Walt Disney World has literally hundreds of restaurants. We’ve dined at the majority of these restaurants, and have loved most of our meals at them. There are so many good restaurants, in fact, that it’s very difficult to come up with a single top 10 list of the best table service restaurants at Walt Disney World.
To avoid this difficulty, in the past we’ve done lists of the best value-maximizing Table Service restaurants for the Disney Dining Plan (if you booked the Free Disney Dining Plan or the Disney Dining Plan in general, that is the list to consult for booking restaurants, not this list), the most romantic restaurants, and the best character dining options for the Disney Dining Plan. These are just a few ways to break down the types of restaurants to avoid narrowing the restaurants to an overall top 10 list.
Many restaurants that are exceptional have been “snubbed” from this list, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t great. Others that were once good (such as Le Cellier and Beaches & Cream) have been dropped from the list over the years because they no longer live up to their reputation. We update this list regularly (last updated May 1, 2017) based on recent meals we’ve had at Walt Disney World, and a few restaurants seem to come and go every year…
With the exception of the #1 restaurant, all restaurants listed participate in the Disney Dining Plan. Most of them, including restaurants #2 through #8, are Signature Restaurants, meaning they cost two-credit table service restaurants. All of them also accept the Tables in Wonderland card for a 20% discount.
Below is a brief synopsis why each restaurant makes the Top 10 list of Walt Disney World table service restaurants. Click the restaurant name for our full review of each restaurant. Okay, let’s take a look at which Walt Disney World restaurants made the cut…
UPDATE: Thanks to reader comments, I just realized I snubbed Tiffins. This was totally accidental, as I think Tiffins is definitely one of the best restaurants at Walt Disney World. I’m still deciding what to do about including it, as I really don’t want to cut any of the restaurants on this list.
10. Be Our Guest Restaurant (Dinner Only) – The most elusive Advance Dining Reservation in all of Walt Disney World even some 5-years after its debut, Be Our Guest Restaurant has displaced Le Cellier and Cinderella’s Royal Table as the most hyped restaurant in the parks. Depending upon who you ask, it’s either overrated or the best thing ever.
We place it somewhere in between. Be Our Guest Restaurant’s dinner menu is very good; shockingly so, in fact. This is a restaurant that is incredibly popular with families, and could phone in the menu without taking a hit in terms of demand. Despite that, the quality remains high. While you won’t find anything particularly inventive at Be Our Guest Restaurant, you will find some high-quality appetizers and entrees that are quite tasty. (Our recommendation: skip dessert.)
9. Sanaa – (menu) – Sanaa scores a lot of points for offering a unique and excellent menu, and for better price points than the Signature restaurants on this list. Sanaa also has incredible ambiance, with views of animals grazing outside the restaurant. The out of the way location of Sanaa at Kidani Village means that Sanaa is rarely overly crowded, which adds to its intimacy and also means you will usually have an attentive server.
The menu at Sanaa is quite remarkable for a Walt Disney World restaurant, with a lot of options that might scare away the regular tourist who simply wants meat and potatoes. You can find options like that at Sanaa (don’t worry, there’s a “regular” steak), but the majority of the menu is a bit more adventurous. This excellent unique menu is what separates Sanaa from a lot of other Walt Disney World restaurants, and reasonable prices (especially at lunch) on many delicious menu items makes it one of the 10 best table service restaurants at Walt Disney World.
8. The Boathouse – In the last few years, Disney Springs has gone from a place only to be visited if you wanted to get some shopping done, or maybe dinner at Raglan Road, to an integral part of any Walt Disney World vacation. There are a number of reasons for this, but the main one is unquestionably dining.
Our list of the best restaurants at Disney Springs features 4 locations that arguably could’ve made this list. The best among these is The Boathouse, which offers fine dining and a fun atmosphere. While the theme may seem at odds with the Signature status, it works for the style of restaurant on the waterfront at Disney Springs. Then there’s the food, which is almost all excellent (they, too, have a top 5 Walt Disney World dessert with the Baked Alaska), and it’s easy to see why the Boathouse has already attracted a legion of dedicated fans in only a couple of years.
7. Artist Point – (menu) – Artist Point is one Walt Disney World restaurant that really flies under the radar. It’s a Signature Restaurant, and it serves great food in a setting drawing inspiration from the great National Park dining rooms, but it rarely is mentioned in the same breath as fan favorites like California Grill. It’s not quite as pricey as both of these other Signatures, but the food is nearly as good.
