Located along a stretch of Sand Lake Road in the Dr. Phillips neighborhood of Orlando, Restaurant Row is a concentrated strip of ─ you guessed it ─ restaurants. You’ll find much more than typical eats in this epicurean mecca, thanks to an assortment of upscale independent restaurants, high-end chains and casual-but-cultural eateries to satisfy every taste preference. The street has become a magnet for visitors and tourists alike hungry for innovative cookery. From aromas of saffron to freshly-caught fish to handcrafted cocktails, let your taste buds drive your Restaurant Row expedition.
RESTAURANT ROW EATS
Just a stone’s throw away from bustling I-drive and the convention center, but far enough from the touristy regions, Restaurant Row is the go-to spot for unparalleled ambience and fare. If you can’t decide where to dine ─ since there’s more than 20 superior selections ─ take a stroll through the Italian-influenced Dellagio Plaza or Venezia Plaza, and let Roman-inspired romance lull you to your next edible experience.
If you are craving oriental flavors and Eastern spices, feast at Rasa, which serves an eclectic mix of street food and signature dishes. With a unique menu of South Indian and Indo-Chinese flavors, dishes here will transport your taste buds to an aromatic spice market of far off lands. Plan to dine at Rasa with a large party and an empty belly; order fragrant plates for the whole table to share.
Though you don’t need a secret password to enter this speakeasy-style eatery, the entrance is a pinch tricky to find ─ discreetly hidden on the side of the Dellagio plaza. The search is worth it, however, for a throwback to the scandalous prohibition days. Drinks are referred to as “elixirs” and food as “prescriptions.” What better antidote to a day of exploring Orlando than with a strong liquid dose of cure-all? Everything on the menu is local, organic and sustainable, so you may very well leave Pharmacy feeling better than when you entered.
You’ll have a roarin’ good time at Urbain 40, a 1940s influenced brasserie and lounge. Live music drifts throughout the luxurious mahogany bar and dining room. Beneath mood lighting and walls covered with black and white photos of American icons (such as Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra), sink into conversation while dining on freshly-shucked oysters. Menu offerings are influenced by French, Italian and American cuisines, so everyone can find palate-pleasing dishes be it bouillabaisse, chicken parmigiana or a hearty barbecue burger.
There’s nothing more comforting than Italian staples like pizza, lasagna, gnocchi and spaghetti carbonara. Peperoncino specializes in these traditional Calabrese dishes and more, while adhering to the divine Italian tradition of cooking – i.e. only fresh, seasonal ingredients and everything made from scratch. This open concept restaurant offers a front row seat to the kitchen workings where dishes are prepared to order. Since you’re transporting your taste buds to Italy, stay awhile to enjoy a long scrumptious meal, nibble on antipasti, chat with friends and sip on Tuscan wine.
This chef driven restaurant serves up seasonal Italian-American favorites like wood-fired pizza, freshly-made pasta and an artisanal burger on a buttery brioche bun. The entire eatery oozes delectable intimacy, like dining at the chef’s own kitchen table. The hustle and bustle of Orlando simply melts away in Slate’s tranquil open-air dining room, overlooking a peaceful pond, fountain and garden.
With the namesake as a hint, it should come as no surprise that this innovative burger spot boasts an impressive array of whiskeys and bourbons. If it’s a pub atmosphere you’re after, choose The Whiskey as your go-to tavern. Though their menu is dominated by award-winning creative burger concoctions, you’ll miss out if you forgo ordering a few small plates for the table, like bourbon-tossed mussels or pork belly sliders.
Curb your carbon footprint by dining at Chatham’s Place, where deliciousness is sourced from the chef’s own private organic farm. More than just impeccably prepared food, Chatham’s Place delivers exemplary service for a truly seamless fine dining affair. The tinkling of jazz piano accompanies elegant white-linen environs and sets the stage for extraordinary dishes, like Florida black grouper and filet mignon. While Restaurant Row has welcomed many new and exciting places, Chatham’s Place has been serving the Dr. Phillips area for more than two decades! Some things, like flawless service and fresh-from-the-garden flavors, never get old.
There is a reason why Eddie V’s pop up in America’s finest foodie cities like Chicago, Boston and Newport Beach. With a tried and true menu of the finest seafood and an atmosphere carefully curated for delectable dialog, Eddie V’s is a reliable staple for meals that won’t disappoint. Live music accompanies a classic four-course steak and seafood menu. Enjoy these gourmet-style bites amidst Eddie V’s lush interior, or bask in Florida’s premium weather seated on the outdoor deck.
This sustainable seafood restaurant is part of the “Fresh from Florida” initiative, thanks to its use of locally-sourced seafood and produce. Serving internationally-inspired dishes, Moonfish uses flame-grilling techniques and burn pits to cook tender, flakey fish, as well as prime and choice cuts of mid-western aged steaks. If you’re in the mood for sushi, Moonfish’s wild-caught prawns, fresh from the Gulf, hits the mark.
The Melting Pot
Dining out is about more than just the food on the plate. It is about the experience of eating well with loved ones and/or colleagues and memories made that’ll last beyond full bellies. The Melting Pot offers a fun, casual, communal experience of fondue cooking. Prepare to playfully clink forks at the Melting Pot where only the finest artisan cheeses and succulent meats are used.
RESTAURANT ROW PLAY
True to its name, Restaurant Row is comprised of mostly dining options, but there’s more to savor beyond dinner and drinks. You can partake in these pastimes:
- For romance: Stroll hand-in-hand through the intimate alcoves of Dellagio Plaza. Snap a selfie in front of the towering central fountain, a replica of the Parisian “Fontaign de la Concorde.”
- For sweetness: Embark on a DIY dessert crawl with stops at Nothing But Bundt Cake, Menchies and Farris and Fosters Famous Chocolate Factory.
- For festive events: Save the date for the Taste of Dr. Phillips, a food and wine festival featuring Restaurant Row’s most notable chef
- For parent’s night out: No babysitter… no problem! Book an overnight stay at Embassy Suites by Hilton I-Drive 360 just off Restaurant Row where, among other family-centric conveniences, babysitting services are available.
- For a cultural taste: Head to Royal Hookah & Cigar Lounge to smoke water pipes and sip sahlab. Or relax at Corona Cigar Co.
- For pampering: Book a spa experience at Woodhouse Day Spa, Hand and Stone Massage & Facial Spa or Acqua Day Spa.
- For cooking inspiration: Take a class with Publix Aprons Cooking Schools. Or, head to Restaurant Row’s two gourmet grocery stores, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, to try samples, browse goodies and nibble a cafeteria-style lunch.
- For learning: Head to Barnes n’ Nobles to roam book aisles and sip hot coffee as you flip the pages of magazines.
- For a toast: Head to Vines to drink up live jazz music paired with stellar wine. Or, for a casual cheers, take a seat in Tasting Room Orlando.
- For gaming: Head to Bay Hill Club, the historic golf course that hosts the annual Arnold Palmer Invitational. Or, tee up virtually at Tomkos Tavern, a “Vegas-style bar and lounge” outfitted with sports simulators.