Top 10 Disney World Counter Service Restaurants

Here is our list of the best counter service restaurants at Walt Disney World. These are our 10 favorite quick places to eat in Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Disney Springs, and hotels. Some, like Flame Tree BBQ or Docking Bay 7, are once-per-trip dining spots. Others are hidden gems that even many WDW regulars haven’t tried. (Updated February 15, 2021.)

For 2021, there are a lot of changes to the list, as several one-time favorite counter service restaurants remain closed during the phased reopening of Walt Disney World. Some of these, like Wolfgang Puck Express and Tangierine Cafe, have uncertain futures and may be permanently closed.

Others will almost certainly return once attendance limits are lifted or the hotels they call home reopen. Nevertheless, we’re updating the ‘best of’ list to reflect what is currently operational. We also have some new top performers that have joined the list thanks to improved menus…

For those unfamiliar with the term, counter service (or quick service) restaurants are Walt Disney World’s equivalent of fast food. Don’t let the negative connotation of ‘fast food’ (these are more like fast casual, anyway) dissuade you from trying these restaurants, as all of them have some excellent options. This list is based on value, food quality, and theme. Value and quality are regularly changing, as prices and menus both change.

During normal times, most of the Walt Disney World counter service restaurants on this list participate in the Disney Dining Plan as counter service credits. A couple of these also accept the Tables in Wonderland card for a 20% discount. However, both the Disney Dining Plan and new sales of Tables in Wonderland are temporarily suspended for 2021.

Anyway, 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…

T10. Sunshine Seasons – Epcot, Future World – How the mighty have fallen. Once at the top of this list, Sunshine Seasons now barely sneaks onto it. Sunshine Seasons has replaced inventive items with “crowd-pleasing” dishes that are anything but. On some days, it has an entire ordering bay shut down, too.

On the plus side, Sunshine Seasons still offers something for everyone and still has inventive items. 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 remains strong, even if it’s no longer top 5.

T10. Katsura Grill – If you’re looking for an inventive counter service restaurant in World Showcase that’s open daily and has a full menu, Katsura Grill in the Japan pavilion is pretty much your only option right now. Fortunately, it’s also an excellent choice.

We’ve long been fans of Katsura Grill for its fun menu of Japanese comfort cuisine and relaxing outdoor atmosphere. It rockets up this list for 2021 in large part because new items have actually been added to the Katsura Grill menu, whereas most restaurants at Walt Disney World have scaled back their menus during the phased reopening.

9. D-Luxe Burger – Disney Springs – The first counter service restaurant from Disney Springs to make this list, D-Luxe Burger is in a league of its own. While most of the other top counter service spots at Disney Springs are third party restaurants you could find in the real world, D-Luxe Burger is Walt Disney World owned and operated.

On the food-front, D-Luxe Burger serves what are–without a doubt–the best fast food burgers at Walt Disney World. These things are even better than some table service burgers…which is a good thing, given that price is a common criticism here. The fries and range of dipping sauces for them are also excellent, and we highly recommend ordering one of the two-person combos with burgers and fries to save a couple of bucks.

8. ABC CommissaryYou might be a bit surprised to see the “most boring restaurant” at Disney’s Hollywood Studios restaurant make the list, but it has seen a number of menu changes recently. Of course, the menu here changes with the wind, so don’t be surprised if it changes once again before your Walt Disney World vacation.

At ABC Commissary, our favorite option is the Buffalo Chicken Grilled Cheese Sandwich followed by the Curry Rice Bowl. There are several options that are tasty and ambitious, which is more than can be said about many restaurants right now.

7. Flame Tree BBQ Disney’s Animal Kingdom – If you love meat, Flame Tree BBQ might sneak into the top spot on this list for you. The St. Louis Ribs entree that tops Flame Tree BBQ’s menu is the single greatest counter service option in all of Walt Disney World. While I love the ribs, my new go-to is the Baked Macaroni & Cheese with Pulled Pork. It’s delicious, interesting, filling, and a great value.

The details and view of Everest in the seating area also help Flame Tree Barbecue claim a spot near the top of this list. Only its dessert selection, limited menu for non-carnivores, and prices (which have soared in recent years) blemish Flame Tree BBQ’s otherwise near-perfect score.

6. Regal Eagle Smokehouse – Epcot, American Adventure – The newest counter service restaurant in the parks at Walt Disney World replaces the infamous Liberty Inn at American Adventure. This “Muppet Meatery” serves up satisfying and filling BBQ, with ample portions that are both delicious and relatively inexpensive (at least, by Walt Disney World standards).

As “stacked” as EPCOT’s culinary scene is, the big blind spot has always been high-quality and crowd-pleasing counter service cuisine. With Tangierine Cafe now closed, hopefully just temporarily, there’s even more of a counter service void in World Showcase.

