A Disney Springs Dining Digest

by on August 2, 2016 5 Comments

Filed under: Dining, Disney Springs, Trip Planning, Walt Disney World (FL)

New restaurants abound at Disney Springs (pictured here: Chef Art Smith's Homecoming Kitchen)We’ve had an overwhelming amount of news and reviews lately about dining at Disney Springs, so I thought it’d be nice to take a step back this week to compile a Disney Springs Dining Digest of all of the new options now open. Below, you’ll find a quick summary of each new restaurant and what we thought of it here at TouringPlans (with links to our menus and full reviews, because we know you love photos of all that tasty food!). I’ll also rank the restaurants to give a sense of my overall favorites, which will hopefully help you plan your next visit to Disney Springs.

The Big Five (Table Service Restaurants)

Disney Springs has always had table service restaurants representative of a variety of modern cuisines with Wolfgang Puck, Bongo’s Cuban Café, and Crossroads at House of Blues. Recently, though, five new table service locations have opened that diversify the dining scene even further. Since we’re looking at the changing landscape of Disney Springs as a whole, we’ll start with one of the first new locations to open, even before Downtown Disney converted to Disney Springs, and move chronologically to restaurants that have opened as recently as the last few weeks.

The BOATHOUSE

  • Food: American steaks and seafood (priced similarly to Yachtsman Steakhouse or Shula’s); sandwiches, burgers, fried baskets (priced similarly to lunch at non-signature restaurants like The Wave or platters at more expensive quick service locations)
  • Atmosphere: The waterfront location and white tablecloths make it seem pretty fancy, but never so stuffy that eating a burger and fries here feels out of place. Families are welcome here, but it also works well for an adults-only date night out.
  • Quick Tips: Wait times for a walkup table here can creep up pretty high, so take advantage of the indoor/outdoor bar areas if your party is small. Steaks are good, but with few exceptions, require ordering other stuff to feel like a full meal: an appetizer (shrimp cocktail or oysters from the raw bar) or a la carte side (giant bowl of mac and cheese? Count me in.) is perfect for two people. On that note, always share desserts here (they’re huge!). Burgers and filet sliders are among the best budget-conscious meals at Walt Disney World for their quality. Beer selection is mostly bottled, so if that bothers you, stick to the cocktail menu.
  • Previously On TouringPlans…: I haven’t formally reviewed The BOATHOUSE here on the blog, but I’ve previously mentioned it as a great alternative to Wolfgang Puck and STK Orlando. Definitely one of the first places I consider for a meal if I find myself hungry at Disney Springs.
  • How Do We Get Here: Park at Lime Garage or use the walking bridge from across Buena Vista Dr; The Landing’s boat dock for water transportation to/from resorts and other Disney Springs docks is right next door to the restaurant

Morimoto Asia

  • Food: Pan-Asian (influences from Chinese, Japanese, and Thai cuisines); dim sum appetizers, sushi, ramen, noodle bowls on the lower-priced end ($15-25 for a meal, like a standard table service restaurant), plated entrees including Peking duck and amazing kalbi beef on the higher-priced end (signature dining pricing)
  • Atmosphere: The glitzy centerpiece chandelier is worth a visit to the restaurant alone, and it feels a bit more adult and upscale than most restaurants at Disney Springs due to the modern music and darker tones throughout. Kids and families wouldn’t be out of place, but you’ll probably see far more adults-only groups when you dine here.
  • Quick Tips: Grab a spot in the bar/lounge area or the upstairs Forbidden Lounge if wait times are high. If entrée prices are out of your budget (believe me, though, they’re worth saving for), you’ll still have a great meal by sampling from the extensive dim sum, sushi, and appetizer menus. Desserts are easy to share, but your money is better spent trying a cocktail, sake, or beer from their well-crafted menu.
  • Previously On TouringPlans…: In true Len Testa style, this epic review describes reactions to a vast majority of the menu’s dishes. Overall, Len listed it as “good, quality dining at reasonable prices”, and my meals there have reflected the same sentiment.
  • How Do We Get Here: Technically located on the outskirts of The Landing, just across from Raglan Road, it’s a two minute walk on newly-opened pathways from Orange Garage.

