Top 10 Table Service Restaurants at Walt Disney World
Dining at Walt Disney World is a big part of the fun of a Disney vacation.
With over 100 restaurants from which to choose, however, it can get a little overwhelming trying to pick the five or six table service restaurants that you may get a chance to visit during your WDW vacation. Not all Disney World restaurants are created equal and while there are some very good table service restaurants at Walt Disney World, there is also a handful that I would definitely avoid.
Having said all that, as a regular visitor to Walt Disney World since it first opened, I have tried virtually every restaurant there (usually more than once) and I definitely have my go-to list of favourites. I am not including character dining or dinner shows in this list; these are my personal favourite restaurants for straight-up table service dining at Walt Disney World.
My Top 10 Favourite Table Service Restaurants at Walt Disney World
This list is based on dining for dinner service only and is in no particular order.
Note: This post was updated on July 30, 2017. Skipper Canteen was removed from the list and Tiffins has taken its place.
California Grill (Disney’s Contemporary Resort)
Perched atop Disney’s Contemporary Resort hotel (in what used to be the nightclub known as Top of the World in the early days of Walt Disney World), California Grill is one of our favourite spots to dine. Not only is the food fresh, light and very good, but the view is among the best you will find anywhere at Walt Disney World. The menu here includes a charcuterie selection and sushi, along with a good selection of great entrees, such as Oak-Fired Filet of Beef, Crispy Seared Red Snapper, Coconut Vegetable Curry, Wagyu Beef Striploin, Bison, Halibut and the list goes on. If you like wine, then that is yet another great reason to add California Grill to your list of must-dine Disney.
Grand Floridian Cafe (Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort)
For many years, Narcoossee’s was one of my favourite table service restaurants at Walt Disney World. However, this is no longer the case and it has been removed from this top 10 list. In its place, the Grand Floridian Cafe has risen to top tier status. For our last two visits back-to-back at these two restaurants (most recently in March 2017), the Grand Floridian Cafe has reigned supreme in both value and food quality. The grilled strip steak at the Grand Floridian Cafe is heads and tails above its counterpart at Narcoossee’s (and it’s $20 less expensive as well!). The same goes for the seafood/fish dishes. While our fish was dry and overcooked at Narcoossee’s, the Grand Floridian Cafe shone with succulent seafood at comparatively reasonable prices. What you lack in the waterside ambiance, you gain in both exceptional service and food quality. Dollar for dollar, the Grand Floridian Cafe is becoming a standout in our books, while unfortunately Narcoossee’s has gone consistently downhill (while prices rise) over the past few years.
Be Our Guest (Disney’s Magic Kingdom)
Located in Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom, Be Our Guest holds the honor of being the first restaurant that was ever licensed in this theme park. It was the excellent menu, however, that vaulted Be Our Guest to a prominent position as one of the hottest dining reservations in all of Walt Disney World — almost immediately upon opening its doors in December 2012. The restaurant is set inside the Beast’s Castle and the ambiance is spectacular — especially if you are a fan of Beauty and the Beast. You can even dine in the West Wing and see the rose itself, but I find that room to be too dark for dining (don’t worry, you can walk around the entire restaurant and take photos etc., so you don’t necessarily have to be in that room). The menu itself was a breath of fresh air for the Magic Kingdom and it has held its own as one of the top table service restaurants at Walt Disney World, in my opinion. Dinner entrees here include French-inspired dishes such as Braised Pork (Coq au vin style), Roasted Lamb, Ratatouille, Sauteed Shrimp and Scallops and much more. The restaurant is known for its cupcake desserts, but to be honest, I don’t think that they quite live up to their mystical reputation. Still, however, this is a family favourite and well worth a spot in our top 10.
The Boathouse (Disney Springs)
One of the newer ones on my list, The Boathouse is a waterfront restaurant located in Disney Springs. As you would guess from the name, The Boathouse is seafood inspired and Disney describes the menu as “surf and turf Florida style.” Here you will find a raw bar and a really great variety of buckets filled with options such as clams, Hoison Chili Calamari, Firecracker Shrimp (a fave) and much more. The menu here is gigantic and includes everything from salads, to sandwiches, fish features, surf & turf options, steaks and chops and more. This is one of the most extensive higher-end menus I have come across at Walt Disney World. So if you want a restaurant with good food and lots of variety (even for non seafood lovers), then this is worth considering. While I haven’t tried even one-tenth of this menu, my favourite dish here so far is the Baked Crab Stuffed Lobster, while my wife is a fan of the fish tacos. The kids’ entrees are good as well, offering more variety than the typical Disney kids menu.
