When you think of Florida's charm, images of tranquil waters, mesmerizing sunsets, and graceful palm trees swaying in the gentle breeze often come to mind. Nestled in the heart of central Florida, Orlando may seem like a far cry from the picturesque coastal landscapes that dot other parts of the state. However, this vibrant city offers its own unique brand of beauty.
Instead of vast sandy beaches, Orlando's skyline is adorned with rooftop views that stretch across the horizon, dazzling fireworks that light up the night, and those ever-present sunsets framed perfectly by the silhouettes of whispering palm trees. And while dining in Orlando, one doesn't merely savor the flavors on the plate but also the panoramic views accompanying each meal. Though the city and its surrounding neighborhoods are full of eateries boasting magnificent vistas, each of our favorites offers an exceptional dining experience, each offering its own distinct perspective on Orlando's charm.
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Once named the Top of the World Restaurant, the now-renowned California Grill opened its doors on the same day as Walt Disney World: October 1, 1971. The expansive dining hall showcases an open-kitchen concept, featuring grand pizza ovens that are as fun as obviously useful. Every corner of the restaurant affords a breathtaking view of the Magic Kingdom and its surrounding area. Even if your table isn't directly beside a window, the panorama remains awe-inspiring. In the tradition of Disney's signature dining experiences, the California Grill strikes a perfect balance: It exudes sophistication while warmly welcoming families, ensuring even the littlest guests have a memorable meal.
As night falls and the time for fireworks approaches, diners can return, receipt in hand, for a magical experience. The restaurant's rooftop viewing area offers an unparalleled spectacle, and the radiant fireworks display over Cinderella Castle is accentuated by synchronized music, creating an immersive experience. If you've witnessed the fireworks in front of the castle, this rooftop vantage point offers a refreshing, yet equally magical, perspective.
For those with a penchant for rooftop dining and cherished the experience at California Grill, a trip to Topolino's Terrace should be next on the list. Perched atop the Riviera Resort, this gem is one of Disney World's premier dining spots. From here, you're gifted with sweeping vistas of the resort and neighboring areas. As night unfurls its starry cloak, the evening becomes even more enchanting as you witness the dazzling Epcot fireworks. Be sure to step out onto the terrace before or after indulging in a sumptuous meal. It's an ideal spot to sip on a drink, let the ambiance wash over you, and bask in a moment of quietude.
And speaking of indulgence, the Riviera Resort takes pride in serving one of the best pasta dishes in the U.S. For a pasta experience that's nothing short of divine, opt for the rigatoni. One bite, and it's sure to steal your heart.
Toledo - Tapas, Steak & Seafood
Toledo - Tapas, Steak & Seafood, nestled in the Coronado Springs Resort, offers guests another tantalizing rooftop dining experience at Disney. But it's not just the view outside that captivates diners; the interior of Toledo is a spectacle in itself. As you settle into your meal, let your gaze drift upwards to marvel at the exquisite stained-glass display adorning the ceiling. The radiant play of colors from the glass, combined with the expansive windows, creates an ambiance that's both enchanting and serene.
A must-try on the menu is the scallops. Paired with an olive oil-potato purée, this dish becomes a harmonious blend of flavors that stands out as one of the best potato offerings at Walt Disney World. And a little insider tip: During your visit, make a pit stop at the restroom. Not only for the usual reasons, but you'll also be greeted with an awe-inspiring aerial view of the expansive Disney property.
Shiki-Sai: Sushi Izakaya
Epcot's Shiki-Sai: Sushi Izakaya has truly captured our hearts. This dining destination revels in a celebration of the seasons, offering a menu bursting with delectable options — from aromatic rice and slurp-worthy noodles to meticulously crafted sushi. Fans of Japanese cuisine will undoubtedly find themselves entranced.
