Like most resort destinations, Orlando is chock full of restaurants, bars, clubs, lounges, ultra-lounges and every other type of eating and drinking establishment you can imagine to enjoy during your vacation experience.
Here are five of our favorites along I-Drive Restaurants:
Truly Authentic Thai … Close By
Tucked away in a mini-mall near SeaWorld, a quaint, little Thai restaurant called Thai Thani beckons. the place is small and unassuming—from the outside. On the inside, it’s lavishly decorated in authentic Thai décor—elaborate woodcarvings, beaded fabrics, paper lanterns, orchids and bamboo. You can even sit on pillows at low tables on the floor instead of the old familiar Western table and chairs. It is a quiet, meditative oasis from I-Drive traffic outside.
Family-owned and operated since opening seven years ago, this is a place to come for a great dining experience or a convenient take-out meal. The house specialty according to Manager Pete Rittirong is the Three Taste Fish. This traditional Thai fish entrée is made with red snapper served in a complex, spicy chili garlic sauce. You can have it two ways: as a simple fillet, or a deep-fried whole fish. Either way, there are three distinct flavors: sweet, sour and spice…hot spice.
Island Time, All the Time
If you think Tommy Bahama is only good for funky floral shirts, Bermuda shorts and tropical décor you are wrong. Tommy Bahama restaurants like this one are also good—really, really good—for steaks, seafood and other delectable dishes. If you like Hawaiian fare, try the Loki-Loki Tuna Poke appetizer consisting of fresh, raw Ahi tuna marinated in sesame oil and spices and served layered with fresh guacamole and a side of flatbread crisps. Honestly, it could be a meal in itself!
If you are more a meat-and-potatoes type, order up The Tobago Tenderloin: a maple-brined, grilled pork tenderloin served with sweet potatoes and asparagus. Pair with the decadent Cooper Island Crab Bisque and it’s a match made in heaven. Do yourself a favor: leave room for dessert. The Piña Colada Cake is a rich and creamy calorie explosion, but is worth every bite. And remember, every weekday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. to close is Island Time, Tommy’s version of happy hour.
If you’ve never been to a teppanyaki restaurant, it’s time you visited Benihana Orlando. Located At the intersection of I-Drive and Daryl Carter Parkway next to the mega-resort The Fountains, the Japanese restaurant is part dining, part floor show. Food is prepared on a hibachi grill surface that doubles as your table. Chefs flip knives, pop up pieces of meat and make a smoking volcano from an onion. This entertaining meal is served in several courses including soup, salad, vegetables, rice, dipping sauces, and your choice of protein.
Perfectly Chilled Libations
The absolute best place to spend an evening after a long, hot day in the central Florida sunshine is ICEBAR Orlando. Made completely of ice—head to toe—it’s the largest permanent bar made of ice in the U.S. You heard right, the walls, chairs, tables, bar, art sculptures—even the glasses—are solid ice, and the bar is kept at a constant 27 degrees F.
You are given your own thermal cape and gloves to keep warm inside ICEBAR. Once inside, environmental lighting bathes every surface in changing color. Upbeat lounge music sets the mood, and the bar serves Polar Cocktails—premium vodkas with added flavoring—in custom solid-ice glasses. It’s the “coolest” nightlife experience in Orlando and definitely worth a visit during Bluegreen vacations to the area!
Blues and Brews
If live music is your bag, check out B.B. King’s Blues Club. This giant restaurant and bar serves up Southern comfort food with a twist and live music nightly. The nightly music line-up could include rock, soul and funk. They like to say: “Our musicians will remind you why Aretha demanded R-E-S-P-E-C-T, why Tina left her good job in the City, why Ray has Georgia on his mind, and what the Temptations are talking about!”