Travel Writers & Bloggers Share Foodie Bucket List Experiences To Inspire Your Travel Plans
What foodie experience tops your bucket list? Is it dining at a Michelin star restaurant? An exclusive feast with a celebrity chef? Progressive dining in the sky at Disney? Wine tasting from the largest cellar in the world? Or maybe exploring street food in an exotic destination is more your style?
If you’re looking for foodie travel inspiration, check out what tops the list of some of my favorite foodies and travel writers. This is part one of my Epic Foodie Travel Bucket List series covering Central Florida foodie experiences that belong on your list. Stay tuned for part 2 covering the United States and part 3 Around The World.
My foodie travel bucket list – i.e. “someday list” – grows daily as I scroll through Instagram. It’s exciting knowing the list is never ending. So many experiences out there just waiting to be lived. But what good is to dream if we don’t actually do.
Experiences below are listed in no particular order as they are all worthy of your list. (Hint: read all the way to the end for the top two restaurants in Orlando.)
Are you ready to add more foodie experiences to your bucket list? It’s time to plan, put in on the calendar and go Make Someday Happen one delicious bite, sip and trip at a time!
1. Taste The World’s Largest Wine Collection in Tampa.
Lauren Yochum’s foodie bucket list experience didn’t surprise me. The founder of SporkOrlando.com and @SporkWine is a wine aficionado just like me. She even works at my new favorite sommelier-owned restaurant, Wine Bar George at Disney Springs.
“Dry aged steaks and one of the largest wine collections in the world….what’s not to love? Acclaimed for decades from critics and guests alike, this iconic spot is just a short trip down I-4 so there’s really no excuse for us not to visit! Dying to experience their dessert room and order a wine from my birth year along with another bottle of rare wine. Here’s to making plans to visit Bern’s.”Lauren Yochum
Bern’s Steakhouse, the legendary restaurant located in Tampa’s SoHo district since 1956, boasts one of the most acclaimed wine collections in the world with more than 6,800 different selections on the list and more than 600,000 bottles in the cellar. The perennial recipient of the Wine Spectator Grand Award, the magazine’s highest honor bestowed upon restaurants that display an uncompromising and passionate commitment to quality. A visit to Bern’s belongs on every wine lover’s bucket list. Click here for Lauren’s experience.
I’ve seen the cellar and it’s jaw dropping impressive. You can get a tour before dinner. I’ve also indulged in their dessert room, also a must! I have yet to cross off the full steakhouse experience from the list. It’s time to plan a visit! Follow Lauren at www.sporkorlando.com for more wine and food travel inspiration.
2. Eat Famous in Orlando.
Around The World Famous:
Forget Hollywood celebs, the famous we really care about are dressed in chef whites! Kimberly Button is a prolific freelance travel writer, and publisher of KimandCarrie.com who’s actively pursuing crossing off various Celebrity Chef Experiences off her foodie bucket list.
“In Orlando, one of the restaurants on my bucket list was Morimoto Asia. After hearing everyone rave, I finally visited – even though I hate seafood. I decided just to be brave and see what they had for non-seafood lovers, and I was not disappointed! Homecomin’ Florida Kitchen was also on my must-do list. I loved seeing Chef Art Smith in person, which makes the homegrown Florida restaurant even more inspiring! I’d LOVE to also finally visit Cress Restaurant in DeLand and Se7en Bites Bake Shop“Kimberly Button
Orlando’s Disney Springs is informally known as a “foodie theme park” with over 150 shops and restaurants and home to many Internationally known celebrity chefs. You’ll find eateries by Iron Chef Morimoto (Morimoto Asia), Art Smith (Homecomin’ Florida Kitchen), Rick Bayless (Frontera Cocina), Guy Fieri (Chicken Guy) and Wolfgang Puck, the original celeb chef of Downtown Disney, who recently opened his new Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill.
On my Celeb Chef bucket list is dining with Jose Andres. Named Time’s “100 Most Influential People” and “Outstanding Chef” by the James Beard Foundation, Andres is the recipient of 2 Michelin Stars and 4 Bib Gourmands simultaneously and recent nominee for a Nobel Peace Prize! His much anticipated Jaleo restaurant is scheduled to open this winter. The 22 thousand square foot restaurant will be Andrés’ largest to date and will bring the spirit and flavors of Spain to Florida in a very modern setting. I can’t wait!
