The 2018 Epcot Food & Wine Festival features 30+ Global Marketplaces with over 80 different dishes to taste, which cost around $4-8 each or one snack credit on the Disney Dining Plan. In this post, we’ll cover our top 10 favorites of this year’s Walt Disney World foodie event.
We think such a list is important, as the Global Marketplaces dishes are of varying quality: some good, some bad, and some ugly. This much is clear if you’ve read the booth reviews we’ve completed thus far for the 2018 Epcot Food & Wine Festival. More of those are coming soon, but for now we wanted to drop in with some must-try snacks for those of you visiting in the near future who want a concise resource of what to eat at this year’s Food & Wine Festival at Walt Disney World.
In general, we noticed this year that some booths are downright good or bad, so rather than focusing on the 10 best individual dishes, we are going to highlight 5 of the best overall booths at the event and 5 of our favorite snacks. This hybrid approach should provide you with more latitude in picking items from certain menus that appeal to you, while also knowing which specific dishes are must-do items.
With that said, it’s important to note that the Epcot Food & Wine Festival’s samples differ from day to day and even hour to hour. Dishes are produced quickly and in large quantities, and are not made to order. As such, quality can be inconsistent, and one person’s “perfectly cooked” steak could be over-cooked for a guest who orders the same thing 10 minutes later.
Moreover, portion sizes can vary pretty significantly, too. There have been times when we’ve sat at our table stood at our trashcan, and noticed that other guests near us who ordered the same thing have significantly smaller or larger portions. Both of these variables can impact your perception of a particular dish; freshly prepared beef brisket that’s twice the size of a portion that’s been sitting under a heat lamp for 30 minutes is going to review better.
Anyway, let’s start with the best-of the 2018 Epcot Food & Wine Festival list…
Maple Bourbon Boursin Cheesecake (Cheese Studio) – The delicious reign of the Chocolate Liquid Nitro dessert is over, long live the Maple Bourbon Cheesecake! Seriously, this is our new favorite dessert at the Epcot Food & Wine Festival.
The cheesecake is rich and savory, but with a somewhat light consistency that’s absolutely perfect. This contrasts nicely with the sweetness of the maple and caramel flavors, and the crunch of the candied pecans offers a wonderful texture. This dessert is sublime, and one of the few we’ll revisit again and again during the course of the event.
Liquid Nitro Chocolate Almond Truffle (Chocolate Studio) – Now, this isn’t to say that our perennial favorite dessert is anything less-than-brilliant, nor has its quality eroded in any way. (If we’re being honest with ourselves, we’d probably still give this dessert the nod if they both debuted this year, but there’s something to be said for ‘newness.’)
The name starts with “liquid nitro” and also includes “chocolate,” “truffle,” “whisky,” and “caramel.” That’s an all-star culinary cast if I’ve ever heard one. Seriously, the Liquid Nitro dessert lives up to all of the hype, and should not be missed.
Maple Bacon Funnel Cake (American Adventure Funnel Cake Stand) – We know–this photo looks pretty far from appetizing. When this was handed to us with a slab of something topped with bacon, we were a bit apprehensive. (It actually melted a bit before the photo was taken, so it looks slightly better in the photo than our first impression.)
Setting looks aside, this funnel cake is perfection. I’ve had terrible luck with Disney funnel cakes over the years (albeit mostly at Disneyland) to the point that I was reticent to even order this. However, it was a game-changer on the funnel cake front for me. Not only are the funnel cakes here freshly-made, but they are prepared to perfection.
This funnel cake was warm and doughy in the center, with a light crispness on the exterior. The funnel cake itself was a perfect match for the generous slab of maple ice cream on top. The bacon on top was a nice touch, and helped provide a savory counterbalance to the dessert. It’s not cheap, but the portion is huge and it’s easily shareable among a few people. Between this and the Beef Brisket Poutine at Refreshment Port, you can fill up while still doing some (less expensive) grazing around World Showcase.
Butternut Squash Ravioli (Wine & Dine Studio) – One of two standout dishes at Wine & Dine Studio (the other being the seared scallops), the Butternut Squash Ravioli is an excellent option, especially those who want a taste of fall from this seasonal event.
The sweet squash inside the al dente ravioli works well with the toasted pumpkin seeds, while the latter provides a bit of savoriness and texture. The brown butter vinaigrette provides added depth, making this superior to most restaurant pasta at Walt Disney World. The upside is that it’s the type of nuanced dish that should exemplify Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival; the downside is that the portion is about one ravioli too small.
Loaded Greek Nachos (Greece) – I’m probably grading on a bit of a curve by including these among the best individual items, but I really do enjoy these vegan nachos, which have absolutely no business being as good as they taste.
They are unique, and have a refreshing flavor thanks to the vegetables. The meatless sausage crumbles and vegan tzatziki are both deceptively good, and make this a surprisingly complex dish. While they are not the greatest dish at the event, they are very good even for a non-vegan. Moreover, this is the kind of inventive and envelope-pushing dish we should be rewarding at the Food & Wine Festival (especially after praising a few simpler, comfort foods. Plus, the portion is generous and this hearty dish is filling.
Best Overall Booths
Flavors from Fire – The new sensation of last year’s Epcot Food & Wine Festival is back and there’s definitely no sophomore slump here. To the contrary, Flavors from Fire is the best booth at Food & Wine for the second straight year.
India – As we remarked in our booth review, the India Global Marketplace could basically be called ‘A Taste of Sanaa.’ The menu will be familiar to those who have dined at Sanaa, or offer a chance to sample a somewhat-similar menu for those who are intimidated by a full meal at Sanaa (or just haven’t found the time).
Hawaii – This booth has been on the cusp of greatness for few years, with the Kalua Pork Slider being a perpetual favorite among Walt Disney World fans. This year, the Hawaii Global Marketplace takes things to the next level, with four different dishes that are all very good to excellent.
This is another instance of “just order the entire menu.” If you must narrow things down, we’d go with the Teriyaki-glazed SPAM Hash for the savory and Passion Fruit Cheesecake for sweet. (But really, do you want to risk skipping that slider?!) Read our full Hawaii Booth Review for more info & food photos.
Islands of the Caribbean – Thus far, I feel like we haven’t really gone out on a limb much with our ‘best of’ list. Sure, the Madras Red Curry is unheralded and the Maple Bacon Funnel Cake is an unconventional choice, but no one is going to shout “STOP THE PRESSES” as we name the Liquid Nitro Chocolate Truffle or the entirety of Flavors from Fire as our top picks.
Coastal Eats – I’m always somewhat surprised when Walt Disney World manages to do mass preparations of seafood well, yet that’s the case quite often (even at counter service restaurants). Coastal Eats is no exception, and for the second straight year, the dishes here wow.
The Baked Shrimp Scampi Dip is our favorite on the heavier front (read: when it’s not 90 degrees out) and we have had tremendous luck with the Seared Scallops. At this point, we hesitate to even call it luck, but we still feel the need to call it that because scallops could be a total train-wreck if the preparation or freshness is a misfire.
That wraps it up for our Best of the 2018 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. Even though this is far longer than a normal top 10 list when you count each item at the booths we recommended, it still leaves off several deserving choices at this year’s Food & Wine Festival. With that said, we’ll be back later this week for a look at the other side of things, with our ‘Worst of’ list, so stay tuned!
Do you have any favorites dishes from the 2018 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival? Favorite booths? Anything you’re excited to try? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!