Top 10 Disney World Counter Service Restaurants

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Here is our list of the top 10 best counter service restaurants at Walt Disney World, updated for 2014. Of Walt Disney World’s hundred-plus dining options, a lot of our favorites are the more well-known table service restaurants, but there are also some great counter service restaurants. Some of these restaurants, like Sunshine Seasons and Cosmic Ray’s, are once-per-trip restaurants for us. Others, like the ones in the resort-hotels, are a little more out of the way, but are almost alone worth a trip to the hotels.

For those unfamiliar with the term, counter service (or quick service) restaurants are Disney’s equivalent of fast food. Don’t let the negative connotation of ‘fast food’ dissuade you from trying these restaurants, as all of them have some excellent options. There are so many good counter service options that it was difficult to narrow this list down to 10. Only one World Showcase restaurant made the list, while the Magic Kingdom–a park not normally known for its food–has three restaurants on the list!

This list is based on our subjective determination of best based upon our opinion of value, quality, convenience, and theme. All participate in the Disney Dining Plan as counter service credits. A couple of these (notable, Flame Tree BBQ) also accept the Tables in Wonderland card for a 20% discount, so if you’re a Tables in Wonderland cardholder, make sure to keep that in mind!

Below is a brief synopsis why each restaurant is a great pick for your next quick meal at Walt Disney World. Click the restaurant name for our full review (and lots more food-photos!) of each restaurant:

Top 10 Walt Disney World Counter Service Restaurants

10. Be Our Guest Restaurant (menuMagic Kingdom - Given the insane amount of hype surrounding Be Our Guest Restaurant, some people might be surprised to not find this restaurant at the top of the list. Yes, the theming and attention to detail are great here (just don’t eat in the mess hall–I mean ballroom), and the food is ambitious for a locale in Fantasyland, but it ultimately is just not as good as other restaurants ranking above it. Add to that inflated prices and extremely long lines to get inside for lunch, and you have a restaurant that we view as very good, but overrated. Disney fans love new things so the initial praise isn’t surprising, but we expect the luster to wear off after a couple years. We actually prefer Gaston’s Tavern for what it is, but the limited menu precludes it from making this list.

9. Columbia Harbour House (menuMagic Kingdom Columbia Harbour House has fallen a bit on this list. While we still love it thanks to its solid menu and very relaxed upstairs seating, but it is worth noting that every single good-to-great option is seafood, so in terms of variety it does poorly. Unlike many real world seafood restaurants, the food here isn’t 60% breading, 40% seafood. It’s a great place to escape the crowds of the Magic Kingdom. If you’re a seafood fan, Columbia Harbour House could leapfrog several restaurants on this list.

Top 10 Walt Disney World Counter Service Restaurants

8. Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe (menu) Magic Kingdom - Regular readers of this blog may recall that this was once my top counter service restaurant at Walt Disney World, and the original version of this list ranked it at #3 overall. Cosmic Ray’s will always hold a special place in my heart, but over the years, I’ve come to understand some of the complaints. I still think Cosmic Ray’s is underrated in view of popular sentiment from Disney fans, and it has seen a partial menu refresh, but it’s due for more. There are several good menu items, but just as many that can be described as ordinary. I love the toppings bar, and I feel that Sonny Eclipse is the epitome of the “Disney Details” that make Walt Disney World special. It’s still my sentimental favorite and a place I think most kids (or kids at heart) will love, but the food isn’t as good as the top restaurants on the list. The odd “bay” system also complicates dining here for families, and during busy seasons and prime dining hours, the place is a madhouse.

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7. The Mara (menuDisney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge - The Mara is exactly what you’d expect from a counter service restaurant at Animal Kingdom Lodge: full of unique and adventurous options, at least in terms of counter service dining. The plus side is that it also serves less-adventurous options, like the Pepperoni Flatbread. I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve had here, but I can’t point to any entree that blows me away, which causes it to fall to #7. We’ve yet to try the salmon, BBQ chicken flatbread, or rotisserie chicken, so maybe those will be the entrees that put this over the top for us. The big draw here is the Zebra Domes found in the coolers; make sure to get an order of them to split.

