Cheers Sippin Gypsy Travelers! This series comes to you while enjoying my Sippin Gypsy Jalapeno Margarita inspired by the Jalapeno Margarita at La Cava del Tequila in EPCOT of Walt Disney World Orlando!
One of the things I appreciate about Walt Disney World in Orlando Florida is the diversity of food and integration of well known chefs and creative food harvesting and preparation techniques. This post works hand in hand with my Walt Disney World Orlando: Parks post. Just as in the other post, I break down park by park to hopefully help you maximize what is offered at each park.
I want to make it clear to my readers, I am in way affiliated with Walt Disney World. I am just a loyalty visitor for more than 30 years, a pass holder for more than 10 years and as you have hopefully found in reading and leveraging my tips in other posts from my travels, I love good food and cocktails. As your reading this don't forget to reference our other posts to assist in your Orlando planning:
Cocktails and Cuisine
Disney does offer dining plans for guests staying on property. These are ideal if traveling with families with older children that may break off from the group and still want to be able to get food without carrying money, or if you intent on three meals a day. It is worth looking into. Like a cruise or all inclusive vacation, sometimes its easier when everything is paid for up front first.
In my opinion, this park offers the least in culinary adventure, and offers no cocktails. However there are several enchanting dining experiences that will enhance the experience of your little prince and princess. By setting up breakfast reservations inside Magic Kingdom, you can get into the park earlier and get your day started. As a local and pass holder I enjoy breakfast at home, a pack a lunch and snacks then grab a quick service dinner. However, if we are taking guests with us, there are several experiences I want to ensure guests who are a first time visitor here enjoy:
Crystal Palace: A buffet style with options sure to please even the pickiest of pallets. The Crystal Palace is also the spot for character sightings in an elegant but comfortable environment. As soon as you know your travel dates, set a reservation. This books up quickly.
Be Our Guest: Currently for breakfast and lunch this is counter service restaurant. Set within the magical rooms of Belle and Beast's castle, this is truly a magical experience and good breakfast choices.
Quick Service Options: No reservation needed:
Columbia Harbor House: A welcomed break from the pizza, hamburger and hot dog options offered everywhere else. I have always found refreshing options here, and it is convenient that you can walk in at any point and order. No reservations required.
Fine Dining/Themed Dining Experiences: Reservations required
Tony's Town Square: A charming recreation of where Lady and The Tramp shared their first kiss. The food is Italian and the portions are decent. You will not see any fireworks from this location, but you might catch the afternoon parade here if you can get a good window seat.
Crystal Palace: Buffet style with regular visitations by the beloved characters continues all afternoon into the evening. If you do not catch this spot for breakfast, consider it for lunch or dinner. If you can secure a window seat, you will catch part of the fireworks from here.
The Plaza Restaurant: Classic American cuisine, good portions and a charming restaurant. The menu offered a good variety of options, everyone finds something they like.
Cinderella's Royal Table: This a special occasion experience. I was treated as a young girl to dining in Cinderella's Castle and I still remember it to this day. It won't be that amazing culinary experience you feel you are paying for, but your little princess will be in awe of the luxurious decor and truly being treated like royalty. Cinderella's Royal Table books up more than a year in advance.
Now this park I enjoy eating and drinking in! Quite honestly when budgeting for where to indulge in the parks, I would sooner pick the counter and quick service options in the other parks and eat up in EPCOT.
Almost every month in the year, EPCOT hosts a festival that also brings together culinary experiences to compliment the theme of the festival. In the spring you can enjoy the Flower and Garden Festival, the fall hosts the Food and Wine Festival, holidays welcome the Festival of the Holidays and winter hosts the Art Festival. EPCOT adds small kiosks around World Showcase that offer additional food and beverages to compliment the theme of the festival. One could easily fill up for lunch or dinner by touring these kiosks as well as the counter service options available in each country, and still not have tried something from every country. I usually take three or four visits to truly try everything, and I leave stuffed every time. Look at the EPCOT page once you know your travel agenda, it will be worth it to give yourself at least two dinners to enjoy around World Showcase.
