Eleven Orlando restaurants have been awarded a prestigious honor in the very first Michelin Guide edition for Florida.
The world’s most coveted culinary organization, the Michelin Guide—which dates back to 1900 in France—is regarded as the ultimate accolade for restaurants that earn a Michelin star or Bib Gourmand award, but it had never before covered the Sunshine State.
But, in a glittering ceremonial evening at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Orlando’s Grande Lakes Resort on June 9, 2022, the Guide unveiled its first star-ratings for restaurants in Miami, Orlando, and Tampa.
Visit Florida CEO Dana Young was delighted to see the new culinary focus on the state. “The launch of the Michelin Guide in Florida is fantastic news for our state,” she said. “Our cuisine is a huge part of who we are and what we offer to visitors. We know Michelin’s presence here will take the Florida vacation experience to new heights and have an incredible impact on our tourism brand.”
Miami collected the most honors, with 11 restaurants being awarded one star, and one restaurant – the French cuisine of L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Miami’s Design District – collecting a two-star designation (the Guide only goes up to three stars in its ratings), while another 19 earned Bib Gourmand status, which the Guide lists as a tribute for good value as well as good quality.
But Orlando, long considered the poor relation of Florida’s dining scene as the Theme Park Capital of the World, scooped up a quartet of star-rated restaurants and added another seven Bib Gourmand accolades to put it second in the state’s dining stratosphere.
Michelin Guide four one-star winners are:
The Michelin Guide said: “This steakhouse also flaunts a decidedly Spanish accent. Kick things off with ace tapas before indulging in a main dish, like flame-kissed ribeye with tamarind-ancho sauce.”
Soseki Modern Omakase, the boutique 10-seat sushi-fusion gem by Orlando chef Michael Collantes, which is tucked away at 955 Fairbanks Avenue in Winter Park.
The Guide said: “This tiny operation is an ideal illustration of a contemporary meal expressed by way of an omakase. A laser-like focus on local Florida produce results in a menu that changes monthly.”
Kadence, the Japanese-sushi focused restaurant in the Audubon Park district of Orlando (1809 Winter Park Road) that started as a sushi stand in the East End Market.
The Guide said: “The omakase opens with hot dishes and cool sashimi. This is food that’s free-spirited, yet manages to honor the classic methods. Pacing is on point in sashimi like hamachi and hirame. Nigiri, like snapper with lemon and sea salt, will have you yearning for more.”
Knife & Spoon, the grand, upscale restaurant inside the Ritz-Carlton hotel, which features superb seafood and mouth-watering steaks.
The Guide said: “This iteration from Chef John Tesar is the picture of plush. Care and skill are the hallmarks of this team, as they turn out contemporary steakhouse fare woven with seafood.”
Following on from the one-star highlights, the seven restaurants given the Bib Gourmand honor were:
Bombay Street Kitchen, a delicious Indian-specialty dining venue on the South Orange Blossom Trail just north of the Florida Mall.
The Guide said: “Amit Kumar’s fresh and fine outlet offers well-prepared South Indian small plates which form the nucleus of this tempting menu.”
Papa Llama, the modest Peruvian-inspired restaurant on Curry Ford Road in the Curry Ford West district that features a tapas-style menu.
The Guide said: “For a Peruvian menu that’s diverse in its brevity, this is your spot. Come with a crowd to make the most of this shareable menu, full of bright, approachable ingredients given the depth of flavor treatment.”
Domu, the Japanese-fusion creation of Chef Sonny Nguyen in Orlando’s East End Market, featuring outstanding ramen.
The Guide said: “Beyond the small plates lies the star item—ramen. Creations, like the Ritchie Rich and Curry, are full of bold, memorable flavors and certainly worth a slurp.”
The Strand, a hip American bistro in the Mills 50 district that features contemporary takes on classic culinary fare.
The Guide said: “The corner spot, from husband-and-wife duo Alda and Joe Rees, serves up a seasonal American menu that brims with nostalgic Southern inspiration. Presentations are dialed back to let ingredients shine.”
Swine & Sons, the delicious specialty Winter Park sandwich shop that can be found inside The Local Butcher & Market on Orange Avenue.
The Guide said: “From well-known local husband-and-wife duo, Rhys and Alexia Gawlak, arrives this sandwich concept nestled within the Local Butcher shop and market.”
The Ravenous Pig, Winter Park’s premier gastropub, which moved from its original location on Orange Avenue to a prime spot on Fairbanks Avenue.
The Guide said: “This Winter Park modern gastropub came to be thanks to the vision of noted restaurateurs, Julie and James Petrakis. Chef Clay Miller’s menu is a bona fide study on classic pub fare with creative Southern spins.”
Z Asian Vietnamese Kitchen, the exciting ‘Generation Z’ modern-traditional Asian fusion concept on E. Colonial Drive on the edge of the Mills 50 district.
The Guide said: “The aura is Southeast Asian, not unlike the focused Vietnamese cooking. Dishes are flavorful, bursting with nuance and balance.”
In addition to the eleven highest-awarded restaurants, Orlando had another 23 “Recommended” dining hot-spots mentioned by the Guide, including Morimoto Asia and The Polite Pig at Disney Springs, the California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Citricos at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort, Ravello at The Four Seasons hotel, and Four Flamingos, the Richard Blais restaurant at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress resort close to Disney Springs.
Fans of other Orlando restaurants that didn’t get nominated this year can take comfort from the fact that the Michelin Guide will add more star ratings and Bib Gourmand awards in future, with Walt Disney World’s Victoria and Albert’s dining room at the Grand Floridian a strong contender once it reopens.
For more information, see the MichelinGuide.com.