Top 10 Walt Disney World Counter Service Restaurants

6. Captain Cook’s (menuDisney’s Polynesian Resort - Two words: Dole Whip. Make that four words: self serve Dole Whip.  Need I say more? Actually, yes, as the self-service Dole Whip is far from the biggest draw here. The menu at Captain Cook’s is also incredibly varied and made-to-order. Thanks to great and made-to-order lunch and dinner options including some unique cupcakes, plus Tonga Toast for breakfast, Captain Cook’s ranks very highly. We highly recommend taking your food outside (the small dining area inside is often crowded, anyway) and enjoying the sights and sounds of the Polynesian while you enjoy your meal. Pure bliss. 

5. Tangierine Cafe (menuEpcot, World Showcase, Morocco - Despite some really incredible table service options, the counter service food in Epcot’s World Showcase is fairly uninspired. Tangierine Cafe is the big exception, as it offers huge portions for fair prices, and has a fairly non-traditional counter service menu. While it is somewhat adventurous, it’s still tame-enough that most tourists can find something here that they like. We usually split a meal at Tangierine Cafe because it’s that filling. It may be tempting to add the Baklava to your entree for a bargain price, but buyer beware: we find the Baklava disgusting (YMMV).

Top 10 Walt Disney World Counter Service Restaurants

4. Flame Tree BBQ (menu) Disney’s Animal Kingdom - If you love meat, Flame Tree BBQ might sneak into the top spot on this list for you. The 1/2 Slab of St. Louis Ribs that tops Flame Tree BBQ’s menu is the single greatest counter service option in all of Walt Disney World. Other options here sound great, but nothing tops those ribs. The details and view of Everest in the seating area make this a must-try. Only its dessert selection and limited menu for non-carnivores causes Flame Tree BBQ to fall to number 4.

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3. Pepper Market (menu) Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort - Pepper Market has had a bit of an identity crisis the last few years, going from a la carte to buffet back to a la carte market style ordering. If you’re a huge, value-focused eater, the change away from buffet is probably disappointing. However, we feel this has improved food quality. Portion sizes are still more than ample for most appetites, and the sheer amount of variety here is insane. The new rib entree is the highlight of the menu, and they give Flame Tree BBQ a run for their money, and the Aztec Burger is also a great, unique option that seems of far better quality than any other counter service burger at Walt Disney World. Add to that a variety of good Mexican food, other international options, and pizza, and you have a top notch restaurant for dining.

Top 10 Walt Disney World Counter Service Restaurants

2. Sunshine Seasons (menuEpcot, Future World It’s ironic that the top counter service dining option in a Walt Disney World theme park would come from Epcot–the park known for its spectacular World Showcase dining–but not the area of the park generally considered to have amazing dining. Sunshine Seasons offers something for everyone. Delicious sandwiches, chicken, salmon, and an array of amazing desserts. The seating area leaves a little to be desired (perhaps a nice fountain in the middle, wink wink), but overall Sunshine Seasons cannot be beat.

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1. Contempo Café (menuDisney’s Contemporary Resort Already “famous” for its cupcakes, Contempo Cafe is one of our new favorite restaurants. We have dined here several times and always come away happy. Our most recent experience, during which we tried flatbreads and their Mahi sandwich catapulted it to the top of this list. Not only are menu items delicious and unique, but the menu is huge, offering ample variety for everyone in your group. It does lack theming, feeling a bit like a loud food court, but when the monorail zooms by overhead, you realize the Grand Canyon Concourse is all the “theming” it needs.  The important thing to remember here? Save room for dessert.

If you’ve been reading this list for the past few years, you’ll notice it has really been shaken up for 2014. A few new entrants like The Mara and Pepper Market, and a brand new number 1. We spent a lot more time eating counter service in resort hotels in the last year, and a number of them trump or seriously challenge restaurants on this list. There are several that didn’t make the list that probably could, including Sassagoula Floatworks & Food Factory, Riverside Mill Food Court, Everything POP, and Old Port Royale Food Court, among others. Landscape of Flavors at Art of Animation is now the most glaring absence on the list. We’ve eaten there, but we’ve only tried two menu items, and that’s not quite enough to judge it. Do not hesitate to eat there if staying at Art of Animation or Pop Century, though. Our initial impression is that it’s shockingly good for a Value Resort food court. (Even the new End Zone Food Court at All Star Sports impressed us in a way that we absolutely did not expect.)

Earl of Sandwich and Wolfgang Puck Express are other popular omissions. Both are excellent, but both are “real world” restaurants. For that reason, neither of them make the list. I also avoided bakeries, which prevented the excellent Les Halles Boulangerie & Patisserie, Starring Rolls, and Kringla Bakeri og Cafe from making the list. We’ll have a separate list of top bakeries soon, and expect to see all three of those at the very top of the list!

