We’re taking a stroll down Disney’s BoardWalk, and stopping for lunch at Big River Grille & Brewing Works!
This restaurant reopened not too long ago, and we thought it would be an excellent time to stop by, nosh on some classic bar food, and people-watch on the BoardWalk. It’s been a while since we’ve stopped by and dined here, partly because our last experience was less-than-exciting. But with different menu items and a stellar location, has Big River finally moved up our list? Let’s find out.
Like we mentioned, this restaurant has a TOP-NOTCH location! It’s located right on the BoardWalk, and if you dine outside, you get a spectacular view of Crescent Lake.
Out in front of the restaurant, there are ground makers to make sure that guests stay distanced when waiting to be seated. There’s also a plexiglass barrier on the podium.
It’s important to note that when dining here right now, face coverings and temperature screenings are required. The rules changed VERY recently so now, masks must stay on even at your table until you’re actively eating or drinking and stationary.
The atmosphere may be one of our favorite things about this place, we just can’t get over how charming this place is on a mild day. Those tables you see below? All up for grabs if you chose to dine outside. They’re distanced to meet social distancing requirements.
There are also several places to sit indoors. We can’t really call these different “rooms” because it’s kind of one big area divided up with random walls and pillars. The tables in here come in a variety of sizes for different parties. The vibe here is very nondescript. Depending on where you look, it kind of puts off cafeteria turned sports bar vibes. We never know what quite to make of the lack of theming here. Oddly what this feels LEAST like…is a working microbrewery (with a teeny exception we’ll show you).
There’s a bar area as well (This is a brewery, after all!), and it’s currently set up with plexiglass barriers every few stools. We’re not sure how effective these would be, considering they don’t extend out very far, so if you’re nervous about dining close to others, maybe sit elsewhere.
Remember that tiny hint of a brewery we mentioned? There’s a small section of tables with a view of the microbrewery, which would be very fun for the beer aficionados in the group. TBH, if you’ve been to a microbrewery before, part of the fun is getting to see all the beer equipment in use. You don’t quite get at much of that vibe here.
After a quick tour, we headed back outside! We opted to dine outdoors, and we were not disappointed with the view and the weather!
Here at Big River, we were given a disposable paper menu with all of their options. The front side features appetizers, meals, and desserts…
…while the backside contains all the beer, wine, and cocktail options for those over 21. At the bottom, there’s also a selection of non-alcoholic beverages to choose from. Note they do make all their own beers here, which is pretty unique to this spot. The beer is a big draw of this location. We’ve sampled the beers on past visits, but this time we were in the mood just for food!
We started out with the Brewery Nachos with Chicken for $15.99. We were apprehensive initially — $16 is a little pricey for chips with toppings! The serving was smaller than we were hoping, but at least the toppings looked substantial enough. WITHOUT chicken or beef though, they’re $11.99.
On your plate, you’ll get tortilla chips topped with jalapenos, pico de gallo, sour cream, shredded chicken, and pepper jack cheese. The chicken was piled pretty high and was quite moist.
We found that the pepper jack cheese was more like a white queso-style dip. If you know us, you know we LOVE queso, so we were instantly pumped to try that out!
HOWEVER, we were a bit disappointed by this. The chicken wasn’t as flavorful as we hoped, and it would’ve been better if things were kicked up a notch as far as spiciness goes. The seasoning on the meat didn’t really DO much. The pepper jack queso that we were excited to try made us kinda sad too. It was cold when it was served to us and there wasn’t near enough to cover the chips.
If you’re looking for pretty basic bar food, then these nachos would probably do the trick, but we’re definitely not telling you to rush over and try them out. Also, we found a slightly unwelcome surprise when we started to dig into these further…
…a TON of lettuce underneath! We’re not sure if this was here to make the nachos look more impressive than they actually are or if Big River is just really trying to get us to eat our veggies, but that’s not what we came here to do! This felt like when you buy a new bag and it looks all nice in the store then you take it home and find it filled with crumpled up paper. This lettuce was our crumpled-up paper. For not-that-impressive nachos to begin with, trying to make em look better with “staging lettuce” isn’t helping its case.
