Walt Disney World is a vast operation, with over 200 places to get food, including 90 full-service restaurants, 30 of which are inside one of the four main parks. The other eateries comprise everything from walk-up or counter service cafes to popcorn carts and cocktail bars. While all the Disney dining establishments are certainly good and worth enjoying, getting a table can be very challenging during peak periods.
Here’s a list of tasty hidden spots to grab some nourishment, both in the parks and outside them, from luxe table service to those carts and cocktail bars.
Table Service: Liberty Tree Tavern & The Wave
Everyone knows (and tries to get a booking at) Cinderella’s Royal Table in the castle, as well as Be Our Guest. However, if you want table service and you’re at Magic Kingdom, Liberty Tree Tavern is a great bet for same-day bookings. The meals are thanksgiving-themed and served family style. But if you have the time to walk to the nearby Contemporary Resort, book a same-day table at The Wave, located on the ground floor of this resort, and a very short walk from the entrance of Magic Kingdom. The grilled beef tenderloin with potato gratin and asparagus is inspired, and the gnocchi with forest mushrooms, sweet potatoes, rainbow Swiss chard in a browned butter-parmesan-sage cream absolutely divine. The desserts are delicious as is the wine list. This table service spot, often overlooked by guests, seems to always have room for a same-day reservations, has an attentive staff and interesting takes on some traditional ingredients.
Counter Service: Columbia Harbour House & Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe
Magic Kingdom has counter service spots in every land. The ones we seem to always have wonderful meals at? Columbia Harbor House in Liberty Square: This spot looks quite small from the outside, but has quite a few dining rooms with ample table space. The menu consists of various fish and chicken dishes with some fantastic vegetarian options as well. The New England Clam Chowder is surprisingly authentic and tasty. Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe is another good bet – copious seating, burgers, nachos and other tex-mex options, and a massive ‘Fixins Bar’ – with sliced tomato, lettuce, various salsas and other items to enhance your meal. This spot is at the border between Frontierland and Adventureland.
Snacks: Sleepy Hollow & Gaston’s Tavern
Our favorite, somewhat secluded snack spot is Sleepy Hollow, tucked into the sequestered courtyard off the walkway from the hub to Liberty Square, near the Hall of Presidents. Sleepy Hollow offers absolutely massive and tasty waffle sandwiches, both sweet (strawberries, bananas, and blueberries with chocolate-hazelnut spread) and savory (sweet and spicy chicken), as well as funnel cakes topped in a variety of ways. We also enjoy some guilty pleasures at Gaston’s Tavern in Fantasyland – never as crowded as Be Our Guest. Gaston’s serves Le Fou’s Brew, a frozen apple juice with toasted marshmallow added, topped with fruit foam (Disney’s answer to Universal’s Butter Beer in the Harry Potter area), absolutely decadent and massive cinnamon rolls (trust us – try it!), and chocolate croissants, as well as healthier options such as hummus and chips and veggies with dip.
Table Service: Tokyo Dining & Spice Road Table
Nothing beats dining in ‘another country’ while watching Epcot’s IllumiNations (on through the end of September 2019). Most of the typical locations are booked far in advance though. Two of our favorites for last-minute availability, good views of the nightly show, and wonderful, creative food include Tokyo Dining and Spice Road Table. Tokyo Dining, in the Japan Pavilion, offers nigiri as well as sushi rolls, tempura, teriyaki, udon and other noodles, and more. They recently reimagined their menu, and the changes are delightful. Cocktails, Japanese beers, sakes, and wines are available. And the view of IllumiNations above the Torii gate is breathtaking. Spice Road Table, in the Morocco pavilion, offers Mediterranean tapas such as hummus and olives, hummus fries, stuffed grape leaves, and harissa chicken roll. Entrees like lamb sliders and Mediterranean vegetable platter vie with more americanized options like the steak with harissa demi glace. Desserts are truly Mediterranean as well – baklava, pistachio and saffron custard, along with the ubiquitous chocolate option. The cocktails are imaginative, and the wine list carefully curated from Morocco, Spain, Greece, Turkey, and Lebanon. Spice Road Table is on the Epcot lagoon, and has a lovely covered patio with excellent views of the lagoon and the show.