Planning a Disney trip? Read our other Walt Disney World restaurant reviews and Disney Dining Plan resources.

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Your Thoughts…

What do you think? Have you dined at these restaurants? Did you like or dislike them? What are your top Walt Disney World counter service restaurants? Let us know in the comments!

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95 Responses to “Top 10 Disney World Counter Service Restaurants”

  1. Scott B says:

    Great reviews and good picks. Couple of personal favs:

    1) Pecos Bill’s – mostly for the taco bowls and serve toppings
    2) Yorkshire County Fish Shop at Epcot – better than Columbia Harbour House
    3) Yack and Yeti – probably our favourite overall quick service

    Where are Captain Cook’s and Roaring Forks? Downtown Disney?

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Pecos Bill – I knew we’d catch some grief for excluding it, but the menu items it has that Cosmic Ray’s lacks are nothing special, in my opinion. Building your own salad on the toppings bar is not my idea of a good time. It’s not that Pecos Bill is bad (not by any means) it’s just that what it does well is also done well by Cosmic Ray’s and Ray’s is the better overall restaurant.

      Yorkshire County Fish Shop – They only have one menu item! For this reason alone, it’s definitely not better than Columbia Harbour House! There are plenty of other reasons why, too…

      Yak & Yeti CS – I know a lot of people like it, but as I said in my review last week, we weren’t overly impressed.

      • Drew says:

        Would you please post the price range of these items?
        No, I can’t afford to go to Disney World, but my son deserves to experience it even if I have to go on a budget. Just trying to get a gauge if I am dealing with costs more expensive than, or equal to, a pro sporting event’s $4.00 water or $6.00 hot dog.
        Thanks.

      • matty says:

        Drew–

        Reminds me of the saying: “If you can’t set a $100 bill on fire, and calmly watch it burn, you’re not ready for WDW.” :)

        Prices are high, probably a little higher than a pro stadium, but not by much. The good news is, that quality is usually better, and quantities are often large. When we go, we (5 of us, kids 13, 10, 7) can usually make a meal out of 2 counter entrees.

        You can supplement by bringing in some granola bars, etc, too. Lots of ways to do WDW [relatively] cheap.

      • matty says:

        Also, you can go here:

        http://allears.net/dining/at-a-glance/magic-kingdom

        Just click on any restaurant name, and they have full menus w/prices.

      • Drew says:

        Thanks, Matty!
        Right now I am mapping trolley/bus routes to WDW.
        (Too late and dangerous for me to be taking a sleepy child home on the bus after the fireworks so I will have to swallow the $40.00 cab ride).
        I really want to do something nice for him since he is doing his best to learn how to read.
        So far, six nights qnd five days incl. airfare under $2,000, I just hope this works out.

        Matty, you are the man! 5? Wow!
        Thanks for the link, Bro.
        Peace.

      • Angie says:

        Drew….if you are staying on site…I would not plan on taking the cab. Disney buses are super clean and safe and even late at night will be full of weary travelers like yourself. Save the $40 and enjoy some mickey shaped ice cream bars :)

    • Lisa says:

      Captain Cook’s is in the Polynesian resort and Roaring Forks is the counter service restaurant in the Wilderness Lodge.

    • Cheryl says:

      We ate at Pecos Bill and I had the taco salad. The meat if you could call it that was more like purée of soy. I didn’t feel the toppings were anything special either.

  2. Justin M says:

    Two of my favorites are Katsura Grill and Casey’s corner. I like all of your picks except for Contempo Cafe, I stayed there last October and found it pretty mehh.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      We ate at Katsura Grill right after it reopened, and I thought it was disgusting. Sarah thought it was okay, but definitely not even close to making the list! I really like Casey’s Corner, but it just seems so expensive for what you get.

      Surprised to hear you had a bad experience at Contempo Cafe. What did you order?

    • Justin M says:

      I had a breakfast sandwich with egg and ham, it wasnt the worst ever but nothing special. Some of their lunch items you describe sound good, I will give it another try for lunch.

  3. Watermelonpatty says:

    I agree with Pecos Bill. It should have been on that list.

    I believe that Captain Cooks is at the Polynesian and Roaring Fork is at the Wilderness Lodge. And that beef and bleu cheese sandwich is to die for!!!

