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For the foodies out there - what are the best restaurants in WDW?

mdcpr

Member
Original Poster
I'll be in WDW for 5 days--and we are a foodie family. Which restaurants should I definitely include on my list? I'm looking for the best of the best in terms of food, not the prettiest. Recommendations?
 
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Hockey89

Well-Known Member
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I'll be in WDW for 5 days--and we are a foodie family. Which restaurants should I definitely include on my list? I'm looking for the best of the best in terms of food, not the prettiest. I'm looking for the ones that compare to top restaurants in NYC, LA or Las Vegas. Recommendations?
There are none that compare to the best in NYC.... Victoria & Alberts is very good.... Capa at the Four Seasons is very good.

If you are looking for 11 Madison, Per Se, Daniel ect, you will be disappointed....
 

mdcpr

Member
Original Poster
There are none that compare to the best in NYC.... Victoria & Alberts is very good.... Capa at the Four Seasons is very good.

If you are looking for 11 Madison, Per Se, Daniel ect, you will be disappointed....
I've been the 1st and last one on your list. :) Ok, so I should manage my expectations better. :) I will edit my question.
 

DISR

Member
I would manage expectations. Disney has to be a little bit of everything to everyone, considering their broad customer base. IMO the dining plan has homogenized the dining experience somewhat. Those qualifiers aside, I've had very good meals at Jiko and Citricos. V & A is on my bucket list, but I'm still figuring out how/when to spend that much on one meal. I like Morimoto's, but reviews seem to indicate his locations are better. STK is supposed to be good, but I haven't tried it yet. I don't think it is too hard to get a really good steak in any large metro area, so it may not be a particularly unique experience. There are plenty of rave reviews for Disney restaurants I find average. Taste is subjective, but there is also an element of what you have access to in your home town. As a foodie with regular access to large metro area restaurants, your standards will probably be higher than some of the reviews you will read. I tend to focus on the experience and value of the meal...maybe it wasn't signature dining, but it was good for the price, or offered a memorable experience.
 
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mdcpr

Member
Original Poster
I would manage expectations. Disney has to be a little bit of everything to everyone, considering their broad customer base. IMO the dining plan has homogenized the dining experience somewhat. Those qualifiers aside, I've had very good meals at Jiko and Citricos. V & A is on my bucket list, but I'm still figuring out how/when to spend that much on one meal. I like Morimoto's, but reviews seem to indicate his locations are better. STK is supposed to be good, but I haven't tried it yet. I don't think it is too hard to get a really good steak in any large metro area, so in may not be a particularly unique experience. There are plenty of rave reviews for Disney restaurants I find average. Taste is subjective, but there is also an element of what you have access to in your home town. As a foodie with regular access to large metro area restaurants, your standards will probably be higher than some of the reviews you will read. I tend to focus on the experience and value of the meal...maybe it wasn't signature dining, but it was good for the price, or offered a memorable experience.
We live in Brooklyn, so my baseline might be off. You are right, I should focus on the experience. Thank you for the honest advice.
 

Hockey89

Well-Known Member
I would manage expectations. Disney has to be a little bit of everything to everyone, considering their broad customer base. IMO the dining plan has homogenized the dining experience somewhat. Those qualifiers aside, I've had very good meals at Jiko and Citricos. V & A is on my bucket list, but I'm still figuring out how/when to spend that much on one meal. I like Morimoto's, but reviews seem to indicate his locations are better. STK is supposed to be good, but I haven't tried it yet. I don't think it is too hard to get a really good steak in any large metro area, so in may not be a particularly unique experience. There are plenty of rave reviews for Disney restaurants I find average. Taste is subjective, but there is also an element of what you have access to in your home town. As a foodie with regular access to large metro area restaurants, your standards will probably be higher than some of the reviews you will read. I tend to focus on the experience and value of the meal...maybe it wasn't signature dining, but it was good for the price, or offered a memorable experience.
Having been to three different locations of Morimoto places, he mailed it in at Disney Springs... Money grab....

Good advise...
 

Janir

Well-Known Member
Victoria and Alberts if you have the cash.
Jiko in AKL, and Tiffins in AK are my two newest favorites for something nice.
And Art Smith's Homecoming is great if you like some good old fashioned comfort food. The fried chicken is the best example of southern fried chicken. I've dreamt about that fried chicken and the in house hot sauce. (The in house Hot sauce is also great. Hot, not overbearing, and has some favor, not just vinegar and heat. I went 4 hours out of my way a few months back from Tampa to Orlando just to go to get some hot sauce to take home and chicken.
 

DISR

Member
If you are willing to go for the experience, I will share one of my favorites: Get to AKL an hour or so prior to your Jiko dinner reservation. Grab cocktail and enjoy the lobby and animal viewing. There are often presentations from the African cast members going on that you can listen to. Head down to Jiko prior to your dinner and engage the bartender on their excellent South African cellar, and then off to dinner.
 

