This post ranks the best quick service restaurants in Epcot at Walt Disney World, including both World Showcase and Future World. Rankings are best on overall quality, with factors such as quality, uniqueness, menu variety, and more all taken into account. There are also photos of some of our favorite food items from each location, which might help you visual folks make the decision a little easier.
Epcot has long been regarded as one of the best dining options at Walt Disney World, with World Showcase in particular viewed as a culinary highlight. It should thus come as no surprise that we view Epcot as having the best counter service restaurants at Walt Disney World. There are a couple of things that probably will surprise you, though. First, this reputation is largely predicated upon its top 2 dining options: Sunshine Seasons and Tangierine Cafe, both of which are also near the top of our Top 10 Counter Service Walt Disney World Dining list. Second, there actually are not a lot of good counter service options in Epcot that have “full” menus as compared to Magic Kingdom or Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Given that a lot of the spots that could be considered counter service restaurants around Epcot have very limited menus, and since I’ve learned from my mistake of ranking every counter service restaurant in the Magic Kingdom (including the Starbucks Main Street Bakery and seasonal places that are seldom open), I’m limiting this to a top 10. This means that some small stands aren’t on this list at all, which is either a product of them not being noteworthy, or of us just never having tried them.
All in all, we think that Epcot is a fairly straightforward park when it comes to counter service, with the good choices being undeniably good, and the rest being varying degrees of decent. There are a couple of surprises, particularly with restaurants we’ve previously criticized that have since improved. It is also worth noting that most of the options in World Showcase are highly dependent upon what you think of a particular regional cuisine. Namely, if you don’t like it at all, you likely won’t like its Epcot counterpart, and if you are used to highly authentic versions of a particular cuisine, you might find the Epcot versions overly Americanized or bland.
We’ve separately reviewed many of the Epcot restaurants in this post, so if you want to know more, those thorough reviews are the way to go. To read our full reviews and see additional food photos of each spot, click the restaurant name (if it’s not click-able, we have yet to review it).
Let’s get started with the Epcot counter service rankings…
10. La Cantina de San Angel – I’m not a fan of La Cantina de San Angel. At one time, it was Sarah’s favorite restaurant in World Showcase, and whenever she’d eat here, I’d instead head over to get a meal (and by a meal, I mean a few desserts) at Kringla in Norway. My main complaint about La Cantina de San Angel is that it seems the portion sizes are not in line with the prices, and the food is lacking in flavor. I really can’t recommend a specific dish here because nothing has struck me as memorable. The one redeeming thing about this place is the waterside tables, but so many times, those are completely full (on several occasions, we’ve eaten outside the seating area on a random walkway hovering over a trashcan).
9. Lotus Blossom Cafe – A lot of people might describe Lotus Blossom Cafe much in the way I’ve described La Cantina de San Angel: generic mall food court Chinese food. I know it doesn’t have many fans, but I think it’s a fairly decent option. I don’t necessarily disagree with the mall food court assessment, and I think Lotus Blossom is pretty Americanized, but that doesn’t necessarily make it bad. My pick here is the orange chicken. Pretty basic pick for a pretty basic place.
8. Yorkshire County Fish Shop – This pick is the first in a string of three consecutive locations about which my opinion has recently changed as of late for the better. I used to think Yorkshire County Fish Shop was just ordinary fish & chips. However, I’ve eaten here twice in the last few trips and was really impressed both times. Both times, the batter tasted fresh out of the fryer, was crisp, and had just the right amount of greasiness (call it “lightly moist” if you will). The only reason this place is in the #8 slot instead of a much better position is because fish & chips is literally all they serve. If you are a fan of fish & chips, this place instantly jumps to at least the #6 slot, maybe as high as #3.
7. Liberty Inn – In our review of Liberty Inn, I suggested that rather than being an indictment of America’s fast food culture, it should be “show off the diversity of American cuisine…they could serve easy takes on regional favorites, like Philly cheesesteak sandwiches, New England clam chowder (or lobster rolls), Creole jambalaya (or gumbo), Memphis ribs, Texas BBQ, Denver omlettes, etc.” With recent menu changes, that’s exactly what they’ve done. In addition to the NY Strip Steak, there’s now Maryland Crab Cakes, Louisiana-style Shrimp, Surf & Turf Burger, and more. We have yet to try all of these new items, but from what we have, this is definitely a location on the way up. The steak, in particular, is particularly ambitious and surprisingly for a counter service spot.
6. Les Halles Boulangerie & Patisserie – The next two picks are somewhat interesting(?…questionable?) in that they lean heavily on their baked goods in order to arrive where they are. If you’re interested only in a savory, filling meal, both Les Halles and Kringla drop to Yorkshire County Fish Shop level. Les Halles manages to rank highly for me because it has very solid sandwiches along with wonderfully flaky pastries and sweet desserts that make for a decadent 50/50 savory/sweets meal. On vacation, I fully embrace the idea of a meal that is in large part dessert, and Les Halles delivers a “balanced” diet in that regard. Your mileage may vary here, though.