  4. Joy says:

    Myself and my husband love Roaring Fork – we are counting down the days until our honeymoon in August- we are staying at the Wilderness Lodge and have already planned what we are having for dinner when we arrive! The tuna sandwich is a-mazing, am definately going to try the roast beef too :-)

  5. Alan Collins says:

    Please amend this post with the locations of these CS favorites. There were a few I want to check out but don’t know where they are.

  6. Samantha W says:

    Can’t wait to check out some of your picks next time I’m there! I love Casey’s corner but I understand the price thing. Can’t wait for your bakery list :)

  7. Betsy says:

    Great list! Sunshine Seasons, Flametree, and Tangerine Cafe are my top 3 CS favs in all of WDW. I’ve never eaten at any of the CS MK resorts, but I’ll have to give them a try sometime. Have you been to the Pop food court?? The shrimp lo mein is one of my favorite CS dishes.

    I do like Pecos Bill, but less for the fixins bar and more for the out of the way, dare I say “romantic” setting in the Adventureland themed seating area. It can be one of the most relaxing places in the MK…and if you’ve never tried the chicken wrap there, you should give it a try sometime. It is enormous and could easily be shared.

    • Totally agree with you on the chicken wrap.. It’s one of the only items in any park that I feel they REALLLLY give you the most food for your buck. That wrap is gigantic and when paired with a soda and a side/dessert, you’ll need a nap afterwards!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      It’s been a few years since we did the Pop food court, and we weren’t eating then with an eye toward sharing our experiences, so I don’t feel I could adequately ‘rate’ it at this point. We’ll definitely have to head over there again soon.

      Looks like we’ll have to give those wraps at Pecos Bill a try!

      • Dave Adams says:

        Unfortunately, the chicken wraps have been eliminated from the menu. They have replaced it with a chicken sandwich that my children wouldn’t even eat. Pecos Bill’s has always been a family favorite, but I probably won’t return again. Especially with the flatbread pizzas at Pinnochio Village Haus!

  8. Great article for Disney foodies like me! Would love to see a similar post on dining in the evening as well. Tweeted and shared.

  9. Well, well, well… two counter service restaurants making your list. I think this is a great example of why DHS counter service meals aren’t as bad as some would lead you to believe. I agree with both of your choices. ABC Commissary has a great chicken curry that I could eat every day. And that buffalo chicken sandwich is REALLY good.

    And you were correct to slam Pizza Planet. It stinks!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I thought you said on a recent episode of WDW Today (the UG reviews one) that you didn’t like ABC Commissary? As predicted, ABC Commissary has proven to be the most ‘controversial’ pick on the list, but I stand by it. I really like several things on their menu.

      I think a lot of people like Pizza Planet because it’s cheap. For me, cheap does not make a good meal.

      • MrsM says:

        I wonder if a lot of people like Pizza Planet because of the theme. Our boys insisted we eat there on our last trip. I was expecting the pizza to be typical theme park pizza, which it was, but they had a really good strawberry cupcake. For a HS QS restaurant I was pretty happy with the themeing. I probably wouldn’t eat there on an adults only trip but if the kids want to eat there again I wont be disappointed.

  10. Lisa says:

    There are so many good options, but Earl of Sandwich would have to make my top 10 list of counter services!

  11. Mike says:

    We’ve had several great meals at Artist’s Palette at Saratoga Springs – excellent flatbread!

  12. BryanT says:

    Ok, in the interest of furthering your “research” of Captain Cook’s, I give you three words…adult.grilled.cheese. This is the kind of counter service meal my gluttonous dreams are made of.

  13. Toni Pauls says:

    I could seriously make a meal just on the potato salad at Sunshine Seasons!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Really? I’m not a HUGE fan of the potato salad (it’s good), but interesting to hear that you’re a big fan. I LOVE the mashed potatoes.

  14. Sam Jo says:

    I think this list is AMAZING and am getting so excited for my trip back in June. But all my husband and I talk about is how we are going to head straight to DTD when we fly in to eat at Fresh A-Peel. The wraps are to die for! And all those fresh salsas??!! Heaven.

    Love your blog!

  15. AM says:

    Have you ever eaten at Sassagoula? Last trip we stayed at PO French Quarter and were really impressed with their sandwiches. The Po’boy was amazing [and huge]- way better than the one at Animal Kingdom. I’m not sure if they sell the same sandwiches somewhere else.

