Dining in the House of Mouse: Walt Disney Worlds Top Tables
Best is a loaded word. And when you take the nearly innumerable dining options available at Orlando‘s ever-growing Disney World complex it is a Herculean task, but we’ll take it on. For some, the Disney experience is about its classic characters and iconic imagery. If that’s so, you can’t do better than Cinderella’s Royal Table. You can’t argue with breakfast, lunch or dinner in a castle.
For buffet fans, Boma, set in the resplendent digs of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, not only offers up all the traditional fare a plain-jane foodie would love, it allows for a safari of the palate amid a host of offerings culled from more than 50 African nations. And also the option to see real African animals out back. At Raglan Road you can slake your sun-baked thirst with a pint of Guinness or a flight of selections from the Emerald Isle while filling your belly with fare that’s miles above what you might have expected at a casual Disney Springs Irish pub. The pinnacle of gourmand experiences is reserved for the prix fixe elegance of the Grand Floridian’s Victoria & Albert’s, a dining event if ever there was.
Generous portions of lamb, chicken, falafel and more fill the reinforced paper plates at the Tangierine Cafe, a fast-casual dining option in “Morocco” at Epcot’s World Showcase. You’ll definitely want a tray for your order. Tabouli and lentils and hummus – along with hearty bread for wrapping and dipping – round out the ample plate. Disney isn’t known for its drive-through $1 menus, but you’ll get serious value (even for a theme park!) here and quite a bit of flavor to boot. This is one of the best fast-casual venues for veg-heads, as well. Meat abstainers won’t be limited to sides and/or salads while everyone else fills up.
Recommended for Walt Disney World ®’s Best Restaurants because: IMO, one of the Disney realm’s most underrated and most reasonable. Phenomenal bang for your buck!
A.D.’s expert tip: Got a finicky one in your group? Don’t be off-put. You can grab a burger or chicken for the wee one and enjoy your falafel in peace. Seating is somewhat limited, as Epcot crowds are large and this place isn’t.
There are a number of AYCE options in the Disney realm (that stands for “all you can eat,” by the way), many of which are worth a visit, but Boma â” Flavors of Africa is a cut above. Why? While there are a plethora of menu items that fall well within the comfort zones of the less adventurous diner, the rotating roster of dishes inspired by those of more than 50 African countries. Fare is notably fresh, served amid the lovely Afrocentric décor of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Buffet prices here are a tad higher than several other Disney buffets, but the selection â” and massive South African wine list if you happen to be attending for dinner â” along with the resident animals you may spot while on site at the Lodge, make this one worth it for most who give it a try.
The Disney experience isn’t complete without at least one special character interaction. Clearly, that could come from a photo-op in Ariel’s Secret Grotto or an impromptu encounter with Goofy somewhere in Frontierland, but the pinnacle would have to be a meal inside one of the most pervasive Disney icons of all time: Cinderella’s Castle. It’s the centerpiece of the Magic Kingdom and the delight of children of all ages. And to dine inside it? At Disney wishes upon a star come true. Cinderella’s Royal Table is open for breakfast, lunch or dinner â” guests receive a complimentary photo with the glass-slippered princess herself â” and a bevy of other famous Disney femmes meander about, greeting guests, signing autographs and posing for photos as families enjoy a set, fixed-price menu (you’ll leave full, fear not). The setting â” soaring ceilings, stained glass, majestic flags â” are just what your family’s tiny royals would have expected. Now if you could just turn that pumpkin into a coach…
Recommended for Walt Disney World ®’s Best Restaurants because: There’s amazing character interaction at Boma-Flavors dining venues (try Chef Mickey’s!) but the opulence of Cinderella’s Castle makes this experience extra special.
A.D.’s expert tip: Don’t arrive too early for your reservation. This is a popular venue and you’ll likely have to wait a while before getting in.
While exemplary fine dining can be found throughout the Disney compound, none surpass the level of service delivered during a Victoria & Albert’s prix fixe, seven-course, meal that can only be described as a top-of-the-line culinary experience. Meals here are an event, whether served in the elegant dining room or, if intimacy and knowledge of the kitchen’s inner-workings are more your game: the Chef’s Table. Here, six guests will dine in the kitchen alongside the chef, learning the ins and outs of running a AAA Five-Diamond restaurant. The Queen Victoria Room holds just four tables. Diners here enjoy traditional gueridon service where waiters prepare much of the meal from tableside trolleys. Unless you’re a regular on “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,” Victoria & Albert’s is an eatery probably best reserved for very special occasions, but meals here â” and the service that comes with â” are guaranteed to become memories that will last a lifetime.
Recommended for Walt Disney World ®’s Best Restaurants because: Victoria & Albert’s is a venue evocative of an era when dining was an elegant ritual. To call it anything less would be unfair.
A.D.’s expert tip: Time is of the essence. A. Book your reservation, especially for the Chef’s Table, WELL in advance. B. Meals here are nothing short of an event and last several hours. Plan accordingly.
Gone are the funhouse mirrors and Ferris wheel parts of its predecessor, Disney-fan favorite the Flying Fish Cafe. The newly minuted version comes with a shortened name â” Flying Fish â” and exceptionally swanky decor that pairs brilliantly with its sustainable seafood. Plancha-seared scallops, wood-fired Spanish octopus, crispy soft shell crab and Maine lobster Nero pasta are among the phenomenal entrees. Got a dining companion who’s less than keen on joining the Little Mermaid “under the sea?” Turf items such as Wagyu filet mignon should do nicely. Walking in on a busy evening? The restaurant’s beautiful bar is an ideal spot to wait, imbibe and peruse the evening’s catch, or you can head next door to the steampunk-Houdini haven of AbracadaBar where the drinks are imbued with so much Disney magic, you’ll want to make a couple disappear.
