Prost! Welcome to Biergarten in EPCOT’s Germany Pavilion!
While a fair number of Disney world restaurants have reopened without too many changes beyond a limited menu and new health and safety procedures, a few locations have had to completely change the way they operate to accommodate the necessary changes. Biergarten is one of those spots with pretty noticeable service modifications. This previously all-you-care-to-eat German feast was known for live music, dancing, and frequent trips to the buffet. How would it stack up without two of those things?
This restaurant is located aaaall the way at the back of the Germany Pavilion with a small, unassuming painted sign. Under this archway you’ll find the check-in podium. They’re utilizing Mobile Dine Check-in, which allows guests to check-in via the My Disney Experience app and then explore the area as they wait to be seated. Guests receive a text when their table is ready!
The dining experience at Biergarten is unique — the dining room is set up to resemble the center of a German town complete with a lively Polka Band!
The name of the game here is Oktoberfest all day, err’ day so the tables are a mix of smaller tables along with large, communal tables where multiple parties could be seated.
Sort of like San Angel Inn over in the Mexico Pavilion, it’s always dusk in Biergarten. UNLIKE San Angel Inn, however, this spot is known for its loud and fun polka band that plays center stage throughout the day. These guys are a hoot and play a set of traditional German classics with a few Disney hits mixed in. 🙂
Remember those Ricola cough drop commercials in the 90s? The big long horn they blow into that a generation probably just thought was called a “Ricola Horn?” Well, it’s actually called an Alphorn, and they play it here along with a number of other really unique instruments!
Biergarten is a fun, unique place to eat. In our experience, kids go nuts at the opportunity to dance in front of the stage with the band going, and adults love to get the chance to enjoy full-sized liters of German beer while they watch from the comfort of their seats!!
BUT, we’ll be the buzzkills to share what you might have already guessed: dancing and having fun in front of the stage is a no-go right now. Likewise, due to social distancing concerns, only one party is being seated per table. This is actually quite nice. If you’ve shared one of these long tables before you might know the feeling — even if the other parties at your table are friendly, it’s still a bit awkward sharing a table with another family. Running out of tables wasn’t a concern on our visit…the restaurant was basically empty!
With our BIG table all to ourselves, it’s time to tuck in.
All is not as is was pre-closures here in the food department and, honestly, that might be a dealbreaker for you from the get-go (more on that in a minute). Biergarten was typically an all-you-care-to-eat German buffet. On the entrance wall opposite the band, you’d find a cozy buffet full of hot and cold German classics.
With buffets being a no-go right now, Biergarten did what spots like Chef Mickey’s chose to do — plate their most popular buffet foods as a family-style version of the meal. It’s still all-you-care-to-eat, but without ever having to hop back in line.
Herein lies the problem a number of you may face: German food isn’t everyone’s cup of tea (or…liter of beer?). The food has a heavy emphasis on meat and potatoes and flavors that are decidedly not for the picky eaters in your party. You’d typically find multiple types of foods like sauerkraut, sausages, cold sliced meats, hot meats, carved meat, breaded meats (noticing the meat trend here? 😂). Yes there’s veggies and some simpler foods, but if you’re not open to new flavors, you’d be picking around the buffet to find something you like (and possibly settling on eating a plate full of just pretzel bread for dinner). We happen to enjoy the variety of meats (and other food) served here, so we were more than happy to try out the family-style meal.
So be warned: if you thought you’d have a tough time finding something you liked back when Biergarten was a full buffet, it might be MORE challenging with a set menu! Speaking of, are you ready to see the most underwhelming sounding menu ever? (We promise it’s much more robust than it sounds here!):
The set menu is $46 for adults and $25 for kids. Before we dive into that mind-blowing menu, let’s get our drink on. No Oktoberfest is complete without plenty of beer, so we opted for the German Beer Flight, which includes 5-ounce pours of each of the four beers from the menu: Beck’s Pilsner, Warsteiner Dunkel, König Ludwig Weissbier, and Schöfferhofer Pink Grapefruit Hefeweizen. This flight is offered for $15.
We drank our beers in order, of course. The Beck’s Pilsner is exactly what it says it is: a pilsner. It’s classic, light, and can go down easy with a bunch of hearty German food.
