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 World Dining – Yak & Yeti Table Service

RM-Yak-&-Yeti-Restaurant-ExteriorNot long ago, we tried (and loved) Yak & Yeti’s counter service eatery.  The really special thing about Animal Kingdom’s Yak & Yeti?  It also boasts a very unique table service restaurant!  Yes!  In the Asia section of the park, you’ll find TWO great dining choices – quick-serve on the outside, sit-down-dining on the inside.  Pretty neat, right?

Knowing we’d be heading to Animal Kingdom post-Princess Half Marathon and knowing I’d probably be starving, I booked an ADR (Advance Dining Reservation) for lunch.  Normally, we are strictly dinner ADR people, but I’d been wanting to try Yak & Yeti’s table service option and eating there guilt-free, having burned a few calories over 13.1 miles, it seemed the perfect time to give it a go.

We arrived a couple of minutes late – we try never to do this, but I was moving uncharacteristically slow.  No problem for the kind Cast Member at the check-in podium and we were seated after only a very short wait.  RM-Yak-&-Yeti-Table-Service-SeatingI was a bit apprehensive about our table’s location – right in the very middle of the first floor’s dining area, but then I realized I could take in all of the atmosphere and see details of the restaurant’s unusual décor without having to move.  Not moving was a very nice option that day, I assure you.

The Pan-Asian menu offered a surprisingly broad range of options and our server, who seemed very busy, was sweet and attentive.  We started with the Pork Pot Stickers (the choice was tough because so many dishes sounded great!) and were happy with our selection.  We also ordered some sake to enjoy with our meal.  The cocktail/adult beverage menu was amazingly full of a huge variety of drink options – one of the best you’ll find in any Disney park, I’ll bet.RM-Yak-&-Yeti-Table-Service-Menu

Now that I was sitting down, sipping sake and had put the worst of my hunger pangs at bay with a couple of pot stickers, I had more time to look around and soak up the ambiance.  RM-Yak-&-Yeti-Table-Service-AppetizerThe décor was very ornate and I felt a bit like I was eating in a museum.  In a good way.RM-Yak-&-Yeti-Decor-FigureRaymond and I, after studying the menu for quite a while, went for completely opposite ends of the food spectrum.  He chose the Kobe Beef Burger.  I chose the Chicken Tikka Masala.RM-Yak-&-Yeti-Table-Service-Burger RM-Yak-&-Yeti-Table-Service-EntreeWhen our entrees arrived, there was very little conversation at our table!  We both thought the food was great – especially for an in-park table service restaurant at Disney World.  Perhaps this is because the Yak & Yeti is not Disney-owned.  It’s true – it’s a Landry’s establishment (see the website here).RM-Yak-&-Yeti-Decor-Figure2 RM-Yak-&-Yeti-Decor-Details

Relaxed, rested and satisfied, we passed on dessert in favor of hitting some of our favorite Animal Kingdom attractions.  Lunch totaled around $70 with tip, but we felt the service, food, atmosphere, and convenient location made this a reasonable price for our meal.  Would we eat here again?  Absolutely.RM-Yak&Yeti-Printout

How about you?  What’s your favorite table service restaurant in Animal Kingdom?

 

Disney’s Animal Kingdom – Yak and Yeti

RM-Yak-&-Yeti-AccessoriesI’m not a big fan of fast food or counter-service restaurants at home.  When I’m not on vacation, I probably don’t eat at a fast food place once a month.  I like to cook and I try to avoid fried and processed foods.  I like to think we save money by not eating out much.  I also figure if we eat well most of the time, we earn the right to splurge a bit (or a lot) when we go to Disney World.

I’m not the person who can tell you where on Disney property to find the best hamburger or pizza.  I’ve only eaten one Disney World hamburger (Olivia’s Duval Street Burger at Old Key West and it was spectacular).  Anytime I’ve tried pizza, I’ve been remarkably disappointed.  Pizza and hamburgers aside, there are some mighty good counter-service eateries to be found at Disney World.  You just have to know where they are.

Let’s talk Animal Kingdom.  Personally, I’m hoping for the addition of more counter-service choices as the park expands.  In October, Raymond and I found ourselves there and in dire need of a late, but not too heavy, lunch.  Normally, we’re Flame Tree Barbeque fans, but I’d heard that Yak & Yeti had a quick-service counter serving a variety of Pan-Asian menu items that were both tasty and inexpensive (relatively speaking, of course).  We had FastPasses for Expedition Everest, so grabbing a bite in the park’s Asia section was convenient.RM-Yak&Yeti

As with everything in Animal Kingdom, the Yak & Yeti’s exterior is full of fun and interesting details.  Unlike most restaurants at Walt Disney World which are either table service OR counter service, the Yak & Yeti is both.  Inside is a sit down restaurant, outside is a quick-service counter. RM-Yak-&-Yeti-Menu-Blue

Because it was so late in the day, we skipped the main menu items and ordered from the “Sides” section.  We each ordered the Chicken Fried Rice ($3.99 ea.) and we got an order of two eggrolls ($5.49) to share.  To wash it down, we added two Safari Ambers ($7.00 ea.).RM-Yak-&-Yeti-Seating

Nearby, we found a covered seating area filled with large tables and soon found ourselves sitting with a friendly family from Alabama.  It was warm out, but the shade and cold beer helped a lot.  Too much food!  Can you believe it?  I ate only half of the rice and my eggroll and was full.  The food was good, the beer refreshing.  Not gourmet or fancy, but our meal at Yak & Yeti was satisfying and tasty. RM-Yak-&-Yeti-Fried-Rice RM-Yak-&-Yeti-Eggroll

Have you tried the Yak & Yeti?  What did you think? For more pictures and full menu information, visit the Yak & Yeti website here.