Brunch ... that special-occasion meal where you linger over lattes or mimosas and savor breakfast well past noon. Even the most avid theme-park goer should slow down for at least one leisurely brunch. It is vacation, afterall. Local pockets of downtown Orlando and Winter Park have long boasted the best brunches, but some of the best new brunch spots are sprouting up in the tourism areas of Walt Disney World, Restaurant Row (Sand Lake Road) and International Drive. No matter what part of town you're in, you can find a fabulous spot for a proper Sunday brunch.
New on the Orlando Brunch Scene
Atop the 16th floor of the Contemporary Resort, one of Disney's most-celebrated restaurants is now offering an over-the-top brunch. Disney foodies have long flocked to this rooftop restaurant for magnificent views of the Magic Kingdom fireworks, but the daytime vistas from California Grill are just as lovely with panoramic views of the sparkling Seven Seas Lagoon and Cinderella's Castle. Start with the Bloody Mary bar with all the garnishes you could shake a swizzle stick at. Then choose from a locally driven menu featuring shrimp and grits with Gulf shrimp and frittatas made with local Green Meadow Farms eggs.
Named for its 1940s flair, Urbain 40 brings a splash of elegance and nostaglia to Orlando's famed Restaurant Row, that's otherwise known for its high-end chain restaurants. It's billed as an American brasserie, but French Chef Jean-Stephane Poinard puts a touch of his homeland on everything, from the crépe with wild mushrooms, roasted leek beurre blanc and fig reduction to the bolognese and striped bass meunière.
Another hard-to-come-by, local establishment on Restaurant Row, Slate invites diners in with its warm décor and Southern-comfort foods, served with just the right amount of creativity. Order a tried-and-true mimosa or a refreshing sparkling grapefruit cocktail from the bartender. Share a plate of fried green tomatoes before moving on to the pork spoonbread with hints of peach or the smoked brisket, home fries and pesto eggs. Or for those with a sweet tooth, you can't go wrong with the lemon cornmeal pancakes with lemon curd whipped cream and blueberry compote.
At Orlando's only five-diamond resort, the Four Seasons, is a lesser-known restaurant tucked into the handsome clubhouse of the Tranquilo Golf Course. Helmed by Chef Pedro Sanchez, Plancha serves a Caribbean-infused brunch with chicken and waffles served with jalapeño maple syrup and oatmeal pancakes with bananas and dark rum. Traditional and Southern breakfast favorites are also doled out in generous portions, along with a decadent buffet of salads, fruits and berries, artisanal meats and cheeses, seared ahi tuna, ceviche, shrimp, marinated olives and more. (Coming in March)
Even the celebrities stop counting calories when they come to Sugar Factory, with outposts in LA and New York and a new sweet spot at the Orlando Eye on International Drive. Known for its outlandish desserts (a $99 sundae with 24 scoops of ice cream) and $35 candy-infused cocktails, Sugar Factory also serves a hearty brunch. Two pages of their menu are dedicated to crépes, pancakes, French toast and waffles with toppings that run the gamut of toffee bananas, nutela and marshmallows to fried chicken with maple sauce. The Bailey's Mochaccino, with a double shot of espresso, melted chocolate and caramel, is sure to leave you buzzing.
Great Stand-bys for Brunch in Orlando
House of Blues
Each Sunday, the House of Blues concert hall at Disney Springs comes to life with sounds of inspiring gospel music. Before the entertainment begins, head to the famous soul-food buffet with signature cheese grits, Southern-style collard greens and roast beef with horseradish sauce. A different singer graces the stage each week, bringing the crowd to their feet with songs of faith and fellowship.
This beautiful boutique hotel, the Grand Bohemian, located next to the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts puts out an incredible spread for Sunday brunch. You'll find the typical omelet and prime-rib station, but also a fresh seafood bar with snow crab legs, steamed shrimp, smoked salmon and oysters and an antipasti display with prosciutto, handcrafted salami, soppressatta, soft and hard cheeses, tomato and mozzarella, olives and roasted vegetables. Save room for the decadent desserts featuring pies, cobblers and fresh strawberries with irrestible dips and toppings. Be sure to check out the adjancent art gallery.
Hipsters flock to Dexter's Saturday and Sunday mornings for the cool atmosphere near Thornton Park and for the menu prices, which start at $5 for a full breakfast. Start with the “Dexter’s Perfect Bloody Mary,” with blue cheese-stuffed olives. The Monte Cristo Waffle Sandwich comes with smoked ham, swiss cheese and raspberry filling stacked on a Belgian waffle then dusted with powdered sugar. Walk off the calories around Lake Eola just a block away.
Set on beautiful Park Avenue in the quaint town of Winter Park, Briarpatch answers with plenty of its own charm. The expansive breakfast menu includes unique favorites such homemade lemon raspberry pancakes, pear and gorgonzola omelettes, truffle fried eggs, white-peach bellinis and a humongous slice of homemade layer cake for dessert.
Cask & Larder
Multiple-time James Beard Award winners James and Julie Petrakis have made Southern cuisine an art form at Cask & Larder, with an original location in Winter Park and a new outpost at the Orlando International Airport. You'll find cheddar and chive biscuits served with pepper jelly, maple-jalapeño-glazed bacon, and shrimp and oyster po'boys served with heirloom tomatoes. Wash it down with a craft beer brewed in house.