Counter Service: Sunshine Seasons & Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie
Sunshine Seasons in The Land pavilion is frequently busy, but the number of registers and ample seating makes it a good bet for a quick meal in air-conditioned surroundings. This beautiful, but noisy, spot offers a panoply of choices, even at breakfast – yes, we have had sushi and chocolate milk for breakfast – as well as a complete more traditional breakfast, gorgeous cinnamon rolls and more. Lunch and dinner are equally fabulous. Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie in the France pavilion offers some scrumptious fare as well – from savories like tuna nicoise and quiche florentine, to sweets such as macaron and eclairs. The bakery also has fresh baguettes to take with you – or to create your own Epcot picnic. Seating is plentiful, and service is quick.
Snacks: Kabuki Cafe & The Land Cart
Kabuki Cafe in the Japan pavilion serves the most amazing kakigori (shaved ice with fruity syrup) with or without sweet milk topping in multiple flavors. Try the cherry syrup with the sweet milk topping – absolutely divine on a hot and sweaty day. If you are looking for a healthy snack, The Land Cart outside The Land pavilion in Future World offers fresh fruit and cheese, mixed veggies and dip, hummus and pretzels, and a large hot pretzel if you are feeling the carbs, as well as a variety of healthy (and not-so-healthy) beverages.
Bars/Drinks: La Cava del Tequila & Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar
Several spots at Epcot offer unusual beverages in interesting surroundings, but two stand out: La Cava del Tequila, in the Mexico pavilion, and Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar in the Italy pavilion. La Cava, as the name suggests, specializes in tequila drinks (as well as tasting flights) but offers a full bar and tapas menu as well. Try the La Cava Avocado margarita – it’s delish! The cool, dark, space is a nice respite on a hot and crowded day. Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar is tucked in the Italy pavilion between the two table service restaurants. The interior is cool and comfortable, resembling a working wine cellar with over 200 different wines available. The sharing plates represent an array of Italian cheeses and cured meats from various parts of the country (note that you can get cheese-only plates if you need). You can also order a few entrees, as well as paninis. And of course, the wine cellar has glorious Italian desserts, including cannoli.
Table Service: The Brown Derby & Sci-Fi Dine-In Theatre Restaurant
NOTE: Hollywood Studios is in flux this year (2019) – Toy Story Land just opened, and the Star Wars area will open at the end of August, bringing more dining options, so we’ll be updating this when we can.
The Hollywood Brown Derby, near the hub of Hollywood Studios, is the fine/signature dining spot at this park. The interior is patterned after the original Hollywood Brown Derby restaurant that launched a thousand film star careers, and was the place to see and be seen in the golden age of Hollywood. A serene atmosphere, comfortable half-moon booths and tables, and a truly astonishing number of caricatures, just like the original. The only thing missing from the Disney replica are rotary telephones with extremely long wires to bring to the booths when stars receive calls. Brown Derby’s menu contains two authentic recipes from the original, as well: Cobb Salad and Grapefruit Cake (I know, sounds weird, but incredibly tasty). Our favorite dishes include Filet of Beef and Vegetarian Pho, as well as that amazing cake.
Sci-Fi Dine-In Theatre provides a different type of dining experience. The atmosphere, in stark contrast to Brown Derby, is kitschy, with seating in faux ’50s style convertibles (as well as several picnic tables in the back of the soundstage-cum-restaurant), stars twinkling above, and clips of classic sci-fi and horror films from the ’40s and ’50s playing on the drive-in theatre screen. The food is reimagined 1950s food (burgers, wedge of lettuce salad, and more). Make reservations here early, if possible.
TIP: If you can’t get into a table service restaurant at Hollywood Studios, check the dining options at Yacht and Beach Club, or Boardwalk Resort. Both areas are easy to walk to or you can take a Friendship boat from Hollywood Studios to both, re-entering the park after your meal.
Counter Service: ABC Commissary & PizzeRizzo
The newly re-imagined and re-opened ABC Commissary, tucked down a side street left of the hub, offers traditional American food (ribs, burgers, fried fish and chicken, as well as a vegan burger and vegetarian mediterranean salad with hummus) in an Art Deco dining room. Counter service is brisk, and the plenteous seating insures you can find a seat even in busy times. Note that as of June 2019, the commissary takes reservations for dinner service, which may lessen the availability of walk-in service.
