Citricos Reimagined Restaurant Review
Citricos is a Signature Restaurant open only for dinner at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, which is Walt Disney World’s flagship hotel. In this WDW dining review, we’ll share photos of food and the new Mary Poppins-inspired dining room, thoughts on reimagined menu, how this fine dining compares to other locations, whether it’s worth the money, and more.
Starting with the basics, Citricos participates in the Disney Dining Plan as a 2-credit table service restaurant for dinner (or would, when the DDP is available). It also accepts the Tables in Wonderland card for a 20% discount (or would, when TiW is being sold), and offers Disney Vacation Club or Annual Passholder discounts for 10% off.
In terms of pricing, Citricos is comparable to Narcoossee’s, the waterfront restaurant at the Grand Floridian. For years, we haven’t exactly been enthusiastic about either of these Grand Floridian Signature Restaurants. In fact, when Walt Disney World announced the closure and refurbishment of Citricos early last year, we were excited–ready to see a fresh concept and menu hopefully revitalize the restaurant…
Let’s start with a look at the re-imagined restaurant interior inspired by Mary Poppins Returns. Per Walt Disney World, the dining room brings you into a fanciful garden scene that takes cues from the film’s animated sequence, with motifs of flowers, butterflies, and more.
You might recall that we were critical of the Enchanted Rose Beauty and the Beast Bar for being out of place at the Grand Floridian, an inappropriate use of intellectual property, etc. I still maintain that Enchanted Rose sticks out from the rest of the Grand Floridian’s lavish lobby like a sore thumb. Citricos is a different story, literally and figuratively.
In theory, the Citricos reimagining is entirely different because Mary Poppins makes thematic sense at the Grand Floridian. It’s already there in the Villas, and it’s in keeping with a Victorian hotel. While I don’t need intellectual property everywhere I go at Walt Disney World—especially in fine dining locations—this particular use of IP does not bother me in the least.
Even the original Club 33 at Disneyland had subtle nods to Walt Disney-era films. This is not really comparable to that from a quality perspective (those were props), but the point is that light touches are not necessarily incongruous with fancy restaurants.
That says “in theory” above because in reality, 99% of guests are never going to have any clue this restaurant interior is inspired by Mary Poppins (or the recent sequel, I guess, for some reason). The inspiration is subtle to the point that it’s easy to miss, with visual parallels, evocative patterns, floral motifs, etc.
If I were cynical, I’d guess that the team behind the Citricos reimagining had the scope of their work changed after the project started. My bet would not be that the project were scaled back to remove more aggressive references, but rather, that someone higher up at the Walt Disney Company saw that it was a significant project devoid of IP and sought to have that remedied.
I have zero insight into what happened–there have been no rumors whatsoever about the reimagining of Citricos–but it’s not hard to envision this type of change occurring. It easily could’ve been motivated by things like leadership changes, an unexpected multi-month closure, and/or the cancellation of a Mary Poppins inspired area in Epcot.
This would explain why the most visible references to Mary Poppins are confined to a yet-unused private dining room, and are props and photos that could’ve been added on a day’s notice.
There are other design elements that arguably are evocative of Mary Poppins, but only if you’ve already been told of the supposed inspiration. Every other supposed connection is far more abstract and tenuous. Then there are the details that are a real stretch, like the modern carpet pattern symbolizing the streets of London from overhead.
Much of that feels like ex post facto “storytelling.” As if Imagineering brought in a show writer mid-project to spin a yarn about some of the design choices already made for a clean, modern-meets-Victorian style that coincidentally had some parallels to Mary Poppins (Returns).
All of that is purely speculative on my part, and could be totally incorrect. Suffice to say, the Mary Poppins connections are incredibly subtle with absolutely nothing that’s in your face or over the top.
The design is “practically perfect” for an elegant restaurant in Walt Disney World’s flagship hotel. Whether that’s a matter of Imagineering exercising restraint or the connections being largely after the fact is mostly irrelevant.
The end result of the Citricos reimagining looks nice. The restaurant felt tired before, like a country club’s take on Victorian style in the mid-1990s. This style will undoubtedly look dated in time, but at the present moment, it’s elegant, sophisticated, and tastefully modern while retaining its thematic sensibilities.