Local Love Famous:
As much as we love the International celeb chefs, we are even prouder of our local celeb chefs. Kim’s bucket list includes two of my favorites. Hari Pulapaka of Cress Restaurant in Deland (listed below) is a James Beard Awards nominee and fascinating chef. You’ll see why his restaurant is on my personal bucket list in the next entry.
Trina Gregory Propst of Se7en Bites has been featured on Food Network Diners Drive-Ins and Dives, Guy’s Grocery Games and more. She’s a dynamic chef that embodies the Best of Orlando: Heart, Charm, Sass and Love for All. Her hearty Southern comfort food bake shop in The Milk District is a Must Visit.
As you can see, there’s plenty of famous dining in Orlando! Are you a fan of celebrity chefs? Which famous chefs are on your foodie bucket list?
Kim is certainly making someday happen. Follow Kim’s latest adventures at KimandCarrie.com.
3. Pursue Global Inspiration in Deland.
Every time I’ve tried to snag a seat for one of Cress Restaurant‘s global inspired dinners it sells out faster than I can hit “enter”. The intriguing restaurant has been on my bucket list ever since I met the dynamic couple behind it during one of the many local charity events they support. College Math Professor by day / award winning chef by night Hari Pulapaka and his Doctor by day / Sommelier by night wife Jenneffer are not only incredibly talented they are thoughtful and fiercely passionate about what they do. You can read more about them in my story for Orlando Sentinel’s Signature Magazine. Located in Historic Downtown DeLand, the restaurant which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary, is only open for special ticketed events, culinary classes and wine tastings. They pride themselves in a menu full of global inspired flavors using high quality local sourced ingredients.
4. Epic Chef’s Table Date Night in Winter Garden.
Kristen Manieri, founder of OrlandoDateNightGuide.com had an epic date night in mind for her top pick: Chef’s Table at Edgewater.
“I’m obsessed with chef’s tables. I love having no decisions to make and just being at the total mercy of a great chef. It’s such a treat to be surprised and delighted. I’ve done quite a few chef’s tables over the years but I’ve yet to make it to Winter Garden for what’s one of Orlando’s first chef’s table experiences. I’ve heard nothing but great things about the Chef’s Table at Edgewater and I can’t wait for it to top my list of favorite Central Florida foodie experiences.”Kristen Manieri
The Chef’s Table at Edgewater, located in historic downtown Winter Garden, has received numerous awards as one of the best restaurants in Orlando. Husband and wife team, Kevin and Laurie Tarter act as your hosts for an epic tasting experience. Reservations are a must!
The Chef’s Table at Edgewater was on my someday list for years and I finally crossed it off over the holidays. The experience did not disappoint. I only wish I had gone sooner.
5. Iron Chef Omakase in Orlando.
Pam Brandon is the source for Disney dining inspiration. She’s a 20+ year food writer, contributing to the Disney Parks Food Blog, managing editor of Edible Orlando magazine and author of over a dozen Disney cookbooks. At the top of her foodie bucket list is the Omakase Dinner experience at Morimoto Asia in Disney Springs.
“Though I’ve dined at Morimoto Asia, I have not experienced the omakase dinner — and of course I would love for the master himself, Chef Morimoto, to be in the kitchen. I love the spontaneity, creativity, adventure and freshness of omakase dining.”Pam Brandon
The gorgeous restaurant hosts nightly Omakase style dinners at their 14 seat sushi bar. The team of expert sushi chefs, led by Chef de Cuisine Yuhi Fujinaga, presents 5 – 7 courses directly to guests for a more intimate experience. Every now and then, the evening is made even more special as Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto joins for a surprise visit, turning the event into “Momakase”.
Momokase is on my list too! Hopefully Iron Chef Morimoto returns soon. Interviewing him for Signature Magazine was a #MakeSomedayHappen moment for me! Dinners sell out almost immediately and 24 hour advance reservations are required. Click here for more info.
If you’re a Disney food fan, check out Pam’s Disney cookbooks. For news on Orlando’s local food scene and the Florida bounty, check out Edible Orlando.
