In recent years, the Downtown Orlando area has made a name for itself with a groundbreaking foodie scene. Though Winter Park still gets most of the attention, the Lake Eola and Mills 50 District both offer a variety of excellent culinary options. And even better, the top Downtown Orlando restaurants tend to be pretty affordable!
In this post, I will share my favorite places to eat in Downtown Orlando, Lake Eola, The Mills 50, and the Milk District. I have found these areas to be rich with diverse foodie experiences including everything from Laotian food to Southern Vegan cuisine! This post is broken up into the best Downtown Orlando restaurants for budget, moderately priced, and splurge meals. I have also included my favorite spots to get coffee and desserts too! Whether you are visiting or a local, I hope this post helps you decide on a delicious place to eat in Orlando.
Affordable Places to Eat in Downtown Orlando
Like I mentioned earlier, Downtown Orlando is full of affordable restaurants. I have found so many unique counter-service spots where you can get a filling and high-quality meal for under $15 per person. The following places are the best Downtown Orlando restaurants for a cheap and quick meal.
Tin and Taco
If you want creative tacos, Tin and Taco has three locations throughout Orlando, with their Lake Eola one being an awesome spot to get your late-night taco fix. The line can be long, but it is always worth it for tacos you cannot get anywhere else, like a caesar salad taco or a mac and cheese beef taco!
À La Cart
For the atmosphere alone,À La Cart and its outdoor food court is a hit, but the rotating food trucks that visit and the craft beer bar, make it even better. I have enjoyed both the poke bowls and the waffle sundaes here recently and have no doubt this outdoor spot will continue to bring in the best local food trucks!
Though I’ve listed a few taco options, I had to include Tako Cheena for its unique fusion tacos! Here you can get Asian tacos and burritos filled with super flavorful options like Char Sui Pork Belly or Thai Peanut Chicken. They also offer empanadas, arepas and more, so there are a variety of ways to taste the delicious creations here.
Dharma Southern Kitchen
Now you can finally get southern comfort cuisine like mac and cheese and biscuits and gravy vegan style at Dharma Southern Kitchen! This is one of the Downtown Orlando restaurants that always blows my mind with dishes that are plant-based. I highly recommend the jackfruit BBQ sandwich or the “cheesy” chik’n nachos while enjoying the beautiful weather on their patio.
For a delicious sandwich or charcuterie board any time of day, Eola General is my go-to restaurant near Lake Eola! This counter-service shop serves artisanal bread, cheeses, bagels, and coffee from local vendors. I can’t get enough of their tasty sandwiches that come in all sorts of styles, including vegetarian and vegan. The Nova Lox is my favorite and it’s a huge amount of fresh food for less than $15.
One of the few places to find Laotion food is the street food counter, Sticky Rice, known for its curry ramen and crispy rice. This small spot is great for an intimate dinner or takeout where one can try a variety of mouthwatering creations. With almost everything on the menu under $10, it is one of the best Downtown Orlando restaurants for eating out on a budget.
Black Bean Deli
You can find Black Bean Deli in the Mills 50 District, where they serve classic Cuban sandwiches and plates for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The sandwiches are known to be the best in Orlando, with just the right amount of ham, pork, swiss cheese, and pickles on savory Cuban bread. They even have vegan options like empanadas, which can be hard to find with Cuban cuisine.
I did not realize Korean Fried Chicken was a thing until I heard about this Mills 50 restaurant and now I am never turning back! Chikin makes the most flavorful and crispy fried chicken that perfectly tops rice bowls, pickled veggies, and kimchi. There are also tempeh options for vegans and so many different sauces to choose from.
The Best Downtown Orlando Restaurants for a Moderately Priced Meal
If you rather have a sit-down meal, this next part of this post has plenty of options. These restaurants cover most budgets and cuisines, from authentic dishes to radical fusions. The next eight Downtown Orlando restaurants are best for a meal under $30 per person.
Hawkers is known for their Southeast Asian street food all over the Southeast, but they started in the Mills 50 district almost ten years ago! This is the best Asian food I have had in the area and their noodle bowls are irresistible. You can order individual entrees or share a meal dim sum style and share small plates like roti canai and bao buns that pack a big flavor.