Knowing that they’re there, I find the Mary Poppins motifs to be a nice touch, too. The new-look Citricos is not the pinnacle of themed design at Walt Disney World, but for a Signature Restaurant in a Victorian hotel, it hits almost all of the right notes.
Before we turn to the cuisine, there are a couple other things potentially worth noting. First, the evening we dined at Citricos, it appeared to be booked close to capacity. (Don’t let these photos fool you–we did a late seating and were the last guests out and I took them as we were leaving. During Happily Ever After, the dining room was nearly full.)
This is notable because it’s the first “real” Walt Disney World restaurant at which we’ve dined where this has been the case (air quotes because the same has happened at Geyser Point, but that’s very different), and we’ve done many meals in the last couple months.
Second, there was not a single “earning my ears” tag in sight at Citricos.
This is a sharp contrast to every other newly-reopened restaurant at which we’ve dined, where it’s not uncommon for half the staff to be College Program participants. At Citricos, the servers and kitchen crew all appeared far more seasoned and were already back ‘in the zone,’ so to speak.
We didn’t ask our server about this, but my guess would be that some of the staff at Citricos was previously at Victoria & Albert’s. Nowhere else has been able to reopen this late and recall that many Cast Members from the location.
Regardless, it’s great to see Citricos hit the ground running from the outset. While we love seeing all the fresh-faced College Program participants at Walt Disney World, it’s good that fine dining locations like Citricos are being staffed with knowledgeable and well-versed veterans. Their experience is very apparent in the high quality of the service.
Now let’s turn to the cuisine at Citricos.
As always, the meal starts out with the bread service, which is the same as before: ciabatta and rye slices with olives. The ciabatta bread (above) had a crispy crust giving way to a soft inside. Fairly average.
The rye bread with olives is the better and more unique option. It probably also helped that we had a freshly-prepared batch that just came out (which is why they were served separately).
The bread service comes with an addictively-good citrus salted butter.
Dinner at Citricos also started out with specialty cocktails: the Passion Margarita (Don Julio Reposado, Chef Orange Reduction, Passion Fruit and Passion Fruit Pearls) and Orange Blossom Martini (Diplomatico Rum, Orange Blossom Honey, Lemon Juice and Ginger Foam).
We were joined by a friend for the meal, expanding the lineup of everything we ordered. Let’s turn to the appetizers…
Sarah and I started with the Citrus-cured Hamachi: Passion Fruit Nuoc Cham, Compressed Star Fruit, Pasilla Oil and Blood Orange Puffed Tapioca.
This came recommended by our server, and was fantastic.
The tartness of the passion fruit permeated the sashimi, but did not overwhelm the fish’s natural flavor. The dish was imbued with a range of sweet and savory flavors, but it came together perfectly. My only “complaint” here is that it wasn’t served with a spoon so I could lap up the fruit and oil reduction.
Absolutely fantastic and unlike anything we’ve eaten elsewhere. The price was higher than all other appetizers, but seemed fair given its ambition and the portion of sashimi. Highly recommended.
Our friend started with the Berkshire Pork Belly: Boniato and Plantain Croquette, Salsa Verde and Jicama.
I didn’t try this, but both she and Sarah enjoyed it, saying it had a deep melt-in-your-mouth umami flavor that was complemented by the crispness of the croquette and the refreshing salsa verde.
For an accompaniment, we ordered the Truffle Macaroni & Cheese: House-made Gnocchetti, Summer Black Truffles, Sottocenere al Tartufo and Tarragon.
This is the most unique and “cosmopolitan” mac & cheese I’ve ever eaten. The top layer is essentially a light tarragon foam, with the cheese and pillow-y gnocchetti underneath. It’s rich and creamy, with an abundance of truffle flavor.
Several bites into eating, it dawned on me that the first photo “doesn’t really look like anything” so I took another. There’s probably 25% of the gnocchetti gone at this point.
While technically mac & cheese, this reminds me more of the hand-crafted pastas at Topolino’s Terrace. It’s a substantial and incredibly unique dish–but also quite an expensive one. Nevertheless, we loved it, would order it again, and highly recommend it.
We’ll start with the most underwhelming entree first, the Domestic Golden Tilefish with Jupiter Rice Chorizo “Risotto”, Key West Pink Shrimp and Confit Tomatoes.
