Steakhouse 71 Lunch Review: Disney World’s Best Burger?

Steakhouse 71 is a new table service restaurant that opened as part of Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary. This reviews the lunch menu at the Contemporary Resort’s family-friendly sit-down dining option, with food photos, recommendations, thoughts on the decor, whether it’s worth the money, and more.

As background, Steakhouse 71 is located on the first floor in the A-Frame Tower of Disney’s Contemporary Resort, replacing the Wave of American Flavors. Steakhouse 71 is part of a renovation project that has beautifully transformed the lobby with Mary Blair-inspired art and historical, behind-the-scenes photographs of the ‘Vacation Kingdom’ in development and under construction.

This restaurant and lobby focused on the history of Walt Disney World’s opening in 1971 stands in contrast to the Incredibles-Inspired New Rooms at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. You’ll find no characters in Steakhouse 71. Well, aside from the random appearances of Mickey Mouse in a black and white archival photo or two…

Currently, Disney Vacation Club Members and Annual Passholders both receive 10% off at Steakhouse 71, which is somewhat surprising since it’s brand new. It’ll presumably accept the Tables in Wonderland card for a 20% discount if/when that ever returns.

Nothing has been confirmed yet, but once the Disney Dining Plan comes back, Steakhouse 71 should be a 1-credit table service restaurant. If you’re already planning ahead for that, dinner will be your better bet, as most of Steakhouse 71’s pricier cuts of meat are only served in the evening hours.

Per Walt Disney World, Steakhouse 71 harkens back to the design style of the 1970s, reimagined in a contemporary, comfortable and sleek way. You’ll notice some Florida flair–such as Orange Bird and citrus groves–mixed in with the décor.

We mostly agree with this description.

There are definitely 1970s design flourishes, particularly in the furniture and light fixtures. There’s also a general sense of modernity everywhere from the bar & lounge to the seating area. It nails the contemporary look better than the Wave, which was growing a bit tired.

You’ll also see historical photos in the hallway as you enter the restaurant and Tomorrowland concept art on walls near the bar and in waiting areas.

There are some absolutely fantastic pieces, and you’ll definitely want to make a point of perusing Steakhouse 71 to see all of this great art and those historical photos.

However, I don’t think Disney went quite far enough with the decor in Steakhouse 71.

Most of the dining room is one large space, without much of visual interest anywhere except the murals along the far back wall and maybe a piece of concept art or two. On the plus side, the interior feels lighter, brighter, and the carpet and lighting makes it pop more.

One of our main criticisms of the Wave was that it felt like dining in the basement. Steakhouse 71 has a bit of an ‘eating in a convention center flex space’ vibe, but it’s a dramatic improvement over the Wave.

Still, we wish Walt Disney World would’ve taken it further. Above is a look at one of the booths that line the walls of Steakhouse 71. It would’ve been fantastic if, instead of that pattern on the back wall, Disney added a large piece of concept art or archival photo of Walt Disney World to each of these.

It’s not hard to imagine how this would improve the space, as Disney did exactly that with Steakhouse 55 at Disneyland. At Walt Disney World, the Hollywood Brown Derby at Hollywood Studios is another good example. Even though those are similar spaces, both feel more cozy and intimate–like old Hollywood supper clubs.

With that said, don’t mistake this critique for negativity. When it comes to atmosphere and decor, Steakhouse 71 is head and shoulders above the Wave. We enjoyed its predecessor for its menu and ease of ADRs, but style-wise, it was one of Walt Disney World’s weakest restaurants.

By comparison, Steakhouse 71 is very good. It makes a strong first impression and has a lighter mood, it just doesn’t quite stick the landing in realizing its full potential in dining room decor.

Moving to the menu, which the company touts as a nod to Walt Disney himself.

