Disney World Dining – Best 1-Credit Table Service (Part 2)

I’ve talked about my favorite 1-credit table service restaurants at Disney World before (here).  But it’s been a while, so I thought an updated version was in order.  If I were making my ADRs (Advance Dining Reservations) right now for an upcoming vacation, here’s what I’d recommend…

Disney World Dining – Best 1-Credit Table Service (Part 2)

I still stand by most of my original picks although I will most likely not eat dinner at Be Our Guest again (preferring the quick service breakfast or lunch) and I’ll pass on Chef Mickey’s in the future because I’ve found a place I like much better.  I’m now proud to say I’ve visited a few of the honorable mentions from the previous list and would highly recommend these:

Kona Café – Right next door to ‘Ohana in the Polynesian, Kona offers a different dining experience.  Where ‘Ohana is great for big appetites and fans of family style dining, Kona is better for folks who want options and have varying tastes and appetites.  The menu is Pan-Asian and offers a great variety (sushi lovers seem to flock here).  The service is consistently good and we’ve been so happy with the food, we’ve eaten both dinner and breakfast at Kona on more than one trip.  Just a short monorail ride from Magic Kingdom, Kona’s an excellent place to eat before heading to Magic Kingdom for the evening.

Whispering Canyon Café – We’ve been twice now and had a great meal both times.  It’s fun, filling, and in an awesome setting at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.  Somewhat similar to 50’s Prime Time Café in server/guest interaction, Whispering Canyon  is a favorite of meat-and-potatoes fans with an American menu that includes an all-you-care-to-eat skillet.

Tusker House – I’ve gone on and on (here) about the food, the characters, and the service.  It’s a buffet with choices aplenty.  I love seeing Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, and Goofy in their safari outfits while filling up on some very unique menu offerings.  Not to worry if you have picky eaters – this buffet includes plenty of choices for all tastes.  If you don’t want to leave the park to eat at Boma (Animal Kingdom Lodge’s buffet) and you love a character meal, Tusker house is a safe bet.

We’ve also tried and wholeheartedly recommend…

Yak and Yeti – The table service option (there’s also a quick service window) of this highly themed restaurant in Animal Kingdom’s Asia section is quite good!  If you like Pan-Asian food and want a nice sit-down, non-character in-park experience, Yak and Yeti’s a solid choice.  The menu is surprisingly broad and we love the atmosphere – very cool décor!

Via Napoli – It was lively and a little loud, but for a family dinner, Via Napoli was fantastic!  Everyone in our party of seven was happy with their choices and the pizza was about as good as it gets at Disney World.  I’d choose again Via Napoli if I wanted to stay in Epcot for dinner and had a group to please.

Morimoto Asia (1-credit for Brunch or Lunch only) – The service, the menu, and the atmosphere are much less kid-friendly than most Disney World eateries.  That’s not to say that kids aren’t welcome, but Morimoto Asia in Disney Springs is where we like to go for a lunch date.  The servers are professional and knowledgeable, the menu is broad with plenty of options for sharing.  We can take our time and feel like we’ve found an oasis in the middle of the often chaotic Disney Springs area.

Raglan Road – This is our tried-and-true dinner choice in Disney Springs.  It’s very family friendly and the menu is full of hearty comfort-food  choices.  Plus, entertainment!  Irish dancers and live music add a very special element to eating at Raglan Road.  Hello!  Dinner and a show for 1-credit? Yes!

Again, if I were going right now, I’d choose Tusker House over Chef Mickey’s or 1900 Park Fare.  I’d choose Via Napoli in Epcot, Kona Café at the Polynesian and Raglan Road in Disney Springs for dinner.  If my schedule made a nice lunch versus dinner possible, I go for a Magic Kingdom park-break at Wilderness Lodge to visit Whispering Canyon or I’d head to Disney Springs and enjoy an awesome meal at Morimoto Asia.

What do I need to try next?  What’s your favorite 1-credit table service restaurant at Disney World?

