Most people tend to visit the same restaurants every visit, because they enjoyed the same place the last few visits and liked the food. Why mess with perfection, right? Well, it is a risk, but there are so many others that could be just as good, better and/or provide a completely different experience. I understand the need to eat in the parks during the day, but expand your pallet to the resorts for dinner. You are missing so much if you don’t. The first 7 are recommended by experience. The last 3 are on my bucket list.
- California Grill, Contemporary Resort—My number one pick, so far. There's only one word for this restaurant... .....EXQUISITE. We had a favorite restaurant at Walt Disney World for many years until we broadened our horizons and treated our palates to this place, which replaced our former favorite by a landslide. The taste of everything from the sushi, which I normally do NOT like, all the way to the desserts, had us awestruck. The scallops were the best we've ever had. The bison tenderloins were fantastic and the chicken was full of flavor. I don't like potatoes, but their potatoes are delicious! That says a lot by itself! I couldn't get enough of the fresh green beans. I don't like vegetables and I couldn't stop eating the perfectly-cooked green beans. Needless to say, my potatoes and vegetables normally get thrown away or eaten by someone else. I ate them and I can't wait to go back. No wonder why it's so difficult to get reservations here. I am not a fan of sushi, but my son convinced me to try this certain dish. There was absolutely zero taste of fish. I took each bite of a new fish fearing I would not like it, but it only got better and better. I'm drooling just typing this! We ventured out and tried the desserts, too. They’re creative and EVIL!! (In a good way.)
- LeCellier, Epcot—Ooooh, la la! The food is fantastic and the service is always phenomenal. This is another restaurant that is so incredibly difficult to get into for dinner. We’ve been here a few times and it changes so I would recommend the scallops, if it’s back on the menu. The lamb is cooked perfectly. The steak? Well, it is a steakhouse so it is phenomenal, which was paired with a great bottle of red wine. Great selection of different breads including pretzel bread. They have a good variety of different desserts to round off a perfect meal (so I’ve seen). I’m usually too full from the generous portions they give you so I don’t get a dessert, but my family thoroughly enjoys them. From the small bites I occasionally tried from their desserts, they are gooooooood!
Liberty Tree Tavern, Magic Kingdom
--We had the pleasure of dining here for the first time on Thanksgiving day. It's unlimited and served family style. Not only is that convenient, but the food is top notch. Fresh green beans sauteed perfectly with perfect spices and this is coming from someone who doesn't like vegetables! The turkey is moist and DELICIOUS! The stuffing is out of this world. Ok, I'm getting hungry now. I could go on. Oh! By the way, save room for the dessert! Unbelievable! In any case, at one point, they discontinued this and began individual dishes, which are FANTASTIC! Fear not! I'm assuming due to demand, they brought back the traditional turkey feast, but didn't discontinue the new dishes. As it stands right now, they individual dishes and turkey feast is served at lunch, but only the turkey feast is served at dinner. Either way, you want great food? Go here!
- Coral Reef, Epcot—The large tank with all the different fish is great for everyone to see. Who needs crayons to take up time while you wait for the food? No one! The kids can just sit and watch the tank like they watch TV! It’s interesting and fun! Just as expected of a specialty fish restaurant, the food is really good. The lobster ravioli is my favorite. Now, I live in Maine where I get Maine lobster for very inexpensive prices ALL the time. If I liked their lobster ravioli, they’re doing it right.
- Via Napoli, Epcot—Most think, pizza is pizza, right? Ok, maybe not most, but I do. I’m not a huge fan of pizza. Now I know the difference, though. Their pizza is fantastic! It makes me want to go to Italy to try all the Italian foods that I “think” are good, but you really don’t know “good” until you have someone from Italy make it for you.
