Best and Worst of the Fest: What to Eat (and What to Skip) at the 2017 Disney California Adventure Food and Wine Festival

Greetings from sunny California! We’re coming to you from Disneyland where the 2017 Disney California Adventure Food and Wine Festival is in full swing!

The 2017 Disney California Adventure Food and Wine Festival Has Begun!

The 2017 Disney California Adventure Food and Wine Festival Has Begun!

And the Festival is running EVERYDAY this year. So that means you’ve got from now through April 16th to try your top picks at this year’s FOURTEEN Festival Marketplace Booths.

To help you make your list, I’ve tackled each and every food item at ALL of them. Well, with the help of our Dining in Disneyland columnist and best west coast dine-around pal, Heather Sievers, of course!

Click here to check out photos AND prices of ALL the food at the Festival! (Allergy-Friendly Menus, Too!)

Overall, we found the food to be fantastic. It was much better than last year, and much MUCH better than Festival of Holidays. They’re thinking outside of the box and experimenting a little with flavors, and I commend that. [Read more…]

News and Review: Columbia Harbour House Shrimp Fest

OK, so Columbia Harbour House doesn’t really have a “Shrimp Fest.” I just sort of created one on my recent visit by ordering ALL. THE. SHRIMPS!!!! ;-D Coming right up? Shrimp and Chicken, Fried Shrimp, and Shrimp Mac & Cheese! (Yes, I forgive you if you scroll ahead to see that last one.)

Tucked into a perfectly themed corner of Liberty Square in the Magic Kingdom, Columbia Harbour House has a strong and devoted following.

With its menu of consistently popular choices — lots of healthier, lighter, vegetarian choices along with some hearty fish and chips — and its impeccable theming, Columbia Harbour House is a great place to cool down and fuel up when you’re touring the Magic Kingdom.

And its location is ideal. It’s a short walk from Frontierland, a stone’s throw from the Haunted Mansion, and holds court in Liberty Square (just before it morphs into Fantasyland around the corner).

Columbia Harbour House

Columbia Harbour House

This place is Americana architecture at its finest.

Atmosphere

The interior of Columbia Harbour House reinforces the exterior theming (at least that part of the facade that faces Liberty Square). It heavily features wood, from the furniture to the walls.

[Read more…]

Guest Review: World Premiere Food Court at Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort

We’d like to welcome guest author Sarah Gurung today!! She’s sharing her dining experiences at World Premiere Food Court during a Walt Disney World family vacation. Savories and sweets, read on!

Hello, Disney food lovers! My family of three (with one on the way) returned from a magical trip to the World, and it is my pleasure to bring you a review of All-Star Movies’ food court, thematically called the World Premiere Food Court.

Our party of three included my husband (decidedly not picky), my five-year-old (decidedly five-years-old), and myself (decidedly hungry all the time); and we managed to eat at the resort more times than I anticipated. Typically, we ate dinner here after a long day at the parks, famished and exhausted.

World Premiere Food Court

World Premiere Food Court

We were on a modified quick service dining plan, which allotted us one meal per person per night. Being moderately frugal, we decided to stretch this plan as far as we could by sharing meals. We often substituted a drink and/or a dessert in order to supplement with additional sides, and this was never a problem for the cast members at check-out. They all seemed well-versed in the Plan and good-naturedly accommodated these substitutions.

[Read more…]

Review: Dinner at The Boathouse at Disney Springs

We’re back at The BOATHOUSE for dinner today on DFB!

(And you’re gonna have to pardon me. Because I know it’s called The BOATHOUSE — but all those caps get a little tiresome, IMO. So I hope it’s ok with you if I write it all normally and stuff from here on out.)

So, here’s what happened. I had some time to kill on a recent holiday trip to Walt Disney World one evening. I found myself hungry and without an advance dining reservation when I remembered the excellent lunch that I’d had at The Boathouse.

That hadn’t been the only DFB trip to the restaurant. While we enjoyed our first visit and look around the place, we definitely walked away with a mild case of sticker shock. Our second lunch time visit, during which we checked out both the lunch and bar menu, yielded a much more enjoyable experience. We found some truly delicious fare at a far lower price point.