Recommended for Walt Disney World ®’s Best Restaurants because: Orlando visitors often fail to escape the gravitational pull of the theme-park area. Flying Fish’s top-shelf cuisine gives them a good excuse to stay put.
A.D.’s expert tip: To ensure you get a table, make a reservation online or call (407) WDW-DINE or (407) 939-3463 up to 180 days Boma-Flavors your visit. If you’re determined to dine but didn’t call ahead, come late.
The Master Sommelier diploma is the highest distinction a professional can attain in fine wine and beverage service, And Disney Springs is home to the only Master-Sommelier led restaurant in Florida: Wine Bar George. With more than 130 wines by the glass, bottle and ounce, you’ve got more than enough beverage options to accompany their delicious Wine Country Brunch. This menu includes delights such as steak & eggs frites, brioche French toast with mascarpone and caramel sauce and an unbelievable brunch-ified version of their soft, custardy burrata. For dessert? Perhaps a taste of their Frozcato Mimosa, a Moscato-prosecco combo featuring Dole Whip!
Recommended for Walt Disney World ®’s Best Restaurants because: Whether lunch, brunch or dinner, the airy atmosphere, and truly exceptional food and service (not to mention wine, duh!) at Wine Bar George don’t disappoint.
A.D.’s expert tip: If you visit when Master Sommelier George is in the house (outside a scheduled event, that’s up to chance), tap him for information; he’s happy to share his knowledge. As one of only 200+ sommeliers to hold this distinction, he’s got plenty to share.
Walt Disney World’s big, beautiful Boathouse venue can accommodate up to 600 seafood and steak lovers amid its nautically themed confines. Views of Lake Buena Vista beckon from throughout; in fact, you can drink and dine al fresco here, as well. Wine, craft beer and cocktails pair well with market-fresh catch and even caviar while diners watch the classic-car-themed amphicars sail past. A beautiful place for special-occasion lunches or dinners, the restaurant’s three distinct dining spaces set a lovely tone; private rooms are available for functions, as well. Come hungry. You won’t want to miss the wild-caught shrimp or decadent desserts.
Recommended for Walt Disney World ®’s Best Restaurants because: Simply put, the spacious Boathouse serves really wonderful food in beautiful lakeside environs.
A.D.’s expert tip: They say it serves four. We say it serves more. If you have the mouths to feed, don’t miss the Gibson’s S’mores Baked Alaska.
If you can’t get on the Flight of Passage ride at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, fret not, for there is a nearby oasis, steps from Pandora, that will make you forget your significant other forget you blew it on the Fast Passes. That venue is Tiffins, a culinary exploration for all the senses, from artful plating that matches the striking decor of art and artifacts and an exciting menu evocative of far-flung and exotic locales, if not distant planets. Braised lamb shank. Tamarind short rib. Whole fried sustainable fish (talk about an Instagrammer) over a crisp green papaya salad. All of it is as good as it looks.
Recommended for Walt Disney World ®’s Best Restaurants because: It’s an exotic venue inside Disney’s most exotic park. Exciting dishes in a spectacular setting make for a memorable experience beyond the Tree of Life.
A.D.’s expert tip: Come early and thirsty to partake of craft cocktails in the adjacent Nomad Lounge (it’s a nice alternative, too, if you can’t get a table).
Cold pints and a warm, convivial vibe are always on tap at Raglan Road, which isn’t lying when it calls itself a genuine Irish pub. In fact, the whole place was built in Ireland and then shipped to Orlando where it was lovingly reassembled to the delight of locals and visitors alike. Think of it as Disney magic with a little help from the leprechauns. On the menu: a selection of hearty fare with some modern spins on Irish classics like shepherd’s pie, fish and chips and a mixed grill featuring a lamb chop, steak, a Guinness banger, black pudding and bacon. Beer flights let you sample what the Irish are brewing along with a host of other fine draughts and even an impressive selection of craft cocktails.
Recommended for Walt Disney World ®’s Best Restaurants because: The pub atmosphere makes Raglan Road exceedingly casual and friendly. The better-than-expected food is an exceedingly delightful bonus. Good fun, good food, but it ain’t fancy.
A.D.’s expert tip: If you like a jig after a pint or two, this could be your place. Raglan Road features live entertainment every night of the week.
Jose Andres has become synonymous with fine Spanish cuisine throughout his storied career and early in March of 2019 opened his fifth and largest Jaleo location at Disney Springs. An extensive tapas menu that mines the diversity of Spain’s cuisine is on deck for adventurous samplers in the mood for a shared experience and sumptuous paellas (allow 45 minutes for their preparation) are doubtless a highlight. Highlights such a hand-carved Jamon Iberico de Bellota and classic Pollo croquetas (chicken fritters), among other delicacies, will doubtless prove popular.
Recommended for Walt Disney World ®’s Best Restaurants because: This is not the first Jaleo rodeo for Jose Andres. At this point, it’s fine-tuned: menu, service, atmosphere. Plus: Disney!
A.D.’s expert tip: Reservations! Jaleo opened recently; it’s going to be a hot Disney Springs venue for a while!