Make us your home page
Instagram

Dining Planner: New restaurants at Disney, Universal and downtown Orlando

Orlando GRUB

Something is happening in Orlando. Yes, the Mako coaster at SeaWorld, but I mean something else. The theme parks have always had better food than they needed to (mental scroll of amusement park food elsewhere in the country: turkey legs and I-can't-believe-they-fried-this-and-put-it-on-a-stick items), but all of a sudden Orlando seems to be the It spot for celebrity chefs. Maybe they've fatigued of Las Vegas or maybe New York rents are too high, but a number of celeb-fronted ventures and high-end chain concepts are landing on the Mouse pad in upcoming months.

DISNEY SPRINGS

First up, STK Orlando has debuted at Disney Springs. STK Orlando is within the Landing neighborhood in a 15,000-square-foot building reminiscent of a refurbished 1900s train station. What is STK all about? Come on, folks, fill in the vowels. It's a modern steakhouse with a hip lounge with an in-house DJ and a dramatic second-level terrace. The menu is all about reimagined classic American cuisine with signature dishes like lobster mac and cheese and bite-sized Lil' BRGs (these people hate the vowels) made with Wagyu beef. STK has locations in New York City; Washington, D.C.; Miami; Chicago; Atlanta; Los Angeles; Las Vegas; Orlando, London; and Milan, Italy; with additional locations coming soon to Dallas; Toronto; San Diego; Denver; Austin, Texas; Boston; Edinburgh, Scotland; and Ibiza, a Mediterranean island.

Also at Disney Springs, Frontera Fresco, a new Mexican dining concept from chef Rick Bayless, top right, launches this summer. Bayless, a six-time James Beard winner, aims to showcase the innovative Mexican cuisine that has made him a culinary legend at his flagship restaurants Frontera Grill and Topolobampo in Chicago, as well as subsequent restaurants XOCO and XOCO Bistro in Chicago, Frontera Fresco (this will be the fourth location) and Red O in California.

And then celebrity chef Art Smith, bottom right, gets in on the action at Disney Springs with Homecoming: Florida Kitchen and Southern Shine. Born and raised in the town of Jasper on the Florida-Georgia border, this is a homecoming of sorts. After 25 years of preparing award-winning meals for celebrities and heads of state (he worked for former Florida governors Bob Graham and Jeb Bush, was the personal chef to Oprah and once served a vegetarian version of his fried chicken to the Dalai Lama), he's heading back to Disney property. As a young-un he went through the Walt Disney Magic Kingdom College Program. Expect healthier versions of classic Southern fare.

Also new on the scene are fast-casual concepts. You'll find D Luxe Burger, Blaze Fast-Fire'd Pizza, the Daily Poutine, Amorette's Patisserie, a high-end bakery with classic and contemporary confections, and Morimoto Asia's walk-up order window. On the horizon is the Edison, similar to its sister location in Los Angeles. With a theme that centers around a 1920s-period electric company with live entertainment, classic American food and craft cocktails, the industrial Gothic space will have 35-foot ceilings. Opening date has not yet been released. And this fall, Fulton's Crab House becomes Paddlefish with a complete makeover and new menu.

There's the improved Flying Fish Café at Disney's Boardwalk with an all new interior, menu and chef, and Jungle Skipper Canteen recently opened in the Magic Kingdom (the park's fourth sit-down restaurant).

UNIVERSAL

Universal CityWalk will welcome Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen later this year. It will be a 19th century-inspired, Steampunk-era chocolate factory and full-service restaurant that offers a wide variety of dishes from all-day-brunch crepes and quiches to takes on classic steak, seafood and pasta, and an array of gourmet-level chocolates and desserts.

DOWNTOWN orlando

Downtown Orlando gets DoveCote, the newest project for James Beard-nominated chefs James and Julie Petrakis, right, who also own Winter Park's Ravenous Pig, Cask & Larder and Swine & Sons. A twist on the classic French brasserie, the new restaurant is expected to open in June. Chef Clayton Miller, a past winner of a "Best New Chef" award from Food & Wine, who also worked under Thomas Keller at French Laundry, will oversee the kitchen. The Petrakises will also open a Cask & Larder location at Orlando International Airport this summer. It will be the first restaurant at the airport to specialize in seasonally driven cuisine and locally sourced ingredients.

AND …

When you feel like you've had enough of Orlando's allures, you can take a drive north to the charming town of Mount Dora to check out celebrity chef Norman Van Aken's latest venture, 1921, which launches soon. Why Mount Dora? Maybe Orlando's getting too crowded.

Dining Planner: New restaurants at Disney, Universal and downtown Orlando 05/25/16 [Last modified: Thursday, May 26, 2016 12:00pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Glen Campbell's wife Kim discusses challenges, guilt caregivers of Alzheimer's patients, others face

    Life Times

    If there's one thing Kim Campbell would change about caregiving for Alzheimer's patients, it's the attitude so many of us have toward transferring a loved one from home to a long-term care facility. According to Campbell, it's often the most kind, loving decision you can make. It's not a sign of failure, but one of …

    Kim Campbell, wife of country music legend Glen Campbell, is acknowledged by those attending the free event where she shared the story of her personal journey with Alzheimer???‚??„?s disease and the struggles she faced caring for her husband on Friday (5/26/17) at the Suncoast Hospice's Empath Health Service Center in Clearwater. Empath Choices for Care, a member of Empath Health, and Arden Courts Memory Care hosted the free event where Kim shared her story to help others understand the early stages, how the disease changes lives, the challenges families face and the role of caregiver.
  2. What happened when I took my dad to a Pitbull concert

    Music & Concerts

    TAMPA — "So, you know how you like Pitbull?" I asked my dad. "We can see him."

    Selfie of Divya Kumar and Anand Kumar at Pitbull/Enrique Iglesias concert.
  3. Tampa City Council votes to accept travel invitation from Cuban ambassador

    Blogs

    The invitation came to Tampa City Council chairwoman Yvonne Yolie Capin in a June 9 letter from Cuban ambassador to the United States José Ramón Cabañas Rodriguez.

    The Tampa City Council voted 6-0, with Frank Reddick out of the room, to respond to a travel invitation from Cuban ambassador to the United States José Ramón Cabañas Rodriguez.
  4. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for June 25

    Events

    St. Pete Pride Festival: The daytime festival covers Central Avenue's Grand Central District with more than 350 vendors, multiple stages, live music, art and food. 9 a.m., Grand Central District, 2429 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. Free. (727) 342-0084.

    Kristen Whalen poses for a photo before the start of the St. Pete Pride Parade in St. Petersburg last year. It's that time of year again, so check with us for your planning purposes. [LUIS SANTANA  |   Times (2016)]
  5. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for June 24

    Events

    St. Pete Pride Block Party and Night Parade: St. Pete Pride's popular parade moves to downtown St. Petersburg's scenic waterfront. The block party brings DJs, food and drinks starting at 2 p.m. The parade steps off at Fifth Ave NE and Bayshore at 7 p.m. with fireworks at 9:45 p.m. 2 p.m., North Straub Park, Fifth …

    Thousands line the streets of Central Ave. during the St. Pete Pride Parade in St. Petersburg.  [Saturday, June 25, 2016] [Photo Luis Santana | Times]