DFB Must-Have: Irish Vintage Cheese and Bacon Dip at Cookes of Dublin

So, I’ve got a post coming up reviewing all of the absolutely out-of-this-world food I ate at Cookes of Dublin in Walt Disney World’s Downtown Disney on this recent trip; but I had to rustle up a quick suggestion for all of you headed to Orlando very soon…you MUST try this dip!

I’m creating a new series on the blog — DFB Must-Have menu items — just for this dip. It’s THAT good.

Stout, strong Irish cheese infused with big ol’ chunks of bacon…simply amazing. (Come to think of it, the Cookes Doh Bar might need to be placed in that series as well!)

Vintage Cheese and Bacon Dip at Cookes of Dublin

If you’re not familiar with Cookes, it’s a counter service location in Downtown Disney’s Pleasure Island area — located right next to Raglan Road Irish Pub. You order your food (anything from fish and chips to savory pies to a battered burger — don’t worry, we’ll cover all of it for you in a review soon!), then have a seat while it’s prepared and brought to your table.

Cookes Ordering Counter

I tried a variety of things on this visit, but the Irish Vintage Cheese and Bacon Dip simply blew me away. It’s listed on the menu with “Sides and Dips,” and costs [Read more…]

Guest Review: Landscape of Flavors at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

Today, we’re welcoming back Bill Iadonisi with a guest review of the Art of Animation Resort’s new food court – Landscape of Flavors! You can see our previous review of Art of Animation here!

We love Disney for so many reasons; the attractions, shows, fireworks and one of my favorites, the food! For us, nothing beats a meal at Disney. But the ultimate magical experience is dining at a brand new eatery! Case in point is the new “Landscape of Flavors” counter-service restaurant in the newly opened Art of Animation resort.

This restaurant is the only eatery for the resort and is counter-service. It is very similar to one of my very favorite places to dine, the Sunshine Seasons in the Land pavilion at EPCOT. Here you will find healthier, more upscale offerings than the usual hot dogs, burgers and chicken fingers. The menu has something for everyone.


I like to rate eateries on four criteria – Atmosphere, Service, Food, and Value. Let’s begin!

You enter the restaurant through the Animation Hall lobby, making a left through the “Ink and Paint Shop” gift store. The dining area seats 596 guests, but in no way will you feel crowded. The spacious dining room is bright and airy.

Dining Area

There are several smaller areas off of the main room, and like the main area, they are surrounded by pictures and lighting fixtures.

On the far wall by the pool area, the whole wall has floor to ceiling windows, offering a fantastic [Read more…]

Reader Favorites: Best Walt Disney World Counter Service Restaurants

Whelp, it’s time to re-visit one of our favorite topics around here: Best Disney World Counter Service Restaurants!


We polled our readers back in 2009 for their favorites, and things are looking slightly different these days… ;-)

We recently asked our Disney Food Blog Facebook Fans via the Disney Food Blog Facebook page for the best counter service restaurants inside the theme parks at Walt Disney World. Let’s find out where everyone is eating…

Best Magic Kingdom Counter Service Restaurants

Best Disney World Counter Service Restaurants

Winner: Columbia Harbour House
In a quiet corner of the Magic Kingdom’s Liberty Square, the Columbia Harbour House sets the scene for traditional Americana in a colonial village — and steals our Best Magic Kingdom Counter Service title away from Pecos Bill’s this year!

Columbia Harbour House

The decor of the restaurant emphasizes a nautical theme with plank flooring and hurricane lamps. Downstairs, seating is divided into small dining rooms giving the space a colonial charm.

Here’s a Favorite DFB Tip: The upstairs seating area is usually the quietest and offers some tables with quaint views. Brick hearths add even more “warmth” to the dark-wooded rooms.

Grilled Salmon… this meal belongs on a real plate.

Serving popular soups (awesome clam chowder!), salads, and sandwiches such as the Lighthouse (hummus with tomato and broccoli slaw) and Anchors Aweigh (white tuna with lettuce and tomato) served on toasted multigrain bread; and recently adding a Lobster Roll and Grilled Salmon to the menu, Columbia Harbour House offers selections beyond the usual chicken nugget fare. (Although, there are those too!)

Lobster Roll with real chunks of lobster at Columbia Harbour House

Runners Up: Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe, Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe, Be Our Guest Restaurant (lunch only), and Casey’s Corner.