- Be Our Guest, Magic Kingdom—This is the restaurant with the best décor! We were fortunate to score dinner reservations. As a huge fan of Beauty and the Beast, this was a wonderful experience. It's the only place you can meet and greet the Beast now and it can only be done on your way out after dinner. They announce the Beast in your dining room in formal fashion and he walks in to bow briefly. The food is very good as well. The "grey stuff" is not too sweet and was a joy to try. I prefer the Master's Cupcake that is served at lunch. The dinner pastries we had were "ok". Other than the desserts that were below our expectations, the potato leek soup, French onion soup, steak, chicken, salmon and pork were all very good. Be sure to visit the other rooms after dinner, as well. Beautifully done! (Tip: I checked for reservations every day multiple times per day and noticed a slew of reservations open up for so many restaurants 14 days before the day we wanted the reservation at BOG. Keep that in mind if you are struggling to get a reservation for a restaurant you want. Start looking at 7am on that 14th day.)
- 50’s Prime Time Café, Hollywood Studios—This is a throwback restaurant where you eat in the kitchen and there are TV’s showing old black and white sitcoms. The entire visit is entertaining from the moment you walk in to the moment you walk out. We were hesitant after hearing people talk about the comedic statements that are made to you, because we are quiet diners who don’t want attention. But, we heard so much about “wholesome, old, homemade cooking”; we had to try it at least once, right? My son made the mistake of secretly asking the hostess for their best (joker) server they had, because my husband and I had never been there, but my son and his girlfriend had. My husband and I did not suffer any consequences, but my son and his girlfriend did. It was hilarious. As for the food, IT IS all it is cracked up to be. The fried chicken is very good. The sampler is a great way to try everything. FYI, don't try to hide anything in the bones on the plate. We saw our server look under the bones to make sure all the meat is eaten off of the bones and there is no unwanted food hidden under the bones. Word to the wise, don't put your elbows on the table and make sure you finish all of your meal. Thankfully, my husband likes collard greens. If you can’t finish, they just make a joke out of it, tell you that you can’t have dessert and try to get you to finish your meal, just like mom used to do. If you like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, try the Peanut Butter and Jelly shake. Nummy!
Here are a couple we’ve heard a lot about and are on our bucket list to try at least once:
- Jiko, Animal Kingdom Lodge—This is a signature restaurant (requires 2 table service entitlements of DDP). I am told that the menu changes seasonally and they have an African, Mediterranean and Indian influence. The restaurant is designed to mimic an African sunset.
- Victoria & Albert’s, Grand Floridian Resort & Spa—This is a restaurant I have already hand-picked the time and year I will visit. My husband and I will be staying at the Grand Floridian in 2018 and that’s when we will bring the appropriate attire to dine here. Some restaurants have a dress code, which basically means no bathing suits, cutoffs, torn clothing, hats, tank tops, etc., but this place has a more strict dress code. Men must wear dinner jackets with dress pants or slacks and shoes. Ties are optional. Women may wear a cocktail dress, nice dress, dressy pant suit or a skirt with a blouse. This is not only a signature restaurant, but it’s also fine dining and pure elegance. All diners must be 10 or older. My kids are all adults and I plan on leaving them for just a couple of hours to spend some quality alone time with my husband there. There are three different dining experiences to choose from; The Dining Room, Queen Victoria’s Room and The Chef’s Table. There are over 700 wines available and your meal will consist of seven to ten courses. If you reserve The Chef’s Table your menu will be created specifically for your tastes. They have won the AAA Five Diamond Award every year since 2000 and I can't wait to find out why! (Hopefully, I can get reservations.)
Keep in mind that the first 7 restaurants are in my opinion and everyone’s taste buds are not the same nor can every restaurant please 100% of all diners. Take a look at review sites like TripAdvisor. While reviews are great, there are some you need to take with a grain of salt. Not all reviews are fair and/or legit. The list I provided is based on food, ambiance and we scored 5 out of 5 stars. If it’s not listed above, either it was a 3 or 4 out of 5 stars (in my opinion), we just didn’t care for the food, but the experience was top notch or we haven't eaten there, yet. Just ask me and I’ll tell you if we’ve dined there or not. Send me your thoughts or send me a review to post on this site!