For the last two-plus years, there’s one Walt Disney World restaurant we’ve been praising more than any other. It’s supplanted Sanaa, Skipper Canteen, Spice Road Table, Geyser Point, Three Bridges–and everywhere else–as our favorite dining sleeper spot in the parks and resorts.
On numerous occasions, we’ve highly recommended it as an alternative to ‘Ohana at the Polynesian. Not only because the Advance Dining Reservations are easier or the food is better or the price is lower, but for all of those reasons. The atmosphere isn’t as good and it doesn’t have the fan-following of ‘Ohana or nostalgia cemented over several decades, but it’s the better restaurant.
In fact, it’s become our go-to restaurant “for fun” and one of the spots where we’ve dined more than anywhere else at Walt Disney World over the last couple of years. Since we seldom shut up about it, regular readers have probably already guessed that we’re talking about Sebastian’s Bistro. On the other hand, newcomers might be wondering, “what’s a Sebastian Bistro, and does it serve unlimited crab legs?!?”
Such is the nature of Sebastian’s Bistro. This relatively recent addition to Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort has only been operating for a few years after replacing Shutters. Sebastian’s Bistro was added during the resort reimagining that aimed at making the resort more upscale, with a nicer waterfront area in Old Port Royale and upmarket dining options.
That all happened prior to the debut of the Skyliner gondolas and opening of Disney’s Riviera Resort, and was done to make Caribbean Beach a more suitable sister resort for that pricey Disney Vacation Club property. Mission accomplished, I suppose, as Caribbean Beach definitely has nicer amenities now (whether the atmosphere and theme are still as strong is debatable). Not only that, but rack rates have increased more at Caribbean Beach than just about any other hotel (the only one that comes close is Pop Century–also a Skyliner resort) and it’s now the most popular Moderate Resort at Walt Disney World.
The increased popularity of Caribbean Beach Resort is undeniable. Despite that, Sebastian’s Bistro has floundered. Walt Disney World arguably overshot with the dining additions–and their timing–at Caribbean Beach. Within months of opening, Sebastian’s Bistro reduced its hours and then eliminated its lunch meal service. All before the Skyliner or Riviera Resort even opened!
As a result of that, our fear was that Sebastian’s Bistro would never reopen. That the closure would be an excuse to permanently reduce the restaurant roster, much like the post-9/11 slowdown was the final nail in the coffin for Bonfamille’s Cafe at Port Orleans. Thankfully, those fears were unfounded, and Walt Disney World instead used the shutdown as a chance to reinvent Sebastian’s Bistro as a family-style feast. And what a great decision that was!
For this particular meal at Sebastian’s Bistro, I was staying in the New ‘Under the Sea’ 5th Sleeper Rooms at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. While I’ve praised the location of these Little Mermaid-inspired rooms when it comes to Early Entry at DHS or EPCOT, they’re not exactly convenient to Sebastian’s Bistro…or anything in Old Port Royale. Still, it was only a 10-minute or so leisurely stroll from my room, which isn’t bad.
I could’ve made an Advance Dining Reservation for Sebastian’s Bistro any time in the days and weeks leading up to my trip. ADR availability was ample, even same-day. I opted against that as I wanted flexibility, timing my meal to more or less coincide with a late afternoon storm.
With Walk-Up Waitlist via My Disney Experience, I waited 5 minutes for Sebastian’s Bistro. Granted, that was pretty close to when the restaurant opened for dinner service, but we’ve noticed that Sebastian’s Bistro is often an option via Walk-Up Waitlist.
For those starting out elsewhere, Sebastian’s Bistro is easily accessible. Skyliner gondolas connect Disney’s Hollywood Studios and EPCOT, as well as Art of Animation and Pop Century. Caribbean Beach is the Rome of the Skyliner–all routes lead to the resort. You can get off at the gondola station on the Riviera side of the resort or the central hub at Caribbean Beach; the walk to Sebastian’s Bistro is about the same from either.
