The Hollywood Brown Derby fits right in with the swanky feel of Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
This spot is one of our most tried and true restaurants in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This signature dining location provides an upscale feeling of glitz and glamour that most people associate with the feeling of walking down Hollywood Boulevard. It hasn’t been too long since our last visit to the Brown Derby, but we’re back again (what can we say, we’re suckers for a good Cobb Salad!) to give you an updated look into this snazzy spot!
The magic of the Brown Derby is that it transports you into a classic, old-Hollywood era. This comes as no surprise since the restaurant is modeled after the actual Brown Derby restaurants that opened in Los Angeles in the 1920s. These restaurants welcomed Tinseltown’s prominent players who stopped by for a drink or a bite to eat during their breaks from filming or after a long day.
The original Brown Derby restaurant (but not the exact location that the Disney World spot was modeled after) was shaped like a men’s derby hat, which would fittingly become an icon for the spot. The restaurant is located at the end of Hollywood Boulevard, nestled on the corner.
As guests make their way into the Hollywood Brown Derby, they’ll find a small lounge area outside. Under normal circumstances, guests would be able to order small plates to enjoy outside at this first come, first served style lounge. Right now, the lounge is only offering drinks.
As we make our way into the Brown Derby, we’re immediately met with that old Hollywood charm that’s drawn out into the architecture, Cast Member’s costumes, and especially, the decor that lines the walls. The entrance area is cozy with tuxedoed Cast Members to greet you. We checked in with the Mobile Dine Check-in feature on My Disney Experience and waited around in the entrance area for our text that our table was ready.
The original Brown Derby restaurants were no stranger to hosting Hollywood’s celebs. The black and white sketches bring life to the walls of the restaurant by featuring some familiar faces who would grab a bite to eat at the Brown Derby during breaks from filming. A caricature artist would often roam the restaurant capturing likenesses of its patrons. They add a lot of character to the swanky, high-class feel of this restaurant famous for hosting Hollywood’s haunts. MOST of these framed photos are recreations of the originals, but a few in gold frames are actually drawings from the real Derby!
A nod to the iconic derby hat can be seen in the lighting fixtures with a fun, brass lampshade!
The main dining area is warm and inviting. Lots of cozy incandescent lighting, rich woods, and brass.
In order to follow health and safety guidelines, not all tables within the restaurant are available at the moment, as we’ve seen in most Disney restaurants. The dining area includes standard tables, as well as booths covered with white tablecloths. At our table, we were met with cloth napkins with utensils, along with paper menus and a QR code to access the menu (more on that soon).
While we think the decor is great, let’s get into our favorite part of all — the food!
Not only is the Brown Derby successful in its theming and character, but it also serves up some GREAT eats. We’ve visited this spot lots of times and we have yet to be let down. This restaurant offers contemporary American cuisine, including a phenomenal Cobb Salad and a delicious Grapefruit Cake. Now, these are some of the staple items from the Brown Derby, but on this trip, we decided to mix the classics with some different items. Let’s get into the menu!
We visited The Hollywood Brown Derby for dinner and were met with paper menus. The drink menu included an extensive collection of wines and champagne.
Plus, there’s an expansive selection of specialty cocktails, beer, cider, and pretty much anything your heart could desire, it seems. Note they do have a full and very well-stocked bar here, so if you don’t see what you’re after, feel free to ask your server!
In order to access the dinner menu, we were given a QR code to scan. We’ve seen this in many Disney restaurants since its reopening.
The dinner menu includes an array of appetizers including a Lobster Bisque and a Charcuterie Board (more on that later😉). We’ve tried the Shrimp Cocktail on our last visit. It was good, but the size was well…shrimpy for the price paid!
The entrées selection includes a plant-based option, along with seafood, a Wagyu Burger, and of course, that Famous Cobb Salad that we just can’t get enough of! No seriously, we order it, like, every time we come here.
The kids’ selection of appetizers is a little scarce at the moment, with just a Chopped Salad and Chicken Noodle Soup.
Kids’ Entrées see some classic options like chicken and a hot dog, but there are also some interesting options like Vegetarian Pho! Each entree comes with two selections, and those options include…
…the choice of these sides! Kids can get their fruits AND veggies when selecting from this list.
As previously mentioned, the Grapefruit Cake is a Brown Derby Original and it’s a true dessert masterpiece. We dined her right around Christmas so some seasonal desserts were offered including an Eggnog Crème Brûlée and a Peppermint Flourless Chocolate Cake.
We last visited the Brown Derby in late November, so not very long ago at all! Since our last review, the entrées have remained the same but the appetizers have seen a slight change. The Curried Butternut Squash Soup which incorporated lots of fall flavors has been replaced with the Lobster Bisque. Additionally, the Mango-Passion Fruit Mousse and the Chocolate Mousse Cake were switched out for the seasonal desserts! However, they’re still available as allergy-friendly dessert options.
On this visit to the Hollywood Brown Derby, we dabbled in a delicious appetizer, the evergreen Famous Cobb Salad, an indulgent dessert, and one of the many flights offered on the drink menu!