STK Orlando

  • Food: Expensive, upscale steakhouse (California Grill-kind of prices for a Yachtsman or Shula’s-style meal); a short lunch menu offers a few burger selections for a little more than BOATHOUSE’s options.
  • Atmosphere: Think “nightclub with steak”. A DJ is prominently placed on the ground floor, providing loud tunes to the swanky restaurant. Families may not love this location, but adults-only groups will probably enjoy it.
  • Quick Tips: If the weather is nice, take advantage of the roof-top dining for the great view. Steaks here are great, so stick to those in the entrees, but plan to spend for the quality. A great candidate for progressive dining around Disney Springs if you fancy appetizers or desserts elsewhere. Dine during lunch or early dinner hours to avoid the DJ’s booming bass lines.
  • Previously on TouringPlans…: I didn’t love my meal here – one of my appetizers and my dessert were a bit of a letdown, but the steak was ridiculously good and worth the visit. Portions here on most items run small, especially compared to neighboring BOATHOUSE’s similar dishes (sides at BOATHOUSE are generally shareable for two to three people, but here you’ll be lucky if one side is enough for one to two people).
  • How Do We Get Here: Located just across from Paradiso 37 in The Landing, adjacent to Morimoto Asia, Orange Garage is just few steps away. The Landing boat dock is pretty close, as well, for internal transportation.

Frontera Cocina

  • Food: Modern take on traditional Mexican cuisine; appetizers, tortas and tacos are perfect for lunchtime or budget-conscious dining (easy to get away with a $20 meal with these!), and larger plated entrees and sides will still only run you about the cost of a standard table service meal (think San Angel Inn prices for La Hacienda or better quality food).
  • Atmosphere: Bright and airy with pops of color, this restaurant is very welcoming to both families looking for a great meal or adults who want to grab a quick bite and a drink at the bar.
  • Quick Tips: Lunch and early afternoon are easiest times to find a table at this already-popular eatery. Save room for appetizers and desserts – both are easy to share and full of fantastic options you won’t find many places at Walt Disney World. Cocktails and tequila flights echo familiar options at the ever-popular La Cava del Tequila but don’t require walking through Epcot to try. Make time to eat here, plain and simple – flavorful and unique-for-Walt Disney World food at good prices.
  • Previously On TouringPlans…: In short, I loved my first meal here. Service and food were both spot-on, and prices were much better than many neighboring options. I said I couldn’t wait to try more of the menu, and in the few short weeks since it has opened, I’ve already made it a point to go back for several meals. Even if you have great local Mexican restaurants in your hometown, this place is still worth a visit.
  • How Do We Get Here: In the middle of the new Town Center section, just across from Sprinkles Cupcakes, this restaurant is only a few steps away from Lime Garage.

Homecoming Kitchen

  • Food: Southern comfort classics; shareable appetizers and sandwiches will run you about $20 for a meal, scaling up to standard table service pricing for huge plated entrees (like The Wave or just a few dollars more).
  • Atmosphere: Florida local fixtures and food combine to make this restaurant a down-home, welcoming location for everyone. The outdoor (screened in!) porch and walk-up Shine Bar overlook the Springs for a fantastic view as night falls.
  • Quick Tips: The key here is to bring lots of family or friends and share dishes – everything’s big and full of flavor. Sandwiches are a fantastic (and cheaper) way to try the signature fried chicken or chopped BBQ pork, but the larger entrees will allow you to taste the awesome side dishes on the menu. Try the house-made hot sauce, available at your table, on everything. If the main dining room is full (likely during dinner hours, as this place is already very popular), grab a spot at the counter on the back porch and order from the full menu at the bar. Cocktails are a heavy pour compared to elsewhere at Disney Springs for the price, but take advantage of the separate moonshine menu to try options that are difficult to find anywhere else. Very accessible kid’s menu (like BOATHOUSE) for even the pickiest of eaters.
  • Previously On TouringPlans…: I really liked my meal at Homecoming Kitchen – great service and food (with leftovers for days). The buttermilk-brined fried chicken is worth the hype (and price), as are the mac and cheese and drop biscuits. Though it’s the newest location in Disney Springs, I’ve made it a point to visit again since opening, and had just as positive an experience as my first meal – a definite keeper. Len also had a chance to visit, and came away with a great meal, too.
  • How Do We Get Here: Technically located in Town Center (but really situated just across from Morimoto Asia and the back side of STK), Orange Garage is only a short walk away.