Meanwhile, the Warsteiner Dunkel is heavier, meatier, and has lots of dark beer flavor. It’s good for dark beer lovers, but it can definitely fill you up!
On the opposite end of the spectrum, you have the König Ludwig Weissbier — a nice, crisp, wheat beer with a slight fruitiness to it. Think of it a little bit like a Blue Moon (but German!).
Finally, we sampled the Schöfferhofer Pink Grapefruit Hefeweizen.
This may be the beer for non-beer lovers. It’s light, crisp, and refreshing with a bit of fresh grapefruit flavor. If a more substantial pour of any of these beers is what you’re after, you can order any of these four beers for $16 per liter or $10.50 per half-liter. They also offer a few German wines.
Bread and Salads
As we mentioned, the food is plated family-style and scaled up or down depending on your party. You get a little bit of everything to start with (after being asked by your server if you have allergies), and then you can always ask for a little more of something if you take a liking to it. We started with pretzel bread, which arrived with butter balls, mustard, and ketchup.
This bread is wonderful. It’s really just an excuse to eat your weight in soft pretzels disguising themselves as bread, but who cares 😉. It’s a delight. We tried not to eat TOO much because we had our eyes on the prize: SAUSAGES.
The next round was the seasonal salads. We were served macaroni salad, potato salad, tomato and cucumber salad, and beet salad.
The macaroni salad was SUPER creamy and cold, with bits of celery that added a nice crunch. This was totally our favorite of the four! This was like really good potato salad from a family picnic. We ordered seconds of this one!
The potato salad had a similar creamy dressing to the macaroni salad that we thought tasted mildly mustard-based but was jazzed up with a touch of paprika.
The tomato and cucumber salad added some much-needed brightness and freshness to the salad course. The cucumbers were shaved this and the grape tomatoes were fresh and juicy. It was quite vinegary as well, which was also welcomed after the two heavier creamy salads.
Finally, all of you beet fans will probably appreciate the beet salad, which added some tanginess and earthiness to the plate.
We’ll admit beets are typically not our favorite vegetable. If this was still the buffet version of Biergarten, we would have likely walked right past the bowl of beet salad but since we were served it, we gave it the ol’ college try. It still wasn’t our thing, but if you’re a ride or die beet fan, you’ll likely love it.
After sampling all of the salads, it was time for the main course! We were served a full plate of traditional sausages, rotisserie chicken, meatballs, schnitzel, sauerkraut, spaetzle, and roasted potatoes. It’s a LOT of meat, y’all:
German food is ALL about the sausages, and the traditional sausages on our plate were flavorful, meaty, and basically everything you’d want out of a wurst. Since we didn’t have the advantage of buffet cards to let us know WHAT we’re eating, we had to take our best guess. The variety of sausages we were served were all flavorful and none registered as spicy. They tasted predominantly like pork, which is typically the preferred meat of many German recipes.
The schnitzel, which is basically just breaded and fried thin pork cutlets, is a guest favorite, and we can see why! It’s hard not to enjoy a tender piece of pork covered in crunchy, seasoned breadcrumbs then deep-fried. This is mega approachable for both kids and adults (remember, you can ask for as much as you like if this is the hit of your group!).
We also found the meatballs to be incredibly tender — these may have been our favorite of the four different meats we tried (don’t tell the traditional German sausages!). The sauce on them was a savory brown gravy.
And the sleeper hit of the meal? The rotisserie chicken. We found this meat to be super flavorful and moist. Most folks go straight for the sausages or schnitzel when these were on the buffet, but the advantage of this family-style service is that you get to sample things you may not otherwise have chosen to try!
The included sides (hiding under the mountain of meat) were simple roasted potatoes, sauerkraut, and spaetzle. The sauerkraut is exactly as you’d imagine — tangy. That’s one of those love or hate foods for most people and, even if you’re not a fan, you’ll still receive a hefty scoop to begin with. The spaetzle looks and sounds weird but it’s really just little nubs of buttery pasta. If you have a kid who’s obsessed with buttered noodles, prepare to watch them inhale ALL of this (no lie — we did too!).
Now comes the time in any good DFB review full of meats and bread that we remind you that the pretzel bread you totally showed restraint and DIDN’T devour before your main course (you didn’t, right??) can be sliced in half and stuffed with meats and mustard for some slammin’ little sliders. You’re welcome.