While the food is a draw in itself, the views only serve to amplify the experience. On one side, diners are treated to the peaceful vista of the Japan pavilion and the idyllic lagoon. Contrastingly, the opposite side immerses guests in dynamic, scrolling scenes of Japan's seasonal celebrations. As your meal progresses, expect to be enchanted by visuals of fireworks, ethereal cherry blossoms, and the mesmerizing dance of autumn leaves. Each scene underscores the ever-changing beauty of the seasons in Japan.
Often, when we envision restaurants with splendid views, we imagine landscapes and horizons. But Sanaa, located at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge and one of the best restaurants in Disney World, offers a view that's both unique and captivating — a sprawling savannah populated with a variety of majestic creatures. Before even stepping into the restaurant, guests can venture to the savannah viewing platform, a window into a world where giraffes gracefully meander, zebras trot along, and an assortment of birds take flight.
The magic of this view doesn't stop at the door. Inside Sanaa, vast windows draw the outside in, allowing diners to continue their animal-watching adventure as they relish their meal. When it comes to meal choices, it's simple: Get the irresistible bread service.
Bull & Bear
Nestled within the luxurious Waldorf Astoria Orlando, Bull & Bear offers an opulent and picturesque dining experience. Lofty bay windows afford diners sweeping views of a pristine pool area, extending further to the meticulously manicured greens of a golf course. And as day turns to dusk, the horizon comes alive with the radiant hues of a classic Florida sunset.
Inside, the ambiance leans towards the intimate. With dim lighting, especially as evening approaches, the restaurant exudes a romantic aura. And, of course, when it comes to the culinary offerings, there are a few standout dishes that shouldn't be missed. The filet mignon promises a taste of opulence, while the crème brûlée offers a sweet crescendo. The lobster bisque, rich and flavorful, is the perfect beginning to a memorable meal.
Garp & Fuss
At the heart of Garp & Fuss' inception was a simple yet profound goal: To craft a space that felt like a home away from home. Stepping into this marvelous restaurant in Winter Park, it's clear that it's a beautifully realized vision.
While the establishment boasts several dining areas, the atrium truly stands out. Beneath a glass ceiling, the intersection of elegant beams and exquisite brickwork crafts an ambiance that straddles the line between a verdant garden and a cozy dining room. The decor strikes a harmonious balance, feeling both nostalgically vintage and refreshingly contemporary simultaneously.
These cocktails are not to be missed, capturing the essence of Garp & Fuss' eclectic spirit. And for those seeking a starter that sets the tone for a memorable family meal, the Mangia comes highly recommended. A delectable medley of marinara, ricotta, and baguette, it's the ideal preamble to a delightful dining experience.
Nestled within Universal Orlando's picturesque Loews Portofino Bay Resort lies a delightful slice of Italy in Bice Restaurante. The restaurant's expansive dining room boasts soaring windows that perfectly frame a view of a quaint patio and the calming river beyond — a view that undoubtedly stands as one of its most captivating attractions.
Bathed in upscale elegance with a romantic undertone, the restaurant invites guests to dive deep into its tasty treasures. While the tantalizing allure of the tiramisu might tempt you throughout your meal, it's often wise to commence with a main dish. And there's no better place to start than with the seafood fettuccine. However, any pasta choice here is bound to be a delight, given that they're freshly made every day. Rooted in tradition, this establishment traces its lineage back to Milan, Italy, proudly upholding a rich culinary legacy since its inception in 1926.
Perched atop the Four Seasons Resort, Capa presents a lavish blend of steakhouse treasures complemented by panoramic vistas of Walt Disney World. Proudly boasting a Michelin rating, this gem is situated 17 stories above the ground, guaranteeing views as exquisite as the food. While its classic steak offerings are undeniably scrumptious, Capa is also a haven for those looking to savor an array of tapas.
As the evening unfolds, settle down with an enticing cheese board and paired wine. There is the mesmerizing spectacle of fireworks illuminating the night sky as a cherry on top of a perfect, albeit expensive, dining experience. With its tastefully designed dining hall and a patio that serves up delectable treats, Capa offers a sophisticated yet contemporary take on elevated dining, and it is an outstanding Disney steakhouse.
