, James Beard-nominated chef Kevin Fonzo runs his popular K Restaurant (kwinebar.com) in an old house. Dine on the big wooden porch or in the dining room, where contemporary meets traditional. His menu is a combination of ancestral Italian recipes, like penne alla vodka with chili-spiked tomato vodka cream sauce, as well as creative American dishes, including his signature porcini-crusted filet mignon.
- Chef Norman Van Aken serves his New World cuisine (the style brings flavors from Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa and Asia together) at Norman’s (normans.com) at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes. Traditional elegance — towering wine racks and Old World décor — makes this a stunning setting. The menu, under the direction of chef Brandon Benack, features yucca-stuffed shrimp with sour orange mojo and Rioja-braised short ribs. Very upscale and posh — it is the Ritz after all.
- Luma on Park (lumaonpark.com) is where chef Brandon McGlamery presents his ever- changing menu in a sophisticated setting of dramatic floor-to-ceiling windows, full draperies and mood lighting that attracts Orlando’s trendiest diners. McGlamery has an affinity for sustainable seafood, so his unique fish selections are highly recommended. Cocoa Beach cobia with apple-tangerine chutney and local flounder with cabbage clam chowder awaken the taste buds. The seats at the bar overlooking the open kitchen are some of the best in the whole house.