We are currently in the process of planning another Disney trip. We love the planning process, it helps to build our excitement and anticipation for our upcoming trip. Recently we finished figuring out our schedules and picking which restaurants we want to eat at so I thought this would be a perfect time to write a post on our 10 favorite Disney World table service restaurants.
I feel I must take a moment to explain what a table service restaurant is. If you already know this information, feel free to skip down a couple paragraphs. 🙂 For those Disney newbies out there, a table service restaurant is one where you sit down and are waited on, you order your meal off of a menu or go to the buffet if that is the case. Some of the table service restaurants offer character meals where you can meet certain characters, and get autographs and pictures with them. It is a great way to see the characters instead of taking time out of the day standing in a line waiting to meet the characters. Table service restaurants are more spendy than quick service, so if you are doing Disney on a tight budget you may want to skip them.
Quick service restaurants, on the other hand, are similar to fast food. You order your food at the counter, get it there and take it back to your seat. There is not as much theming to these restaurants however some break the mold. I will also be posting on our favorite quick service dining locations in the future as well. These are better to eat at if you are in a hurry, on a budget or REALLY like burgers and chicken nuggets. 😉
We have taken many trips over the years and eaten at a lot of the restaurants on Disney World property, however we have not tried them all. That would take way more trips than what we have made. Some of these pictures are from our earlier trips and it is plain to see the photography skills and equipment have definitely improved over time! Ha! I was surprised to see how little pictures we actually had of the actual restaurants considering how much time is spent there on our trips. We will have to make it a point to get some more on our upcoming trip!
For us having been there several times, it is hard to choose between trying something new each trip and visiting our favorites. Each trip we make it a point to try at least one new restaurant though. We love trying new things and are not super picky eaters (even our 4 boys). While we have had a couple adult only trips, all of our favorites are places that you can feel comfortable taking your kids and knowing they will find something good to eat there too.
We have done Disney trips using the dining plan and some trips without so we have a good feel of all there is to offer with Disney restaurants. While we have done Disney trips without the dining plan, I highly recommend spending the money for it if you can. More specifically, the basic dining plan where you get 1 table service credit, 1 quick service credit, 2 snacks and a refillable mug to use at your hotel. Or better yet, book during their free dining promotion like we do and save a bunch of money!
One other tip to remember is that you NEED to make reservations for table service restaurants! Don’t assume you will be able to decide when you get there and get into these restaurants because for the most part that is not going to happen! We have seen it too many times while we are there checking in for our reservation, people turned away not happy because they can’t get into a restaurant. You are able to make your dining reservations 180 days (or 6 months) in advance of your trip. I know it takes some of the spontaneity out of the trip but you will be so thankful you planned it ahead of time. You will want to make the dining reservations as close to that 180 day mark as possible because the available reservations fill up FAST. Most notably for some of the most popular restaurants and especially if you have a large group.
It is hard to rate these restaurants from 1-10 because they are all so good! Honestly you can’t go wrong with trying any of these restaurants. Also, I have to say that there are so many other good restaurants at Disney, it was also hard to narrow the list down to 10. At the same time though, we also have some not so favorite restaurants, maybe I will make a least favorite post too. 😉 So here we go, drum roll please…
10. La Hacienda de San Angel
This one is a favorite for us for the food alone. We are huge fans of Mexican cuisine and this restaurant does not disappoint! We have also eaten at San Angel Inn (inside the big Mayan Temple) at Epcot and while we thought it was pretty good and has great theming, we enjoyed the food here more. This restaurant is located directly across from that and it is next to the water so if you are dining during Illuminations, you may get a great view! We like to order the Parrillada La Hacienda which serves 2 but there is enough food for at least 3, it is delicioso! Also, the margaritas, although pricey, are fantastic! I am not a big drinker but I love a good margarita! 😉
9. Mama Melrose
We were late comers to this restaurant. We have only been here on the last couple trips we have made. I wish we would have tried it sooner! Italian food is also another love of ours so we were anxious to try it. It is almost like a hidden gem in Hollywood Studios, tucked away back in the Muppets Courtyard area. We loved it! Everyone in our party of 8 went away both times completely happy! I know there are lots of fans of Tutto Italia in Epcot but we thought the food here was much better in flavor! It is a cozy little restaurant. I have to say I did find the theming a little lacking for Disney but it did not take away from the experience one bit. However I do like all the pretty lights!
