Think of Boxi Park as an outdoor, trendy food court. The 30,000-square-foot space is made up of 13 repurposed shipping containers, each serving up different delicious food offerings. You can get everything from a crispy cauliflower mango taco, to a herb lemon lobster roll to a bacon double cheeseburger on a potato roll and everything in between. There's also ice cream, salads, doughnuts, the list goes on and on. There are even shipping containers dedicated exclusively to beverages, mostly adult. The park often hosts events or has musical acts performing making it a great outing for a few hours. Bring your children, those that are human and animal. There's plenty of shaded seating, a volleyball court and outdoor games.
Recommended for Outdoor Dining because: There's plenty for everyone in your party to pick from, plenty of space to spread out and lots of shade.
Michelle's expert tip: It's only open Thursday and Friday starting at 5 p.m. and Saturday starting at 11 a.m. and Sunday at 12 p.m.
This charming, off-the-beaten-path venue is charming and rustic, like a diamond-in-the-rough surprise you'd stumble upon while road-tripping. Its food is surprising, too. Sandwiches, salads, scrumptious starters and a whole lotta barbecue. A host of offerings showcase piles of YDE's signature pulled pork, including the Rufus (pork topped with thick-cut Brie, cherry ring peppers and topped with raspberry melba sauce). Ribs are available by the half-rack, as well. And YDE's house slaw is a sweet, tangy treat. Vegans fear not! There are loads of truly exceptional options, including wine. The list includes everything from $6 offerings to $200. You also have the option to order your food online.
Recommended for Outdoor Dining because: With excellent food for carnivores, vegans and everyone in between and an exceptionally charming patio, YDE is an outdoor-dining natural.
Michelle's expert tip: Try the Fire Pig - savory pulled pork with pecan-smoked bacon, gouda, slaw and Sriracha, topped with Fish's Gold BBQ sauce and fried onions.
With its truly exceptional lakeside setting, fine dining at Hillstone may leave you and your guests stuffed, but no one at the table will find it stuffy. In fact, it's just the sort of place to loosen the tie, slide the power heels off a bit (under the table, perhaps) and unwind after a day of wheeling and dealing. One cocktail, a bit of fresh air and schmoozing becomes simple socializing over an ample wood-grilled steak, crisp salad or perhaps a sandwich or burger. Save room. Hillstone's desserts are decadent, as well. Thank goodness the view has zero calories.
Recommended for Outdoor Dining because: Exceptional for work or date-night meals, Hillstone makes for an excellent happy hour stop-in, as well. Lake views = decompression.
Michelle's expert tip: Close to two great movie theaters and the shopping/cavorting haven of Park Ave, Hillstone dates pair easily with other fun to-dos.
With a rotating menu of New American cuisine and a romantic, lakeside setting, Canvas has made Lake Nona's rapidly expanding culinary scene tastier and prettier, injecting the Sunshine State's flavorful blend of Southern and Latin American into its Instagram-worthy plates. "Restaurant" may come first in Canvas' name, but let's not forget the "market" portion. It's one part high-end comestible-and-home-goods store, one part breezy cafe. Gifts and foodstuffs abound; they'll even take cooking dinner off your list of to-dos. Just buy it, bring it home and make whoever's eating it happy. (At the very least, you could bring a dessert treat!) The market is open daily from 7 am to 8 pm. Bar opens at 3 pm. The views to go with your wine, beer or cocktail are sublime.
Recommended for Outdoor Dining because: With resplendent views and a nice 3-6 pm weekly happy hour (great time to sample!), Canvas puts Lake Nona on the list!
Michelle's expert tip: Visitors to the Orlando metro with a late flight out might want to consider Canvas for a "last (hurrah) meal," due to its supremely airport-convenient location.
There's something relaxing about being able to people watch while perched high above in a charming, intimate setting. Of course it also helps that there's more than 140 wines available by the glass, bottle and ounce. Performers entertain on a nearby stage that is close enough to see and hear, but far enough away so the sound isn't overbearing. The restaurant is open for lunch, dinner and brunch on the weekends. If you go for dinner, time your meal so you're there at sunset for the best view and so the sun isn't blinding you as it sets. The menu includes small plates, cheese and charcuterie, family style plates and desserts. All you Dole whip fans, you'll definitely want to order the Frozcato mimosa made with Dole whip pineapple. It's only on the brunch menu, but you can get it anytime. Just ask!
