It’s the most wonderful time of the year… for foodies! Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month (MDM) has arrived and epicureans throughout Central Florida can satisfy their cravings August 23 through September 30, 2019. This year’s celebration includes a record-breaking number of participating restaurants, with over 120 chef-curated menus. For just $35 per person, diners can relish a three-course prix-fixe dinner at some of Orlando’s tastiest places. For gastronomes with specific diets, there are ample choices to please vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free needs; simply set the diet filter in the online search to explore options. And, as an added bonus, $1 from every meal served is donated to charity.

After a delicious meal, why not stay to play nearby? Here are perfectly paired itineraries to add a little more local flavor to your Magical Dining experience.

(Photo Courtesy of SeaWorld Orlando)

1. Enzo’s Hideaway and Disney Springs

I will forever champion Disney Springs as a hotspot for any day or evening occasion. There’s always a plethora of versatile activities happening in this magical atmosphere, ideal for date night, group gathering or family fun with impeccable service to boot.

(Photo Courtesy of Walt Disney World Resort)

One of my favorite spots is Enzo’s Hideaway Tunnel and Bar, which gives a nod to the speakeasy trend (although no password is required), located in the underpass of Maria & Enzo’s restaurant. You’ll feel like you’ve been transported to a different time and place. Begin this MDM feast with the Misticanza Salad. This palate pleaser is crisp and fresh, featuring mixed baby greens, fennel, rainbow carrots, apple and white balsamic vinaigrette. You’ll have plenty of room left in your belly to indulge with a hearty Roman-style entrée (like the robust Eggplant Enzo) and a dessert (like the Enzo Torta, a mascarpone cheesecake with blueberries).

Before or after you dine, take in the sights, shopping and entertainment including free performances happening throughout the ever-evolving Disney Springs. You’ll also find bowling, movies and, for a moderately priced activity, the chance to take to the skies on the Aerophile balloon flight for breathtaking views. Or, go big by taking a drive straight into the surrounding waterways via a vintage amphicar. It’s truly an unforgettable experience.

Also try these MDM restaurants at Disney Springs:

  • Jaleo – Tapas and paellas by accredited chef Jose Andres.
  • Morimoto Asia – Iron Chef Morimoto’s first pan-Asian restaurant with a posh overtone.
  • Paddlefish – Riverboat dining with a rooftop lounge and award-winning seafood.
  • STK – This fine dining establishment is modern both in dishes and décor.
  • Terralina – With sweeping views of Lake Buena Vista, this Italian eatery is reminiscent of Italy’s Lake District.
  • The Edison – Family friendly, classic American fare by day and fun for patrons 21+ after 10 pm all in an industrial 1920s atmosphere.

2. Sharks Underwater Grill and SeaWorld Orlando

Sharks Underwater Grill, located within SeaWorld Orlando, is semi-upscale dining with up-close views of sharks, fish and sea life galore. Seated beside a large aquarium wall, diners can appreciate that the seafood served at this establishment is 100% sustainable. The MDM menu features three starter choices, including Lobster Bisque with chunks of lobster; four entrée dishes, including Grilled Swordfish, Cajun Seafood Pasta, Filet Mignon and Chicken Mushroom; and two dessert options: Florida Key Lime Pie and Cabernet Chocolate Cake.

(Photo Courtesy of SeaWorld Orlando)

Surprisingly, you can dive right into the seafood spread at Sharks Underwater Grill without paying park admission! Guests are escorted into the park for their reservation and, then, invited to walk off the catch of the day until park closing. To plunge into this deal, reservations must be made between 3 pm and restaurant closing; call (407) 363-2591 or email SharksOnlineReservations@seaworld.com. Be sure to mention you’d like to participate in the Magical Dining menu. Note: This offer is valid for parties up to eight guests.

Following a big meal and big thrills, relax with a staycation at DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel at SeaWorld. Aside from being the largest DoubleTree in the world, this property is an official SeaWorld Partner Hotel. Guests enjoy exclusive benefits, including free quick queue, priority entry (on select days), discounted pricing on dining and merchandise and more.

3. Prato and Glow-in-the-Dark Kayaking

Located on Park Avenue, Prato is airy with a communal vibe due largely to the open bar and wall of windows overlooking the beautiful patio. Their Italian plates are created using modern techniques and seasonal ingredients to achieve quality freshness and taste. The artichoke ravioli and chocolate torte are stand-outs on this year’s MDM menu. While these selections and others showcased on the prix-fixe menu are mouthwatering, keep in mind that their choices may change at times because everything is sourced seasonally fresh.

Take a short five minute drive from Prato to Dinky Dock Park to make a splash with “Glow-in-the-Dark” kayaking by Get Up and Go Kayaking. During this two-hour guided trek, you’ll glide along three lakes on Winter Park’s Chain of Lakes in a clear kayak decked out with LED lighting. Pssst… you get to choose your color illumination! This extraordinary opportunity allows you to see the aquatic life attracted to brightly colored lights swimming all around you. The tour requires reservations and sets sail after 9 pm. Tickets start at $55 per person.

