Seafood lovers, it’s your lucky day! We’re bringing you a review from the fish capital of EPCOT.
Yep, we’re stopping by The Seas Pavilion in EPCOT to give the latest fishy fare at Coral Reef Restaurant a REVIEW! This unique, aquatic spot doesn’t typically stand out as a must-do (have you SEEN the rest of the food at EPCOT?!), but a unique atmosphere and a robust menu of seafood favorites could make it worth the visit. Let’s see how it holds up today!
Coral Reef is one of the more interesting restaurants in Disney World with HUGE picture windows that look out into The Seas aquarium. While you’re chowing down on fish, you’ll be lookin’ at ’em too (yeah, it’s kinda weird that way!). Get ready for a seafood-focused menu with options for most palates.
We typically can take or leave this restaurant. We love the amazing atmosphere, but we’re not always sure the experience is worth the high prices and the food is typically just so-so for the price. So, how was our visit this time around?
To get to Coral Reef, first you gotta FIND Coral Reef. Head to The Seas with Nemo and Friends then head to the far right before entering. Basically hug the curved building until you hit a door. Coral Reef looks relatively unassuming from the outside and is actually your first taste that this restaurant, like much of the OG EPCOT that remains (which is now very little!), is STRAIGHT outta the 80s.
Once inside though, you’re greeted by the eclectic entryway decorated in seashells!
This hallway helps to “transport you underwater” for your meal. We DO love a theme.
All of the seashells featured in the entryway were gathered as a part of an environmentally sound program under the control of the Australian Ocean Authority. Neat!
Head into the restaurant and the interesting wavy shapes continue throughout the dining room, but your eye will probably be looking at something else…
…the HUGE windows into the adjacent aquarium!
These aquarium windows are the main feature of the restaurant and one of the main reasons we return to Coral Reef.
At one point during our meal, you could even spot divers taking care of the fish!
Seriously, we could stare into these waters for a LOT longer than the time it takes us to eat lunch.
The seating is tables and chairs, booths, and some special tables up by the tank. There really isn’t a bad seat in the room, but if you can, we recommend requesting one of the tank-side tables!
Once seated we were given a cloth napkin with utensils…
…and a QR Code to scan for the menu. The virtual menu is a pretty common sight across Disney World right now to help limit touchpoints.
Pro tip! Ask your server for a Fish Spotting Guide! Our Cast Member mentioned that it might be slightly out of date, but it was still fun and helpful to use when looking at the passing fish. These used to be handed to each table as they were seated along with real menus.
But enough about the atmosphere, let’s talk about the EATS!
Take a gander at the Coral Reef menu. As we mentioned, you’re going to see a HEAVY focus on the seafood. Let’s hope we don’t get any side-eye from the fish in the tank while we nosh on our seafood selections!
The menu has a small selection of Appetizers available, some seafood and some not. As for Entrees, you can pick between items like Shrimp, Chicken, Rib-Eye, Mahi Mahi, and more.
And finish up your meal with a selection of Desserts like The Chocolate Wave! On the other side of things, kids can start their meal with a few special Kids’ Appetizers just for them.
Then, it’s on to the Kids’ Create-Your-Own Entrees and side Selections!
Drinks-wise, you can check out some Non-Alcoholic Mocktails and a LOT of Cocktail options.
And we mean a LOT of cocktail options.
Not a cocktail drinker? That’s OK! You can also check out Beer, Hard Cider, Hard Seltzer, Specialty Coffees…
…Sparkling Wine, White Wine…
…Rose and Red Wine.
Whew! That’s a lot of options. Well, good thing we came HUNGRY. So let’s dive into the meat (Or should we say “fish?”) of the review.
You’ll start off your meal with a simple bread course — basic rolls and a big slab of butter.
They might be basic, but we’re suckers for free bread.
For our drink, we ordered the Coral’Rita for $14. This classic cocktail is a Margarita with Patrón Añejo Tequila and Cointreau.
With such standard ingredients, this drink is a very basic margarita. There’s certainly nothing bad about it and the flavors were well-balanced, but it tasted like a lime marg you can get basically anywhere. If you’re looking for a delicious margarita in EPCOT, we still recommend heading over to the Mexico Pavilion.
Food-wise, we opted to start the meal with the Lobster Bisque appetizer for $10.
This is a pretty classic bisque made with Cream, Brandy, and Chervil. Look at that creamy color!
This was our favorite thing of the whole meal! It was super creamy and buttery with solid chunks of lobster throughout. Our reporter is not a big seafood person, but she still loved this! Be warned — it’s very rich! It’s basically a lobster and sherry flavored bowl of cream (like that’s a bad thing!).
Overall, seafood fans (and even those flirting with the idea of seafood but not looking for a big slab of fish!) will probably enjoy this soup. If anything, we wish the lobster chunks were a little larger (but who doesn’t want more lobster?).