So Where Do We Eat?

My quick ranking, if you twisted my arm, for these five restaurants would be the following:

Must Try: Frontera Cocina

Should Definitely Try: Homecoming Kitchen

Solid Favorite: Morimoto Asia

Great For Everyone: The BOATHOUSE

Only When You’re Dying For A Great Steak: STK Orlando

Don’t get me wrong – I really like BOATHOUSE and Morimoto Asia, so it pains me to rank them lower here. I’d easily rank these top four above anything else available at Disney Springs, new or old, and above many resort and parks options. Any of these top four restaurants would be worth venturing off of your normal list of favorites to try on your next visit. Personal preferences may play into your estimation of how true this list is – BOATHOUSE and Homecoming Kitchen are sure to be favorites for those in search of American classics, while Frontera Cocina and Morimoto Asia will hit the spot for those craving global cuisine. STK is a quality steakhouse, but prices are much higher per person at the end of the day compared to the others – steaks are definitely worth it, but no denying it’s a splurge.

What About Quick Service Dining?

Have no fear – if table service just isn’t in the budget for time or money, there are also a ton of great new options for faster food. Here are even quicker summaries of these locations and our thoughts on them, split up by the three categories of these new restaurants.

Full Quick Service

D-Luxe Burgers

D-Luxe Burger's El Diablo burger, small fries, and various dipping sauces

  • Food: Burgers and fries that’ll run you about the same, pricewise, as BOATHOUSE, Homecoming Kitchen, and Frontera Cocina’s sandwich options.
  • Previously On TouringPlans…: We loved the burgers for the quality and variety, but the price on the small-in-name-and-smaller-in-size fries was a bit steep. Though this is classified as quick service, food can take a bit longer than you may expect, so plan accordingly. Air-conditioned inside seating and a nice outdoor porch are a definite plus.

Stands

AristoCrepes

  • AristoCrepes' bbef, beet, and key lime cheesecake crepesFood: Sweet and savory crepes, perfect for a heavy snack on their own for less than $10.
  • Previously On TouringPlans: I tried a trifecta of crepes here and was pleasantly surprised by this unique option. I wouldn’t stop here just for a meal, necessarily, but these make for great walk-around snacks if you find yourself hungry at Disney Springs. Since my review, they’ve added a few tables and chairs next to the stand, so it’s even easier to take a break here now.

BB Wolf’s Sausage Company

  • BB Wolf's Three Little Pigs sausage trioFood: Sausage sandwiches reflective of a variety of global food traditions (German brats, hot dogs from around the US, Italian sausage, etc.) – no sides served here but large enough for a reasonably-sized quick meal for around $10.
  • Previously On TouringPlans…: This was a huge hit for me, much to my surprise. Food was fresh and decently priced; in short, it’s a better version of Casey’s Corner. Only a few standing tables nearby, but with Town Center now open, planters for seating are available just a few steps away.

The Daily Poutine

  • Latin poutine from The Daily PoutineFood: fries and toppings from around the world, for around $10 a bowl (I did not consider these a full meal, much like Aristocrepes, but some could)
  • Previously On TouringPlans…: It was definitely the fastest of the three new stands, but my least favorite of the three. The food is all good quality but I found the flavors to be one-note and therefore, it was hard to finish a whole bowl of fries on my own. Since my Disney Springs Quick Bite reviews, this is the only location I haven’t been drawn back to in order to try more options.

Walk-Up Windows at Table Service Locations

Morimoto Asia Street Food

  • Kalbi beef bao from Morimoto Asia Street FoodFood: a few grab-and-go style options reminiscent of the sushi and dim sum menu at Morimoto Asia, plus a few heavier options that make a full meal.
  • Previously On TouringPlans…: A great way to try a few of the restaurant’s favorites in smaller portions at cheaper prices (though I don’t feel the quality is quite as good as inside). Dedicated outdoor patio seating also makes this a good stop for an afternoon snack and refreshing drink.

