Editor’s Note: As of May 2013, hot dogs are no longer being offered and the nachos are served with BBQ Pork.
It’s been TOO LONG since I’ve done an ESPN Club review for ya, so we finally headed over there on a recent visit. It wasn’t from lack of trying, mind you — I actually like this restaurant a lot and we enjoy going there. But other restaurants kept getting in the way.
But now it’s time for this paradise of bar food to get its day in the spotlight…here we go!
Your first impression of ESPN Club will be that you’ve died and gone to Sports Bar Heaven. Seriously, as you will see, no detail is left untouched. This is a world created for the die hard sports fan. From the menu to the television placement (more to come!) you need never miss a second of the game while you’re here.
But never fear, even though the feel is straight-up sports bar, it’s very kid-friendly, with the standard Disney kids’ menu offered. And with an arcade off to the side, chances are you’ll wave goodbye to the kids and not see them again until dessert anyway!
As you walk in, you can choose from seating in the bar area to the right or the dining room to the left. The bar area has ample TVs situated all around the room — even at your table.
And what goes better with the game than beer? Here are a few of the draft selections, including the very popular local Orange Blossom Pilsner.
Although we were there on a quiet weekday, make no mistake: this place gets packed fast when there’s a big game on. And while it’s a fantastic venue to catch the play-offs or a World Cup match, be prepared to camp out or stand in a very long line if you want to be part of the excitement.
Tip: if you aren’t a fan of crowds, long lines, or waiting, catch early season games here and save the Big Ones for another venue.
High-topped bar tables are available, as well as standard tables and chairs.
Booths along the wood-paneled walls give you the extra luxury of an up-close-and-personal TV to watch. You also have a better view of the tons and tons of sports memorabilia that covers the walls. And that wood paneling really does give you the feel that you’re in a neighborhood joint.
The TVs also have built-ins for gaming. I haven’t seen them functional for a long time. If you have, let me know!
If you opt for the dining room over the bar, you don’t leave the sports fun behind! Get a load of this HUGE viewing screen, which sits over top the Mike & Mike broadcast desk, where the Mike & Mike ESPN show is taped when the guys are in town for special events!
There isn’t a bad seat in the house with the huge monitor flanked by several other flat screens. And check out the loungers front and center!
A couple of lucky fans can enjoy their meals from this awesome vantage point. The chairs are sort of an homage to ESPN Zones around the country, which (sadly) Disney opted to close a couple of years back.
Dining room tables along the outside wall offer a terrific view for people-watching on the Boardwalk and Crescent Lake.
And remember when I said there were televisions everywhere? I meant it. You will find some of the 100 screens in the bathrooms, guaranteeing that you won’t even miss a moment when you take your bathroom break!
This is my favorite part of the ESPN Club.
There are TVs over the sinks as well, so no slacking on the handwashing.
But after capturing all of these pics for you, we were definitely ready to settle down to some good food.
You would expect a sports bar to have an extensive beer menu, and ESPN Club doesn’t disappoint. There is an impressive selection that will meet the needs of most beer enthusiasts.
My friend opted for a Terrapin Hopsecutioner, an IPA made in Athens, Georgia. The description of “intensely hoppy” was appropriate, and although my friend isn’t a huge hops fan, he enjoyed it.
The cocktail and wine menu is actually located on page three of the dinner menu, so we’ll have pictures of it in a sec. As for my choice, I went with The Espy, and I was, well, disappointed. The drink was a new offering, and I found it to be way too sweet for my taste.
The menu offers some fun twists on bar food, as well as plenty of classics. I like that they’ve switched up the menu a bit from my last visiting, adding some updated items.
There is also an extensive offering of non-alcoholic drinks.
But you won’t be surprised to find that I went for the obvious: the ESPN Dingers! This is one of the only places I can get boneless wings in Disney World, and they’re quite good.
Next, we had the Macho Nachos for two. Pretty much your standard nachos with plastic cheese, chili, pico de gallo, jalepenos, grated cheese, and sour cream.
With a generous topping-to-chip ratio, how could you go wrong? While the wings and nachos are standard bar fare, both were fresh, hot, and tasted really good.
Our entrees were a little more imaginative. I had the new-to-me Italian Hot Dog, topped with fried potatoes, sauteed onions, and peppers. Served with mustard on the side and a generous portion of french fries, this was outstanding! The snappy hot dog itself had terrific flavor, and the wonderfully crusty bun was like a split baguette.
The dogs here definitely stand as one of top three hot dogs in Disney World!
My friend’s selection was even more impressive, as he chose the Chicago Meets Pittsburgh: Extreme Roast Beef Sandwich. And lemme tell you, it lives up to the name.
Served on a long roll like a Chicago Italian Beef sandwich, the meat is then piled high with coleslaw and french fries. Any fan of Primanti Bros. in Pittsburgh will immediately recognize this as an homage (though I’ll admit, I was always a fan of the “O”‘s pile-o-fries as well)!
And to finish the flavors, the whole thing is served on a Kimmelweck Roll, with its characteristic kosher salt and caraway seeds replaced by poppy and sesame seeds.
Beef on Weck, anyone? We loved this fantastic sandwich, which reminded me of college days near the Burgh!
Once our meals were out of the way, it was time to turn our attention to dessert. They have some really fun dessert drinks – appropriately called Slap Shots – as well as some interesting desserts to choose from.
We opted for the Deconstructed Key Lime Pie with Blueberry Mousse, which arrived at our table disguised as a baseball. Adorable. (Note: baseball=whipped cream)
And please, do not dismiss this dessert because of the themed presentation! I’m predisposed to love key lime pie anyway, but this was outstanding.
Key lime custard, layered with blueberry mousse, and topped with chocolate cookie crumbs. There was complexity to the flavors from the chocolate and a perfect tart-sweet combo due to the key lime-blueberry layers. Don’t skip dessert, because this was pretty awesome.
Really, how can you go wrong with ESPN Club? If you’re a sports fan, you’re going to love being absolutely inundated with every kind of broadcast sports that you can think of. And even when there aren’t live events, the monitors loop “Best of” highlights of ESPN shows. (Although to be honest, I was a little puzzled by the occasional broadcast of menu items. That seemed a little weirdly unnecessary.)
If you aren’t a sports fan, you’ll still find some great eats (as long as you’re a fan of bar food like I am) as well as good views from this Boardwalk hotspot.
Definitely stop into ESPN Club on your next visit to Walt Disney World. Because it competes for business with Epcot eateries, you’ll often find a table with no problem here. Just remember to bring your patience if it’s a big game viewing opp you’re coming for.
Do you love catching a game at ESPN Club? Leave us a comment and tell us about your most recent experience here!