When most people think of Central Florida and the Orlando area, theme parks immediately come to mind. Heck, without them, the city wouldn’t exist. What isn’t synonymous with most visitors is the pairing of “Central Florida” and “amazing food.” The area has seriously stepped up its culinary presence over the past several years. Since I moved here in 2007, I’ve watched the city grow and find its place in the culinary world.
Run an online search for books about Central Florida and you’ll result in scores of titles touting the theme parks and the tourism aspects of Orlando. If you’re looking for dining, you’ve been largely out of luck, relegated to blurbs of theme park and hotel restaurants within the travel guides. What if you’re NOT going to the parks? What if you’re exploring the Orlando area and need suggestions? Now you can rely on local blogger Ricky Ly, owner of TastyChomps.com.
Ricky recently published his book, Food Lovers’ Guide to Orlando: The Best Restaurants, Markets & Local Culinary Offerings. I had to pick up a copy, because, believe it or not, I don’t only eat at Walt Disney World! His book breaks up Central Florida into 10 distinct dining areas featuring best area restaurants, fan favorites and specialty stores, markets and producers. And yes, there is indeed a section on Disney/Lake Buena Vista, highlighting top and favorite restaurants like Jiko, California Grill, and even Earl of Sandwich. The section on Disney is brief, but this book is about celebrating the food and restaurants of Orlando.
The book also features a section on Food Trucks, which have become wildly popular in Orlando over the past several years, as they have in the rest of the nation. You will also find recipes from some of the city’s best chefs from restaurants like The Ravenous Pig, The Rusty Spoon and 4Rivers Smokehouse. Finally, there’s a list of Food Events held throughout the year in the area.
I truly enjoyed Food Lovers’ Guide to Orlando. While I’ve visited several of the restaurants, there are many more that I’ve heard of and want to try. Reading Ricky’s descriptions reaffirm the fact that I need to visit them. I recommend the book to readers who may enjoy stepping off the beaten path when they visit Orlando. If you are a local, a copy of this book is a fantastic reference for finding the best eateries in town (and when you have friends and family visit, you can show off the culinary skills of our great city!). Visit Ricky’s website www.TastyChomps.com to find out more about his book and to explore his blog and gorgeous food photography. You can also find his book for sale on Amazon.com.