With more than 20 million adult visitors annually, Disney World has ratcheted up its eateries and wine lists. Meanwhile, Orlando has quietly turned its rich local resources into one of the hottest culinary scenes in the Southeast.
The Swan and Dolphin Resort is the best base for wine fans, housing 85 sommeliers across four signature restaurants.
Bluezoo, from celeb chef Todd English, has an unexpectedly esoteric, global list in this land of big American wines. The food—like heirloom tomatoes with housemade ricotta, pickled melon, and savory popcorn ice cream—is equally provocative.
In the Magic Kingdom, the revamped California Grill offers West Coast cuisine made with local ingredients like fava bean leaves and palmetto honey. It offers close to 200 California wines atop a panoramic 15th-floor perch.
Classic Greek comfort food comes with flights of the country’s wines at Cat Cora’s Kouzzina on Disney’s BoardWalk.
Leave the kids with a sitter for a luxe romantic dinner at famed Victoria & Albert’s, where local oysters meet imported caviar and truffles. The wine list of more than 700 selections ranges from mature vintages of Château Latour to Nicolas Joly’s biodynamic Savennières.
For a simpler bite, the Dole Whip soft serve at Aloha Isle in Adventureland is worth the long line.
Via Napoli, in Epcot’s Italy pavilion, has legit Naples-style pizza made with imported mozzarella and tomatoes in wood-burning ovens designed to Italian specs.
Jiko has one of the best South African wine lists in the country, with food as wild as its Animal Kingdom home. The order: wild boar with mealie pap and chakalaka. It offers Wednesday wine tastings at 3:00 pm, and several winemaker dinners each year.
Global wine flights can be had throughout throughout Epcot’s international pavilions: try Les Vins de France in France, Tutto Gusto wine bar in Italy, and Germany’s Weinkeller (or the Biergarten). Over 200 Tequilas and mezcals are on the shelf at La Cava Del Tequila in Epcot’s Mexico pavilion.
Big River Grille & Brewing Works on the BoardWalk is Disney’s on-site microbrewery. You can watch the brewmasters work while sampling up to six selections.
(Pictured: The Ravenous Pig)
Few cities do farm-to-table as organically as Orlando, which is close enough to farms that chefs often make daily visits.
Luma On Park turns this bounty into dishes like veal sweetbread terrine with English pea fondue, celery leaf salad and rhubarb gastrique. It also sports an affordable wine list (including plenty of $20 bottles) that spotlights small producers.
Orlando is ringed by lakes, and it’s a quick jaunt to either coast. So, at the Winter Park Fish Co., you’ll find mouthwatering local, “B-liner” (vermilion snapper), wreckfish and grouper.
East End Market is a familial take on a European food hall, with indie merchants and a food garden. At the market’s restaurant, Txokos, authentic Basque food gets the local treatment. Sip a Txakoli from the all-Spanish wine list and watch the staff pluck Basque chilies from the soil.
Since 2007, perennial favorite The Ravenous Pig has been influential in its embrace of local purveyors. Its sister restaurant, Cask & Larder, has creative takes on Southern favorites (pimento cheese with ham jam and collard bread), an in-house microbrewery and an affordable and mostly American wine list, with almost everything available by the glass.
(Pictured: Quantum Leap Winery)
The Wine Room has more than 150 wines in a self-serve Enomatic system, and wine locker rentals let you enjoy your personal faves in the lounge sans corkage fee.
Quantum Leap takes both a sustainable and global approach to négociant-style winemaking, sourcing fermented juice from environmentally minded producers and finishing the wines on-site. Try the Garda, a white blend.
Florida regulations are tough on distillers, which makes Winter Park Distilling Company a find. Local corn and sugar cane become distinct whisky and rum, speedily aged in charred white oak barrels left in the Orlando heat.
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