Outside of the festivals, EPCOT also has good food. Below are listed some of my absolute favorites, though depending on your preference for cuisine, you really can not go wrong with any of the restaurants here.
Quick Service: No reservations required.
Sunshine Seasons: This is one of my two favorite quick service spots in all of Disney. The other is in Animal Kingdom (see below) The food is tasty and everyone in my family can find something they like, and the prices are very reasonable. As locals we sometimes go here just to eat then catch a ride or two before heading back home. When spending the whole day at EPCOT, this is where we stop for lunch before heading into World Showcase for the rest of the afternoon and evening.
Tuto Gusto Wine Cellar: This is a great way to sit down for a bit, have a bottle of wine, and pick at some great Italian food. I do not recommend this place if you have children traveling with you. Set tucked away inside the Italy, the cellar is cool and dark and has a full bar, but also amazing well priced Italian wines. As a local, sometimes the girls and I go into EPCOT just to hang out here for a bit before catching the fireworks.
Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie: Quiche, sandwiches, deserts and more deserts, this is a fun little spot to grab something quick and easy an oh so tasty. There isn't designated inside, so have a family member grab the first table they can while you order. I usually indulge in the quiche and at least two deserts from here....they're so good!!!
*Themed and Fine Dining: Reservations required
Like I stated earlier, every restaurant around World Showcase has great food options. You really could pick what style cuisine most interests you. My sincere advice would be to try something that you aren't familiar with. If where you live you don't have access to Norwegian cuisine, then book a lunch reservation at Akershus. (and I only suggest lunch because the cost is usually lower, that way if you aren't wonderfully impressed with the new style of cuisine, you don't feel like the last meal of your day left you wanting different flavors. But since your're already here ready my post, here is my recap of the sit down dining available in each country:
Mexico: La Hacianda de San Angel. This is a great location for dinner at the end of the evening to catch the fireworks. Beautiful sweeping windows that give you a full view of the Illuminations show. The bar also offers good margaritas. Also within Mexico is the enchanting San Angel Inn Restaurante, here you feel like you are dining at sunset in the shadow of an ancient Mayan temple!
*Grab a cocktail here!: La Cava del Tequila has a beautiful collection of Tequilas and well crafted cocktails
Norway: Akershus Royal Banquet Hall. A buffet with the flavors that celebrate all things Norway. This could be an ideal dining experience if you have a little princess traveling with you, as this restaurant also indulges visitors with royal audiences from beloved Disney Princesses.
China: Nine Dragons Restaurant offers a truly beautiful experience celebrating the details of Chinese decor and ambiance. The food is tasty and well portioned. You will leave full. This is a great restaurant for families with children.
Germany: Biergarten Restaurant transports you into a charming Bavarian Village with live entertainment. Of course the beer and wine options abound here with several options to try! Fun for families with children, the band is energetic and engaging.
Grab a wine or beer here! Even if you do not dine within the Biergarten Restaurant, Germany offers a wine cellar to try various wines from Germany and of course beers!
Italy: Tutto Italia Ristorante was the restaurant my wedding party and I celebrated at as a big group the day before my wedding. The food is delicious and the ambiance is so romantic. The wines options are so impressive...this one I highly recommend! If you are traveling with younger children you may find Via Napoli Ristorante more appropriate. They offer truly delicious and filling pizzas. During peak season, this spot sometimes offers a quick service window allowing you to grab a quick slice of either cheese or pepperoni pizza.
*Grab a drink here! Italy offers wine flight tastings as well as a beautiful wine list option to sip and stroll. There is a full service bar inside Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar. Saluti!
American Adventure: America doesn't offer fine dining. There is of course a solid assortment of beers. There is a stage where often fun music is offered throughout the day. If you're staying for some music and enjoy American beer, you will be fine, but I usually make my margarita from Mexico last by adding a bit more ice to it, or I grab an extra glass of wine from Italy.
Japan: Teppan Edo indulges you in the favorite experience of a Japanese Steakhouse and watching your food cooked right before you! This is a fun experience with the whole family! Japan also offers Toyko Dining, an elegant restaurant with delicious food. The restaurant sits high up, but still allows views of the Illuminations Fireworks Show!