Frontera Cocina Walk-Up Window

  • Cochinita pibil tacos from Frontera Cocina's walk-up windowFood: Taco options featuring the braised short-ribs and cochinita pibil served on the main restaurant’s tortas; guac and chips make these a full meal or shareable snack.
  • Previously On TouringPlans…: I loved these tacos as much as I loved the food inside the main restaurant, and splitting the guacamole and chips with a friend made this a pretty reasonably-priced meal option. No tables around, but you may be able to sneak one at Sprinkles’ outdoor seating or find a bench in the Town Center area.

Homecoming Kitchen Grab-And-Go

  • Food: standard to-go options feature the filling BBQ pork, fried catfish, and fried chicken sandwiches from the main menu plus BBQ chips or fries on the side a la carte. It’s also possible to order from the full menu at the outdoor bar and take food to-go this way, but not all of the items work as well to-go as these, and it may depend on how busy the restaurant is at the time.
  • Previously On TouringPlans…: Homecoming’s so new, we haven’t had a chance to try the walk-up window on its own like we have everywhere else, but based on the quality of the fried chicken entrée I reviewed, it’s safe to say it’s worth it to give this sandwich and BBQ chips a shot.

Other Disney Springs Dining Additions

We can’t forget other locations new to Disney Springs when going through this roundup, so it’s worth a mention that Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar and Amorette’s Patisserie have also become favorites of mine since both opened in Disney Springs. Jock’s may present itself as just another themed bar, but the food is really tasty (house-made pretzels with beer-cheese sauce!). You may not be able to make a full meal out of anything here, but if you’re looking for both drinks and a heavy snack, Jock’s is worth a stop. Amorette’s, similarly, will hit the spot if you are looking for a dessert around Disney Springs. Here you’ll find signature dining-quality desserts for around $6-$10 each (worth the price for what you get, in my experience). I’ve even found myself skipping dessert at meals around Disney Springs just so I could make a stop at Amorette’s later in the day!

Still To Come…

You’d think with these new additions, Disney Springs would’ve reached peak dining density, but we’re not done yet! There are still a few locations to look forward to in coming months (and beyond). Blaze Pizza is nearing completion adjacent to Homecoming Kitchen, and is sure to be popular as a cheaper alternative to Portobello or Wolfgang Puck Express. Newly announced as coming soon (in Spring 2017), just outside of Lime Garage’s entrance, is The Polite Pig, sister restaurant to local Orlando favorite, The Ravenous Pig. Just like the Petrakis’ other locations, Cask & Larder and Swine & Sons, The Polite Pig looks to offer Southern classics, this time in an upscale fast-casual environment that may give Homecoming Kitchen’s sandwich menu a run for their money. I can’t wait for both of these locations to add even more options to the Disney Springs dining landscape!

Posted on August 2, 2016

5 Responses to “A Disney Springs Dining Digest”

  • Super helpful to have this info all combined into one post, thank you!

    • Thanks, Dee! I thought people would find it easier to compare all the new restaurants this way – so many options!

  • In the “coming soon” category, let’s not forget “The Edison”. Probably too rich for my wallet, but it does look like an interesting and unique experience.
    Also curious about how to interpret “San Angel Inn prices for La Hacienda or better quality food”. I see the two locations as comparable to each other in both categories, so I’m not sure if that comment is meant as a plus or a minus.

    • Great comment about my San Angel/La Hacienda point – I see San Angel as more Tex-Mex, La Hacienda more traditional Mexican cuisine, with La Hacienda being a bit better in quality but also a little more expensive, overall (though obviously both of these criteria can depend on your personal taste and what kinds of dishes you prefer). I definitely mean it as a positive in this context.

      Can’t forget “The Edison”, you’re right – it should be a great addition to the growing selection of upscale bars around Walt Disney World!

      • Biggest difference between the Inn and La Hacienda (don’t forget *both* are San Angel) is that the former is representative of northern Mexico, while La Hacienda is southern Mexico. Hence a slightly different style of food.