Good Food, Good Drink, Good Hair: Top Tables For An Orlando Autumn

Fall is glorious in Orlando, its cooler, drier weather signifying not only the end of another hurricane season, but the start of porch and patio season in all its glory. Good-hair season, too, but we digress.... Submitted here for your fall dining pleasure, a selection of varied venues chosen for a multitude of reasons. Some are ideal for enjoying the sublime al fresco eats and drinks the locals enjoy while their friends and relatives in the snow belt are putting chains on the tires. Others incorporate the flavors of the season into their menus – pumpkin and space and all that's Fall-nice. Some offer both. But whether you're in the market for fall-flavor-infused craft cocktail, a seasonal three-course dinner out or a steaming cup of coffee (or noodle-piled bowl of pho),  the fact that you can do all of it in your flip flops makes for one happy, Floridian fall experience. 


Disney Springs ®

Upstairs, Maria & Enzo's sweeping Italian eatery rules the roost, but down at Enzo's Hideaway, a clandestine lounge and restaurant themed on Florida's rum-running history, Prohibition Era cocktails wet the whistle and, if you're hungry, hearty Italian fare sates the belly. Salumi and cheese makes for a great starter, as do classic meatballs served with polenta. Larger entrees include a hefty lasagna (meat ragu AND bechamel make it extra rich) and Nonna's Pasta, similarly loaded down with meats, cheeses and cream. Steak, chicken and seafood plates are also available and if you're planning on dessert, check with your (likely Italian) server. Portions are hefty, you may want to share!

Recommended for Best Restaurants for Fall because: On the fall menu at the moment: the fall harvest soup and pumpkin white Russian. And that charcuterie board is always great for cooler weather.

A.D.'s expert tip: If you pop in for drinks, but find yourself hungry, Enzo's tender, proscuitto-infused rice balls are up to the task of culinary mop-up.

Read more about Enzo's Hideaway →

Se7en Bites

This quaint working Milk District bakery is open for breakfast and lunch with a manageable, fresh-made menu that changes near daily and makes choosing easy. Okay, that's arguable, since how one chooses between creative, handcrafted moon pies and fresh, local fruit-infused cobblers. is subjective. Easiest method? Bring a friend and share everything! Cakes, cookies, cupcakes, pies ... the smells emanating from the Se7en Bites kitchen are wrong in all the best ways possible. Be thoroughly prepared for a sweet-related impulse buy to take home. Eggs and biscuits, scones and soups, Southern comfort classics and lots of surprising modern twists.

Recommended for Best Restaurants for Fall because: Fall is the best season to get fat. Here's where you want to do it via the salted caramel dark chocolate pecan pie, among others.

A.D.'s expert tip: Se7en Bites is cozy. Keep your dining party small for best results or simply go the takeout route.

Read more about Se7en Bites →

Tartine is a fancy French word for something that need not be fancy: an open-faced sandwich. That said, at a place like Tartine (a sister business to Winter Park's exceedingly popular Croissant Gourmet; so you know they've got the house-made baked goods down), even the simple can feel wonderfully elevated. Decadent croque madame, for example, with its ham and rich bechamel which mingles with the yolk of a sunny-side up egg is a lunch offering you'll want to pair with a bottle of wine, Honestly, can you think of a better way to offset that cholesterol?!

Recommended for Best Restaurants for Fall because: House-made bread and pastries are a wonderfully warm way to usher in cooler climes. See also: red wine.

A.D.'s expert tip: Bring Fido! Tartine has a nice, reasonable menu for your pooch. Roasted beef femur bone? Ra-sha-sha!

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New in 2018, this Mills 50 eatery (and drinkery) comes courtesy of some experienced Orlando restaurateurs whose vision of artful small plates (oysters with a cool dry-ice presentation is an Instagram food pornographer's dream come true) and effervescent sips is luring in locals for a peek and a taste. Beyond the bivalves and bubbly, treats like duck leg confit and an ample array of charcuterie options are among the temptations. Bites & Bubbles recently added an a la carte brunch, as well, where their dessert bananas foster morphs into a French toast version, so, too, does the duck confit make an apperance Menus shift with what's local and fresh, so you may not find the same things from one visit to the next.

Recommended for Best Restaurants for Fall because: Bites & Bubbles has a three-course "Fall Temptation" Menu with choices including escargot, Cornish hen and vanilla creme brulee.

A.D.'s expert tip: Monday Night RAW! Oysters are $1 apiece all night long!

Read more about Bites & Bubbles →

Kai Asian Street Fare

Orlando has been exploding with great, new Asian restaurants and this new fast-casual option, if the flavors are any indication, has a bright future ahead. Favorites here include the crispy wings and garlicky garlic noodles, but fans of handhelds may really dig on taco options such as Thai chicken, crunchy cod or crispy/melty fried tofu. Looking for something super decadent? Consider their loaded fries options. The Gojira (love the kaiju nod!) gets bonito flakes, nori and spicy mayo but the over-the-top K-Pop & Lock is an Instagrammers' delight, topped with bulgogi beef, kimchi and spicy mayo.

Recommended for Best Restaurants for Fall because: As you head into holiday eating season (ie, diets fall by the way side) Kai is a solid place for indulgence in the pre-game.

