Best Disney World Restaurants Not on the Disney Dining Plan

As you know, Kim L. is our behind-the-scenes manager here at the Disney Food Blog, a Disney World Moms Panelist, and a blogger! You’ll begin to see her name more and more in that little author line! Learn more about her on our staff and contributors page! Here, she discusses her top choices for Disney World restaurants not on the Disney Dining Plan!

UPDATE 4/2012: The restaurants at the Swan and Dolphin Resort are not yet on the Dining Plan, but the others — T-Rex, Rainforest Cafe, Portobello, Fulton’s, Paradiso 37, Wolfgang Puck Cafe The Dining Room, and House of Blues, should now be on the Dining Plan!

Lots of guests want to know the top restaurants when dining with the Disney Dining Plan, but since those restaurants seem to fill up more and more quickly these days, we’ve also been getting requests for recommendations on restaurants not included in the Dining Plan. Here are my picks for the best table service locations that do not participate in the DDP! ;-)

Top 5 Restaurants Not on the Disney Dining Plan, for Adults

Portobello
For guests craving a casual meal with value, Portobello at Downtown Disney dishes out hearty Italian fare. Choose from a value dinner menu, wood-burning oven pizzas, signature sandwiches plus a meatball and beer bar!

AJ recommends the Bucatini!

House of Blues
Got late night munchies at Downtown Disney? House of Blues is open til 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights! The southern-inspired menu includes a large variety of sandwiches and seafood such as Creole Jambalaya. To soothe your soul, look for [Read more…]

St. Patrick’s Day Events and Menus in Disney World and Disneyland

We certainly don’t need a reason to celebrate (with beer!) while visiting a Disney park, however we’re really excited about the extra Irish-inspired fun that Disney is dishing up for St. Patrick’s Day. Below, we detail events and special menu items throughout Disney World and Disneyland!

Raglan Road, WDW Downtown Disney
Raglan Road opens their doors at 11:00AM on St. Paddy’s Day for a full day of festivities! The fun begins at Noon with musicians, dancers and face painting. While savoring the traditional Shepherd’s Pie, look for the house band, Creel! In the evening, toast your Irish friends and watch eLevation as they perform your favorite U2 songs. There is a $10 cover charge.

Raglan Road

Earlier in the week, Raglan Road is celebrating with a few more events! This Sunday, attend their first ever traditional Irish Ceili (pronounced kay-lee) and join in the Irish dancing! As Lorraine from Raglan Road says, “We’re pushing the furniture back and letting everyone join in!” Sounds like fun! Click the image for [Read more…]

No Park Tickets? No Reservation? No Problem!

The main complaint I hear regarding the re-instated 180-day window for Disney World Advanced Dining Reservations is that it’s impossible to get a seat in a restaurant “on a whim.” I wanted to address that concern and add another challenge: what if you don’t have park tickets, either?

I thought it’d be fun to tackle this situation and suggest a few spots in both Disney World and Disneyland for those who find themselves in this “pickle!”

Beaches and Cream Beef Sandwich Au Jus

Walt Disney World

Nope! I’m not kidding. It doesn’t have to be a hassle to find a good, table-service meal in Disney World — even when you don’t have a reservation or a park ticket! Here are four of my favorite go-to locations at all different price points:

Beaches and Cream $
Welcome back to the 1950’s soda shoppe! Beaches and Cream is located at Disney’s Beach Club Resort and doesn’t even take reservations, so you won’t ever run into the no ADR problem! This spot serves simple, but delicious, [Read more…]

Cooking Classes for Adults at Downtown Disney July 10, 2010

Portobello, Fulton’s Crab House, and Wolfgang Puck Grand Cafe are hosting a one day, progressive adults-only cooking class on Saturday, July 10th, 2010.

Where: Wolfgang Puck Grand Cafe, Fulton’s Crab House, and Portobello in Disney World’s Downtown Disney
When: The progressive class will take place from 11 AM to 2:00 PM
Pricing: $59.95 per person

Adults will learn how make the restaurant’s signature recipes and will enjoy their own creations with complementing wine pairings.