  16. Danke für diesen Post. Sehr gut geschrieben. Ich will bald öfter lesen. Danke .

  17. 828tnt says:

    one of my favorites (particularly on the dining plan) has become wolfgang puck express. i think the value and quality may be second to none for a counter service. it also can be just under the radar enough that we’ve rarely dealt with huge crowds.

    in fact, that was our last meal on property on our “baby trip” last year!

    great list!!!!!!!

  18. Glenn says:

    I’ve eaten at most of these on your list, and all are very good. Tangierine Cafe and Season’s are the one’s I haven’t tried yet, but will plan to on our next trip. But the one I can’t believe you bashed in the comments above is KATSURA GRILL. It is our family’s FAVORITE. Large portions and delicious food. I realize that Japanese food is a bit too adventuous for many people, but we love it. The sushi combo is huge and delicious; my daughter raved about the Udon noodles. And the Matcha Roll Cake is really good. Lots of food but not heavy; great on a hot day. It’s the best value we’ve found on the Dining Plan.

  19. Karen says:

    Sunshine Seasons and El Pirata Y El Perico!

  20. Lauri says:

    We stayed at Animal Kingdom Lodge on this last vacation. Normally we stay at Moderate Resort – I must say The Mara is my least favorite quick service of the WDW Resorts we have stayed (Caribbean Beach Resort and Port Orleans Riverside) One morning for breakfast we had the croissant sandwich – it was gorss with some cheap cheeselike sauce inside. The burgers were over cooked and to use up our DDP I went there the night before we departed and they only had one deli sandwich option that was overpriced – would have never paid $7 for it!!! Caribbean Beach has a wonderful food court and we go back to PO Riverside create your own pasta every visit even when we don’t stay there. I will never go out of my way to go to The Mara – what a dissapointment!!!

  21. Jym says:

    We’ve always avoided ABC Comm. I don’t hate it but I like the food at Studio Catering and Starring Rolls better so ABC just gets excluded. As far as the list goes, it’s hard to not make room for Y&Y, Puck Express, Cookes of Dublin and Earl of Sandwich. I agree about leaving out Pecos Bills. Cosmic Ray’s is much better and a better value.

  22. Layla Martin says:

    We love Pinocchio Haus in Magic Kingdom. Its clean and didn’t smell like yucky ketchup holders. It also is big, so seating was fairly easy for my family of 8! Their choices were more healthy, well they seemed so. And the food didnt sit heavy in our stomachs, which is a plus for our kids who get upset tummies. Also, we were given fast passes to I think Philaharmagic but I could be wrong. Although that isnt a must see for a fast pass, but the gesture was still nice.

  23. Jasmine says:

    So glad to see Tangerine Cafe on here! I think a lot of people miss out on eating here either from not knowing about it or not being adventurous enough to try that type of food. The wraps are awesome, and so is the hummus!

    I also agree with one of the above comments about the Shrimp Po’boy. It’s delicious, and huge! You could probably split it if you wanted, but it’s so good my husband and I always just get our own :) And you really get your money’s worth, there is a ton of shrimp on it! I definitely think it’s worth a trip over to French Quarter.

  24. Lisa Peck says:

    You need to include Wolf Gang Pucks Express and Earl of Sandwich on this list for counter service.

    • Dawn says:

      I agree. My family and I think that Wolfgang Puck Express has some of the best food in all of Disneyworld. Their mac-n-cheese is awesome, and their chicken dinner and meatloaf taste like home cooked meals. And their desserts are to die for. Hard to believe it’s still considered a quick service meal! It’s always a must for us while on vacation.

  25. Sara Swain Roberts says:

    We just went to Sunshine Seasons in October 2012. It was absolutely fantastic. I absolutely LOVED the Togarashi Seared Tuna Noodle Salad. It was absolutely fantastic. Just thinking about it makes me hungry for it again.

  26. Don Livingston says:

    I’m surprised that Landscape of Flavors didn’t crack the Top 10 in an updated list. It has a fairly eclectic mix of food (for quick service anyway) and the create your own Pasta Bar is good stuff. Sunshine Seasons at No. 1 is a great choice but Flame Tree, while good, is really overrated at no. 2.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Unfortunately, we’ve only done breakfast at Landscape of Flavors, which was good, but not good enough to put it in the top 10. We’re doing another meal there soon, and I suspect that will be enough!

