Oh, Disney World restaurants — how we miss you!
While you know our affinity for spots like Wine Bar George (thank goodness the flaming cheese is back) and Garden Grill, there are a few restaurants around the parks we are missing more than we thought we would!
And, even though some of these restaurants may not be the MOST popular, they are still JUST as awesome to visit!
Jiko might be a little bit of a trek to get to since it’s at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, but it is WORTH IT. Before you even enter the restaurant, take a moment to look around the lobby! Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge has one of the largest collections of African art that you can find outside of Africa! The pieces are inspired by the different cultures of the region and curated to showcase the variety of styles of art across Africa.
Plus, right outside the windows, you can spot animals like giraffes and zebras freely roaming about (which is one of the most AWESOME experiences in Disney World). And, if you’re willing to spend a little extra cash to make a whole event out of dining at Jiko, you can go on the Wanyama Safari at the resort! The 90-minute tour costs $209 per person and takes 12 guests over 46 acres to see the animals up close and personal. You’ll end your trek across the savanna with a multi-course meal at Jiko too!
If you’ve never been to Jiko, the restaurant uses two wood-burning ovens to cook up many guests’ meals. Although you can choose from some tasty entrees like the Botswana-Style Beef Short Rib or Oak-Grilled Filet Mignon, if you ask us, the Mac and Cheese alone at Jiko makes it one of the best spots in Disney World.
While we might be big fans of the Mac and Cheese at Eight Spoons Cafe in Animal Kingdom, Jiko’s version has a special place in our hearts! It’s easily some of the BEST mac and cheese we’ve ever had! Plus the romantic atmosphere here is the perfect spot for a date night with its sunset wall (can YOU feel the love tonight?? 😉 ).
Jiko also has a massive African wine selection to chose from, including the option for wine tastings in their connected wine tasting room.
Anybody else MAJORLY missing those Cheeseburger Pods? While Satu’li Canteen is a quick fix if hunger strikes while waiting in line for Flight of Passage (Mobile Order is a friend, you guys), it’s a place you don’t want to sleep on!
There are plenty of savory eats to snack on at the restaurant, plus an entire list of drinks (like the bright green Hawkes Grog Ale). Satu’li is also the home to gorgeous desserts like the Blueberry Cream Cheese Mousse that looks very at home on Pandora!
The star of the restaurant is their build-your-own style bowls with protein options like grilled sliced beef, wood-fired chicken, chili-garlic shrimp, or crispy tofu. You pick a base like rice and beans or salad, a protein, and a sauce to go on top. This is a healthy, freshly prepared, and filling option we still love!
However, you might not know the origin of Satu’li Canteen in the Valley of Mo’ara! The restaurant used to be an abandoned Resources Development Administration (or RDA) building that was turned into a dining location by ACE: Alpha Centauri Expeditions (the folks who “made” Pandora into what it is today!).
Although a bunch of different visitors come to Satu’li, it’s also a favorite spot of the Na’vi! You can find Na’vi art, artifacts, and lighting fixtures placed all around the restaurant as a nod to the inhabitants of Pandora. When in Avatar land, eat like one of the Na’vi, we always say!
Satu’li gets major points for originality as well as great quality food. If you’re looking for something different from typical fast food Disney pizza or chicken nuggs, swing by after your flight on a Banshee!
BaseLine Tap House
After an early morning trying to hop on Rise of the Resistance, Slinky Dog Dash, AND Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, you might need a break! And BaseLine Tap House is one of the best spots in Hollywood Studios to kick back and relax.
The restaurant is a nod to the Figueroa Printing Company, which was an independent Los Angeles print house that partnered with Disney Studios. The atmosphere takes some of that relaxing, modern vibe from a downtown LA bar or coffee shop. Although it would be a great spot to write a novel or doodle a masterpiece while you put your earphones in, we are HUGE fans of the eats and drinks you can get at BaseLine.
While we love their holiday treats (like the Gingerbread Cookies) and special desserts for events, we are VERY partial to BaseLine’s charcuterie board! All of that cheese and meat paired with one of the California-brewed beers or cider on tap might be the only way you’ll ever want to spend your afternoon in the park again.
The beer flights, charcuterie, and massive pretzels here make for a great afternoon break. It’s located JUST outside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, so it makes a perfect pit stop after your trip to Batuu for a refuel!
Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar
Did you know that there’s an entire bar in Disney World based on the Indiana Jones films? Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar not only has great food, but it has fantastic theming too! Jock Lindsey is a pilot hired by Indiana Jones to help him explore the world (“Jock! Start the engine!”). But this time the spotlight is on the adventures that Jock has had himself!
You can catch pieces of planes, books, artifacts, and more around the restaurant (there’s even a giant diving bell you can sit in!). There’s also a missing pet snake named Reggie (hint: you can spy his cage…and he’s the namesake of the boat out back). Just don’t let Indy find him before you do! 😉
Jock Lindsey’s also has more than a few nods to the films around the bar, like the fertility idol from Raiders of the Lost Ark and a world map with all the places that Indiana Jones has visited. On one part of the map, you’ll notice that the paper has purposely been creased to block out the eye of Mara from the Indiana Jones Adventure — Temple of the Forbidden Eye in Disneyland!
Perhaps the most unique detail about Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar is the story behind the actor who originated the role. Fred Sorenson was a pilot hired to fly the crew to the sets and locations of Raiders of the Lost Ark. However, Steven Spielberg liked him so much that he cast him as Jock! Although he only ever appears in Raiders of the Lost Ark, that wasn’t the end of his relationship with Steven Spielberg.
When Spielberg was filming Jurassic Park in Hawaii, a massive hurricane hit Kauai, which prevented flights from leaving the island. The crew was stranded there, so Spielberg called Sorenson, who flew out to rescue everyone à la Indiana Jones-style! As a memento of the occasion, Spielberg sent a dinosaur tooth to Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar so it could be hung on the wall behind the outside bar with the note “Jock, thanks for getting us off the island. -SS.”
Now the real-life actor saving the crew part is true, but we’ve met Cast Members here who are positive the tooth is REALLY from Spielberg and others swear it’s not! You’ll have to decide for yourself!
While you’re admiring all the awesome details at Jock Lindsey’s, you can also try the Air Pirate’s Cargo Pretzel, which is a giant pretzel that comes with spicy German mustard, charcuterie, and BEER CHEESE (this is basically our Kryptonite). Plus, Jock’s even has some fun limited-time themed treats like the Temple of Bacon (which was just as awesome as it sounds) and Aladdin’s Flying Carpet Flatbreads every so often!
The drink menu is loaded with fun nods to the Indy films as well, like the Anything Goes (the song Willie sings in Temple of Doom) or The Scottish Professor (in Last Crusade, Indy’s dad, Professor Henry Jones Sr. was portrayed by Scotland’s own Sean Connery). Fans of the films or who just want a fun bar to explore and enjoy will love the Hangar Bar!
Let’s get RACING back over to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge to visit Ronto Roasters! You might notice that there’s a podracing engine that’s been converted into a barbecue pit hanging from the ceiling. Star Wars fans will know that this is a nod to the podracing that happened throughout the prequels, starting with The Phantom Menace.
The atmosphere in Ronto Roasters is pretty awesome since you can even see the “ronto meat” being hung up to prepare. Note that it’s surprisingly LOUD in this open-air restaurant (that podracing engine is WORKING hard, y’all!). Ronto Roasters is actually run by podracing fan, Bakkar, who has recruited former smelter droid 8D-JB to cook the ronto meat all. day. long.
While there are plenty of unique eats in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge (umm, Blue and Green Milk, everyone), Ronto Roasters boasts perhaps one of the most iconic snacks in the park! The Ronto Wrap has become a fan favorite with its “ronto meat” (AKA two kinds of pork), slaw, pita, and delicious peppercorn sauce.
There’s also a Morning Ronto Wrap if you happen to be walking by after an EARLY morning trying to get on Rise of the Resistance (you can order the regular Ronto Wrap at breakfast as well!). The Endorian Chicken Wrap is also available if you’re not in the mood for that Ronto meat. 😉
Hollywood Brown Derby
Celebrities — they’re just like us. Right?? 😉 Well, now YOU can be just like a celebrity dining at the Hollywood Brown Derby! The restaurant is based on the iconic namesake in Hollywood where so many REAL Hollywood stars wined and dined throughout the years.
The restaurant pays homage to the restaurant’s second, and arguably more popular, location at 1628 North Vine Street spot with its incredibly faithful recreation of the interior. While you can find Hollywood Brown Derby’s famous caricatures on the walls (the gold-framed photos are actually ORIGINALS), there are photos of the actual location and memorabilia from throughout the Golden Age of Hollywood throughout the restaurant.
