Disney World Dining for the Food Junkie
As I’m sure you have all probably deduced by now, I am a food junkie. Despite the unwelcome weight that have gradually put on over the past couple of years working a desk job, I love being a food snob. I imagine that if I wasn’t as into food as I am, then I would probably stick with the same handful of meals… spaghetti, hamburgers, chicken and rice… how boring would that be? Fortunately I have been blessed by adventurous taste buds and a desire to try a lot of foods and flavors.
Since we’ve been talking about Disney this past week I have been thinking about all the various types of food they serve at Walt Disney World. Being a former Cast Member I was lucky enough to be able to try quite a few restaurants on property at Walt Disney World and I wanted to share some of my Disney dining favorites with you. I will confess that two of the restaurants on this list I have not been to, but literally every person I’ve ever talked to about them says amazing things about both the food and the dining experience.
This is Disney World Dining, Food Junkie Style
Located in the Harambe Village of Africa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom the Tusker House Restaurant offers African inspired cuisine for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. As with a couple of other restaurants on my list, this is an “all-you-care-to-enjoy” buffet style restaurant so if you are a little unsure of something, like the beef bobotie, seafood stew with tamarind BBQ sauce, or the blatjangs, you can always just grab a taste. If you like it, great! If not, they will most likely have something else you are interested in.
Hang 10 over at the Polynesian Village Resort for breakfast and dinner with your ‘Ohana at ‘Ohana. Similar to a Brazilian churrascaria style restaurants, servers come to you with skewers of delectably juicy meats as well as vegetables, noodles, and dumplings. Breakfast is mostly a traditional affair** with a little bit of a Polynesian flair, but dinner… dinner is amazing. A group of friends and I made reservations there one time and we fasted during the day before dinner to prepare for the deliciousness that was in our near future. First off, they serve you this outrageous pineapple-coconut bread… I don’t know, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they put crack in the bread. It’s so good. Hawaiian and Asian influence continues through the meal with pork dumplings, sweet and sour chicken, and stir-fried noodles, just to name a few. And it’s all topped off with bread pudding with a banana caramel sauce… at the time, I detested bananas, but I will say that even I devoured the dessert.
Boasting a year-round Oktoberfest, the Biergarten in EPCOT’s Germany pavilion is the place to pig-out on savory meats and tasty treats like apple strudel. In addition to having German food staples like schnitzel, spätzle, and sauerkraut, they have a nice selection of Bavarian beer and wine. Oh, and did I mention, there is dancing? Yeah, there’s a dance floor and a band for you to polka and waltz to. It is so much fun!
The California Grill has got to be hands-down the fanciest restaurant I’ve been to at Walt Disney World. The Grill is located on the 15th floor of the Contemporary Resort hotel and serves gourmet California cuisine. It’s the perfect place for a lovely date night… in fact Kevin and I went on a double date with our friends Bill and Liz when we were all working out there. It’s the only time I’ve ever been, but I would definitely go back again!
I love the “Living with the Land” ride, I’ve even been on the “Behind the Seeds” tour… in fact probably the only thing that I haven’t done in the Land Pavilion is eat at Garden Grill. This is a shame, because it seems like such a cool restaurant because the dining experience is a ride in itself. the tables face outward from the restaurant and as you enjoy your meal, the entire restaurant slowly rotates! How neat it that?! Now, I can’t personally vouch for the food here, but with selections like Char-grilled Filet of Beef with a red wine demi-glace and Roasted Turkey Breast with stuffing and a house-made gravy, I don’t think you could go wrong. Oh, did I mention that this is also an “all you care to enjoy” dining experience served family-style?
Although I’ve only been here for dinner, it looks like Boma has a pretty amazing breakfast menu as well (the French Toast Bread Pudding being the item that catches my eye!). Like Tusker House, this Animal Kingdom Lodge buffet features African inspired dishes, but far more than what you will find at Tusker House. The chefs at Boma will have you sampling flavors from over 50 African countries at dinner, with an array of soups, salads, and entrees.
Here’s another fancier spot to dine, although since it’s at EPCOT, it’s still pretty low-key. Aside from the delicious food served at Coral Reef, my favorite part of this restaurant is that it is underwater… sort of. The windows in Coral Reef look into the coral reef at EPCOT known as The Seas. Talk about a fantastic view! As you can probably guess the menu has a seafood theme, but if someone in your party isn’t a big fan, there are several other options available as well. Another neat thing about the Coral Reef is that the menu changes seasonally. The bad thing about this is that I’ve yet to get the amazing Blackened Fish with Pepper-Jack Grits for a second time.
The food at Sanaa is just one of several reasons you should stop by for lunch or dinner. Located at the Animal Kingdom Villas- Kidani Village, the restaurant looks out over the savannas surrounding the Lodge. You may see giraffes, ostriches, kudu, or many other animals while you dine on East-African inspired cuisine. Enjoy tandoori chicken, lamb, or shrimp or maybe be a little more adventurous and try a curry or potato and pea samosas.
Head over to Hollywood Studios for some classic American comfort food, just like mom made. At this hybrid of a 1950s Diner / Mom’s Kitchen you can tuck into some of Grandma’s Chicken Pot Pie, Cousin Ann’s Traditional Meatloadf, or Mom’s Old-fashioned Pot Roast, just to name a few. Just be sure to mind your manners when you devour these classics… otherwise Mom and the rest of the family will happy to correct the errors in your way.
I have saved my nostalgic favorite for last. When I was a kid we would always go to Tony’s Town Square, located just inside the main gate of Magic Kingdom. It may not be the very best Italian food that Disney has to offer, but classics like Chicken Parmigiana and Spaghetti with Meatballs, keep me coming back.
By the way… Tusker House, ‘Ohana, Garden Grill all have Character Dining opportunities as well, in case you are looking for that as well!
**If you want a Polynesian influenced breakfast, you have to go to Kona Cafe, located at the Polynesian Village Resort. Two words: Tonga Toast.
What are some of your favorite Walt Disney World Dining table service restaurants?