Specs and Menu:

Wolfgang Puck Café
o Maryland Style Crab Cakes
o Paired with Concerto Grunerveltliner

Fulton’s Crab House
o St. Augustine, Florida Yellowtail Snapper
o En Papillote with Julienne Vegetables, lemon and Fresh Thyme
o Paired with Fulton’s White Wine

Portobello
o Panna Cotta with Florida Peaches
o Paired with Oltrepo Pavese Muscato Dolce

Space is limited and reservations are recommended by calling 407-828-8996.

Disney Food Post Round-Up: March 7th, 2010

Eat hereHappy Sunday, all! Just a quick reminder of a couple of updates before we launch into this week’s round-up:

LaughingPlace has the latest on St. Patrick’s Day menus for WDW’s Portobello, Fulton’s Crab House, and Wolfgang Puck Cafe.

CakeWrecks showcases some amazing Alice in Wonderland themed cakes.

SamLand’s Disney Adventures brings a Disneyland popcorn stand into focus.

StitchKingdom posts an info-packed story with the latest news about the D23 Expo, the WDW Fantasyland Expansion, and more. In it, he mentions the upcoming Be Our Guest Restaurant and also showcases some delicious Disney event dessert photos.

PSCalculator reviews Trail’s End Buffet restaurant in WDW’s Fort Wilderness!

Bakerella has some fun Oscar season recipes inspired by nominated Disney films! (Check out the “Up”cakes and Frog Pops.)

Zannaland recaps her experience at the February Tables in Wonderland “Wave Discovery Dinner” in WDW.

Main St. Gazette shares a creamy grits recipe from Olivia’s at WDW’s Old Key West Resort.

Watch Me Eat visits Epcot’s Lotus Blossom Cafe.

A World View visits three of WDW’s best counter-service spots: Flame Tree Barbecue, Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe, and Earl of Sandwich.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel has a unique profile of the New Orleans chef who was inspirational to the Princess and the Frog story.

Valentine’s Day Dining Options in Disneyland and Disney World

ladyandtramp
If the candies and cookies highlighted in our Disney World Valentine’s Day Treats post (yum!!) don’t satisfy your “savory tooth”, several Disney hotels and restaurants are featuring delicious Valentine’s Day prix fix meals or specials. Here are the details:

Tutto Italia Carnevale Celebration
Join in the party as Tutto Italia in Epcot’s World Showcase celebrates Carnevale! Bring your own mask or buy one there! You can see details and booking info by clicking on the image below:

Carnevale Menu and Info at Tutto Italia

Carnevale Menu and Info at Tutto Italia

Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort
Todd English’s bluezoo at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort is introducing a special romantic menu just for Valentine’s Day Weekend (Friday, Feb. 12th – Sunday, Feb. 14th). It includes:

  • wagyu ny strip and mero seabass for two: caramelize onion rosti, hammock hollows braised greens, béarnaise, lobster jus $90
  • halibut: parsley root, baby fennel, finger lime, lemon balm $36
  • cocktail: flaming heart: hangar one raspberry, godiva white chocolate liqueur, pama liqueur, rose petal-tea, fresh muddled raspberries, topped with flaming raspberries $13

For more information or reservations, call (407) 934-1609. Reservations recommended.

Tables in Wonderland Valentine’s Day Chocolate Dinner
Celebrate Valentine’s Day with fellow tables in wonderland members with a Chocolate-focused dinner! You can see the full menu [Read more…]

Dining Alone in Disney

I’m honored to bring you a guest post by one of my favorite travel bloggers, Gray at SoloFriendly.com. Thanks again, Gray, for sharing your insights and tips on dining alone in Disney World!

Counter Seating at Wolfgang Puck

Counter Seating at Wolfgang Puck

Many travelers, even those who are excited by the prospect of enjoying some alone time at Disney World, get queasy at the thought of having to eat alone. This, despite the fact that Disney has fabulous restaurants and legendary customer service.

Don’t be nervous just because you’re a “party of one”! I have eaten alone in many restaurants in Disney World and 99.9% of the time have received the most exemplary service. Go ahead and eat at Quick Service restaurants if you’re on a budget, but don’t cheat yourself out of the wonderful table service restaurants if you can afford it. A delicious sit-down meal prepared by one of Disney’s talented chefs will certainly enhance any solo trip to the World.

