Every year, as the summer begins to wind down, Orlando residents anticipate the start of Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining month. It’s a time of year to explore new restaurants, to support local businesses and hospitality workers, and to indulge.
For the past 17 years, Visit Orlando, the Official Tourism Association of Orlando, has hosted Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining in the historically slowest month of the year for the area’s hospitality industry. From Aug. 26 to Oct. 2, over 100 restaurants – including 26 new participants and six that were recently recognized by the MICHELIN Guide – will serve a three-course, prix-fixe meal for $40.
While this year’s restaurant list is missing some familiar Magical Dining participants, such as The Capital Grille and Ravello, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a ton of fine dining to be had in the next five weeks. Not only will it support local businesses and hospitality workers, but $1 from each meal served will go to charity.
This year, Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining will support The Able Trust, an organization that works to provide employment opportunities for Floridians with disabilities. The Visit Orlando website states that Magical Dining proceeds will benefit the organization’s High School High Tech Program in Orange County, which allows high school students with disabilities to explore jobs or post-secondary education during their studies.
Additionally, a portion of Magical Dining proceeds will benefit one local nonprofit in each of Orange County’s six commission districts that support a similar cause. This includes BIG SIS Inc., Central Florida Urban League, HOPE CommUnity Center, PACE Center for Girls, Rebuild Self Care, and St. Vincent de Paul.
This special month gives residents (and visitors, too) the chance to try a new restaurant that they may have not considered. Even more, the discounted meal provides the opportunity to try more and easily make new favorites to visit throughout the year.
In December 2021, Four Flamingos: A Richard Blais Florida Kitchen opened at the former Hemingway’s space inside the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress. The menu, created by Top Chef alum Richard Blais, features tropical flavors and ingredients from Florida. Imagine trying the Tuna Tostada appetizer, Florida Seafood Moqueca entrée, and the Cuban Espresso Panna Cotta dessert inside a beautiful tropical hideaway.
Another Magical Dining newbie is The Monroe, an eclectic restaurant in Downtown Orlando’s Creative Village. With items like Cheshire Pork Belly with garlic-ginger congee and miso glaze, or Local Royal Red Shrimp Campanelle made with Orlando City Pasta, roasted tomato butter and herbs, your taste buds will be taken on a culinary adventure.
HAVEN Kitchen, a signature restaurant inside Lake Nona Wave Hotel combines Mediterranean and Florida flavors. Magical Dining menu standouts include the Florida Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho with shrimp ceviche and avocado, Grilled Mahi Mahi Tacos with harissa aioli and grilled pineapple salsa, and a Key Lime Tart with a combination of coconut flavors, including vanilla coconut tapioca.
A longstanding establishment on Sand Lake’s Restaurant Row, Cedar’s Restaurant joins Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining for the first time this year. Here, you will find a selection of authentic Lebanese cuisine, such as Shanklish (a homemade cheese dish), Rack of Lamb and Baklava.
Several of Orlando’s most well-known restaurants have become staples during Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining month. Residents expect to see them on the list each year and often plan special visits for the Magical Dining menu.
Le Coq Au Vin, which opened on Orange Avenue in 1976, has participated in Magical Dining for as long as I can remember. Its dishes feature classic cooking techniques, making items like Soup a l’Oignon, Beef Burgundy and Crepes Suzette extra special.
It wouldn’t be Magical Dining without trying a succulent steak and sides from restaurants like Flemings Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse, and Ruth’s Chris Steak House. A steakhouse splurge, paired with a glass of your favorite wine, is a must this time of year.
The Ravenous Pig has participated for many years. This year, familiar Magical Dining menu items like the Gatherer Salad and Steak Frites join adventurous items like Octopus Ceviche and Crispy Pork Belly with watermelon, hot honey and cornbread pudding.
You may not be staying the night, but exploring the restaurants inside Orlando area hotels will take you on a culinary journey close to home.
Delaney’s Tavern is inside the Delaney Hotel on Orange Avenue. Its flavorful menu features items like Brie in Puffs with maple brie, apricot gastrique, and orange pistachio crumb; Almond Crusted Salmon with orange honey glaze, coconut bamboo rice and a spicy plum sauce; and a Kaluha and Baileys Trifle.
Several signature restaurants at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotels will have Magical Dining menus. This includes the coastal cuisine of Todd English’s bluezoo and fresh Italian flavors from Il Mulino New York Trattoria.
Four Universal Orlando hotel restaurants are participating this year as well. Try Italian cuisine from Mama Della’s Ristorante, tropical fare from Amatista Cookhouse, Pan-Asian favorites from Islands Dining Room, and New American classics at The Kitchen at the Hard Rock Hotel.
Many of the Rosen Hotel brand restaurants are also featured on the Visit Orlando Magical Dining restaurant list this year. Go casual with a meal at Harry’s Poolside Bar & Grill, or try upscale Italian at Cala Bella, steak and seafood at Jack’s Place, unexpected Florida flavors at Everglades, or an indulgent steakhouse meal at A Land Remembered.
Be sure to browse the menus and make a plan before starting your Magical Dining adventures this year. Of course, make your friends and family part of that plan. There’s nothing like experiencing one of Orlando’s best fine dining meals surrounded by this you love.