Looking at the amount of Disney World restaurants can make you feel a bit overwhelmed about where to eat!
Every year, we take a look at the best dining options for those of you on the Disney Dining Plan. However, there is currently no dining plan in place at Disney World. So this year, we’re giving you a look at the best value table service restaurants to pay for out-of-pocket!
If you’ve followed DFB for a while you might know each year we come out with ur list of best-bets for dining around Disney World. In the past, those lists often help you find the best locations to maximize value out of the Disney Dining Plan. With the Dining Plan on hold for now, we’re changing gears too. For this list, we take into consideration the best bang for your (out of pocket) buck, as well as atmosphere, theming, and service! There is one repeat from last year’s list, but these are mostly new picks. Let’s see what made our list in 2021!
Sanaa- Animal Kingdom Lodge
The only returning restaurant on our list is Sanaa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge — Kidani Village. This is one of the most unique dining experiences at a Disney World resort, offering African and Indian-inspired dishes.
Besides the food (which is very good), the main reason that you’ll want to visit Sanaa is the view! Just outside the windows while you dine are safari animals! The restaurant is located on the Sunset Savanna where you get to see zebras, giraffes, gazelles, and more. We recommend that you request a window table so you can get the absolute best views of the animals.
If you have the option, we’d recommend grabbing a lunch reservation so you can see the animals better. What makes this restaurant such an amazing deal is that you get the safari animal experience without having to pay for admission to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. It’s like lunch and a show! In fact, time your visit for a day you don’t have park admission and you can save some SERIOUS cash by enjoying both your meal and the animals around the resort.
We have yet to have a bad dining experience at Sanaa, and we admire the unique eats and theming. One of the highlights here is the Indian-style Bread Service, which consists of 5 choices of bread and nine accompaniments! These range from hummus to jam to chutney and everything in between!
The star of the menu though is the slow-simmered entrees. Think meat or veggies in a rich sauce with rice. This is comfort food done so right.
Entrees include Pojite-inspired Goan Seafood Curry, Butter Chicken, or Braised Beef with Aloo Masala, Chickpea Wat, Cilantro-Coconut Vegetables with scented Basmati Rice ($28). They also have more familiar items like the Sanaa Burger with Spiced Mustard and Peppadew-Goat Cheese served with Sanaa Chips and a Pickle Spear ($18). This is a fairly affordable restaurant, plus you get the Animal Kingdom experience while you dine!
The animal-view is really what makes this a better deal than other restaurants in this price range. Plus, a dining reservation here gives you access to the resort, and if you go walk by the savanna, you can probably get closer to many of the breeds of animals than you can in Animal Kingdom! AND you don’t have to pay for the theme park ticket to get one of the biggest draws of the park. Sounds like a pretty good deal to us!
The Crystal Palace- Magic Kingdom
Now, this may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of the best value. But since its reopening, The Crystal Palace in Magic Kingdom is a great deal!
Crystal Palace is usually known as the character buffet in Magic Kingdom featuring Winnie the Pooh and friends. Even though there are no characters right now, a portion of the meal is still all-you-care-to-eat! With the characters gone, the price has dropped from $55 to $39 for adults and from $36 to $23 for kids.
Meals are delivered to your table part family-style, part plated meal — you’ll get an all-you-care-to-eat appetizer, one entree per person, and a dessert platter for the table. Buffets are nice for the amount of food you can eat and the variety, but now you can get a quality plated meal for cheaper and you don’t have to get up and deal with the buffet. Even better? The newly-plated menu is pretty rock solid.
The meal begins with Homestyle Buttermilk and Cheddar Bacon Biscuits for the table (served with three different spreads including…yum…pepper jelly!), which is followed by an unlimited Seasonal Salad. For an entree, adults can choose from hearty Southern classics like Crispy Fried Chicken, Brown Sugar-glazed Bone-in Pork Chop, Fire-roasted Prime Rib of Beef, Blackened Catfish and Shrimp, or Southern Fried Cauliflower. The dessert platter includes Seasonal Fritters, Banana Cream Pie, Hummingbird Cake, and a Cupcake.
Everything is included except for specialty drinks and alcohol. The character experience may be gone, but we had excellent service and food. Not to mention that the restaurant itself is GORG. Also, possibly one of the most appealing changes, the price has gone down significantly. Good quality food presented attractively for less than we paid before? Even without Pooh and friends, this is worth a look! We’d choose this meal over similar ones like Chef Mickey’s because it is slightly better on just about every level: food quality, atmosphere, location, and service!
Jungle Navigation Co. LTD Skipper Canteen- Magic Kingdom
The Magic Kingdom is full of classic snacks like Mickey pretzels, Dole Whip, and hand-dipped corn dogs (yep, they’re back!), but one restaurant in Adventureland offers up some really unique food — Jungle Navigation Co. LTD Skipper Canteen.