Next up, we decided to try two entrees. Spoiler alert: We find it pretty hard to pass up on Shrimp and Grits when we see it on the menu!
This dish is Sautéed Shrimp, Cheddar Cheese Grits, Local Corn Succotash, Andouille Sausage, and Creole Spice Emulsion for $30.
First of all, MAJOR props for actually giving us more than like, two shrimp. Many Disney World Shrimp and grits seem to be more “grits…with a side of shrimp.” This was a good portion of shrimpies to grits. The grits were cooked nicely and the sausage gave a fair amount of spice to the dish. We absolutely LOVED the corn too. It maybe wasn’t the best Shrimp and Grits in Disney World (we love the dish at Homecomin’!), but it was still tasty. And we like the flavor combinations. The grits were creamy and cheesy, the Andouille sausage gave it some punch, the corn was nice as sweet and gave it great texture, plus sauteed shrimp (and lots of em!). It all came together nicely.
We’ve had this before and actually really enjoyed it. Our last plate had a lot more of that “Creole Emulsion” which, to us, tasted like a spiced thinned down mayo (hey, technically that IS an emulsion!). But you know what? It was the best part of the dish, so we could have used more here!
And our OTHER entree was another Coral Reef favorite, the Seared Mahi Mahi for $31.
We’ve ALSO had this before but this go round it was a bit different. This serving features Jasmine Rice, Coconut and Cilantro-Lime Sauce, and Caribbean Shrimp Salsa.
Unfortunately, we were…less than happy with this dish. See those unappetizing white blobs on the side of the fish above? That’s typically a product of overly aggressively cooking fish. The salsa was a newer component of the dish for us but was good and fresh. The problem was the fish itself was VERY dry and chewy. For a $31 plate, the fish was NOT well-cooked. Frankly, neither dish felt quite worth the hefty price tag, but this one was especially disappointing.
Lucky for us, though, we got to wrap up our meal with a tasty dessert — The Chocolate Wave for $10! Another classic we’ve had a few times before. This sweet treat is a Warm Flourless Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Gelato. YUM.
This is a simple dessert but it was VERY tasty. We loved the rich, warm chocolate inside and the tartness from the raspberry. Sometimes, if overly cooked, this is just a meh cake. But if done right, the middle oooooozes! We had ooziness on this visit. Even though the portion is small, it’s definitely shareable with how rich it is. Chocolate fans will enjoy this dessert but keep in mind you can find other great sweets elsewhere in EPCOT.
Alright, we’re feeling pretty full so it’s time for those final thoughts!
Nosh or Not
Splash over to Coral Reef Restaurant if…
- You love an aquarium. Coral Reef has amazing atmosphere that makes you feel like you’re swimming alongside the fish during your meal! TBH the atmo is the real draw here, not necessarily the food.
- You’re a big seafood fan. This is one of the most seafood-focused restaurants in Disney World outside of Disney Springs!
- You’ve never visited Coral Reef and want to try something new.
Just keep swimming past Coral Reef Restaurant if…
- You’re not a seafood person. This menu doesn’t typically wow us, and it’s an even harder sell for someone who doesn’t like seafood.
- Something else catches your eye in EPCOT. EPCOT has some amazing food and it’s hard to consider Coral Reef among the top choices.
- You’re on a budget. $30 for an entree for lackluster food is NOT CHEAP.
Overall, we had a pleasant time at Coral Reef, but it’s hard for us to give it a recommendation for a few reasons. The food is inconsistent, the prices are wildly high, and there are a LOT of stellar options in the same park. It’s really hard to encourage you to spend 30 bucks on overcooked fish when you could get cuisine from around the world just steps away that’s far better, in our opinion.
We did have wonderful service. Our server was very nice and helpful, and she gave a lot of good suggestions. Plus, she was super attentive and happy to talk about the fish swimming by in the aquarium. We liked the living fish better than the cooked ones, thankfully!
The big winner here is the atmosphere. It’s always been the atmosphere, really. If you like an aquarium, you’ll love the views. Plus, when the divers came in to feed the fish, you get a bit of a show! Kids will probably love looking at the sea life. All the tables in here have a decent view too, so it’s really well set up so you can appreciate the sea life.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t make up for the fact that the food tends to be, well, meh. With such pricy portions, it’s hard to recommend this spot to anyone who isn’t specifically hoping to sit next to an aquarium window and check out fish for an hour or so (which, if that’s you: go for it, boo!). Guys, we’ve really tried to give Coral Reef high marks. It’s just not clicked for us yet. The times the food has been good, it was really just OK. Not something we’d seek out on return visits. The other times is was just not good. At some point we have to start wondering if it’s one of those “it’s not us, it’s you” type situations. Come to LOOK at the pretty fish, but don’t necessarily expect stellar TASTING fish.
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What do you think of Coral Reef? Tell us in the comments!