Hockey89

Well-Known Member
If you are willing to go for the experience, I will share one of my favorites: Get to AKL an hour or so prior to your Jiko dinner reservation. Grab cocktail and enjoy the lobby and animal viewing. There are often presentations from the African cast members going on that you can listen to. Head down to Jiko prior to your dinner and engage the bartender on their excellent South African cellar, and then off to dinner.
I've done this as well and really enjoyed it.
 

BASS

Active Member
Foodie here too. I enjoy Jiko, Bluezoo, Frontera, and Flying Fish. Personally, I'd stay away from restaurants in the parks. And, generally speaking, Disney's "signature dining" spots are meh.

I'm sure there are others I haven't frequented that are very good. We looked at several menus at Disney Springs, several of which looked really good. (Ultimately, we settled on Frontera because I had missed out on Bayless' spot when I was last in Chicago.)

EDIT: Now that I see your original question, Bluezoo has a Vegas vibe to it. It's a unique place because it's one of the few that attempts to highlight locally grown food. I discovered Pasture Prime farms from a visit there and have purchased straight from them in the past.
 

TheGuyThatMakesSwords

Well-Known Member
Our list.... in order of Quality, not price....

  1. V&A GF.
  2. Shula's Dolphin.
  3. California Grill Contemporary.
  4. Il Mulino Swan.
  5. Citrico's GF.
  6. Narcoossee's GF.
Now the sad part.... All personal opinion - I'm not necessarily right, no one else is necessarily wrong.....
There is not one location at Disney Springs, or "in-park", that we have found to be of any value.

DVC owners, AP Holders, TIW holders, 2 trips per year, 14 years.
 
We are both foodies & eat out in London a lot, we like good food & wine so we are fussy about where we eat when we are in WDW.
Some of our favourites, in no particular order:

The California Grill - We always eat here when we are over from the UK, we've had some okay to good meals here in the past but the one we had on our last visit in 2017 was outstanding, the service was top notch, the wine was superb & the food was out of this world. We'll be booking to eat here again later this year.

Flying Fish - The original was great but it's stepped up several levels since the refurbishment, our last meal there was easily some of the best sea food we have eaten anywhere in the world, the wine list is very interesting as well.

The Yachtsman - Never had a less than outstanding meal here, they also do great sea food as well.

Narcoossees - Still one of our favourite restaurants onsite, its a bit of a hidden gem this one, the bar is one of the best on property & worth arriving early so you can sit & have a cocktail. Definitely worth asking / waiting for a window table so you can look out over the lagoon towards the Magic Kingdom, we usually head out on to the wrap around terrace with a glass of wine to watch the fireworks before heading back in for desert.

Ill Mulino - Well worth a visit, somewhat off the beaten track in The Swan hotel, a lot of people don't even know its there. Fantastic Italian food & a great bar as well.
 

Phonedave

Well-Known Member
You started out using the term "foodie" which right off the bat makes me leery. I'm not trying to insult anybody, but when I hear that term think of people who are into celebrity chefs, instagramming their meals, and raving about "artisinal" offerings. If that is the case, then you will have a ball at WDW. Lots of pretty restaurants, lots of platings sprinkled with crap (cayenne, cinnimon, tumeric (hey, its a superfood too!), and picture taking opportunities.

If you however are looking for good food. Good ingredients, well executed, and combined with creativity - you are going to be very disappointed. Aside from a few outliers, most everything at WDW is food service grade.

The chefs do a yeoman's job, don't get me wrong. But they are working under three massive constraints. Food cost has to be in line with the Disney Dining Plan, they have to do an insane amount of covers night after night, and they have to appeal to the masses. Because of this food needs to be cost effective, available in mass quantities, and not too adventurous.

I had a conversation with Chef Hunnel at V&A (one of the aforementioned hold outs) once about a lemon sauce he had made. Apparently he grew the Meyer Lemons in his backyard. When that sauce is used on the menu two days a month for maybe 40 diners total, you can do something like that. When you go through 5 gallons of sauce a day, you are bringing in frozen concentrate.

Not that there is necessarily anything wrong with using something like frozen concentrate. I myself keep a bottle of "chicken magic" (Knorr's concentrated liquid chicken base) in the house, because my wife and I work, and I do not have the time to make chicken stock from scratch every week. The thing is, I know what I am using. And I have no qualms about a restaurant using it either. It is just not fine dining. WDW tries to pass off what comes out of the back of a Sysco trailer as fine dining.
 

mdcpr

Member
Original Poster
You started out using the term "foodie" which right off the bat makes me leery. I'm not trying to insult anybody, but when I hear that term think of people who are into celebrity chefs, instagramming their meals, and raving about "artisinal" offerings. If that is the case, then you will have a ball at WDW. Lots of pretty restaurants, lots of platings sprinkled with crap (cayenne, cinnimon, tumeric (hey, its a superfood too!), and picture taking opportunities.

