September’s Visit Orlando Magical Dining Month is pure magic! With so many great restaurants, how do you choose?
**While this article was written in 2019 and things have changed in 2020, the tips listed here are still valid to help you choose where to dine for #MagicalDining. For reviews of 2020 restaurants, check out Magical Dining at Home with Taverna Opa (a new addition this year) and Magical Dining at The H Cuisine.
September is a great month to be in Orlando. The area’s best restaurants participate in Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month offering a special 3 course, prix-fixe menu at substantial savings, for only $35 per person.
This is enough to make my inner foodie do cartwheels!
On top of that, some area resorts offer deals in conjunction with Magical Dining for the perfect mini getaway. And the cherry on top is that $1 per Magical Dining meal sold will benefit selected local charities. It’s pure magic!
Each year the program grows bigger and bigger! It began in 2006 with 26 restaurants. In 2019, more than 120 restaurants are part of the program! Here’s the challenge: unless you eat dinner twice a day, with so many great choices you have to narrow down your list.
Here are my tips for how to choose which restaurants to visit and get the most magic from Magical Dining Month.
Top 9 Tips To Get The Most Magic from Magical Dining Month:
1. GO Try Something New
You can afford to be more adventurous when spending less dough. Go try one of the new restaurants making a splash in the Orlando dining scene. Or you can #MakeSomedayHappen and Go to one of those restaurants you’ve always wanted to visit. You know, the Orlando institutions you often say “I’ll go there someday”? What restaurants are on your “Someday List”?
2. GO For Choices
Review the menus, conveniently available by area and type of cuisine on the Visit Orlando Magical Dining Website. Some restaurants offer a large variety of choices of appetizers, entrees and desserts. Some even offer an additional course! GO for restaurants with the most dishes to your liking. More is definitely better and some restaurants are doing it right by offering more than 2 choices for each course.
3. GO For Creativity
When offering prix fixe menus, some restaurants sadly miss the opportunity to showcase their creativity. Offering instead, safe options of soup or salad starters, beef, plain chicken or salmon entrees and mousse for dessert. Incredibly boring, unless they kick it up a notch! Other restaurants go for creativity in a big way. Look at the menus and reward those that do it right.
4. GO For the MVP
A three course meal for $35 per person at a great restaurant is already a fantastic value across the board. However, some restaurants truly have the MVP – Most Valuable Proposition. If entrees on the regular menu are $30 or more, you have a steal with Magical Dining. High end steakhouses like Capital Grille, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle and Eddie V’s are examples of getting your money’s worth!
5. GO Make a Night Of It!
Why not get away for a mini vacation (or staycation)? The area’s best resorts offer packages at a fraction of the cost this time of year. Some of my favorite resort and dinner pairings from the past include Rosen Shingle Creek resort and dinner at A Land Remembered Steakhouse, Rosen Centre Hotel and dinner at Everglades Restaurant, Hyatt Regency Orlando and dinner at Urban Tide or Fiorenzo’s, Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek and dinner at Zeta Asia and The Four Seasons and Dinner at Ravello. But there are so many resorts participating, I will be trying new ones this year.
6. GO Bev Pairing
Take advantage of special wine or cocktail pairing offers with the Magical Dining menu or create your own. Don’t forget to ask when making reservations or when you’re seated for any special beverage offers.
7. GO Share with Friends
Magical Dining is a great opportunity to get friends together, celebrate life and create lasting memories over a great meal. Plus, the more friends, the more you get to sample different dishes. Around my table it’s tradition to pass plates around. Sharing is caring!
8. GO Off Peak
Many restaurants on Magical Dining are popular on weekends so I prefer to dine mid-week and have a more leisurely evening. Reservations are always recommended, regardless of when you choose to go – many offer online reservations via Open Table. Also keep in mind, some restaurants will gladly present the Magical Dining menu, and may even offer extra perks and bonuses for you to return. At other restaurants, you must specifically request it.
9. GO Just Ask
Looking for vegetarian dishes? Worried about food allergies? Is parking additional? Do they offer wine pairings? Call and just ask. Every restaurant participating in Magical Dining does so as an opportunity to gain new customers. Ask about any concerns or wants and chances are they will accommodate. Those that don’t, you can cross off your list. Most hotel restaurants will offer complimentary parking including valet. Every restaurant will accommodate vegetarian requests and food allergies, some do it better than others. This year there are more vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options than ever.
One thing you don’t need to ask about is the prices offered for Magical Dining and Magical Nights do not include tax and gratuity. It is always advisable to take good care of your servers.
Now that you’ve read the tips. Check out my Instagram @goepicurista stories and follow along my Magical Dining this year.
I hope you will GO take advantage of Visit Orlando Magical Dining Month. It’s not only a fantastic value and a fun opportunity to dine out with friends but it’s also a great way to support local businesses and dine for a good cause. This definitely makes dining out much more magical.
About Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month:
The program was designed by Visit Orlando to showcase the wide variety of upscale and diverse dining throughout the destination, while also helping children in need. More than 120 restaurants across the destination participate, with each offering a three-course, prix fixe dinner menu for just $35 per person. And, one dollar from every meal served is donated to a local charity.
The website OrlandoMagicalDining.com includes the full list of participating restaurants, menus and designated options for vegans, vegetarians and gluten-free diets. OpenTable reservations are also available now.
The wide range of venues spans areas from Disney Springs to Restaurant Row near the convention center, as well as burgeoning neighborhood districts in downtown Orlando, Winter Park and beyond.
Have you made your choices yet? Please let me know which restaurants are on your list in the comments below.
Remember sharing is caring. If you liked these tips, please share with your friends on social media.