Orlando’s International Drive is packed with fun things to do, outlets to shop and places to eat. Commonly known as I-Drive, this landmark destination has 6 of Florida’s biggest theme parks on its doorstep, including Universal Studios and SeaWorld!
There are literally hundreds of restaurants on I-Drive, with cuisine ranging from brick oven pizza to Asian buffets to a Hawaiian-style hot dog stand! These are 5 of the best restaurants on International Drive, which are a hit with both locals and visitors:
For trendy tapas in an artsy atmosphere: Cafe Tu Tu Tango
Not just a place to eat, this restaurant is an experience in itself! Expect performances by tango, flamenco, and tribal fusion bellydancers, as well as fire-breathers and live music out on the patio. The walls are covered in eclectic art by local artists, some of which is being created right there in the restaurant as you dine.
The menu is primarily focused on tapas – small plates made for sharing – which makes every meal into an adventure as you and your party sample dishes like cajun chicken egg rolls, guava bbq ribs, and spiced alligator bites. Not feeling quite that adventurous? There are also plenty of classic crowd-pleasers like artisan flatbread pizzas, local fish tacos and Tuscan meatballs.
Hot Tip: Don’t miss the sangria, which is available in flavors like mango and passionfruit!
For I-Drive’s best steak: Texas de Brazil Steakhouse
This restaurant has been named Orlando Magazine’s “Best Restaurant on I-Drive” three years in a row! Although Texas de Brazil has multiple locations across the US, there is no generic “chain” feel to this fine dining restaurant.
The menu is all-you-can-eat at a fixed price, and includes bacon-wrapped filet mignon, lamb chops, flank steak, and Brazilian sausage, as well as an array of mouthwatering desserts like pecan pie, Brazilian flan, and creme brulee.
Hot Tip: Even vegetarians enjoy coming to Texas de Brazil, due to its extensive salad bar with 50-60 fresh gourmet vegetable options, soups, and appetizers.
For a big, boisterous Greek family party experience: Taverna Opa
Every meal here feels like a celebration of life, good food, and good company! Taverna Opa is always abuzz with live Greek and Mediterranean music punctuated by cries of “Opa!” as handfuls of napkins are tossed into the air, and bellydancers invite you to jump atop the tables and shake your thing!
Hot Tip: Looking for a more sedate meal? Stop by for lunch, when the music is calm and the restaurant is much more serene.
The menu is packed with authentic Greek cuisine, with ingredients like olives and cheeses imported directly from Greece. The hummus is especially fresh – the chickpeas are ground right at your table! You will find seafood dishes made with fresh catches brought in daily, wood-fired meat entrees, kebobs, and traditional Greek specialties like moussaka and spanakopita. The drinks menu features 20 different specialty martinis, a wine selection with over 20 Greek wines, pitchers of sangria and, of course, Ouzo – Greece’s most popular drink!
For Blues and BBQ: B.B. King’s Blues Club
This restaurant at Pointe Orlando serves up homestyle food from the American south with a backdrop of live blues music. Visiting this restaurant is practically a pilgrimage for any fan of the late B.B. King, and anyone who enjoys blues music will feel right at home here surrounded by the folksy painted portraits of blues guitar legends like Stevie Ray Vaughan and Muddy Waters.
Start your meal with a Memphis-style sausage and cheese platter or fried dill pickles, then dig into a plate piled with barbecue ribs, Southern fried catfish, Bayou shrimp or a juicy barbecue bacon cheeseburger.
For some fast food in-between your Orlando adventures: McDonalds
Your eyes do not deceive you – I have included McDonalds on a list of best restaurants! But there are good reasons for this surprising choice…
I-Drive boasts the largest McDonalds in the world, standing two stories tall and with kid-friendly entertainment like an arcade, bowling, and a large playground. Plans are actually underway to build an even more impressive location right next to the current one, which will be torn down when the new building opens in 2016.
This is one of a select number of McDonalds that offers “bistro menu” options like paninis, shrimp tortellini, and Philly cheesesteak. OK, so the food here is never going to be haute cuisine with five star service, but if you want a place where the little ones can burn off some energy, have picky eaters that want a simple hamburger, or just want to cross the world’s biggest McDonalds off your bucket list, it’s definitely worth a visit!
More about eating in Orlando!
Top Image: “IDrive Street View” by IDriveDistrict – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons