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’s Tutto Gusto Wine Bar in Epcot’s Italy

IMG_5076“Tutto Gusto Wine Bar in Epcot’s Italy Pavilion is a wonderful treasure, a charming, cozy and relaxing nook tucked away from Walt Disney World’s hustle and bustle.  I recommend it as a great place for adults to enjoy a snack or light meal and an excellent glass of wine.” – Me, channeling my inner restaurant critic.

I am mostly German with some British and Native American tossed in the mix.  I can trace my ancestry back to 17th century Germany on my mother’s side and on my dad’s side, we are direct descendants of Daniel Boone.  There is not, anywhere I can find (no matter how hard I search), even the tiniest drop of Italian blood in my veins.  In my heart, though, I’m Italian.  The language, the food, the wines, the Italian flare for style – all appeal to me in an indescribable way.  I’m certain this is why eating in Epcot’s Italy always gets my vote.  I love the Cast Members and I’ve never EVER had a bad meal.IMG_5069

You may recall from a previous post (about a certain chocolate croissant) that Raymond and I had a couple of hours alone in Epcot last time we visited Disney World.  One of the things I wanted to try, as it was brand new at the time, was Tutto Gusto.  We had ADRs for later that evening at Le Cellier, so a light lunch was in order and Tutto Gusto’s small-plates menu, which I had checked out online, would be perfect.  Raymond loves Italian food (and wine) every bit as much as I do, so he was on board with the plan.

IMG_5074We were pleasantly surprised to find Tutto Gusto nearly empty when we arrived (it had just opened for business earlier in the month, so perhaps it was still unknown to most guests).  We immediately loved the cozy feel of the restaurant – a quiet, relaxing escape from the rest of Epcot.  The restaurant seats fewer than 100 people – when we sat down, there were maybe a dozen patrons, including us.  The server was excellent – attentive without being overbearing.  We ordered glasses of red wine (can’t tell you what it was, but we liked it) – after letting our server pick for us based on our description of what we like in a wine.  We then took our time perusing the menu for a few minutes before ordering.

Raymond ordered a (small, single) Panini that came with an equally small side salad – not IMG_5072surprising if you know what a fan he is of these Italian toasted sandwiches – I have a Panini maker at home and know how to use it!  I opted for the Insalata Di Mare Trapanese (Shrimp, squid, octopus, lemon, extra virgin olive oil).  Both of us were happy with our choices and felt our meals were light enough to be topped off with dessert!  Mocha Tiramisu all around.

Final words about our lunch – YES, I was influenced by all I had read online about Tutto Gusto and HAD to try it – What that curiosity IMG_5077yielded:   We had a lovely, quiet (romantic even) Italian getaway right in the middle of Epcot’s World Showcase.