the disney food blog Rotating Header Image

Guest Review: Disney’s Least Ordered Menu Items

Join me in welcoming guest author Tracy Antonioli to the Disney Food Blog!

While we usually review menu items that are commonly ordered and enjoyed, Tracy is turning the tables with an interesting experiment! She wanted to find out what some of Disney World’s least ordered menu items were like… Read on to find out the results…

My last trip to Disney World happened to fall over One More Disney Day, the 24-hour celebration of Leap Day that occurred in the Magic Kingdom and in Disneyland on February 29th. In thinking about what I’d do with one more day, all the things I’d eat came immediately to mind.

Of course, the hardest part about dining in Disney World is deciding what to have. There are so many great choices, from food on a stick to filet mignon. But I wanted to do something different. And so, a rather bizarre experiment was born — the least ordered item experiment.

Popular Dishes

You see, there are many dishes in Disney World that are well-known and sought after. The dole whip float. A hot dog from Casey’s. The cheddar cheese soup from Le Cellier, the wings at ‘Ohana, and the ubiquitous turkey leg.

Cheddar Cheese Soup at Le Cellier Steakhouse

And while there’s likely a good reason for the popularity of these items (all but two of which I also enjoyed during this trip), I imagined that there were just as many amazing — yet unknown and under-appreciated — menu items in Disney World. So I set out to find them.

During my trip, at two different restaurants — one counter service and one table service — I chose to sample the least-ordered menu items. Of course, this was in no way a scientific study. I didn’t ask for ordering statistics or an ‘items sold’ pie chart.

I simply asked the cast member taking my order ‘What item on the menu is ordered the least?’ Yes, they both looked at me kind of strangely at first, but so what? I was also walking around sporting gold sequined, feathered Mickey ears.

Least Ordered Dish — Counter Service

Because I was super excited to get this experiment underway — and I had an early morning flight and skipped breakfast — my first stop after getting off of the Magical Express was the closest counter service location, which in my case was The Mara, at Animal Kindgom Lodge Jambo House.

Entrance

Unsurprisingly, the least ordered dish at this counter service location is the most exotic-sounding dish — the Falafel pita. The pita is accompanied by either fries or couscous — so of course I had to ask which one of those was the least popular, though I could have guessed correctly that the couscous would be the winner.

The Verdict — The Mara’s Falafel Pita and Couscous
Falafel is one of those dishes that’s condiment-dependent: the things that you put on the falafel are almost as important as the falafel itself. Which is good for the falafel at The Mara, because the toppings were delicious.

I dare anyone to eat this with their hands, because the thick, warm pita was slathered with an ample portion of both cucumber sauce and hummus and was topped with a mountain of greens. The hummus had a bit of a spice to it, which I appreciated. But do not fear the spice — it was balanced out well by the coolness of the cucumber sauce.

The falafel itself was flavorful, though the texture was a bit mushier than I would have liked.

Falafel Pita and Couscous

However, the star of this dish was the couscous. It almost makes me sad that the majority of people elect to have fries with their pita, because the couscous at The Mara is surprisingly good.

First, it is a cold dish — like an exotic pasta salad. Second, it is not just couscous, but more of a couscous pilaf. It was mixed with corn and finely diced peppers, mushrooms, and raw red onions, and cooked in a flavorful, salty-yet-sweet stock that I’m pretty sure included a dash of curry powder.

It was an enjoyable and filling meatless meal. I’d gladly recommend it to others. So next time you’re at The Mara, skip the burger and try the falafel pita. And be sure to order that with couscous.

Least Ordered Dish–Table Service

I took a big risk in my selection of a table service location for this experiment. You see, the restaurant I chose is one of my favorite Disney restaurants — and one of the most expensive to boot: The Hollywood Brown Derby in Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Add to that the fact that The Brown Derby is already home to several iconic dishes — the Cobb salad, specifically, as well as the grapefruit cake — and I honestly didn’t know what I’d end up with here.

As it turned out, what I ended up with was an appetizer.

