I’m about to take everything you THINK you know about Disney World restaurants and flip it upside down.
We’ve seen so many menu changes around all of Disney World, and with prices for dining and travel rising, it’s important to consider all of the choices you’ve made for your vacation — right down to where you’ll be eating. It might seem tedious to narrow down your choices all by yourself, so why not take an expert’s advice on which Disney restaurants keep me coming back for more?
I know just what you’re thinking — when you get to Disney World, EVERYTHING is going to taste good. I hate to burst your bubble but that’s not quite the reality that we live in.
Sometimes your latest experience at a Disney restaurant just isn’t what you chalked it up to from the meal you had on your last trip (or maybe even multiple trips). Arguably, there are very few things more disappointing than having a less-than-desirable experience while on vacation at Disney World, and I’m here to keep you from feeling like you’ve wasted your time and money.
As someone who literally goes to Disney World EVERY DAY for my job, I keep very close tabs on which restaurants I think are the most easily repeatable… and I’m handing over my short list!
Whispering Canyon Cafe
My family and I will NEVER turn down an opportunity to eat at Whispering Canyon Cafe. This is one of our best-kept “go-to’s” for when we really can’t decide on one thing to eat.
Whether we’re eating here for Breakfast, Lunch, or Dinner, it just seems like we can’t go wrong. This restaurant is located at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge — just hang a sharp left as you enter the lobby building. We’ve tried multiple dishes, and different dining times (including super early and late), and each time we’ve walked away with full bellies and a ton of laughs.
This is certainly a place that’s got some great eats with a few sharable options, a super relaxed atmosphere, and really knows not to take itself so seriously. The added bonus here is my kids always opt to order a milkshake with their meals instead of a regular beverage, and they’ve never asked for a dessert afterward — we’re able to knock out two options with one selection and my wallet doesn’t hurt so badly.
I know this restaurant can be divisive but for me, I’ve rarely had a complaint here. You can find this restaurant nestled on the second floor of the lobby building of Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. Admittedly we weren’t big fans of the brief change from the pineapple coconut bread that’s served prior to your main courses arriving at the table to scone-like biscuits but that has since changed back to give you what you’re really begging for!
This is another “all you care to enjoy” family-style meal that’s able to feed our whole family. The whole experience makes you feel like you’re really on a tropical island dining with the locals, and if you close your eyes for a moment and allow yourself to be carried away by the sights, sounds, and smells … you’re truly there.
This is certainly one of the places that will cost you a bit more for the experience, but if you’re really looking for a meal worth the cost, this one fits the bill time after time for me.
Alright, because I like you I’m going to let you in on one of my own personal food hacks. Let’s say you REALLY want to dine at ‘Ohana but just can’t rationalize the price tag for the full meal — try out Capt. Cook’s just downstairs at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.
This quick-service restaurant has the same tropical vibe and carries those iconic Pan-Asian noodles that everyone seems to go bananas over (it’s me… I’m everyone). But that’s not all they serve here!
There’s also the pulled pork nachos that you’ve just got to try at some point during your next vacation. I know the portion’s going to look shareable but trust me when I say you won’t feel like sharing once you’ve taken a bite!
This is an oldie but a goodie and almost never fails me. I’m adding this quick-service restaurant at Disney’s Hollywood Studios to the list specifically because of its reliability.
Sure, a quick glance at the menu will reflect choices like salads, burgers, sandwiches, and chicken tenders, but that’s exactly the point. This is also a staple restaurant to turn to if you’re looking for a seasonal treat, souvenir cup, or beverage stein — they seem to always have them!
Pairing the above with the nostalgic theming of behind-the-scenes glances into callbacks to how movie props are stored and used in films really helps it stand out above the rest of your quick-service dining choices in this park.
I have to give a nod to ANOTHER quick-service restaurant at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. ABC Commissary has all the sleek design of Hollywood’s golden age with the resume to back it up.
The menu here will give you options for wraps, salads, dressed-up grilled cheese sandwiches, and even tacos… who can pass up options like that? Most of the seating is indoors (with great AC, by the way) and themed to feature memorabilia from some of the latest shows airing currently on ABC.
If you’re feeling adventurous while visiting EPCOT, head up the stairs in the Japan pavilion to Katsura Grill.
They offer chicken and beef teriyaki, sushi, miso soup, and more, but it’s the immersive theming here that will keep you coming back. The food here has always been consistent for me.
Regal Eagle Smokehouse
How do you walk by that full-size smoker outside of The American Adventure in EPCOT and not be tempted by all the smokehouse smells? I guarantee you Regal Eagle Smokehouse is worth your time!
Meals here are fairly straightforward with varieties of barbecued meats but it’s the customization here that keeps me coming back. Even when I’m in a mood for different temperatures of barbecued flavor this place doesn’t let me down! There are several barbecue sauces to choose from, and the best part is that they’re all at your disposal! The meats here are very tender and juicy, while there are a few different side options to keep you mixing up your meal.
La Cantina de San Angel
Venturing over to Mexico along the World Showcase of EPCOT, you’ve just got to stop in and try out La Cantina de San Angel.
As someone who really can appreciate some good Mexican foods that get as authentic as possible while at Disney, THIS is where you need to be. Here you can expect to find tacos in various meats, chips and guac, and even a smooth margarita all from one quick service restaurant.
Take your tray over to the dining tables that overlook the World Showcase Lagoon for an unbeatable view, while you relax and enjoy your meal in the shade and off the beaten path.
If you’re looking for one of the most diverse restaurants in EPCOT, look no further than Sunshine Seasons. You’ll find this quick-service spot nestled in the lower level of The Land.
