I love top ten lists. I also love food. When I launched this blog I know there were going to be lots of food-related posts and this is the first one.
I wanted to post restaurants that are not located in the parks because it costs a good but to get in and many people don’t have annual passes or tickets, so this list is truly for everyone. I would like to state that reservations are highly recommended and can be made for all restaurants by going online HERE or calling 407-WDW-DINE/407-939-3463 <407-WDW-DVNA (939-3862) for Victoria & Alberts>.
The Orlando metro-area has long been a conglomeration of chain restaurants. It houses the headquarters for Darden Restaurant Group, which owns The Olive Garden/Red/Lobster/Longhorn/Bahama Breeze/Seasons 52 plus more restaurants. Buca Di Beppo originated here, right in Maitland.
So here is my personal list of top 10 restaurants to dine in that you don’t need park admission for.
10. Boma – Flavors of Africa: This is a not-to-be missed buffet featuring some incredible soups, grilled seafood, roasted meats, vegetarian specialties and known for the “zebra” dessert which entails chocolate and Kahlua liquor. You can find the recipe HERE and try to duplicate them yourself at home, or head over to the Jambo House over at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge for a buffet that puts most buffets to shame.
9. Crossroads at House of Blues®: located at Downtown Disney® West Side, they are best known for their Gospel brunch on Sundays but most people will enjoy lunch or dinner with a definite Southern flavor. Smoked meats, street tacos, and Creole jambalaya are served with a heaping side of the Blues here. Make sure you check out the shop, which features artwork from over 60 artists from the Delta-region.
8. Whispering Canyon Cafe: Disney’s Wilderness Lodge houses this enjoyable restaurant and has a reputation for servers who make the meal just as much as the delicious food. Country style cuisine is the order of the day here and plenty of it so bring your appetite. If it’s ketchup you like with your meal, then be prepared for some serious “funny business”, just don’t say I didn’t warn you…
7. The Wave… of American Flavors: this addition to Disney’s Contemporary Resort is a modern take on American cuisine, with sweet potato pancakes, served with pecan-honey butter as a breakfast option, an assortment of salads or a Reuben for lunch, and dry-rubbed flat iron steak, lamb chops for dinner. Save room for dessert because their adorable shot-glass trios are so yummy you won’t want to share. This restaurant is fairly easy to get a reservation for, and is a great option if you aren’t making plans far in advance!
6. Raglan Road™ Irish Pub and Restaurant: located at Downtown Disney® Pleasure Island (soon to change to Disney Springs). This is as authentic an Irish pub as any I’ve ever been in. Taste some shepherd’s pie, fish and chips, and bangers and mash among other highly regarded Celtic fare and enjoy the lively show which starts at 6:00 PM nightly from their house bands on the stage just outside. Kids are welcome to join in and will have a blast here.
5. Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue: Mosey on over to The Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort for this comedy show that will take you back to the days of the pioneers. It might be hard to laugh this hard while eating, but you won’t want to miss a bite of the delicious fried chicken, cornbread, and strawberry shortcake here. Prepare to enjoy and you will want to come back real soon now, ya’ hear?
4. Flying Fish Cafe’: Located on Disney’s Boardwalk, before you even get to taste the fish-centric specialty dishes you’ll notice the breathtaking murals on the ceiling with a fanciful hot-air balloon theme. Try not to get distracted, however, because the food is what makes the Flying Fish stand out. Potato-wrapped red snapper is just one of the amazing dishes you’ll find here. For dessert, try the caramelized banana napoleon. My mouth is watering just thinking about this signature dining restaurant, and don’t forget that there is a dress code here.
3. ‘Ohana: my absolute favorite breakfast of all time is the “Best Friends” breakfast featuring Lilo & Stitch. Stitch is hilarious and Lilo is adorable! The unlimited amounts of eggs, potatoes, sausage, bacon and fruit make it a much more relaxed atmosphere since they bring it out, as much as you want! Dinner is also served here but without Lilo & Stitch. Located at Disney’s Polynesian Resort (soon to return to Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort).
2. California Grill: high atop Disney’s Contemporary Resort, accessible only via a private elevator, is one of the best places to view Wishes (the fireworks at Magic Kingdom). It is at this restaurant that the music for Wishes is piped in so diners can truly immerse themselves in the fireworks that are a must-see. Not to be outdone by the fireworks, the dishes here are truly just as spectacular. You can choose from any of their California fresh sushi specialties, delicious over-fired flatbreads, or their other dishes such as goat cheese ravioli and warm Valrhona chocolate cake for dessert.
1. Victoria & Albert’s: because they have consistently been awarded with AAA’s 5 Diamond award, which is not easy to come by. Their menu changes daily and could include truffles from Italy, beef from Japan, or oysters from northern Florida among the delicacies served here. This is the only restaurant with a dress code that necessitates a dinner jacket for men, and yes, they do have some there just in case you leave yours at home. If you have children age 9 and under, they will not be allowed to dine with you. This is a meal for adults to appreciate and enjoy. In short, this is a must-try restaurant. For many, it will be an experience of a lifetime. For all, a true fine-dining experience.
Now that you’ve read my favorites, what are some of yours?