Luckily for Artist Point, hype is not the determining factor in whether a restaurant is good, and Artist Point actually benefits from its lack of hype, as it’s incredibly easy to grab a last minute ADR or same-day reservations, and there are several menu options that are not to be missed. Make sure to start your meal with the Smokey Portobello Soup and finish it with the Cobbler!
6. Hollywood Brown Derby – (menu) – The Hollywood Brown Derby is one of the most well-rounded restaurants at Walt Disney World and is the best in-park dining option. It has sophisticated ambiance, a well-executed theme that gives it that touch of Disney and old Hollywood charm. Rounding out its laudable features are top-notch service and an excellent menu. Interestingly, it can be either a very expensive restaurant, or a relatively inexpensive restaurant. It’s an expensive restaurant simply by virtue of its normal Signature menu.
However, for about $25 per person, you can order only the Famous Cobb Salad (on the appetizer menu) and the Grapefruit Cake (dessert) and have those two items for your meal. The Cobb Salad at the Brown Derby is colossal and contains a kitchen sink of awesome ingredients. Beaches & Cream really ought to consider adding it to the menu there and calling it the “Kitchen Sink Salad.” The Grapefruit Cake is the Brown Derby’s second most famed dish, and is quite unique. Together, these two items will be enough food for most guests.
Even if you don’t follow this strategy to make the Brown Derby more reasonably priced, it’s still an excellent restaurant worthy of being included on this list. Just about every entree we have tried is excellent, with the highlights being the duck and lamb.
5. Flying Fish Cafe – (menu) – What Yachtsman Steakhouse is to steak, Flying Fish Cafe is to seafood. That is to say, it’s the place to go at Walt Disney World if you want some excellent seafood. Located on the BoardWalk, Flying Fish is the perfect adult’s night out, as you can enjoy the ambiance of the BoardWalk after a meal at the restaurant. The ambiance of Flying Fish is also great, with nice decor and an open kitchen and nice bar that add to the energy of the restaurant.
The Signature Flying Fish Cafe “Blue Crab Bisque” is a popular appetizer, but the “Tour of the Coast” is a good way to sample a variety of options. In terms of entrees, the filet is shockingly good, but we’d recommend sticking to seafood (go to #2 if you’re in the mood for a steak). Dessert rounds out the experience with a lot of interesting options. For a Signature seafood restaurant, prices are surprisingly fair, which also helps bump Flying Fish into the top 5.
4. California Grill – (menu) – California Grill offers incredible ambiance and undoubtedly the best views of any restaurant at Walt Disney World. Sophisticated decor with a view from the top of the world, a dinner at California Grill is the perfect way to spend an evening at Walt Disney World. When dining at California Grill, a window table is almost a must. Make ADRs for about an hour before the Magic Kingdom’s fireworks, and be willing to wait for a window table.
California Grill is a Signature restaurant, serving California fusion cuisine. The menu is diverse, ranging from sushi to flatbreads to fine dining main stays. My personal favorite dish is the Oak-fired Filet of Beef, which is expensive, but very good. The Duck Two Ways is a more reasonably-priced option that likely won’t disappoint. The food at California Grill is inventive, but worth the money. Desserts and cocktails here are also excellent at California Grill, so only the occasional misstep on entrees prevents Cali Grill from attaining greatness.
California Grill underwent a colossal refurbishment in the last few years that essentially amounted to a total reboot of the restaurant. We’ve dined there post-refurbishment, and the atmosphere and menu are both exceptional, once again putting it in the upper echelon of Walt Disney World Signature Restaurants.
3. Jiko – The Cooking Place – The ambiance in Jiko, at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, is impeccable with appropriate lighting and properly spaced tables for a Signature Walt Disney World restaurant. In our full review I compare Jiko’s ambiance to The Lion King, but it’s really much more complex than that. The color palette of the restaurant changes to mimic an African sunset as the night progresses. The service is also excellent, with servers who are knowledgeable about the menu and the extensive drink list. Its prices are in line with other Signature restaurants, so it’s no gem from a value perspective, but the cuisine is worth the prices.
Menu-wise, Jiko is basically Sanaa on steroids. It’s not quite as adventurous as Sanaa, but there are plenty of interesting choices that make the meal a veritable safari…for your taste buds! (Okay, that was corny, but I just had to…) There are great flatbread starters as well as less-conventional choices. The entree menu has plenty of choices, but my favorite by far (off-menu now) is the filet with mac & cheese. Other great choices include the Grilled-marinated Lamb Loin and Braised Beef Short Rib. Desserts are equally varied.
