Restaurant Reviews

Ranking the Counter-Service Restaurants We’ve Eaten At – Walt Disney World

We’re going to complete a series!  Wandering in Disney has seen many series fall by the wayside in its existence.  The ranking of food is always a priority though so we soldier on.  Today marks the end of ranking (basically) all of the restaurants we’ve been to in Disneyland and Walt Disney World.  We started in Disneyland with both counter-service and table-service locations and then moved on to table-service restaurants in Disney World.

Saulti Canteen mouse Pandora AK

As with the Disney World table-service post, the list of restaurants include the four parks, Disney Springs, and the resort hotels.  We’ve only listed one Disney Springs location as the changing lineup and focus on table-service there have us behind the times.  Along with that, I didn’t include every single place I’ve eaten because some have changed menus or it’s simply been too long.  I’ve also left off snack places, these locations have to serve an entrée.

Disney World’s counter-service has more quantity than quality, in my opinion.  While there are definitely some good options, there aren’t as many stand outs as the much smaller Disneyland.  I do like most of the places on this list but don’t love many.  While the counter-service scene has slowly improved at Disney World, I do think there’s still plenty more room for improvement.

Sunshine Seasons sign

In these rankings I will try to balance all of the factors – value, quality of food, atmosphere, etc.  To be honest, I rely more heavily on the quality of food than other factors because most restaurants tend to have a similar price range and counter-service places usually don’t excel in atmosphere.  I will also dock a location a few spots if the menu is really small.  We have reviews of some of these locations, click on the restaurant’s name to read the review.  Let’s get to the rankings!

37. Fairfax Fare (Hollywood Studios) – If you are eating a counter-service meal that isn’t Woody’s Lunch Box at Hollywood Studios then something has gone wrong.  Avoid it at all costs, especially this place.

36. Lotus Blossom Cafe (Epcot) – This place seems somewhat divisive as I’ve read plenty of positive reviews.  I haven’t enjoyed our food here, as it seemed bland and overpriced. I do like the Egg Rolls though.

35. Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe (Magic Kingdom) – This place has a super cool alien named Sonny Eclipse who performs music.  Grab something to drink and enjoy that because the rest of Cosmic Ray’s (food especially) is not enjoyable.

34. PizzeRizzo (Hollywood Studios) – Once in a blue moon I believe we all need to have some pretty bad pizza.  It’s all the better when lightly themed to the Muppets.  This place isn’t very good though and is only open seasonally now.

PizzeRizzo facade

33. Everything Pop Food Court (Pop Century Resort) – This food court has plenty of options and we tried a few.  It was okay but nothing that excites me.

32. Intermission Food Court (All Star Music Resort) – This mini food court has a surprisingly diverse menu.  The pizza is decent although fairly greasy.  Intermission earns points for an adventurous menu.  Eating here if you are staying at the resort is a good choice, otherwise don’t make a special trip.

31. Earl of Sandwich (Disney Springs) – I mean, maybe you like sandwiches more than I do. These are pretty good ones. Earl of Sandwich has decent value but I think there are better options elsewhere.

30. Yorkshire County Fish Shop (Epcot) – This fish & chips location is a one-trick pony. I don’t particularly like the fish & chips, they’re a bit greasy, but others swear by them. There is a nice cake that the shop offers.

29. Yak & Yeti – Local Food Cafes (Animal Kingdom) – Decent Asian food but there are many better options at Animal Kingdom.

28. Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe (Magic Kingdom) – While the Mexican food here is hardly authentic, it is fairly good and at decent prices.  I enjoy the fajita platter and like that Pecos Bill’s has a toppings bar.  This rivals Columbia Harbor House for Magic Kingdom’s 2nd best counter-service option, depending on your mood.

Pecos Bill fajita platter

27. Landscape of Flavors (Art of Animation) – One of the better food courts in Disney World.  Landscape of Flavors has many offerings and the few we tried were all pretty solid.