PizzeRizzo is the new Muppet-themed incarnation of the previous Pizza Planet space. The offerings include 4 types of pizza, a meatball sub, and an antipasti salad – not terribly varied, but has quick service and a nicely renovated dining area with plenty of seating in the air-conditioned interior space.
Snacks: Anaheim Produce & BaseLine Tap House
Anaheim Produce on Sunset Blvd (heading toward Rock n Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror) offers fresh fruit and veg snacks, as well as decadent churros, hot pretzels, and both non-alcoholic and alcoholic frozen drinks – and interestingly, pickles. Nearby seating, though outside, is mostly shaded, with some areas having ceiling fans providing a cooling breeze. BaseLine Tap House (the replacement for Writer’s Stop), offers in addition to bavarian pretzels, a cheese and charcuterie platter, a steak puff, and almonds. Drink options include Blue Sky black cherry soda, the normal range of soft drinks, and some craft beers on tap. Seating is both inside and outside.
Bars/Drinks: The Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge & Tune-in Lounge at 50s Prime Time Cafe
The Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge, the patio area outside the same-named restaurant, offers classic cocktails and a small selection of savory tapas, as well as dessert options. The shaded patio area offers some great crowd watching while relaxing and enjoying a Cobb salad, cheese and charcuterie platter, or one of the five other savory options. Dessert consists of 3 mini desserts chosen from six decadently delicious options, including the grapefruit cake. Tune-In Lounge, attached to ’50s Prime Time Cafe near Echo Lake, offers the menu from the popular ’50s Prime Time Cafe, as well as cocktails in a kitschy Fabulous Fifties atmosphere, complete with black and white television clips. The decor includes zebra-patterned lampshades, wagon wheel sofas, and mid-century modern coffee tables in the living room-styled lounge, so a comfortingly cute space to enjoy a cocktail and nibble.
Table Service: Yak & Yeti
Yak & Yeti in Asia near the entrance for the Kali River Rapids water ride, offers a pan-Asian menu in a serene atmosphere. The vast dining room’s decor makes you feel like you are in Nepal, and promotes relaxing while dining. The menu includes pot stickers, tuna poke bowl, kale caesar salad, various lo mein and ramen dishes, chicken tikka masala, as well as loads of fresh seafood options. Desserts follow the pan-Asian theme. A full bar is available, in addition to soft drinks and fruit juices.
Counter Service: Restaurantosaurus & Pizzafari
Restaurantosaurus, in Dinoland USA between Hester and Chester’s carnival and Dinosaur!, presents fairly simple American food in a very amusingly-themed space. Grab a burger, chicken, shrimp, or salad and have a seat in any of the dining rooms amusingly designed to emulate a dorm or archeology dig room, with student-type humorous asides scattered about.
Pizzafari, located near the new Pandora/Avatar area, but on Discovery Island, has several themed dining rooms as well – Home Room, Nocturnal Room, Upside Down Room, Camouflage Room, Four Seasons Room, and Bug Room. Imaginatively, colorfully, and artistically decorated, these dining rooms engage children (and adults!) through the entire meal. Pizzafari offers personal size pizzas, with a choice of pepperoni, cheese, vegetable, and sausage/pepperoni toppings, as well as salads, soup, and breads. Even if the queues seem long, ordering and preparing are quite brisk, so you’ll get your order and seat yourself very quickly. Drinks at both counter service locations include soft drinks, beers, juices, and more.
Snacks: Harambe Fruit Market & Dino-Bites Snacks
Harambe Fruit Market, just outside the exit of the perennially favorite Kilimanjaro Safaris ride, offers healthy (and not so healthy) snack choices in a shady, park-like setting in Africa. Benches abound to rest on while enjoying your choice of fresh fruit, veggie and dip cups, hot pretzels, grilled corn, greek yogurt and other tasty treats. Beverages are non-alcoholic only. Dino-Bites is a charmingly retro walk-up space between Chesters and Hesters parking lot carnival area and the Dinosaur ride. This walk-up location specializes in ice cream – from waffle cone scoops, to sandwiches, sundaes and floats. They do offer a couple savory options as well – potato chips and a large, hot pretzel with cheese dip. Drinks include water, soda, and beer.