5. Four Rivers Cantina Barbacoa Food Truck – Disney Springs – Ask an Orlando local about the best non-Disney restaurants in Orlando. The most common reply you’ll hear is 4 Rivers Smokehouse. Their Winter Park, Florida location is one of the best BBQ places I’ve ever visited, with incredible Texas Brisket, Kansas City Burnt Ends, Tri-Tip, and more. (It’d be the #1 restaurant on this list by far.)

This food truck at Disney Springs isn’t as good as the local chain’s flagship Florida location, but it is decidedly different and nonetheless excellent. The taco cones and burrito bowls are among the most satisfying meals you can have at Walt Disney World for a modest price.

4. Polite Pig – Disney Springs – For years, we’ve resisted reader calls to give Polite Pig a top 5 slot on this list (just look at the past comments on this post). This is despite it being the best use of Disney Dining Plan counter service credits; actually, it’s because of that. As a great value on the Dining Plan, Polite Pig is conversely really expensive out of pocket…which is how everyone is paying right now.

Nevertheless, it’s impossible to deny the quality of countless dishes at Polite Pig. The Baby Back Ribs with the polite rub and layla’s sweet bbq sauce are the best at Walt Disney World. The Pork Shoulder and Half Chicken are similarly fantastic. These are all quite pricey, but the quality is undeniable. For cheaper options, the sandwiches do not disappoint. Ditto the shareables and market sides.

3. Primo Piatto – This is the relatively new counter service restaurant at Disney’s Riviera Resort. While outside the park, Primo Piatto is an easy Skyliner flight from Epcot or Hollywood Studios, meaning that it’s ridiculously easy to do it as a break from the parks.

While its cuisine is not as good as Polite Pig, the value proposition is far superior with some of the best entrees being between several dollars less expensive and half the cost. Primo Piatto also has strong menus for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, making it a great option for multiple meals.

2. Satu’li Canteen – Pandora: World of Avatar at Animal Kingdom – More ambitious menus are definitely a trend with new counter service restaurants at Walt Disney World, and Avatar Land’s mess hall is no exception. Per backstory, this cafeteria has been repurposed into a peaceful dining facility by Alpha Centauri Expeditions (ACE) and adorned with Na’vi art and cultural items. Despite that, the setting isn’t quite as interesting as you might expect.

No matter, as the food is absolutely delicious. The highlight at Satu’li Canteen is the “Create-Your-Own-Bowl” option, which lets you select a protein, base, and sauce. This gives you the option to choose among the fresh, high quality, and delicious ingredients to make something healthy, heavy and decadent, or in between. (I definitely go for the “wrong” end of that spectrum, and love  the beef with potatoes and creamy herb dressing.) In other words, there’s something for everyone with the options at Satu’li Canteen.

1. Docking Bay 7 Food & Cargo – Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Hollywood Studios – Walt Disney World’s newest counter service restaurant is already its best. That’s good news, as this is the only place to get a full meal in Star Wars Land, and you’ll definitely want to eat while you’re here.

Docking Bay 7 truly fires on all cylinders. Its themed design is engaging and fun, its menu is diverse and delicious, and it offers some of the best desserts at Walt Disney World. In terms of the menu, there’s something for everyone. Vegetarians–and really, anyone–will love the Felucian Garden Spread (pictured below), while meat-eating enthusiasts might just prefer the Smoked Kaadu Ribs (pictured above) to those at Flame Tree BBQ. And that’s just two things on this stacked menu!

That wraps up the Spring 2021 edition of our best counter service restaurants at Walt Disney World! Hopefully, we’ll have another update in Summer 2021 once more reopens. There are a ton of Walt Disney World counter service restaurants that didn’t make this list, but could once they’re operating again.

If you’ve been reading this list for the past few years, you’ll notice it has really been shaken up this year. In the last couple of years, we have spent a lot more time eating counter service in resort hotels, and a number of them trump or seriously challenge restaurants on this list.

Prior to this, one trend we had noticed is that resort food courts were improving, whereas in-park options have been on the decline (while prices increase) for the last year. Hopefully, Walt Disney World starts giving more attention to the menus of its in-park restaurants once things are back to normal. This would be a welcome improvement, after making significant changes–for the better–to resort and Disney Springs dining over the last couple of years. We’ll keep you updated should anything else change!

Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!

Your Thoughts

Which Walt Disney World quick service eatery is your favorite? How many of these restaurants have you dined at? Which did you like? Dislike? Did we snub any deserving counter service restaurants? What are your top Walt Disney World counter service restaurants? Do you agree or disagree with our picks? 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!

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