8. 1900 Park Fare – Cinderella’s Happily Ever After Dinner & Supercalifragilistic Breakfast
Technically these are two separate meals but they are both held at the same restaurant inside the beautiful Grand Floridian so I am counting them as one for our countdown. They are both buffet style at which the food is very good. The one thing that I remember the most though is the Strawberry Soup! It is heavenly! 🙂 They are also both character meals but they feature different characters that appear at them. The dinner has Cinderella and Prince Charming, Lady Tremaine, and the evil stepsisters Anastasia and Drisella. They are a hoot! It is a fun dinner and one of the rare places you can meet Prince Charming. This is a great dinner to book if you can’t get into the Royal Castle dinner (and honestly we prefer this over that anyway!)
The breakfast characters are not set in stone but each time we have gone they have been Mary Poppins, Alice, the Mad Hatter, Winnie the Pooh and Tigger. We had a very engaging encounter with Mary Poppins one time where she actually sang “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” for us and invited us to sing along. She was an amazing singer and the best Mary we have ever seen. It has long been one of our most treasured Disney World memories!
7. 50’s Prime Time
This is such a very entertaining restaurant in Hollywood Studios, when you are here you are part of the family and you are treated as so. Make sure you mind your manners while you are there or you may get in trouble. Although you may have more fun if you don’t mind them on purpose 🙂 The menu has good old fashioned comfort food like Meatloaf, Pot Roast, Fried Chicken and Chicken Pot Pie. Everything you remember eating as a kid and the decor comes straight out of your grandparents kitchen (or parents in some cases…lol). Mr. Wonderful said the counter top was the same one in his kitchen growing up! Ha! Also make sure you try the PB&J shake, it is tasty! You can also go in without a reservation and buy one as a snack if you are too full after dinner.
6. Chef Mickey’s (Dinner…but they also have a good breakfast)
Located in the Contemporary Resort (on the Magic Kingdom monorail loop), Chef Mickey’s is a buffet style dinner. It is a great character meal for the kids, you get a chance to meet the fab 5 – Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Goofy and Donald all in their best chef attire. This is by far one of the most popular character meals and we have to agree. It is a festive atmosphere for the whole family and I promise you will have a “swinging” good time. 😉 Also don’t forget to have some of the garlic mashed potatoes…Yum!
5. The Garden Grill
There are so many great choices of table service restaurants in Epcot, especially if you want authentic cuisine from the countries. Even with all of those restaurants there, one of our favorites is the Garden Grill. The food here is very similar to our number 1 pick and maybe that is why we love it so much. It is also cool in that the restaurant (very slowly) rotates as you eat so the background is continually changing. Another thing I love about this restaurant is that the food they serve is grown in the Living with the Land greenhouse so everything tastes so fresh! Garden Grill also has characters, Mickey in his cute farmer outfit, Pluto and Chip and Dale. Our kids remember this restaurant from the “worms in the dirt” dessert they have. 🙂
4. Kona Cafe (Breakfast but we have heard every meal here is great)
Ok, so this one is a source of controversy in our house…lol. While we all agree that it is an amazing breakfast, my favorite which is coming up next, is ‘Ohana. However Mr. Wonderful’s favorite breakfast is from Kona Cafe, more specifically the Big Kahuna. He LOVES this breakfast, says it is the ultimate breakfast. 🙂 I admit the pancakes topped with pineapple sauce and macadamia nut butter are ah-mazing! We have started making those at home since eating there. I know the Tonga Toast from here is also a crowd pleaser and it was in our family too. This is a very reasonable priced breakfast (for a table service) so it is an easy one to pay for out of pocket if you are on the dining plan and don’t want to waste a dining credit on it. It was worth it! It is located in the Polynesian Resort just like ‘Ohana. The reasons for me that ‘Ohana beats it is the fact that they don’t include unlimited POG juice (you can however buy it by the glass) and it is not as fun of a restaurant as ‘Ohana. We have had so many enjoyable memories at ‘Ohana that it beats Kona Cafe for me. The food however is fabulous, I dare say even better than ‘Ohana (shhhh! Don’t tell Mr. Wonderful!) so if you are basing your decision on food alone, eat at Kona Cafe!