To overcome any solo dining jitters, you need a distraction. This could be recording your day’s experiences in a journal, catching up on a good book, or flipping through the photos you took on your digital camera. Disney even builds in some nice distractions for us solos, you just have to look for them. Here are some suggestions for getting the most out of solo dining at Disney World:

  • Have your table service meal during a less crowded time. This could mean eating at an off hour.
    Chefs de France Window Tables

    Chefs de France Window Tables

    Chefs de France, for instance, is far more enjoyable when there are fewer guests in the dining room. It’s quieter and more peaceful, and the odds of scoring a table by the window (for people-watching) are greatly enhanced.

    Resort restaurants tend to be less crowded during lunch, when everyone is at the parks. I had a wonderful meal at Sanaa on my last trip, right around noon, and I was only one of maybe three tables of diners in the whole restaurant. Again, you have a greater chance of scoring a good seat this way, but you also feel less conspicuous.

  • Eat at a restaurant with bar or counter seating. If you are a social person, this affords you the opportunity to interact with other diners.
    Todd English's bluezoo Restaurant

    Todd English's bluezoo Restaurant

    One of my favorite meals at Disney World was at Wolfgang Puck Cafe in Downtown Disney, when I sat at the counter in front of the chef’s station and had a lively and friendly chat with the chef while he prepared meals.

    Other great restaurants with bartop dining include
    Bluezoo at the Dolphin resort (a wonderfully grown-up restaurant), the House of Blues in Downtown Disney, Jiko at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, and the Flying Fish Cafe on the Boardwalk.

  • Enjoy a dinner show. You have many options at Disney World for dinnertime entertainment, including the Spirit of Aloha Show at the Polynesian Resort, the Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue at Fort Wilderness, as well as smaller-scale entertainment such as watching a movie at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater or belly dancers at the Restaurant Marrakesh.
  • Go for a great view. The Disney Food Blog recently highlighted the best restaurants for watching the Wishes and Illuminations fireworks shows during dinner; those are great choices.
    Relax with the show at the Coral Reef Aquarium

    Relax with the show at the Coral Reef Aquarium

    You could also grab a water-view window at one of the Downtown Disney restaurants or dine at the Coral Reef Restaurant, where you can gaze upon a living coral reef with 85 species of tropical fish swimming around. (For a more peaceful experience at the Coral Reef, try lunch here, when it’s less crowded; and don’t sit right next to the aquarium, or you’ll find children constantly bumping into you as they run up to press their faces against the glass.)

As with anything, practice makes perfect. The more you dine out alone, the more comfortable and enjoyable it becomes.

From the Editor: Thanks again, Gray! DFB readers, if you’re interested in more info about solo dining in Disney, stay tuned for the next post in the Walt Disney World Moms Panel Mini-Series where the moms chime in on their choices for meals if spending a day blissfully alone at Disney World!

Best Disney World Restaurants for Vegetarians

Boma Open Kitchen

Boma Open Kitchen

This is a tough blog post, as people define “Vegetarian” in so many different ways! To try to give you the most up-to-date and tested information, I’ve included readers’ top picks for table-service and counter-service locations and rounded out the post with some great feedback from travel-blogger SoloFriendly, who’s got some great ideas for meat-free Disney World dishes. Finally, I’ve listed a few other resources for you to check out if you’re doing Disney as a vegetarian or a vegan.

 

 

Best Disney World Restaurants for Vegetarians

Reader Picks: Table-Service
Boma
Boma, Jambo House, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
Boma was the landslide winner among food blog readers who chimed in about Vegetarian options. It’s a buffet, which automatically offers a wide variety of choices; but with an emphasis on African soups, hummus, salads, and grain-based dishes, it’s a great option for meat-free eating.

Reader Comment from Beth via facebook:
Hubby is vegetarian when out thanks to being Kosher at home. His favorite was Boma since there was so much to pick from. The staff there was amazing to walk around and tell everything that was safe if you requested it.

Sanaa
Sanaa, Kidani Village, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
One of the newer restaurants in Disney World, Sanaa has another African- and Asian- themed menu (dinner menu) on which every section has at least one (and usually many) mouth-watering vegetarian selections.

