The very best new restaurants and dishes in Orlando this year


In many ways, 2019 was the Year of the Immigrant, especially in the food scene. Restaurant owners were both targets of racism and accused of cultural appropriation. Issues of "authenticity" drove chefs to silence or got them into hotter water. (Like running a restaurant isn't hard enough!) But food has a way of bringing us together. José Andrés, an outspoken critic of the current administration's immigration policies, not only found a way to serve food in disaster zones through his World Central Kitchen, but managed to find the time to pop in to Orlando for the grand opening of Jaleo.

What 2019 ultimately showed us is that the face of the city's restaurant scene is changing and changing for the better. The influence of Asian cuisine is undeniable with restaurateurs Johnny and Jimmy Tung, Sonny Nguyen, Henry Moso, Chau Trinh, Jason and Sue Chin, Sunny Corda, Lewis Lin, Hoi Nguyen and many more leaving their indelible gastronomic mark. Immigrant food shines in Orlando and a glint is reflected in the list below. Here, then, are the very best new restaurants – and eight best new bites – to hit the scene in 2019.

By Faiyaz Kara