Best Epcot Counter Service Restaurants

Winner: Sunshine Seasons
Soarin’ isn’t the only main attraction in The Land pavilion! According to our readers, Sunshine Seasons gets a lot of traffic too.

Epcot’s Sunshine Seasons

With five food stations including a [Read more…]

Top 6 Disney Dining Plan Snack Credit Values for 2012

As always, we want to make sure all of us are getting the best value with our Disney Dining Plan snack credits!

For those who are unfamiliar with the Disney Dining Plan, it’s a way for guests to pre-pay for their dining when visiting Disney World. “Snack credits” are used by guest to purchase items like popcorn, candy, ice cream, and other low-cost treats.

I’ll list my top six choices, then you tell me your experiences. Let’s work together on finding the best snack credit deals!

Note that snack credits are usually accepted for items that are a single serving, and cost $4.50 or less (though some cost as much as $4.99 out of pocket).

1. Bakeries

A Disney Food Blog staff and reader favorite — bakeries! Not only can you use your snack credit for some incredible treats, but you can also get a pastry for your morning meal. Hey, it’s vacation!

Don’t forget to check out our Disney World Bakery Throw Down to see some of the very best spots to spend those credits.

Disney World Cinnamon Roll at Main Street Bakery

Consider some of these options at bakeries around Disney World: cinnamon rolls, butterfinger cupcakes, caramel cupcakes, white chocolate elephant cupcake, crepes, school bread…and so much more!

These are all great deals for one single snack credit.

2. Ice Cream Sundaes and Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches

Recently, I’ve been overwhelmed with what kinds of sundaes you can get for a snack credit in Disney World! Easily costing $4.50 or more out of pocket, these sundaes are awesome deals!

Stop by Storybook Treats in the Magic Kingdom to snag a Cookie Fudge Sundae that you can easily split between two! Other options at Storybook Treats include a Brownie Sundae and a yummy Strawberry Shortcake Sundae!

Hot Fudge and Caramel Cookie Sundae at Storybook Treats

Another ice creamy treat that’s not-to-be-missed is the homemade ice cream cookie sandwich. You can get these at all four parks, and while the snack credit payment option [Read more…]

Sunshine Tree Terrace Updates Entrees, Adds New Desserts

Editor’s Note: Menu entree items are seasonal and may not be available on your visit.

I absolutely love Sunshine Tree Terrace in the Magic Kingdom, and I’m always excited to see it expanding its menu!

After years of neglect and closure, Sunshine Tree Terrace has really come into its own again this past year. The menu has bounced around a bit, but it looks like entrees are back again, and there are even new drinks and desserts! (Thanks to @MansonRepublica for the tip and menu photo!)


Sunshine Tree Terrace Menu April 2012 -- click for larger image

The menu has added:

  • Orange Glazed Chicken with Rice
  • Asian Barbecued Pork Sandwich with apple slices or chips
  • Tuna Salad with Croissant
  • Asian Salad with Chicken
  • Asian Pineapple Salad…and EVEN
  • KEY LIME PIE!!!!

These entrees and desserts are available from 11AM to 4PM. For kids, a Turkey Sandwich and PB&J have been added to the menu.

Of course, that Citrus Swirl is now officially on the main menu! And you can now also get All Natural Lemonade with Wildberry Foam (whatever that is). As you can see, Dole Whips are [Read more…]

DFB Podcast Episode 2: Counter-Service Finds

Hey all! Thanks for your generous welcome of our new DFB Podcast into your listening list!

Just wanted to drop a line this afternoon to let you know that the second episode of our DFB Podcast is now posted and ready for downloading!

In this episode, we take a look at Disney Food News, answer listener questions, reveal our trivia winner from last week, and take a look at some new (and new-to-us) counter-service options that we found on our recent vacations!

Click here to go to the Podcast page. And don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast via RSS or on iTunes!

Take a gander and a listen and let us know what you think! Your feedback is important to us — we’re still super new at all of this and want to make sure we’re packing the podcast full of info that YOU want.

Friday Happy Hour: Downtown Disney Margarita Bar

Situated on the boardwalk of Downtown Disney’s Marketplace in Orlando, the Margarita Bar serves up margaritas, bottled beverages, a Rum Runner, draft beer, frozen drinks, and yes, even cigars! It’s a handy little escape prior to a dinner reservation, or to relax on a sunny Orlando afternoon.

