2023 The NAFEM Show Guide: A Guide to New Orlando Restaurants
After The NAFEM Show ends, you need not look far for new and exciting dining options.
It’s a new dawn for The NAFEM Show, and for Orlando’s restaurant scene, too.
In 2022, Orlando operations captured the attention of the Michelin Guide for the first time. The latest guide recognizes 33 Orlando restaurants, including breakout star Four Flamingos, which opened in December 2021.
For details on that operation and more of what’s new, FER checked in with the tourism association Visit Orlando. While a few of the newest restaurants in town are walking distance from the Orange County Convention Center, others require transportation and, in some cases, a reservation.
Both Icon Park and Pointe Orlando—each just over a mile from the Orange County Convention Center— have welcomed new restaurants since The NAFEM Show was last held.
No matter your tastes or party size, let this list of new Orlando restaurants whet your appetite and inspire your after-hours plans:
Chef Richard Blais, of “Top Chef” fame, is the driving force behind the Michelin Guide recommended restaurant Four Flamingos, located at Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress. “Follow the footpath that leads over a bridge and towards the bright pink entrance, fronted by a waterfall,” writes the Michelin Guide. “This retreat radiates a calming, coastal vibe with design details like plentiful windows, warm wood and pops of color. Fittingly, the menu is contemporary Americana meets the tropics.”
Here, about 20 minutes away from the Orange County Convention Center, settle in for fresh seafood galore, and keep an eye out for native fruits and crisp vegetables.
The Michelin Guide points to main menu items like lobster, swordfish and spiced mojo chicken. For lighter eaters (or those starting light), Michelin points to the tuna tostada that is “crowned by an egg yolk that is, in reality, a bright passion fruit sauce.”
Tropical cocktails—like Key Lime in the Coconut, with house-made key lime shrub, and a Florida Ol’ Fashioned, featuring a house specialty spiced orange blossom honey syrup— bring flair to the drink menu, but wine and beer options also are plentiful.
Visit Orlando details that the smallest of the venue’s four dining rooms can seat 30, and the largest 48. Prix fixe menu options, from $100-$130 per person, are available for large parties with a reservation.
Four Flamingos, located at 1 Grand Cypress Blvd., Orlando, is open from 5-10 p.m. nightly. For more information, visit fourflamingosorlando.com or call (407) 239-3854.
KAVAS TACOS + TEQUILA
Set to open this winter, the 7,000-square-foot Kavas Tacos + Tequila in The Pointe Orlando—roughly a mile from the convention center on International Drive—promises a lively environment, with aerial entertainment at 7 p.m. daily.
The modern Mexican and Tex-Mex menu, largely inspired by street food vendors in Mexico City, offers a la carte and family style meals as well as vegan and vegetarian options. Standouts include a 3-foot taco board (featuring 12 tacos of choice) and main plates like the mezcal mango salmon or chimichangas. Turn to the drink menu for specialty cocktails like a Blood Orange Coconut Margarita, with tequila (over 150 varieties available), cream of coconut, lime juice and blood orange soda, topped with a salt rim. Local wines, mocktails and alcohol-free selections like horchata also are available.
End on a sweet note with coconut tres leches cake or Mexican chocolate truffles.
Kavas is open from 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Private dining rooms can accommodate large parties.
Kavas Tacos + Tequila, located at 9101 International Drive, Suite 1198, is the sister concept of nearby Mediterranean eatery Taverna Opa (on the second level of Pointe Orlando) and Tapa Toro (a mile down the road at 8441 International Drive, #260). Visit kavastacos.com for more details.
BROTHER JIMMY’S BBQ AND SLOPPY JOE’S
Catch up on sports and dig into a helping of Carolina-style barbecue at the 7,200-square-foot Brother Jimmy’s.
The eatery opened in June 2022 at 8441 International Drive, Suite 290, in Icon Park. It serves up barbecue staples like ribs, fried chicken, chicken wings, brisket and pulled pork, plus southern catfish, mason jar cocktails, sweet tea and more.
