Top 10 Table Service Restaurants at Walt Disney World
The Best Restaurants at Walt Disney World
Dining at Walt Disney World is a big part of any Disney vacation.
With over 100 restaurants from which to choose, 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 Walt Disney World vacation. Not all Disney restaurants are created equal and while there are some very good table service restaurants at Walt Disney World, there are several that stand out among the crowd for one reason or another.
As a regular visitor to Walt Disney World since it first opened, I have visited virtually every restaurant (usually more than once) and I definitely have my go-to list of favorites. I am not including character dining or dinner shows in this list; these are my personal favorite restaurants for straight-up table service dining at Walt Disney World.
My Top 10 Favorite 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 last updated on September 4, 2019.
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 August 2018), the Grand Floridian Cafe has reigned supreme in both value and food quality. The grilled strip steak at the Grand Floridian Cafe remains superior to its counterpart at Narcoossee’s. 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 Walt Disney World has its fair share of upscale dining (Signature) restaurants, there are only a few that I would consider to be fine dining. Takumi-Tei in the Japan Pavilion at Epcot is one of these.
The menu here is upscale Japanese, with the staples of sushi, sashimi and Japanese beef leading the way. Everything from the ambiance, to service, to food quality and Japanese inspiration are impeccably presented at Takumi-Tei. The Wagyu beef options are excellent and highly recommended. There is also an impressive range of sakes, Japanese beer and Japanese whisky to go with the excellent menu offerings. Read my full review on Takumi-Tei for more photos and details about what you can expect if you choose to dine at Takumi-Tei.
The Boathouse (Disney Springs)
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.
Citricos (Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort)
Citricos is one that has been on and off my top 10 list over the years and currently it has once again regained my recommendation. The menu here is Mediterranean-inspired and the atmosphere is upscale without being stuffy. Service is excellent and the food quality has once again risen to a point of excellence. My personal favorites are the Braised Beef Short Ribs and the Oak Grilled Beef Fillet, while the Florida Red Snapper and Oak-Grilled Tuna will more than satisfy those who prefer a seafood dish. The Citricos wine list is also very impressive and I would highly recommend sampling the Truffle Fries.
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.
Victoria & Albert’s (Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort)
Without question, the very best in upscale dining experience at Walt Disney World Resort can be found at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. Victoria & Albert’s offers a truly luxurious dining experience. Dining here is a full immersive experience, covering a tantalizing culinary tour over the nine to 12 courses that you will receive as part of the prix fixe menu. Make no mistake, this is fine dining at its best and there is a reason why Victoria & Albert’s is often included on lists of the top restaurants in the country, not just Walt Disney World or Florida. A couple of important points to note: there is a dress code for dining here (e.g. jackets and dress pants for men) and there is an age limit as well — no children under the age of 10. A typical dinner here may cover four hours or more, so bear that in mind. Having said all that, if you are looking for a truly luxurious dining experience with impeccable service to match, Victoria & Albert’s is a must-do.
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 very good a la carte menu as well. The prix fixe menu offers a choice of one several entrees, which can change at any time (but there is typically something that will appeal to any diner). If none of those inspire you, then the a la carte menu offers a range of exceptional choices, covering poultry, seafood and a meat dish. The food quality here is very good and the service is among the highest you can expect to receive at Walt Disney World (perhaps second only to that at Victoria & Albert’s). And leave room for dessert, because the desserts here are impressive (you must try the Sphere), 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™