Brown Derby Lobby in Disney's Hollywood Studios

Originally a main course but then relegated to the appetizer menu, the least-ordered item on the Brown Derby menu is currently the Andouille Crusted Prawn. The prawn is crusted with a mix of panko bread crumbs and crumbled Andouille sausage and then fried.

It is served over a bed of cheesy grits and garnished with some greens and what is described on the menu as ‘ancho oil.’

The Verdict — Brown Derby’s Andouille Crusted Prawn
This was an amazing dish. As soon as I took my first forkful I was immediately thankful that I decided to run this strange experiment. The prawn was crunchy and savory on its own, but when mixed with the cheesy grits…oh my!

I realize that shrimp and grits are pretty standard fare in some parts of the country, but I’ve never had them like this.

The sausage-crusted prawn was crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside, a perfect example of what fried shrimp should be. The cheesy grits were exactly that–cheesy. I could have eaten a bowlful of them on their own. And the greens cut through the richness of the cheese perfectly. My only warning — the greens were cooked with a lot of garlic. So if you’re going to be breathing near anyone for the rest of the day, you may want to warn them.

Andouille Crusted Prawn

I kind of hate to say it, but this dish might be the best dish I’ve ever had at the Brown Derby. And that’s including the goat cheese cannelloni that stole my heart on my first visit as well as The Derby’s signature dish.

Sorry Cobb salad — you have some serious competition.

Would you be willing to run an experiment like this? Which of these dishes would you rather sample?

An avid traveler, food-fanatic, and life-long-learner, Tracy Antonioli didn’t catch the Disney bug until she was 30 years old. A year and a half and four trips later, she’s a full-fledged Disney nut. You can read about all of her travels at www.suitcasescholar.com or visit the Disney blog she runs with friend and fellow Disney nerd, Melissa Sue, at www.mouseonthemind.com.

Other Posts You May Enjoy:

45 Comments

  1. Jason says:

    The prawn is a great dish! I had it last time we ate there. Disney has so much great food, but some people are too timid to order some of the better dishes. At the signature dining locations, if we have a great server, I ask them what are the best items on the menu not the ‘most popular’ (which is what a lot of servers will suggest). The only time we have been upset with our choices is when we did not listen to our server.

  2. Jason–great advice! The servers are always so friendly in WDW, there’s really no reason to NOT ask.

  3. Jill D says:

    I have an extreme dislike of cilantro, is there cilantro in that falafel? The Falafel in Morocco has cilantro.

  4. Carolyn says:

    If I ever get to the Mara again I would love to try the falafel – with the cous cous, I can get fries anywhere.

  5. On Vacation With Landru says:

    When we stayed at AKL I got the falafel with couscous every other day. And the night before we left so I could have it for lunch. Yep.

    The African stew there is also delicious (if they still have it) – another one that people looked at me funny for ordering.

  6. Barb-n-Kurt says:

    The Bento Box in the main Japan rest. is excellent, also. Not what you’d think of to order for a dinner, but really good. Also, @ Mara, found the African Stew (in a bread bowl!!) pretty darn tasty as well!

  7. Paula B. says:

    How adventurous, good for you. I think I’d like that falafel, and who’d order it with fries??? But I would have to skip the least ordered dishes if they were seafood, just not a huge fan. I wonder why some dishes are simply not popular, and do they keep them on the menu very long? Food for thought, aggghhhh.

  8. Eric says:

    I love the couscous at The Mara. While they serve cold couscous, they also have warm couscous. Just ask and the server will be happy to. The falafel is fantastic. Almost as good as the falafel served at Boma. No wonder this is our home resort :)

  9. Pudge the Fish says:

    Love this article! Both dishes sound delicious.

    This also makes me wonder, what would be the least popular WDW restaurants? Based on location and difficulty of access I would venture a guess of Turf Club, Sanaa and Shutters. While the menu looks fine, I never hear about anyone seeking out a meal at Turf Club. Shutter’s seems to have consistently bland reviews. And even though Sanaa gets excellent reviews I think that the food is still too exotic for the masses. (Ditto for Yak and Yeti; and there is nothing less appetizing to me than a restaurant that has Yak in the name. It’s like naming a restaurant Upchucks!) :)

  10. Wendy says:

    My mom ordered the andouille-crusted prawn last time we ate at Brown Derby and it was one of our favorite things we ate that trip!!

