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, hotels and beyond. Some are once-per-trip dining spots, while others are hidden gems that even many WDW regulars haven’t tried. (Updated June 19, 2022.)
For our Summer 2022 update, we’re making a few changes to the list. First, several one-time favorite counter service restaurants are closed or have significantly scaled back menus. Consequently, there are popular options missing from the list (hopefully temporarily). Others have restored or refreshed their menus, and reclaimed spots on this list as a result.
Second, we’re “tipping the scales” towards counter service restaurants inside the theme parks in response to reader feedback. As many of you have pointed out, it’s not practical to eat lunch at Disney Springs during a day in the parks, and we want this to be a useful resource. While it’s true that many of the best restaurants are at Disney Springs, we’re limiting the list to only the best counter service spot from that district. Every other entry is either in-park or accessible from one of the theme parks without boarding a bus.
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. Unfortunately, the Disney Dining Plan is still temporarily suspended as of Summer 2022. (See When Will the Disney Dining Plan Return? for more on that.)
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. Connections Cafe & Eatery – Epcot, World Celebration – Walt Disney World’s newest counter service restaurant makes the list, which is somewhat unsurprising–most spots start strong and see their menus diluted over time. Still, it does replace Electric Umbrella, which was notorious among some fans as being among the worst restaurants at Walt Disney World. So its successor making this list is noteworthy.
With that said, we are somewhat reluctant to include Connections Cafe, especially as there are so many more interesting and ambitious options in World Showcase (albeit with varying and inconsistent quality). In addition to that, most Epcot restaurants are easily surpassed by the perpetual festival booths, and Connections Cafe is not immune to that.
In other words, Connections Cafe is worthy of inclusion on this list in a vacuum, but our endorsement is pretty tepid when viewed in the broader context of eating at Epcot. Honestly, the same is true for Sunshine Seasons and Regal Eagle–but they’re good options if you’d prefer something more efficient and affordable than grazing the festival booths or doing a table service meal.
T10. Katsura Grill – Epcot, Japan – 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 the strongest option. Unlike a lot of its counterparts, the menu here is well-rounded and offers something for pretty much everyone.
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 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.
T9. P & J’s Southern Takeout – Fort Wilderness Campground – This list is incredibly heavy on barbecue and comfort food, but we couldn’t resist including this criminally underrated eatery at Fort Wilderness. We love the Family Style offerings at P & J’s Southern Takeout: the Full-Slab Barbecued Ribs and 8-Piece Fried Chicken Family Meal. These are served with cornbread and your choice of four sides: Coleslaw, Cowboy Beans, Macaroni and Cheese, or Mashed Potatoes with Gravy.
This to-go family feast is considerably cheaper than its counterparts, and serves more manageable portion sizes of the same delicious dishes from Trail’s End and Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue. It’s a great shareable option for a midday break from Magic Kingdom, and an even better pick for those staying in the excellent Fort Wilderness Cabins, which are equipped with fridges and microwaves for convenient storage and reheating.
T9. 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 typically better with some of the best entrees being several dollars less expensive. Primo Piatto also has strong menus for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, making it a great option for multiple meals.
8. ABC Commissary – Hollywood Studios – You 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 shockingly good Mediterranean Salad. There are several options that are tasty and ambitious, which is more than can be said about many in-park counter service restaurants right now.
7. Flame Tree BBQ – Animal Kingdom – If you love meat, Flame Tree BBQ might sneak up a couple spots 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 on 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 high score.
6. Regal Eagle Smokehouse – Epcot, American Adventure – A relatively recent addition, Regal Eagle 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, there’s even more of a counter service void in World Showcase.
5. Columbia Harbour House – Magic Kingdom, Liberty Square – With Be Our Guest Restaurant now serving its prix fixe menu for lunch in addition to dinner, this spot in Liberty Square becomes far and away the best quick service restaurant in all of Magic Kingdom. It’s not even a close call, as even the next-best options only have a good entree or two, or are incredibly taste-specific. (Arguably the same is true with Columbia Harbour House, which is mostly seafood.)
Whether you want something on the healthier side or a platter of fried delights, Columbia Harbour House has got you covered. It’s also a great place to escape the crowds of Magic Kingdom. The portions are hearty, the dishes taste great, and Columbia Harbour House generally offers good value for money. From the Lobster Roll to the Grilled Salmon, the menu is ambitious and satisfying.
4. Sunshine Seasons – Epcot, World Nature – Once at the top of this list, Sunshine Seasons dropped to #10 last year due to its limited menu that was almost exclusively “crowd-pleasing” dishes that were anything but. Thankfully, many menu items have been restored since then, with other new options added.
Once again, Sunshine Seasons offers something for everyone, with inventive items and familiar favorites. 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 is strong again.
3. 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.
2. 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, while meat-eating enthusiasts might just prefer the Smoked Kaadu Ribs to those at Flame Tree BBQ. And that’s just two things on this stacked menu!
1. Polite Pig – Disney Springs – This list’s lone entry from Disney Springs, even though several are deserving from a quality perspective. It’s also one of the most popular dining spots at Disney Springs, and is likely to become even more of a destination restaurant thanks to its recognition in the Florida Michelin Guide.
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.
That wraps up the Summer 2022 edition of our best counter service restaurants at Walt Disney World! Hopefully, we’ll have another update later this year once more menus return to normal. There are a ton of Walt Disney World counter service restaurants that didn’t make this list, but could once they restore their full menus.
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!
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!
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!!!
My family had the same experience!
Was not impressed with The Mara at all. Found it odd that it was on the list.
Most deluxe resorts seem to have less than stellar counter service areas.
Sunshine Seasons and El Pirata Y El Perico!
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.
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!
We’ve heard a lot of good things about Wolfgang Puck Express!
Danke für diesen Post. Sehr gut geschrieben. Ich will bald Ã¶fter lesen. Danke .
You probably figured out this is a thankful post. In case you were wondering fuhrer, i mean further…
Thank you for this post . Very well written. I will soon read more . thank you
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.
I ate there in 1997 or so. Probably not recently enough for a review! 😉
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!
I could seriously make a meal just on the potato salad at Sunshine Seasons!
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.
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.
We’ve had several great meals at Artist’s Palette at Saratoga Springs – excellent flatbread!
There are so many good options, but Earl of Sandwich would have to make my top 10 list of counter services!
Yeah, Earl of Sandwich is great, but it’s tough to put a ‘real world’ restaurant on the list.
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!
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.
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.
We stopped at Pizza Planet many times when my son was pre-school age. So distracted by all the details in the trip that when it came time to eat, we defaulted to somewhere we thought he’d find exciting. Probably a big mistake, but we lived so its OK *lol*
Now we’re all older & wiser (Son is now 13), we enjoy the “real” food at WDW. He loves Epcot food, especially -everything- in Morocco.
Great article for Disney foodies like me! Would love to see a similar post on dining in the evening as well. Tweeted and shared.
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!
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!
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!
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 🙂
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.
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 🙂
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!!!
You are correct on the locations of Captain Cook’s and Roaring Fork.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
Also, you can go here:
Just click on any restaurant name, and they have full menus w/prices.
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.
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 🙂
Captain Cook’s is in the Polynesian resort and Roaring Forks is the counter service restaurant in the Wilderness Lodge.
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.