It may seem like there’s no room for dessert after all of that, but you know us at DFB, and we ALWAYS have room for dessert. We were served a selection of three different sweets that were popular on the buffet: Black Forest cake, cheesecake, and apple strudel. This all came with a side of berry compote.
The Black Forest cake was decadent and chocolatey.
But what did it have hiding inside?! Well, cherries, of course! Serving this as a roulade like this made it easy to get a scoop of fruit, cream, and cake in each bite.
The cheesecake at Biergarten isn’t what you think of as typical cheesecake. It’s more like very light, airy layers of sponge cake with a mild and almost whipped cream-like filling. If anyone in your group doesn’t like cheesecake, have them give this a go. It really tastes more like a lightly sweetened cake. We recommend taking that side of berry compote and piling it high onto this dessert.
The last dessert, a classic apple strudel, came with a vanilla sauce. If you’ve eaten here before you may know this was their star dessert and was hand-sliced fresh for each guest on the buffet line. Most strudels gets soggy FAST but at Biergarten, the pastry is typically still crisp since they serve slices as needed.
This is really just a Bavarian take on apple pie, but it’s a solid fruity dessert. A monster plate of meat and lots of cake in our belly and it was time to say Auf Wiedersehen.
Nosh or Not
Dance on over to Biergarten if:
- You are open to new flavors or genuinely love German food.
- You’re a beer fan! While you can get beers (including several of the beers we sampled at Biergarten this day) all around EPCOT, you can get a whole LITER of beer here for $16!
- You like a lively atmosphere. Though the dance floor and communal tables are currently not a thing at Biergarten, the polka musicians encourage engagement from diners through shouts of “Prost!” and lively songs. It’s not an intimate dining experience even with social distancing, but it sure can be fun!
Skip Biergarten if:
- You’re a vegetarian or have picky eaters in your party. This place is MEAT heavy. Veggie eaters will have to pick at sauerkraut, potatoes, and a couple of salads, and if your kiddo (or you!) turn your nose up at foods like bratwurst and beet salad, this won’t be worth the $46.
- You’re looking for a quiet, intimate meal. You won’t find that here!
- You really, truly enjoy this place as a buffet. There’s no word on WHEN buffets will reopen at Walt Disney World, but, of the buffets-turned-family-style-meals, this has been the least successful in our opinion. If you like that sort of all-you-can-eat, pick and choose your favorites type atmosphere, we would suggest waiting.
Biergarten isn’t for everyone. The atmosphere and music — even in the quieter reopened space — are a selling point for many families. It Is kinda great not having to share a table with another party and having room to breathe in here. Plus, while you can’t dance around to the band, it’s still pretty great live music. The food is an acquired taste though. While the family-style presentation was full of well prepared fresh food, we can’t help but miss the buffet. Some favorites, like the beer cheese soup and the selection of meats and cheeses (and maybe a couple more veggies to offset all the carbs and meat!), were missing from our plate. We’d also missed being able to control what exactly we chose to eat.
In a “normal” Disney buffet like Crystal Palace in Magic Kingdom, there are plenty of options to make everyone happy, but with cuisine as specific as German food, the buffet can leave pickier guests feeling lost. Of the choices presented to us, we LOVED the creamy macaroni salad (an option we might have walked past if this were still a buffet) but something like beet salad wasn’t our favorite and we would have previously avoided that rather than feel obligated to eat it since it was served to us. That said, we enjoy this style of food so we really enjoyed the meal overall.
Even though it’s all-you-care-to-eat family-style, the price here is a little steep compared to other table service meals at EPCOT. To make the most of your dining dollars here, you really have to commit to at least trying everything served to you, but if these foods don’t sound like your jam, maybe consider holding off for a while. We enjoyed the experience eating here pre-closure and DID enjoy ourselves this time but, honestly, we miss that buffet and the interaction in front of the stage. That said, the wide-open space to dine (tables ALL to ourselves!) and still getting to bop along with the live music were big plusses for us. You’ll need to weigh your family’s interests and see if the new style of dining is a fit for your party or not.
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What do you think of the revamped Biergarten experience? Let us know in the comments!