  11. Callie says:

    I enjoyed this article. Something different to read about, yet positive! I automatically figured the least-ordered items would not be that great. Maybe the kitchen staff got so excited that you ordered something that they never make, so they made it extra good! LOL! This is cool, and you should do this kind of thing more often.

  12. Brenda says:

    After seeing the pics and reading what has been written I cannot imagine either of these staying on the least order list for long! What a great idea! I am going to try this next trip!

  13. Gray says:

    What a fantastic idea, Tracy! Yes, I would be willing to run an experiment like this. All of these dishes sound so good to me. I’d totally order them. Hard to believe people don’t.

  14. Lynsie says:

    What a great idea!!! Thanks for the review.

  15. Jamie in Jax says:

    Kudos for taking this on! I think I’ll stick to the more popular items. :)

  16. Sandra says:

    Thanks for this review which gives non-meateaters some more options (I will do fish every so often). We loved Boma and definitely will try The Mara when we are next at AKL (and yes, the soups and stews are worth the price of admission on their own). We had held off on the Brown Derby, but now may visit on our next trip. It sounds like they have a winning version of the more common shrimp and grits dish; that and some grapefruit cake would make a nice lunch.

  17. Elizabeth says:

    Man do I love shrimp and grits…may have to try this option!

  18. Madoka says:

    Both these dishes sound delicious! We have not yet been to The Mara or the Brown Derby. I am definitely visiting both restaurants and ordering these items on our next trip! I am especially excited about the falafel and couscous and African stew that another commenter suggested. What a great idea for a blog post. I hope you will do more of these for other restaurants at WDW and DL. :)

  19. Shayne says:

    We are staying at AKL for the first time later this year, so I will definitely want to try the falafel pita with couscous (a dish that I wasn’t crazy about until I ate it at Restaurant Marrakesh).

    I had the prawn dish on our last visit to HBD also and it was outstanding!!

    @Sandra, the crab cake appetizer at Brown Derby is also very good and would make for a nice light lunch along with a slice of grapefruit cake.

  20. Alan says:

    Talk about the road less traveled. It was a brave and clever idea; not something for a picky eater.

  21. Jill D–yes, it has cilantro on it. That’s probably why I enjoyed it so much. I believe the couscous has cilantro too. I know it is just sort of one of those flavors–you either love it or you hate it. Fortunately for me in this instance, I love it.

    Carolyn–my thoughts exactly on the fries!

    On Vacation–I’ve had the stew, too, on my first visit to AKL. It is really good!

    Barb-n-Kurt–I’ve not yet had the chance to try the restaurant in Japan. Next trip, perhaps! Though I get bento boxes at my local Japanese restaurant all the time. I’m not sure if it is the case in WDW, but here they are a pretty good value, too.

    Paula B–Interestingly, the prawn dish was originally an entree and then it was ‘downgraded’ to an appetizer. I hope it doesn’t disappear entirely–but then that’s part of the fun of Disney dining. It’s always changing!

    Eric–there’s falafel at Boma? I missed that somehow on my one visit there. Boo!

  22. Pudge–I’m laughing at your Yak and Yeti comment, because the drink ‘yack attack’ reminds me of the same thing. Ha! I have a friend who has now eaten at every WDW restaurant, and she names Turf Club as most under-appreciated. Also, I’m pretty sure there was a recent DFB post about lesser known restaurants…? If memory serves me correctly…?

    Wendy–same here!

    Callie–That’s exactly what I was thinking in terms of the kitchen. It WAS really well done, too. And the prawn was HUGE (not sure if you can tell scale from my photo). I will DEFINITELY do this again!

    Brenda–I hope the prawn becomes more popular. Maybe then it will stick around!