Let’s jump right in. First, we were served rolls with salted butter.
These were pretty standard dinner rolls, but the added salt on the butter was a nice touch of heightened flavor.
Why order just one martini when you can have three?! We ordered the Martini Flight which includes the Derby Vodka, Derby Gin, and Pomegranate Martinis.
We tried the Martini Flight a few years back, but it’s gotten some updates since then! The flight previously included the Classic Gin Martini with Hendrick’s Cucumber and Rose Petal Infused Gin and Dry Vermouth. The second martini was the Citrus Vodka, with Absolut Citrus Vodka, Cointreau, and simple syrup. And the third was the Derby Cosmo with Absolut Pears Vodka, Grand Marnier, and cranberry juice.
We loved the Martini Flight then, and we still love it now with the updates it’s gotten!
The Derby Vodka was our personal favorite out of the three. The drink includes Grey Goose Vodka with Dry Vermouth, plus a lemon garnish. Being basically glasses full of pure booze, these are obviously strong.
The lemon was more of a flavor than it was added acidity. Super smooth and drinkable and the brightness of the lemon added a great flavor.
Next up, is the Derby Gin with Nolet’s Dry Gin and Dry Vermouth. Gin lovers will especially appreciate this drink because the gin flavor is strong but really enjoyable.
And of course, what’s a martini without an olive?
The Pomegranate Martini incorporates Absolut Citron, Pomegranate Liqueur, and Cranberry Juice. This drink was quite sweet and reminded us of the Cosmo that used to be included in the Martini Flight!
If you enjoy a sweet cocktail with underlying fruity tones, you’ll love this one! The pomegranate adds a light, fruity flavor to this drink but doesn’t push the boundaries of being overly sweet.
We think the flights that the Brown Derby offers are a fun way of trying a bunch of different drinks for roughly the same price as if you’d just ordered one by itself. Martini fans will love this assortment because it allows you to taste a bit of each of the options. And how could you choose just one?! Plus, it pairs classic Martini flavors with more fresh and updated takes on the drink. This flight costs $17. By Disney standards, that’s a downright bargain!
If you’re not a fan of drinks straight up or prefer your drinks a little sweeter to cut the alcohol, maybe consider the Margarita Flight over this one. Same vibe but a bit more drinkable if you’re not down for straight liquor. With flavors like blood orange and traditional lime, you’ll get a sweeter sip!
After tasting our way through the martinis, we moved on to the Charcuterie Board. The chef’s selection of cured meats during our visit included Cured Salami, Prosciutto, and Bresaola. The meats were accompanied by Aged Gouda, Blue Cheese, and Cheddar with an Espresso Lavender Rub. Plus, for some additional flavors, it came with Local Honey and Pickles with Pickled Onions and Olives. And of course, crackers!
The board was displayed beautifully. The bresaola even looks like a rose! Bresaola is a salted beef that originated in Northern Italy. It’s served thinly sliced and has a rich, salty flavor to it.
The prosciutto was also displayed nicely! This was a classic paper thin cut of prosciutto incorporating both the sweetness and saltiness of the cured ham.
Out of the choices of meats, the Cured Salami was our favorite. It had a little bit of spice to it, as you can see the little bits of peppercorn in the slices.
Now, let’s move on to the cheeses! First up, we’ve got the aged gouda. This was packed with flavor and nice and crumbly.
We were given a nice portion of the blue cheese, which was garnished with some aged grapes still on the stem. Take a look at all the blue veins running through the cheese. We enjoyed it, but we know that blue cheese has a strong flavor that just isn’t some people’s jam. Luckily, there’s another cheese for those folks to try.
The sharp cheddar with espresso and lavender rub was our favorite cheese on this board! The cheese was fairly mild and we got a tiny bit of bitterness from the rub (TBH it tasted more cocoa than espresso to us!).
For a bit of added sweetness to the board, a portion of local honey was included. It was sweet, of course, and added a different dimension of texture to the charcuterie board. Interestingly, it was served ON a fork, so if you have multiple people nibbling on your board, you might need to dump it on the board to cut it up to share!
With sweet, you’ve gotta have sour, too. That’s where the pickles, pickled onions, and olives come into play.
This trio of pickled goodies provided a little extra bite, plus some more saltiness.
The crackers we were given to pair with our cheeses, meats, and other accompaniments were crispy, with different types of sesame seeds.
Of course, we had to try a couple of pairings together! We put the pickles together with the crackers for a nice bite.
Overall, we thought the Charcuterie Board was really well-curated. We found that the selection of meats and cheeses paired well together, and similar to the Martini Flight, we liked being able to sample a little bit of everything. Many cheese boards in Disney World tend to be a bit too heavy on the cheese or the meat, meaning you run out of one way before the other. Not here!
If we could’ve changed anything, we would’ve liked to see some spreads included along with the accompaniments. An addition like mustard, or another savory spread like a pâté, would really tie the board together nicely.
