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Guest Review: Animal Kingdom’s Flame Tree Barbecue

Guest reviewer Bill Iadonisi is back with another great counter-service review! This time, Bill takes us to a beloved Animal Kingdom eatery — Flame Tree Barbecue. Take it away, Bill!

Hello again Disney Food lovers! As promised, here is the second in the continuing reviews of Disney’s amazing quick-service restaurants. From our last review of the Columbia Harbor House, we trek over to Disney’s Animal Kingdom to talk about a personal favorite of mine, the Flame Tree Barbecue restaurant. Located in Discovery Island on the path to Dinoland U.S.A, you will find nothing but hearty, stick-to-your-ribs fare offered here. If you like the taste of good old American Barbecued Ribs and Chicken, look no further.

Atmosphere
The first thing you will notice about the eatery is its colorful and festive paint; and adorning the building, ordering kiosks, condiment stations and even the dining pavilions, are equally colorful animal carvings — birds, spiders, butterflies, owls and reptiles. Even the backs of the chairs have carved figures in them. This is a visible feast for the eyes to draw you to it. (Editor’s note: check out our post about the Circle of Life theme at Flame Tree Barbecue)

Decor and Themeing in the Discovery Island Area

Flame Tree Barbecue Ordering Area

Joining me for lunch today was my wife, Donna, and good friend, Joe. I love this restaurant because of the menu… no burgers or chicken fingers served here. You will find tender barbecue chicken, ribs, a pulled pork sandwich that can stand up to any eatery in the area, and even a BBQ hot dog. In addition, the key lime and chocolate mousse desserts are to die for. We arrived at opening time, 11:00am, to beat the crowds. Because of its popularity, Flame Tree Barbecue gets pretty busy around lunchtime.

Click the Menu for a larger image:

Eats
My wife ordered her favorite the Pork Sandwich ($8.69), which is accompanied by a side of baked beans. The sandwich roll is soft and fresh, and the pork has just the right amount of BBQ sauce on it. We think it takes away from the sandwich when it’s drowned in sauce.

I am not a big bean fan, but these served here are outstanding. There are bits of pork meat and a hint of bacon in them, but the flavors are nicely balanced and the beans are very tender. The sandwich is filling and very satisfying, and the BBQ flavor was not overwhelming.

Pork Sandwich and Beans

Pork Sandwich Without Top Bun

Joe ordered the ½ slab of St. Louis Ribs ($10.69), which also comes with the beans and a side of slaw. Joe is a huge rib fan and has sampled them from all over the country, and he was very surprised with his meal. The meat was very flavorful, and like the pork sandwich, had just the right amount of smoky BBQ taste. But he would have liked the meat a little more moist. The slaw was good and he gave his meal a solid “8”!

Ribs, Beans, and Coleslaw at Flame Tree Barbecue

For myself, I just love the BBQ ½ chicken ($9.69), also served with beans and a side of slaw. If you remember the Tusker House before it changed to a buffet, the chicken is almost identical to the one served there. The BBQ flavors and spices are complex, but nothing overshadows anything else. The meat is very moist and falls right off the bones. In fact, the chicken is so flavorful, I find myself eating the skin! And like Joe, I enjoyed the coleslaw.

BBQ Chicken, beans, and coleslaw at flame tree barbecue

There are other goodies on the menu here. All are solid comfort food. A Smoked Turkey Breast Sandwich ($8.09) on Sunflower Bread with Cranberry Mayo and fresh fruit is a good choice for the lighter eater — very tasty — and the Cranberry Mayo is really different and unique. And for the salad lovers, a Barbecue Chicken Salad ($7.79) with, what else, BBQ chicken and tossed greens is a great choice. And for the very health-conscious, a refreshing Fruit Plate ($6.99) with seasonal fruit and Honey Yogurt are offered. For sides, you can order an Onion Ring Basket ($3.79), which has a generous portion of rings, and the rings are real onions, not processed. A French Fry Basket ($3.99) is also available.

Onion Ring Basket

For the 9 and under folks, a choice of a Baked Chicken Drumstick ($4.99), which, parents, is a nice break from the usual chicken fingers or Mac and Cheese; and a good old American Hot Dog ($4.99) is also available. These picks include grapes, carrot sticks, and your choice of 1% Mickey Milk, small bottle of water or 100% Apple juice. You even substitute a Cookie or Soft Drink.

And what’s a meal without Dessert? The Flame Tree offers two creamy, tasty choices. A Chocolate Mousse or Key Lime Mousse Cup, each $3.59. The Chocolate Mousse is rich and very creamy and was topped with sweet chocolate syrup. The Key Lime offering was just excellent! In fact, Joe, who had ordered it, said that it would be great if Disney actually froze the dessert and offered it up like a Popsicle!

Key Lime and Chocolate Mousse Desserts

For beverages, you have the standard sodas, lemonade, Hot Tea and Coffee and even Hot Cocoa. For Adults, Beer and Wine can be ordered.

Seating
Where to eat your meal? Well like the Yak and Yeti Local Food Cafes, only outdoor seating is available. Around the restaurant to the left of the ordering area are pathways to covered pavilions, which like the restaurant, are brightly painted with animal carvings all over. The pavilions offer covered seating, but there are also areas in the open — some with two, three or four tables for a more private meal.

Covered Pavilion Seating

The entire seating section is tree covered and is very beautiful. Several of the pavilions have a majestic view of Everest, and in the middle of the area is a large, quiet pool, complete with lily pads, stone walls and magnificent foliage around. In my opinion, it is the prettiest place to dine on property.