      • Don Livingston says:

        i would agree with you there. It was not my favorite for breakfast and only did that once on a week long stay at Art. We ate dinner there 4 nights and it was good. The Pesto Bread is dynamite and can be a cheap meal itself.

      • Rosalie says:

        We hated Landscape of Flavers. For this reason, we will actually be NOT be staying at this hotel next time, which is so sad because the pool and sprinkler park is AMAZING for my young kids. But they also have to be able to eat. Landscape of Flavors didn’t even have chicken strips. I know that they were trying to be ‘sophisticated’ with their menu choices, but I feel that they alienated the rest of us that just want ‘normal food’. At all star Music, your dessert credit would get you a huge sundae with what ever toppings you want, or a gianormous icecream cookie sandwich. At landscape you get a teeny-tiny cup of gelato that is just ‘okay’. The two nights that we had to eat there we ordered a pizza, because it was literally the only food my kids would eat there.

  27. Penny says:

    Thanks for the list! We are taking our first trip there this fall, and can’t wait! I think all things Disney could quickly become my new hobby…. now just need to find a way to make it a paying hobby!

  28. John says:

    I made reservations for Kona Café for breakfast and lunch on MK day. But think I should eat at Captain Cooks for one meal. I’m tentatively thinking Captain Cooks for lunch. Want to leave MK regardless for lunch anyway. Outside tables sound enticing. Thoughts?

  29. Tanya S says:

    Thanks for all the great advice….this helps with my research for our trip to WDW in September. I had a few of these places on my list for us to eat at, and hearing these comments have confirmed my choices.

  30. LizC says:

    Great list. I have a lot of new quick service places to try. :) I am especially looking forward to trying contempo café and Studios Catering Co.

    I must agree with you that Pecos Bill has really went down hill.

  31. Marissa Mandle says:

    I’m SO glad Flame Tree BBQ made #2! We just discovered it on our latest WDW vacay last month and it blew my mind. The chicken was beyond amazing. I’m glad to know there is a good BBQ place at WDW now! (although nothing will ever top Bengal BBQ at DL!)

  32. Dawn says:

    So glad the Flame Tree BBQ made the list. It’s our go to place in Animal Kingdom. The ribs and chicken are fabulous, and love the outdoor seating by the water, in the shade. Gives a much needed break from the sun!

  33. Tani says:

    Next month will be my first visit to WDW and we got the standard dining plan! Thank you for the list. We’ll be trying at least 3 of these:)

  34. Monette says:

    Totally agree with ALL your selections. We love the QS restaurants, especially the two in Epcot, you mentioned. Why no honorable mention for new-ish Boardwalk Bakery? It’s not really a “bakery”? You just dont feel the love?
    Also, yes, you need to eat at Mara, but you would probably need to be cloistered at AKL for the weekend or would never choose QS when visiting AKL…too much good food!

  35. Kim Lindsay says:

    Ok, I have to jump on the bandwagon. My absolute favorite and best value was in downtown Disney at Earl and Pucks. I do love both restaurants at Wilderness Lodge including Roaring Forks! I really recommend driving there if you have a car because getting there resort to resort is a little lengthy. ABC Commissary is good for one thing: air conditioning! And I like Pecos a lot. The combination of grease at Harbour’s and FL’s heat makes the teacup ride a liability. I will happily try some of your new-to-me recommendations next month when we go on our vacation. This is our first time getting the quick service dining plan (We opted out of our usual full service dining plan) for more flexibility. So I was happy to see your list. I’ll be reporting back (10 lbs heavier nonetheless)! Captain Cook’s and Gaston’s Tavern sound soooo good. Thanks!

  36. Michelle says:

    Great tips! Loving your blog. I *would* love to see captions for pictures explaining the title of each dish and where exactly it can be found. Is that Tiramasu as the dessert from Sunshine Seasons? Looks like Turtle cheesecake but I don’t see it on the menu. Just wondering.

  37. Patrick says:

    Any reason why I never see Pepper Market at Coronado Springs listed in articles like this? My wife and I love the food there, and many times we’ve been able to split a single plate and still have more than we could eat.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      In the case of this list, the reason is because we have yet to eat there. I have heard great things about it and we hope to eat there soon. It sounds like an often overlooked gem!

      • Barbara says:

        You haven’t mentioned the Liberty Inn in Epcot. The welcome addition of the 6 oz strip steak has made it the go to place for us. It comes with roasted potatoes and steamed broccoli for a healthy alternative to fried foods. I usually get the teriyaki salmon at Katsura Grill and carry it over to Liberty Inn to eat with my husband.