Although the restaurant has some great eats on its own, Hollywood Brown Derby also originated the iconic Cobb Salad, (supposedly) the Shirley Temple, and Grapefruit Cake. So, it’s practically a Hollywood Studios rite of passage to have all three of them!
Can’t score a reservation at the pricey location (it’s a Signature restaurant meaning it’s slightly more expensive out of pocket or two-dining credits on the Disney Dining Plan!)? The restaurant has an adjacent walk-up lounge that serves up fantastic drinks and many of the same food items inside the restaurant for less money! We’re big fans of the smaller-sized Cobb Salad here and a cocktail like the Grapefruit Cake Martini!
Yes, we know we already have one Star Wars spot on this list, but we HAD to include another! Oga’s Cantina is practically every Star Wars fan’s dream as you get to step into one of the most hopping bars in the galaxy.
The bar is owned by Oga Garra who is a big, baddie “mob boss” in Black Spire Outpost. She’s tough and lets her employees do her bidding (she’s got better things to worry about!). So, while you may not see her in the cantina, her voice can be heard indoors and outdoors throughout the day.
Although it’s swanky, the cantina is slightly run-down. It’s powered by a Hyperdrive that overloads pretty often. When this happens, the lights will flicker, DJ R-3X will power down, and Cast Members will have to slam a few hammers to “fix” things. You might even be recruited to help them out!
While you’re there, you can try an array of drinks, but the Fuzzy Tauntaun is a must-try whenever you decide to visit (it makes your mouth numb!!).
Plus, the detail in Oga’s is out of this world! Seriously, spend time checking out the crazy details in this bar including the Worrt that puffs out some eggs to be put in your drinks (he’s the little sluggy fella in the fish tank behind the bar!). The entertainment from the resident robot DJ is pretty awesome too, if we say so ourselves (we really just want a DJ R-3X and Sonny Eclipse headline tour ASAP).
This spot is mostly standing tables only, with very few tables lining the walls that you can actually sit. You also may be asked to share a table with other guests if your party is on the smaller side. Make some new friends and enjoy a few of the otherworldly drinks here!
We love character dining with an opportunity to see all our favorite friends in one place! Crystal Palace is just as sweet as honey as you can hug your pals from the Hundred Acre Woods AND snack on everything at the buffet.
Although there is a little bit of something for everybody at the buffet, the chefs aren’t opposed to making a little bit of extra magic. During my own experience there, a vegan party member has had special meals made for her on multiple occasions.
Our server would notify the chefs, who would come out to personally talk to us. Our party member was asked what she could eat and what she liked so the chef could make her a dish exclusive to her! If someone in your group has an allergy or dining restriction, make sure to mention this because there might be a little sumthin’ special that Crystal Palace can do for you!
In our experience, a late lunch at the Crystal Palace might be the way to go when you’re looking to get out of the peak heat and beat the crowds for a while. Plus, we just cannot get over how cuddly Pooh, Tigger, and the rest of the gang are!!
Crystal Palace is a great pick for an early morning breakfast as well. You can get those rare crowdless pics in front of Cinderella Castle and enjoy some breakfast exclusives like Pooh’s Breakfast Lasagna or Puffed French Toast!
San Angel Inn
Although San Angel Inn in Epcot is a cool spot to chill out and eat some Mexican cuisine, this restaurant is ALL about the atmosphere. While you’re dining in the Mexico pavilion (like, literally IN the big pyramid), you can have a more intimate time with your family, friends, or significant other since it almost appears like you are outside under the moonlight!
You can also spot the boat rides from the Gran Fiesta Tour passing by as you eat and witness the beauty of the Mayan pyramid and volcano erupting in the distance. But, our FAVORITE part is the smell at San Angel Inn! Since the Gran Fiesta Tour is a water ride, it has the same Pirates of the Caribbean water scent!
So, if you’ve got any BIG Pirates of the Caribbean fans with you, San Angel Inn is a must-see spot! Plus, if you love margaritas, you just can’t go wrong here — the drinks are many of the same margs you’ll find at next-door La Cava el Tequila!
The food here is good, but not our favorite in all of Disney World. While you can find enchiladas and the like, it skews more towards authentic Mexican fare than Tex-Mex. But that killer view and theming (and yes, the water smell!) win us over every time.
Although we especially miss these restaurants right now, we just can’t wait to sit down at a table-service spot or order a Dole Whip to go again inside the parks. There’s just something special about sitting down with your loved ones for a meal in the Most Magical Place on Earth!
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What are some of your favorite restaurants in Disney World? Let us know in the comments below!