Five Top Picks for Upscale Dining at Walt Disney World
Just about everyone loves a good character dining experience at Walt Disney World, but every now and then you may find yourself looking for something just a little more refined when dining at Walt Disney World. No Deluxe Disney vacation would be complete without at least one meal where the food itself takes centre stage. Fortunately, there are a handful of excellent Walt Disney World restaurants from which to choose, with menus ranging from haute cuisine to rustic refined.
This post was last updated on July 8, 2019.
Here are my top five picks for upscale dining at Walt Disney World Resort
1. Victoria & Albert’s
No list of Disney Signature Dining would be complete without including Victoria & Albert’s. Well known as Disney’s crown jewel of dining located inside Disney’s crown jewel of accommodations (Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa), V&A serves up a AAA Five Diamond dining experience with three separate rooms from which to choose. This is the most opulent dining at Walt Disney World and is very suitable for extra-special occasions. Menus change daily with prix fixe starting at approximately US$185 per person. Thankfully, the dishes live up to the billing and you will not be disappointed with a meal at this award-winning establishment. Note that there is a dress code and children must be 10 or older to join you. Read my full review of Victoria & Albert’s here.
2. California Grill
California Grill is a standout establishment and its almost worth a reservation simply for the location alone. Perched at the very top of Disney’s Contemporary Resort (in the space that was once the Top of the World nightclub many years ago), California Grill is an upscale modern restaurant with a menu that is decidedly Pacific Coast in its inspiration. Dishes change seasonally and can include everything from sushi to brick-oven flatbreads. One of the biggest features of this restaurant is its impressive offering of wines — over 300 different labels (primarily from California vineyards, of course). If you can get a reservation that will coincide with the Happily Ever After fireworks show from the Magic Kingdom, you will have set yourself up with the perfect dinner show to accompany your dining experience.
3. The Boathouse
My newest entry on this list is The Boathouse in Disney Springs. Here you will find a waterfront restaurant with a fresh and inviting menu that’s billed as “surf and turf, Florida style.” Surrounded with refined and fun nautical decor, The Boathouse features line-caught seafood and USDA certified Gibsons Blue Star Heritage Angus Beef. My favourite dish here, however, is a steak and lobster combo (their huge variety of steak is impressive), while the Broiled Atlantic Swordfish Steak is also very good. The menu is quite large overall and even features sandwich entrees for those who want a more casual experience. The kids menu does not disappoint if you are bringing the whole family, so don’t shy away on that note. All in all a top choice for upscale dining in Disney Springs.
One of the newer restaurants on this list, Takumi-Tei at Epcot is an upscale Japanese restaurant that will take you away from the hustle and bustle happening outside its doors at Epcot and transform your day with a relaxing and enjoyable fine dining experience. The menu here features a wide range of Japanese specialties, including sushi, sushimi, Wagyu beef, tempura and more. Plus, the drinks menu also shines, with many sakes, Japanese beer and Japanese whisky to accompany your meal. Service is impeccable and the overall experience is top notch. Read my full review of Takumi-Tei here.
5. Monsieur Paul
Located upstairs from the very popular Les Chefs de France in the France Pavilion at Epcot, Monsieur Paul offers a more low-key and quiet dining experience. The restaurant offers a prix fix menu and has some great views overlooking World Showcase, if you can get a table by the window. The ambiance at Monsieur Paulis quaint and cozy and would be ideal for a romantic dinner for two. Most of the dishes here are quite good, including the grilled beef tenderloin and scallops in particular. Even the children’s menu is upscale, offering roast chicken or a child’s filet mignon.
How I Review, Rate and Rank Disney Restaurants
Ratings and reviews are typically very subjective, whether it’s a movie, restaurant, hotel or anything else for that matter.
As a formally-trained Chef and Graduate of Culinary School, I review, rate and rank Disney dining based on my culinary experience, along with my lengthy history of visiting Walt Disney World Resort. As an original Disney traveler since the Resort first opened in 1971, I visit Walt Disney World for multiple weeks each year and dine at Disney restaurants on a regular basis. My opinions are based on numerous visits to each establishment and I have experienced and tasted menu changes for nearly 50 years at Walt Disney World. As a result, I never base my reviews, opinions or rankings on a single visit. Typically, if I have a poor experience with a certain establishment that is on my list, I will not remove it immediately. It could be the result of a chef having an off day, a server having an off day, or a particular dish having an off day. So I tend to give restaurants in this situation two additional seatings over the next 12 to 18 months. If things have not improved, I will generally remove that establishment and replace it with the next establishment in line, which did not previously make my list.
When looking for reviews of any kind, my best advice is to find a reviewer who has similar tastes to your own and whom you trust. That way, a given list is more likely to provide the results you are expecting. Lists that rate things are often more art than science, but they can help to shape your planning if you have confidence in a specific reviewer.
Planning a Walt Disney World Deluxe Vacation?
Be sure to read my Guide to Planning A Walt Disney World Vacation and my post on the Five Golden Rules of Walt Disney World Vacation Planning.
Mike Belobradic: The Finer Side of Disney Travel
Luxury Travel Blogger – Deluxe Disney Travel Specialist
The Finer Side of Travel™