While I loved my meal there, I’ll quote SoloFriendly’s helpful comments:

Sanaa Spinach and Paneer Cheese

Sanaa Spinach and Paneer Cheese

They’ve got a lot of very creative menu items that are vegetarian, so if I was really sick of salads and wanted something totally different, I’d go here. They offer all sorts of wonderful breads and vegetarian accompaniments, more than one vegetarian appetizer (paneer cheese, roasted cauliflower, and potato and pea samosas) and entree, unusual salad choices, and a vegetarian soup. There is no doubt in my mind I could have a very filling and delicious meal here without eating meat. In fact, I could do so more than once without repeating the same dish twice. (By the way, here’s SoloFriendly’s Sanaa Review)

Wolfgang Puck Cafe, Downtown Disney
This well-known Downtown Disney restaurant features several meatless choices, including creative salads, vegetarian pasta dishes, and yummy flatbreads/pizzas. The most famous item, however, is the butternut-squash soup! Here’s the dinner menu, and for some photos, SoloFriendly’s Wolfgang Puck Cafe review.

Reader Comment from Jennifer via facebook:
Wofgang Puck’s. Between sushi, salmon, margherita pizza, and [pumpkin] ravioli, you have many options.

Tusker House Buffet

Tusker House Buffet

Tusker House, Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Coming highly recommended by readers (and me!), Tusker House serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner buffets in the Animal Kingdom theme park. Vegetarian options abound at all meals, and servers will gladly show you which items are vegetarian. This gives a quick list of some items that are routinely available on the lunch/dinner buffets, including Hummus and baba ghanoush, Jollaf rice, Pearl couscous with sweet basil essence, Spiced tandoori tofu, and Tunisian couscous salad.

Vegetarian Quiche and Coconut Sweet Potato Casserole

Vegetarian Quiche and Coconut Sweet Potato Casserole

Reader Comment from Erwin via facebook:
For ease of locating things, Tusker House. Last time we were there, the server pointed out that (facing the buffet from the dining room) everything to the left of the dessert island was vegetarian, with the obvious exception of the meats on the deli board. Everything to the right was not, which included the Israeli couscous side dish (probably made with chicken broth).

Reader Picks: Counter-Service

Tangierine Cafe

Tangierine Cafe

Tangierine Cafe, Morocco Pavilion, Epcot’s World Showcase
Another multi-vote winner, Tangierine Cafe offers numerous wraps and side dishes that are, or can be made, vegetarian. Check out SoloFriendly’s photo-packed review of her Vegetable Platter dinner, which includes “falafel bread, olive salad, hummus, lentil salad, tabouleh, and a tangierine couscous salad,” at the cafe.

Reader Comment from @jobber99 via twitter, recalling his favorite veggie meal at Tangierine Cafe: Falafel with hummus, pita, rice, taboueh, and baklava.

Sunshine Seasons

Sunshine Seasons

Sunshine Seasons, The Land, Epcot’s Future World
Sunshine Seasons always tops best counter-service lists, and this is no exception. The food-court-style restaurant offers different stations for different types of food, including Asian Cuisine-inspired foods, Soup and Salads, Sandwiches, Grilled items, and Desserts.

Sunshine Seasons Asian Cuisine Station

Sunshine Seasons Asian Cuisine Station

In addition to the standard vegetarian fare (soups and salads) at Sunshine Seasons, you can find grilled vegetable sandwiches and other vegetarian entrees.

Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe, Tomorrowland, Magic Kingdom
Cosmic Ray’s is truly a favorite among vegetarians for its (actually quite good!) veggie burgers and vegetable wraps. Perhaps the out-of-this-world (sorry. had to do it.) burger fixin’s bar will sway your decision… .

Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe

Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe

Other reader suggestions included: Garden Grill (dish suggestion: tofu veggie noodles), Columbia Harbour House (dish suggestion: lighthouse sandwich), Yak and Yeti (make a meal of the veggie side dishes), Starring Rolls Cafe (dish suggestion: Veggie Wrap), Mama Melrose’s, Coral Reef (dish suggestion: Wild Mushroom Lasagna), Coronado Springs’ Pepper Market, California Grill, Chef Mickey’s, Kona Cafe, and The Hollywood Brown Derby. We’d love to hear your suggestions; contact Disney Food Blog via facebook, twitter, or email.