This fish is mild and flaky, with the citrus providing a light lime contrast to the naturally sweet flavor of tilefish. It wasn’t bad by any means, but it paled in comparison to everything else–including the less expensive Cobia.
Speaking of which, that’s next up. This is the Butter-poached Florida Cobia with Mashed Fingerling Potatoes, Grilled Asparagus, Local Mushrooms and Grapefruit Buerre Blanc.
Sarah absolutely loved this mild, white fish. It had a robust flavor, nice texture, and was firm but tender. She said it was reminiscent of a swordfish. I didn’t try this, but just looking at it–the Florida Cobia looks meaty and substantial. This was Sarah’s favorite entree, and she’d highly recommend it.
Next, the Oak-grilled Filet Mignon: Potato Purée, Broccolini, Cipollini, Bordelaise.
This and the Oak-grilled 12-oz Prime New York Strip are Citricos’ most straightforward options, and we opted for the filet mignon because we’ve recently had that at a few other high-end Walt Disney World restaurants.
This steak is phenomenal. The oak grilling comes through in the flavor, but doesn’t get in the way of what’s otherwise an exceptional cut of beef.
We both really liked this, but I loved it. Sarah would give the edge to the filet mignon at Topolino’s Terrace, whereas I think this gets the edge due to the unique oak-grilled flavor. (The underlying cuts are similar–maybe even the same.)
Finally, the Guava Barbecued Short Ribs: Aged Cheddar Creamy Grits, Roasted Poblano, Curtido Slaw and Brussels Sprouts.
These ribs were fall-off-the-bone tender, with a delightfully sweet flavor (but not overpoweringly so) thanks to the guava bbq. While that was very good, it was the accompaniments that made this a standout. The cheddar grits were rich and decadent, while the curtido slaw providing a light and refreshing contrast to that. Normally, if I’m paying $50 for an entree, I’m not raving about the slaw…but this was amazing. The slaw had a succulent, citrus flavor that was perfect. This is an example of an entree as a whole being more than the sum of its parts. Highly recommended.
For our first dessert, we ordered the Blackberry Tartelette: Lemon Bavarian and Blackberry Mousse enrobed in Glacage with Candied Violet.
This thing looks like a work of art.
If you’re looking for something lighter for dessert, the Blackberry Tartelette fits the bill.
It has a semi-sweet, tart flavor with the crust providing some textural counterweight to the creamy mousse. With that said, neither of us thought this was anything to rave about. It looks better than it tastes.
Finally, we ordered the Chocolate Torte: Chocolate Financier, Dark Chocolate Ganache, Morello Cherries and Vanilla Mascarpone Cream.
Another gorgeously-presented dessert.
This is a sharp contrast to the Blackberry Tartelette–this dessert is rich, heavy, and gloriously decadent.
We both really enjoyed the core dessert here in the middle underneath the chocolate bouquet, for lack of a better term. Those shavings were fine, but more for aesthetics than consumption. The Morello Cherries and Vanilla Mascarpone Cream were fantastic, and elevated this. With all of that said, dessert was a disappointment as compared to the appetizers and entrees. That’s probably in part because these looked gorgeous but didn’t quite match that in flavor.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention pricing. While all Signature Restaurants at Walt Disney World are expensive, we spent a lot here–more than recent meals anywhere else. Even Takumi-Tei ended up costing us less than Citricos.
In part, that’s because of deliberate decisions we made, ordering several of the costliest items in their respective categories (plus drinks). However, the menu boxed us into some of those decisions, as there were only a couple of cheaper options, and they didn’t sound nearly as impressive or ambitious. We loved the meal, but taking into account what we spent and what we’d spend to dine here again…well, we’d rather revisit Topolino’s Terrace or wait for other still-closed favorite Signature Restaurants to return.
Ultimately, we’ve never been huge fans of Citricos in the past, but this experience at the new-look restaurant won us over. The menu is superlative, with sophisticated Floridian cuisine and an abundance of citrus infusions. Usually, even Signature Restaurants play it pretty fast and loose with their types of cuisine, but Citricos stays true to its name and its resort. These dishes are inventive, beautifully-plated, delicious, and in keeping with the spirit of Citricos.