So — it seemed like a good time to check back in, and see if we could work the same hocus pocus on the dinner hour — a meal at The Boathouse that didn’t require a small loan to afford. Did we succeed? Let’s check it out.

Atmosphere

You’ll find The Boathouse sort of anchoring The Landing area in Disney Springs. As you travel through the shops on your way from West Side to Marketplace along the water side, you can’t miss it.

The Boathouse

The Boathouse

The Boathouse Entrance

The Boathouse Entrance

The restaurant is much larger than it looks from the outside, with four separate dining rooms and three different bars. [Read more…]

Review: Chef Art Smith’s Homecoming Florida Kitchen at Disney Springs

We’re back at Chef Art Smith’s Homecoming Florida Kitchen for another visit today!

You might be scratching your head and wondering, “But AJ, you guys were just there a little bit ago. Why a return so soon?” Well, lots of reasons, actually. But the primary one is this: Once is never enough when it comes to reviewing Disney restaurants. Restaurants in the ‘World are notoriously inconsistent, and while Homecoming impressed us initially, I always like to duck into a new spot after it’s been open for a bit, just to see if the shine and sheen are still around. In fact, we review spots over and over, so we can always make the best recommendations for our readers.

In addition, dear friends of mine invited me to tag along for a catch up session, and Homecoming was the agreed upon choice for dinner. And like I’m gonna say no to Fried Chicken? Not likely.

Besides, there’s plenty to cover on this menu, and a follow up visit gave me a chance to show you a few new things.

Let’s check out how Homecoming is doing, a few months along in the journey.

Atmosphere

The premise of Homecoming Florida Kitchen (HFK) is pretty cool, actually. Chef Art Smith is a native Floridian, who even spent some of the early years of his career as a Cast Member at Disney. So it’s befitting that the restaurant’s name is Homecoming, as he returns to his home state.

Sign

Sign

The restaurant is a celebration of Old-Meets-New Florida in so many ways. The architecture echoes Florida Vernacular style, with lots of windows to let the light in, and deep overhangs from the hip roof to keep the heat out. [Read more…]

Sneak Peek: Menu Pictures from Paddlefish, Opening in Disney Springs This Fall

In late April, it was announced that Paddlefish is coming to Disney Springs. Formerly Fulton’s Crab House, this spot will keep its focus on fresh seafood in a Signature dining venue… albeit in an updated, modernized setting.

Paddlefish construction sign

Paddlefish construction sign

Though we have to wait until this Fall for Paddlefish to open (with a late November estimate), the culinary team is already hard at work creating dishes for the restaurant; and over the past few weeks they’ve been sharing “Sneak Peeks” via their Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts. [Read more…]

Full Review: STK Orlando in Disney Springs

Last week we gave you a First Look

… and now we’re back with our full review of STK Orlando, the newest dining venue in Disney Springs!

STK Orlando is the latest addition to the list of Signature Dining restaurants in Disney Springs, which also includes Morimoto Asia and The Boathouse (with Paddlefish and The Edison still on the way).

But STK hasn’t only joined the dining line-up in Disney World — the Orlando location also joins fellow STK restaurants in New York, Las Vegas, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, and D.C., with more to come.

So let’s see how STK’s big city vibe fits into Disney World’s shopping, dining, and entertainment district with our first visit for dinner at STK Orlando!

Atmosphere

If you checked out our First Look, you already know that STK Orlando is located in the The Landing of Disney Springs; however, the location is easily viewed from the area’s new Town Center. Here is the view as you approach from the Orange Parking Garage.

STK Orlando

STK Orlando

The exterior, therefore, fits right in while retaining its own unique look, with its resemblance to a refurbished train station from the early 1900s. [Read more…]

Tips from the DFB Guide: Dining with a Picky Eater

For many of us, there’s nothing better than planning a trip to Disney. I mean, sure…attractions and cool resorts and stuff. But best of all is the FOOD!