Tables by the Reflecting Pool at flame tree barbecue

Expedition Everest View from Seating at Flame Tree Barbecue

The only negative is that on very warm and muggy days, even with the trees and covered pavilions, some may find it uncomfortable for dining. So if you are looking for a respite from the heat, you might want to go to Pizzafari or Dinoland’s Restaurantosaurus.

Overall
So overall what do I think about the Flame Tree? With nice-sized portions, over the top BBQ and a really beautiful dining area, we have to rate it a solid 7.5 out of 10! The only thing that kept it from 8 and above would be the dining area in summer. This is a wonderful eatery with a nice change of pace menu, visually enticing and best of all: you will not go away hungry. Next time we will explore yet another of Disney’s fabulous Quick-Service restaurants.

Have you tried Flame Tree Barbecue? Let us know your favorite items or what you’d like to try next time in our comments section below!

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16 Comments

  1. Betsy says:

    The Flame Tree is my favorite counter service on property because of the quality/quantity of the food and the lovely outdoor seating with views of Everest. I would never come here during the summer, but during my last trip in March, with temps in the 60s, it was an ideal location for a quiet, early lunch. It’s the only place I’ll eat in Animal Kingdom!

  2. Dana says:

    MMMmmm….last week you did my favorite MK quick service, and this week it was one of my favorite AK quick service eateries. Unfortunately, since Yak and Yeti came around, my stomach space needs to be shared between Flame Tree and Yak and Yeti—both excellent and some of the most diverse quick service meals on property!

  3. NT3 says:

    Wow! I gotta admit, I NEVER knew that eating area was there. Those tables by the reflecting pond with the view of Everest look amazing! This is going on the list for my next visit!

  4. Molly says:

    The Flame Tree is my favorite place to eat, I always make at least a couple of stops there. The BBQ chicken salad is also excellent. I was a little disappointed in the desserts, however. It was very warm when I was last there and we were sitting out in the sun. By the time we got to our desserts, they were very runny. I liked the old chocolate cake and key lime pie desserts better.

  5. Alan says:

    When they switched the Tusker House to sit-down I was saddened. Then I tried the Flame Tree I was gladdened.

  6. Steve says:

    Without a doubt this was my favorite counter service restaurant. Totally enough food to share. Reasonably priced. You can always go back for more!

  7. Billy says:

    Enjoyed this review! Sitting on the veranda overlooking Everest is one of my favorite vistas in all of WDW.

  8. CanadiansloveWDW says:

    Flame tree is my fav quick service, although wolfgang puck express was also impressive.. unfortunatly on my last visit the Flame was under construction.. my 6 year old said as we walked by “i am angry at the restuarant for not giving my daddy his favorite lunch”
    the ribs and chicken are better then any other on disney property…

  9. Jennifer says:

    They also have an amazing fruit plate with a delicious honey yogurt dip. And it’s huge like everything else there…yummy!

  10. Again, thanks for all your comments. They are all in agreement that the Flametree is a guest favorite. Disney’s magnificent attention to detail and quality food are a perfect pair for success. I hope all will enjoy the future installments I have plannned for the Food Blog. Until then, Bon Appetite!

  11. Max Webster says:

    I love Flame Tree! My only complaint are with the aggressive ducks that want to sample your food. Other than that, I love it.

    Cheers!

    Max

  12. SharonC says:

    This is one of our favorite places too. The turkey sandwich is served on the most delicious sunflower bread. If you are a breadaholic like I am, you will be happy with just the bread from this sandwich. The seating area offers a nice place to relax away from the crowds. Great review!

  13. Again, amazing photos that make me sooo hungry :)

  14. Shelley says:

    Flame Tree is by far our favorite counter service in the parks! We LOVE the ribs with their smoky flavor and the baked beans are great…..We really miss the cornbread though…but I think a lot of people didn’t eat it and fed it to the birds, making them aggressive. If you decide to eat out in the open under a tree, make sure there are no birds above you….I found out the hard way one year and it was NOT fun. >:( Also, LOVE that they offer a TIW discount.

  15. Diane says:

    We ate there this past summer. The temperatures were in the high 90s. My sister and I, eating around 3:00, went down to the lower pavillion that is almost exactly across from Everest. There were ceiling fans and quite a bit of shade from the trees on three sides (with one open on the water) leaving us quite comfortable and able to feel relief from the heat. We were the only ones down there. In fact, since we were getting away from our group (family we love but after awhile you just need a break when you travel in big groups), and having some quiet time alone, it’s one of our favorite memories. After having several disappointing cs meals in the world, we were pleasantly surprised by this one. We thought the pork sandwiches were really good and liked the sauce very much. Neither of us are big fans of baked beans but we both really liked them too. The only exception is the dessert. While it was cool and light, I didn’t think it was all that great. I had the Key Lime and my sister had the chocolate. She didn’t even eat most of her dessert. (This may be because my sister is a pastry chef so we pretty much find all the desserts around the world as overrated.) Anyway, it was refreshing but I wouldn’t say exceptional particularly to people who love key lime pie. Next time we are there, we will absolutely make a point of eating at Flame Tree although I’ll forego the dessert and maybe get fruit instead. It is the only counter service must repeat for us.

  16. Diane says:

    Not that it matters, but I forgot to mention, we still have the little card they gave us with our meal that says “Your Yummies are not good for our Tummies” on our refrigerator door. I smile every time I see it.

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