The restaurant is open from 3 p.m.-2 a.m. Monday-Thursday and 12 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday-Sunday. To make a reservation, visit brotherjimmys.com.
Also new to Icon Park as of December 2021, the Key West saloon Sloppy Joe’s dishes island-inspired food—think crab bisque; mahi-mahi in a creamy lobster sauce; mac ‘n’ cheese topped with lobster, crab and shrimp; and, yes, sloppy Joes—with a side of daily live music. Homemade key lime pie, frozen cocktails and more complete the menu, and a downsized late-night menu is available for night owls. Here, Visit Orlando says up to 140 can be seated indoors, while 54 can fit on the patio.
Sloppy Joe’s is located at 371 International Drive, Suite 60. For more information, call (407) 698-5485 or visit sloppyjoesorlando.com.
All told, the 20-acre Icon Park boasts an assortment of restaurants, with food, music and dancing at venues like Blake Shelton’s Ole Red. Nearby, Mango’s Tropical Cafe also offers entertainment.
For those with a sweet tooth, JoJo’s Shake Bar, which serves decked-out desserts and milkshakes, is set to open in the nearby Pointe Orlando in 2022.
AMARE AT SWAN RESERVE
For those looking to venture just a bit further from The NAFEM Show’s home base, Amare proves a tempting destination, just under 30 minutes away.
One of four new restaurants that debuted as part of the expansion of The Walt Disney World Swan Reserve at Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in November 2021, Amare features Mediterranean-inspired fare and wine. Expect appetizers like hearth-fired tiger prawns and charred octopus; entrees including sea bass al cartoccio (among other seafood), handmade dumplings stuffed with bahrat spiced lamb, house-made Tonnarelli pasta and more.
Amare is located at 1255 Epcot Resorts Blvd., in Lake Buena Vista.
Dinner reservations are recommended. For details, visit swandolphin.com/dining/amare/ or call (407) 934-1609.
Additional group dining options at the Swan and Dolphin properties include Todd English’s bluezoo, Shula’s Steak House, Il Mulino New York Trattoria and Kimonos.
Comprehensively, Visit Orlando says the Orlando area boasts 6,000-plus restaurants representing 40 different international cuisines. Where will you wind up?
A Tip of the Hat
The 2022 Michelin Guide recognized 117 Florida restaurants, 33 of which are in Orlando. Of those 33:
• 4 restaurants, located anywhere from 10-30 minutes from the convention center, are one-star venues (meaning, “high quality cooking, worth a stop”)
• 7 restaurants are Bib Gourmands (“good quality, good value cooking”)
• 22 restaurants are recommended (including Four Flamingos)
See guide.michelin.com for details.
Consider booking tickets for these nearby entertainment options, happening in Orlando in early February.
• “Wicked:” From Jan. 25-Feb. 12, the Broadway hit will transport audiences to the Land of Oz. Catch the show—with matinee (1 and 2 p.m.) and evening (6:30 and 8 p.m.) options, depending on the day—at the Walt Disney Theater in Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, located at 445 S. Magnolia Ave., Orlando, less than 12 miles from the convention center. Ticket prices vary. For details, and to buy tickets, visit drphillipscenter.org.
• TobyMac: The Christian musician’s “Hits Deep Tour,” also featuring Crowder, Cochren & Co., Tasha Layton, Jon Reddick and Terrian, comes to Orlando’s Amway Center (400 W. Church St., #200, about a 22-minute drive from the convention center) at 7 p.m. on Feb. 3. Find tickets at amwaycenter.com.
• Kenny Wayne Shepherd: Catch the five-time Grammy-nominated blues rock guitarist as his “Trouble Is … 25th Anniversary Tour” passes through Orlando. Award-winning singer, songwriter and guitarist Samantha Fish joins the show, which kicks off at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 3, at the Hard Rock Live Orlando, 6050 Universal Blvd.—just over 4 miles down from the convention center. For tickets (ranging from $49.50-$100), visit hardrockcafe.com/location/orlando/.
Check out visitorlando.com/events for additional events.
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