Per Walt Disney World, you can choose from dishes inspired by some of Walt’s favorites, including The Steakhouse 71 Feast or Walt’s Prime Rib Hash for breakfast and French Onion Soup, Prime Rib, 6-oz Filet Mignon or Dry-aged Bone-In Pork Chop for lunch or dinner. Classic cocktails and a portfolio of Disney family wines are also available.

I have no clue what foods Walt Disney enjoyed (aside from canned chili), but the menu here actually does remind me a lot of the Tam O’Shanter, Walt Disney’s Favorite Restaurant.

If the prime rib at Steakhouse 71 is even half as good as it is at the Tam, this restaurant will be a winner. (Spoiler from our upcoming dinner review: it’s a winner!)

Here’s a spread of appetizers we ordered at Steakhouse 71.

You’ll also find a couple of salads, soup, and crab cakes on the appetizer menu. Price-wise, Steakhouse 71 is a mid-range table service restaurant at Walt Disney World ($$ or $15 to $34.99 per adult on Disney’s scale for lunch).

First up, we have the Sea Salt-dusted Potato Brioche: Butter and Roasted Garlic-Tomato Spread.

As the name suggests, this is a potato brioche bread. It’s nice filler before your main course, and generally tastes pretty good.

With that said, it’s tough to enthusiastically recommend buying this–if anything, I don’t think it’s quite as good as the complimentary bread service at Yachtsman Steakhouse.

These are a bit too dense, slightly dry, and plain in the middle. Nothing that a little butter or tomato spread can’t fix, but Yachtman’s onion pull-apart rolls definitely get the edge. These are not good or unique enough to justify the added cost, in our view. (In fairness, Yachtsman Steakhouse is a Signature Restaurant–your full meal will cost a lot more, even with the “free” bread.)

Next up is the Bacon & Eggs: Maple-lacquered Pork Belly, Smoked Cheese Grits, Perfect Egg.

This was a fan-favorite dish from the Wave that has made its way onto the Steakhouse 71 menu, and for good reason–it’s absolutely fantastic. Tender and fatty pork belly with a light and sweet maple flavor that dials the decadence up to 11. The ‘perfect’ egg is exactly that–a cooking method that gives the yolk a creamy consistency. This appetizer is highly recommended (if you can get past the price of the bread, the two actually pair together pretty well).

For our final appetizer, we have the Shrimp Cocktail: Citrus-poached Shrimp, Cocktail Sauce, Chive Oil.

This is a competent shrimp cocktail. Nothing stands out about it nor does it have any notable flaws. Though it may not look like much, there were actually 6 shrimp here, all with a nice citrusy taste enhanced by the oil. Not something I’d seek out, but a good option if you’re in the mood for a shrimp cocktail.

Moving on to the entrees, we have the Gourmet Grilled Cheese: Toasted Brioche, Gruyère, Smoked Gouda, Shredded Pork Belly, Caramelized Onion Jam, Arugula. Served with choice of Petite Wedge Salad, Parmesan Fries, or Pasta Salad.

One of our lunches at Steakhouse 71 was with our friends Jenny and Adam, the brains behind the smash sensation, Burke Head Toys. They ordered this Gourmet Grilled Cheese as one of their entrees.

We had a chance to try this Gourmet Grilled Cheese, and it packs a rich and indulgent punch. Very different in substance, but reminds me a bit of the famed Monte Cristo at Disneyland.

Don’t get me wrong–this Gourmet Grilled Cheese is delicious thanks to how all those cheeses and pork belly meld together in a glorious mess–it’s just a lot. It’s also salty and sweet thanks to the onion jam, so you get hit from both directions, so to speak, with this bad boy. Highly recommended, but also highly recommended that you share it.

For one of our entrees at that same meal, Sarah and I ordered the Salisbury Steak: Garlic-Mashed Potatoes, Mushroom Gravy, Fried Onions.

Here we see the 1970s-inspired nature of the menu–but don’t let whatever preconceived notions or school cafeteria nightmares you have about salisbury steak scare you away. This is an elevated version of the dish, reinterpreted for a modern restaurant.