Central Florida has a penchant for rooftop dining, a trend heartily embraced by both Universal and Disney. Adding to this high-rise allure is Bar 17, crowning the Universal Studios' Aventura Hotel. From this lofty vantage point, diners are treated to dramatic views of the myriad parks dotting the Universal Studios landscape.
The ambiance here is distinctly relaxed. While you can find a selection of dinner options, Bar 17 is primarily celebrated for its appetizers and eclectic drink menu. It beckons as the perfect spot to catch up over drinks and light bites with loved ones. Whether you visit during the day or as night falls, the beauty of the place remains consistent. As the sun sets, the parks and surrounding areas light up, transforming the view into a mesmerizing spectacle of twinkling lights.
AC Sky Bar
Beyond the bounds of the theme parks and nestled in downtown Orlando, the AC Sky Bar awaits on the 18th floor of the AC Hotel by Marriott Orlando Downtown. This rooftop gem boasts an unparalleled 360-degree view of the city, perfect for patrons seeking an urban vista. As you peer out through its expansive windows or lounge on the spacious patio, indulge in an array of expertly crafted cocktails.
The interior exudes a sleek, ultra-modern charm, establishing the Sky Bar as a sophisticated adult retreat rather than a large, boisterous family gathering venue. While you won't find views of sweeping oceans or swaying palm trees, the skyline of downtown Orlando offers its own brand of allure, especially when bathed in the golden hues of a setting sun.
Haven Kitchen And Lounge
For those seeking a dining experience infused with Mediterranean warmth and vibrancy, the Haven Kitchen and Haven Lounge beckons. Nestled within the Lake Nona Wave Hotel, these twin culinary delights offer wide-spanning city views courtesy of the expansive floor-to-ceiling windows.
Inside the Haven Kitchen, you are transported to the sun-kissed Mediterranean shores. The decor seamlessly blends the outdoors with the indoors; verdant greenery and rustic wooden beams evoke feelings of dining in a quaint coastal village. The interiors are a riot of colors, punctuated by fabrics that echo the lively spirit of the Mediterranean.
You can also enjoy the Haven Lounge, where the ambiance is decidedly more peaceful yet no less enchanting. Its centerpiece is the stunning flower-light installations adorn the ceiling, captivating enough to make even the most disciplined diner reach for their camera.
For those with a penchant for the eclectic and a desire to find a vacation spot hidden within the heart of the city, The Wellborn stands out as an impeccable choice. This unique restaurant boasts a blend of diverse culinary influences, creative drinks, and ambiance that strikes the perfect balance between the avant-garde and the familiar.
The exterior of The Wellborn invites you in with its charm, and the interior has some delightful allure as well. Designed with an array of seating areas, each nook feels as comforting and homey as the last. The cocktails are as whimsical in name as they are in taste, complemented by an array of games sprinkled throughout the venue to elevate the experience. Nestled in a historic part of downtown Orlando, the Wellborn offers an oasis that feels both hidden and delightfully unexpected.
Situated at street level in downtown Orlando, 310 Lakeside is a testament to elegant dining with an urban flair. Its expansive windows beckon passersby and frame an exquisite view of Lake Eola. While this establishment boasts American dining delights and an inviting wine bar, it's the patio that truly shines. Thanks to a curated selection of tables, diners can choose their preferred ambiance indoors amidst the chic decor or outdoors, soaking in the vibrant atmosphere.
Distinct from the city's rooftop lounges, 310 Lakeside offers a unique ground-floor perspective of Orlando's dynamic urban landscape. The salmon burger stands out as an interesting and delectable choice for those seeking a burger offering something a little unique. Plus, with the wine bar, there's also quite a fabulous selection of wines from which to choose.
Hurricane Dockside Grill
Just a short drive from Orlando in Tavares, the Hurricane Dockside Grill beckons relaxers interested in tropical allure. Nestled by the water, its ambiance exudes relaxation and comfort, making it a sought-after escape from the city bustle. Whether you're aiming for a leisurely midday meal or planning an evening with drinks and appetizers, the picturesque view of the dock, framed by palm trees and easy-flowing waters, promises a visual treat.