We think this board is a homerun for charcuterie fans because you get a lot of variety and hefty portions for the price of $21. Charcuterie Boards are fairly common these days, so if you’re looking to try something a little more interesting, the Brown Derby offers more unique options like the Pan-Seared Scallops with Roasted Pork Belly. Plus, you’ll still be able to get your charcuterie fix in a smaller portion from spots like BaseLine Tap House (another fav charcuterie board), also in Hollywood Studios.
Now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for — it’s time for the Famous Cobb Salad. You knew it was coming. Let’s just all appreciate this fab salad together. We ordered this when we visited last month, and we ordered it yet again. Surprised? You shouldn’t be! We’ve yet to have a negative experience with this salad so we keep coming back for more again and again.
This dish incorporates the classic flavors you’ll find in a Cobb Salad, including Spit-Roasted Turkey, Finely Chopped Greens, Bacon, Egg, Tomatoes, Avocado, Chives, Crumbled Blue Cheese, and Cobb Dressing. Typically, a Cast Member will prepare the salad by mixing it tableside. With the new health and safety measures in place, you can now request if you’d like it to be prepared tableside or not. We were so excited about our salad we didn’t snap a pre-toss photo!
We love this salad because it’s a classic and it has yet to disappoint us or leave us wanting more. It’s fresh and each bite treats you to a variety of flavors. The flavors are standard for a Cobb Salad, but this is no boring salad. Plus, it’s an excellent portion, especially for its price of $18. This is particularly noteworthy when you look at basic salad options from quick-service locations in Hollywood Studios that cost almost as much, like the Mediterranean Salad with Chicken from ABC Commissary for $12. Salad sounds like rabbit food but this is a hearty MEAL. One day, we may have a negative word to say about this salad but it won’t be today.
Now, onto the sweet stuff. We ordered the Chocolate-Coconut Cake which includes a Chocolate Sauce, Hazelnut Cream, Fresh Raspberries, and the cake, of course, for $12.
The cake itself was incredibly rich and dense (everything you want a chocolate cake to be).
The accompanying flavors of raspberry and hazelnut paired really nicely with the chocolate. The addition of those stronger flavors breaks up a lot of the richness of the chocolate as well.
A nice bonus of this cake is that it’s actually plant-based! However, we probably wouldn’t have known if we weren’t told.
We really liked this dessert, but the Disney kid in our hearts would still choose that classic Mickey Bar or another fun, themed treat elsewhere in Hollywood Studios.
Ultimately, this is an awesome choice for chocolate lovers (of course) and someone on a plant-based diet in search of a super-rich and satisfying dessert.
Nosh or Not
Consider dining at The Hollywood Brown Derby if:
- You’re interested in trying the classics of Disney World restaurants and want to “take a bite out of history,” so to speak (learn more about the history of this restaurant’s classic dishes here!).
- You’ve got an upscale palate with a liking towards finer ingredients and well-curated flavor pairings.
- You’re all about the feeling of classic Hollywood and want to immerse yourself into the feel of Hollywood Studios. Apart from the great food, a big draw of this spot is the atmosphere, after all. Other sit-down locations in Hollywood Studios focus more on fun in theming or characters. This is a spot to slow down, enjoy a meal, and relax.
Consider skipping The Hollywood Brown Derby if:
- You’re in search of a quick and light meal. Typically, the Brown Derby also offers lounge-style dining with small plates, but it’s only serving up cocktails and other drinks outside at the moment. Baseline TapHouse is another good option in the park for a light meal, but options are quite limited. We have had luck recently at Rosie’s All-American Cafe though if you’re looking for fresher, lighter fare!
- You’re not really looking to splurge on a meal. While we do think many portion sizes are fair for what you pay, as a Signature Restaurant, the Brown Derby isn’t cheap.
- Your family has more of a hamburger, sandwiches, and fries kind of vibe. They DO have a good burger here, but if you’re happy to stroll past the Brown Derby and on to Woody’s Lunch Box, we fully support you.
We think there’s something to be said for a restaurant that we visit time and time again and have yet to leave disappointed. It’s not ALWAYS a slam dunk here, but we’ve haven’t regretted our visits. Our last visit was only a month ago and we were still happy to eat that Cobb Salad again (and we would probably do it again next month, too. Or tomorrow. Maybe even tonight!). The atmosphere is eye-catching and immersive, but not in the way you’d typically associate with Disney. The service we received during this visit was attentive and accommodating.
The laidback, refined feel of this restaurant will make you forget that not too far away, Stormtroopers are running amuck and Mr. Incredible is strolling down Hollywood Boulevard just outside in the latest character cavalcade. As the only signature restaurant in Hollywood Studios, it stands up to our expectations, and we look forward to returning again in the future! If you’re a fan of contemporary American cuisine or just want a quiet break in your day during a long and hectic Hollywood Studios day, we think this is worth it for you!
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Have you ever visited The Hollywood Brown Derby? Share your experience with us in the comments!