Michelin Guide Florida Adds & Snubs Two New Disney World Restaurants for 2023
In its second year, the Michelin Guide Florida has added 8 new recommended restaurants in the Orlando and Tampa areas. This post covers the restaurants near Walt Disney World that received recognition, Bib Gourmand distinctions, or snubs from the tire taste-testing team. (Updated May 15, 2023.)
For those who are unfamiliar with it, yes, the Michelin Guide is by that Michelin–the tire company. The French founders produced a small red guide filled with information for travelers, including recommendations. The goal was to help France’s nascent automobile industry, and in turn boost car and tire sales.
Over 100 years later, the Michelin Guide has taken on a life of its own. The tire company’s anonymous inspectors now rate over 40,000 establishments in over 24 territories across 4 continents. The latest region to receive a Michelin Guide is Florida, joining California, New York, Washington D.C., and Chicago as the other other locations in the United States to have Michelin coverage.
Many travelers and food tourists now seek out Michelin-recognized restaurants, going out of their way to dine at far-flung locations, enduring lengthy lines or virtual queues, and tirelessly attempting to score reservations. We know this because we are Michelin devotees, and have done literally all of those things for Michelin meals.
We aren’t alone. Tourists are frequent fixtures of Michelin-recognized establishments, and restaurants proudly display their accolades to lure wandering patrons inside. For many restaurants, gaining recognition from Michelin is a game-changer and a huge boost for business.
This is precisely why Florida’s tourism boards paid Michelin $1.5 million to produce its Guide to Florida. Michelin recognition is good for local tourism, especially among the coveted higher-spending international visitors. (The Michelin Guide to Florida has been met with skepticism by some foodies because of this.)
Although that $1.5 million might seem like a conflict of interest or veiled advertorial, it’s for the state as a whole (or at least the cities of Miami, Tampa, and Orlando) rather than specific restaurants. Michelin’s inspectors are anonymous, pay their own way, and have no real conflicts of interest with any specific restaurants they review.
If you’re apprehensive that the Michelin Guide is a list of highfalutin haute cuisine for pretentious people, that’s only partially true. The most well-known aspect of the Michelin Guide is its star system, which honors the world’s best restaurants with one, two, or three stars.
Usually, these starred restaurants are expensive and unapproachable. But not always. We’ve had Michelin-starred ramen, pizza, dim sum, and greasy spoon cuisine. We’ve dined in the world’s least-expensive Michelin-starred restaurant (under $10 per person) and some fancier ones, Honestly, most Michelin-starred restaurants make me uncomfortable. I wouldn’t even bother with the high end ones in cities like Miami, Los Angeles, Paris, or Tokyo. In other regions, I’d be open to them on a case by case basis.
The sweet spot for us is Michelin’s Bib Gourmand award. This honors ‘good quality, good value restaurants’ and this list is universally approachable, including in the United States. Bib Gourmand award winners are those that deliver stellar quality at prices in line with the local cost of living.
They can feature inventive and innovative dishes, but the focus is usually on simpler meals. In other words, you leave the restaurant satisfied and full. We’ve dined at dozens of Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurants, and have literally never had a bad experience. To that point, if you’re traveling to California, New York, Chicago, or major international cities, we highly recommend downloading the Michelin app and using that to find Bib Gourmand restaurants near you.
With that explainer out of the way, let’s turn to the new-for-2023 Michelin-recognized restaurants at Walt Disney World, along with what the guide had to say about each, followed by our commentary on the suggestions and snubs made by the Michelin Guide…
Toledo – “Situated on the 16th floor of Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, Toledo is quite the looker with lofty ceilings in bold colors and geometric tiled floors. Nab a table by the glass wall and you’ll have a bird’s eye view of the Epcot fireworks. Meanwhile, on the tables Spanish cuisine takes center stage.”
“Tapas kick things off, and pan con tomate is a natural choice. Meat-forward mains include several steak options, as well as a ribeye for two, but the Rioja-braised chicken makes a compelling argument for choosing a different route. End on a sweet note with café con leche, a chocolate choux pastry filled with chocolate and coffee cream. Though certainly not inexpensive, Toledo packs less of a punch to the wallet than other Disney restaurants.”
Victoria & Albert’s – “Nestled within Disney’s crown jewel, the Grand Floridian Resort, this restaurant, with its plush carpeting and live harpist fits the part (is that “Part of Your World?” Why, yes, it is.). While it evokes a garden, its Victorian design keeps things grand. Reservations require patience to snag, but stay the course and you’ll be rewarded with white-glove service.
Chef Matthew Sowers’s tasting menus spotlight contemporary cooking with global touches and definitive Asian leanings. You may enjoy the likes of Danish hiramasa, a bright take on a Peruvian ceviche enhanced with Okinawa sweet potatoes or seared Colorado bison over a house made granola comprised of amaranth, cranberries and rolled oats and sided by a maple-glazed turnip and sweet potato purée.”
May 15, 2023 Update: After initial confusion due to conflicting info on two different announcement press releases, Michelin held its Florida awards ceremony and announced all of the restaurants in Miami, Tampa, and Orlando receiving Stars.
Victoria & Albert’s was not among the Star recipients. This is despite the aforementioned recognition, which indicates that Victoria & Albert’s was eligible for consideration despite only being open for a portion of last year.
In terms of commentary, it’s fantastic to see Toledo earning recognition. We’ve recommended this restaurant repeatedly since it opened as a location that punches above its weight, offering great value-for-money by Walt Disney World standards and being an easier-to-book Advance Dining Reservation.
That might change to some degree due to the Michelin recognition, but Toledo’s out-of-the-way location in Gran Destino Tower (accessible only by bus or car) will prevent it from seeing California Grill or in-park levels of popularity. It should remain a hidden gem, but a slightly more popular one and with an even more food-centric audience, which should be an asset.
