Kristen Manieri


  • Orlando, Florida, USA

Kristen Manieri is a correspondent who lives in Orlando and covers the city and surrounding areas for Forbes Travel Guide. A regular contributor to Orlando Magazine, Orlando Family magazine and Edible Orlando, Manieri continuously scours the city searching for the next great person, place or adventure. Living in the Sunshine State has given her the opportunity to explore it from northerly Amelia Island to southernmost Key West. But from top to tip, Orlando remains one of Manieri’s favorite Florida spots thanks to its ‘come as you are’ art scene, local food-focused restaurants and gorgeous green spaces.

  • On July 2, 2014
  • On September 23, 2013
    Kristen Manieri answered the question: Kristen Manieri

    What are the best things to order at Eleven?

    With a handful of starters paired with fabulous handcrafted cocktails, Eleven is the sort of place where you’ll want to arrive an hour before you’re set to dine. Here’s what to order when you get there:

    1. Lobster tempura. Definitely order the lobster tempura, which come two on a plate drizzled with Dijon-and-citrus aioli.

    2. Wagyu beef sliders. Topped with caramelized onions and smoked ketchup, these sliders also make for great pre-dinner snacking.

    3. Cherry frisee salad. Once seated, be sure to order the cherry frisee salad, which is made with spinach and topped with sweet dried cherries, roasted pecans and goat cheese.

    4. Steak. Five generous cuts of steak plus a 12-ounce veal chop will satisfy any carnivores at your table, but if you tend toward fish...

    5. Roasted grouper. The roasted grouper is superb but the lobster whipped mashed potatoes it’s set atop are unforgettable.
  • On September 23, 2013
    Kristen Manieri answered the question: Kristen Manieri

    What’s the best table at Eleven?

    When it comes to the best seat in the house, the weather plays a key determinant at Eleven. If it’s not too hot or muggy and the sky is clear, definitely grab one of the few poolside tables outside. The water views and night air are such big perks of the Florida restaurant’s 11th-floor locale that you’ll want to maximize your proximity. When outdoor dining is a little less agreeable, opt instead for one of two window-side tables facing the resort’s south side. This will give you great views of the golf courses and pretty residential properties of Reunion Resort.
  • On September 23, 2013
    Kristen Manieri answered the question: Kristen Manieri

    What are five things to know about Eleven?

    Enhance your dining experience at Eleven by knowing these five things before you go:

    1. It’s located poolside. But cast aside any concerns about views of sunbathers or raucous swimmers: The pool closes when the restaurant opens, which is at 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

    2. The restaurant is closed Sunday and Monday. Plan to make your reservation on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday between 6 and 10 p.m. or on Friday or Saturday between 6 and 11 p.m.

    3. Indulge in the bread basket. If you typically pass on baskets of bread, know that doing so would be a grave error at Eleven, where steaming hot rolls are made from pretzel dough and arrive accompanied with a delicious honey mustard butter.

    4. Order a drink. Another item not to miss is the Kama Sutra martini, prepared with pomegranate vodka, triple sec, fresh lime, pomegranate juice and simple syrup, and topped with champagne.

    5. There are fireworks views. Your Kama Sutra martini is the perfect cocktail to have in hand when the fireworks start to burst over Magic Kingdom, which happens nightly at 9 or 10 p.m., depending on the season.
  • On July 23, 2013
    Kristen Manieri answered the question: Kristen Manieri

    What are the best spas in Orlando?

    Nearly every major luxury hotel brand has a home in Orlando, which means the luxury spas are here too. That list includes the Ritz-Carlton Orlando Spa, the area’s biggest and definitely one of the best. Outside you’ll find a 4,000-square-foot adults-only pool flanked by towering palms and plush cabanas. Inside 40 treatment rooms, locker rooms with steam room and saunas, as well as co-ed relaxation rooms decked out with cozy chaise loungers await.

    At the Blue Harmony Spa at the Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek, guests are treated to ocean-inspired treatments within six blue hued treatment rooms, including a couple’s suite with side-by-side soaking tubs. Don’t forget to head out to the outdoor spa garden and secluded hot tub.

    The Balinese-inspired Mandara Spa, an 11,000 square-foot oasis of bliss inside the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, features 14 exotic treatment rooms where guests can experience atypical treatments such as the Mandara Ritual for Hands and Feet, a two-hour cleansing, exfoliation and massage treatment designed to lift you to a new stratosphere of relaxation.
  • On June 30, 2013
    Kristen Manieri answered the question: Kristen Manieri

    What are the best golf courses in Orlando?

    With 176 golf courses dotting the Orlando landscape, the only trouble golfers have is deciding which ones to tackle during their trip. There are 45 holes to play at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, including four uniquely challenging Jack Nicklaus Signature Design courses as well as a 9-hole Pitch 'n' Putt course designed to help golfers improve their short game.