2016 book cover dfb guide

What happens if you have a super uber picky kiddo (or other member of your party) among your ranks though? It can really rock your trip. But it doesn’t have to!

And that’s why I dedicate a lot of attention to making plans with picky eaters in the DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining. This is a great time to pick up your copy of this handy guide because it’s just been completely updated for your 2016 travel plans!! Don’t forget to use code HAPPYPLACE for $4 off the price!

Today, I want to share some of the tips that I’ve scattered through the book on how to deal with the pickiest eaters when you’re in Disney World. Need some help with this subject? Read on! [Read more…]

Guest Review: Beach Side Bonfire Buffet at PCH Grill in Disneyland’s Paradise Pier Resort

DFB is welcoming guest author Lori Hope with a review of the PCH Grill. Nestled in Disneyland’s Paradise Pier Hotel, this restaurant serves up breakfast and dinner. Today, we are checking out the bonfire buffet, which debuted this Summer!

Atmosphere

Disney’s PCH Grill at Disneyland’s Paradise Pier has created a delicious Beach Side Bonfire nightly buffet. We usually head to Storytellers Cafe, but we were staying at Paradise Pier and we are always excited to try something new. Paradise Pier is a bit out of the way if you are in the parks, but it is just at the end of Downtown Disney so it isn’t too far.

New Beach Side Bonfire Buffet

New Beach Side Bonfire Buffet

We made an advance dining reservation, but it was not too crowded when we went. The staff greeted us right away and we had no issues adding another guest to our party.

[Read more…]

Review: Brand New Artisan Macaroni and Cheese (and Caramel Apple Shake) at Min & Bill’s Dockside Diner in Disney’s Hollywood Studios

We’ve got some brand new, hot-off-the-presses food news for you today from Min & Bill’s Dockside Diner in Hollywood Studios!

Longtime home to the Frankfurter in a Pretzel Roll and Italian Sausage in a Bread Roll, there have been a few updates to the menu over the last couple years at Min and Bill’s. There are rotating seasonal shakes, the Jumbo Turkey Leg, and we were even able to get those fun bread cones here for a while.

But now they’ve added even more to the menu with the recent arrival of two brand new artisan Macaroni & Cheese dishes: Barbecued Pulled Pork and Buffalo Chicken Macaroni & Cheese. And I do mean brand new… these just hit the scene yesterday, folks! So, let’s get to it…

Min and Bill's Dockside Diner

Min and Bill’s Dockside Diner

These are very similar to the mac and cheese dishes served at Friar’s Nook in the Magic Kingdom, but they’re not EXACTLY the same. There are two new flavors to try!

Barbecued Pulled Pork Macaroni & Cheese and Buffalo Chicken Macaroni & Cheese

Barbecued Pulled Pork Macaroni & Cheese and Buffalo Chicken Macaroni & Cheese

You’ll spot them on the featured items sign, right under the Frankfurter and Italian Sausage (yep, they’re still on the menu — whew!).

Min and Bill's featured items

Min and Bill’s featured items

Min & Bill's full menu

Min & Bill’s full menu

You all know me well enough by now — it should come as no surprise that I was especially stoked about the combo of two of my very favorite foods on EARTH: Mac and cheese AND Buffalo chicken! If ever anything had “We made this for you, AJ” written on it, it would be this. So I dove into the Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese with Crumbled Blue Cheese right away.

But first, I took a good look at it, and I invite you to do the same…

Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese

Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese

Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese

Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese

The Buffalo chicken looks really strange, right? Frankly, it’s almost off-putting. And as a result, I wasn’t wild about it from the get-go. T

he blue cheese was VERY blue, and very strong, while the Buffalo chicken was kind of watery and weird.

Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese

Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese

It was spicy, at least, so that was good. But overall, it was not really a winner for this Buffalo, NY-raised girl. It seemed like the mac and cheese and the Buffalo chicken were two dishes that needed to be eaten separately. They didn’t go well together at all. Total bummer.

The Barbecued Pulled Pork Macaroni and Cheese, on the other hand, had everything [Read more…]