Many Walt Disney World fans, including us, assumed that Victoria & Albert’s would receive at least one-star status from the Michelin Guide. Given the effort put into the restaurant refresh and new menu that’s significantly more expensive, they were clearly aiming for Michelin-star status.
With V&A’s not being awarded a Star, I wonder if this will hurt future bookings among foodies. Why pay all that money for the status symbol restaurant lacking the status symbol? That’s especially true when four Orlando restaurants do have one Michelin star (Soseki, Kadence, Capa at Four Seasons Orlando, and Knife & Spoon at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes).
The other snubs are both in World Showcase at EPCOT. Takumi-Tei in the Japan pavilion and Monsieur Paul in the France pavilion. Both of these restaurants also reopened last year, and debuted significantly more expensive prix fixe menus in the process. Given that and their cuisine caliber pre-closure, we assumed that they had elevated their quality even further in the hope of receiving recognition from the Michelin Guide to Florida.
Instead, they don’t even gain ‘recommended restaurant’ status. With both of these, it’s possible that they reopened too late last year for consideration. It’s also possible that Michelin did not even consider them since both require theme park admission. (In Europe and Japan, there are recognized restaurants inside temples and museums that do require admission–but that’s a few dollars as compared to over $100.)
Even as we’re disappointed by the astronomical price increases at these two locations, they’re still deserving of accolades. It’d be disappointing if they were actually snubbed. (Then again, maybe it’ll help bring their prices back to reality.)
Other Central Florida restaurants once again received 2023 Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand recognition: Bombay Street Kitchen, Domu, Papa Llama, the Ravenous Pig, the Strand, Swine & Sons, and Z Asian Vietnamese Kitchen. Domu was highlighted in our List of Great Restaurants Near Walt Disney World, as were a handful of Michelin’s recommended locations.
There are no Bib Gourmand restaurants at Walt Disney World; none would be eligible for that award since none of them offer good value for money. There are plenty that offer good value by Disney standards, but none that are both commensurate quality and value by real world standards.
When it comes to Walt Disney World owned locations, the other recognized restaurants for 2023 once again are Citricos at the Grand Floridian and California Grill at Contemporary Resort. The former obviously merits inclusion, whereas I might question the latter with the new prix fixe menu, even though we enjoyed that.
Elsewhere on site at Walt Disney World, the Polite Pig and Morimoto Asia made the list at Disney Springs. Then there’s Sear + Sea at JW Marriott Bonnet Creek and Four Flamingos, A Richard Blais Florida Kitchen at Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress.
Visit the official website to browse all 135 restaurants featured in the 2023 Florida Michelin Guide.
Ultimately, it’s nice to see the 2023 Michelin Guide to Florida featuring two new locations at Walt Disney World, and we’re really happy for the team at Toledo on this very well-deserved recognition. The snubs, on the other hand, are slightly surprising and disappointing. Granted, we haven’t dined at Victoria & Albert’s since reopening, but it not being starred is shocking.
It’ll be fascinating to see how this impacts the Walt Disney World culinary scene. The company loves recognition (there’s even an “Awards & Accolades” page on the Disney Parks Blog), and even touts meaningless ones like those from 10Best and random readers’ choice awards. Michelin is the opposite of meaningless, so perhaps Disney will give its culinary teams the resources and encouragement necessary for restaurants to be recognized. It’ll also be interesting to see whether this dampens demand for Victoria & Albert’s and the World Showcase standouts.
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!
Are you excited to dine at some of the restaurants recognized by 2023 Michelin Guide Florida or is this not your scene? Hopeful that more Walt Disney World restaurants make the lists in future years? Think any restaurants were snubbed by the tire team in their inaugural edition? Do you agree or disagree with our assessments? 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!
Maybe it has to do with the quality going down since covid- we were pretty much underwhelmed across the board with the DW restaurants ( in comparison to precovid). Also the costs have skyrocketed with the dinner/service being lowered so thats a bad combination.
I lived and worked in NYC for many years, including eating and working at Michelin-starred restaurants.
Jaleo (by Michelin-stared Jose Anders) should be included on the Michelin (Bib Gourmand) list for Florida.
Also, IMHO, V&A should have received one Michelin-star because of exceptional service. But as much as I have enjoyed V&A for more than 20-years, the food has never been special enough to be considered for much more. Aesthetically, the cuisine is often picture-perfect. However, there is little beyond picture-perfect that truly showcases the cooking creativity of the Chef and his/her team.
Thought of differently, just because you can play (name your musical favorite) Mozart perfectly, does not mean that you are worthy of accolades for being able to mimic Mozart.
FWIW, the most decorated Michelin-stared chef ever is Joel Robuchon. The restaurant team he left behind has the highest-ranked Michelin restaurant in FL with only 2-out-of-3 stars.
I agree Jaleo is about as good as it gets at Disney, and worthy of a “worth a look” or whatever they call it. Being “the best” at Disney doesn’t mean it deserves stars. V&A probably should have one, but I agree it’s more circuses than breads.
How does Michelin handle chains like Jaleo?
On the one hand, the original location makes the Bib Gourmand list for Washington, DC. On the other hand, other locations which are just as good do not.
Las Vegas has several starred “chain” restaurants: Guy Savoy, Joel Robuchon, L’atelier de Joel Robuchon, etc. Granted they’re not chains in the Chili’s sense, but that would put DS’s Jaleo in the running. It’s probably by favorite WDW restaurant, but I still wouldn’t give it any stars; it’s just not THAT good.
My view is that Takumi-Tei is the best restaurant at Walt Disney World. It should be on the list.