In Kissimmee, Florida, grabbing a bite to eat often turns into an unforgettable family event.
Emeril Lagasse is known nationwide for his cooking, signature catchphrases and successful Food Network shows. Emeril brought TV to the Sunshine State with Emeril’s Florida—an exploration of the state’s best restaurants from the Georgia border to the Keys. He shined a light on some local favorites in the Kissimmee area.
The Catfish Place welcomed Emeril before the cameras were rolling. His first visit might have been a recommendation from celebrities who’ve visited: Kurt Russell, the Harlem Globetrotters and Don Johnson have dug in here. Emeril’s first experience was so impressive, he decided to share St. Cloud’s secret with the nation. Emeril delighted in The Catfish Place’s signature dishes, including catfish (obviously), gator, turtle and frog legs.
Lagasse didn’t need to knock three times and say the password (“apple pie”) to enter 3 Sisters Speakeasy, but if he had come around to Dodie, Ruth and Fannie’s bar in 1925, he would have! Dodie protected the door, Ruth was behind the bar and Fannie worked the tables—no law could stop their parties! Today’s menu is organized by their favorite foods, with an option for every taste bud: sushi to French onion soup to a Mahi Mahi sandwich.
At Savion’s Place Family Cuisine, fresh is the word. Grilled chicken, seafood entrees and crisp vegetables make up a menu that bursts with local flavor. The Caesar salad, for example, has mango slices mixed in to complement the classic—to borrow a phrase from Emeril, they really “kick it up a notch!” Try the Steak Sandwich: juicy tenderloin with crimini mushrooms, roasted red peppers, grilled zucchini, red onions and mozzarella, served with a side of parmesan French fries. Order the Tostones Bowl to start: fried plantains covered with juicy prawns and pulled pork, drizzled with citrus aioli. That’s a dish you may find only in Central Florida.
When it comes to family friendly dining, Kissimmee has more options than you can fill a plate with. A little bit of food, a little bit of laughter and a little bit of acting the part will keep your family entertained from appetizer through dessert.
Knock three times, give the secret password and immerse yourself in the mysterious world of 1931 gangland Chicago. Mingle with fellow guys and dolls at Capone’s Dinner & Show, a mock prohibition-era speakeasy. Keep your visit hush-hush; the joint’s crawling with “coppers” who are trying to catch Capone’s serving bootleg alcohol. Keep an eye out for the family—including Miss Jewel, Miss Bunny-June and Fingers Salvatorio—and the family will keep an eye out for you. Dine on an authentic Italian buffet with recipes that go back to Sicily. This dinner isn’t the “sit down” type, though—you’ll be encouraged to interact with the actors, sing along, walk the walk and talk the talk.
Chivalry! Rivalry! Revelry! Medieval Times offers every member of the family the opportunity to yell “Huzzah!” and act like their favorite character on Game of Thrones—it’s easier than you think, servers set the mood by always addressing you as “lord” or “lady.” Nosh on a chicken thigh while knights joust to defend their crest. Drink from a goblet and cheer for your favorite. His majesty’s royal feast includes roasted chicken, tomato bisque, herb-roasted potatoes, spare ribs and a pastry shaped like a castle—truly, a meal fit for a king!
An elaborate set provides the background for a swashbuckling experience complete with aerial performances and swordfights. At Pirate’s Dinner Adventure, a 46-foot long, authentically replicated 18th-century Spanish galleon with 40-foot masts is anchored in a 300,000-gallon indoor lagoon. Guests sit in one of six additional ships, each with a different pirate mascot to cheer on throughout the show. There’s a good chance you’ll play a role in the performance (peg leg and parrot not required). Will evil Captain Sebastian the Black and his wife, Treasure, conquer? At all dinner shows in the area, your family might influence how the story ends.
Amusement parks in Kissimmee have the fun covered when it’s time to eat, too. Old Town can be viewed from a mile away thanks to the colorful Slingshot that launches people in the air at over 40mph . On Saturday nights, grab a bite to eat at one of more than a dozen restaurants in the park—Pizza? Donuts? Tacos?—then line the sidewalks for the Saturday Nite Cruise, a parade of pre-1975 hot rods, street rods and antique cars that pass as tunes from oldies bands on the main stage set the mood.
At Fun Spot America Kissimmee, free admission is just the first reason to celebrate. Ride the world’s tallest SkyCoaster, a bungee-jump from 300 feet above ground. Ten thrilling rollercoasters and eight rides for younger kids guarantee great times for the whole family. Refuel with classic park grub such as funnel cakes, corn dogs and cotton candy. Now, who wants to ride Screamin’ Eagles again?
See the hottest new ice-cream concept in action at this family favorite in Kissimmee. At Abracadabra Ice Cream Factory, pick your flavor and toppings, then watch the concoction as it’s flash frozen with liquid nitrogen. Temperatures reach -320 degrees, creating a magic cloud that reveals your custom creation within seconds. Choose from more than 30 toppings, from sweet to sour to crunchy to healthy. Overwhelmed? Try a staff recommended recipe, such as the Rise-N-Shine, a coffee flavored ice cream with caramel and fudge.
At Kilwins, in Celebration, the handcrafted chocolate, toffee, caramel and salt-water taffy would impress Willy Wonka. Caramel cubes are prepared using the company’s founders’ original recipe, a copper-kettle preparation that guarantees the perfect amount of chew. Pick up a pound of pecan or cashew “tuttles”: fresh nuts with the special caramel, smothered in milk or dark chocolate. Bite into almond-topped crunchy toffee—the dark chocolate version is a favorite. A box of dark chocolate caramels, topped with pink Himalayan sea salt, is the perfect treat to enjoy on a stroll around downtown Celebration.
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