Maxine’s on Shine
If you enjoy playful themes and American food, Maxine’s on Shine is a popular 40’s style eatery for dinner and brunch. This is a Downtown Orlando brunch favorite, with homestyle options like chicken and waffles with gravy and stout braised brisket on a biscuit. Don’t miss dinner specials like the skillet chicken parm either and be sure to enjoy (and tip!) the live musicians while you are there.
Pig Floyd’s Urban Barbakoa
It is hard to describe Pig Floyd’s, as it is one of the restaurants in Downtown Orlando that excels in so many areas! This is technically a barbecue fusion spot, but considering I usually get tacos or a bento box, it is not your average barbecue! Theis smoked meats and tofu are the stars that are enhanced with flavorful sauces and toppings in tacos, banh mi’s, platters and more alongside unique slides like Cuban black beans and Mexican street corn. You can find anything you are craving here!
What started as a Key West dive has now become a Florida favorite with two locations in Orlando! Santiago’s Bodega offers a tapas meal with an island twist for lunch, brunch, and dinner. Favorite dishes include goat cheese stuffed dates, orange-miso short ribs, and peach pineapple quesadillas, but you can’t go wrong with any of the food (or the cocktails) on the menu!
Eola Wine Company
Wine lovers will definitely want to visit Eola Wine Company, a cozy bar where you can try all sorts of wine, including wine flights and charcuterie or flatbreads to go with it. This Downtown Orlando restaurant is open late on weekends, so you can go for dinner or a snack. Their selection of cheese and charcuterie is unbeatable and the servers are super helpful with choosing wines too!
The Stubborn Mule
For a Lake Eola restaurant with tons of foodie options like sticky pork belly and decadent burgers, The Stubborn Mule is a neat place! They are known for having over 10 types of Moscow Mules, like rosemary rhubarb and watermelon lime. Burgers and flatbreads are around $15, but you can get some deals during their daily happy hour.
Black Rooster Taqueria
One more Orlando taco shop I have to highlight is Black Rooster Taqueria. What sets this counter-service spot apart is the fresh and zesty ingredients, like the ceviche! Tacos start at only $4 and come with a variety of toppings to satisfy every craving, including vegan, gluten-free, carnivore, and pescatarian.
If you want an entertaining meal, you can get great food and fun at Hamburger Mary’s. This Downtown Orlando restaurant on Church Street is an essential experience, thanks to the amazing Drag Show performances. The best time to go is for Sunday brunch when you can enjoy homestyle breakfasts with a Broadway performance! However, they do lunch and some days dinner and even without performance, the drinks and burgers are worth a visit alone.
Restaurants to Splurge at in Downtown Orlando
Downtown Orlando is so accessible, that I had a hard time finding splurge places to add to this section of the post! I think you could easily have a celebratory experience at any of the places listed above. However, if you prefer a more upscale experience, these next five Downtown Orlando restaurants are ideal for splurging. Plan to spend at least $100 per couple at the following places.
For a date night, DoveCote is a French restaurant in Downtown Orlando that is sure to impress! Whether you go with an oyster raw bar or the best Cassoulets and Steak Frites you can find on this side of the Atlantic, they offer all sorts of elaborate dishes. Be sure to check out the extensive happy hour and weekend brunch as well.
Jinya Ramen Bar
If you are a fan of ramen, Jinya Ramen Bar is my pick for the best Downtown Orlando restaurant to get it! Though it is a chain, this restaurant has managed to stay true to the values of the Japanese founder in sharing ramen the Japanese way. They take pride in their dishes by using 99.9% impurity-free water to make broths and using a special aging process to cook the noodles!
You can taste the difference in every bowl of ramen, as well as their rice bowls and small plates too. Most of the ramen bowls are around $15 per bowl, so it does not have to be a splurge restaurant. However, we got a few cocktails and appetizers when we went and it worked out great for a decadent date night.
You can find all sorts of steakhouses in Orlando, but for an elegant experience, Kres Chophouse is continually ranked the best. Located in the historic S.H. Kress Building, this restaurant has all the making for a fancy night out, from the white table cloths to the plush, intimate seating.
The menu features all the best cuts of steak, hand-aged, as well as savory sides and seafood options. I would expect to spend at least $50 per person here, however, there are some affordable lunch or vegan options if you are looking to try Kres without breaking the bank!
Another Thorton Park restaurant I can’t get enough of is Soco Restaurant, AKA Southern Contemporary. I came here for brunch on my birthday and I can’t recommend their inventive brunch offerings enough, with specialties like everything bagel biscuits and the fried chicken, and French toast.
