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Six Fantastically Non-Touristy Orlando Restaurants Worth A Visit

visitors might be surprised to find just how much orlando has to offer beyond the theme parks. To help Discover whats out there we give you six of orlando’s best restaurants to avoid the crowds.
by Eric Gibson | December 11, 2023

Orlando is cursed to be flush with out-of-towners nearly year-round.  

With a combination of great weather, a big airport, and the epicenter of the entertainment universe, Orlando is bursting with more tourist traps per square inch than anywhere else on the globe.  Elbow to elbow, bumper to bumper, practically every hour of the day.

But what if we dared you to escape the shotgun ride down Interstate 4 and explore a little?  

Ok then. We dare you.  

A wide view of Orlando's blue sky overlooking lake Eola
Overlooking Eola Lake, downtown Orlando | Stock Photo

We also took that dare and what we found was a vibrant food city with a pulse that doesn’t march to the beat of a Disney song. It’s better. Not only that, we found way too many great restaurants. So we pared it down to five across the whole foodie spectrum. Below are our five best restaurants to visit in Orlando to avoid the tourist traps.

Dive in to see what Orlando has to offer. 

The Best Pizza In Orlando Is From Detroit

That’s right, we’re starting a fight in the first paragraph.  The best pizza in Orlando is from Sodough Square.  

At Sodough Square the name of the game is authentic. This is honest-to-goodness Detroit-style pizza.  They bake the mouthwatering square pies in blue steel pans, have a crunchy frico edge, and the fermented dough is topped with block cheese and a hearty sauce.  

That’s a lot of stuff to Google just to be sure we’re right, so we did a full Sodough review for you.

Take a look at the goods below, order the “6 and Conant”,  a Faygo, and pull up a chair.  When you’re done, come tell us how right we are.  Or go for the one-two punch of amazing flavors straight to your mouth hole and get the “#24 Enforcer”.  You really can’t choose wrong.  

Pizza’s not your thing?  Sodough Square’s sister company, Tin & Taco is attached next door and has amazing tacos with a kickin’ beer selection.  Aim for the “Notorious P.I.G.” and you’ll hit a bullseye. 

Information
  • https://sodoughsquare.com/
  • 419 Michigan Street, Orlando, Florida 32806, United States
  • $7-$30 – Credit cards accepted.
  • Drinks for purchase next door.

There’s Real Nashville Hot Chicken. And It’s Devilishly Hot!

The hot chicken craze may have cooled, but for those who have a thing for the real thing, finding it in the wild is special.   

For our tortured taste buds, the most honest representation of hot chicken is found at Chicken Fire, a restaurant that only does one thing – lava red, smell-it-and-you-know-it Nashville hot birds.  

Tenders or sliders, sign the waiver and go all in. 

Of course, their milder options are just as good, without the bite. This is delicious, practically proper Nashville style yardbirds. There might be a line, but the wait is worth it.

What’s left of your taste buds will thank you. 

Don’t try to put contacts in the same day you eat the fire.  This advice is brought to you by real-world tests.

Information
  • Chicken Fire Facebook
  • 2425 E. Colonial Dr. Orlando, FL 32803
  • $7-$40 – Credit cards accepted.
  • Drinks for purchase.

Beefy King Is A Retro Return To Delicious Fast Food

On the outside, Beefy King is an unassuming throwback to the times of better fast foods.  A simple sign towering near a plain white building.  It looks forgettable in the normally fast bustle of central Florida. 

Inside though, you’ll find the best family-owned fast food joint you never knew you needed. A classic institution with steamed buns, tots, and delicious beef.  Beefy King in Orlando’s Milk District is a retro restaurant with great service that doesn’t try to be anything more than what it is.  And they’ve killed it for over 55 years.

Go for the beef and cheese, or the beef and pastrami.  Or go crazy and try the corned beef.  And don’t miss their horseradish sauce, made in-house.  

That “other place” may have the meats, but you’ll not have a better experience than at Beefy King. 

The King’s hours of operation can be tough to navigate.  They are only open from 10 am to 530 pm throughout the week, close at 3 pm on Saturdays, and are closed completely on Sundays.   

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A Brunch That Will Leave You Woozy From All The Choices

Face it, if you want to get your booze on in Orlando, your options are quite nearly limitless.  The Hammered Lamb is definitely one of those places.  They have great drinks, a killer patio, amazing food, and free shots.  When the train goes by along the tracks just out back.  Train shots.  Love it. 

Strangely, what actually brought us here was surprisingly not the food, but the Bloody Mary Bar offered during brunch.  Before you scroll away, understand the food here is very, very good.  The Corned Beef hash was positively to die for, and the Spicy Chicken and Waffles were criminal.  

But the Bloody Marys! 

Similar to our favorite burger joint in the country, Burgatory, you’re handed a sheet with ingredients, infusions, toppings, and add-ons.  You check the boxes, hand it over and a towering work of vodka-and-tomato art is delivered.  

May all your Bloody Mary dreams come true.  

The Hammered Lamb might seem like a bar, but it is kid and family-friendly.  Avoid the crowds by going at the start or the end of the brunch time slot, or commit and post up all day, enjoying Train Shots and great food. 

Information
  • https://thehammeredlamb.com/
  • 1235 North Orange Ave. Orlando, FL 32804
  • $8-$30 – Credit cards accepted.
  • Everything you’d ever want. And Train Shots!

Selam Ethiopian Is A Trip To Another World Of Great Food and Service

Ethiopian food isn’t a cuisine that jumps out as a must-have. Oh, but it is.

And before trying Selam, we had no idea what to expect. Is it like Indian food? Spicy and unforgiving? Heavy on the flavors like Spanish food? Bland and boring?

Ethiopian cuisine isn’t like any of those things. The food is spiced but not painful and piled on top of injera, an unleavened bread like a pancake, which is used as your fork and spoon. It was delicious.

Selam is special not just because of the food, but the service is second to none.  We were welcomed in like family, guided through the menu like curious visitors, and sent home well-fed and happy.  

Try the traditional coffee service, even if you aren’t a huge coffee fan for an experience that is truly Ethiopian. And if you’re really curious what Selam Ethiopian is all about, check out our full write-up here.

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Taverna Opa! Is A Tourist Trap Worth The Visit

Taverna Opa Is an experience.  

We had no clue when we booked our reservation.  We wanted Greek, lamb, and something different. 

Inside the decor was warm, inviting and the service absolutely stellar.  We never wanted for refills, the suggestions were perfect, and we felt part of the family.  

It was nice.  We settled into a nice, quiet meal. 

And then the beat dropped.  Belly dancers whisked off the little ones and the young at heart to dance on the tables while an endless shower of napkins rained down from high-tossed arcs.  The music was cranked, the energy was high, and the whole dining room was in on the party.  

What an experience.

Order the saganaki, say yes when the ouzo comes around, and enjoy an authentic Greek hoedown in the middle of Orlando.

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Did we miss anything? Do you have a better non-tourist suggestion? Let’s hear it. Tell us below in the comments or on our socials. We’re hungry for more.

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