Walt Disney World has a new restaurant! 4 Rivers Cantina Barbacoa Food Truck is now open at Disney Springs. In this post, we’ll review the latest offering from the local barbecue smokehouse chain popular among Orlando locals, with food photos and thoughts on our meal.
Disney Springs has had food trucks for a while, so when we heard about the new 4 Rivers Smokehouse offering, we just assumed it’d be in Exposition Park on the West Side of Disney Springs where the other ones “hang out.” Wrong. 4 Rivers Cantina is in the Marketplace, across from Ghirardelli, and right next to World of Disney. We only mention this so you don’t make the same mistake as us and end up walking a 5k through Disney Springs.
Accordingly, we went into our meal at 4 Rivers with far more tempered expectations. After only a couple bites, 4 Rivers had won us over. By the end of our meal, we were asking “when can we eat here again?” “maybe we should eat the *entire* menu before reviewing this place?” and “why does Polite Pig get the prime real estate while 4 Rivers is relegated to a food truck?!”
In our enthusiasm, we’re getting ahead of ourselves–let’s backtrack to our meals from 4 Rivers Cantina Barbacoa Food Truck. We’ll start with a look at the food truck’s menu:
We dined at 4 Rivers Cantina Barbacoa Food Truck in its first week of operation. During that time a rep from 4 Rivers and a liaison with Disney Springs were going around, ensuring everything was going smoothly and there were no debut period hiccups. (There were not–the whole experience was flawless.)
These reps informed us that 4 Rivers Cantina Barbacoa Food Truck has a menu that’s entirely new and unique to Disney Springs, meaning these items can’t be found at the other 4 Rivers locations in Orlando and Winter Park. (I made the “mistake” of perusing the full 4 Rivers menu after our meal, and now I can’t get the Brontosaurus Beef Rib out of my head. Dinosaurs and BBQ? Sign me up!)
For her meal, Sarah ordered the Buritto Bowl with pork. This contains black beans, salsa verde, guacamole, pico de gallo, sour cream, queso fresco, cilantro, jalapeño, and corn tortilla strips. She got hers served over rice (as opposed to lettuce).
The bowl was absolutely delicious. Words aren’t going to do justice to either of the meats we ordered; the pork was tender with the ideal amount of fattiness to give it balance and flavor, without being fatty. It was perfect. The bowl was also piled high with the other toppings, all of which were fresh and delicious.
Sarah preferred the ease and style of her bowl, whereas I preferred the taco cone. We also debated which was larger, and held them side by side, sifting them around in our hands like doofuses while trying to eyeball it and get a feel for weight. Rice is denser than lettuce, but the taco cone is edible whereas you probably shouldn’t eat the plastic bowl. Ultimately, our results were ultimately inconclusive.
Being a sucker for novelty foods, I ordered the Taco Cone with brisket, which also came with guacamole, sour cream, pico de gallo, queso, cilantro, jalapeño, and lettuce. This thing is gigantic, much like the Cone of Shame your pup might have to wear, except this cone would bring shame to no one.
Then there’s the meat, which was beyond belief. The brisket far exceeded expectations, with a slight kick and resounding juiciness. As with the pork, there aren’t words for how good this is. I had several bites by itself because the flavors in isolation were so delicious, and I wanted to savor that. Together with the other toppings, it’s like a symphony in your mouth. (For what it’s worth, I slightly preferred the brisket to the pork, but reasonable minds could differ on that.)
Going in, I was concerned that the cone would be awkward to eat, or that I’d wind up with half of the food on my shirt. I have a masterful ability to spill things onto myself–I’m so good at it that I don’t even bother with white shirts anymore. Here, that was not a problem. the cone held its form and eating it was pretty simple.
The unexpected “pro” of the cone was that it tasted delicious, with an exterior crispness that gave way to a slightly-moist flakiness. I expected this to be a total novelty, with the cone itself being a utilitarian food-holding device. Instead, it was delicious. It was also a lot of fun to eat, so bonus points for that. (Henceforth, this shall be known as the Cone of Delight.)
My one ‘wish’ here is that the Taco Cone came with the option of rice instead of lettuce. I know that wouldn’t be the norm for a taco cone, but as Walt Disney famously didn’t say, “if you can dream it, you can do it.” I personally prefer rice, and thought the lettuce was the one ingredient in the cone that sort of just ‘got in the way’ of everything else. This is probably an odd minority opinion, though.
Part of me feels that it really is a shame that 4 Rivers is relegated to a food truck where it can only serve a limited menu, whereas Polite Pig has a brick and mortar location with a full menu of hit-or-miss items, too many of which are ineptly prepared.
This experience really made me wish we got the full 4 Rivers treatment (and also makes me eager to visit their Winter Park and Orlando locations) at Disney Springs. A larger menu plus a themed environment would’ve been cool (even if “themed” these days in Disney Springs means only one thing: an interior repurposed by rustic hipsters).
Although, perhaps the food truck setup is ideal for 4 Rivers given their unique menu? During our visit, we observed an unsurprising trend: guests saw people clutching the giant Cones of Delight, asked where they got them, and ordered their own. Having a food truck rather than a confined, indoor setting allows 4 Rivers to gain customers via “word of eye.”
Tourists’ love for giant, novelty foods is absolute. I know this because I am a tourist, and I am a total sucker for things like this. When it comes to Disney Springs dining, I suspect this visual advertising is more important than word of mouth. Our Disney Springs restaurant reviews are among the least popular on this site; I’m assuming this is at least in part because visitors are overwhelmed by all of the choices and constant change at Disney Springs. Seeing a giant, delicious-looking cone is an easy way to decide where to eat with zero research.
Overall, we can’t say enough positive things about 4 Rivers Cantina Barbacoa Food Truck. This is in the top 2 for counter service restaurants at Disney Springs–and is an easy #1 pick for the best budget option. While we still absolutely love D-Luxe Burger, you get more food for less money at 4 Rivers, making the latter a smart pick for Walt Disney World visitors paying out of pocket. It also blows away popular chains like Earl of Sandwich and Blaze Pizza. 4 Rivers is likely to stay relatively under-the-radar because it’s a food truck rather than a “proper” restaurant, but don’t let that discourage you from trying it, you absolutely will not be disappointed.
Have you tried the 4 Rivers Cantina Barbacoa Food Truck? What did you think of it? Are you disappointed its not a full service restaurant, or is a food truck ‘good enough’ for you? Do you agree or disagree with our review? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!