5. Electric Umbrella Cafe – Throughout the history of this blog, I have taken about as many cheapshots at Electric Umbrella as I have Downtown Disney (now Disney Springs). It has regularly caught my ire as being the single worst restaurant at Walt Disney World, which for a time, I think was true. Like Disney Springs, Electric Umbrella is now respectable. Mind you, it’s still not the best…but better. The menu has slowly changed (I hesitate to say evolved as there were some half-baked items straight from the test kitchen of Cheech & Chong for a while) and it has done so for the better. There are now a couple of items that are good. My pick is the French Dip Burger, which is one of my top burgers at Walt Disney World. I’ve actually had this burger twice on recent solo trips, and I’ve come to enjoy sitting upstairs (when it’s open) by a window at night looking out into Future World. Free drink refills here are an added bonus.
4. Kringla Bakeri og Kafe – I have pointed out the “mascot” of this place on numerous occasions: a crown-wearing pretzel. That says it all about the greatness of Kringla, which is my top bakery at Walt Disney World. It has unique sandwiches that offer a unique flavor of Norway alongside some of the absolute best snacks at Epcot–or anywhere at Walt Disney World. Kringla’s claim to fame is School Bread, which could probably be elected to public office among Disney fans. School Bread is great, but it overshadows some of the other great desserts at Kringla. My ideal meal here is School Bread or Troll Horn PLUS Lefse and the Norwegian Club. This is about a 60/40 sweet/savory meal, but it’s a great value, and probably has lots of important nutrients and stuff.
3. Katsura Grill – The gap between #3 and #2 here isn’t so much a gap as it is a gapping chasm. I like Katsura Grill, but it just isn’t in the same league as Tangierine Cafe and Sunshine Seasons. Katsura Grill might seem like a surprise pick here, and maybe it is. It’s sort of like the Tony Gwynn of counter service restaurants; if you were to start ranking players, Tony Gwynn might be one easily forgotten because he wasn’t all that flashy, but he was consistent. Katsura Grill is the same way. It doesn’t have any entrees that really “wow” me, but almost everything I’ve tried here has been at least good, whereas I feel like just about every restaurant higher on this list has 1-2 standout items, and several duds (save for maybe the bakeries). I think the combos offer good variety and value for money, and the sushi is fairly good, too. This isn’t a restaurant that will wow you, so if a specific menu item on one of the lower restaurants “speaks to you,” go for that, but I think Katsura Grill is consistent.
1b. Tangierine Cafe – Tangierine Cafe and Sunshine Seasons are really 1a and 1b here. If you want a unique taste of foreign cuisine–the best way to experience World Showcase–Tangierine Cafe is the clear counter service choice for you. It offers sizable portions for relatively fair prices, and has an interesting, non-traditional counter service menu. All of this makes it a very solid pick. Tangierine Cafe is somewhat adventurous, but it’s still tame-enough that most guests will be satisfied–downright happy–with their meal if they give it a chance. Go for any of the three platters here, which might be large enough to split if you have a smaller appetite, and you’ll have a meal that rivals some table service options in World Showcase. Simply put, Tangierine Cafe is what every World Showcase counter service restaurant should be.
1a. Sunshine Seasons – Sunshine Seasons is 1a and technically in the top spot because it offers the “best quality” foil to Tangerine Cafe’s “most unique” status. This isn’t to say Sunshine Seasons doesn’t have unique choices, as there’s really something for everyone here, with each of the stations having at least one ambitious option. That’s really where Sunshine Seasons sticks out, in the sheer variety of high quality, delicious options that it serves. Thanks to a robust bakery selection, it becomes the ultimate “two way player” (that’s a sports analogy) with both excellent baked goods and entrees. The only place where Sunshine Seasons falters is that seating area, which has a mall food court vibe that can’t compete with the serenity of being outdoors in Morocco. Otherwise, there are few better choices at Epcot–strike that–at Walt Disney World for counter service than Sunshine Seasons. I’m not even going to bother recommending an entree here as whatever you try will likely be good; instead, I’ll recommend adding a side of the amazing mashed potatoes (you can substitute the standard side with any entree for these, or add them on).
Really, though, this list only tells part of the story about dining in Epcot. Such a big part of the culinary experience is in the snacking and drinking, and you could go two full days in Epcot without ever eating in a counter or table service restaurant. From the great bakeries to ice cream to savory snacks at Food & Wine Festival and Flower & Garden Festival, Epcot is a great place to graze. It can be costly, but it’s an experience unto itself, and is a great way to supplement smaller or shared meals at these counter service locations.
Which Epcot counter service restaurant is your favorite? Have you dined at any of these restaurants? Which did you like and dislike? We love to hear from readers, so if you have any thoughts or questions, post them in the comments!