*Grab a drink here! Japan offers a tasting of sake and sake cocktails! Kanpai!
Morocco: Restaurant Marrakesh was one of the first restaurants I've visited in EPCOT and one of the few I have been back to several times. The food is truly delicious and sometimes your meal is entertained by a belly dancer! Spice Road Table also offers beautiful views of the Illuminations Fireworks Show at night. We often set reservations for dinner here around 8pm and finish our meal just in time to enjoy the fireworks.
*Grab a drink here!Spice Road Table also offers a full service bar, this is another great spot to order a delicious cocktail to sip and stroll! Saha wa a fiab!
France: Chefs de France and her wide tall windows allow you to people watch and enjoy truly good French cuisine. Beautiful wine pairings come recommended with your meal. Cheers!
France also offers Monsieur Paul, a culinary experience by Chef Paul Bocuse. I do not recommend this with children. This should be indulged for a special occasion!
*Grab a drink here! France offers a wine flight tasting as well as in impressive option of various French wines to sip as you stroll, a votre sante!
United Kingdom: Rose and Crown Dining Room is another restaurant well situated on the lagoon, with beautiful views of the Illuminations Fireworks Show. This is a great location for families with kids, everyone is sure to find something they like.
*Grab a drink here! The Rose and Crown has an impressive bar with the ability to make most classic cocktails! Cheers!
Canada: Le Cellier Steakhouse, this rustic but elegant steak house set deep within the stone walls of Canada is a truly tasty experience. You will be very full when done here. The portions are generous and filling. You will also have an impressive selection of wines to accompany your meal. Enjoy!
This is my other favorite park for cuisine and cocktails. Animal Kingdom has a lot less as far as options, but definitely still delivers in flavor! This is other park that I will just do both meals in. Usually a sit down lunch at a table service restaurant then a quick service meal for dinner. Remember table service restaurants usually require a reservation. You can set up your fast passes first, then arrange your dining reservations around your fast passes. Animal Kingdom also offers themed bars around the park, some with limited beverages and others with full bars. At Animal Kingdom you're never far from a persuasive libation!
Quick Service: No reservations required.
Satu 'li Canteen: Hands down my other favorite quick service spot in Disney World. They had me at kale...this location offers truly unique but healthy options that are packed with flavor and look so pretty on your plate! Your younger travelers may have a harder time appreciating something from here, but it's worth it! This one is located within the exotic forests of Pandora. So this is a great option once you head into the Pandora to explore.
Flame Tree Barbecue: I love to make my own barbecue, and this place delivers pretty good barbecue for being quick service in a theme park! They have everything from ribs to chicken with good size portions and tender meat that is well seasoned. This spot is located over by Dinoland, so this can be easy to grab before catching rides on that side of the park, or while letting the kids play in the dig yard.
Harambe Market: This is quick service spot is located back by the Kilimanjaro Safari, and it's also conveniently located across from a full service bar with tasty cocktails. Again, this is a refreshing break from the hot dog, pizza and hamburger options.
Fine Dining: Reservations required
The wonderful thing at Disney is that you can walk into these fine dining locations in your shorts and flip flops, or you can come back to the park just to enjoy the night show, some cocktails and a special dinner. Either way, set reservations to ensure you can be sat when is most convenient for your schedule, or even get sat at all! Often during peak season, they will not have any openings even if you ask at the beginning of the day.
Tiffins: This is a delicious experience! The ambiance is so unique and the cuisine celebrates flavors from around the world. There is also an option for a dining experience with a special guest, one of the members on Disney's conservation team will join you for deeper insights to the efforts at Disney for animal protection and conservation.
*Grab a drink here! The Nomad Lounge is a full service bar with delicious options you can take to go!
Tusker House Restaurant: This is a great one to do with young travelers. Not only will they get to interact with favorite characters, but it is buffet style, so picky eaters can find options!
Yak and Yeti Restaurant: The ambiance is so incredible here. You feel like you are in a palace! The food is classic Asian cuisine and safe for picky pallets. This is another good spot for travelers with children.