    Reunion Resort boasts courses designed by legends Arnold Palmer and Tom Watson, as well as a course by Jack Nicklaus, which was listed as one of the “Top 100 Resort Courses” by Golfweek. Reunion Resort is also home to ANNIKA Academy, a teaching academy created by Annika Sorenstam.

    There’s an 18-hole, par-72 Greg Norman Signature Golf Course at the luxurious Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, Orlando where players can opt to have a caddie join them on their round. Further perks include the sprawling clubhouse, fives sets of tees, and one of just nine Golf Digest Schools sites in the country.
  • On June 28, 2013
    Kristen Manieri answered the question: Kristen Manieri

    What are the best kid-friendly restaurants in Orlando?

    Being that this is Orlando, the country’s number one destination for families, it’s not difficult to imagine that most restaurants are kid-friendly. But Orlando takes kid-focused food up a notch with a handful of restaurants totally tailored for families, including T-Rex, the dinosaur-themed eatery located in Downtown Disney. This prehistoric place features enormous, life-like dinosaurs that periodically growl and roar as diners nosh on Gigantosaurus Burgers and Jurassic Shrimp Skewers.

    Sanaa, the Indian-African restaurant, located in the Kidani Village Village at Animal Kingdom Lodge, is a do-not-miss dinner experience. In between bites of Butter Chicken and Garlic-Ginger Naan, guests gasp at the sight of real-life giraffe and zebra lazily strolling past the floor to ceiling windows.

    Of course, if you’re traveling with a little princess, you’ll want to consider making a reservation in Cinderella’s Royal Table, the majestic restaurant inside Magic Kingdom’s iconic castle where Disney’s classic princesses are on hand to meet and greet during breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  • On June 28, 2013
    Kristen Manieri answered the question: Kristen Manieri

    What is Orlando’s dining scene like?

    There are more than 5,300 restaurants in Orlando. That’s a figure that always takes me aback but when you consider how many dining districts make up Orlando’s dining scene, it’s actually not too difficult to comprehend.

    There are more than a dozen dining hubs scattered across Orlando from the theme park district all the way to Orlando’s northern suburbs. Areas like Downtown Disney and Universal’s CityWalk, both of which house at least a dozen restaurants each, are where you’ll find most of the tourists, but if you want to go where the locals go, consider Restaurant Row, a collection of more than 20 stellar restaurants lining Sand Lake Road.

    Park Avenue, the upscale street in Winter Park, is another excellent locale for dining thanks to several excellent spots including Prato, Luma on Park, and Park Plaza Gardens. Nearby Hannibal Square and Winter Park Village (home to Ruth’s Chris and Mitchell’s Fish Market) are also great options.

    You’ll find mostly eclectic and independent eateries in College Park and Ivanhoe Village, as well as the Church Street District and Thornton Park, both located in the downtown area.

    Finally, don’t forget that inside Orlando’s many hotels are further dining options, including Bull & Bear at Waldorf Astoria, PRIMO at the JW Marriott, and Hemingway’s inside the Hyatt Grand Cypress. In fact, some of Orlando’s most award-winning restaurants are inside hotels, including deep blu seafood grille, which is inside Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort and was voted best hotel restaurant by Orlando Magazine readers this year.
  • On June 28, 2013
    Kristen Manieri answered the question: Kristen Manieri

    What are the best museums in Orlando?

    One of Orlando’s most undiscovered treasures is the Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Gardens. Besides featuring a collection of permanent and rotating art in the gallery inside this beautiful Spanish villa, the Polasek’s pride and joy is its outdoor sculpture garden, which features over a dozen pieces speckled throughout the meticulously manicured garden and lawn perched on Winter Park’s Lake Osceola. It’s totally fine to bring a picnic lunch to enjoy by the lake as long as you bring your garbage away with you. Admission is $5 to the museum, which is closed Mondays.

    While you’re in the area, stop in to another area gem: the Cornell Fine Arts Museum located on the beautiful Rollins College campus. While the museum celebrates its 35th anniversary this year, admission is free.

    Wander north on Park Avenue and you’ll discover The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art, home to the biggest collection of works by Louis Comfort Tiffany. Recent additions include the Daffodil Terrace, a gorgeous glass-enclosed gallery featuring a skylight covered by six large panels of iridescent-glass tiles in a pear-tree motif.
  • On June 28, 2013
    Kristen Manieri answered the question: Kristen Manieri

    What are the best fine-dining restaurants in Orlando?

    It’s impossible to create a list of Orlando’s best restaurants for fine dining and not include Victoria & Albert's. Tucked inside Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa at Walt Disney World Resort, this opulent eatery features a 10-course chef’s menu designed by award-winning Chef Scott Hunnel, who was recently nominated for a 'Best Chef South' James Beard Award. Be sure to dress for the occasion; men are required to wear a dinner jacket and ladies are recommended to wear a cocktail dress or pant suit. 