4. DoveCote Restaurant and Epic Axe Throwing

From Italy to France, DoveCote Restaurant is a French-inspired locale with comforting cuisine providing an exceptional escapade for your palate. This downtown hotspot boasts an elegant motif for an enjoyable meal out. The MDM menu includes salad, soup, risotto, pork, salmon, beef short ribs and crème brulee. Word is, once you’ve tasted the vanilla crème brulee, you won’t be able to stop until the last drop!

(Photo Courtesy of DoveCote Restaurant)

Take a two-minute drive or, better yet, a brisk walk to Epic Axe Throwing for an exhilarating endeavor. The adrenaline rush from throwing an axe and actually making it stick to the wooden target is remarkable. An axe coach will gladly assist you with technique and things to know before letting you bravely take a stab at it. And when you hit that bullseye, let pride bellow out with a big, “YEAH BABY!” Bookings can be made for groups of four or more. If you have less than four in your party, it’s walk-in only. Pricing is $25 per person for one hour; groups of six or more can schedule two-hour sessions for $39.50 per person.

5. Pharmacy and Escape Room

This pairing is all about sleuthing out your evening on Restaurant Row. Located inside The Dellagio, seek out an unidentified elevator in an unpretentious hallway. Push the green button and “open sesame,” you’ve located Pharmacy, a speakeasy taking you back to the prohibition era. The elixirs from behind the bar are handcrafted and come with optional tinctures and mixes to add to any drink for whatever may ail you. Prescriptions from the kitchen on the MDM menu include a wide range of options to cure all (your cravings, that is). All ingredients are made from local, sustainable and organic foods. Try the Tang Fried Chicken appetizer with sesame, scallions and lime. It’s a staple in their fluctuating menu. Pick one of four entrée choices – Local Fish Bouillabaisse, Trio of Beef Face Meat Corn Tacos, Ropa Vieja or Roasted Eggplant Napoleon with Three Cheese – but, without a doubt, don’t pass up the unique Passion Fruit Tiramisu for dessert

(Photo Courtesy of Pharmacy)

Stealthily head to Escape Game Orlando on International Drive for an hour-long quest into an immersive story using all five of your senses. Your team (two to eight people) will pick a mission, watch a brief video and then overcome challenges to successfully complete the trying tale. There are six themes to choose from: Gold Rush, Mission: Mars, Playground, The Heist, Special Ops: Mysterious Market and Prison Break. Will you make it out on time? Find out by snagging tickets ($34.99 per person).

6. Chroma Modern Bar + Kitchen and Lake Nona Adventure Park

Lake Nona is an up-and-coming area on the outskirts of Orlando. It’s quickly becoming a local favorite with an abundance of restaurants and activities opening regularly. Chroma Modern Bar + Kitchen is just that — a colorful and modern establishment. Its bold atmosphere married with bold culinary flavors are uniquely distinction, with photo-worthy spaces and edibles that’ll keep your social media feed tasteful in every sense. Chroma is known for small plates exploding with big flavors, and the MDM menu is no exception. Their limited-time offering allows you to pick two appetizers (yes, double the delish), a main course and one mini dessert. Try the Guava and Goat Cheese Flatbread with speck ham, marcona almonds and red sorrel as a first plate; followed by the Crab Cake entrée topped with mango salsa, crispy panko and cilantro; and, for your last bite, dig into the butterscotch pudding.

(Photo Courtesy of Chroma Modern Bar + Kitchen)

It’s a short jaunt from Chroma to Nona Adventure Park where the fun possibilities are endless. This mecca of amusement is home to a cable park for boarding and skiing excitement, an aqua park floating atop the water allowing you to feel like a kid again and a tower ropes course for those looking to soar to new heights. Prices vary by activity and required gear; though an all park day pass is $85 excluding equipment rentals, and monthly and annual passes are also available. Do note that Nona Adventure Park closes at 8 pm so plan this MDM pairing accordingly.

More MDM Eat & Play Pairings:

  • Head to Tapa Toro for a tapas bar and paella pit. Enjoy ICON Park by riding The Wheel, walking the red carpet with the stars at Madame Tussauds and exploring the deep sea at Sea Life Orlando Aquarium.
  • Time spent at Pointe Orlando is a sure-proof way to have a good time. Dine on Cuban edibles at Cuba Libre Restaurant and Rum Bar before heading to one of the attractions at this entertainment center, like Nomadic VR, Improv Orlando or Main Event Entertainment.
  • Enjoy dinner and a show without ever leaving your seat at Mango’s Tropical Café. Allow your taste buds to feast upon Latin bites while your eyes feast upon dazzling dancers and sensational singers.

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