The menu may seem only for the most adventurous eaters but there’s actually a wide range of options (once you get past the punny names!). Guests can grab entrees like Dr. Falls Signature Grilled Steak ($34), “Hardy Har Char” Siu Pork ($25), or opt for something a little more unique like the Sustainable Fish. This dish is “Not Piranha” (AKA — whatever fresh, sustainable fish is readily available at the time) served on a Cassava Fritter with Wilted Greens and a Guava-Habanero Sauce for $31. We even listed this as one of the most dangerous things to eat in Disney World!
There are entrees with African, Asian, and Latin twists with a healthy dose of Jungle Cruise puns mixed in. The price is not bad at all for the amount and quality of food that you get.
If you are a Jungle Cruise fan, you’ll adore the story and decor from this restaurant. The restaurant itself is said to be a repurposed tropical headquarters that now feeds hungry Skippers and their crew. It’s chocked full of Jungle Cruise memorabilia and details, so this is a must-see for people who love the opening day attraction!
And of course it wouldn’t be a Jungle Cruise-themed restaurant without a witty server hitting you with all the dad-jokes you can handle. This spot is a lot of fun, so come ready to laugh. As much as we love our standard Disney food, there is nowhere else like Skipper Canteen in the parks. The theming is impeccable, and there are so many hidden details in the restaurant. We’d almost count this as both a restaurant and an attraction, especially for HUGE Jungle Cruise fans! Compared to other table-service restaurants in the park, the atmosphere is original, exciting, and the dining experience is truly a fun one!
Sci-Fi Dine-In Restaurant/50’s Prime Time Cafe- Disney’s Hollywood Studios
The next restaurants on our list are at a tie! These dining locations are about the same price, located in the same park, and both have fun atmospheres and service, but it really comes down to your preferences as a family/group. It’s Sci-Fi Dine-In Restaurant versus 50’s Prime Time Cafe! The battle of the retro Disney’s Hollywood Studios sit-down restaurants!
Starting off with Sci-Fi Dine-In, this place is perfect if you want to be entertained the entire time you are eating. Guests get to sit in vintage-style cars while they dine, and watch sci-fi movie clips. This is not your traditional table-service because your party is not sitting around a table, making it is more difficult to talk and share food. However, this is great for people who love the feel of a drive-in movie with delicious food!
The food here is pretty standard, but you get a lot of food for what you pay for. The appetizers include Fried Pickles ($10), Smoked Seafood Dip ($11), and Crispy Chicken Strips ($12). As a meal, you can grab the Drive-in BBQ Burger which is topped with House-made BBQ Sauce, Bacon, Cheddar, Onion Rings, and Fried Banana Pepper ($21), or something lighter like an Oven-roasted Turkey Sandwich ($17) or Chicken Pasta ($24).
On the other hand, there is 50’s Prime Time Cafe, which allows guests to dine in “Mom’s Kitchen.” It’s adorably themed to look like a house in the 1950s (or more appropriately — a television set of a show set in that era!), and there are little televisions near many tables that show popular shows and clips from the time. We praise this place on its theming because it really transports you to another era!
The restaurant offers American comfort food just like mom (or, at least, a black-and-white sitcom mom) would make. We’ve continued to enjoy the food here time and time again. You can order crowd-pleasers like Aunt Liz’s Golden Fried Chicken ($24), Cousin Megan’s Traditional Meatloaf ($21), Mom’s Old-fashioned Pot Roast ($24), or a sampling of all three ($26)! The servings are quite large (read: easily shareable!)and hearty.
The servers (here, known as your “aunt, uncle, or cousin”) usually banter with guests over bad manners like putting their elbows on the table, being on their phone too much, or not finishing their vegetables. However, since reopening, we’ve noticed that the banter has been muted just a bit. The Cast Members are still in character and make the meal fun, but you won’t get messed with quite as much, so keep that in mind.
If you love 50’s Prime Time for the teasing, you may want to consider trying out Sci-Fi for a different style of kitschy fun. If you want a more traditional meal around a table where you can talk to your group, you may want to pick 50’s Prime Time over Sci-Fi. We think both of these restaurants are SO much fun (especially for kids!) and have good food, so it’s hard to go wrong!
These two restaurants are on the list because they provide a fully immersive experience. At each restaurant, it feels like you step back in time and that you are truly in a 1950’s kitchen or a drive-in. There are some restaurants in the park that aren’t very exciting in terms of atmosphere (we’re looking at you Mama Melrose’s), so we’d have to say these two are the most fun spots in Hollywood Studios to dine!
Jaleo by José Andrés- Disney Springs
Jaleo is known for its variety of tapas and its mix of traditional and contemporary Spanish flavors. There are several sections on the menu featuring seafood, vegetables, meats, and more. One of the highlights here is the Quesos (AKA cheeses) where guests have a choice of three for $19, or a selection of five for $28. This menu is large, so it’s easy to come back again and again to try new things!
The majority of tapas range from $9-$12, making it super fun to order a few plates to share for the table. The atmosphere feels very upscale, and is a great environment for a date night or celebration.