26. Sleepy Hollow Refreshments (Magic Kingdom) – Some pretty good waffles sandwiches along with a few other savory or sweet treats.  If not for a small menu this would probably rank higher.  We usually stop here at least once on a Disney World vacation.  All of the places from here on are pretty good options.

25. Boardwalk Bakery (Boardwalk) – Some of the best sweets in Disney World are offered here.  We loved the Salmon Sandwich here but it was taken off the menu and we’re just lukewarm on the other sandwich offerings. Having said that, the breakfast sandwich is very good and a great way to start your day.

24. Chicken Guy (Disney Springs) – No surprise here but Chicken Guy serves chicken. The chicken (strips and sandwiches) is better than it has any business being. Combine that with plenty of dipping sauces and the food is solid. Still, it’s just chicken and the environment is not my favorite.

23. Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory (Port Orleans French Quarter) – An ambitious menu for a counter-service restaurant but the execution is hit and miss. Fortunately, the beignets are fantastic and there are plenty of options to choose from.

22. Contempo Cafe (Contemporary Resort) – Contempo Cafe serves sandwiches and flatbreads, as well as a few other entrees.  We’ve always liked the food but have never loved it.  It’s a nice and convenient lunch or dinner break from Magic Kingdom though.  Also, the Peanut Butter Pie is one of the best counter-service desserts at Disney World.

21. La Cantina de San Angel (Epcot) – A decent restaurant if you go by a few rules. Both the chicken and beef are very good. I’d likely recommend sticking with the tacos. Chips and guacamole by the water is a nice option, as well.

20. Columbia Harbor House (Magic Kingdom) – Columbia Harbor House continues to surprise us.  I always think the seafood won’t taste fresh or will be overly greasy.  Sometimes its greasy but I do think the salmon is a good, fairly cheap and healthy option.

Columbia Harbor House salmon

19. Woody’s Lunch Box (Hollywood Studios) – Delicious American comfort food, mostly sandwiches, is what gives Woody’s Lunch Box a positive review.  It might not be worth the poor atmosphere and frustrating lack of seating.  But it is easily the best counter-service spot at Hollywood Studios.

18. Kringla Bakeri Og Cafe (Epcot) – This bakery in the Norway Pavilion has some of my favorite desserts in Disney World and has a good and interesting selection of sandwiches.  At least go for dessert, but lunch or dinner here is a good option.

17. Harambe Market (Animal Kingdom) – While the entrees are somewhat limited, I love the authentic feel as well as the food I’ve had here.  The beef gyro is quite good and the drink menu is more interesting than your typical counter-service fare.

16. Cookes of Dublin (Disney Springs) – Cookes of Dublin serves Irish food at reasonable prices.  The fish and chips were especially notable here and I like the variety of the menu.

15. Roaring Fork (Wilderness Lodge) – Roaring Fork doesn’t offer a ton in variety, sticking mostly to sandwiches.  What is does offer is lighter fare and fresh ingredients.  Not to mention, the very relaxing atmosphere.  Another great option if you want to leave Magic Kingdom for a quick meal.

14. Polite Pig (Disney Springs) – Solid barbecue food in Disney Springs. We liked the meat pretty well but the real star of the menu are the sides offered. Unfortunately, the prices are closer to table-service restaurant than counter-service. Polite Pig is one of the best counter-service values on the Disney Dining Plan.

Harambe Market Meat sign AK

13. Katsura Grill (Epcot) – Katsura Grill serves teriyaki, udon and sometimes ramen.  While the food isn’t incredible, I do think it’s tasty and offers a decent value.  The star of Katsura Grill is the outside seating area.  A beautiful, tranquil garden that overlooks the rest of Epcot is a serene experience for a theme park.

12. D-Luxe Burger (Disney Springs) The best counter-service burger at Disney World, D-Luxe mainly sticks to hamburgers and fries but does them both well.  I especially enjoyed the dipping sauces for the fries.  The prices are fair, as well.

