Posts Tagged ‘dining’

Foodie Awards: Where Locals Eat (Part 2)

by on March 2, 2015

Thank you all so much for the feedback on part 1. One comment was about how there were a lot of mediocre and not-too-original places on the list. For this part, you’ll see quite a few more interesting spots—and one exception that sticks out like a sore thumb.

If you haven’t read part 1, the brief recap is that the Orlando area has a lot of amazing dining options, many of which are near Walt Disney World. Readers of the Orlando Sentinel newspaper vote on them. The food critic weighs in. And the results are shared. You can read part 1 here. And now, here’s the second round of the award-winning restaurants.

Jeremiah’s Italian Ice (Readers’ Choice: Best Frozen Treats), 4750 The Grove Dr., Windermere.

While the gelati they have is good, there’s a reason why it is called Jeremiah’s Italian Ice. If you’re going there, try a sample of some of their unique flavors in the gelati and Italian ice rotation, including cotton candy, horchata, salted sea caramel, and Key West tropical.

At Menchie's, pick your frozen yogurt, your toppings, and the amount of each and pay by the ounce. (Photo by Julia Mascardo)

At Menchie’s, pick your frozen yogurt, your toppings, and the amount of each and pay by the ounce. (Photo by Julia Mascardo)

Menchie’s (Runner-Up, Readers’ Choice: Best Frozen Treats), Multiple Locations

I am old enough to remember when frozen yogurt started to become “a thing”. This ain’t the TCBY from my teen years! Come in, grab a cup, and fill it up with as much or as little of a variety of self-serve flavors and dozens of toppings, then pay by the pound. (Or, if I had the option to eat there every day, I would pay by [putting on] the pounds! But it’s yogurt, so it’s healthy, right?)

Biergarten (Runner-Up, Readers’ Choice: Best German), Epcot

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Best Themed Restaurants at Disney World

by on February 23, 2015

CrystalPalace

The level of detail that Disney Imagineers put into the theming of the parks is astonishing. If I can be perfectly content just sitting in an area and soaking in all the details, then that to me is a wonderfully themed area of a Disney park. The same goes for Disney dining. Obviously, food quality comes first but with the premium that you’re going to pay at Disney, I always try to eat at restaurants that are immersive and give me that feeling that I’ve actually entered the setting that the Imagineers were trying to convey. If you have that same desire to be transported away during your next Disney dining experience then you’re in the right place. Below, you’ll find a list of my personal five best themed restaurants at Disney World. Each of these restaurants has excellent theming that will surely enhance your meal. Luckily, the food happens to be great at each of them as well.

 

5. Flame Tree Barbecue

Might have to talk to your kids about the birds and the...snakes?

Might have to talk to your kids about the birds and the…snakes?

Starting off our list is the only quick service entry and the only outdoor entry on our list. Located in Animal Kingdom, Flame Tree Barbecue is my favorite place to eat a meal outdoors in the parks. Animal Kingdom is already a beautiful park so it’s no surprise that Flame Tree lives up to its park’s reputation. There are both covered seating areas and more sunny areas that are overlooking the water with Everest in the distance. There’s also a beautiful pond/pool towards the back of the seating area as well. Along with the great views, the covered areas I mentioned before are cool looking and come complete with a surprisingly “real” Circle of Life theme. Each patio features a predator eating its prey, which shows that Disney can take the kid gloves off every once in a while without going over the top. When it comes down to it, Flame Tree has arguably the best counter service food and best outdoor seating areas in the parks, which make it my fifth most atmospheric restaurant at Disney World. Note: Flame Tree is currently closed during Rivers of Light construction at Animal Kingdom, though some of its seating is open and you can find your smoked meats other places in the park.

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Menu Monday: Best Counter Service Restaurant at Hollywood Studios

by on February 16, 2015

We continue this journey to find the best counter service restaurants in Hollywood Studios.  Hollywood Studios has to be one of the hardest counter service options to track because the menus and prices tend to change for each season. Add in the continuing construction, and things are bound to change. Before your next trip to the Studios, be sure to check out the latest menus for options and prices either at the Touring Plans menu page, or at the official Walt Disney World menu page. With that said, most of the menu staples will stay consistent. If a counter service location offers burgers and sandwiches, you can expect for it to be consistent, but you may find an updated price or a new “gourmet” option available. If you missed previous entries, be sure to read all about the best counter service options in Magic Kingdom, as well as in Animal Kingdom. To refresh your memory, here is the grading scale I’ve used to determining how each counter service location has earned it’s ranking:

  • Value (portion/cost ratio) = 10 points
  • Flavor = 10 points
  • Originality = 5 points
  • Atmosphere = 5 points
  • Grand total = 30 possible points

Sunset Boulevard Restaurant Row

Catalina Eddie's, Rosie's All-American Café, and Fairfaxe Fare are all located on Sunset Boulevard near Tower of Terror.

Catalina Eddie’s, Rosie’s All-American Café, and Fairfaxe Fare are all located on Sunset Boulevard near Tower of Terror.