It’s pretty good.

With that said, it’s similarly heavy, rich, and indulgent. Another dish you’ll probably want to share. Given that there are several dishes like that at Steakhouse 71, we have a bit of a more difficult time recommending the Salisbury Steak. It’s delicious, but not to the same extent as the menu’s other heavyweights.

Next up, the Steakhouse 71 Stack Burger: Signature Blend of Beef, American Cheese, Lemon Aïoli, Red Onion, House-made Pickles, on a Brioche Bun. Served with choice of Petite Wedge Salad, Parmesan Fries, or Pasta Salad. (Not listed on the menu, but it’s topped with pork belly.)

This is already being hailed as Walt Disney World’s best burger by many fans on social media.

I probably would not go quite that far, but it absolutely will make our List of the Best Burgers at Walt Disney World the next time we update that. As it stands, this is in the top 5–but more taste-testing is absolutely necessary for a ranking beyond that.

The Steakhouse 71 Stack Burger is a greasy diner burger, perfected. I’d liken it to a higher end version of Shack Shake’s ShackBurger, but with the amount of cheese you’d get at In-N-Out plus pork belly to top it all off. In case you haven’t had any of those options, that’s very high praise.

Because I’ve been advised that my dietary consumption over the last few weeks has left something to be desired, I went the “healthy” route and ordered mine with a Petite Wedge Salad. That was good, but swimming in a pool of dressing, so I’m not so sure about the healthy part. (Regardless, our friends weren’t too impressed with the Parmesan Fries.)

For what it’s worth, these photos don’t do the Steakhouse 71 Stack Burger justice. It’s as beautiful as it is delicious, and earns our highest recommendation among items from the lunch menu.

Finally, we have the Plant-Based Vegetable “Wellington” – Mushroom Duxelles and Fire-roasted Artichokes wrapped in Puff Pastry, Romesco, Brussels Sprouts.

This is very good by vegetarian standards, with the vegetables bringing to life the puff pastry in one tasty and cohesive dish. We appreciated the natural flavor–no odd “meat” substitutions or contrivances here. It also offers a robust and creamy flavor that’s very artichoke and mushroom forward. (So another dish that is not light.) It’s not something I’d order over the meaty indulgences above, but if you’re on a plant-based diet, I don’t think this will disappoint in the least.

Above is a look at all four desserts at Steakhouse 71. This is already getting long, so I’ll save the full dessert breakdown for our dinner review. Nothing knocked our socks off here, but the Ambrosia is the standout (yes, really!) and you can’t go wrong with the huge chocolate cake, but what you see is what you get there.

In the interest of full disclosure, I had a comped lunch here as part of the Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary media event. Sarah and I have since returned to Steakhouse 71 for lunch and dinner, paying out of pocket both times, and we have Advance Dining Reservations for a third paid meal here. Draw from that your own conclusions.

Ultimately, we are big fans of lunch at Steakhouse 71. It should be a big hit with Walt Disney World guests, and will be an especially good option for families wanting an air-conditioned escape from midday at Magic Kingdom with approachable comfort food and fair prices. When it comes to lunch, Steakhouse 71 might be the closest thing Walt Disney World has to a high-quality “greasy spoon,” which is either praise or condemnation depending upon your perspective. (For me, high praise.)

We didn’t do a very good job of it here, but if you’re dining at Steakhouse 71 during a marathon day in the parks, you might want to pair some of these heavy dishes with a couple of lighter ones. Personally, I don’t have a problem with eating my way into a food coma and recovering with a dozen laps on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover, but reasonable minds may disagree on that. It’s also worth noting that the menu is significantly different at dinner. If you’re looking for an actual steakhouse, that’ll be your better bet.

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Have you done lunch at Steakhouse 71? Thoughts on the menu, new retro-inspired decor, how it compares to the Wave, or anything else addressed in this review? Will you be attempting to book this Advance Dining Reservation? 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!

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