If you however are looking for good food. Good ingredients, well executed, and combined with creativity - you are going to be very disappointed. Aside from a few outliers, most everything at WDW is food service grade.

The chefs do a yeoman's job, don't get me wrong. But they are working under three massive constraints. Food cost has to be in line with the Disney Dining Plan, they have to do an insane amount of covers night after night, and they have to appeal to the masses. Because of this food needs to be cost effective, available in mass quantities, and not too adventurous.

I had a conversation with Chef Hunnel at V&A (one of the aforementioned hold outs) once about a lemon sauce he had made. Apparently he grew the Meyer Lemons in his backyard. When that sauce is used on the menu two days a month for maybe 40 diners total, you can do something like that. When you go through 5 gallons of sauce a day, you are bringing in frozen concentrate.

Not that there is necessarily anything wrong with using something like frozen concentrate. I myself keep a bottle of "chicken magic" (Knorr's concentrated liquid chicken base) in the house, because my wife and I work, and I do not have the time to make chicken stock from scratch every week. The thing is, I know what I am using. And I have no qualms about a restaurant using it either. It is just not fine dining. WDW tries to pass off what comes out of the back of a Sysco trailer as fine dining.
Hi - Thank you for the honest comments. "Foodie" is actually someone who enjoys food for pleasure--and it has nothing to do with expensive or pretty. A foodie can eat at a Michelin restaurant or a food truck, and the ambiance does not make a difference. What you are describing are millennials, my three siblings are like that. :)

But seriously, thank you for the feedback.

As for turmeric and cayenne--don't disregard them. I had a bad case of gout and those ingredients helped me with inflammation--true story!!!
 

LavaLiz

New Member
By any chance are you going during the EPCOT F&W Festival? I have found several of the extra ticketed dining experiences to be worth every penny. I feel like others have given you a reasonable expectation food wise. It helps me when I think about just how massive Walt Disney World is, and how many people they are feeding daily. My go to recommendations are Tiffins, Flying Fish, and Citricos for tasty, better than the average Table Service meal. I hope you enjoy a fabulous, food filled trip!
 

mdcpr

Member
Original Poster
By any chance are you going during the EPCOT F&W Festival? I have found several of the extra ticketed dining experiences to be worth every penny. I feel like others have given you a reasonable expectation food wise. It helps me when I think about just how massive Walt Disney World is, and how many people they are feeding daily. My go to recommendations are Tiffins, Flying Fish, and Citricos for tasty, better than the average Table Service meal. I hope you enjoy a fabulous, food filled trip!
I wish I could--but definitely in a future plan. We're doing during Thanksgiving break.
 

danyoung56

Well-Known Member
I wouldn't call myself a foodie, but I'm a little bit tired of the "real" foodies dissing WDW restaurants. Sure, you can find a lame meal or a so-so waiter from time to time. But I've been enjoying WDW dining, both inside the parks and in the hotels, for over 20 years, and have had some killer meals. And even if the food isn't killer, it's usually at least pretty good. And in many cases the atmosphere more than makes up for any shortcomings in the food.

I just didn't want the rookies to be overly influenced by the jaded "foodies" posting here.
 

Hockey89

Well-Known Member
I wouldn't call myself a foodie, but I'm a little bit tired of the "real" foodies dissing WDW restaurants. Sure, you can find a lame meal or a so-so waiter from time to time. But I've been enjoying WDW dining, both inside the parks and in the hotels, for over 20 years, and have had some killer meals. And even if the food isn't killer, it's usually at least pretty good. And in many cases the atmosphere more than makes up for any shortcomings in the food.

I just didn't want the rookies to be overly influenced by the jaded "foodies" posting here.
There is a simple reason. The food doesn't stake up in anyway to food in real cities sorry... Coral reef would be out of biz in NYC or Boston in about a week if they kept those prices.... The poster was asking for great food which is not really at Disney anymore.... I know you love everything which is fine, but Disney is not where you go if you want high end food....
 

jpeden

Well-Known Member
Flying Fish and California Grill are some of the best meals that we've had on property. My wife particularly enjoys the sushi at California Grill - I'm always a big fan of their beef option and we LOVE their Giant Goat Cheese Ravioli with tomato broth (fun fact - the bartender told me that they will do a dinner portion of this appetizer).

I also enjoy the wine list at California Grill - one of my favorite Bartender's in all of WDW works at the bar at California Grill as well.
 
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