Like Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios is one of the other parks I often pack a lunch for and grab quick service for dinner, however sometimes we splurge and enjoy a few of the truly unique spots for themed dining here at Hollywood Studios. Like EPCOT and Animal Kingdom, there are full service bars, or carts with a decent assortment for wines, beers or cocktails sprinkled around the cart.
Quick Service: No reservations required.
Fairfax Fare:and Rosie's All American Cafe and Catalina Eddy's: All three in this location have several different counters to order a variety of things. Conveniently located near Tower of Terror, this is a great spot to grab something to eat after the rides. They each offer a specific cocktail, but not too far up from the counters is usually a beverage card with better options.
Baseline Tap House: Jumping on the trendy bandwagon of small bites with your drinks, this spot is fun to get out of the hot sun, pick at a few things while you sip. It won't fill you up, so this is a good place for a lite bite if your expecting a larger meal later. Not a place for travelers with children.
Themed Dining/Table Service: Reservations required.
50's Prime Time Cafe: This is one of the restaurants we've been to many times. The experience is so fun! You feel like you are in grandmas kitchen, the staff is witty and energetic and the food is classic good old American comfort good. Get the friend chicken...its good!
Brown Derby: This is styled after the iconic American landmark. The ambiance is reminiscent of old Hollywood glamour. The food is pretty good, but if you can opt for the experience to dine with an Imagineer, it makes for a truly memorable evening to get into the genius mind of what brings the Disney Magic. Another option for smaller bites and cocktails is the lounge at the Brown Derby. My friends and I often do this before the night shows.
Mama Melrose's Ristorante: I was pleasantly surprised when eating here. The food was good, the portions were great and it was a very comfortable environment with the kids too. Its also tucked away from the crazy crowds, so this is a nice retreat and a good break from the heat.
This spot! As a local I am here almost weekly. Either for lunch with girlfriends or bringing the family at night to let the kids run off and grab what they want for dinner then a movie while we adults pick a different spot and have a cocktail. This is also a nice break from the theme parks. Just like in the parks there are locations that are quick service and other spots that are sit down and enjoy a nice meal. Options for cocktails abound here! Not only do the full service restaurants have well stocked bars where you can order anything to go, there are also beverage stations through out the park. There truly are a lot of options. Just because I don't list something doesn't necessarily mean it isn't worth considering. But what I have taken the time to list are the places we frequent the most as locals. Good food, good portions and good cocktails!
Quick Service: No reservations
Blaze Fast Fire'd Pizza: Custom made, fresh pizzas. You pick the ingredients, they bake it, you enjoy it. Simple and delicious. This place can get quite a long line. Have someone wait in line with the order, While someone else goes for cocktails then grabs a seat.
D-Luxe Burgers: These burgers are huge! I've finally tried all of them, and my favorite continues to be the Diabolo. We also enjoy dining out on the patio that over looks the water. Stock up on dipping sauces for the fries and enjoy a milk shake....everything together is delicious and filling!
Earl Of Sandwich: I know! This one surprised me too...but we eat here so often. The bread is cooked fresh, the portions are generous. Everyone can find something they like and its set in the heart of the original "Downtown Disney" so it's a little nostalgic for us. Grab your cocktails from elsewhere before you head into order. Don't be scared of the insanely long line...it moves quickly.
Polite Pig: This spot is owned by one of my other Orlando favorites, so I knew the food would be good. This is your go to for classic barbecue cuisine. They also have a truly unique bar with select cocktails on tap! Give it a try!
Fine Dining: Reservations highly recommended
Boathouse: Seafood cuisine, with a few land based options as well. Weather permitting we try to get a spot outside or at least at a window. The sunset is beautiful along the water. Food is great and cocktails are delicious. We usually have a drink with dinner then order another to go as we continue sippin and strollin'
Frontera Conina: I will be honest, I'm more in love with the cocktails than the cuisine here, but truly all of it is very good. I order at least one drink from here even if not eating. They make a fabulous spicy margarita "Play with Fire" that is my first go to when ever I get to Disney Springs.
Check other posts in the Wald Disney World Series:
Disneyland California by Maggie of From Toddler to Traveler