 

Disney World Dining – 5 Great Lunch Spots

Twilight-Zone-Tower-of-TerrorThere’s a lot to be said for a sit-down lunch on a Disney World vacation.  Especially during the hot summer months – a table service meal provides an excellent break from the scorching sun and high humidity.  It gives you time to rest, re-hydrate, cool off, and re-energize so you can get back to park touring action!  Sometimes a restaurant’s lunch menu is less expensive than their dinner menu, making this strategy a money-saving one as well.  While there are many (MANY!) restaurants on our favorites list, today I’d like to recommend a few we particularly love for a mid-day break…

Disney World Dining – 5 Great Lunch Spots

Magic Kingdom Area – When it’s hot, I want to eat outside the park.  A short (and wonderfully cool and scenic) boat ride away is the Wilderness Lodge’s Whispering Canyon Café.  What we like about this restaurant is the no-frills but tasty menu and the casual, relaxing atmosphere.  Keep the fun going with an eatery that’s packed with great Disney service and a few hilarious antics.  Check out the menu here.Whispering-Canyon-Burger

Disney’s Hollywood Studios – The Hollywood Brown Derby is right in the middle of the action, but makes you feel miles away.  The inside dining room provides a beautiful, old-Hollywood setting, but the outdoor patio lounge is our favorite (menu).  With shaded tables and an interesting menu (offering plenty of light options on a hot day) – we love grabbing a late lunch or happy hour snack here.RM-Brown-Derby-Patio

Animal Kingdom – I’m a big fan of lunch on the go in this park during the not-so-summery months of the year, but when the weather is at its hottest, I want to escape the heat inside the Yak & Yeti’s dining room.  Like everything and everywhere else in Animal Kingdom, Yak & Yeti is elaborately themed.  The menu is great and it’s easy to find something refreshing and not too heavy on a hot day.

Epcot – The choices are overwhelming!  I would love to say it’s an easy decision, but I’d be lying.  My absolute favorite thing about needing to eat lunch in Epcot is the opportunity to dine around the World (Showcase).  Most of the time, we opt for sharing counter-service meals so we try food from several different countries.  When we want a light lunch on a hot day, though, it’s hard to beat Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar in the Italy Pavilion.  Tutto Gusto in Epcot's ItalyThe high top tables and wine cellar atmosphere are great and the food and beverage options even better!  We like to share a couple of small plates of Italian meats and cheeses then enjoy an entrée of pasta or a panini.  The servers are always happy to help with wine selection if you aren’t up on your Italian labels.Morimoto-Asia-Dining-Room

Disney Springs – Now this is a great place for a cool, relaxing mid-day break…and the choices are awesome!  I could recommend several excellent options for a fabulous dining experience, but I’ll narrow it down to one great restaurant – Morimoto Asia.  What we love about Morimoto’s is the perfect combination of tranquil atmosphere and excellent food (share some spareribs – they’re amazing!).  Morimoto-Asia-Spare-RibsThis place may be a little pricier than the other options I’ve listed, but the experience and service are worth a bit extra to me.  The menu is extensive and a meal here is the kind of experience that can’t be rushed, so set aside a couple of hours and just relax!

Do you like a sit-down lunch at Walt Disney World?  What’s your favorite place to eat on a hot day?

Disney Dining – Lunch at Morimoto Asia

Morimoto-Asia-EntranceNew restaurants are so tempting – especially when we love the cuisine and are fans of the owner, Chef Masaharu Morimoto!  (We were always huge Iron Chef geeks back in the day.)  By the time Morimoto Asia opened, we’d already booked all our ADRs (Advance Dining Reservations) for our end-of-the-year vacation and this created quite a conundrum.  What could we cancel in order to make room for at least one meal at Disney Springs?  In the end, Biergarten in Epcot’s Germany pavilion, lost our reservation and we booked Morimoto Asia through Open Table (it wasn’t set up through Disney’s site yet).

I’ve never eaten at Biergarten, so I can’t truly say if this was the right decision or not.  What I can tell you is that Morimoto Asia was fantastic and we cannot wait to go back!  Here are the top five things we loved most about our experience –

