Friday, May 8, 2009

Orlando Vacation Package Dining Choices

One of the great joys that comes with an Orlando vacation package (for most people!) is the opportunity to dine out whenever you want. When you've booked all the flights, done all the packing, made the journey by flying or driving and finally made it to your hotel or vacation home, the thought of some nice relaxing meals in quality restaurants is a great thing to look forward to.

If you're staying at one of the Disney world resort hotels and you don't want to rent a car, maybe you're limited to Walt's hospitality - but even then there is quite a choice!

However, if you're renting a room in one of the Kissimmee or Orlando hotels, you'll have a vast amount of restaurants to sample. And even if you've booked a short term rental home or condo, complete with a fully fitted kitchen, you may still choose to eat out everyday - especially if you're one of those Moms who need a break from the routine of feeding the family everyday. I certainly remember the times I used to enjoy Florida vacations - the sunshine was obviously a great attraction and Disney World and Universal and Sea World were wonderful, but freedom from my daily chef routine was a big attraction too!

But the joy of eating out can soon be diminished if the food isn't well-prepared or if the service is poor. So I wanted to pass on my experience of just a few local restaurants as a way to help you out. These are obviously totally subjective and focused on our family tastes (so for example, there are no Chinese or Italian restaurants because my husband has a very narrow range of preferences!) but at least it will give you one "user review" of each of the following:

Restaurants We Go Back To:
  • Longhorn Steakhouse - this is a new place on the 192, near to the new Target mall west of Formosa Gardens Boulevard. We've already been there twice, it was very busy both times and the food and service was excellent. Obviously it's part of the Longhorn chain and serves standard American fare, but the steaks, salmon and ribs were all good. The staff were helpful and pleasant.
  • Ruth's Chris - our favorite place to eat. More expensive than Longhorn, it offers the best steaks we've ever had anywhere. We've dined at Ruth's Chris restaurants all over the USA (from New York to Miami to San Diego) and every one has given us fantastic service and top class food and wine. The Orlando one that we visit is on sand Lake Road, just west of the Dr Phillips sign west of I4 Exit 74.
  • IHOP: For those big breakfasts or that budget meal, try IHOP. There are several along the 192 but the only one we visit is on the south side of the 192 immedaitely before Poinciana Boulevard. We avoid the others (there are two farther west on the 192) because of poor service or average to poor food or both that we've experienced there.
Restaurants We Are Unlikely To Revisit:
  • Outback - the restaurant at Formosa Boulevard on the 192 used to be one of our favorites. We ate there several times a year and my husband was happy to meet clients there for business dinners. It was always very popular. Then something changed - either the Manager, or corporate standards, or something. We took our extended family there a couple of years ago and it was a disaster - the food was not properly cooked and a couple of members of our party received their meals about fifteen minutes after the rest. Service was poor and when we complained, no one seemed to really care. We took it up with Outback in Tampa and received a "formula" type of apology along with a $50 voucher, which we used in a follow-up visit. Sadly that was just as bad and we have had equally unhappy tales from other friends who have dined there more recently - so now we use Longhorn etc. instead.
Ok, so none of these are "gourmet" places (although Ruth's Chris is as good a restaurant as we've ever been to. Maybe that shows our limited experience, or maybe it's just a really good place to eat!) but I hope that gives you just a few ideas on where to eat out and where to avoid. So give them a try, and try others as well - please remember that this is totally subjective and is based on our tastes and what you make of your eating experiences on your Orlando vacation pacakge is up to you!

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