  23. Vanessa says:

    That’s so funny! I ordered that same dish when I went to the Brown Derby and loved it! This sounds like so much fun! I wonder what the least ordered dessert is?

  24. Gray–I’ll be asking for least popular items in the future, and not just in WDW. Perhaps I’ll find some new exciting dishes on my next trip (which is only a week away!) It would also be a super-fun experiment on a cruise ship (cough cough)–and safe, too. Because if you didn’t like something, you could send it back and get something else!

    Lynsie–You’re welcome!

    Jamie–Well, they are popular for a reason, right! ;-)

    Sandra–I could definitely see ordering it as a meal–with dessert, of course. Brown Derby is one of my favorite WDW restaurants (along with Jiko) and in my opinion it has the best apps-as-entrees options. I hope you try Brown Derby!

    Elizabeth–I’ve been on a shrimp and grits kick ever since! I ordered it twice on my last trip to DC!

  25. Madoka–I hope you do check out The Mara. It’s got some great unique items. I’d say that two people could split the stew and the falafel and have a pretty filling meal. And of course I’d love to do more posts like this. Who doesn’t love an experiment that involves good food? Ha!

    Shayne–You just described my previous Brown Derby meal–the crab cake and the grapefruit cake. Guess I was feeling cake-y that day? And my mom didn’t like falafel either until she tried it in Morocco! I guess Disney does falafel well!

    Alan–Thank you, what a great compliment! I’m not sure I’m so brave, but I do prefer the road less traveled. And I’m most certainly not a picky eater. My favorite things at restaurants are chef’s tasting menus. I hope to do the one at V&A some day. In the distant future. When I can afford it!

  26. Jenny says:

    Sounds like a fun food trial, the first one from Mara would be a great meal for a vegin.
    What you had at the Brown Derby sounded delish, I would be willing to try this one.
    :)

  27. Dawn says:

    Thank you for this article! I’ve been hoping you would do something like this for a long time. It seems like you hear about the same foods at Disney over and over again. Least-ordered items would make a great series!

  28. Andrew says:

    I would definitely try the falafel at Mara. However, we had such a frustrating experience at the Brown Derby, I don’t think anything could get us back.

  29. Bethany says:

    Well that was inspiring! I feel like I have to research everything and make my choices even before I make the trip. Now…I think I might just sit back and let the servers guide me! Nice.

  30. Janelle says:

    That is true that you never see a Yak-n-Yeti review. Ironically it is one of our favorite restaurants and we usually always eat there. I just always think of the animal Yak, not throwing up.

    That is funny :)

    Great idea and I am going to try on our visit to Disneyland this August and WDW in September.

  31. Galloping Gourmand says:

    At WDW I often ask “what would you recommend” because they are not being asked to push specials, things the chef is trying out, or overstock. I’ve never asked “what is the least popular item on your menu” however. What a great idea. I think I’ll try it somewhere on my next trip.

  32. Mark Hickson says:

    I think your story was inspired! Now you have to go and find the worst thing at the worst eatery!

  33. dara says:

    I would love to hear more about this kindof “experiment”! I love ordering anything that sounds unfamiliar, and sometimes I’ll just order something and have no idea what I’m going to get…would love to see this as a regular part to your blog.

  34. Jill D says:

    Thanks for the reply. I agree cilantro is a love it or hate it flavor. There is no middle ground. Thanks again.

  35. Aydin says:

    I had that Prawn dish last time I was at Hollywood Brown Derby and I loved it too! I was so surprised by how much I loved the greens that I mentioned it to the server, who took it upon herself to ask the chef what kind of greens they were using that day – Swiss Chard. Since that trip, we’ve been buying and cooking Swiss Chard on a regular basis, and it always reminds me of that dish and makes me smile.
    I’m really into trying Shrimp and Grits whenever I’m down south, as we don’t get that dish much up here in Toronto. During that trip I tried this version, as well as the more traditional version at Olivia’s in Old Key West.
    The Hollywood Brown Derby take on the dish was by far the best version I’ve tasted yet!

