Best Outdoor Dining in Orlando

Photo courtesy of Justine Marie Photography
By Michelle Spitzer, Orlando Local Expert

We're not going to lie: there are lists that are more difficult to compile than others. This is one of those lists. Here in Orlando, where the weather is so often exceptional for dining outdoors, there are seemingly countless venues from which to choose. This selection that runs the gamut from one dollar sign to four, venues suitable for anniversary dinners and junior-high movie dates and everything in between. Their common thread, however, is that each boasts lovely outdoor seating areas where live music, trickling fountains, resplendent lakes and golf course (or even castle!) views help the lower blood pressure.

For occasions that call for finer dining, Capa, is equally ideal for either date night or dinner with the boss--with a sweeping view of Walt Disney World. Hillstone, too, has its charms, with excellent food and an enviable setting alongside Winter Park's Lake Killarney. If your little (or big) Disney fan is missing Mickey, head to Ravello at the Four Seasons Orlando at Walt Disney World. It’s the only outdoor dining with Disney characters. Looking for something artistic? Café Tu Tu Tango has plenty of masterpieces on the wall and on your plate. 

10. Boxi Park Lake Nona
Photo courtesy of Boxi Park Lake Nona

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.

9. Yellow Dog Eats
Photo courtesy of Yellow Dog Eats

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.

8. Hillstone
Photo courtesy of Hillstone

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.

7. Canvas Restaurant & Market

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.

6. Wine Bar George
Photo courtesy of Wine Bar George

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!

5. Ravello

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.

4. Cafe Tu Tu Tango
Photo courtesy of Cafe Tu Tu Tango

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.

3. Capa
Photo courtesy of Four Seasons

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.

2. The Waterfront
Photo courtesy of The Waterfront

"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.

1. Sixty Vines
Photo courtesy of Justine Marie Photography

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.