      • Tom Bricker says:

        I really like that strip steak, but that one menu item isn’t enough for it to make our top 10.

  38. Eric Kennedy says:

    How about Kringla Bakery in Norway? Grab a great toasted club sandwich, chioce of fruit or salad, and a cloudberry horn for dessert, they even have fancy Norwegian water (Voss) included with dinning plan! Then grab your tray and walk over to Mexico to eat by the water, you will be amazed at all the people who ask “where did you get that”. The sandwiches are large enought to split too!

  39. Lillian says:

    Though I’ve been to WDW since the park opened in 1971 and I was three years old, I can’t say that eating the food at the counter service has been something that appeals to me. These options you’ve listed are definitely worth a try when I go in March. I usually bring my own stuff, eat in a proper restaurant, or go back to my room and eat. I’ll even go off property. Chevys at the Crossroads is my fave Mexican food restaurant of all time. I found your descriptions to be quite helpful. I think I’ll even give Captain Cook’s a try and go out of my way to the Polynesian.

  40. Michellle says:

    I used to work in Animal Kingdom (Beastly Bazaar). We were just next door to Flame Tree and the smell that made its way into the store was truly intoxicating. I have heard some people say that they’ve gotten not fully cooked meat entrees from there.

    My favorite for counter service is Casey’s. Love the corn dog nuggets! In very close second … Yorkshire County Fish Shop.

  41. Kim says:

    Just got back and had to report back! Loved the Studio Catering Co’s buffalo sandwich, and the breakfast choices at Starring Rolls Cafe (you can get phenomenal pastries and whopping sandwiches there at breakfast/ lunch). Didn’t adore Seasons at Epcot like so many people seem to. Flamin Tree was good. Our absolute favs were the Landscape of Flavors at Art of Animation where we stayed (hello to the tandoori choices, the make your own pasta bar was yum and the burgers were out of this world) and Be Our Guest in MK. We didn’t even mind the hot 20+ min wait to get in BOG so much that we did it twice. It was as close to table dining as you were going to get in a quick service place. And so much food that my family of 6 was able to stretch a 5 day meal plan to 6 days; you just had to plan and order smart (like get the bottled drink from the resort meal option, use your refillable cup for that meal, and pair the bottled drink with your snack for a whole breakfast the next day). Dole whip was delish and I even liked the LeFou brew better than butterbeer! Thanks for the suggestions. It was fun trying your suggestions!

  42. I loved your choices, especially Captain Cooks. This past trip we took (2/26-3/04/13) I was surprised to find that a few of our counter service meals trumped some table service meals so I thought I would share with you. In Animal Kingdom we went to sit in the Dawa Bar area for some shade and a Margarita while the kids napped, and I spotted Tamu Tamu across the way so we thought we should check it out for a quick bite. Let me tell you..the pulled beef pita was one of the standout meals of the trip!!! Paired with an African Margarita, I was one happy girl lol. Another memorable meal was in Mexico in Epcot. I grabbed us a couple of the delicious Margaritas from “La Cava Del Tequila” and we walked over to secure a waterfront table under the pavilion. We both had the carnitas tacos with chips and delicious salsa for lunch. Those were definitely two of my favorite meals of the trip, out of both table and counter service options!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I think all we’ve ever had from Tamu Tamu is a cupcake. We’ll have to give it a try! Thanks!

    • Ashley says:

      I love Tamu Tamu- it’s a great spot to find a ‘fresh’ option. For that matter, DAK in general has some nice, unique dining options that steer clear of the ‘fried-in-a-basket’ theme. I really enjoy it.

  43. Candy says:

    We have been over past few years and had regular dining service for 2-3 weeks so we have had most of recommendations. Totally agree on sunshine seasons. The desserts are enough to bring me back regularly. Also agree on Colombia hh and gaston tavern, queue too long last July for be our guest so went in here. But not on the list is sleepy hollow in liberty square MK and I love the waffles here. It’s always a relaxing area with a fab view of castle. Could do with a good awning to keep sun off you when having a cup of tea with your strawberry waffle.

  44. Joey says:

    Counting the days already til our next trip back to WDW in December. Flame Tree BBQ and those St. Louis Ribs you speak of are at the top of my list! Your blog is much appreciated!