Bars/Drinks: Nomad Lounge & Dawa Bar
Nomad Lounge is one of the best cocktails-and-nibbles spots at Walt Disney World. It’s adjacent to Tiffins, one of our favorite restaurants on Discovery Island in the center of the park, toward Pandora – World of Avatar and Africa. Nomad offers a choice of eight world tapas plates-including Truffle Poutine that is to die for – as well as a full bar with specialty cocktails. It’s one of the few locations that offers Kungaloosh spiced excursion ale on draft, as well. Nomad’s atmosphere promotes relaxation with comfortable seating combinations of upholstered chairs and low tables, as well as a larger, more traditional table. The whimsical banners hanging from the ceiling as well as the beautifully crafted menu make it clear that this lounge is about world travel – where you’ve been, and where you want to go. It’s a great place to rest and recharge. Dawa Bar next to Tusker House in Africa is an open air bar with ceiling fans to help cool you off while you enjoy your libation in the shade. Dawa has beer, wine, and specialty cocktails.
Disney Springs (downtown shopping district)
Table Service: Raglan Road & Jaleo by José Andrés
Raglan Road, an Irish pub, not only has great starters, entrees, and desserts, but also a wide array of Irish (and British) brews as well as a full bar. Raglan Road looks very much like a pub in Ireland, but much larger, with a massive amount of seating. And it features Irish dancing throughout the day. A charming Irish-themed gift shop is attached, as well. Jaleo by Jose Andres is a newer offering in Disney Springs’ West Side. The original Jaleo in Washington DC opened in 1993 – this one is the first Florida location. Jaleo’s food is meant to be shared – tapas, paella, the finest Spanish cheeses, wines, and more. Guaranteed to be enjoyed.
Counter Service: Earl of Sandwich & The Polite Pig
Earl of Sandwich, in the Marketplace section, offers a wide variety of hot sandwiches (our favorites are Holiday Turkey and Original 1762), as well as wraps, salads, and plenteous desserts. You queue up, and sometimes the queue looks long, but service is lightning fast. Seating is available both indoor and out in the shade. We sometimes take sandwiches on the road, or pop in for breakfast early. The Polite Pig, in Town Center, offers barbecued meats of all sorts, salads, sandwiches, and a remarkable array of delicious sides (roasted beets with smoked pecan granola, goat cheese, yogurt, and orange, anyone?) in a hip setting with loads of seating. They also offer interesting brews on tap, grapefruit margarita, and a slew of other drinks.
Snacks: Ghiradelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop & Sprinkles
What’s not to like about Ghiradelli chocolate in all its varied forms – hot chocolate, ice cream, candy, and more. Ghiradelli, in the Marketplace, looks like an old-fashioned soda fountain. Sometimes it looks crowded but the queue goes very quickly, so you can get your chocolate fix quickly. Sprinkles, in Town Center, sells gorgeous cupcakes (regular size or mini), cookies, and interesting ice creams (Cap’n Crunch ice cream, anyone?). You can even indulge a late night cupcake craving using their perky and pink Cupcake ATM – pay for your cupcake, and the ATM dispenses your cupcake, any time!
Bars/Drinks: Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar & The Basket at Wine Bar George
Our favorite bar with nibbles is hands down Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar in The Landing section of Disney Springs. The Hangar Bar looks like a set in an Indiana Jones film – a 1940s airplane hangar-turned-dive bar with not only quirky decor, but also brilliantly varied seating areas, including a diving bell and an African Queen-type boat. The menu includes a long list of interesting cocktails (try the Cool-Headed Monkey!), all with entertaining backstories in the beautifully rendered menu. The nibbles are uniformly tasty, especially the Lao Che’s Peppers and Doctor Astorga’s Queso Fundido. A fantastic place to relax and rejuvenate. Another fantastic spot is The Basket at Wine Bar George, which offers 130 different wines, as well as a few signature frozen wine cocktails – Frosé is a brilliant concoction. Food offerings include sandwiches, cheese and charcuterie boxes, and more.
Want help planning your dream trip to Disney? We know the place inside and out, and can help make it memorable. Contact Dragon in Your Pocket today!
Start planning your trip