There are blogs all over the place that go through how to budget at Disney World, how to cut costs, cut corners, and maximize your time at the parks. This article is the TOTAL opposite. Why? Because sometimes you want to enjoy and savor a truly elegant meal. Oftentimes we head to DisneyWorld for a birthday, anniversary, or holiday (this year it was our son’s birthday, my husband’s birthday, our wedding anniversary, and my best friend’s birthday during our trips) so its nice to splurge and indulge from time to time. Below you’ll find my top five picks for the best splurge meals at Disney World. Prepare for a culinary experience of gastronomical delights with any of these five spots.
5. Flying Fish
A seafood restaurant has to be pretty good to please even my picky-eating, non-fish eater husband. A recent date night to Flying Fish was the perfect introduction to the restaurant and earned it a spot on this list. Specializing in premium sustainable seafood and prime steaks on the Boardwalk, Flying Fish is a delicious addition to the fine dining scene at Walt Disney World. The Wagyu Filet Mignon pleased the meat-eater, but the scallops, sea bass, and salmon pleased the rest of us who are more “woke” to the joys of seafood. The “Panna Carpa” was a delightful dessert that pulled me out of my chocolate comfort zone.
4. Morimoto Asia
Pan Asian cuisine from Iron Chef Morimoto is a recipe for success at Disney Springs. I will start with full disclosure that I think their pork bao buns are one of the most delicious things I’ve ever had. The kids meals are great (the Orange Chicken is so great, as is the Bao Wow – a hot dog in a bao bun with cucumber and tonkatsu sauce) and the origami papers are both fun and frustrating as every parent attempts to follow the instructions to make the crane (and usually fail). For adults, the sushi, sashimi, dim sum, and meats are exceptional. The cocktails are always incredibly fun and beautifully executed.
3. Jiko – The Cooking Place
Located at Animal Kingdom Lodge, the vibrant spices of Africa transport you out of Orlando and to a truly exceptional culinary experience. You’ll explore a wide range of flavors, taste profiles, and truly exceptional execution at Jiko. This is one of the few restaurants that I’ve been to that truly specializes in South African wines, so it’s a great opportunity to learn more and expand your horizons beyond your traditional old and new world wines. I find myself looking up things while I’m there and love that it isn’t your stereotypical upscale restaurant. My favorites: the Wild Boar Tenderloin appetizer, the Taste of Africa dips and breads, and the Moroccan Lamb Shank.
2. California Grill
A perennial favorite for us, this is one of my favorite spots at Walt Disney World. It has one of the best views available from its vantage point at the top of the Contemporary Resort and an incredible menu. The wine list is exhaustive and extraordinary. I’ve never had a bad meal here – not even a mediocre menu item. We’ve sampled fish dishes, sushi, flatbreads, appetizers, game, and beef and everything is perfection and exemplifies the variety in California cooking. Their oak-grilled filet mignon is one of the husband’s favorites (and he’s a connoisseur of filet mignon). From the cheese board (which is always perfect and one of the best on Disney property) to the desserts (mmm warm Valrhona chocolate cake), teas, and coffees at the end of the meal, you will not be disappointed with this meal.
- Victoria and Albert’s
The gold standard of fine dining, this is the best meal in central Florida. I’ve eaten in both the dining room and at the chef’s table and there is truly nothing better. It’s not a meal, it’s an experience. Our last chef’s table meal lasted nearly 5 hours. Overkill? You bet. An experience of a lifetime? For sure. Meals and wine pairings are true perfection and they make allowances for food preferences, so even my non-fish eating husband was able to partake in every course. Come with no preconceived notions, an open mind, and total trust in the intense skill of the fine chefs at V&A’s.
Dining lists can be contentious, so which restaurant did I miss? Who would you add to the list? Are there any I mentioned that you would exclude? Let me know in the comments below.