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Zagat releases 2013 Orlando Survey covering restaurants, nightspots, shops and attractions

Tatiana Rokou - 05 December 2012, 10:23

American cuisine wins impressions in Orlando dining according to the 2013 Orlando Survey, which also offers top rankings for nightspots, shops, sites and attractions.

ORLANDO - Zagat released its 2013 Orlando Survey covering 360 restaurants, 75 nightspots, 152 shops and 57 sites and attractions. The results are based on the opinions of 5,614 local consumers and are available today as a printed guidebook in local bookstores and for free when using Google Search, Maps and Google+.

Dining Winners: Taking honors for best food in Orlando is the eclectic Cress, which won an impressive 29 rating on Zagat's signature 30-point scale. Victoria & Albert's, where you go when you're "trying to impress" someone, won for top service, while Sharks Underwater Grill was rated No. 1 for decor. This year's Best Buy is the "relaxing" Barnie's CoffeeKitchen.

Showcasing the depth and diversity of Orlando dining are this year's Top 10 restaurants (with their Food scores):

  1. Cress – Eclectic (29)
  2. Victoria & Albert's – American (29)
  3. Nagoya Sushi – Japanese (28)
  4. Chatham's Place – Continental (28)
  5. Norman's* – New World (28)
  6. Christner's Del Frisco's – Steak (28)
  7. Viet Garden – Thai/Vietnamese (28)
  8. Jiko – African Fusion (28)
  9. Texas de Brazil – Brazilian (28)
  10. Lee & Rick's Oyster – Seafood (28)
Top-rated restaurants by cuisine:
  • American (New) – Victoria & Albert's (29)
  • Eclectic/New World – Cress (29)
  • Japanese – Nagoya Sushi (28)
  • Seafood – Lee & Rick's Oyster (28)
  • Steakhouse – Christner's Del Frisco's (28)
  • BBQ – 4 Rivers Smokehouse (27)
  • Italian – Prato (27)
  • American (Trad.) – J. Alexander's (26)
  • Mexican – Taquitos Jalisco (26)  
* Indicates a tie with restaurant above

Danielle Courtenay, Chief Marketing Officer for Visit Orlando, stated, "We are thrilled that Zagat has recognized Orlando as a quality dining destination with the launch of the inaugural Orlando City Guide. While Orlando is known for our world-class theme parks, our dining and nightlife options have grown and matured over the past 10 years through an influx of celebrity chefs and homegrown talent."

Tim Zagat added, "Everyone knows that Orlando has many great tourist attractions, however, the strength of its dining, shopping and lodging helps to explain why the city is consistently rated as the top tourist destination in the United States."

Eat and Drink: The locavore movement continues to gain steam in Orlando as evidenced by Winter Park newcomers Prato and gastropub Cask & Larder, which join other top spots like Luma on Park, the Rusty Spoon and Ravenous Pig in their seasonal-focused approach. The Mills 50 area is abuzz with the arrivals of two wallet-friendly dining hot spots: Tako Cheena, dispensing tacos with a blend of Asian and Pan-Latin flavors, and Yum-mi, turning out Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches. Mills 50 also welcomed BART bar, where nostalgia fans enjoy craft brews while playing classic video games like Frogger and Pac-Man.                      

It's a New World: The Walt Disney World Resort dining and drinking scene saw some notable changes, with Epcot's Bistro de Paris currently closed for renovations (it's due to reopen in December 2012) and the highly rated California Grill reportedly set to undergo a revamp starting in January 2013. After a massive overhaul, Epcot Italian Tutto Italia recently reopened with a menu designed by celebrity chef Joachim Splichal and a new adjacent wine cellar.

Winning Nightspots (with Atmosphere ratings) are:
  1. Rising Star (28)
  2. Martha's Vineyard (28)
  3. Wine Room (27)
  4. California Grill (27)
  5. Latitudes (26)
  6. Bob Marley: Tribute (26)
  7. Red Coconut Club (26)
  8. Savoy Orlando (26)
  9. B.B. King's Blues Club (26)
  10. Jellyrolls (26)
Shopping: While Orlando is no stranger to national chains like Apple, Cartier and Macy's, it's also home to a variety of local treasures such as homegrown sneaker store Track Shack, souvenir destinations The Art of Disney and Disney's Pin Traders, and Al's Army Navy Store, where regulars stock up on everything from fatigues to camping supplies. Standouts among food and wine shops include Cavallari Gourmet, Sweet! By Good Golly Miss Molly and Tim's Wine Market.

Winning Shops:
winning shops
See the Sites: Disney, Universal and SeaWorld may be the attractions that most visitors associate with Orlando, but there's much more to explore, from Florida EcoSafaris in St. Cloud, where adventure-goers cruise through the tree canopy on zip lines, to Winter Park's Charles Hosmer Morse Museum and its grand displays of Tiffany glass, to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in nearby Merritt Island, where highlights include a shuttle-launch simulation. CSI: The Experience recently opened on International Drive, providing fans of the TV show a chance to analyze crime scenes and solve mysteries, while nearby Wet 'n Wild water park added the sandcastle-themed Blastaway Beach offering an acre of tot-friendly fun.

The 2013 Orlando City Guide was edited by Emily Rothschild and local editors Rona Gindin and Rebecca Kinnear. Ratings and reviews are available in guides wherever books are sold, and for free across Google search, maps and Google+. 

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