This week (and for several weeks previous, according to the bartender), the drink special was a Grapefruit Margarita.


The Margarita Bar is tucked a bit out of the way of the main Downtown Disney thoroughfare — in fact, it’s a few steps down and situated right on the dock next to the Downtown Disney Marina!

The Bar itself is more of a kiosk — a small island-esque shack on the dock with several umbrella-clad tables close by.

Margarita Bar

Thankfully after strolling around in the hot Florida sun, those tables alongside the marina provide some shade! And the live music on the waterfront invites guests to unwind. Frequently, [Read more…]

Guest Review: Gasparilla Grill and Games at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort

Editor’s Note: The lobster mac and cheese is no longer offered at Gasparilla Island Grill.

Thanks to Chantel B. for sending along these great photos and mini-reviews from Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort’s Gasparilla Grill and Games!

Gasparilla Grill and Games overlooks the marina at Disney’s Grand Floridian. Open 24-hours (!!!), this quick-service restaurant makes a great late night stop when leaving the Magic Kingdom. Dinner items are served until 11:30 p.m., then late night snacks are available overnight.

Dining indoors can be a bit noisy since this space also functions as the arcade. For a view of Cinderella’s Castle (and a quieter atmosphere) in the distance, dine at an outdoor table.

View from Gasparilla Grill

You can check out our full review with more atmosphere pics here! But let’s take a look at Chantel’s reviews of some very popular Gasparilla dishes…

Lobster Macaroni & Cheese

If you’re not staying at the Grand Floridian, this dish is worth a trip to the resort! The Lobster meat was small, not chunked. And the gruyere cheese blend had a nice creamy texture.

Lobster Mac and Cheese

Chicken Sandwich plus Mozzarella & Tomato Salad

Served on a wheat bun, this sandwich had a nice flavor (obviously marinated) and not dry! The salad was [Read more…]

Sunshine Seasons Strawberry Shortcake: A “Best Snack Value” in Epcot

As you know, we’ve just released our brand new The DFB Mini-Guide to Epcot Snacks, and we’ve got a special tip from the book today!

As many of you know, it can be difficult to decide how to get the best value with your Disney Dining Plan snack credits or vacation dollars while in Walt Disney World. And while you can get a Mickey Bar anywhere, some guests want a more unique treat.

Here’s where we com in! When visiting Epcot, Sunshine Seasons in The Land pavilion is a convenient location in Future World for a great snack. The restaurant is located downstairs — just steps from Soarin’ — and offers dozens of market-fresh treats and meals. One of our very favorites is this Strawberry Shortcake, which has quickly reached cult favorite status for repeat Disney guests!

Sunshine Seasons Strawberry Shortcake

Smooth, creamy whipped cream, decadent vanilla shortcake, and fresh strawberries make this snack an incredible value for the dollar — and it’s [Read more…]

My Three Favorite Disney World Counter-Service Breakfasts

Let’s admit it — most of us don’t have time to grab a long, leisurely breakfast when we’re in Disney World. Usually it’s up-and-at-‘em, throw some clothes on, grab the kids, and get over to rope drop for the park of the day!

But sometimes I like to take a few minutes to grab a classic Disney counter-service breakfast, and when that happens, these are my go-to options! I’d love to hear your favorite counter-service breakfasts — share your top choices in the comments section below!

Tonga Toast

This is one case where you can get one of the very best menu items at a table-service restaurant…but fast! Disney’s Polynesian Resort’s Tonga Toast is an icon of Disney food — sweet bananas all wrapped up in thick french toast and covered in cinnamon and sugar!

Disney's Polynesian Resort Tonga Toast

It’s an amazing treat, and you can get it for cheap at the Polynesian’s Captain Cook’s Snack Company counter-service restaurant. Only available in the mornings, it’s a great way to start your day!

Main Street Bakery Cinnamon Roll

You’d think that you would be able to eat a cinnamon roll on the go, but not one of these! The monstrous breakfast rolls are truly out of this world, and anyone who knows me knows that I’ll always ask for the extra scoop of frosting on top!

Disney World Cinnamon Roll

Stop into the Main Street Bakery in Disney World’s Magic Kingdom for this awesome treat! Check out my review of [Read more…]