A.D.'s expert tip: Wing Wednesday brings with it 99-cent wings. Crispy. Spicy. CHEAP. Get some!

Read more about Kai Asian Street Fare →

That we chose to highlight the Oviedo location is just us giving East Orlando some love, because you'll find the same amazing ices and gelati (their name for the creamy-frosty layered delight of soft serve and ice available in various combinations) all around the Sunshine State. There are 11 Jeremiah's locations in the Orlando area â€" the business is HQ'd here â€" but you can also find them in Tampa, Jacksonville, and Coral Springs. Seasonal offerings come and go and are oft-beloved, but there are more than 40 flavors of Italian ice from which to choose, including a few sugar-free options. Outdoor seating is the norm at this stand of frozen delights. Jeremiah's goes a long way in proving that Floridians aren't vehemently anti-snow. We just prefer it flavored and served in a cup on our way to and from the beach.

Recommended for Best Restaurants for Fall because: Fans of the seasonal pumpkin pie gelati have a new candidate for autumnal consideration: pistachio! (We've tried it and believe pistachio fans will "fall" for it!)

A.D.'s expert tip: Dog lovers, bring Fido! Jeremiah's offers free samples of pooch-friendly ice cream for your furry friend!

Read more about Jeremiah's Italian Ice →

Last year, Gratitude Coffee was the sole food truck on the autumn round-up. And we're keeping it this year. Why? Well, yeah - "gracious, friendly proprietor ... home-baked goods ... phenomenal coffee..." But that's not news. What is news is that after years pouring Joe for a loyal legion of Orlandoans, this shop has gone brick and mortar! It may have lost the open-air food truck vibe, but hey: now it's got AC (big plus, as fall in Orlando can be as warm as any summer day!) Plus now the shop has space for truly adorable gifts for your favorite coffee lover!

Recommended for Best Restaurants for Fall because: Peanut butter mocha, pumpkin spice latte, pistachio muffins, etc. etc. etc.

A.D.'s expert tip: Coffees here are made fresh and can be customized to your order - and all with a smile.

Read more about Gratitude Coffee →

Chocoholics beware. While the many tempting shops of Park Avenue are rife with goodies for your home, office, closet or jewelry box, Peterbrooke's could head straight to your hips! We dare you to escape the gravitational pull of this sublime chocolatier, where the smell alone might satisfy your sweet tooth if not for the high-quality visuals on display everywhere, from the bins where weight-sold chocolate-covered malt balls, toffee bits, nuts and more tempt to ridiculous-decadent creatives like the "broissant" (Peterbrooke's take on the cronut, a gooey-rich affair that seems pulled from the deepest dreams of Willy Wonka himself). Come the fall season (really, in every season) Peterbrooke's professionals turn up the charm, with wonderful creations that suit, whether infused with autumn flavors a la pumpkin cheesecake gelato or created in shapes that scream (BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!) seasonal.

Recommended for Best Restaurants for Fall because: Peterbrooke's picture-pretty fall treats have the added clout of being absolutely scrumptious. What a way to kick off holiday-eating season!

A.D.'s expert tip: Ultimate Truffles are extra special - they take two people two days to make! Dark chocolate ganache coated in dark chocolate and then rolled in cocoa powder

Read more about Peterbrooke Chocolatier →

Luisa's Cellar is another charming addition to the Sanford fold. Its owners, often on site, call their little slice of Sanford Avenue a "wine bar with a beer problem," but in a walkable downtown where you can throw a rock in any direction and hit a fermentation tank, it's a good problem to have. On-site sommeliers can help you find the perfect bottle (and leave with it; Luisa's is also a wine shop), but it's more likely you'll want to stay, finish the thing, grab some cheese or charcuterie or perhaps an item or two off a food truck that could be parked for the evening, take in some live music (jazz night? vinyl night? acoustic guitar?), the company of the staffers, your date or a paperback you had in your shop-local tote bag. This place has a vibe. A warm one. And the wine with which to pair it.

Recommended for Best Restaurants for Fall because: Of course, body-warming red wine is fabulous for fall, but Luisa's Cellar is a coffee shop, too, so get your pumpkin latte on!

A.D.'s expert tip: It's also a cafe! Great coffees (they blend their own!) and teas - and for $2 you can add booze to any drink.

Read more about Luisa's Cellar →

Audubon Park

Don't let the $140 average dinner price tag scare you off. You see Kadence, formerly known as Kappo (once housed a few blocks away at Audubon Park's East End Market), is a nine-seat omakase experience unlike any other you'll find here in Orlando. Sushi purists will delight in the artistic, authentic multi-course (for dinner, that's 18+ courses!) magnificence on display. Its three chef-owners choose the best fish of the day, treating guests in the intimate dining room to beautifully plated sushi offerings, along with soup and dessert courses. Sake, beer and tea are available for sipping as you wait for your table. Monday lunch and dinner seatings, are walk-in only - no reservations. Wednesday-Saturday sushi tastings are limited reservations, walk-ins welcome. Sunday's kappo-style tastings are by reservation only.

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Meet A.D. Thompson

Amy Drew has spent nearly three decades as a professional writer and roughly half her life as a Floridian. The words, she has found, come easier with bare feet and rum.

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