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2010 DFB Choice Award Winners

Around here, we believe there’s no better restaurant recommendation than the one we get from another Disney fan. So, in our quest to provide the very best information about Disney restaurants, we’ve created the DFB Choice Awards!

Over 500 readers sent in their nominations, and thousands have voted for the top nominees to create this list of Disney Food Blog readers’ choice restaurants and food items.

Thanks to all who submitted nominations and voted for the 2010 DFB Choice Awards!

Best Disney Table Service Restaurant — Le Cellier Steakhouse
Le Cellier Steakhouse, in Disney World’s Epcot World Showcase, offers great steaks, hearty side dishes, incredible wines, and some top-notch desserts. It comes up time and time again as a favorite of DFB readers, and the place consistently books up 6 months in advance. In 2011, dinner here will be changed to a “signature” meal, meaning it will offer a slightly higher-end menu and cost 2 Disney Dining Plan credits as opposed to the 1 for lunch.

Best Disney Quick-Service Restaurant — Sunshine Seasons
Sunshine Seasons in Disney World’s Epcot Future World has two things going for it — great variety and great quality! With stations featuring Asian food, Sandwiches and Bakery, Soup and Salad, Grilled items, and “Grab & Go” items, there’s something for everyone. Be sure to try the strawberry shortcake!

Best Disney Snack — Dole Whip
Available in pineapple and vanilla versions (and even orange swirl once in a while!), dole whip non-dairy treats are cool, refreshing, and — even better — low-cal!

You can find dole whips and dole whip floats in three locations in Disney World and in Disneyland’s Adventureland.

Best Disney Steakhouse — Le Cellier Steakhouse
Another win for Le Cellier Steakhouse! This time beating out Disney World’s Yachtsman Steakhouse and Disneyland’s Steakhouse 55 for this title!

Our favorite steak at Le Cellier is the filet with mushroom risotto — a tender cut done extremely well. I’ve ordered this steak multiple times and have always been pleased. Plus, the mushroom risotto is outstanding (I recommend ordering it as a side if it doesn’t come with your meal)!

Best Disney Seafood Restaurant — Flying Fish Cafe
Disney World’s Flying Fish Cafe is truly one of my favorite restaurants, so I’m so excited to have this in the list of DFB Choice Award winners!

Featuring seafood dishes that change seasonally (with a specialty of potato-wrapped snapper), innovative side dishes, and some great dishes for land-lubbers like me, the whimsical decor and incredible service of this restaurant makes Flying Fish an all-around winner.

Best Disney Restaurant for Vegetarians — Boma
Always a top-rated Disney World restaurant, Boma, at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, is a buffet with variety that doesn’t quit. Dishes inspired by African flavors, spices, and cooking techniques are offered here, giving everyone a little something new to try.

Flavorful, vegetarian items abound on the dinner buffet, including delicious soups, salads, fresh fruit, desserts, and African specialties. The breakfast buffet is just as good! ;-) Book early, though — this one fills up fast!

Best Service in a Disney Table-Service Restaurant — Victoria and Albert’s
Disney World’s top restaurant (5-diamond rated!) has unmatchable service. At Victoria and Albert’s, each table is taken care of by two servers, and the multi-course meal is something you’re sure to remember fondly for years. Have something you particularly enjoy? Let your server know; maybe that menu item will be a part of your next course!

Best Kids’ Menu at a Disney Restaurant — Chef Mickey’s Restaurant
One of the best places to guarantee your little one autographs from Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Pluto, and Goofy, Chef Mickey’s Restaurant offers breakfast and dinner buffets (sometimes lunch during busy seasons) with specialty items everyone loves. Pluto’s blintzes are a favorite for breakfast and Mickey’s cheesy potatoes have had guests asking for the recipe for years. For the kiddos, the buffets offer Mickey waffles, all kinds of cereals, donuts, rice krispy treats, and pizzas — among other kid-food favorites!

Twirl your napkin and cheer along with your favorite Disney characters at Chef Mickey’s!

