Sunny Orlando is one of the USA’s top family-friendly destinations, and it is justifiably so with Disney, SeaWorld and Universal Studio theme parks that offer fun-filled days for children and adults alike. However, such a dream vacation could also mean a deep hole in the pocket after factoring in the theme park admission ticket prices and pricey food in standard theme park food joints. If you are tired of fast food chains in theme parks, which usually mean long queues, expensive prices, and average tastes, read on to find out where else to eat that offers good food at affordable prices near Orlando’s attractions.
Start your day with chicken and waffles
Chicken and waffles for breakfast anyone? The crispy savoury chicken tenders (strips) matched with fluffy Belgian waffles dipped in honey and mustard sauce come as a nice alternative for anyone sick of the typical breakfast fare like sausages, eggs and muffins in the US. This southern food is served in fast-casual breakfast chain International House of Pancakes (known as IHOP), but with a twist. Instead of fried chicken, you get fried chicken tenders, which makes it easier to eat. A low brow but tasty comfort food, the chicken tenders are pretty normal but the waffles are surprisingly light and soft with a fragrant buttery taste. With such a filling breakfast or brunch for less than 10 USD, tourists staying in the popular International Drive strip could consider stopping over for a quick breakfast before heading to Wet & Wild, just opposite, or Universal Studios, which is just a ten minute drive away. This restaurant is located right beside a Lynx and I-trolley stop as well.
Address: 6005 International Dr, Orlando, FL 32819
Try out mouth-watering authentic Taiwanese street food
The drool-worthy braised pork rice, salt and pepper popcorn chicken, fried tofu and drunken chicken in Teriyaki House come as a refreshing change from the so-called “Chinese food” usually found in the USA that a lot of times taste nothing like the way the food should taste. Named Teriyaki House though there are no teriyaki items on the menu, this hole-in-the-wall Taiwanese food joint is a hidden gem that is Taiwanese through and through from its nondescript appearance and the Taiwanese news blaring on the TV, to the Taiwanese server and chef. About 3 km (5 miles) away from Universal Studios Florida, this eatery is rarely known by tourists and often frequented by Asian locals. There is an array of food choices on the menu and every single one I’ve tried tasted heavenly, just exactly like how it would taste if you were to eat it in Taiwan. Best of all, for big portions, the prices are wallet-friendly too. For 20 USD, you can probably get 3 dishes which are more than enough for 2 people. Try to go before 6 pm as this eatery gets really busy during meal times.
Address: 5600 W Colonial Dr, Ste 108, Orlando, FL 32808
A sumptuous lobster buffet feast for dinner
Get your seafood fix at Boston Lobster Feast, which serves shrimps, sashimi, crab legs and whole lobsters. Unlike some buffet restaurants that serve peeled lobsters or parts of the lobster, the lobsters are served in full here. The dinner buffet might appear pricey at about 47 USD but it is quite cheap if you are someone who can eat a lot of seafood as there is no limit to the number of crab legs or lobsters you can take. It is quite a common sight to see tables stacked with plates full of lobster shells here. Go before 6 pm to get the early bird 5 USD discount. If you stopped by Orlando Visitor Centre during your trip, you could also get a coupon to get 5 USD off. Less than 5 km (3 miles) from Orlando SeaWorld and Universal Studios Florida, this is a good place for a hearty dinner after a tiring day at the theme parks. It is also located right beside an I-trolley stop.
Address: 8731 International Drive Orlando, FL 32819
Don't limit your food choices to those in the theme parks
There are a lot of food choices in tourist haven Orlando, therefore it is quite a pity if you limit all your meal choices to those in your hotel or in the theme parks. As theme parks usually allow multiple admissions, feel free to head out to nearby restaurants for a good meal before going back to the theme park to continue the rest of the day. Explore the restaurants along International Drive and try to plan your daily itinerary in advance, so that you can squeeze in the restaurants you want to check out near the attraction that you are going to for that day.