Get outta here, lettuce. You don’t belong UNDER nachos!
Now let’s move on to our other entree of choice, the Big Brew Cheeseburger! We ordered this one for $12.99, and it felt a bit more worth the price than the nachos did.
The menu says that this burger is grilled with Southern Flyer Light Lager, but we couldn’t find any hint of that taste in ours. (Seriously — is it IN the meat? Is it poured on the grill? Basted on the burger? Did the chef sip a beer while he cooked, making it technically “grilled with Southern Flyer Light Lager?” Also, why light beer? If you’re boasting beer IN your food, go big or go home, right? 😂 We kid, we kid, but seriously…didn’t taste any beer to this.)
It truly tasted like a regular, plain Jane burger.
It was topped with cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, and pickles, but served open-faced so that you have the choice to rearrange how you’d like. Our condiments were brought to us in individual packets instead of bottles or ramekins.
We got a side of chips that were not house-made but WERE deliciously salty. It’s hard to screw up chips. We didn’t get to make the choice of a meat temperature for our burger, and it actually came out a little more “done” than we would’ve hoped.
The patty wasn’t dry by any means, but it was overcooked by our reporter’s personal standards. And like we previously mentioned, we couldn’t find ANY of that lager flavor. Considering quick-service burgers cost about the same in the parks though, you could do worse in the burger department. But you also could do lots better. This was unfortunately largely forgettable.
Okay, so we’re 0 for 2 with the things we’ve tried so far. What about dessert? Well, say hello to the Chocolate Confusion!
We’re not really sure what’s supposed to be “confusing” about this treat — it was pretty straightforward! We’re picturing a chef laughing in the kitchen like, “make it just regular old chocolate cake. But call it ‘confusion.’ That’ll get em!” For $6.99 you get a layer of chocolate mousse between two pieces of Oreo brownie cake. It’s doused in chocolate icing and chocolate chips, and it is RICH.
The mousse was light and fluffy, while the Oreo cake was moist and dense, so we got a variety of textures here. It was fairly good, especially if you like chocolate. We actually thought this was the best part of the meal!
Now, before you get carried away with that last comment, it wasn’t amazing by any means. Our reporter thought that it reminded her of a cake you could get at Costco or some other wholesale store. It was good but didn’t taste made-from-scratch. It was really just delicious by comparison to the other things we ate!
We had a hard time finding the Oreo flavor since the chocolate was so overpowering. If you’re not a seriously dedicated chocolate lover, then you may find this whole cake quite overwhelming. Even though it wasn’t bad and we might order it again, it’s not really enough to draw us back here.
Nosh or Not?
Sip on brews and snag some bar food here if:
- You’re staying in the EPCOT resort area and craving some bar food.
- You’re really into microbreweries or looking for a unique beer option in Disney World.
- You’re looking for some basic options for your children — the kids’ menu looks pretty promising.
- You’re in the area, it’s a beautiful day, and you want to dine outside on the BoardWalk.
Give this one a hard pass if:
- You want some unique food options that you can’t get at home.
- You’re looking for a really stellar dining experience.
- You’re not staying in the BoardWalk area and weren’t already planning on trekking over here.
- You’re looking for something romantic for a date night.
If you’re a picky eater or you’re just looking for some basic choices this may be a good option if you’re in the area. This isn’t a restaurant that we suggest traveling across Disney property to visit, but the service was excellent and the atmosphere earned it some serious points in our book. IF the weather cooperates, sit outside. The inside just doesn’t provide much to look at, but outside is eye candy, BB! Even though Big River Grille & Brewing Works won’t be making it on our top 10 or even our top 40, it certainly wasn’t the worst meal we’ve ever had in Disney World!
Oh Big River. We really want to like you, we promise. With SO MUCH great bar food and beer around Disney World now though, this spot has to be STELLAR to warrant a trip over (unless you’re already at the hotel!), and it’s just not. If you want some unique beer options and are close by though, it ain’t that bad. But that view from the tables outside? ::chef’s kiss::
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Have you ever been to this restaurant? Tell us in the comments!