Some of the dishes on the menu are cooked on a wood-grilled fire pit called the Paella Pit (if you’re wondering, yep, they make Paella on it!), which gives food a smoky and deep flavor. It’s not every day that you see your food being cooked in a traditional Spanish fire pit!
If you’re looking for a great meal to share with a group, this is a memorable spot with really unique options you won’t find everywhere in Disney World. Yes, there are plenty of places to grab a meal in Disney Springs, but with the vibrant atmosphere and fun eats, the experience here doesn’t compare to anything else in the shopping and dining district. Also, the atmosphere and vibe lends itself to many special occasions like date night, girl’s night out, celebrations, and more!
Wine Bar George- Disney Springs
Wine Bar George has become a pretty popular restaurant in Disney Springs. You hear “wine bar” and think of this as a pricier restaurant with an emphasis on wine, but we’re here to tell you how to do it on a budget!
One of the perks that not everyone knows about is the Outstanding by the Ounce wine menu, which allows you to try an ounce of just about any wine you want for a low price! If you want to taste several wines, just ask your server about this and you can get sips of wine for fairly cheap. The price depends on the wine, but this is the perfect way to try different wines without paying a fortune.
For lunch and dinner, guests can grab a variety of small plates including Crispy Mac & Cheese Bites ($12), Hummus ($11), Shishito Peppers ($9), and even Grilled Octopus Salad ($18) if you’re feeling fancy. These aren’t too expensive and they are easily shared among the table. The food here is really, really good. It’s fast become one of our favorite spots in Disney World.
On top of the lovely eats and wine, this gorgeous restaurant has rooftop dining with stunning views of Disney Springs. Want gorg photos of that Aerophile balloon? They gotchu.
This spot has been a DFB favorite for quite some time, and for good reason. Not only is the food amazing and reasonably priced, but the restaurant itself is beautiful. Based on the views and service alone, we feel like we should be paying a lot more for the experience than we actually do! How can you go wrong with a glass of wine, mac & cheese bites, and people-watching from a rooftop table?
Via Napoli- EPCOT
If you’re looking to dine at a classic EPCOT restaurant in World Showcase, Via Napoli in the Italy Pavilion can be a really great deal.
This is probably the most notable pizzeria on Disney World property, and that is a highlight of their menu. And if you get a pizza to share with the group, the cost to dine here will go way down.
Luckily, Via Napoli has a GIANT pizza that can feed many people! There are Individual, Large, and Mezzo Metro sizes for each type of pizza, and the Mezzo Metro size is HUGE for $55. If you split this pizza between a large group, this a great deal. It’s also super fun for your kids, and they will be amazed by the sheer size of this thing!
Via Napoli also has a few pasta dishes ranging from $28-$30, but the pizza is the best bang-for-your-buck here. It IS a pizzeria after all! As one of the most iconic restaurants in World Showcase, we couldn’t help but put this lovable restaurant on the list. There is amazing service here, and the Cast Members treat you like part of the big, Italian family. There are tons of options in EPCOT, but what makes this spot stand out is the lovable atmosphere. Where else can you see super detailed wood-burning pizza ovens?
Rose & Crown Dining Room- EPCOT
Another iconic restaurant from EPCOT’s World Showcase is the United Kingdom Pavilion’s Rose and Crown Dining Room! This place is known for its classic English meals that will transport you right to the U.K.
Not only did we thoroughly enjoy our last visit here, but the location is hard to beat. You can sit right along World Showcase Lagoon, and — when fireworks are actually happening — you can get gorgeous views if you time it right.
There is not another restaurant in Disney World like the Rose and Crown. The English-inspired menu offers English classics like Bangers and Mash ($21), Fish & Chips ($25), and Shepherd’s Pie ($22).
If you’re in the mood for some hearty United Kingdom favorites, this is the place to be! We think the prices are fair considering portion sizes, atmosphere, and unique eats. The restaurant has a charming feel and really transports you to the United Kingdom. If you’ve always wanted to visit the country across the pond, this restaurant will make you feel like you’re there! The food is authentic and hearty, and if you sit on the patio you’ll get amazing views of World Showcase Lagoon. Obviously other restaurants in World Showcase are incredible, but we feel that Rose and Crown really transports you out of a theme park through a mixture of flavors, ambiance, and service!
The list may look pretty different this year without the Dining Plan, but we hope our selections help you while planning your next Disney World vacation. Just because you can’t prepay for your Disney World meals doesn’t mean you have to settle! SO many great Disney World locations are around property but just might not have made our list in the past because they didn’t offer the BIGGEST bang for your Dining Plan buck. These all made the cut for several reasons including great food for reasonable prices, awesome theming that you’d expect from a Disney World restaurant, and stellar service. Each of these spots is unique, and if you’re looking for the best band-for-your-buck (out of pocket) at table service locations, check out one of these locations!
Were you surprised by a restaurant on our list? Let us know in the comments!