Review: Lunch at ABC Commissary in Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Let’s say you’re in Hollywood Studios. It’s about a million degrees or freezing outside, and you’re hungry. You need some A/C (or heat) and food stat. So, you head right into ABC Commissary.

More often than not, I think, that’s the drill for ABC Commissary. The theme (that of… well, a basic studio lot commissary) isn’t altogether exciting, and mostly it has a reputation for being a great place — above anything else — to score an easy seat in the air conditioning, and maybe grab a burger and a Coke.

But there are a few dishes here we hadn’t paid much attention to previously that get a fair amount of love from DFB readers. So here we are at the Commissary, ready to try a couple of choices unique to this spot… and do a little exploring while were at it.

Atmosphere

The name tells you just about everything: ABC Commissary is themed as a cafeteria on a studio lot — in this case, that of the ABC network.

ABC Commissary Sign

ABC Commissary Sign

ABC Commissary Entrance

ABC Commissary Entrance

Entering ABC Commissary

Entering ABC Commissary

ABC logo

ABC logo

And this completely explains the decor: a very basic collection of insane amounts of seating, peppered with props, pics, and posters from ABC shows.

ABC Commissary seating

ABC Commissary seating

And plants and stuff.

ABC Commissary seating

ABC Commissary seating

Costumes from "Nashville"

Costumes from “Nashville”

Signed pictures from cast of "The Chew"

Signed pictures from cast of “The Chew”

Props from "Revenge"

Props from “Revenge”

Oh, and some palm trees, while we’re at it ;) .

Palm tree in seating area

Palm tree in seating area

Clips from ABC shows are looped on high-hanging screens throughout your meal.

TV screens

TV screen

For my part, I got a kick out of seeing this display of props from “The Middle” in the entryway. Did anyone watch this past season’s finale — the one where the Heck family finally gets to go on Sue’s dream vacation to Disney World? If so, you may recognize Sue’s scrapbook and Brick’s own Mickey ears. A script signed by the cast is on display, too.

Props from "The Middle" season finale

Props from “The Middle” season finale

Fun fact! AJ and I got stuck in Epcot’s France Pavilion while Patricia Heaton (“Frankie Heck”) and Neil Flynn (“Mike Heck”) were filming a scene. Here’s the instagram pic for proof! (Not that you’ll ever hear either of us complain about being “stuck” next to Les Halles… moving on!)

I believe this cross promotion totally works, because who here is ready to admit that half the reason they begged their parents to go on their first Disney vacation is because you watched the entire Full House gang — Kimmy Gibler included! — descend upon Disney World when “Jesse and the Rippers” landed a Magic Kingdom gig?

Anyhoo, enough reminiscing about “Full House” (wait… is there ever such a thing as too much reminiscing about “Full House”?). On to the food!

Eats

While the surroundings here aren’t known for being remarkably unique, the menu has a couple of options that you won’t find elsewhere. Sure, you can grab a burger or a Chicken Club sandwich. A Seafood Platter has a home here, too, featuring shrimp and fish with fries.

Ordering stations

Ordering stations

ABC Commissary menu

ABC Commissary menu — click to enlarge

But on this visit, my friend and I were up for trying the Asian Salad with Chicken, and the Couscous, Quinoa, and Arugula Salad with Salmon since we’d heard good things. We also went with the Angus Cheeseburger with Horseradish Sauce and Fried Shrimp… for good measure ;).

The Asian Chicken Salad comes topped with lightly seasoned chicken on top (though you can order just the salad or top it with salmon instead).  At first glance, it seemed pretty plain, with just the chicken and iceberg lettuce mix greeting the eye and the tastebuds.

Asian Salad with Chicken

Asian Salad with Chicken

But upon digging in a littler further, the snap of the shelled edamame and crunchy noodles gave this salad a nice variety in texture, and the light hint of sesame-ginger dressing provided a boost to the flavor, too.

Edamame and crunchy noodles in salad

Edamame and crunchy noodles in salad

Though I enjoyed the general flavors, I appreciated the level of freshness more than anything. It’s worth noting that both salads on the menu are made “tossed-to-order.”

Even though the salads we tried are quite different from each other, they have a few things in common. Like in the Asian Chicken Salad, at first I didn’t think there was much more to the Couscous, Quinoa, and Arugula Salad with Salmon other than the salmon and arugula upon first taste. Likewise, the dressing was put on with a very light touch, allowing the flavors of the salad ingredients to come through.

couscous arugula quinoa salad abc commissary 4

Couscous, Quinoa, and Arugula Salad with Salmon

But again, as I dug in further, I was happy to find plenty of the quinoa and couscous blend throughout. Between that and the hearty serving of salmon (tender, and not at all dry), this one is surprisingly filling.