This ease of access cannot be understated, and I suspect Walt Disney World diehards still haven’t gotten used to this. You can be standing on Sunset Boulevard at DHS or near France and EPCOT and get to Sebastian’s Bistro in under 30 minutes. If considering a Walk-Up Waitlist at, say, Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater or Chefs de France, there’s a good chance you could be seated first at Sebastian’s Bistro even when taking into account the transit time. Yet, it’s overlooked by park guests and even those staying at the nearby resorts.
Part of the reason that Sebastian’s Bistro continues to fly under the radar is that it’s still new and hasn’t had enough time to gain a fan-following. Another reason is that it’s a mid-tier restaurant, and there are not many of those outside the parks that can manage to become destination dining.
People will travel for Signature Restaurants or character dining experiences, but not so much for regular ole restaurants. This is a big reason why the newer Topolino’s Terrace became an instant fan-favorite, but the nearby Sebastian’s Bistro has struggled to find an audience.
It also comes down to theme and atmosphere. Despite its name, this is not Walt Disney World’s Little Mermaid restaurant. There are nods to the eponymous crab via art in the restaurant, but it’s all very subtle and understated. Sebastian’s Bistro is more a lightly-themed modern island-inspired restaurant than anything else.
You might even argue that it’s under-themed and lacking in charm and character. The design is inoffensively chic and generic, paying face to theme without really much of substance. I think its understated appearance is part of the reason why Sebastian’s Bistro hasn’t really resonated and most Walt Disney World fans haven’t ever dined here. It lacks a compelling hook.
With that said, I’ll admit to actually liking the atmosphere at Sebastian’s Bistro; after several meals here, it has grown on me. Although the design is relatively minimalist, the large windows provide an airy sensibility and offer big views of the water during daylight hours. It’s great for waiting out and watching a summer storm or stunning sunset.
I also really like the plush chairs, artistic flourishes in the overhead beams, and splashes of color throughout the art and other decor. Beyond that, the restaurant has a good vibe thanks to all of that plus the music, Cast Members, and more. I suspect that over time fans will warm to it and, years from now, Sebastian’s Bistro will have the same cult following as Sanaa or Olivia’s Cafe. It’s just too new for that now. Walt Disney World fans don’t love things until they’re at least a decade old or about to close permanently.
Moving along to the food, the family-style dinner at Sebastian’s Bistro starts with the Spice Necklace Salad: Mixed Greens and Kale with Spiced Candied Pumpkin Seeds, Tropical Fruit, and Radish with Key Lime Dressing.
As far as salads go, this is fantastic. Most salads served at family-style restaurants are afterthoughts; obligatory filler to begin each meal. This is more ambitious and on par with what you could order at an a la carte table service restaurant. There’s a lot of variety to the toppings, and the key lime dressing gives it a sweet and tart quality. (Perhaps most importantly, this one is Sarah-approved and gets very high marks from her.)
The salad usually comes out with, or around the same time as, the Buttery House-baked Pull-apart Rolls with Guava Butter and Caramelized Onion Jam. These are also now served with a Mickey Mouse-head shaped cheese crisp, which is a nice aesthetic enhancement to the meal.
What more needs to be said about the pull-apart rolls? These are already a new-classic Walt Disney World starter, and have arguably overshadowed Sebastian’s Bistro, itself. We love these so much that we’ve encouraged a stop at Caribbean Beach on the Skyliner Sip & Snack Stroll or ordering them while drinking next door at Banana Cabana. The rolls themselves are buttery and flaky and amazing, and paired with the guava butter, they’re next level. (The onion jam is not my jam, but to each their own on that.)
Next up are the Entrée Sides. The Taste of the Caribbean and plant-based Harvest of the Caribbean platters are both served with Cilantro Rice and Beans, Vegetable Curry, and Grilled Seasonal Vegetables.
The vegetable curry has a healthy amount of fresh vegetables, with a mild and shockingly refreshing curry flavor. I prefer heavy curries (ideally topped with a cutlet), but this is much more suitable to an islands feast…or for Florida’s hot and humid weather. It’s a light dish that’s approachable–a tasty way to get your fill of vegetables, should you so desire.