Best Disney Breakfast — Kona Cafe
Found at Disney World’s Polynesian Resort, Kona Cafe is a casual dining restaurant that packs a punch for breakfast! Guest favorites like Tonga Toast and the Big Kahuna breakfast bring Polynesian flavors to the table in mouth-watering packages. The best part? This restaurant often doesn’t book up too fast, so it’s a good bet for a last-minute trip. Don’t let that be a guarantee, though — we always recommend making reservations as early as possible.

Best Disney Character Meal — Crystal Palace
Narrowly beating out Chef Mickey’s and Tusker House, Crystal Palace in Disney World’s Magic Kingdom offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner buffets packed with several guest favorites. The addition of rarely seen 100 Acre Wood friends like Pooh Bear, Piglet, Tigger, and Eeyore makes this location a true winner! (Try the puffed french toast — it’s my favorite!)

Best Eat-While-You-Walk Item — Mickey Premium Ice Cream Bar
Mickey Premium Bars are the quintessential Disney experience. A chocolate coated vanilla ice cream bar in the shape of everyone’s favorite mouse, these can be found in every Disney theme park and resort! No matter where you are, you’re not far from a Mickey Bar! :-)

Thanks to everyone who voted for making their views known! Hopefully this helps everyone planning trips for 2011 to book restaurants and grab snacks loved by other Disney fans. Looking forward to seeing who wins next year!

Just as a reminder: These nominees and winners were chosen via thousands of votes by Disney Food Blog readers. If your favorite didn’t make it into the top spot, don’t forget to nominate it again next year!

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21 Comments

  1. Galloping Gourmand says:

    Can’t really argue against any of those even if I do think Le Cellier is slightly overrated.

    I voted for Crystal Palace as the best Character Meal because it is in the park. It’s the only choice I made that wasn’t based on how good I think the food is How perfect is it to eat with the characters then walk out into the hub with every choice right there?

    So, has anyone here eaten at V&A? I have yet to and would love to hear some first hand accounts.

  2. Pudge the Fish says:

    This was fun AJ. I think most of my nominations placed first but I can not disagree with any category. (Alas no V&A visit for me yet either.) I love that I can have two or three favorites for any of these categories at WDW.

    Thank you for creating this wonderful website AJ. Your dedication, attention to detail and multiple daily posts are truly appreciated. I’m looking forward to what you have in store for 2011. Happy New Year!

  3. Kelly says:

    @Galloping Gourmand: I ate at V&A back in 1998 for Father’s Day. I was 13, my brother was 10 (this was before the age restrictions…) and it was my Dad’s choice for his Father’s Day gift. My Mom still raves about the way they treated us as children & the food. I unfortunately don’t remember much besides the personalized menus (which I thought was SO cool) and the atmosphere. I can’t wait to go back, but we chose Party for the Senses over V&A’s this last time and all other trips are too short for it :/

    On my trip in October, I was much more impressed with Le Cellier than I A) expected to be and B) was with Jiko…I ordered the filet at both. I’d make some changes for my own personal tastes, but I think the choices are a good representative of Disney food.

  4. Josh says:

    Really a great group of restaurants that won! I think there should be a rule next year for no restaurant winning twice, even though Le Cellier is grandeur.

    I find it ironic how Chef Mickey’s won the “Best Kid’s Menu” when it doesn’t really have a set menu, but a buffet. ;)

  5. Jeff says:

    Thanks for creating the awards! It is helpful to see what others like and try them on future visits.

    I started with a bit of a shock that Le Cellier won as our experience there a few years ago wasn’t better than many of the other nominees. I guess we need to try eating there again, maybe it was an off day for us or the restaurant.

    I would be very interested in seeing more awards, like best table/counter by park, DTD, resort or resort area, etc. Oh, and best app/entree/desert in some of the favorite restaurants. Going back to my Le Cellier reference, maybe we just didn’t order the best thing, although we did get the Fillet (got to love the dining plan).

    In future posts, I’d be interested in seeing some of the results by vote count. Again, we are always looking for a new place to experience since during a week at WDW you really only have so many meals to enjoy so you want to make each of them memorable.

  6. Jeff C. says:

    Great round-up, thanks AJ!

  7. James (Disneynorth) says:

    Go Canada!!! LOL!