3. ‘Ohana’s Best Friends Breakfast Featuring Lilo & Stitch
This, in my opinion as I mentioned above, is the best table service breakfast! I love the atmosphere at the Polynesian resort and that ambiance continues into this restaurant. It just feels so relaxing and “chill”. It has a Hawaiian theme with amusing character interaction from Lilo and Stitch of course, being the mischievous one he is. You also get to meet Mickey in his Hawaiian shirt and Pluto. We have on several occasions gotten Hawaiian leis given to us at the breakfast or when walking in to the resort and there are fun activities for the kids to participate in.
It also has our absolute favorite juice, POG juice, which is made from a blend of Passion Fruit, Guava and Orange Juice. We love it so much that we make it at home all the time. This is a family style breakfast that includes scrambled eggs, fried potatoes, bacon, sausage, fruit and mickey waffles! This is a restaurant that is perfect to visit if you are at the Magic Kingdom, just hop on the monorail over to the Polynesian Resort. Also, remember ‘Ohana means family so we are all ‘Ohana while we are there. 🙂
2. Whispering Canyon Cafe (Dinner)
This is one that we have only eaten at the last couple times we went to Disney and again I wish we would have known about it sooner. This is hands down the most hilariously enjoyable table service restaurant on Disney property. We have never laughed so hard at a dinner before! When you get there, your server will ask you if you want to join in the “fun”. Definitely join in the fun! You won’t regret it. I won’t give anything away but make sure you ask for ketchup! 🙂 We had Alberto as our server both times and he was great. It is located in the Wilderness Lodge, which if you have not seen yet, would make the trip there worth it just for that alone. It is beautiful inside!
This is a good meal to plan when you are at the Magic Kingdom, it is a short boat ride away from the Magic Kingdom. If you plan your dinnertime right, afterwards you may be able to see the fireworks going on at the Magic Kingdom or the electrical water pageant parade from the dock. We were lucky enough to catch both of those last time. I almost forgot to mention the food is excellent too! You get BBQ style food including ribs, pulled pork and sausage…so good! An added bonus is that you can order a milkshake as your beverage!!!
1. Liberty Tree Tavern (Dinner)
This is a family style dinner that is reminiscent of Thanksgiving dinner but better! Some of the fixings include Turkey, prime rib, pork, mashed potatoes, stuffing, macaroni and cheese (yum!), a salad with the best strawberry vinaigrette dressing and some apple bread pudding dessert with ice cream! My mouth is watering right now just thinking of it. 🙂 The food is so good that it is a must do for us every time we come to Disney. The theming is fantastic as well with a colonial style. It used to be a character dinner but is not anymore, however it still remains as popular as it was then. It is located inside the Magic Kingdom in Liberty Square and makes a great place to take a break from the park in the air conditioning for a while. This remains our overall favorite table service restaurant at Disney World.
Even though they did not make the top 10 list, we feel like we have to give some honorable mentions to a couple other restaurants. Le Cellier Steakhouse in the Canada pavilion in Epcot is sooooooo good. The cheddar cheese soup and pretzel bread is to die for and the steaks are fantastic as well! However since Disney made it a signature dining experience worth 2 table service credits on the dining plan, we have not been back. It is hard to trade a whole other dinner for this one alone. I would rather experience two different restaurants instead of just one. That being said, we still highly recommend it if you are wanting to try it. On the plus side, it is much easier to get into now.
Crystal Palace is another great restaurant. It has a cheery atmosphere with Winnie the Pooh Characters ( Pooh, Tigger, Piglet and Eeyore). Well maybe Eeyore is not so cheery! We have tried the breakfast and dinner and they are both great. I would say we prefer the breakfast over the dinner however. Are you sensing a breakfast theme here…me too! 🙂 The restaurant inside is beautiful with all the windows and the character topiaries around. It is a definite must do at least once. Also as an added bonus, If you schedule a breakfast early enough (before 8:30am) you can get a picture of your family on main street in front of the castle with hardly anyone else around!
I hope this helps you in picking your table service restaurants. I will also be making a post for our top 10 favorite Quick Service restaurants. Look for that soon! Until then have a
wonderful magical day! 😉