Greater Orlando -- theme park and vacation capital of the world -- loosens its belt with more than 5,000 restaurants to stave off hunger. Scores of old-timers for family, ethnic, specialty and fine dining continue to thrive, and fresh options are popping up at a rapid clip. Among notable newcomers, Bice Ristorante at Universal's Portfofino Bay Hotel serves Italian cuisine amid decor melding modern chic with old world style. Celebrity chefs have targeted Orlando as a happening place in the sun, from Todd English's bluezoo at the Walt Disney World Dolphin to Norman Van Aken's signature Norman's at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, and Melissa Kelly's Primo at the JW Marriott. And, bam, if Emeril Lagasse hasn't added Emeril's Tchoup Chop to join Emeril's Orlando at Universal Studios CityWalk. In fact, restaurant row along Sand Lake Road ranges from Euro-Asian dishes at Roy's Orlando to fresh catch at Fish Bones, Moonfish and Bonefish Grill, Latin tastes at the Samba Room, classic Italian at Antonio's, steaks and chops at Timpano Italian Chophouse.
Patrons can chow down with Mickey himself at Chef Mickey's at Walt Disney World Resort. Sports fans track action at the ESPN Club at Disney's BoardWalk Resort or T.G.I. Friday's Front Row Orlando on International Drive. Hoop fans head to NBA City at Universal Studios CityWalk, race fans to NASCAR Sports Grille at Universal Studios CityWalk. Small fry love the butterflies at Downtown Disney's Rainforest Cafe. Casual favorites include several Bahama Breezes, or Buca di Beppo at the Florida Mall. For steak, it's Del Frisco's or Fleming's Prime Steakhouse in Winter Park, Ruth's Chris Steak House and Vines Grill & Wine Bar on Sand Lake Road, or Charley's Steak House, with two Orlando-area locations. Upscale fare and impeccable service are at Manuel's on the 28th downtown, Victoria & Albert's at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Chalet Suzanne in Lake Wales, Atlantis Seafood Restaurant at Renaissance Orlando Resort, and Maison & Jardin in Altamonte Springs.
Romantic atmosphere also awaits at The Boheme at the Westin Grand Bohemian and The Venetian Room at Caribe Royale All-Suites Resort & Convention Center. For international flair, it's Citricos at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa or Chef Justin's Park Plaza Gardens in Winter Park. Le Coq Au Vin in Orlando and Chez Vincent and Cafe de France in Winter Park are magnets for traditional French fare. Italian favorites are at Babbo Wine Bar & Cafe in College Park and Antonio's La Fiamma in Maitland. Diversity stretches from Middle Eastern specialties at Cedars on Sand Lake Road to Gain's German Restaurant on the Orange Blossom Trail. For Japanese, Amura on Sand Lake Road nets applause, while Thai fans head to Thai Thani on International Drive and Siam Orchid on Universal Boulevard. For authentic Indian, insiders like Essence of India on Sand Lake Road, Passage to India on International Drive and Punjab in Kissimmee. For Vietnamese, Little Saigon awaits in downtown Orlando. Texas de Brazil on International Drive provides authentic churrascaria-style dining. And at Epcot World Showcase, it remains possible to nibble one's way around the world with cuisine from 11 countries without ever leaving Orlando's year-round sunshine.
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