Cosmic Ray's Condiment Bar

Cosmic Ray’s Condiment Bar

If these suggestions don’t strike your fancy, remember that Disney offers a whole website page about special dining options as well as phone numbers and email addresses to connect with dining personnel before your trip. This is a great way to get information and request special dining options for your vacation. Disney is very accommodating when it comes to ensuring your dining experience is a good one; it just may take a bit of pre-planning. Also, if you’re already in a restaurant and don’t see anything for you on the menu, mention to your server that you’d like to hear more about Vegetarian and Vegan options. Many Disney World Chefs are more than willing to put together a delectable dish just for you — even on short notice!

Disney Contact Information for Special Diet Considerations
General Disney Special Diets Contact: SpecialDiets@DisneyWorld.com, or 407-824-5967
Animal Kingdom: WDWAKSpecialDiets@email.disney.com, or 407-938-3288
Hollywood Studios: WDWSTSpecialDiets@email.disney.com, or 407-560-3551
Epcot: WDWECSpecialDiets@email.disney.com, or 407-560-6395
Magic Kingdom: WDWMKSpecialDiets@email.disney.com, or 407-824-5967
(thanks to WDWinfo)

Other Helpful Links, Books, and Tips
Helpful grid of Vegetarian and Vegan items in Disney World Parks: While this does not include all restaurants and dining locations (and no resort options), it’s still a VERY helpful guide for those visiting the parks.
Vegetarian Walt Disney World and Greater Orlando (2000): One of the only dining guides for vegetarians in Disney World
Vegetarian Walt Disney World and Greater Orlando, Second Edition (2003)
Website and Book Updates For Vegetarian Walt Disney World and Greater Orlando

As a disclaimer, in this blog post “Vegetarian” pretty much means the ingredients are “meat-free;” the qualification does not pertain to how or where the dishes are cooked, and does not take into consideration inclusion of eggs/dairy.

Check out the other “Best Disney World Restaurants” in our series!

Disney Food Post Weekly Round-Up: July 26

Eat Here

There has been SO much Disney food news this week! Free Dining Offer extensions, 2009 Epcot Food and Wine Festival details announced, and an opening date for Cat Cora’s new Kouzzina restaurant (book your ADRs now), among other items! You can always catch up by visiting our Disney Food News section (you can get there by clicking on the little newspaper icon in the right sidebar).

In the meantime, there have also been some great Disney food posts on the web! Here we gooo!

SoloFriendly reviews Downtown Disney’s Wolfgang Puck Cafe: Another balanced review from SoloFriendly about her recent WDW trip. Great detail…and a scrumptious photo of some cobbler a la mode!

The OC Weekly highlights Disneyland’s Club 33: Few of us know the real deal on this membership-only club in Disneyland; this blog takes a look at the length of the waiting list and the cost to be a member…if that’s even an option anymore!

TheDisneyChick shares the recipe and photos of her foray into making Boma’s Melktart: Anyone who’s tasted this yummy dessert at Animal Kingdom Lodge’s Boma restaurant knows that it’s yummy and likely none-too-easy to make! TheDisneyChick is always kind enough to provide photos of the process for anyone brave enough to tackle the recipe. (And, yes, it’s technically from July 15th, but it’s awesome, so it’s here.)

The TouringPlans.com Blog reviews Epcot’s Biergarten: Kristen shares insights into the decor, food options, and entertainment at Epcot’s Germany Pavilion table-service restaurant — and a photo of her companion’s liter of beer! (FYI. That’s a lotta beer.)

MissKim highlights here some Disneyland dining reviews from her recent family vacation: This is part three of her reviews section, so be sure to scroll back through the posts to catch parts one and two!

ScottJosephOrlando is polling for the best pizza in Orlando!: Okay, not really “Disney,” but for any of us who have tried to find a good slice in the World, you KNOW we need this information! Head on over and check the stats!

Have a great week all! I hope to see you over on our DisneyFoodBlog Facebook Page!