Hidden Gems of Disney Dining
On a recent episode of the DVC Show, our team revealed their choices for “probably missed” restaurants at Walt Disney World. You can watch the whole thing here:
Personally, I admire the sheer volume of dining choices available at Disney. So, my list would look almost entirely different from these suggestions. Here are some of my hidden gems of Disney dining.
BoardWalk Pizza Window
National Pizza Day occurred the other day. I laughed when I realized that several of my fellow Disney writer cohorts accidentally ate lunch around the same time at the same place.
Several of them grabbed a slice at the Pizza Window on Disney’s BoardWalk. I’d never argue that this place compares to the best pizza places at Walt Disney World. I choose Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria every time.
Still, the Pizza Window serves its purpose perfectly. When you’re exploring the BoardWalk or staying at Disney’s BoardWalk Villas, it’s an ideal dining option. You order, grab your slice, and eat while you walk.
When Disney influencers discuss dining at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas, they lock in on two or three places. Many discussions start with Sanaa’s Bread Service or the wine at Jiko – The Cooking Place. Then, The Mara may earn some recognition for its tasty breakfasts.
Somehow, Boma falls into the void even though I would argue it’s both the best and most accessible of the three restaurants. I say this because Boma serves an All-You-Care-to-Enjoy buffet service. So, you can sample a bit of everything and decide what works best.
At Jiko and Sanaa, you pot-commit to an entrée, which you will almost certainly love, but there’s always a chance you don’t. If so, you’re stuck.
For this reason, we target Boma whenever we meet with a larger group. This strategy ensures that everyone is happy at the end of their meal. If they’re not, I keep handing them Zebra Domes until euphoria overwhelms them.
Grand Floridian Café
Among today’s suggestions, you’re likely most familiar with Grand Floridian Café. After all, it sits near the lobby of Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.
Despite the convenient location, Disney guests often overlook the restaurant in favor of its more storied siblings. Everyone knows about Victoria & Albert’s, the crown jewel of Disney dining. The Grand Floridian also operates Narcoossee’s, Citricos, and Gasparilla Grill.
When 1900 Park Fare is open, Grand Floridian Café often gets outshined by the eatery that shares the same space! And that frustrates me because the cuisine at Grand Floridian Café embodies Disney excellence.
The Buttermilk-fried Chicken and Waffle and Shrimp and Grits here are excellent, while the Lobster ‘Thermidor’ Burger has folk songs written about it. Plus, this restaurant serves breakfast for lunch, which can fill a need on a laid-back DVC resort day.
Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Café
You can dine at many places in and around Magic Kingdom. That’s by design, but it’s also an indicator that this park has remained open the longest.
Over the years, that area between Frontierland and Adventureland has experienced waves of popularity. Now that Splash Mountain has closed, we’re in a downward turn.
Unless you visit Country Bear Jamboree, you may not even consider dining at Pecos Bill. That breaks my heart because the food here is shockingly great. Yes, everyone’s Quick Service dining experiences vary in quality, but I’ve never had a bad meal at Pecos Bill.
Even better, The Big Al is currently on the menu! Yes, this eatery pays loving tribute to one of the Country Bears by selling a double-decker burger with maple whiskey barbecue sauce!
Look, as DVC members, you’re intimately familiar with this building. The Wave…of American Flavors felt like a private dining club at times. Few people outside the DVC/Disney superfan community appreciated its greatness.
When Disney announced the re-theming to Steakhouse 71, most feared the worst. Then, when the restaurant reopened, its thunder was stolen in several ways.
On that same date, Walt Disney World turned 50. Other elements of that birthday celebration garnered headlines. Next, Disney Genie+ and Lightning Lane arrived a couple of weeks later. By that point, most people had forgotten about the new place at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
Once again, the Steakhouse 71/Wave restaurant space has fallen beneath the radar. We should all appreciate that fact, as the menu is, if anything, superior to the previous one. Plus, there’s that Steakhouse 71 Chocolate Cake…
Yak & Yeti Restaurant/Local Foods
I am a shameless Yak & Yeti Restaurant evangelist to the point where I just convinced a Disney first-timer to eat there the other day. Ordinarily, I recommend inexperienced Disney guests to stick with the basics for fear of ruining their trip. You cannot go wrong with the cuisine at Yak & Yeti, though.
This place serves some of the spiciest dishes at Walt Disney World, but I’m more impressed by the nuanced flavor profiles. Also, when you join the Landry’s Inc. Select Club, which costs $25, you earn a $25 gift card plus an annual $25 gift during your birth month. More importantly, the restaurant will move you to the front of the line for seating.
So, when you dine at Yak & Yeti, you don’t just dine like royalty. You get treated that way as well. Importantly, many of the menu items are available at the accompanying Quick Service lounge at modest prices, too. I recommend that option when you cannot get a table at Yak & Yeti!