‘Ohana (Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort)
‘Ohana is an old favourite for us. This is the only buffet on the list (or “all-you-care-to-enjoy” in Disney speak), but it is served like a Brazilian steak house where servers bring the food to your table as they circulate throughout the room. Dinner at ‘Ohana is somewhat of an interactive experience. The theme here is “dinner with Hawaiian hospitality,” which means that throughout your meal you can take part in coconut races, a conga line and other island-inspired fun. For this reason, ‘Ohana is a great choice for kids as they can get up from the table to take part in the fun and games and sing-a-longs with the ukulele player. Let’s not forget about the food, though. The options here are not extensive, but they are all pretty good and you can have as much as you like. My personal favourites are the Honey Coriander Wings and the Szechuan Sirloin Steak. There are chicken and shrimp skewers as well, along with noodle and vegetable options. What would a dinner like this be without tropical drinks served in pineapples? Well, ‘Ohana has you covered there as well. All in all this a very fun dining experience and it can be a tough reservation to get as well, so be sure to book early.
Le Cellier (Canada Pavilion, Epcot)
If you are a meat lover, then look no further than your own backyard and the Canada Pavilion at Epcot. Le Cellier is a steakhouse that is set in a wine cellar type of ambiance. They are best known for their Cheddar Cheese Soup and while it is very good, it’s also very filling. For that reason I usually bypass the soup to save room for the steak. While steak dishes of all shapes and sizes rule the day here (and they are very good), there are also vegetarian, chicken and fish dishes to ensure that everyone is covered. You can also add a lobster tail to any dish to create a surf and turf. A nice little piece of Canadiana here is that Le Cellier offers three varieties of poutine on their menu — along with cheeses of all varieties. The kids’ menu here mirrors the main menu (steak, fish, chicken and pasta), once again giving the kids a break from the same old same old that you tend to find on the kids menus at many Disney restaurants.
Tiffins (Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park)
Another relatively new restaurant is Tiffins in Disney’ Animal Kingdom Park. This Signature dining restaurant brings a new level of culinary options to Animal Kingdom and it has lived up to the anticipation that surrounded its arrival. Tiffins has a theme of global discovery to its culinary approach (in keeping with the Park) and the menu offers a good variety of dishes that you won’t find everywhere else. Among the standout dishes here (and there are many) is the Wagyu Strip Loin and Braised Beef Short Rib, along with the Pomegranate-lacquered Chicken and Grilled Swordfish. There is an extensive wine list at Tiffins as well. The kids’ menu also features some excellent choices, including grilled beef, grilled chicken, pan-seared fish and pasta. Definitely worth a visit.
Whispering Canyon Cafe (Disney’s Wilderness Lodge)
Whispering Canyon Cafe is not your typical table service restaurant. It is relatively loud and raucous and that is exactly the reason you will go here. Dining at Whispering Canyon is meant to be fun and interactive. Your server will have an attitude (in a fun way) and just about anything can happen when you dine here. I don’t want to give too much away because it’s more fun eating here when you don’t know all the things that may go down. So just know that if you want to have a fun Disney dining experience, then Whispering Canyon Cafe is worth considering. There is an all-you-care-to-enjoy BBQ option here, which includes ribs, chicken, pulled pork and more. As a BBQ chef, I have been critical of this offering in the past, but on our most recent visit (March 2016) I am happy to report that the food quality has improved. You can also order a la carte dishes, so unlike ‘Ohana, the menu at Whispering Canyon Cafe offers both options. The rustic woodland theme of Wilderness Lodge sets the tone here and the restaurant is actually open to the very impressive lobby area of this Walt Disney World resort hotel.
Monsieur Paul (France Pavilion, Epcot)
If you are in the mood for an upscale French-inspired dining experience, then head on over to Monsieur Paul in Epcot. There are two options for dining: a prix fixe menu and a good-sized regular menu as well. The prix fixe menu offers a choice of one of three entrees: rib eye, lobster or lamb. If none of those inspire you, then the regular menu offers chicken, fish, scallops, duck and beef tenderloin. The food quality here is quite good and the prices are on the upper end — but not as high as Narcoossee’s, generally speaking. The desserts here are impressive, which you would expect from a French restaurant.
Yak & Yeti (Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park)
Over in Animal Kingdom Park you will find Yak & Yeti Restaurant. Yak & Yeti’s menu is pan Asian and features dishes such as Teriyaki Mahi Mahi and a Kobe Beef Burger, along with wok dishes, noodle bowls and more. For a table service restaurant it is not terribly expensive by Disney standards and the food is good. If you are in the mood for a casual Asian-inspired dining experience, then Yak & Yeti is a good consistent place to dine. My two favourites here are the Korean Short Ribs and the Chicken Tikka Masala.
Be Sure to Book Ahead
Many first-time visitors to Walt Disney World don’t realize that the most popular restaurants can book up far in advance. You are allowed to make dining reservations 180 days (six months) before your booked vacation and veteran WDW travellers are sure to do that. If you wait too long, you may be disappointed by not being able to get a reservation at the restaurant of your choice. So if you have a booked Disney vacation, do yourself a favour and book your dining as soon as you can. It will make the overall vacation experience that much better.
How I Review, Rate and Rank Disney Dining
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.
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Mike Belobradic: The Finer Side of Disney Travel
Luxury Travel Blogger – Deluxe Disney Travel Specialist
The Finer Side of Travel™