It may seem like cheating, but due to the proximity of all of these options in the same area. They can easily be viewed as one dining location with multiple options, similar to the concept of the food court at your local mall. Catalina Eddie’s, Fairfax Fare, and Rosie’s All-American Café are all situated at the end of Sunset Boulevard, near the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith. Because of this prime real estate by two of the park’s powerhouse rides, and the fact that the three restaurants share the same seating area, this place gets packed quickly. It’s often a spot for families to gather and wait while a portion of their party experiences one ride or the other (or both). Because of this, finding an open table is tricky, and it gets busy early in the day and stays that way. The best plan of attack is to find a table before ordering food, then go in shifts to the location that appeals to your taste buds while another holds the table while you order. Never leave a child alone, but if you’re traveling with a several adults or teenagers, this is the best strategy.

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Cape Canaveral Dining: Preacher Bar

by on January 30, 2015

Port Canaveral is rapidly becoming one of the state’s most bustling cruise terminals. And that’s been good news for the nearby towns of Cape Canaveral and Cocoa Beach — at least, where food is concerned.

Preacher Bar Wall - Natalie Reinert

Eclectic decor and rich jewel tones light up an unassuming strip mall location at Preacher’s Bar in Cape Canaveral.

The chain restaurants are always available — if you really want to eat at Denny’s on the night before your Disney Cruise, you can. But if you’re ready to begin the serious eating before you even roll up to the buffet at Cabanas, new local establishments are setting up shop within just a few miles of the port, and they are ready to feed you well. For an eclectic Cape Canaveral dining experience, try Preacher Bar.

Kelsey’s Pizzeria has long been a local mainstay, serving up pizza and Italian dishes to Brevard County residents for more than 30 years. But with at their new Cape Canaveral restaurant, Preacher Bar, they’re diversifying, with a smart Americana menu that hits all the foodie buzzwords. Start with crisp applewood bacon served with a spicy chili-garlic sauce, then cool the tastebuds with a crispy take on the traditional club sandwich, and finish, of course, with Key Lime Pie. (You’re in Florida, after all.)

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Menu Monday: Lunch at Coral Reef Restaurant

by on December 29, 2014

Photo - Disney

Reception area

While planning my visit for this past September, I was browsing through different dining options and saw Coral Reef Restaurant. After reading a few reviews and chatting with people who had dined there, I was on the hunt for an Advance Dining Reservation (ADR). Because of my husbands work schedule at the time, I had to mentally plan our trip long before I could make reservations. Once work approved his vacation time, I set to work on the details….did I mention this was a month before the trip? (Let me know if you’d like an article on how to plan a WDW trip last minute. I’m an expert!) The stars must have been aligned that day because I not only got an ADR on the day I wanted, but I made a reservation for TEN guests!

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Menu Monday: Infant Friendly Dining at Walt Disney World

by on December 22, 2014

BiergartenOne of the (many) reasons I love Walt Disney World is because the parks are so family friendly. There are some vacation destinations where bringing a baby would be impossible. At Disney, even the dining is suitable for all ages.

Having a young one of my own, I know the insecurities that come with bringing an infant to a restaurant.

Will she get fussy? What if she cries? How will I entertain her?

Quick service dining is one thing, but enjoying a nice sit-down meal is quite another. So with that in mind, i’ve provided a list of my favorite infant-friendly restaurants within the four parks.

Note: When making your dining reservation, be sure to include your child into the final number. Disney counts per spot at the table, not just who is eating.

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Menu Monday: Best Counter Service Restaurants in Animal Kingdom

by on December 1, 2014

This is the second installment in a series on the top counter service restaurants at Walt Disney World. The first article addressed the best and worst counter services of Magic Kingdom, and now we’ll take a walk on the wild side as we review the best counter service restaurants in Animal Kingdom. Keep in mind that to dine at any of these locations, you will need a valid park ticket for admission. Additionally, with some of the construction and updates occurring around Animal Kingdom, not all of these locations may be open or accessible during your planned trip, so be sure to check the Disney Dining website for a full list of open dining options.

To refresh your memory, here is the grading scale I’ve used to determining how each counter service location has earned it’s ranking:

  • Value (portion/cost ratio) = 10 points
  • Flavor = 10 points
  • Originality = 5 points
  • Atmosphere = 5 points
  • Grand total = 30 possible points

So, let’s dive in!

Flame Tree Barbecue – Discovery IslandFTB Sign

Flame Tree Barbecue has long been a popular recommendation among Disney vacationers, and for good reason! It’s got a menu that pleases practically everyone in your group, prices that aren’t so difficult to swallow, and after years of visiting this location, I’ve never been disappointed. The quality has remained consistent and delicious. So, swing by Discovery Island for some finger-licking deliciousness.

Value = 10/10

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Menu Monday: Late Arrival Day Food Choices at Disney World

by on November 17, 2014

Late Night Castle, perfect sight for late night dining at disney world

Even if you arrive to see this gorgeous sight, it still isn’t too late for you to find a good meal.