If you’ve shied away from couscous or quinoa, I think this is a great way to give it a try — there is plenty of it without being overwhelming.

Couscous and quinoa blend in salad

Couscous and quinoa blend in salad

The one complaint I’ve heard about this salad is that it has too many black olives. Not being much into olives, I wasn’t looking forward to that aspect. But my salad had so few that I barely registered their presence. I’m not sure if this was unique to my salad or a recipe tweak, but I liked the general blend. In fact, I was struck by how much I enjoyed this salad, finding it to be both unique and well-prepared, and I would get it again.

Finally, we tried the Angus Cheeseburger with Horseradish Sauce and Fried Shrimp, for a minor twist on a typical cheeseburger, which comes with fries.

Cheeseburger with Fried Shrimp

Cheeseburger with Fried Shrimp

For those who aren’t huge fans of the strong, distinct flavor of horseradish sauce, you’ll be glad to know it’s served on the side. 

Horseradish shop

Horseradish shop

Essentially, the only thing that differentiates this burger from a regular cheeseburger is the three fried shrimp on top, which you can tuck in your burger, attempt to keep on top :), or use as a side item for dipping in the horseradish.

Fried shrimp

Fried shrimp

Cheeseburger cross-section

Cheeseburger cross-section

The breading on the shrimp adds a nice flavor (can you ever go wrong with panko crumbs?), but the pieces of shrimp were pretty small and thin. While that’s good for tucking them in the burger, if you like, it didn’t lend enough uniqueness to steer me to pay the extra money for the shrimp over just getting the regular bacon cheeseburger in the future. The burger itself was pretty standard — it will do the trick if a burger is what you’re after.

Overall

We (and Disney food fans all over) say it all the time: “Disney food is not just burgers and fries.” And I’d say ABC Commissary does a decent job at proving this case. Now, did my most recent visit to ABC Commissary convince me it’s a must-stop? No — I’m such a fan of atmosphere along with my food in the parks, and ABC Commissary doesn’t hold up as well as Backlot Express or even the outdoor eateries along Sunset Boulevard, like Rosie’s All American Cafe, where you can enjoy the park views and the small Victory Garden.

However, having enjoyed the salads, it gave me more of an appreciation for what this spot strives to do in bringing a few unexpected items to the table for park-goers, and healthier choices at that. If those ideas strike your fancy, pull up a seat by the sparkling light of some sequined costumes from “Nashville,” and give ABC Commissary a go!

Have you dined at ABC Commissary recently? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

 

Comments

  1. Chris Albers says

    We found on a recent trip with my vegetarian brother that this is also one of the few places at the studios (Maby the only counter service one) to get a Veggie Burger.

  2. says

    I’ve eaten several lunches here over the last couple of Thanksgiving week visits.

    As you say the food is cafeteria style and has never been super exciting.

    The best part of this place is been the relief from the park itself. We’ve always gotten a table thanks to plenty of seating and it’s been a welcome relief to all the park mayhem. Yes, the air conditioning and break from the sun has been very appealing since I’ve never hit any of the reserveration-restaurants.

    The ordering lines can get long if you hit peak hours, but I’ve never had a problem at around 11:30 or so.

  3. Joanne says

    Thanks for the review! The salmon selection just so happens to be one of my favorite meal-type salads at counter service in the parks. My other favorite resort counter service choice, is the steak salad at Contempo Cafe at Contemporary Resort. As you wrote, the salmon is moist and delicious, and the salad is a very generous portion. I consider this healthy choice to be a nice break in my dietary choices while eating some sweet-gooey stuff at snack time. I can’t eat unhealthy during our entire trip, so a few salads now and then make me feel like I’m not over indulging too much.

  4. Essie says

    I’ve eaten here once or twice and while I don’t even remember what I ate (it must have been pretty good or I would have remembered), I remember that there were plenty of seats and that it was cool and quiet inside. It all made for a pleasant enough break. and, wow, how about you guys getting ‘stuck’ in the middle (no pun intended) of a TV show filming. Patricia Heaton is really petite (short) isn’t she? I always liked her on “Raymond’.

  5. Kaitie says

    The couscous salad (sans salmon) is one of my absolute favorite vegetarian meals to grab when I’m short on time! I believe they charge you a few cents less when you hold the salmon, and its such a fresh, light option amid the heavier theme park treats!

  6. Jerry says

    My wife loves the salads, nothing there for me to eat. The lines and wait times are a joke. I usually go to another counter service, pick up lunch, return to the commlssary and finish eating before my wife gets though the slow moving line.

  7. Mark says

    Eaten in here many times, although we’ve never actually bought anything. We bring our own sandwiches. For those that do, this is a good comfortable place to stop.

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