6. Steakhouse Feast at Acclaimed Independent Hotel Chain in Orlando.
Andrew “Drew” Heaberlin is always looking for fun eats around The City Beautiful to report back on his blog Tastes of Orlando. He’s a fan of supporting local independent restaurants and so it’s only fitting that at the top of his list is dining at Rosen Shingle Creek Resort’s A Land Remembered Restaurant. This AAA Four Diamond rated steakhouse is a hidden gem, part of Rosen Hotels & Resorts, the largest and most acclaimed independent hotel chain in Florida.
“A Land Remembered is a book written by the late author Patrick Smith, that captures the essence and experience of Florida’s pioneer era. Harris Rosen is a hotel and restaurant pioneer in his own right, and this restaurant is based off of that novel. As a Florida native, its always a place I’ve wanted to go, but have never gotten around to. Anything on the menu sounds great, but the Angel City Oysters and the Bone in Ribeye are what I’m looking forward to.”Drew Heaberlin
Learn more about Harris Rosen, the inspiring owner and founder of Rosen Hotels & Resorts, voted one of most influential people in Orlando and add a stay at one of his 9 properties and dining at his various restaurants to your foodie bucket list. (Full disclosure: I worked for Mr. Rosen for 12 years and am a big fan!) Click here for reservations.
I hope Drew is able to Make Someday Happen soon. I know from my experiences dining at A Land Remembered that he will not be disappointed. The decadent desserts made by pastry chef and chocolatier David Ramirez top my “must eat” list!
Follow Drew’s dining adventures on Tastes of Orlando
7. Eat All The Tacos in Orlando!
Michelle Snow, of City Surfing Orlando and @Zengrrl, reviews dining and entertainment around Central Florida. She is also a great supporter of local bloggers. Thanks to her, I covered my first wine dinner and even got a “photographer” media pass to cover the Erasure concert at House of Blues when I first started GoEpicurista.com. (That was a #MakeSomedayHappen moment!). Her foodie bucket list experience is one I am also in pursuit of. Because…tacos!
“A tour of Orlando taco places is top on my list. So many taco/Mexican/Tex-Mex eateries have opened since 2016, from chains like Rubio’s and Fuzzy’s Taco Shop, to locally owned restaurants like Black Rooster Taqueria. Plus there are a lot of mom-and-pop places and food trucks. I’d love to visit each one in search of the best taco in Orlando. Why? Because tacos are my favorite food, and there are so many different ways to prepare one. And because…tacos.”Michelle Snow
Her goal was to finish in time for her National Taco Day post. Since then, a plethora of taco shops have opened in Orlando so her quest for the best taco in Orlando will continue.
I did my own Taco Crawl in the Mills District of Orlando but I think it’s time to do a second one to highlight the new additions in the past few years including Hunger Street Tacos, Bartaco, Tin & Taco, Chela Tequila and Tacos… and the list goes on.
Follow Michelle at City Surfing Orlando for one of the best events calendars and event news in town.
8. Ultimate Disney Dining In The Sky
Lauren Delgado, the talented multimedia food reporter for the Orlando Sentinel, is a busy bee covering all corners of the local food scene. She’s everywhere, from theme parks to local neighborhood gems to luxury fine dining experiences. At the top of her list was dining around the Walt Disney World Resort via monorail during the “Highway in the Sky” special dining event.
“Above the piles of cookbooks, random papers, and well, snacks on my desk is a post-it note stuck to my computer monitor. It simply reads “Monorail Dining,” – a reference to Walt Disney World’s new Highway in the Sky Dine Around. This “food crawl” of sorts takes diners to three Disney resorts via the monorail for a five-course meal. Between the transportation and sumptuous meal, this dine around seems too fun to pass up. I waited a smidge too long to book this now sold-out adventure – but the sticky note reminds me to check again every so often to #MakeSomedayHappen!”Lauren Delgado
The Highway in the Sky experience at Walt Disney World Resort begins at The Wave…of American Flavors at Disney’s Contemporary Resort and takes avid Disney foodies on a dining tour through via monorail to Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, and Disney’s Grand Floridian, ending at an exclusive location for desserts and the Happily Ever After fireworks show over Cinderella’s Castle. Are you a Disney Fan? Then this belongs on your list. Reservations are required far in advance.