    They do have to work on the wine list at Le Cellier. They need to offer Canadian wines ONLY! Oh, and they need to serve real poutine…

    Just my 2 cents….

    Happy New Year!

  8. Shayne says:

    It’s hard to argue with any of these! We have always loved Le Cellier even before it gained the renown that it currently enjoys. One of our favorite parts of eating there is that we can get a Canadian wine — Mission Hill — that we have been unable to get here in Texas. We discovered it when my in-laws brought us a couple of bottles from a trip to Banff and always look forward to enjoying a bottle (unfortunately, it’s not sold by the glass) at Le Cellier.

    We ate at V&A once — on our honeymoon in 1999. The service truly was impeccable and the food was delicious. We are hoping for a repeat visit on our upcoming trip next December.

  9. Brenda says:

    We’ve eaten at V&A three times …. twice in the dining room and once at the Chef’s Table (2006, 2007 and 2009). The food and service are wonderful but I do have issues with the lack of seasonal change-up in their menu – a five-diamond resturant should always strive to push the envelope and innovate and I just don’t see that at V&A the way I see it at other establishments of similar (and sometimes lesser) caliber. I also think they are impeded by the Disney Dining Bureaucracy which forbids them the use of certain ingedients and cooking methods – an argument could be made that in not offering certain items they might not be deserving of that 5th diamond any longer. Still, it’s a tremendous bargain for the overall quality of the food and service and I would recommend it to anyone with a love of fine dining and / or adventurous tummy.

  10. Jeff says:

    Le Cellier. Best Steakhouse? Best Restaurant?
    Hmmmmm…….
    Safe to say this wasn’t the most sophisticated bunch of voters.
    But hey, it’s a popularity contest. What can you do?

  11. Alan says:

    Visiting DL and WDW is all about having fun. These awards have been fun. I’m looking forward to more of these. Happy New Year and thanks for the fun, AJ.

  12. Jeff W. says:

    Let me second Jeff’s sentiments from a couple comments above (and, no, I promise it’s not me posting twice under two [slightly] different names).

    What I’d love to read is an article or post delving into how and why, exactly, Le Cellier became one of the most sought after restaurant reservations in the whole of Walt Disney World? I would guess that it had something to do with the fact that it’s a relatively moderately priced (for Disney World), safely middlebrow place in which to gorge oneself on red meat (which definitely tempts many a flyover denizen’s palate), and the proliferation of Disney internet forums over the last ten, fifteen years. Still, it’s overwhelming popularity is more than a little mystifying, along the lines of the Olive Garden being so confoundingly popular.

  13. AJ says:

    GG — I was with you on thinking Le Cellier was overrated for several years; then I ate there twice in the span of two weeks in October and changed my mind. While I DO think the restaurant went downhill for a few years, it’s certainly back on its game now. Perhaps that’s in anticipation of the new 2-credit signature dinner coming in, but it has gotten better and it is reliable these days.

    Pudge — Thank YOU so much for reading, commenting, and sending along great scoops! :-)

    Kelly — Sounds like V&A will have to be on your honeymoon trip (whenever that may be!)

    Josh — Thanks for the comment! Agreed on best kids’ menu, but alas, it certainly is a good restaurant for kids!

    Jeff — Check out this “Best Thing I Ever Ate in Disney” series for some good ideas on individual dishes. Also, in this poll, at least 700 people voted for every single winner (sometimes over 1,000 voted for the winners), so we have a decent number of folks who like each of these dining spots. And, like I mentioned above, I agree 100% that Le Cellier was off its game for a couple of years there. However, based on my experiences, it’s back and ready to reclaim the crown. I had two very enjoyable meals there in October. :-) Thank you for your comment! Keep the ideas coming!

    Jeff C — Thanks! Looking forward to more of your thoughts (and hope you’re feeling better!).

    James — I think you should start a Le Cellier Poutine committee!

    Shayne — Hoping you get that trip to V&A in December! Also, I’m in Buffalo now — can probably pick you up a bottle or two of Mission Hill and ship it down if you want!

    Brenda — Only you would come up with a “Disney Dining Bureaucracy” (DDB for short of course…) ;-D How often do they change up the menu?