In addition to the bougie brunch, dinner is much more of a sophisticated affair. Here you can find elevated southern dishes like grilled meatloaf and lobster mashed potatoes and cornmeal crisped oysters. No matter when you go, be sure to try the skillet mac and cheese cassoulet! It’s one of the many dishes to die for here.
One last Downtown Orlando restaurant worth splurging at is The Boheme, which is in the gorgeous Grand Bohemian Hotel. The atmosphere is a full jazz bar and you can even catch live music frequently! Of course, you can enjoy the finest cuisine while listening, including signature steaks, Chilean seabass, and charcuterie boards. There is also a Sunday jazz brunch that for $68 per person pulls out all the stops, including oysters, crab legs, Bohemian spiced prime rib, and unlimited mimosas!
Where to Get Coffee and Dessert in Downtown Orlando
If you aren’t full from all the other tasty places I have mentioned, Downtown Orlando has so many desserts you will not want to miss. There are also at least half a dozen coffee shops with all sorts of hot and cold craft beverages. The following are my favorite places for coffee or dessert in Downton Orlando
Kelly’s Homemade Ice Cream
The best place to get ice cream in Orlando is Kelly’s and luckily there are multiple locations! My favorite location is at the Milkhouse, where you can also get coffee, craft beer and small plates! Every flavor I have had is amazing, but I am especially obsessed with the Mexican Chocolate ice cream!
Craft & Common
There are so many top-notch coffee shops in Orlando, but Craft & Common was one of the first that paved the way! This trendy shop is in the middle of Downtown Orlando and you can find lattes, cold brew, mocktails, and small bites. I highly recommend visiting both for the coffee and the vibes!
The Pop Parlour
Walking around Lake Eola on a hot Florida day, I can never resist a refreshing popsicle from the Pop Parlour. They have all sorts of crazy popsicle creations, including ones with alcohol! My favorites are the Bourbon Cold Brew pop and the Dairy Free Cucumber Lemon Mint.
Lineage Craft Coffee Roaster
Another one of my favorite Downtown Orlando coffee shops is Lineage. While I prefer Craft & Common for flavored drinks, Lineage is my go-to for the simple pour-over and getting beans. This shop sources its coffee from Colombia, Guatemala, Kenya, and Brazil and has the best beans around. I love relaxing with a pour-over in their shop in Mills 50.
Se7en Bites Bake Shop
The most talked-about bakery in Downtown Orlando is by far Se7en Bites, a southern-style spot that serves breakfast and lunch and the most heavenly cookies! Located in the Milk District, you can find all sorts of tasty indulgences here from biscuits with thyme sausage gravy to sweet bread pudding in seasonal flavors. It’s open until 3 PM daily, so treat yourself here in the morning and you’ll be sure to start off your day right!
Know Before You Go: The Top Restaurants in Downtown Orlando
Whether you are looking for a place to try a new-to-you cuisine or a classic spot for a celebratory meal, you can find it at these Downtown Orlando restaurants. I live less than an hour and a half away and find myself here frequently because I can’t get enough of the cuisine. After visiting many, many times over the past decade, I can assure you that there are so many excellent eateries in Downtown Orlando. Here are some things to keep in mind before dining out in Lake Eola, Mills 50, and more:
- It is customary to tip 20% and most restaurants near Downtown Orlando do not include this in the final bill unless you have a large party.
- Many restaurants here take reservations, often on Open Table, and you should make one when dining out on weekends. Check out the restaurant’s webpage before going to avoid a wait, especially with a large party!
- The best way to save money when going out to eat in Downtown Orlando is to go during Happy Hour, when many places have deals on drinks and appetizers. You can often find deals on Monday nights for Service Industry workers, as well.
- The dress code is casual for most restaurants in Downtown Orlando. However, if you are dining at any options in the splurge category, I recommend refraining from beach attire at a minimum.
- Parking can be a challenge in Downtown Orlando, especially on weekends. Expect to pay at least $5 to pay to park in a lot. If you are staying nearby, it is easier to take a Lyft or Uber.
What’s your favorite of the Downtown Orlando restaurants? Let me know if it made the list! For more dining recommendations, check out my restaurant guides to nearby Winter Park, Lake Nona, and Disney Springs.