I recently crossed off the list doing a Disney Monorail Pub Crawl and it was fantastic! I can only imagine how much fun the Highway in the Sky would be. It’s now on my list.
Follow Lauren as she explores Orlando’s dining scene for the Orlando Sentinel.
9. Sophisticated Plant-Based Pairing Dinner in Orlando
Kristine Thomas is a personal wellness chef, founder of GetWelli.com and Orlando Food Lab. She’s on a mission to share healthy eats and believes food that’s good for you can also be delicious and sophisticated. Her foodie bucket list experience is truly inspiring because when she didn’t find sophisticated multi-course plant based dining experiences readily available, she created them! That’s what I call a #MakeSomedayHappen moment.
“Similar to that of award-winning Vedge Restaurant in Philadelphia, I’d love to see more elevated plant-focused restaurants highlighting local vegetables in more unique ways. Not sure when Orlando will #MakeSomedayHappen, however, I believe we are on the cusp of bringing more of plant-based, sustainable eateries to our City Beautiful. Restaurants like Dandelion, Market On South and Sanctum do a wonderful job of utilizing local produce in their menus. Chef Noonan of Dixie Dharma once elevated his usual fare with a 6-course, plant-based dinner and Quantum Leap wine pairing for the senses. I eagerly await more opportunities for such an experience in Orlando.”Kristine Thomas
Fast forward a few years and Kristine is now hosting “Wellness Dinners by Welli” four course plant based dinners that not only tantalize the taste buds but spark real conversation about a variety of wellness topics. They routinely sell out so check out GetWelli.com and buy your tickets. Follow Kristine on @ORLFoodLab and @_getwelli
10. Epic Five Diamond Five Star Celebration in Orlando
For my personal additions to this my top Must Eat favorite restaurant in Orlando: Victoria & Albert’s. I was so happy to cross it off the list for my 40th birthday. Years later, it still ranks one of the best dining experiences ever (and I’ve had some epic meals in my life!).
There are only 68 AAA Five Diamond restaurants in North America, and only 64 Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star restaurants out of over 1,600 restaurants across the globe. Victoria & Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort is the only restaurant in the state of Florida to receive both!
The multi-course tasting menu is over the top. WOW was the only word I could say as the feast unfolded, with perfectly paired wines as accompaniment. I still talk about that dinner years later. My husband and I enjoyed the private chef’s table in the kitchen and watching the action was like a ballet, perfectly timed and fluid. The service was so attentive it made me wonder if this is how royalty is treated. If so, sign me up for a title. Why this restaurant doesn’t have a Michelin star or three is surprising. V&A belongs on every foodie bucket list for any special occasion. Was it expensive? Yes. Was it worth it? Absolutely! Make reservations and go!
11. Out of This World Omakase in Audubon Park
On my “Someday List” for 2019 is to finally experience an Omakase Dinner at Kadence. Owners, Mark Vyan Berdin, Lordfer Lalicon and Jennifer Bañagale, have created a cult following. The trio of Orlando locals are trained chefs who’ve worked in Michelin star restaurants. I sadly missed dining at their previous eatery, Kappo, as it was always sold out.
To no one’s surprise, Kadence has followed suit. The Winter Park 9 seat eatery frequently pops up in Facebook’s Orlando Foodie Forum, a source for locals to dish on their favorite foodie finds, as well as on respected food writers “best of” lists. The price tag is hefty, but like Victoria & Albert’s, the resounding “Yes” response from those who’ve experienced it proves it’s worth it.
If you’re adventurous and perfectly adept at giving in to the chef’s whim, willing to splurge $155-$170 for an 18-plus course sushi and sashimi dinner or $75 for a lunch of raw and cooked dishes, then, add Kadence to your list. Reservations are required. Plan ahead or hope for a cancellation.
What experiences top your foodie travel bucket list? This list is meant to keep growing. Share in the comments and make a plan to go soon! When you do, please tag your photos with @goepicurista and #MakeSomedayHappen so we can celebrate! It would make my day to know that I inspired you to go out there and celebrate with great food, wine and friends.
Every day you have a blank page, fill it, live it, one bite, sip and trip at time!