The Walt Disney World Resort area has tons of options for dining, from quick service restaurants, places to get snacks, or regular table service restaurants, to fancy, signature dining experiences. However, sometimes there seems to be no options other than the $2 vending machine crackers at your resort, once you’re on the property, especially if you don’t have a vehicle and are relying on Disney transportation. To avoid the stress of trying to track down dining options for your late arrival, I have gathered a listing for restaurants that stay open late, so you can avoid wandering around hungry. In addition, I listed the items available on the menu, written in plain language for easy understanding (i.e., it might be Oak-Grilled Salmon with a Selection of Winter Greens, but I’ll simplify it down to Grilled Salmon). Obviously, both hours and menus are subject to change, but you can check with Cast Members at the park or at your resort upon check in to ensure that these options are still available and open late. Here goes!

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Menu Monday: Best Counter Service Restaurants in Magic Kingdom

by on November 17, 2014

Be Our Guest RestaurantPicking your favorite Walt Disney World counter/quick service restaurant is like picking your favorite child, sure on some days you may like one more than the other (come on, we’ve all been there!), but overall, you just can’t choose a favorite! Dining in Walt Disney World has become a favorite past time among repeat guests. And now, more often than not, first time guests have their own “bucket list” of restaurants to eat at or snack to try. With this increase in demand and expectation, Disney has responded by adding more restaurants and expanding the menus of their current restaurants. These adjustments also come with price increases. As Mr. Gold/Rumpelstiltskin from ABC’s Once Upon A Time always reminds us, “all magic comes with a price” even Disney’s pixie-dusted munchies. But fear not intrepid traveler and foodie, you can indulge your taste buds and save your budget with the counter/quick service restaurants available at every Disney Park and resort. But with literally, over a hundred to choose from (seriously, 102 – I counted!), I’m here to help you select the best of the best, park by park and even among the resorts. This article will focus on the counter service options of the Magic Kingdom. The focus will be on restaurants that offer a full meal option. Though there are many additional locations I could have included in this list, I narrowed it down to exclude those counter locations that really only sell snacks. After watching hours of Master Chef and Chopped, I’ve devised a ranking system that will incorporate four criteria into the ultimate calculation for the best counter service meals.  The criteria are:

  • Best value (portion/cost ratio) = 10 points
  • Flavor = 10 points
  • Originality = 5 points
  • Atmosphere = 5 points
  • Grand total = 30 possible points

Be Our Guest – New Fantasyland

This latest addition to the Magic Kingdom dining line-up has everyone crazed to make dinner reservations or snag the elusive lunch FastPass+ option. The menu is a bit pricier than other counter service option, and it’s only available as a counter service during the lunch hours (10:30am to 2:30pm). Starting at 4pm, Be Our Guest is considered a Table Service restaurant where prices increase and the menu changes a bit.

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Menu Monday: A Pescetarian Guide to Disney World

by on November 3, 2014

Even spell-check does not know what a pescetarian is, so allow me to explain: a pescetarian diet is similar to a vegetarian diet, with the addition of fish. Reasons for eating pescetarian range from the health conscious to the animal loving. My family and I have been pescetarians for the past eight years–minus one stubbornly carnivorous brother. We have traveled throughout the Walt Disney World theme parks finding counter service restaurants that offer a variety of pescetarian, vegetarian, and vegan options. So whether you’re a pescetarian yourself or you ride The Seas with Nemo and Friends and think “them’s good eatins,” this pescetarian guide to Disney World is for you.

pescetarian Disney World

Columbia Harbor House has an extensive seafood menu. Photo by Maddi Higgins.

Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom’s counter service dining has vastly improved in recent years, and that improvement has included adding many pescetarian and vegetarian options.

Pescetarian Pick: When I mentioned to my fellow Cast Members that I was working on this article, Columbia Harbor House was the first restaurant mentioned by every single person. Options range from the classic fried fish and French fries to grilled salmon with couscous and broccoli. The fried selections are essentially the same as you’ll find anywhere else on property, but the Anchors Aweigh and Lighthouse sandwiches are unique selections It’s also home to my favorite kid’s meal: tuna salad sandwich on goldfish-shaped bread for only $5.99. While seafood and veggie-lovers have a great variety to choose from, pickings are relatively slim for classic carnivores. I’m also happy to see that TouringPlans.com users agree with unfailing support of the restaurant, with 93% of users giving Columbia Harbor House a positive review.

Honorable Mentions: If you can manage to get in the restaurant, Be Our Guest’s tuna Nicoise salad is yummy and you can’t beat the atmosphere. I never thought I would ever say this in my life about a restaurant in Fantasyland, but Pinocchio Village Haus actually has pretty good flatbread pizza. However, there is no reason not to walk to Columbia Harbor House no matter where you are in Magic Kingdom, considering how superior the selection is to anywhere else.

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