I’m a big fan of happy hour. The name alone sounds cheerful, and on top of that, you get to experience restaurants that might otherwise be on the upper end of your price range without breaking the bank. Orlando is, among other things, a very foodie town, so there are a plethora of quality establishments to try. Restaurant Row—a wonderfully restaurant-heavy strip of Sand Lake Road just west of I-4—offers a ton of happy-hour options, some of which are mentioned below. You can also find some great choices at Pointe Orlando, near the Mall at Millenia, and in downtown Orlando. Some specialize in inexpensive drinks; others offer some of their most exquisite food at a discount; and some, blissfully, do both. In any case, you’ll dine well for a steal and hopefully get a little happier in the process. Enjoy the early evening like the locals do at these top restaurants.
Located in the Italian-themed Dellagio Town Center on the Restaurant Row stretch of Sand Lake Road, this trendy sushi eatery is a local favorite that offers a daily happy hour from 5 to 7 p.m. You’ll have plenty of food options, from create-your-own-sushi to robata grilled skewers. There’s also a generous variety of craft cocktails and wine. If you can’t find a seat, simply wander across the Dellagio plaza to Big Fin Seafood Kitchen, another happy hour favorite.
The Oceanaire Seafood Room
Offered daily from 5 to 7 p.m. and Monday through Thursday nights after 9 p.m. (Sundays after 8 p.m.), this upscale seafood restaurant’s happy hour menu includes shrimp and grits, fresh oysters, filet mignon sliders and fish tacos, as well as a variety of beer, wine, cocktails and martinis. Located within the Pointe Orlando entertainment complex, it’s the perfect starting point for an evening of fun.
This Restaurant Row steakhouse-slash-seafood eatery is fun and full of variety. With a daily happy hour from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., it’s a great choice for those hoping to dine on the early side, and it offers plenty of diverse options. Choices range from creative sushi rolls, to 65-cent oysters, to crocks of mussels, to delectable tuna tacos, with cocktail options beginning at $4.
Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar
Orlando attracts a lot of meetings and conventions, so it’s full of upscale steakhouses, including Ruth’s Chris, Morton’s, The Palm and Fleming’s. All offer extremely high-quality happy hour menus, but my favorite is found at Fleming’s, which boasts two Orlando-area locations, including one on Restaurant Row. Their “5 for $6 ’til 7 p.m.” menu runs from 5 to 7 p.m. daily, offering craft cocktails, wine and beer, appetizers such as salt & pepper shrimp and my personal favorite, the Prime Burger.
If you happen to be downtown, there’s no better happy hour choice than the swanky Bösendorfer Lounge at the Grand Bohemian Hotel. From 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, drink specials are accompanied by a “Butcher’s Table” charcuterie selection for just $10 per person. If you’re with a group of four, the cost is just $50 for a bottle of wine and the Butcher’s Table for all. Great for groups!