Riverside Mill Food Court is the quick service restaurant at Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside at Walt Disney World. This review features food photos, our experiences dining here, and thoughts on the ambiance, among other things. In terms of some background, money-saving info, it participates in the Disney Dining Plan as a 1-credit counter service restaurant, but does not accept the Tables in Wonderland card for a 20% discount.
Like most food courts at Walt Disney World, Riverside Mill has multiple ordering bays, so its menu has some variety. Even with that variety, though, this is still only a food court, and isn’t going to make any “best of” Walt Disney World lists or have Cabana Bay guests–who don’t even have Walt Disney World park tickets–making pilgrimages to it.
Rather, this review is aimed at those who are going to be staying at Port Orleans Riverside–and those who are staying at French Quarter but want to try something else (or maybe avoid the nightmare fuel of that food court)–or find themselves at the resort for some other reason, and want to know whether they should skip this food court or give it a try.
All that is to say that I don’t want to oversell Riverside Mill, but I don’t want to undersell it, either. We’ve dined here a number of times over the years, including 4 times on our last 3 trips. I’m sort of surprised we have yet to review it. For us, there is a draw to Port Orleans Riverside, and a lot of times the resort’s draw brings us to Riverside Mill.
A big part of Riverside Mill’s appeal is that the ambiance of the setting area is an extension of the resort itself. This is accomplished via a working mill wheel, which slowly turns and powers a working cotton press.
There’s a reason mill towns are often described as ‘sleepy’ rather than ‘bustling’ and that’s on display here. The slow, methodical turning of the mechanisms inside is another reminder of a bygone time and place, much like the rest of Port Orleans Riverside.
It doesn’t hurt that outside of the prime breakfast and dinner hours, Riverside Mill is often a quiet place to kick back and enjoy a peaceful meal. Even during busy hours, it’s not nearly as chaotic as other food courts. I’m not sure whether this is a result of it being less popular, the carpet dampening some of the sound, or the ambiance of the resort rubbing off on guests.
Maybe it’s a combination of those factors, but whatever the case, Riverside Mill seems to move at a slower, more pleasant pace than other food courts at Walt Disney World.
As with the other counter service restaurants at Walt Disney World that can be classified as food courts, there are multiple ordering bays at Riverside Mill: bakery, grill, pizza & pasta, specialties, salads, and a carving station.
I had a Muffuletta a few years back and was less than impressed. Despite the tall stack of meat, the sandwich did not do a whole lot for more due to the olive spread and eclectic mix of flavors.
That was, to my recollection, my first exposure to such a sandwich. I’ve had other Muffuletta sandwiches since then, and it seems about par for the course. I’m guessing it’s more a matter of not appealing to my tastes than being downright bad. Your mileage may vary.
For our Marathon Weekend visits, we hit up the “Create Your Own Pasta” station a couple of times.
People seem to like this option, and it has spread to a variety of the food courts, but I can’t say I’m a huge fan. Sure, it’s customizable and I can see the appeal in that, but it strikes me as a pretty average option (at best) everywhere it’s offered. For carb-loading, it got the job done, but that’s about it.
I thought the Shrimp Salad Po’ Boy was excellent. This one differs from the fried shrimp Po’ Boy at French Quarter, but I think it was equally as good. The sandwich was overflowing with shrimp, and although there was a good amount of dressing, it wasn’t too much. With a mini-toppings bar in the food court, you can pile the sandwich high with veggies, too. This ranks as my favorite thing I’ve tried at Riverside Mill.
At the other end of the spectrum, the Angus Bacon Pimento Burger was pathetic. Two strips of rubber bacon so thin you could see through them, haphazardly tossed on the plate (not even on the burger) with maybe a thimble of pimento. Known as “caviar of the south,” you’d think this was about as precious as caviar given how little was doled out.
After a trip to the toppings bar and some assembly, I made the burger look more respectable, but it was still lacking. I think there’s a reason Disney is trending towards gourmet burgers with lavish toppings, and that’s to mask the taste of the underwhelming beef patties. A thimble of pimento is an unsatisfactory masking agent.
The Southern Fire Fried Chicken Sandwich was considerably better, but it’s not going to change any lives. You’ll find something like this at many food courts, potentially with different names and dressing. It’s a slightly above average entree.
One option I really like ordering at Riverside Mill is a side of french fries with cajun seasoning on them. These are not on menu (or at least, weren’t the last time we visited), but they have no issue making them. These hold a nostalgic place in my heart, as these fries used to be on the menu when the resort was Dixie Landings, and I remember getting them near-nightly on one family trip when I was a kid.
Overall, the menu at Riverside Mill is nothing special. I know that will likely be met with some consternation, as Port Orleans Riverside is the darling among Disney fans–us included. However, in perusing the online menu now, I think you’d be hard-pressed to point to more than 3 menu items that are standouts. (The Kids’ Meals with freshly-sliced meats might be its real stars.) As is the case with the rest of the resort, Riverside Mill has exceptional ambiance, but we think its menu is lacking even as compared to the food courts at the Value Resorts, all of which have improved tremendously in recent years. (Example: End Zone Food Court at All Star Sports.) The next time we find ourselves enjoying the ambiance of Port Orleans, we’ll take the romantic stroll to French Quarter. Sassagoula Floatworks & Food Factory is considerably better.
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Do you agree that Riverside Mill is one of the weaker food courts at Walt Disney World, or do you like it? If you enjoy dining here, what are your menu recommendations? If you don’t like Riverside Mill, why not? Share your thoughts in the comments!