Best places we know!
Like any college town and/or city where many residents carry a yearly fun pass, there are literally hundreds of dining options from fast food to fast casual, from family style to fine dining. The more time my daughter spends up there, the more places to eat we have discovered. You will find your burgers, pizza, Mexican, Chinese, barbecue, sushi, salads, Mediterranean; a restaurant for every palate and every price point.Of course, if you are in a hurry, Steak and Shake is now open in the Student Union!
Depending on whether you are touring with a prospective student or visiting your student in Orlando, who will undoubtedly be clamoring for a good meal, the options are plentiful. Some things to consider beforehand are price and time. It is not unusual for there to be a considerable wait, even with a reservation, on a game weekend or graduation, at some of the more popular selections. Please note some are in Orlando and others in Oviedo, which is right there too. I even listed one or two in Winter Park, because the quaint town is just worth the drive. And because brunch and lunch can be so closely related, you may want to take a look at our blog for Breakfast and Brunch here.
Se7en Bites Bake Shop – a modern bakery with seating serving breakfast & lunch eats with a Southern flair, plus sweets & coffee.
Lazy Moon – The pizza is not just delicious, but the slices are gigantic. The vegan pizza is fantastic too. I’m listing it under the lunch category, but it is generally open very late too. Oh, and you might want to try their craft-brewed beers to go with the slice.
Bar Louie – has you covered if you are craving a fantastic burger. Check out the “Fried Louie Burger” and don’t skimp on the “loaded tots.” Happy hour is pretty great too, but I only go for the upscale bar food.
Tijuana Flats – inexpensive, hormone-free chicken and steak, vegetarian options, no microwaves or freezers; so basically healthy Tex-Mex.
Fuzzy’s – Baja-style tacos & other Mexican eats, plus beer & margaritas. Counter service.
Mellow Mushroom – Stone-baked pizzas (including gluten-free options) and delicious calzones.
Blaze – Make your own pizza and get exactly what you want on a crispy, thin crust.
Spoleto – You pick your pasta, toppings, sauce and you have lunch for under ten dollars a person. Tip: check out the giant meatball. Make sure to ask the chefs about the student deal. And if you have a sweet tooth, they have a nutella pizza that’s delicious!
Zoes Kitchen – Mediterranean fare, no microwaves or fryers, because it is all freshly made. They even have gluten-free options.
Sushi Eatstation – Chipotle-style sushi rolls, wraps, and bowls.
California Pizza Kitchen – another chain in the Waterford Plaza. Inventive pizzas, pasta, and salads.
Giovanni’s – is a really popular restaurant near campus by Publix. It is good for dinner too.
DOMU Chibi Ramen – A new place in Waterford, ramen style.
Bento Asian Kitchen – I would love to give you firsthand information on the Pan-Asian cuisine and sushi chain, but the two times I have gone the line was out the door and when I am hungry, I don’t want to wait. But if it is that crowded, it must be good, right?
Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen – Family-friendly chain serving American comfort food with a Texas twist, plus cocktails – so dinner too.
Hummus House – Located on University Blvd. near campus and Winter Park, this is a favorite for Mediterranean foods. You can create your own bowl. Gluten friendly and vegan options.
Paramount Fine Foods – Mediterranean fare from appetizers to family platters.
Zaza New Cuban Diner- serving traditional Cuban food including fresh baked dulces, platos, espresso, cafe con leche and traditional Cuban sandwiches.
PokeWorks – in Oviedo just opened and is highly recommended. They have poke bowls and burritos chipotle style.
SlapFish – recently opened in Waterford next to Brass Tap and we hear it is really good.
Golden Krust – you may want to go just for their amazing bakery desserts, but their authentic Caribbean food is pretty outstanding as well.
Wahlburgers – in Waterford you’ll find celebrity-owned restaurant featuring specialty burger meals & cocktails in a casual setting.
Kyoto – Asian hibachi is on University drive right off campus with a great lunch special
Toasted – has specialty mac-n-cheese, crafter grilled cheese, and burgers.
Little Greek Fresh Grill – delicious gyro and chicken pitas on N. Alafaya.
Pei Wei – is a chain, but one we really like. Counter-service, health-conscious and inexpensive Pan-Asian (Chinese) food – noodle, rice dishes and more.
Toojays – in Waterford is also a good staple for a good deli sandwich.
Fresh Kitchen – also in Waterford is also great and healthy too.
Jimmy Hula’s – is a good and inexpensive Caribbean place on University
Uncle Madios Pizza – in Waterford
Chipotle – on University is always a good go-to for a filling lunch
Sprouts Farmers Market – is having their grand opening in Winter Park on Aloma Avenue on Wednesday, October 24
Bolay – just opened 3 new locations in Orlando; in Lake Nona, Winter Park and the UCF area. It’s a 100% gluten-free bowl restaurant with so many healthy, delicious options!
PokeStop – New restaurant on University next to Hummus House that officially opens on December 8 and 9, but our interns went for the soft opening and said it was delicious. Hawaiian sushi rolls, bowls, and tacos.
Castaways Sports Bar & Grill – Located in Waterford Shops. Good atmosphere with bar food – chicken wings, dogs, burgers & sandwiches, entrees, salads and more.
PDQ – just had their grand opening in Waterford. PDQ, in case you didn’t know, officially stands for People Dedicated to Quality. It is fast-casual and serving crispy chicken tenders, handcut fries, salads and chicken sandwiches.
Smash Burger -in Waterford Towers (across from the main Waterford) is delicious.
The Hungry Bison – is a burger bar in Winter Park.
UCF Gringos Locos finally opened on campus and our Knights are excited
Taco Bell Cantina also just opened in the Plaza across from campus. Note: they do sell alcohol there too and are open until 3 am
Panda Express recently opened in the Student Union
Which Wich in the Student Union
Jimmy Johns by CFE Arena
Burger U by the CFE Arena
Qdoba is a really popular chipotle style restaurant in the Student Union
Steak ‘n Shake in the Student Union
Chilli’s in the Student Union
Pollo Tropical by the RWC
Einsteins in the Business 1 Building and in the Education building
The truth is one might think Orlando is more about Disney and amusement parks, but there are plenty of great places to eat that aren’t terribly far from campus. There is plenty to choose from whether you are looking for a quick breakfast before you rush off to tailgate or a long, delicious dinner so you can spend a little quality time with your hard-working student. I hope this helps you find your favorites.
If you are scoping out places for your students to eat, since we all know they are not cooking three meals a day, they should check out these two apps: Pocket Points and UConnection. Each time students turn off their phones in class they accrue points for food discounts and deals at many restaurants around town. How smart is that!