Family-Friendly Eats Near the Parks: Safe Havens, Adventurous Options

In a city like Orlando, families on vacation have myriad options. Many are in town to visit the theme parks and while those looking to uber-capitalize on the Disney, SeaWorld or Universal experience do much of their dining in amid the attractions, many more want to branch out. For one thing, off-site dining can be far friendlier to the wallet. And it's nice to venture out into other areas of the city, even the more tourist-driven among them. It offers a break from the parks' frenetic pace. Familiar faces are always nice when you're in a strange place. You'll find a few on this list. Kobe Japanese Steakhouse, for example, serves up teppanyaki fun, its hibachi chefs with proffer surprisingly hearty fare along with some mealtime entertainment. Same goes for King's Bowl, although you'll supply your own fun as you strike-and-spare your way to 10-frame supremacy with a side of surprisingly sophisticated menu options for a bowling alley. Pointe Orlando has many options. One is Marlow's Tavern, where leveled-up pub food merges with copious kid selections and craft cocktails for moms, dads and the like. But Orlando, while chain laden, has far more than chicken nuggets and fries up its sleeve. You'll find more exotic selections in places like the Russian/Eastern Euro-infused Ararat and Mediterranean/Middle Eastern venue of Maraya at Sabrina's. 



It's no wonder Ararat Euro Food & Bistro set up shop on Univeral Blvd. It's cuisine and foodstuffs (there is a small deli/market on premises, as well) serves up homestyle cuisine from Russia, touching on other European fare as well,...  Read More



Many visitors to Orlando are surprised to find so many diverse, family-run restaurants in a city they many believe is comprised of nothing but chain dining options. Maraya is one of many venues that disproves this common assumption. Offering up...  Read More

Marlow's Tavern
Photo courtesy of A.D. Thompson


Marlow's Tavern bills itself as "the 'Best of the Best' in American tavern fare. Its Pointe Orlando location is both warm and modern, with a lovely outdoor seating area that's beautiful in Orlando's best weather and heater-served on cooler...  Read More



So, yes: it's a bowling alley. But when was the last time you went to a bowling alley where you could enjoy a few fames while dining on such delights as maple glazed sea scallops or house-smoked baby back ribs? That's what we thought. King's...  Read More



Floridians (and perhaps a few Canadians) know Twistee Treat. The rest of you? You're missing out, so make it a point to stop in on your next Orlando jaunt. There are several locations around the metro, Flint's serves the I-Drive area and those...  Read More



With locations in an abundance of states " the most telling being its success in Texas " Chuy's is a solid chain option for Tex-Mex if you're in the mood for chimis, nachos, fajitas and the like. And don't forget the margaritas. Elvis...  Read More



What's the burning question on the minds of Pio Pio patrons, you wonder? Perhaps it's how they serve such generous portions in the tourist zone for such reasonable prices. Perhaps, if they're locals, it's a disbelief that it's taken them so long...  Read More



Not that the theme parks don't offer up enough entertainment, but after a day spent entertaining the kids at Disney, SeaWorld or Universal, maybe you just want to kick back with a sake bomb and let someone else do the work (within reason, of...  Read More



With locations in more than 20 states nationwide, Maggiano's Little Italy has wide name recognition " and a solid reputation. Groups are more than welcome at its spacious, tourist-convenient Pointe Orlando location, as are parties in its...  Read More



Serving up tasty fast-casual eats from its comfortable Dr. Phillips digs, this cheery "paninery" does up a multitude of classic pressed sandwiches with fresh, locally made bread and house-roasted meats, which makes a big difference when it comes...  Read More


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.

A roller coaster...  More About A.D.