#10 ESPN Club ($$) - BoardWalk area – This casual sports bar restaurant is a perennial favorite because, while you might go there to relax and catch a favorite game on TV, the food is also reliable, albeit standard American sports bar fare.
#9 Hollywood Brown Derby ($$$) – Disney’s Hollywood Studios – The reason this restaurant didn’t rank higher on my list is that it can be pretty pricey for what you get. I’ve had some great food there, but it’s generally not inventive. The menu changes seasonally, so sometimes there are better choices than others. The menu and prices here are the same at lunch and dinner…gotta love that famous Grapefruit Cake, though!
#8 Artist Point ($$$) – Wilderness Lodge -- A few years ago this might have garnered the #2 or 3 spot, but it’s been inconsistent. While some of my best Disney meals were here, I’ve also been very disappointed. The Smokey Portobello Soup is Heaven in a bowl! Hopefully they’ve worked out whatever glitches they had.
#7 50’s Prime Time Café ($$) – Disney’s Hollywood Studios – I love everything about this place. From the décor to the servers’ shtick to the food, it’s worth a trip. The menu is all about home-style cooking and comfort food. My favorite order is the entrée sampler, which includes crispy fried chicken, fork-tender pot roast and meatloaf “with all the fixings”. It’s hardly a trip to Disney without a stop for drinks at the bar or their famous PB&J shakes (yes, really!).
#6 Chefs de France ($$) – Epcot’s France Pavilion – If you enjoy French cuisine, this is a reasonably priced place to enjoy it. It really feels like a bistro in Paris and the menu includes some of my favorites like Quiche Lorraine and Cabernet-braised beef short ribs. All I can say is YUM!
#5 Citricos ($$$) – Grand Floridian – This upscale restaurant in the Grand Floridian offers dishes you won’t see elsewhere in Walt Disney World. While there is somewhat of a Mediterranean influence, especially in the appetizers, you won’t see big pasta dishes on the entrée menu. Rather, there are more classical offerings like pan-seared Florida grouper and their house specialty Braised Veal Shank.
#4 Be Our Guest ($$) – Magic Kingdom – As the newest table service restaurant, getting a reservation for dinner here isn’t easy. While they do pack quite a few tables into the large ballroom of Beast’s castle, the candlelit atmosphere is delightful – like you just stepped into the movie. Our food was delicious and reasonably priced. The service was great and our host, Beast, even made appearances throughout the evening, remaining in the library for photos after your meal. *Note – while this easily made the number 4 spot as a dinner location, at lunch it’s a counter service restaurant with a better than average fast food selection.
#3 Jiko – The Cooking Place ($$$) – Animal Kingdom Lodge – When I asked my daughter to describe this, her favorite restaurant, her response was “expensive but amazing – the filet mignon is to die for.” People love this restaurant for the African ambience and unique flavors that Jiko’s menu offers. While my daughter may enjoy the beef filet best of all, what brings diners in is the opportunity to try more regional dishes like Spicy Botswana-style “Seswaa” Beef Short Rib or Tagine Chicken.
#2 Flying Fish Cafe ($$$) – BoardWalk area – Most of my family members had dined here and raved about it, but after several WDW trips, I still hadn’t had the opportunity. When I finally crossed the threshold of Flying Fish, what I found inside was true bliss. Despite its name, Flying Fish is not just about seafood. Their talented chefs produce dishes highlighting fresh local produce, sustainable seafood and aged meats. There are a few seats at the counter of the show kitchen where you can watch the food being prepared while you dine. They’re famous for their Idaho Potato-wrapped Red Snapper which I love, but I’m frequently tempted by something new. I try to make it here at least once on every trip and have never been disappointed. Editor's Note: Flying Fish is closing for a few months, beginning January 31, 2016, for a complete renovation including a menu overhaul. I can't wait to try it when it re-opens!
Honorable Mention: The charming Rose & Crown at Epcot's U.K. Pavilion and steak-lovers’ favorites Le Cellier ($$$) at Epcot’s Canada Pavilion and Yachtsman Steakhouse ($$$) at the Yacht Club Resort.
Do you have a favorite restaurant on this list – or one that’s not on the list? What’s a spot you can’t miss? Keep it to the Parks and Resorts. We’ll discuss Downtown Restaurants in a future post. Let me know in your comments!