11. Sunshine Seasons (Epcot)Sunshine Seasons might have the most diverse offerings in Disney World and the desserts are great too. Unfortunately, Sunshine Seasons has become progressively worse over the last year so it’s fallen a few spots in the rankings.

10. Pizza Ponte (Disney Springs) – Easily the best counter-service pizza that we have tried at Disney World.  This counter-service spot in Disney Springs serves hefty squares of pizza in a variety of flavors.  They also serve hot sandwiches, espresso, a good selection of desserts.  Pizza Ponte is a perfect late night option once the parks close.

9. The Artist’s Palette (Saratoga Springs) – We have limited experience with Artist’s Palette menu but we really enjoyed the Lobster Club Sandwich along with several different pastries we tried. The atmosphere is relaxed but lacks theming. I’m looking forward to going back and trying more food.

8. The Mara (Animal Kingdom Lodge) – The Mara breaks into the top-10 thanks to an approachable but still ambitious menu. The food at Animal Kingdom Lodge’s counter-service restaurant is very good and the setting is relaxing. While it may not be worth a trip out to the hotel on its own, combine this with a stop at one of AKL’s great lounges and some animal viewing will make for a very nice few hours.

7. Les Halles Boulangerie & Patisserie (Epcot) – This France Pavilion bakery ranks so highly due to the very strong array of choices. There isn’t a bakery in WDW that offers such a large variety of sweets. On top of that, there’s a wide array of prices when it comes to the savory items. You can’t go wrong here regardless of if you’re having a meal or just stopping for dessert.

6. Pepper Market (Coronado Springs Resort) – Disney World’s best food court serves a large assortment of food and we’ve yet to have anything we don’t like.  This is one of the best parts of staying at Coronado Springs.  This would probably rank higher if it weren’t for the inconvenient (if you aren’t staying there) location.

5. Capt. Cook’s (Polynesian Resort) – Captain Cook’s has an interesting menu and pretty good food.  The offerings are loosely Hawaiian or Polynesian inspired.  The Curry Seafood Stew is one of my favorite counter-service dishes.  Sitting out on the deck, overlooking the Poly’s pool is great at dinner time.  Bonus points to Capt. Cook’s for serving Tonga Toast at breakfast.

4. Tangierine Cafe (Epcot) – I mean this as a compliment – I don’t know what’s better the food or the smell.  Tangierine Cafe draws you in with that smell and the food lives up to the hype.  Delicious Moroccan food.

3. Flame Tree Barbecue (Animal Kingdom) – Flame Tree Barbecue has legitimately good barbecue food in a beautiful setting.  The prices are quite high or this would probably be in the top spot.  Order one of the platters and then share with someone.  Get the Mandarin Orange Lemonade, you won’t regret it.

Flame Tree entree

2. Satu’li Canteen (Animal Kingdom) – One of Disney World’s newest counter-service locations is one of the best.  The food is healthier than your usual theme park fare and is offered at a great value.  The atmosphere keeps this from the number 1 spot (eat outside if it’s not too hot) but the food is probably my favorite of all counter-service spots considering the price.

Saulti Canteen chicken Pandora AK

1. Be Our Guest Restaurant (Magic Kingdom) – Be Our Guest offers counter-service fare for lunch and is well worth getting a reservation for.  First of all, the restaurant is beautiful.  Along with that, the food (salads, sandwiches and a few hearty entrees) is good and not outrageously priced.  Don’t go for breakfast or dinner, go to Be Our Guest for lunch.

BoG braised pork

Those are my rankings of Disney World counter-service restaurants.  We’ll be adding to the list soon.  What would you add or change?  Let us know in the comments!  If you enjoy what you’re reading here on Wandering in Disney please subscribe to the blog and like our Facebook page.  You can find both of those on the right side of this page.  Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!

– Andrew

7 replies »

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s