I’m not going to shower the Cilantro Rice and Beans with praise, but it’s very good for what it is. As a whole, this trio of entree sides is excellent. Even the Seasonal Vegetables (broccolini no matter which ‘season’ we’ve dined at Sebastian’s…but in fairness, summer is like 11 months long in Florida) have a good grilled flavor to them.
It’s not uncommon for the pre-meat items at family-style Walt Disney World restaurants be unambitious, serving as simple filler or checking a box on the menu. Not the case here. The sides at Sebastian’s Bistro make a strong first impression.
Alongside the sides is the main event: meats. The Taste of the Caribbean Entrée platter consists of Oven-roasted Citrus Chicken, Slow-cooked Mojo Pork with Mango Sambal, Grilled Chili-rubbed Beef with Mojito Relish, and Sustainable Baked Fish with Veracruz Sauce.
We’ll start with the Oven-roasted Citrus Chicken, which is the one dish that (maybe?) has gone downhill a little. I still have no complaints here–the chicken was perfectly-prepared, with crisp skin with a good rub of spices giving way to juicy meat underneath. The chicken is not citrus-forward, which is a-okay by me; it’s sufficient to enhance the meat’s flavor. While I don’t have any specific quibbles, I remember this being better last time we did Sebastian’s Bistro.
Next up, the Grilled Chili-rubbed Beef with Mojito Relish. As always, this meat is excellent; it’s perhaps a bit on the chewy side, but the flavor and preparation more than make up for that. Absolutely delicious, even if it’s not the most tender cut.
Then there’s the Slow-cooked Mojo Pork with Mango Sambal, which is the all-star of the menu. I eat this with only a little mango sambal, as the pork by itself is simply too good to mask. It’s tender, juicy, flavorful–just about any superlative you could use to describe pork would apply here. Utterly fantastic, and a generous portion.
Finally, the Sustainable Baked Fish with Veracruz Sauce. This is a more recent addition to the platter, and it’s a welcome one. The fish is mild, flaky, and moist; unlike the pork, it does need the sauce (I used the mango sambal on this) to really shine. It’s my least-favorite of the meats, but that’s more a reflection of how good the rest of the Taste of the Caribbean is than anything else.
Dinner at Sebastian’s Bistro ends with the Celebrated House-made Coconut-Pineapple Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce and Vanilla Ice Cream.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: this is better than the bread pudding at ‘Ohana. I just want to reiterate that, as first impressions often lead to hyperbole that later comes back to reality. Two years later with return visits to both ‘Ohana and Sebastian’s Bistro under my belt, I remain convinced that this is the better of the two desserts.
To be sure, both are fantastic. If there’s a Walt Disney World Mount Rushmore of desserts, a case can be made that both of them belong up there. Now, it’d be weird to make a Mount Rushmore of desserts in the first place, and even odder to have two slots dedicated to bread pudding. (And honestly, if we’re honoring both of these, we probably also have to consider the bread puddings at both Boathouse and Raglan Road. Okay, so new idea, a Walt Disney World Mount Rushmore of bread puddings!)
Anyway, you get the point. This is like someone took the recipe for that iconic bread pudding and dialed it up to 11 with a little coconut and a lot of pineapple. This Coconut-Pineapple Bread Pudding has all of the great qualities of the ‘Ohana dish, plus better top texture. It’s rich, it’s decadent, it’s creamy, it’s sweet, and it’s so much more. What makes this bread pudding so good is hard to put into words, but once it hits your mouth...it’s pure Disney culinary magic!
Sebastian’s Bistro is currently priced at $35 per adult and $19 per child (ages 3-9). That’s actually up pretty significantly since this menu debuted (+$6 for adults and +$2 for kids), putting it $10 below the all-you-can-eat and in-park Toy Story Roundup Rodeo BBQ and $4 below the Diamond Horseshoe at Magic Kingdom. (Sebastian’s Bistro has nothing in common with those, cuisine-wise; they’re just other recently-reviewed restaurants.)
However, this comes with a catch. Sebastian’s Bistro is a family-style feast, but it is not all you can eat. At least, not officially. There is a decent chance your server will ask whether you need anything else, or volunteering more of a specific dish that you devour. We’ve had that happen once; on another occasion, it was not offered or allowed.
