Monday, December 26, 2011

Great Family-Friendly Dining in Orlando That Even Adults Will Love

Visiting Orlando, it’s easy to find yourself eating at fast food and large-scale chain restaurants where you often have to trade off a delicious meal in favor of a family-friendly place.  But there are some great family-friendly options which will please both kids AND adults.

Wolfgang Puck Express in Downtown Disney Marketplace offers delicious brick oven pizzas, pastas and fresh salads in a casual family-friendly setting.

Boma at Disney's Animal Kingdom Resort has an excellent African-themed buffet with something for everyone and the service is fantastic.

Chef Mickey’s at Disney’s Contemporary Resort is a great venue for character dining.  There are lots of options on the buffet to please even the pickiest of eaters and kids love table visits from their favorite Disney characters. Our most recent visit to Chef Mickey’s was with my niece who is allergic to nuts, and we were blown away with how accommodating the staff were to make sure she had many safe options.  The Contemporary Resort is handy because it is on the Disney's Monorail system, and it is a great vantage point from which to watch the evening fireworks shows.  The best spot is actually the smoking area on the hotel’s terrace – sounds horrible, but there is lots of space up there, and it is very easy to get away from anyone smoking (though in our experience, there are few smokers out there anyway).  

You need to call in advance to make reservations for Boma and Chef Mickey’s at 1-407-WDW-DINE.  Be aware at Disney, a reservation doesn’t actually secure you a table at the allotted time – it just means you will get a table before someone who made a reservation for a later time – and inevitably, you will need to wait for your table.  So expect a wait, bring some activities to keep the kids busy, and enjoy your meal!

If you find yourself in Haines City, Lake Wales or Winter Haven (in any case, this place is worth the drive) and have a big appetite, check out Manny’s Chophouse. Manny's has excellent seafood, sandwiches and ribs in huge portions.  There's always a line-up and they don’t take reservations, so be sure to go early and call ahead to get on their seating list.  If you don't feel like waiting, call ahead for take-out.  Manny’s is very busy, and though not uncomfortably loud, it is unlikely fellow diners will be disturbed (or even hear) a fussy baby or toddler.

The town of Celebration is home to several tasty options.  There’s a branch of Tampa’s famous Columbia Restaurant with a kid’s menu in addition to adult favorites like their renowned table-tossed 1905 salad, gazpacho, tapas and other Spanish dishes.  The Celebration Town Tavern serves up an extensive menu of New England-style favorites and has an extensive kid’s menu.  I can’t leave Orlando without having their Maine lobster roll sandwich.

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