This is another stop where you can find practically anything to eat for any taste pallet. They’ve got everything from Birria tacos, to stir-fry, to salmon with all the sides … and spoiler: EVERYTHING here I’ve tasted has been delicious.
The Crystal Palace
Normally, while dining in Disney World I wouldn’t direct you to a “plain-ole buffet” and lucky for you, this restaurant ISN’T!
While The Crystal Palace in Magic Kingdom IS technically a buffet, it’s the full package that really sells this one to me each and every time. Not only is there a full array of food perfect to feed everyone from picky kids to those really looking to down a full, hearty meal, but there are also characters here.
Winnie the Pooh and his friends make their way around the dining rooms at this restaurant, which really helped my family accomplish three things at once: a much-needed break from our park day, a complete meal (with desserts) for even my smallest children, and character meet and greets that kept us from feeling like we had to rush through our meal to get back out and “do it all”!
RoundUp Rodeo BBQ
Never did I ever expect such a highly themed meal (clearly tailored to children) to rank so highly with me right from the get-go, but here we are! I’m living proof that new restaurants at Disney World can quickly climb the ladder of the favorites hopping leaps and bounds over staples I’ve opted for year after year.
You can find this table service restaurant inside Toy Story Land in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This is another “all you care to enjoy” style meal but don’t get so hung up on that just yet — the food here is awesome and some of the barbecue sauces and meats reminded me of some of the restaurants that I’ve already mentioned.
Couple that with highly immersive theming that really puts you right in the center of Andy’s room dining with your fellow toys, and you’ve got quite the combo. The pricing here is fairly reasonable for an all-you-can-eat meal, and if you were wondering if that applies to the desserts after your main meal — the answer is YES (just don’t ask me how I know that *cough, personal experience*).
So where do I go when I really want to dine outside of the parks but am feeling a bit more upscale? Say hello to your new dining “go-to”, Steakhouse 71. You’ll find this restaurant just beyond the main check-in counters at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
We’ve tried multiple meals and dishes here, and each dining experience can only be summed up as euphoric. This is a place that I totally expected to be “stuffy”, but that’s the beauty I’ve found here — your experience here is just as much as YOU want to make it.
If you feel like dressing up, DO IT! Feel like dressing down? That’s OK, too. The food here is amazing however, I’ve got to caution you now to save room for dessert because it’s going to look soooo good on that table right next to you from afar!
Flame Tree Barbecue
Disney’s always looking for ways to offer their visitors a unique experience and that’s exactly what you’ll get here at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Flame Tree Barbecue offers its diners an open-air seating atmosphere situated in the heart of Discovery Island. If you guessed that the menu here would feature a heavy barbecue theme then you’d be right — but with options!
The main reason we visit this restaurant again and again is affordability. You’re probably thinking “At Disney World, are you sure?” Yep, hear me out. Most of the adult meals here are LARGE and my husband and I can easily split one meal between the two of us and walk away satisfied. It also doesn’t hurt that the food here is delicious and even my kids are BIG fans of this place. However, I’ll caution you that it can get busy so keep an eye out for mobile orders here and get ahead of those lunchtime crowds due to their limited hours.
If you’re looking for a quieter spot in Disney’s Animal Kingdom to sit down and dine, Satu’li Canteen is another solid choice. You’ll find this restaurant in the furthest corner of Pandora.
This is also an extremely flexible spot! They specialize in rice and noodle bowls that offer several different proteins to mix in with your base of the bowl and voila! If you’re already a fan of the noodles at Capt. Cook’s or ‘Ohana, this restaurant should be a priority to try on your next trip when you’re not looking to leave the park for your meal.
Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’
I’m pretty sure you could just sit me down at a table at Homecomin’ and I’d instantly be a happy camper. You’ll find this popular restaurant at Disney Springs and it feels like you’ll have found a hidden gem when you dine here.
Chef Art Smith has really taken pride in crafting the ultimate menu offerings of some of the best recipes he and his kitchen can whip up and it shows. If you’re a fan of country-style food and themed decor, this restaurant is just begging you to walk through its doors and try them out. Just tell them we sent you their way!
Are you ok? I think I just heard your jaw drop…let me explain. T-REX Cafe for me isn’t always about the food, it’s the experience.
This dinosaur-themed restaurant positioned in Disney Springs holds a special place in my heart but I’m here to give you the reasoning behind my thoughts here. I’m going to level with you — the food here isn’t always the best. But what keeps me coming back time after time, is the incredible experience my family just won’t get anywhere else.
The first time my family stepped through the walkway to see larger-than-life animated creatures you would have thought they invented electrical current with how lit up their faces were. THAT’S it! That’s the magic here… ok, part of it.
The other half of my reasoning for loving this place is its rewards program. If you belong to the Landry’s Select Club you’re able to grab the next available seating so no more “sorry we’re full” or multiple-hour waits. We’ll always get a table anytime we go to eat here as members. Additionally, as members we’re awarded points for dining often and special offers like discounted meals, birthday offerings, and more are multiplied throughout the year, sometimes significantly decreasing our cost to dine here.
You can also dine at the other Landry locations nationwide to accumulate the points to be used here, so if you have a location that’s local to you that you frequent, those points follow your membership card. So always snagging a table, decent food, AND discounted dining? That’s a winner in my book.
And there you have it — these are MY picks for restaurants that I just can’t stop coming back to! Be sure to check back in with us for the latest Disney news and updates.
Join the AllEars.net Newsletter to stay on top of ALL the breaking Disney News! You'll also get access to AllEars tips, reviews, trivia, and MORE! Click here to Subscribe!
Which Disney restaurants do you think should have made this list? Give us your favorites in the comments below.