2. Yachtsman Steakhouse – (menu) – One visit to Walt Disney World, we dined at Yachtsman Steakhouse the night after dining at Narcoossee’s to see how they compared. While they’re totally different styles of fine dining, Yachtsman Steakhouse was infinitely superior. About the only area of disappointment at Yachtsman Steakhouse is the somewhat dated and bland look of the restaurant. Prices are also high, but not unexpected for the cuts of meat. Yachtsman Steakhouse is a carnivore’s paradise, which is apparent as soon as you walk in the entrance where you see…a butcher in a case booth making the “magic” happen.
The Porterhouse was bigger than my head, and it did not disappoint. It was perfectly marbled to give it excellent flavor, and the roasted garlic butter and fries were perfect for a “meat and potatoes” style meal. Although Yachtsman Steakhouse has other menu items besides awesome cuts of meat, these are where the menu shines. In essence, it’s the anti-Sanaa–a restaurant with a menu full of steakhouse classics. Although we’re adventurous, we’re also avid carnivores, so Yachtsman Steakhouse scores very well.
1. Victoria & Albert’s – Victoria & Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is the absolute best restaurant at Walt Disney World. By a wide margin. It’s the only AAA 5-Diamond restaurant in Walt Disney World. The restaurant is quiet and well-appointed, and the service is exquisite. Victoria & Albert’s offers a prix fixe six-course meal (we won’t fixate on each “best” menu item) consisting of gourmet and specialty fine dining options, along with other “premium” items that can be ordered for an additional charge. If you’re a real foodie, you can also book the Chef’s Table for a unique, albeit less romantic, dining option. Given all of this, why would Victoria & Albert’s not be #1 on anyone’s list?
Price. The fixed-price cost for the regular dining room starts at over $100 per person and with wine pairings and upgrades, the cost can easily eclipse $500 for a couple. That said, even the price can’t prevent Victoria & Albert’s from snagging the #1 slot here by a wide margin. This is because, for the type of restaurant it is, it’s pretty well priced, and because the food really is that good.
Everything about the restaurant is exquisite, making it far and away the best restaurant at Walt Disney World. It’s somewhere everyone who enjoys fine dining should eat at least once. In terms of value, even at its high cost, I would rate Victoria & Albert’s very highly. In my mind, it’s one of the few restaurants at Walt Disney World that would not be overpriced in the real world for the food and service it offers. That’s high praise for a meal that cost us over $300!
There you have it, our top 10 list of table service restaurants at Walt Disney World. You may notice that a lot of popular restaurants didn’t make this list. The one that probably jumps out most is Le Cellier. We enjoy Le Cellier, but feel that it doesn’t live up to the reputation that it has garnered over the years online, nor its full-time Signature Restaurant status.
At Le Cellier, the pretzel bread and cheddar soup are addictive, the NY strip steak is usually good, and the Maple Créme Brulée and Mount Blanc Semifreddo are the perfect ways to conclude any meal. It serves Unibroue beers, which are some of my favorite beers. However, food is often over-salted or lacking in flavor or complexity, and the tables are way too close together. A huge portion of its reputation was previously predicated upon its (former) “value” status on the Disney Dining Plan. With it now a Signature restaurant for lunch and dinner, I think it people will finally stopping singing its praise so loudly.
Other Signature or highly touted restaurants that were left off the list include Narcoossee’s (hit or miss and overpriced, even for Walt Disney World), Citricos (barely missed the list; amazing ambiance but hit or miss cuisine), ‘Ohana (barely missed the list; good and fun restaurant), and Tutto Italia (amazing dessert; otherwise overrrated). Monsieur Paul, which was the #2 restaurant on the list when it was Bistro de Paris, but has fallen from good graces since.
We haven’t had a chance to eat there yet, and since we haven’t (and it’s fundamentally different), it’s off the list. By contrast, California Grill remains on the list despite its refurbishment until we have reason to believe it’s materially different from its pre-refurbishment quality. All restaurants from the Swan & Dolphin and other third party hotels were not considered for the list. As you can see by the list of the above ‘snubbed’ restaurants, it was difficult to narrow the list the 10 table service restaurants…but we managed to do it!
Do you agree with our top 10 table service restaurants at Walt Disney World? Any restaurants that you’d add to the list? Any dining spots we list that you do not think are worthy of a spot? What are your favorite table service restaurants in Walt Disney World? Any questions? Share your thoughts in the comments!