In our view, the atmosphere is a marked improvement over the previous incarnation of the restaurant. Even if you’re not a fan of the cartoonification of Walt Disney World, that’s not an issue here as whatever they did with Mary Poppins is almost totally unnoticeable. Citricos is still not my favorite restaurant at Walt Disney World, but that’s only because the novelty or style of options like Topolino’s Terrace, Takumi-Tei, Monsieur Paul, and a couple others all appeal to me more. Removing personal preference and reviewing it only for its cuisine and sophistication/elegance, Citricos now belongs on our list of Top 10 Table Service Restaurants at Walt Disney World. Citricos is now practically perfect, and this reimagining was a supercalifragilistic upgrade to both the menu and interior. Kudos to the chefs and Imagineers!
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Have you dined at Citricos since it reopened? Thoughts on the new menu? What about the Mary Poppins-inspired reimagining of Citricos’ interior? Are you on board with the “subtle” nods to intellectual property, or does this not belong in a Signature Restaurant? Are you a Citricos or Grand Floridian fan? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Other thoughts or concerns? 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!
During our last trip two years ago we decided to see the inside of the Poly and perhaps have a drink at Trader Sam’s. We ended up having drinks upstairs by the lobby and had a great conversation with another couple. Lots of fun! We decided that in our next trip that we would check out other resorts.
So after many years (decades?) cruising by the Grand Floridian in the monorail, we booked a dinner at Citricos and had before dinner cocktails at the Enchanted Rose lounge. We really enjoyed the lounge and the views!
At Citiricos we had a direct view of the kitchen which was fun to watch during dinner. Danny our server was great. We started with the smoked Duck appetizer that would make great winter main course! We now live in Arizona so we were laser focused on the seafood dishes. My wife had the Tilefish and I had the Cobia. Both were very good; I would get the Tilefish next time (although that oak grilled steak is tempting). The house Manhattan was a perfect cocktail. All in all, two thumbs up! We are foodies and I enjoy cooking, and after a 18 months of many home cooked meals & Hello Fresh it was so nice to experience fine dining (without the stuffiness). The resort is beautiful and actually much bigger than we imagined. We might stay here on our next visit, or maybe the Poly? Tonight is our first trip to Wilderness Lodge (can’t wait) and have dinner at Whispering Canyon.
looks great…one of our favorites…does anyone remember Flagler’s?
Same issue with me re ADRs this am at 6 am est. It’s VERY frustrating. We have guests coming from CA and I wasn’t able to get anything good for a Monday in September! I’m assuming Club 33, Golden Oak and whoever else gets 90 day access is booking all the better restaurants. Or else Disney really needs to get more available ASAP! Tom, this would be a good topic for you to cover, hint, hint. and I completely agree with Tom that the theming is very subtle and therefore not really a kid friendly place. It’s a long slow meal. We heard two girls begging their parents to not go into that restaurant and eat in the room!
Sorry typo cause of phone. Ny strip. And wdw meal.
Yeah I had the salad and hamachi and wife had the salad and bisque. All were amazing. Cobia for me for dinner and the my strip for her.
To your comment of it being your best wife meal. This is very on point.
My wife and I have eaten at four separate 3 Michelin star restaurants a half dozen times in New York and several 1 and two stars. The menu and execution is literally top ten in the world. Very solid.
We are eating there in early September. I got a 8:25 reservation which is pretty late, but I had a hard time getting a reservation anywhere. Speaking of which, I woke up at 5:40 am 60 days out and refreshed exactly at 5:45, and continued to do so and couldn’t get a reservation at Topolinos, Cali grill, Narcoosees, etc. Not sure how all the reservations could be gone in seconds. Any insights on this, or the ADR process in general right now? It was very frustrating for me. But that was a tangent, my original question was do you think if we got there a little early, like 8:00, they might seat us early? Also, great blog, and great writeup here.
ADRs are very difficult right now because fewer restaurants than normal are open, and even those that are operational are almost all running at dramatically reduced capacity. (That’s why we pointed out that Citricos is actually seating all tables, since it’s such a rarity.)
Others can speak to their experience, but we have had zero luck at being seated early anywhere in the last two months. To the contrary, we’ve been seated late at all but one ADR. Things might be more efficient by September, so it’s always worth trying, but I certainly would not bank on it.
