Ok, we aren’t going to lie to you. Winter Park and the surrounding towns are not the type of places that you get all dolled up in your fanciest clothes to go out for a night of drinks and dining. We are more casual, preferring to let the food be the star of the show, creating homemade dishes that feel like a hug from your grandma and foregoing the pretentiousness often found in ski towns. Simple décor, relaxed dress codes, and friendly servers are how we shine, and although these fine dining Winter Park restaurants may not be as fancy as the ones you find in Aspen or Vail, we can promise that the meals will feed your soul!
Lodge at Sunspot, 160 Sunspot Way in Winter Park
Sometimes the fancy comes from the exterior surroundings, and if you are craving a hearty meal of your favorite comfort foods in a setting of breathtaking natural beauty, the Lodge at Sunspot is where you need to stop first! Open in the winter months when people dressed in their most colorful and warmest clothing flock inside, (or outside around the fire) the views will impress but the chili will stun!
Vertical Bistro & Tap, 130 Parry Peak Way in Winter Park
This might be one of the fanciest and best places to eat in Winter Park, but it is their food we are going to rave about! Offering a sophisticated selection of pub type foods elevated to the next level of perfection, every bite you take promises to be an adventure in culinary experiences. Blackened mahi mahi served with a handmade mango-jalapeño salsa, sweet corn ravioli created with corn succotash, English peas, cotija cheese, and a lemony white wine garlic sauce, and a spicy elk chili (here we go talking about the chili again) all go down smooth and warm on the coldest days of the year. Try a vertical Manhattan and enjoy the warmth that explodes in your stomach!
Paella’s Restaurant, 93 Cooper Creek Way in Winter Park
Paella’s Restaurant serves up a menu of tasty Spanish food that may not be like anything you have ever tasted, but if you go expecting dishes smothered in sauce and cheese, you might want to try one of the Mexican restaurants found in the area, as Spanish food has a flavor that is all its own! Created by a chef who comes from a long line of Spaniards and actually did his culinary school in the country of his ancestors, as you might expect, paella is the signature dish, traditionally created from fresh seafood and vegetables served over a bed of saffron rice. If you have never tried paella before, now is the time to do so, and if you are an experienced paella eater, this dish will not fail you! Even though you may be starving, and the plates are large and well-filled, be sure to save room for dessert; their Crema Catalana is a traditional Spanish dessert created with cream, cinnamon, lemon, and made with a brulee technique.
Tabernash Tavern, 72287 US-40 in Tabernash
Located just about 10 miles away from your Winter Park vacation escape, Tabernash Tavern offers a fine dining Winter Park experience straight from the Old West while serving a variety of specialty dishes that come from all over the globe. Kung Pao Calamari, Cajun Mac & Cheese, even a Paella Negra made from squid ink risotto, mussels, shrimp, scallops, octopus, clams, and a varied selection of veggies are just a few examples. Also featuring your American favorites of burgers and pork belly mac & cheese, we could spend more than a few minutes examining this menu and still come away wanting everything we see! Their Huckleberry Cheesecake and Smore Crème Brule never fail to excite and offer the final signal to your stomach that indicated this meal is complete.
Fontenot’s Seafood & Grille, 78336 US-40 in Winter Park
Yes, we have discussed Fontenot’s before, and chances are you will hear us talking about it again, but there was no way we could offer a top 5 list and NOT include this delicious seafood restaurant on it. Serving up surf and turf with a Cajun flair, (Seafood Bouillabaisse and a hand cut ribeye, for examples!) it is the charm of the restaurant and the efficient yet friendly staff members that will invite you in, but the food will entice you to come back again and again. Sampling your way through the menu promises to be an adventure in culinary experiences and when you end the meal with a Double Chocolate Brownie, everything will be right in your world!