  1. The Dining Area – Atmosphere…ambiance…whatever you want to call it, the restaurant is all clean lines and open spaces.  The open kitchen was interesting to watch – lots of serious game faces at work.  Red accents give everything a warm glow, which softens what might otherwise be too modern or austere for some tastes.Morimoto-Asia-Interior Morimoto-Asia-Dining-RoomMorimoto-Asia-Place-Setting
  2. The Sake Flight – What a pleasant surprise!  We enjoy a glass of sake now and again, but don’t know much about different types and haven’t tried many options.  When we spied the sake flight we both knew we wanted to splurge and give it a try (it was the most expensive part of our meal).  Morimoto-Asia-Sake-FlightOur server was nice enough to explain more than just the basics and when we asked for the names of the different servings to be written down, she was happy to oblige.Morimoto-Asia-Sake-Flight-Notes
  3. The Service – We arrived exactly on time and were seated right away.  Our server, Sonia, was attentive without hovering, helpful with suggestions, and generally treated us as if we were the only customers dining. (You should definitely ask for Sonia.)  Morimoto-Asia-Server-SoniaPacing is important and as one might expect with a new place, there was a bit of a lull between our appetizers and entrees, but not long enough to detract from the overall great impression.  Morimoto-Asia-Ducks (The ducks though…kinda felt like they were always watching…watching.)
  4. The Menu – We love choices!  For us, when we get a restaurant menu and have a hard time deciding what to order, we feel like we’re having a better experience.  Morimoto-Asia-Menu1 Morimoto-Asia-Menu2We also tend to return quicker because we leave things behind that we really wanted to taste.  We ended up ordering four items to share, which is exactly what everyone should do at Morimoto Asia!  (Check out the menu here.)
  5. The Flavors – Before I tell you exactly what we ate, let me emphatically say that we would recommend every item we ordered.  Based on a tip we received from Howdy (excellent barmaid at Jock Lindsey’s), we ordered the Kakuni Pork Bao (“steamed buns, braised pork belly, lettuce, spicy mayo“).  Morimoto-Kakuni-Pork-Bao Morimoto-Asia-Kakuni-Pork-BaoOf course “pork belly” was all it took.  These were perfect!  Texture, seasoning, temperature – all just right.  Next we wanted to try the Morimoto Spare Ribs Appetizer (“3 pork ribs, cilantro, hoisin sweet chili glaze“).  These babies were absolutely delicious!  Morimoto-Asia-Spare-RibsCrunchy on the outside, but tender on the inside, so we were easily able to divide that last rib in two.  Next we had to have a sushi roll and agreed on the Spicy Tuna.  Morimoto-Asia-Spicy-Tuna-SushiI don’t know about where you live, but we are not used to so generous a serving of tuna in our sushi – fantastic!  Finally we decided on a basic favorite, Pad Thai with chicken (“stir-fried flat rice noodles, egg, bean sprouts, scallions, fried tofu, pickled turnip, sweet tamarind sauce.”)  Morimoto-Asia-Pad-ThaiTurned out to be another excellent choice.  We tried our best to finish it, but we’d reached maximum capacity about halfway through.

We could not have enjoyed our lunch at Morimoto Asia more.  Everyone there seemed devoted to giving the best dining experience possible and we thought all the components – food, service, atmosphere – worked perfectly together to make for an excellent meal.Raymond-at-Morimoto-AsiaYour turn – Have you eaten at Morimoto Asia?  What was your first impression?  If you’re considering trying this place, I’d be happy to answer any questions if I can.

Walt Disney World – Just Back, Trip Recap!

Clam-mobile-selfieWe had a great time at Walt Disney World!  We always have a great time, so this comes as no surprise.  What DID surprise us was the exceptional, unexpected delights along with a couple of equally surprising minor disappointments.  You know me – fair and balanced (usually) is my M.O. and today’s no different.  Please bear in mind that in anticipation of the extreme crowds to be expected between Christmas and New Year’s, we made an unprecedented number of dining reservations.  Now let’s get to it!

Walt Disney World – Just Back, Trip Recap!

