Walt Disney World may be a top destination for kids, but there's plenty of great entertainment for grownups too! The Downtown Disney area alone has
22 restaurants as well as Cirque du Soleil and House of Blues. Essentially, you could do dinner and a show there every night throughout your vacation and still have a different experience each time.
My husband and I recently ventured to Downtown Disney for a date night. We typically grab dinner at one of the resorts and watch the fireworks from outside the parks, but this time we had our sites set on La Nouba at Cirque du Soliel. La Nouba's giant white tent-like structure was Cirque du Soliel's first permanent freestanding theater and it makes a stunning visual icon. When arriving to the area, you immediately see it (as well as Bongo's big pineapple) and think, 'this place is going to be fun!' La Nouba mixes classic circus acts with modern street performances in a non-stop high energy mix of humor, suspense, and breathtaking stunts. It's almost sensory overload.
After the show, we took a walk and strolled through Pleasure Island looking at artwork in shops and watching street performers on our way to dinner. With so many restaurant options, it's hard to choose! We finally decided on The Portobello with a romantic table outside overlooking village lake. After sunset, it's actually pretty pleasant outside, even now in the summertime.
The Portobello is one of my favorite restaurants as they locally source as many of their ingredients as possible. You'll find Florida peppers, Winter Park honey, and Orlando Brewing Company beers on their menu as well as some of the freshest made-from-scratch pasta in town. My husband chose the rigatoni with sausage, a light and mild pasta dish perfect for summer! Based on our server's enthusiastic recommendation, I went with their grilled pork chop and Florida sweet peppers. I have to say, it was the best and biggest pork chop I've ever tasted. Seriously, no puny pork chops here! For dessert, we shared a biramisu, it's a tiramisu made using Orlando Brewing's Blackwater Porter in place of espresso. The citrus flavored ladyfinger cookies and tang of the sweet beer reduction is a really unique experience.
IF YOU GO
- La Nouba has showtimes at 6:00pm and 9:00 pm daily. Tickets range from $87 to $124 depending on seat section and season. I recommend arriving an hour early to make time for parking as it does get crowded. If possible, choose seats in the upper bowl area (not down by the stage) for the best overall views.
- Web: CirqueDuSoleil.com/en/shows/lanouba/
- Phone: 407-939-7600
- Portobello is one of the best Italian restaurants in Orlando, so I highly recommend making reservations. They are semi-fancy, but family friendly! You'll often find a 'stroller parking lot' outside … after all, it is Disney! Whatever you order, definitely save room for their biramisu dessert.
- Web: PortobelloRestaurant.com
- Phone: 407-934-8888