Interested in learning more about the top Disney World restaurants – the ones that critics and guests all love? Check out his round up – and be sure to make your advanced dinning reservations as soon as your trip dates are confirmed – since these places fill up fast.
Italian – Via Napoli at Epcot
Epcot‘s Via Napoli in the Italy Pavilion makes a splash not because of incredible décor or rare delicacies it serves. In fact, aside from the pizzas it serves, its menu is quite unremarkable and its stucco walls are not ornate in the least. However, the restaurant earns top marks for striking a perfect balance between their excellent pizza pies and the friendliness with which the servers deliver them. When visiting on the Disney Dining Plan, a reasonable one credit is required; when paying cash, pizzas are about $16.
Beaches & Cream isn’t fancy – just tasty.
Ice Cream – Beaches and Cream Soda Shop at the Beach Club
Next up in the roster of restaurants is the Beaches and Cream Soda Shop. This inexpensive diner at the Beach Club Resort proposes practical platters of old-fashioned American favorites like fries, burgers, oversized hot dogs, and ice cream scooped to order. The menu only gets as adventurous as veggie wraps, so there are essentially no surprises, unless the enormous Kitchen Sink ice cream dessert is counted! It’s more ice cream and toppings that a typical family of four can polish off – just good, clean ice cream fun. One Disney Dining Plan credit is required to get a soda jerked in this joint, otherwise dishes top out at about $14 (excepting the Kitchen Sink, weighing in at $24!). Beaches and Cream makes the list thanks to the broad appeal that traditional fare has both for vacationers and locals.
Mediterranean – Citricos at the Grand Floridian
Citricos at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa is a triple threat at five forks up (way up!) for friendliness and service, and four and a half for quality. Dining here can be costly at up to $41 per plate, and correspondingly it costs two Disney Dining Plan credits to eat here. But what do customers get for all their hard-earned cash or credits? How about a menu lineup including sautéed shrimp with lemon and feta, or seared Florida black grouper, fillet of beef grilled over oak, or Berkshire pork? Chef Ponticelli has also paired these selections with a wonderful wine selection, and the décor which is heavily Mediterranean-themed provides a classy backdrop to any meal. Guests find it easy to obtain advance reservations here, and sometimes take advantage of the private, 12-person dining hall called the Chef’s Domain.
Japanese – Teppan Edo at Epcot
Teppanyaki cooking is still alive and well at Teppan Edo in the Japan quarter of Epcot’s World Showcase featuring six high-end Japanese dining areas including several tables with their own flat grills, where teppanyaki chefs delight and amaze guests with their entertaining chopping and flipping of the little delicacies they serve up right onto guests’ plates. One Disney Dining Plan credit or $16-$30 per plate grants access to this fare, which is heavy on shrimp, scallops, beef, chicken, and pork loin and light on sushi and appetizers, though these last items are also available. Reservations are recommended for lunch or dinner at this restaurant, whose food-flipping fanciful chefs are an entertainment draw not to be underestimated.
The Japan Pavilion offers some great eating opportunities.
African – Jiko at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
The next restaurant winner located at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is Jiko, the Cooking Place, featuring uniquely African specialties such as grilled filet mignon, kalamata-olive flatbread, marinated lamb loin, shrimp curry and macaroni and cheese. Two Disney Dining Plan credits or $26-$41 per person, per meal allow guests to sample these sub-continental foods cooked in two enormous wood burning ovens in the main hall.
Seafood – Narcoosee’s at the Grand Floridian
Representing the high end in frutti di mare, Narcoosee’s in the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa enjoys a high rate of customer satisfaction thanks to its very good service, plentiful wines, unique building design, pleasing waterfront location and relaxed but upscale atmosphere. Narcoosee’s features crab cakes, Prince Edward Island mussels, crispy whole snapper, grilled filet mignon and of course steamed Maine lobster. In a park, not to mention a country, in which seafood is on the scant side, Narcoosee’s is a beacon for all those wanting to bring their hungry ship into harbor. The pricing is as upscale as the menu at two Disney Dining Plan credits per meal or $13-$27 per plate.
Frontier Fun Food – Trail’s End Restaurant at Fort Wilderness
Next up is Fort Wilderness’ Trail’s End Restaurant, next door to the Hoop-De-Doo Musical Revue. Here, breakfast and dinner buffets are offered as well as an à la carte lunch. The décor is decidedly frontier-esque, with walls made of logs rising to exposed beams in the ceiling. Only one Disney Dining Plan credit or $23 for grown-ups grants guests access to fried chicken, pasta, fish, carved meats, ribs, fruit cobbler, and pizza. Sound familiar? The same foods are offered at Hoop-De-Do, but with a rousing dinner show requiring advance reservations.
American Fare – The Crystal Palace at the Magic Kingdom
The Magic Kingdom plays host to The Crystal Palace, another park-goer favorite. One Disney Dining Plan credit or about $37 per adult (in off-peak periods) allows guests to enjoy waffles with fresh fruits for breakfast, slow-roasted pork or prime rib at dinnertime (or peel-and-eat shrimp, curry chicken, wild mushroom and chicken pasta, or more than a dozen salads). The Crystal Palace has among the best dollars-to-doughnuts ratios in all of the World, so guests are assured not to leave with even slightly empty bellies.
German – Biergarten at Epcot
Biergarten raises its beer stein high in a fun toast. About $26 during off-peak periods or one Disney Dining Plan credit gets guests seated at huge tables with other vacationers to gorge on a buffet of sauerbraten, wursts, spaetzle, schnitzel, pork shank gratin, salads, breads, desserts, and of course beer, beer and more BEER! Guests revel to the sounds of an oompah band that encourages audience participation, and families find the format fortuitously informal.
The Finest Food – Victoria and Albert’s at the Grand Floridian
Victoria and Albert’s in the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa requires six months’ advance reservations and a follow-up call by noon on the day of the reservation. Two platinum plan Disney dining credits or $185 cash are required to enjoy this experience, which is really something truly special. Guests can dine at the Chef’s Table (with special reservations), a boisterous and energetic dining area that is kicked off each night by a champagne toast, or in the larger, quieter dining hall where symphony-class musicians play soft music. Featured dishes include Florida seafood, Jamison Farm lamb, ad real Kobe beef served up with the ultimate attention to detail in this five-diamond establishment. Jackets are required for gentlemen, and no little ones are permitted.