Florida Guide > Dining
Eating Out in Orlando
Food and drink is very much cheaper than in Europe when you are looking at the non fine dining end of the range. A steak house or restaurant will charge $11-$24 for an main course, but it is usually big enough to share or take half away with you. With small children just ask for an extra plate, there will be plenty to feed a toddler from your own meal. It is rather a waste to ask for a children’s meal when you will have more than you can eat in one sitting.
In Orlando restaurants, which offer superb food in family restaurants, there is definitely no need to dress for dinner, in fact you would look very out of place if you did. Some of the best of these are Sante Fe, Lonestar, Outback Steakhouse, Longhorns Steakhouse and Manny’s Chop House. For Italian food there is the Olive Garden or Carrabas. The best fish restaurant is Red Lobster. For speciality ribs Sonny’s Bar B Q Pit is the place, mind you it very rustic but the ribs are amazing. For varied meals there is Bennigans, Millers Ale House, Applebees, Chillis. Denny’s International House of Pancakes (IHOP), Perkins, Bahama Breeze, Mimi’s, Cracker Barrels. These are all excellent family restaurants that are very reasonably priced.
If you order a soda or coffee with your meal, you will get automatic complimentary top ups. Desserts are not as popular as they are in the UK so there is not a great deal of choice. However if you go to the Cheesecake Factory forget the main course – go straight for the puds – they are huge and AMAZING. I didn’t know you could have so many varieties of cheesecake. On the subject of portion size they are IMMENSE so do bear that in mind when ordering and always get your take out box – it is the norm so do not be embarrassed.
Staff in these restaurants rely heavily on their tips and expect at least 15% (of the food bill excluding drinks and tax). This usually makes for very good service as they never share their tips, they always keep them so will try very hard to please. However it is quite acceptable to not leave a tip if the service is bad. We had a very bad experience at the Black Angus Steakhouse; we had a bad table, right by the door and the waitress found smiling and being pleasant a chore. NO TIP. If you do have a complaint with the food, do call for the manager, they will always replace it and often do not charge for the meal.
Fast Food Outlets
A burger meal at MacDonald’s for example is just over $5, that is at least half the cost of a MacDonalds meal in the UK, and remember that includes a massive soft drink with free top-ups. Remember to top up your drink as you leave, like the locals do, and get great value for your money. You may not believe it but, we have heard people order and pay for a large coke! (Remember top ups are free! ) It beggars belief but lots of people obviously do this so they offer large or small drinks.
Fast food in the parks is not great unless you eat at one of the dining restaurants but they are expensive and you will need to book when you first arrive in the park.
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