Kaya: 618 N. Thornton Ave. Orlando
Let me tell you about Kaya….This charming little restaurant has been creating waves in Orlando’s food scene for the last few years. And it’s no wonder why, it’s Michelin recommended and is a newly James Beard Award 2024 nominee!
Located in the vibrant Mills 50 district, Kaya is a Filipino ‘casual’ fine dining experience that is as unique as it is delightful.
As soon as we pulled up we could tell that this was not a typical restaurant. It’s a small house turned into a cozy restaurant, exuding a warm and welcoming atmosphere that instantly made us feel at home. (You can find parking across the street in a decent sized lot, or find on-street parking.)
We came for happy hour and did not have a reservation. Kaya always welcomes walk-in’s, and we were able to get seats at their small bar, for the ‘a la carte’ menu. Kaya opens at 5:00 and happy hour is daily from 5-6pm.
What can you expect at Kaya?
There’s a few ways to enjoy an evening at Kaya…it can be casual, choosing some delicious craft cocktails and small plates from the ‘a la carte’ menu. You may want to enjoy their lovely outdoor patio and garden space… Or for a more ‘fine dining’ experience, go for the Sama Sama set menu experience. This is a multi-course meal centered around the season’s finest offerings. $120/person. Reservations are recommended for Sama Sama, particularly on weekends.
Whichever experience you decide to go for, a la carte or the Sama Sama set menu, the team will make you feel like family!
Kaya has delicious roots:
The restaurants name, Kaya, translates to ‘can do’ or ‘able to’, reflecting this special team’s can-do spirit. You can feel and taste the love this team has for what they do!
Kaya ‘a la carte’ menu:
Let’s talk food and drinks! So the menu does change a bit daily, but I will share what we enjoyed when we went. The ‘a la carte’ menu features quite a few small sized dishes…and all were exceptional. I never thought of myself as someone who would love Filipino food, (probably because I’d never had it) but I can say ‘I love it’ now!
Some of our favorites were the Kinilaw, which is Japanese Snapper w/ Uni Ceviche…the best ceviche we’ve had. The Pancit, which is mung bean noodles, I’m so wanting this dish again, soon! And the Sisig, which is a pork belly dish. Everything was delicious but these were our top three!
We can’t wait to go back for the Kinilaw, and also try some of the other items on the menu!
Kaya also has an amazing craft cocktail menu…and the bartender’s were amazing! All the drinks were wonderfully balanced and unique. My favorite was the ‘Ube, that’s good’ and the ‘Game Na’.
And I had to try a dessert, so I got the Silvana Cookie…I can’t quite describe the texture but the menu said it’s cashew meringue layers and French buttercream. Just scrumptious!
Everything was just exquisite! Despite its casual setting, the attention to detail in every aspect, from the presentation of the dishes to the impeccable service, is truly commendable. We could feel the love that goes into every detail…and we felt completely welcomed into their home! Such a rarity in today’s world…
Whether you’re a local or a tourist exploring Orlando, Kaya is a ‘must-do’. It’s more than just a restaurant in a cute house…it’s a celebration of the rich culinary heritage of the Philippines. With a team that goes the extra mile to give each guest an exceptional dining experience!
So here’s to Kaya, the charming little restaurant that’s making big waves in Orlando’s food scene. Put it on your list!
Thank’s for reading!