    Jeff — Like I mentioned above, I agree that Le Cellier was down for the count for a while there, but they’ve really stepped up their game. Since dining there in October, I would gladly make it a priority along with Jiko, Flying Fish, and California Grill. The best part — it’s cheaper! :-) Looking forward to seeing what they do for the upcoming signature dinners starting in March.

    Alan — Thanks! I’m sad that more Disneyland restaurants didn’t get into the top list, but I think that will change next year! We’re getting more Disneyland readers every day!

    Jeff W. — Hey! I live in a flyover state and love red meat! ;-D (Seriously, though, both of those are truths!) I love the idea of doing a Le Cellier retrospective to watch its rise to power! I’ll get that on the list of posts to do! There have been many theories — one of which is that the actual seating capacity is SO small that it fills up fast, making it seem extremely sought after! Crowd psychology follows, and… But, seriously, I really do love this restaurant. I know it’s not your favorite, but they’ve come a long way from resting on their laurels, which is what I think they’d been doing for a couple of years, there. These days, they seem to be trying new dishes, extending their reach, and pleasing an entirely different set of customers in addition to their fans. While I’m sure crowd psychology has something to do with it (as it does with all Disney restaurants — something I think is extremely interesting and probably a good post in and of itself), I was truly impressed on my last couple of visits. Thanks, as always, for your comments — you know how much I value your opinion around here — especially on steakhouses. (By the way, enjoy that Olive Garden gift card I sent you for Christmas!)

  14. Brenda says:

    AJ … sorry for the length of this response …

    in regard to your question about how frequently the menu is changed at V&A, the offical response would be that they are changing it every day but I find that somewhat disingenuous because that may mean they’ve changed a sauce on a certain item or have changed one ingredient (say, copper river salmon for alaskan salmon … not that those aren’t two totally different things because they are and I love copper river salmon, but the primary offering hasn’t changed – still salmon, know what I mean?).

    The best current example I can provide is to compare our menu from October 2009 (main dining room) with the most recent dining room menu I could find (May 2010) … I will just list a couple of example so as not to bog your blog!

    Second course options 10/209:
    Maine Diver Scallop with Zellwood Corn & Chorizo Sauce
    King Salmon with CA Asparagus, Crab, and Sauce Bernaise
    Wild Turbot with Toasted Capers and Meyer Lemon ($30 upcharge)

    Second course options 5/2010:
    Citrus-poached Halibut with Warm Verjus Vinaigrette
    Marinated King Salmon with Bok Choy and Soy Beans
    Wild Turbot with Toasted Capers and Meyer Lemon (30 upcharge)

    Third course options 10/2009:
    Poulet Rouge with Mushroom Truffle Ragout, Porcini, and English Peas
    Duck Breast, Sausage, and Confit with Salsify and Delicate Squash Puree

    Third Course Options 5/2010:
    Poulet Rouge with Mushroom-Truffle Ragout, St. George Mushrooms and English Peas
    Duck Breast, Duck Sausage and Confit with Strawberry and Rubarb
    Zucchini-Tomato Soup with Zucchini Ravioli
    Holland White Asparagus with Beurre Noisette Hollandaise ($10 upcharge)

    personal note – an upcharge for white asparagus … are you kidding me??? We can even buy it at Stinktown Whole Foods – it’s not that uncommon!

    Main Course 10/2009:
    Kurobuta Pork Tenderloin and Belly with Baby Beets and Sherry Bacon Binaigrette
    Niman Ranch Lamb with Fresh Cannellini Bean Cassoulet
    Marhco Farms Veal Tenderloin with Marble Potatoes and Sauce Soubise
    Australian Kobe Beef Tenderloin with Smoked Garlic-Potato Puree ($35 upcharge)
    Japanese Wagyu Strip Loin with Oxtail Jus ($80 upcharge)

    Main Course 5/2010:
    Kurobuta Pork Tenderloin and Belly – with Beets and Sherry Bacon Vinaigrette
    Niman Ranch Lamb with Spring Asparagus and Minted Jus
    Marcho Farms Veal Tenderloin – with Marble Potatoes and Sauce Soubise
    Australian “Kobe” Beef Tenderloin – with Smoked Garlic Potato Purée ($35 upcharge)
    Japanese Wagyu Strip Loin – with Oxtail Jus ($80 upcharge)

    Dessert options were exactly the same from both periods (and rarely change … there may sometimes be a seasonal option that gets changed in and out but that’s usually it).