    While the scene is slightly less haughty at Norman’s, a Florida-inspired restaurant inside the Ritz-Carlton Orlando, the food is no less decadent. The menu boasts a host of dishes with Latin, Caribbean and Asian nuances, including the Key West Shrimp Ceviche, a tableside-prepared appetizer that’s definitely not to be passed over. Another special perk of Norman’s is the wood-encased wine room, which sits in the middle of the dining room and can be reserved for special occasions and group functions.
  • On June 27, 2013
    Kristen Manieri answered the question: Kristen Manieri

    What are the best places for brunch in Orlando?

    Since this is my absolute favorite meal of the day, it’s my pleasure to dish on Orlando’s best brunches. First off, breakfast on Park Avenue in Winter Park is practically a local tradition. You’ll find several great brunch restaurants along the bricked street but the favorites are Briarpatch, The Bistro (serving five different kinds of eggs Benedict), and Park Plaza Gardens, where you’ll find a killer frittata served during the Sunday Brunch beginning at 11am. 

    The Jazz Brunch at the Grand Bohemian Hotel is another area favorite. This sprawling buffet is loaded with fruit, cheese, waffles, bacon, and seafood. Adding to the decadent affair is the live music floating from the Imperial Grand Bösendorfer Piano in the rotunda.

    Finally, with its endless array of interactive cooking stations and tables overflowing with scrumptious food offerings, the Sunday Brunch at The Vineyard Grill inside the Ritz-Carlton Orlando is another foodie event you won’t want to miss.

  • On June 24, 2013
    Kristen Manieri answered the question: Kristen Manieri

    What are the best sports bars in Orlando?

    Located at Disney’s BoardWalk, ESPN Club offers one of the most immersive experiences in the area for sports fans. At any given time, every major athletic event, highlights and interviews can be seen on the 100 monitors throughout this 13,000 square-foot sports bar. There are even televisions in the bathroom plus a 108-square-foot video wall in the main dining room perfect for viewing major televised sporting events such as the Super Bowl.

    There are two fantastic sports bars at Universal’s CityWalk: NBA City, which is decked out with 15-foot video screens, and NASCAR Sports Grill, a racing-themed sports bar packed with NASCAR memorabilia and featuring racing simulators and video games.

    A few miles away, Miller's Field Orlando has all the typical features of a great sports bar but this Restaurant Row locale also features an eclectic selection of craft beers, gourmet pizzas, and an expansive outdoor patio.
  • On June 20, 2013
    Kristen Manieri answered the question: Kristen Manieri

    What is nightlife like in Orlando?

    Whether you’re planning on sticking near the theme parks or want to venture downtown, there is plenty to do after the sun sets in Orlando. Downtown Disney and Disney’s Boardwalk each house a handful of pubs, lounges, and sports bars, including Jellyrolls, a lively dueling piano bar on the Boardwalk that’s always a good time.

    The crowds never seems to thin at CityWalk where a dozen bars and nightclubs, including Bob Marley-A Tribute to Freedom and the Red Coconut Club, keep the party going into the wee hours of the night. You can catch live music at Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville or sing karaoke along with a live band at CityWalk's Rising Star.

    Downtown Orlando is slightly sleepy during the week but it certainly comes alive on the weekends, especially at Wall Street Plaza and in the Church Street District, each housing several bars and nightclubs. Two of my favorites are Sky Sixty, a rooftop club with a South Beach feel, and ONE80 GREY GOOSE Lounge, which is perched on top of the Amway Center and gives the best views of Orlando’s skyline at night.
  • On June 20, 2013
    Kristen Manieri answered the question: Kristen Manieri

    What are the best kids’ activities in Orlando?

    Obviously, any kid (even the kid at heart) is going to love Orlando’s theme parks. But you probably know all about those, so I’ll share some lesser-known ideas. I’m a big fan of the Orlando Science Center, a four-floor, interactive space just north of downtown where you’ll find live animal habitats, dinosaurs reproductions, and science exhibits where kids can explore everything from weather to gravity.

    Definitely plan to watch a documentary-style film in the 300-seat Dr. Phillips CineDome or catch a blockbuster 3D hit in the new Digital Adventure Theater. Traveling exhibits change all the time, but at the moment there is a 1,500 square-foot Blue Man Group – Making Waves exhibit designed to merge science and art.

    If you’re up for a drive a little further north, I think you’ll enjoy Sanford’s Central Florida Zoo, a small zoological park completely outfitted with a boardwalk trail that takes you to each animal habitat, including the home of the two new rhinos that arrived at the zoo earlier this year. Be sure to bring your swim suits; there is a great little splash pad onsite where the kiddos can cool off and mom and dad can relax in the shade. Additionally, the zoo also houses ZOOMAIR Treetop Adventure Park, an aerial zip and climb obstacle course.
  • On June 14, 2013
    Quia Querisma is now following Kristen Manieri