Recommended for Outdoor Dining because: The upstairs terrace is the place to escape, yet still enjoy the commotion of Disney Springs. People watch, listen to music and enjoy a delicious meal.
Michelle's expert tip: Master Sommelier George Miliotes, the man behind the restaurant, is almost always on hand and happy to share his knowledge with guests.
Yearning for a meal with Mickey and friends, but want to dine outside? This is the place to go. Every Saturday from 7 a.m. until 11 a.m., there's a character meal with incredible food and an amazing view of the resort's impeccable grounds. Mickey and his pals, dressed in their resort attire, parade around the restaurant, including the patio area. While they're not able to approach the table or give autographs, the characters do pose for cute, socially-distanced photos. The breakfast is a prix-fixe menu with a choice of entrée. The cost is $48 for adults and $28 for children.
Recommended for Outdoor Dining because: This is the only place you can dine outside with Mickey and his pals right now.
Michelle's expert tip: All of the other restaurants at Four Seasons Orlando at Walt Disney World also offer outdoor dining.
It's all about artistry here - from the works of art adorning the walls to the creations coming from the kitchen. The large patio allows you to sit outside, yet still enjoy everything made inside, including the art, which is for sale. Dishes pull on a host of ethnicities: Latin American, Caribbean and Middle Eastern among them. Cajun egg rolls and duck confit salad, hummus and falafel, seafood skewers and alligator gumbo. Weekend brunch is a must (Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.) You have your pick of the menu, as much or little as you want, for about $27. Enjoy the bottomless bloody Marys and mimosas bar for an additional upcharge.
Recommended for Outdoor Dining because: You'll enjoy all the artistic offerings, from your plate to the walls.
Michelle's expert tip: Great choice for parties with picky eaters with selections to please both adventurous and tame.
This is the Four Season Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort's signature steakhouse and its Spanish-inspired cuisine is elevated - literally and figuratively. From on high, guests here can take in superb cuisine, creative cocktails and phenomenally-romantic fireworks views from the expansive balcony (heaters will be going on chilly nights). Inspired small plates are a wonderful way to experience the many flavors on tap here, but entrees from the duck breast to the halibut to the porterhouse for two are mouthwatering and on point. Truthfully, it would be easy for a planned glass of Argentine Malbec to turn into a multi-course dinner here. This isn't a venue you'll leave easy. It's a space in which you'll want to linger.
Recommended for Outdoor Dining because: Soaring views and sumptuous selections make this Four Seasons restaurant even more "elevated" than the brand's already-high standard.
Michelle's expert tip: Time your visit for sunset to get a spectacular view of Walt Disney World.
"Food, Brews & Views" is the tagline for this ideally located venue on the shores of South Orlando's Lake Jennie Jewel, and a jewel of a place it is. Both indoor and outdoor, the shaded patio makes for a cool respite in summertime (if you're not planning on a paddle or swim, that is - The Waterfront sometimes runs events that take participants out on the water....) and come Orlando's "winter," cool lakeside breezes and sublime temperatures make this an ideal oasis for lunch, dinner or a bottomless mimosa brunch if said special is running and you're so inclined. Folks who remember this place as Julie's Waterfront will be impressed with the upgrade in both food and atmosphere. The view? That really can't be improved upon.
Recommended for Outdoor Dining because: Beautiful views of Lake Jennie Jewel pair brilliantly with everything on the menu.
Michelle's expert tip: Try the fish dip - smoked mahi and swordfish in a creamy dip with pickled jalapenos. Who needs the beach?
This adorable restaurant's menus are inspired by wine country and dishes are made with local, fresh ingredients. Offerings change depending on the season and what local farmers are growing. Sixty Vines is knowns for its tasty, unique pizzas with toppings like local honey, micro basil and house ground sausage. Whatever you eat, you can be sure there's a perfect wine to pair with it. The restaurant is wine-centric, particularly with a concentration on California wines. There's a small, intimate patio dining space complete with a fire pit. Connected to the patio is a beautiful greenhouse where you also can dine and have an outdoor feel. Be sure to request one of these spaces when making reservations. The restaurant is open for lunch or dinner during the week and offers brunch on the weekends.
Recommended for Outdoor Dining because: The outdoor space is charming and the food and wine is remarkable.
Michelle's expert tip: The patio and greenhouse also can be rented out for private events.