Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Café is a counter service restaurant in Magic Kingdom. This Walt Disney World dining review features food photos, a look inside the eatery, and our analysis of cuisine quality and value for money. (Updated July 26, 2022.)
As one of the two largest restaurants in Magic Kingdom, Pecos Bills is essentially the Frontierland equivalent of Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café. Both are high-volume fast food eateries aimed at serving a ton of Walt Disney World guests per hour, with relatively standard menus.
That had changed for the better a few years ago, as Pecos Bills really stepped up both its menu and toppings bar in an effort to offer elevated cuisine. Essentially making it the Walt Disney World equivalent of Chipotle, albeit not as addictively good. Unfortunately, it’s taken a big step back in the last couple of years…
When Walt Disney World reopened two years ago, Pecos Bill returned with Magic Kingdom–but without the toppings bar. That was unsurprising, as there were still fear about transmission via surfaces or guests congregating in close proximity to one another while serving themselves from the toppings bar. These same fears resulted in buffets transforming into family style offerings, and many of those still have yet to return.
However, with Magic Kingdom as crowded as ever and mitigation measures dropped over a year ago, the Pecos Bill toppings bar has yet to return. It’s still likely that it will at some point, but right now, this appears more like a cost-cutting measure than anything else.
Walt Disney World’s “solution” to this problem is providing pre-portioned toppings on the side of each dish, which typically means smaller amounts of everything. From our perspective, this makes Pecos Bill much less attractive–but with pretty much every Magic Kingdom restaurant experiencing their own cost-cutting measures, it’s still one of the best choices in the park. Here’s hoping that toppings bar returns soon!
With that preface out of the way, let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of Pecos Bill, and the restaurant’s atmosphere…
One thing Pecos Bill and Cosmic Ray’s still do equally as “well” as one another is get ridiculously crowded at lunch and dinner time. Consequently, we typically do lunch here before 11 am or dinner here after 7:30 pm.
Another thing Pecos Bill still does do well, at least as far as Counter Service restaurants go, is theme. Located next to Country Bear Jamboree (at least it has location going for it!), Pecos Bill nails the atmosphere despite being such a large restaurant. Although most of the seating areas are large, at least they are split apart to make it feel less like a mess hall.
The inside of the restaurant looks pretty cool, and the textures and detail throughout the restaurant make it feel like you’re dining at a western inn.
The problem here is that there is little opportunity to enjoy the tranquility of the Old West, because this restaurant is rarely ever tranquil. In order to really enjoy Pecos Bill’s ambiance, you need to go late at night for a relaxing meal.
There’s also outdoor seating at Pecos Bill, which is a quieter and more tranquil option throughout the day.
Depending upon where you sit, this can also be a halfway decent option for parade viewing or people-watching. The fence separating this seating area from Frontierland gets gradually higher towards Splash Mountain, so you want to grab a spot in the other direction (towards Country Bear Jamboree) if you want to a view.
More importantly than all of this, for me at least, Pecos Bill doesn’t have an awesome Audio-Animatronics singing alien, which really is a deal breaker. Now, you might be thinking, “an Audio Animatronic singing alien wouldn’t really fit the Frontierland theme.”
To that, I say, obviously you haven’t seen the critically-acclaimed and Academy Award-winning piece of cinematic brilliance, Cowboys v. Aliens. Disney should be remiss for passing up this synergistic opportunity.
Still, Pecos Bill is adjacent to UNESCO World Heritage Site Grizzly Hall, the world-renowned home of Country Bear Jamboree. The restaurant often has tie-ins to that national treasure and cultural landmark, so those are definite pluses.
Speaking of Country Bear Jamboree, let’s start there with our review of the menu at Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Cafe.
In honor of Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary, Pecos Bill currently has several Country Bear-inspired menu items.
This is the The Big Al Burger: Double Bacon Cheeseburger with Lettuce, Tomato, and Maple Whiskey Barbecue Sauce.
While relatively basic, the sauce does provide a nice sweet and savory twist. It’s still not enough to earn an enthusiastic recommendation, but this might be the best counter service burger at Magic Kingdom right now. That’s less an endorsement and more a “for lack of better alternatives.”
Skipping right to desserts, there’s Teddie Berra’s Swingin’ Shortcake: A Peach and Raspberry Truffle with Crumbled Cake, Strawberry Pearls, and Flowers.
This is surprisingly good. The layers provide a variety of textures and flavors, all of which coalesce remarkably well. The flavors are subtle and not overly artificial–all in all, quite tasty!
If you’re looking for the intersection of healthy-ish entree and dessert, there’s the Sun Bonnet Trio Strawberry Salad.
This is a Mixed Green Salad with Strawberries, Tomato, Red Onion, and Edible Flowers. It’s relatively inexpensive and lighter, but there are also versions topped with chicken or pork carnitas if you’d prefer. (I’m not sure those would work with the salad as well–you’re probably better off sharing this and the Pork Carnitas Rice Bowl.)
Speaking of which, here you can see my Pork Carnitas Rice Bowl piled high with toppings. Some of the choices are evident from the photo, but here’s a full list of what’s available: shredded Monterey Jack cheese, banana peppers, onions, sour cream, roasted corn, tomatoes, Chipotle Ranch dressing, salsa verde, salsa, limes, Pico de Gallo, and Guacamole.
This is not currently possible with the sides pre-portioned; you’d maybe get 20% of these toppings.
The loss of the toppings bar is huge for the rice bowls and fajita platters. It previously offered fresh, decent-quality veggies and salsas and really elevated Pecos Bill above all other counter service restaurants in Magic Kingdom. That’s no longer really the case.
Now, the food is served in partially-prepared form with guests being responsible for making these into full meals by way of the small plates of toppings on the side. The results are nothing special, typically.
Most of the photos for the bowls and fajita platters are piled high with stuff from the toppings bar and not even remotely representative of what you’ll get when you order something at Pecos Bill right now.
However, one thing has remained unchanged–the chicken, pork carnitas, and beef that’s served in all of these dishes. Before, which you chose didn’t much matter since the toppings could mask the meat flavor. This was particularly relevant with the chicken.
In our experience, the chicken at Pecos Bill is always dry, flavorless, and tastes like “clearance” meat. I’m guessing this stuff was one step above the grade of meat they put in dog food.
By contrast, the pork carnitas is juicy and relatively flavorful. It’s nothing special…unless you’re comparing it to the awful chicken. The beef is somewhere in between; it’s just fine.
However, we have to reiterate that pre-closure it was the #1 counter service restaurant in Magic Kingdom and has gone downhill since due to the loss of the toppings bar. The only reason it doesn’t rank lower now is because everywhere in Magic Kingdom has decreased in quality in the last two years. It’s far and away the worst park at Walt Disney World for fast food.
Ultimately, the current menu at Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Café makes it one of the best counter service restaurants in Magic Kingdom, but it’s still a shell of its former self due to the loss of the toppings bar. We remain optimistic that this is temporary and it’ll be back by 2023, but there’s no real reason for hope at this point.
In terms of quality, Pecos Bills is fine. The basic entrees themselves are still sorta “meh” but at least there is a decent amount of variety. That’s more than can be said about most counter service restaurants at Magic Kingdom right now. In terms of crowds, it is still a headache that I’d recommend avoiding during the middle of the day, but great for odd hours or late evenings when it’s not as busy.
Have you eaten at Pecos Bill since they eliminated the toppings bar? Have you tried any of the Country Bear-inspired dishes for Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary? Did you enjoy the experience? What did you order? Do you agree or disagree with our review? 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!