Alright, no one's going to argue that Orlando's I-Drive is ground zero for the city's zillion or so annual tourists, but with what seems like a zillion or so restaurants to match, is it possible to find an ethnic culinary gem amid the chain buffets and ubiquitous pancake houses? Indeed. In fact, if you dig a little deeper you might come to the conclusion that they named it INTERNATIONAL Drive for a reason. Did you ever imagine you'd find authentic Japanese or Ethiopian food in the heart of this tourist corridor? Such treasures surprise many an Orlando native, never mind the visitors. Of course, "chain" doesn't have to be a dirty word. There's something to be said for the fun and familiar when it comes to quality dining, especially if you're traveling with a diverse or picky group. Venues like Fogo de Chao offer fine food in lovely surroundings with the family-friendliness and ease of an all-you-can-eat buffet. Hotel-ensconced eateries like Spencer's provide elegant oases ideal for special evenings out, well away from the Disney-bound hordes. And restaurants like Tapa Toro, a new gem at the foot of the Orlando Eye, do up both succinct small plates for dates and succulent paella vats for family-reunion celebrations.
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