  36. Zoe says:

    I would happily try either. But then I’m quite adventurous in restaurants – Never afraid to try something new :o)

  37. KP says:

    Years ago, I asked someone at the Mara if they could make me something vegetarian (falafel was not on the menu at that time), and they served me the falafel pita. Now, I get that each time I dine there. With the couscous, it’s delicious! Glad others are “discovering” it.

    Tracy, the Turf Club is definitely underappreciated. I ate there with a group last Dec., and we all agreed it was fantastic–especially the sauteed clams app. Great outdoor dining, too, with beautiful views of the lake.

  38. Jenny–it was fun! And the thing about the falafel–even a meat-eater would like it. It’s very substantial!

    Dawn–glad you liked it! I’d LOVE to do several of these–if only I could spend more time in WDW!

    Andrew–so sorry to hear that! I urge you to give it a second chance. Everyone has off days–I suppose the same can be true about restaurants! ;-)

    Bethany–I didn’t think of it that way, but you are absolutely correct! I’m a huge over-planner myself (aren’t most Disney people?) but lately I’ve been trying to be more laid back about it (I have a trip coming up–not to WDW–in five days and I have ZERO dining reservations! Aaack!) It’s sometimes nice to just sort of discover something unknown.

    Janelle–I’m glad I inspired you. Have a great trip, and I hope your surprise meals are as enjoyable as mine were!

  39. Galloping–I never thought about the difference between doing this at WDW and elsewhere in the world. I’m going to give it a try on my next (non Disney) trip and see how it goes. Perhaps I should be very afraid?

    Mark–thanks for the compliment! But I don’t know about the ‘worst thing’ suggestion. Ha! I suppose this experiment COULD have gone terribly wrong. Though, for the record, I think I DID try the worst thing at one Disney restaurant. It was in Japan. Any guesses anyone?

    Dara–you sound like me. I’m a huge fan of surprise meals. That’s why I love tasting menus so much.

  40. Aydin–I just wrote about that kind of thing on my own blog today–how sometimes meals we have in WDW (or elsewhere) inspire us to cook a certain way at home. And THEN, after reading your comment, I thought about how I could be inspired by one of these dishes. And so for dinner tonight, we are having sausage-encrusted…mac and cheese. i would NEVER have thought to grind up cooked sausage with bread and make breadcrumbs, but that’s what they did to the prawn. so we will see how it works as a sort of streussel topping on the mac and cheese! it may go horribly wrong, but we shall see!

    Zoe–love the adventurous spirit!

    KP–I’ll let my mom know that I got yet another recommendation for Turf Club. SSR is her home resort, so she’ll have to try it out next time she visits (er, first time she visits–she hasn’t stayed ‘at home’ yet!)

  41. W.D. says:

    Tracy: Brilliant and funny and made me hungry! Thank you for such a fresh look at the world. I’d love to see more of these “least ordered.”

  42. W.D.–Thanks! And sorry for the ‘made you hungry’ thing. But really, what on this site doesn’t make one hungry?

  43. jdhwsp4me says:

    First of all, I really love the enthusiasm relatively new disneyphiles have discovering “the most wonderful place on earth”. I’ve been to Disney at least once a year since l974 and have eaten at Brown Derby numerous times. I’ve never had the prawn though. It looks and sounds great. I will get it on my next visit in May. As for the hummus pita, don’t really care for hummus but I do like couscous. That’s a nice alternative to fries, which are so bad for you. Love the idea you had for sampling the least ordered apps. I hope you will let us know about the least ordered desserts and entrees too.

  44. Sarah says:

    I tried the falafel pita last week. It was delicious! Couscous cold salad was also great. It definitely has a strong taste of soy sauce. It struck me as much more Asian than African, actually. But it was well-balanced. My mom had the chicken pita and thought it was too dry. I think she’s opposed to the texture of the hummus.

    But go for it, y’all!

  45. Carl says:

    Sad to hear that Mara’s falafel is the least requested item on the menu. I had it and loved it, although the spicy hummus, sauce and heavy pita were too much for me. Next time I’ll try asking for the sauces on the side.

Leave a Reply

Current month ye@r day *