Best Bets For Magical Dining 2020


Updated September 23, 2020


bisque with butter-poached lobster, grapes, brioche, caviar and nasturtium at Sear + Sea

Magical Dining 2020 extended through October 31. With reduced capacity for indoor dining, you’ll want to do your research and reserve early. Several restaurants are also offering take-out and delivery options for Magical Dining 2020, contact them directly for details.

Many restaurants go off-menu for the $35 Magical Dining prix fixe, or offer tasting portions of regular items. Not so at Sear + Sea, the stunning restaurant inside the brand new JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort & Spa. Do the math and you’ll find that not only are the indulgent portions of lobster bisque, wood-grilled filet mignon and branzino with crispy quinoa, preserved lemon and cauliflower irresistible, they’re one heck of a bargain to boot.

It’s not easy to get a weekend reservation at Jaleo, but Kendra scored one and enjoyed not three but five courses of tapas for a magical $35. The shrimp with garlic were as delicious as ever, and humble chicken croquettes were every bit as indulgent as foie gras. Treat yourself to a salt-air margarita for the full experience.

beef carpaccio at Luke’s

Pam loved the lineup at Luke’s Kitchen and Bar, which includes beef carpaccio with spring onion and crispy potato, a pork steak with black-eyed peas and shishito and cobia with clams and broccolini.

We sat outdoors at Umi early on a Sunday evening, and enjoyed the people watching on Park Ave almost as much as the generous serving of chirashi (pictured above) as an entrée. A yellowtail “karupatcho” (think carpaccio) with spicy citrus black bean water, scallion ginger oil cucumber rolls, cherry tomato and truffle salt was a standout starter, as was the vegan “Lemon Kiss” roll with roasted cauliflower and asparagus.

While it’s impossible to enjoy all of the $35 prix fixe menus on offer, the ones below are on our short list to try.

At Artisan’s Table, start with tuna tostadas with seared ahi and a chipotle, lime, corn and edamame relish; bites of panko-breaded pork belly with sticky rice, house tonkatsu sauce and pickled-mango relish; or a salad with roasted beets, burrata, toasted walnuts, balsamic reduction and truffle oil.

Main courses include braised bone-in short ribs with popcorn grits, Coca-Cola glaze and fried zucchini strings; crunchy sesame-seed-crusted fried shrimp, house-made Chinese sausage and broccoli noodles; dark-beer-battered salmon, fried fingerling potatoes and slaw; or half of a chicken glazed with lavender honey along with a warm barley and rice-berry salad and lemon-dill vinaigrette.

For dessert, choose from a Basque cheesecake with butterscotch; brûléed lemon-curd tart or chocolate cake with peanut butter filling and ganache. Dine-in, take-out and delivery available; limited outdoor seating.

The Strand’s summery, Southern-style starters include poached shrimp with fried green tomatoes, chow chow and tarragon aioli; a grilled peach salad with praline bacon, blue cheese and citrus vinaigrette; or steak-and-cheese flatbread with peppers, onions, horseradish and crispy shallots.

magical dining 2020

The Strand’s dinners to-go are magical.

Mains feature blackened red snapper with lime compound butter and Anson Mills cheese grits; coffee-rubbed, grass-fed flank steak with patatas bravas and bordelaise (pictured); or grilled Spanish octopus with fried new potatoes, roasted-garlic aioli and citrus-cilantro vinaigrette.

End your meal with pistachio cake; chocolate terrine with orange cream and toffee crumble; or peanut butter pie. Dine-in and take-out options available.

At Vinia Wine & Kitchen, start off with Brazilian cheese bread and guava sauce;  burrata with pesto and wine salt; or empanadas with shrimp and scallops.

magical dining 2020

Porchetta ao Bosco from Vine Wine & Kitchen

For your entrée, enjoy pasta with 24-hour braised oxtail; pan-roasted cod with honey-roasted butternut squash flan and lemon-sage broth; or roasted pork tenderloin stuffed with blackberries and served with risotto Milanese (pictured).

All diners receive a flight of three small desserts including vanilla gelato dosed with caramel espresso; soft ricotta and cream pie with strawberries and basil; and a chocolate pot de crème with grated dark chocolate and sea salt. Dine-in only.

Begin your meal at The Ravenous Pig with a Southern board of country ham, grilled dates, pimento cheese, sourdough bread, pickled okra and tomato sauce; a salad of local greens, goat cheese, granola, beets and avocado; or crab crostini with preserved lemon and tomato gremolata.

Main courses include shrimp risotto with fennel, beets and olive; smoked lemon chicken with mushroom chicken jus and Carolina Gold rice pilaf; or short rib with garlic whipped potatoes, bordelaise and crispy shallots.

Choose between chocolate cake with tahini and pear or the Chef’s selection of artisanal cheeses for dessert. Dine-in and take-out options available.

Starters at Kabooki Sushi Sand Lake include hamachi sashimi with orange supreme, ponzu, Malaysian lime oil and yuzu tobiko; yucca fritters with spicy tuna, serrano peppers and sweet chili sauce; or salmon ceviche with truffle pate, ahi amarillo, smoked trout roe and sunchoke chips.

For the main event, tuck into a rice bowl scattered with tamago, ohba leaf and pickled cucumber; a Japanese hot pot of 36-hour sous-vide pork jowl, furikake, crispy rice bonito flakes and egg yolk; or four pieces of nigiri with a Hamachi Heats Roll.

Sweets include chocolate lava cake with dulce de leche, vanilla ice cream, and chocolate ganache; carrot cake with carrot purée, cinnamon glaze, walnut brittle, pickled raisins, cream-cheese icing and orange-ginger ice cream; or three scoops of house-made ice cream. Dine-in only.

Visit our dining archives for more inspiration.