While there are seating options both indoors and out, the real charm of Hurricane Dockside Grill lies in its al fresco experience. If you're in the mood for a near-Orlando dining destination with an unbeatable waterside view, this spot should be at the top of your list. Plus, if you're visiting by boat, you can dock right on the pier.
Found within the JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort and Spa, illume stands out as a culinary gem on the hotel's ninth floor. As the evening sun casts its radiant glow, guests can take pleasure in meticulously crafted sushi and expertly mixed cocktails.
But what truly sets this rooftop dining experience apart from others in Walt Disney World is its unwavering focus on authentic Japanese cuisine. Though there's no shortage of great sushi options throughout the resort, illume takes pride in its delightful flavors and exquisite presentation, culminating in a feast for both the palate and the eyes, especially with the backdrop of the dazzling fireworks displays. Plus, there's some absolutely divine cocktails with interesting and unique presentations in both the serving vessel and garnish.
Tucked away in Winter Park, right on the placid shores of Lake Killarney, sits the picturesque Hillsdale restaurant. Both its architectural brilliance and the natural beauty of its surroundings culminate in a truly magnificent dining experience. Those with a discerning eye might spot elements reminiscent of the genius of Frank Lloyd Wright. This is no mere coincidence; the restaurant draws its inspiration directly from Auldbrass, a plantation crafted by Wright himself on the banks of the Combahee River.
Whether you opt for exterior or interior seating, the boundary between inside and out seems to blur, thanks to expansive windows, sturdy wood beams, and the gentle embrace of surrounding greenery. Like other beautiful Orlando restaurants, you can also catch a fabulous sunset here, even if you won't see any theme park fireworks from here.
Canvas is a testament to the myriad ways in which spaces can delight the senses with striking visual aesthetics. True to its name, Canvas presents a tableau of eclectic and homely style, every inch imbued with an artistic touch. Inside, harmoniously coordinated chairs and tables create a visually pleasing landscape, punctuated by thoughtful design elements that elevate the ambiance.
However, it's outside where the true masterpiece lies. The Glass House, an art installation by Tom Fruin, takes center stage. As part of his ICON series, this piece is constructed from reclaimed materials, drawing inspiration from the urban architectural landscape and the vibrant hues of folk art. Simultaneously, it pays tribute to the intricate beauty and craftsmanship of stained glass, offering diners not just a meal, but an immersive, experiential view in contemporary art.
Seasons 52 is a culinary celebration of the changing tapestry of the year. As the seasons evolve, so too does the menu, offering a dynamic array of dishes that mirror the fresh produce of each period. While this means that certain beloved dishes might not always be available, the ever-changing menu ensures that each visit offers something novel and delightful.
Inside, the restaurant exudes warmth and sophistication. Rich wooden accents, complemented by verdant greenery, create a sanctuary that resonates with natural charm. Further enhancing the ambiance are expansive windows that unveil calming water views, illuminating the dining space with gentle reflections. As you relish the seasonally-inspired dishes, you can also savor in a luxurious moment sipping on a choice wine as you gaze upon the tranquil waters.
Tucked away in Kissimmee is Lipa Rooftop, an elegant rooftop lounge that specializes in Japanese cuisine prepared via Salt & the Cellar Kitchen by Chef Akira Black. With a recommended dress code leaning towards smart casual, this isn't your typical laid-back post-park retreat. Instead, it's the epitome of sophistication, making it a prime destination for romantic date nights.
The ambiance is nothing short of enchanting. Music serenades guests, further enhancing the allure of the setting. As for the culinary offerings, the menu is a sushi lover's dream, boasting an array of specialty rolls, nigiri, and sashimi. But fret not if raw fish isn't your liking; there's also a selection of cooked meats and delectable desserts to savor, including lychee mochi. That said, if sushi isn't up your alley, the menu might feel limiting despite the breathtaking views from the rooftop of the ette Hotel.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.