    Tanzanian Chocolate Pryamid
    Meyer Lemon and Blood Orange Purse with Blackberry-Violet Sherbet
    Carmalized Banana Gateau
    Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee
    Grand Mariner Souffle
    Hawaiian Kona Chocolate Souffle

    Again, I want to stress that I’m not criticizing the quality of their food, nor the taste or presentation; and their service is off the charts. What I don’t like, in an establishment of this caliber that constantly markets itself as the whooope twang of Central Florida dining, is a lack of true menu change. There are items on these menus that were also options the very first time we dined at V&A in October 2006 – in fact, there aren’t a lot of major changes during the four year period except for the glaring removal of the seared foie gras option in mid-late 2008. I understand keeping some tried and true favorites or specialty items but there’s a whole world of food out there and I just don’t see it visiting V&A’s menu. You can order She-Crab soup at Flying Fish in April / May (a real rarity and a taste treat from Heaven) but not at V&A; you see Chilian Sea Bass on CA Grill’s menu but not V&A. Those are only two examples and I tried to use local / resort ones to make a point but I still find it somewhat glaring. Maybe it’s a cost issue or a decree from the Dining Dictatorship … but when I compare this to what we can get for a similar price from Le Atelier Joel Rubuchon in Las Vegas, well, our truly fine dining dollars will go there and not V&A. To be completely frank, their menu is boring after one or two visits – there are no real surprises any longer and that makes me sad.

    Sorry again for the length of my reply … I do tend to run on at the keyboard when food discussion comes into play!

  15. Jeff W. says:

    AJ – Ha! If you get to send me an Olive Garden gift certificate, I get to send you a Coney Crate from Gold Star Chili (hey, I reside in flyover country, too; and I, too, don’t exactly have a problem with consuming red meat…seriously…peruse through some o’ the pics o’ me on Facebook, and you’ll see that I haven’t actually ever abstained from the stuff). But then you’d still be coming out ahead in the bargain.

    At any rate, you do have me intrigued enough to try Le Cellier again next trip. I will say that the relatively recent introduction of duck dishes on the menu can only be a good thing.

    Anyway, happy New Year to you and yours and, as always, keep up this awesome blogging!

  16. Lenny says:

    Le Cellier! There is Yachtsman, Schulas and Flying Fish has a kicking steak as does Blue Zoo, but the pick for best steak is Cellier! It’s like Tony’s at MK being named best Italian! However, if Cellier has been refurbished, I can only attribute that to EPCOT’s head chef Jens Dalman, who has brought the restaurants in the world showcase to a higher caliber! He is also responsible for taking F&W Festival to a higher level! He was head chef at Flying Fish and then Cal Grill before taking on the job as head of all chefs at EPCOT!!! He was once 2nd in command at Cirque in NYC!

    While V&A is a 5 diamond, my wife and I have had tremendous experiences dining at Flying Fish, and make it a point to have at least one Chef’s Dinner and Wine Pairing experience whenever we are in town. It is an amazing experience every time we go, and not nearly the price of V&A. V&A is still the king and it is the place for the very special occasion for us! Let’s not forget Cal Grill!

  17. AJ says:

    Brenda — I’m always grateful for your input!! More long replies please! Agreed on the menu “changing.” I’ve had three guest posts about the chef’s table and all three have had very similar dishes…

    Jeff W. — When do we go to Old Country Buffet?! (Can you believe I’ve never been to one? I’m pretty sure I’d love it.)

    Lenny — You’re preaching to the choir! I love me some Flying Fish! And I think I’m the president of the Tim Keating fan club.

  18. mark hickson says:

    Do you include the swan and dolphin restaurants in your poll?

  19. AJ says:

    Mark — Every restaurant on Disney property can be nominated and voted for.

  20. tiny tim says:

    itsakadoozie

  21. JoAnn says:

    I’ll be trying more restaurants in November. I hope you do this again this year.

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