Tim-we also dined at Citricos last night and had one if the best dinners ever at WDW. And yes we recognized the proprietor from V&As and also the hostess who said she was on loan from California Grill. Our long time Citricos waiter, David, mentioned he is so happy to see his regulars returning too. We loved the duck and strawberry salad starters (the salad is NOT the same old!) and the cobia and filet entrees. Per our waiter, fish is always a good choice because they sell so much of it!
Thanks for this! Scored ressies for hubby and I in early Aug and now I’m eagerly anticipating the deliciousness- plotting our plan of attack. I think I’m going with Sarah’s entree choice! We were extremely fortunate enough to do chefs table at V&A a few years back and met the amazing chefs. Happy to hear they are back (if it’s true that they have a hand in Citricos presently) and making magic. Yum!
Tom, wife and I just finished dinner at citricos. we spoke to our server. Citricos for the next 9 months is going to be victoria and alberts. They are not opening till mid 2022. So both chefs, and the proprietor are running citricos along with the staff. all the ingredients, menu design and everything is a 1 to 1 for victoria alberts.
in mid september they will be opening up a chefs tables in the back room you mentioned in the review.
Thanks for reporting back on your experience–that makes complete sense.
We were hoping to do Victoria & Albert’s for the start of the 50th Anniversary, but are totally fine waiting. I’d rather the full-quality experience return instead of them rushing to bring it back in an incomplete form.
I’m not sure of Sarah and your secrets to eating this much good food and not being at a clothing store buying larger clothes. At over 60 years young, my wife and I share meals because we simply can’t eat that much, anymore. The fish looks fabulous and the tenderloin will melt in my mouth on our next trip. Might even have to have a dessert after a great meal. Enjoy before the masks come back, opps.
Haha–we are very active and when dining at home (which is 85% of our meals) we eat incredibly healthy. The last couple of months have taken a toll with all these restaurants reopening and new menus, though!
HI, the photos of the pork belly and ribs look the same.
Good catch, thanks–I’ve fixed that in the review.
Glad you loved the hamachi! Thought this looked like a great update from the start, and would love to make a meal out of that starter and the two salads. Hoping we can land a reservation even though all tables are currently booked.
Great review! The truffle mac is phenomenal and worth every penny.
Unrelated but they just refilled park passes for October 1st – I was able to make my reservation.
I have reservations in August…. The appetizers on the menu look a lot more interesting to me than the entrees. Thinks 2 appetizers would be substantial enough to be a meal?
(I was thinking the Hamachi and the duck breast).
This absolutely seems like the sort of dinner that I’d enjoy, and the price points seem likely to keep families with rambunctious children away (with consideration to the two other comments here as each family is unique.) I agree that I struggle to really find much Mary Poppins essence, and even if I was looking for it wouldn’t really know the newer movie enough to recognize what i was seeing. Nevertheless it looks classy, and I have no problem with tastefully injected IP.
Just as a note though, it looks like you’re using two of the exact same photo for the sashimi.
Great review Tom. I am glad we made reservation there for our trip next month. I wasn’t too sure that we would follow through on it, but your review has me convinced. This will be the first trip in while that we are not eating at Topolinos, so this seems to be in the same category.
Like every restaurant at Disney with the exception of Victoria & Alberts (and perhaps Takumi-Tei/Monsieur Paul’s), all restaurants are welcoming to kids, especially well-behaved ones! Doing a quick glance at the menu, Citricos has a whole list of non-alcoholic mocktails targeting kids and a fairly robust kids menu. The only reason I wouldn’t take kids there is if you don’t think they would appreciate enough given the sky high prices (although the kids menu isn’t as gourmet and not nearly as expensive as the grownup menu). That said, if its worth it for you to go regardless of whether the kids appreciate it, you and your kids will not be out of place.
The food looks awesome, but looking at the menu prices that’s above the price point I’ll do when dining with my kids. I love them and all, but 50+ dollars an entrée with the kids in tow just doesn’t do it for me.
I’m 95% sure my wife is going to task me w/ finding the “perfect” dining option outside MK before heading into the Christmas After Hours event. I think I’ll be crossing this off the list, but looking forward to revisiting some of your other reviews.
Awesome review! I know you had a late dining, but did you see kids in the restaurant? Wondering if I can take mine (well Behaved of course!) or your thoughts. Thanks for the review!