  45. Jen says:

    I am surprised to see Wolfgang Puck Express did not make the list. Hands down the best QS! Both for quality, variety and value!

  46. Will says:

    Tom,

    What would be your recommendation for counter service at the Studio? That’s the one park where I feel completely lost when it comes to dining.

    • Ashley says:

      Backlot Express has some decent sandwiches, but other than that, it’s pretty slim pickings. You can always sit at the bar/lounge of 50′s Prime Time or the Brown Derby and order there- not exactly ‘counter service’ per say, but depending on the time of day (peak lunch hours at QS are insane!!) you may get your meal in the same amount of time, or even faster, and have a nice place to sit without having to fight for a table with a tray full of food.
      Starring Rolls cafe has some nice sandwiches too, but they close at 4.

  47. Dawn says:

    We are going to Disney in Dec 2014. I booked the Wilderness Lodge with the dining plan that inclues 1 table service/1 counter service/and 1 snack per day. Our son is 2 so he will eat for free from us. I’m doing a lot of research and I was thinking of using our table service for Chef Mickey & Crystal Palace. Can we use our counter service for dinner options? Reading your list there are quite a few that I think would serve that purpose if available for dinner like Gaston’s Tavern, Captain’s Cook, Coamic Rays, Contempo Cafe& Roaring Forks(which is in our resort). We are only there for 3 nights/2days.
    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!! Thanks!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      The only restriction on credits is the table/counter/snack distinction you already noted. You can use them any time of day. If doing character meals, I’d recommend doing them for dinner rather than breakfast. Have fun! :)

      • Dave T - Portsmouth, UK says:

        Hi Dawn,
        Although I agree partially that Character dining is better at dinner than breakfast (value for money/more food given its using table service credit) I would suggest to opt for the best time based on when your son has most energy, as you’ll want to avoid a melt down during Mickey’s/Tigger’s trip to that table or if he is asleep also and misses the wonders completely..

        I took my little man there in June ’13 (just under 2 yrs) and taking him back again in May ’14.. (just under 3 yrs)..
        I found him loving character time at breakfast time.. even to the point of putting his milk bottle in Donald’s mouth (to laughter of several tables around us).. This year, as his eating habits are more developed – im planning on more early evening dinner dining moments (between 5pm – 6:30pm) but have booked a few breakfast character meals just for that early more excitement again..
        Have a great time

  48. Drew says:

    I know they have limited menu options, but I love Gaston’s Tavern. LeFou’s Brew is my favorite MK drink/treat and the pork shanks are awesome!

  49. Jim says:

    You didn’t mention Landscape of Flavors at Art of Animation.

  50. Andrew Long says:

    I agree with your list, especially the changes you’ve made for 2014. Boardwalk Bakery is my favorite place to go for Counter Service though. The menu is somewhat limited (sandwiches for lunch and only 2 or 3 options for breakfast) but the Lobster Roll and the Salmon sandwich are the best Counter Service entrees I’ve had (although Flame Tree BBQ comes close). You also get a much wider variety of desserts to pick from at this restaurant and they are delicious.

  51. will says:

    what made you rank contempo over sunshine seasons? I have not eaten at the former, but I do think sunshine gives great value for quality with a large diversity of dishes.

  52. karen gentile says:

    I’ve eaten at all of the top ten mentioned, except Mara, I would add to the list The food court at Port Orleans – Riverside. Their Pasta Station is fabulous and the portions are quite large(have never been able to finish) and also their salad station is great. Wolfgang Puck Express (Downtown) is another great option, especially on the DP, they have a very ambitious and large menu. The new menu at the revamped Boardwalk Bakery is also great- Lobster -yum! and – last two, newly reopened counter service in France, Lots of yummy choices and Gasperella’s a Grand Floridian was alwys great, but I haven’t been there since they revamped so it might have changed.

  53. Sydney says:

    I am surprised that Starring Rolls at Hollywood Studios didn’t make the list. They have excellent desserts and for lunch they have great big sandwiches and sushi! It is one of my faves!

  54. Cassie says:

    Would I be allowed to walk into a restaurant (Be Our Guest) just for a minute to look at it? I am not interested in the long lines to eat there, but everyone says the décor is just amazing to look at…

    • Tom Bricker says:

      In most restaurants, they will allow this. Not sure about Be Our Guest. It’s very busy with little downtime. Try your luck, though. The worst they can say is no! :)

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