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USA Today names Orlando’s best non-chain restaurants

July 15, 2014

Continuing their obsession with OrlandoUSA Today just published a piece on Orlando’s non-chain restaurants. Look, we live in Orlando, so we know all about the delicious, often farm-to-table food our local restaurants have to offer. According to USA Todaythese are the City Beautiful’s best independent restaurants:

And they are all extremely worthy choices, but why stop there? The above eateries, while terrific, seem to be the same few that always get the spotlight from the national media. If you’ve lived in Orlando for more than a couple of years, you know that there are some wonderful tried-and-true Orlando standards, the places that have been here FOREVER (or practically), where you’re guaranteed to run into an ex-co-worker, an old teacher, your favorite record-store clerk or just a friend you haven’t seen in a million years. Here are some of our faves:

Do you have a favorite non-chain restaurant in Orlando? Share it in the comments below.

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  • Donna Gaddy Shaver

    Graffiti Junktion 2 (College Park), Ragazzis (College Park), Ollies (College Park)!

  • OrlandoMike

    Beefy King. Who forgets Beefy King on a list like this?

  • Don Boyd

    Gringos Locos and Hot Dog Heaven

  • CPStini

    Wasn’t the Mayor’s favorite “Citrus Club”…that is members only – whereas Citrus is open to the public.

  • Em Leigh

    Tako Cheena! Same owner as Pom Pom’s

  • Arthur Dent

    Kesh on Colonial by the DMV. Crazy-good chef-crafted street food / home cooking with an ever-varied menu.

  • VBV

    Black Bean Deli should’ve DEFINITELY made it onto USA Today’s list!!

  • Richard Neilan

    Right? Beefy King ROCKS! Always has.

  • Richard Neilan

    Il Pescatore on Primrose (just south of Colonial). A true neighborhood Italian restaurant, with consistent great food and good service!

  • Carlosdev

    If we’re gonna mention Graffiti Junktion (which also has a place in Longwood), we should for sure remember Oblivion Taproom, best burgers in Orlando. There’s also Garibaldi’s in Apopka which has some of the best Mexican Food in the City Beautiful. I’d also throw in Eastern Pearl in Altamonte Springs and Chef Henry’s in Longwood.

  • Ed Couture

    All American Cafe is the greatest breakfast in all Orlando

  • Rhaegar

    Garibaldi’s is fair. Now Habaneros is awesome!

  • Jessica_Bryce_Young

    Hi CPStini — You’re right that there is a private Citrus Club, but Mayor Dyer told us earlier this year in BITE magazine that he loves Citrus (the restaurant) for “power lunches.” They even have a salad named after him there!

  • Travel Girly 997

    Chin Hua! How can you forget Chin Hua? Best. Chinese. Ever!!!!

  • Flori-Duh

    Yes, I do have a favorite sandwich spot.
    It’s so tiny, I think I’ll keep it to myself so it won’t be over enjoyed.
    ‘See you tomorrow!’

  • Emily

    Gabriel’s Sub Shop!

  • Ed Misicka

    Junior Columbian Burger! The best in a while.

  • Kaley

    Designer Greens! Great food

  • Nick Bischoff

    Where is Tako Cheena?!?!?!

  • Andrea Dufour

    Seito Sushi has THE BEST sushi ! There is one in Dr Phillips area and also Baldwin Park. The Mexican roll and the Spicy Lobster roll are my favorite !!!

  • Brandon

    Tako Cheena is an amazing place

  • Stefanie Richardson

    I’m obsessed with Zaza’s!

  • Jen

    I actually really dislike The Rusty Spoon. I was disappointed in the food quality given the price. This list is super legit otherwise!

  • Zachary Aldrich

    I’ve yet to have a bad experience for lunch at The Rusty Spoon. However, I have had mediocre experiences for both brunch and dinner. Can’t go wrong with their “55” Burger!

  • Ryan Killoran

    Don’t forget The Smiling Bison!

  • Jen

    I’ve only been once, and it was for dinner. I live on Church Street so maybe I’ll stop in for lunch sometime and try that burger. Thanks for the rec! :o)

  • E

    How in the world did Beefy King not make this list???!?!?!?!

  • John Chadwick


  • Shannon Chenoweth

    Infusion Tea

  • Reagan X

    The same people who say “non-chain restaraunts” and then include the chains Fuji Sushi and Graphitti Junction.

  • Tyler Sotomayor

    Another inept attempt at surveying the Orlando restaurant scene. This list is pretty poor. Ask any chef in Orlando, and they will tell you hands down the 4 best restaurants in the city are: Ravenous Pig, Prato, Luma, Cask & Larder. They are really in a league of their own and compete on a different level than other restaurants for market share of Orlando diners.

    K restaurant, The Smiling Bison, The Rusty Spoon are probably Tier 2 restaurants (along with some others that I’m neglecting to mention).

    A restaurant that represents Orlando well is one that sources locally and seasonally, not one that uses processed foodstuffs. Why is The POOP even mentioned in this list? Orlandoans please wake up and discover what real food is.

  • Tammy

    Ethos is incredible. Vegan food that all my non-vegan friends and family love.

  • haamlet

    Oblivion gourmet bar manna!

  • outtolunch

    SO many good ones above but what about Fresh in Winter Park

  • outtolunch

    and Sushi Pop

  • Shawna Sharpe

    Baja Burrito – Cal Mex food that is incredible on 50 & Bumby! Broccoli quesadillas are to die for!

  • Heather Sabol Russell

    I think The Crooked Spoon should have made the list!

  • Yayitsfay

    Cafe Paris definitely should make the cut! (Dr. Phillips Area)

  • Yayitsfay

    Oh, and how could I forget about Red Wing Restaurant out in Clermont! They specialize in game meats and have things like wild boar, venison, and bison on the regular.

  • Convention_hotel

    Paco’s in Winter Park, NOT on the list?

  • EndersDrift

    Cask and Larder’s doesn’t impress me at all. I was quite disappointed there. Scratch is far better.

  • EndersDrift

    Kappys? Come on, its been around forever but that doesn’t make it good. The food is pretty awful and so is the service.

  • Tams

    Cafe Murano in Veranda Park at MetroWest!