Set just miles away from the mega-malls and theme parks of Orlando, Winter Park couldn’t feel farther from the tourist-filled home of Disney World. Historic hotels, charming shops and Spanish moss–covered oak trees line the Downtown streets.

A Small Town with a Big Restaurant Scene

The town itself may be small, but the restaurant scene is killer. The city is home to two of Florida’s top toques, husband-and-wife team James and Julie Petrakis. They've garnered national acclaim and multiple James Beard “Best Chef” nominations for their upscale new American restaurant The Ravenous Pig and their newer Southern-influenced public house, Cask & Larder. Last spring, they teamed up with charcuterie magician Rhys Gawlak for laid-back, snout-to-tail sandwich shop Swine & Sons Provisions.

John Rivers, the man responsible for making Central Floridians crazy for Texas-style ‘cue with 4 Rivers Smokehouse (there’s a Winter Park locale of the chainlet), has continued expanding upon the city’s already fantastic canon of Southern cuisine when he opened the Coop, a picniclike place featuring legit fried chicken and comfort staples. Sunday mornings, there’s upbeat brunch go-to Dexter’s of Winter Park.

High-end Indian is available at local hot spot Mynt by restaurateur Sonny Corda, offering dishes like smoked baby eggplant in peanut-sesame-coconut sauce. And for plant-based diners, Ethos Vegan Kitchen can throw down on a national scale.