Flame Tree BBQ is a counter service restaurant in Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World serving some crazy-delicious barbecued meats. This review features food photos of those glorious meats, our take on the cuisine, and general thoughts about what has become one of the most popular restaurants at Walt Disney World. We won’t bury the lede: Flame Tree BBQ is the best Counter Service restaurant in Animal Kingdom. Actually, it’s right up there as one of the best Counter Service restaurants in all of Walt Disney World.
It’s no secret that Disney’s Animal Kingdom is not our favorite Disney theme park, but we’ve recently come to appreciate it much more. Even before that, counter service dining at Animal Kingdom was a highlight for us, with Flame Tree Barbecue being the flagship of those counter service restaurants.
For a restaurant this popular, Flame Tree BBQ oddly does not have any indoor seating. It’s an order kiosk with pick-up system, and it looks somewhat unassuming at first blush. This lack of indoor seating is fine, as the outdoor seating is a sprawling complex with covered pavilions, a lush canopy of foliage, and water features.
The great ambiance doesn’t stop there, as the secluded dining area also offers great views of Expedition Everest across Discovery River. I suspect this will become an incredibly popular “alternate” view of Rivers of Light for those unable to score FastPass+.
Likewise, eating an early or late lunch in this seating area is especially enjoyable and tranquil, and really takes you away from the hustle and bustle of being in a Disney theme park. With the abundant jungle foliage and real-looking mountain across the water, it feels like anything but a theme park eating-area!
If a delicious plate of smoked meat isn’t enough to propel this restaurant to the top of your Disney’s Animal Kingdom “Must Do” list, then dine at Flame Tree BBQ for the amazing details of the restaurant and the ambiance. If you’ve dined at Flame Tree BBQ before, you might be thinking, “ambiance?”
Take a closer look, and you’ll notice the (very morbid) predator-prey motif of the restaurant that is carried out throughout the seating area, and is really cool–and even subtle in places. It’s interesting to think about the Guest’s place in the whole process, especially as you essentially become an active part of the Circle of Life in a restaurant actively hinting at that circle.
The menu is pretty much a carnivore’s paradise, and for years, the 1/2 Slab of St. Louis Ribs, served with baked beans and coleslaw was my go-to meal in Animal Kingdom. That is, until the recent debut of the Full Slab of St. Louis Ribs. The only thing better than BBQ ribs? More BBQ ribs.
The smoked flavor and texture makes them far superior to other ribs served at Walt Disney World, and their fall-off-the-bone quality makes them unrivaled. The ribs are a bit on the expensive menu item, but they are seriously better than some Table Service meals we’ve had at Walt Disney World, and absolutely worth the money. Flame Tree BBQ might as well not even have any other menu items, because there’s really no point in ordering anything besides the ribs.
Beyond the ribs, there are a few other options. The most notable of these are the 2 combos. There’s the Ribs & Chicken Combo and the Ribs, Chicken, and Pulled Pork Sampler. I’m not a huge fan of the Ribs & Chicken Combo. Don’t get me wrong, I love ribs, but you only get a quarter slab of ribs with this, plus the chicken.
In total, it’s about the same amount of food as the 1/2 slab of ribs, but for a few dollars more…for some reason. You aren’t getting a 1/2 slab of ribs plus chicken, which is a disappointment for me since the ribs are significantly better than the chicken.
Other menu options, like the Pulled Pork Sandwich would be solid anywhere else, but are a bit of a disappointment here. On the other hand, options like the Watermelon Salad are great vegetarian choices (or so I’m told), making this a decent choice for more than just meaticionados.
Overall, Flame Tree BBQ is without question the flagship counter service dining experience for serious carnivores at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. It really doesn’t stop at those divine meats, either. The menu has something that everyone (even vegetarians!) can enjoy, plus wonderful ambiance, excellent views across the Discovery River, and intricately understated theming. All of this combines to make Flame Tree BBQ one of the top Walt Disney World Counter Service restaurants.
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Do you agree with us that Flame Tree Barbecue is one of the elite counter service restaurants at Walt Disney World? What menu items here do you like? What do you plan on trying? Hearing from you is half the fun, so please share your thoughts in the comments!