The VERY BESTPolynesian-Villa-Studio

Our Polynesian Village Resort DVC villa!  You can read that review here.  We were so happy with our location and how comfortable and luxurious our room and its amenities were!  Would we stay here again?  In a heartbeat!DHS-Osborne-Lights-Sign

Saying Goodbye to the Osborne Lights – Bittersweet, but we made the most of the opportunity and were happy at the end of the day.  I guess we could call it closure.Skipper-Canteen-Jungle-Cruise-Sign

The New Skipper Canteen – A full review of this fantastic new Magic Kingdom eatery will be coming up within the next few days, but let me say – If this is the future of Disney’s theme park dining, I’m ecstatic!Jiko-Exterior

Jiko – It’s been a few years since we’ve eaten at this Signature restaurant at the Animal Kingdom Lodge because we had to work Boma and Sanaa into our vacation dining rotation.  It was every bit as wonderful as every other time we’ve eaten there.  Again – full review coming soon.Shula's-Steakhouse-Exterior

Shula’s Steakhouse – Ever since we tried (and were delighted by) Il Mulino at the Swan, we’ve been hoping to fit dinner at Shula’s (at the Dolphin) into our plans.  Perfectly perfect in every way.  Guess what?  Yup – there’s a review coming up soon!Morimoto-Asia-Sushi

Morimoto Asia – Another place we were dying to try and brand new to boot.  Located in Disney Springs, we planned a morning around having lunch at Morimoto Asia before an afternoon at Epcot.  What a great meal!  We shared every course hoping it would keep us from eating too much – HA!  We left completely stuffed and loved the sake flight offered there as well.  You know?  I believe I’ll write a review on this place too!  (So check back!)

The Really GoodJingle-Cruise-Sign

Jingle Cruise – We love Jungle Cruise in it’s usual configuration so chances were that we’d be thrilled with the ride’s holiday overlay.  And we were.  Skipper Patrick was from our home state of Louisiana and he was a true master at pun-delivery!  If you’ve not had the chance and are visiting Walt Disney World during the holidays, do make time to experience this fun and funny seasonal treat.Be-Our-Guest-Restaurant-Sign

Breakfast at Be Our Guest – We’d eaten both lunch and dinner at Be Our Guest before, so we thought, why NOT see how breakfast is.  Hands down, this was our favorite meal at this unique and amazingly-themed restaurant in Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland.Tonga-Toast-Kona-Cafe

Breakfast at Kona Café – We’d never had Tonga Toast before!  We had to knock that off our Disney to-do list.  While the toast might have been a little sweet for us, we loved the omelet we shared, plus the coffee and the service were both excellent.  Those to-go coffees our server offered us were just the ticket for making sure we were wide awake when we got to Magic Kingdom.Chewbacca-Meet-and-Greet

Meeting Chewbacca – He was everything we hoped he’d be!  Tall, furry, friendly, and photogenic!  The Launch Bay, where fans can meet both Chewbacca and Darth Vader, is packed with enough Star Wars information and memorabilia to make every fan happy.Star-Tours-Queue

The New Star Tours – We weren’t sure what to expect with the new Force Awakens tie-ins, but they were just right – seamlessly included in the storyline. (Nope, no spoilers here!)

The DisappointmentsBluezoo-Exterior

Bluezoo – This Todd English restaurant at the Dolphin was someplace we’d really looked forward to trying.  We’d heard such great things about the menu and service.  The service was as expected – excellent.  The disappointment came in the form of our $42 entrees.  We each ordered something different and we both found the food lacking in interest and flavor.  There are tons of other places in that price range at Disney World, no need to waste money here.Flying-Fish-Exterior-2015

Flying Fish – The last time we ate at Flying Fish was in May, 2014 and it was one of the best dining experiences we’d ever had.  The food, the service, the ambiance – all of it created such a fantastic vacation memory.  Raymond and I were expecting the same thing this time.  Not so much.  Lackluster (at best) is what we got.  It started with the hostess who would not make eye contact or smile – just shoved a pager at Raymond and said (without looking up), “We’ll call you when we’re ready”.  Flying-Fish-Interior-2015(2)The young lady who led us to our table when our pager blinked was equally un-Disney-like.  Our server went through the motions, but never talked about the menu or made recommendations of any kind.  He was pleasant enough yet made us feel like a chore he needed to finish quickly. Flying-Fish-Interior-2015(1) I have a theory.  Flying Fish is getting ready to close for an extended refurbishment.  I asked and the server told me they were all being reassigned to other places.  I believe they’ve all checked-out and mentally moved on, knowing that at the end of January their work family will be divided up among many other Disney restaurants and they’ll each have to learn the ways of a new place.  I’d be willing to go back again after the refurb and give Flying Fish another shot.

Have your recent experiences been different than ours?  What has been your most favorite recent Disney dining or attraction experience?