During this particular meal, my server asked whether I needed anything else a couple of times. After obliterating the pull-apart rolls in seconds flat, I am pretty sure I could’ve scored more. It felt like the server and I did this little song and dance, where he couldn’t bring anything else out unless I said the magic words…and I would’ve accepted refills if offered, but didn’t want to ask directly.
My plan all along was taking leftovers from my meal at Sebastian’s Bistro back to my room and having them for breakfast the next morning. Because this is not an all-you-can-eat restaurant, you are able to do this. Perhaps I was overthinking it, but my thought process was that it would be dishonest to request more pull-apart rolls–a starter–only to eat less from subsequent courses so I’d have portions to take home. I’m guessing the server wouldn’t have actually cared one way or the other, but it didn’t feel right to me. To each their own on that, though.
In any case, by eating the entirety of the bread and salad courses, I was pretty full about halfway through the ‘Taste of the Caribbean’ entree course. I ate all of the fish at the restaurant, but ate less than half of the other meats and sides and had the rest boxed up to take back to my room. Same deal with dessert.
I ended up doing Early Entry at Disney’s Hollywood Studios the following morning, and returned to my room once the crowds got bad. I microwaved up my leftovers, and had those for a very filling lunch. I ended up having two full meals out of my family-style feast at Sebastian’s Bistro, making it even better bang for buck.
I couldn’t have done this at Toy Story Roundup Rodeo BBQ or the Diamond Horseshoe. For one thing, because neither allow leftovers since they’re AYCE. For another, there are so many weaknesses of those meals. Even if they had an odd policy allowing you to take leftovers so long as you didn’t request any refills, there’s a lot that I simply wouldn’t want.
By contrast, the family-style feast at Sebastian’s Bistro is high-quality from start to finish. Granted, I wouldn’t necessarily order Cilantro Rice and Beans, Vegetable Curry, or Grilled Seasonal Vegetables from an a la carte menu, nor would I scoop them out from a buffet–but they’re very good for what they are, and something I’ll happily eat from a meal like this.
To the company’s credit, those are ambitious and applaudable initiatives. Really, kudos to the Walt Disney Company for its commitment to environmental programs. Those are great solutions aimed at reducing waste–but the best way is to not waste food in the first place. So I would rather just do that whenever possible, while feeling less guilty on the rare occasions when I’m not part of the Clean Plate Club. But I digress.
Ultimately, this was yet another absolutely fantastic dinner at Sebastian’s Bistro. The family-style feast continues to hold its own and offers exceptional quality on par with regular table service restaurants at Walt Disney World. There is not a single weakness from start to finish in this meal service, and it has not dropped in quality at all in the two-plus years since debuting.
Sebastian’s Bistro has gotten more expensive, especially when the price increase is viewed in percentage terms. It’s now almost as pricey as some all-you-can-eat restaurants of middling quality at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and EPCOT. So if you’re already in those parks and want something easier, more efficient, or unlimited, those options are going to get the edge.
To each their own, but I’ll take quality of Sebastian’s Bistro over the quantity offered by the alternatives. Even if the prices were exactly the same (and they aren’t!), I’d choose this over all of those in-park alternatives. Sebastian’s Bistro is also far superior to ‘Ohana when it comes to cuisine quality (and is much cheaper!), making Sebastian’s the easy winner for us over ‘Ohana.
With that said, I can appreciate that a lot of the appeal of ‘Ohana comes outside cuisine and cost. It has a lot going for it in terms of atmosphere, theme, and sentimentality. To those points, perhaps it’s time for more Walt Disney World fans to make Sebastian’s Bistro an every-trip tradition, forging new nostalgia for superior food at a lower price!
Have you done the family-style feast at Sebastian’s Bistro? What did you think of the cuisine? Any dishes you loved or loathed at Sebastian’s Bistro? If you’ve done this restaurant as well as ‘Ohana or other family-style meals at Walt Disney World, which did you prefer? Are you excited to give Sebastian’s Bistro a try or is it a nonstarter for you? Do you agree or disagree with our review? If you haven’t dined here, does this sound appealing to you or not? 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!