Central Florida tops lists of places to visit in world

Orlando-area culinary scene on fire


Central Florida is known for its world class theme parks, but now the culinary scene is on fire.

[WEB EXTRA: 52 Places to Go in 2015 ]

It's a big reason the New York Times named Orlando one of it's 52 places to visit in 2015.

It's not just a list of cities, but of places to visit in the world.

Orlando ranked number 13, above Zimbabwe.

"I think the last five years, there's really been an explosion in Central Florida," Julie Petrakis said

Petrakis and husband James are chefs and co-owners of the Ravenous Pig in Winter Park.

The duo is part of the three chefs in Central Florida to be nominated in 2014 for the prestigious James Beard Award.

It has been referred to as "The Oscar" of the culinary world.

"We all love Disney, but we want people to realize there are other things to come to Orlando for," Petrakis said.

The Times pointed out the first-of-it's-kind East End Market, located on Corrine Drive in Winter Park.

It's like a Farmers Market in a brick-and-mortar building.

There are stalls of small businesses offering everything from coffee to artisanal baked goods to sushi.

Owner John Rife III says he collected concepts while traveling and had the idea to put it all under one roof.

The diverse crowd the market draws makes him proud.

"There will be full-arm tattoo hipsters with their kids and penny loafer wearing attorneys with their kids, and everyone's having a great time," Rife said.

The times also pointed out Orlando is maturing as a city, because of the multi-million dollar Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, SunRail, and a Major League Soccer stadium that's on the way.

"It has a lot of arts and culture to offer that other parts of Florida don't have," Leslie Smith said.

Her friend added more.

"And a lot of green areas and parks, and the restaurants are great," Sonia Nieves Burton said when asked what she liked about Central Florida.

Speaking of restaurants, James and Julie Petrakis also own Cask and Larder restaurant in Winter Park and will open a new gourmet grocery store next door, called Swine and Sons.

It will open next month.