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Old 01-20-2013, 10:01 PM   #1
Earning My Ears
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Question Good meals- based on taste not DDP or characters

Need suggesstions- Been very frustrating trying to find realistic reviews in regards to food quality. Lots of stuff out there on where to get most bang for your buck on the DDP- but in the very same review, they tell you the food isnt really good at several of the places they just reccomended!! Most of the other reviews seemed to base reccomendations on "kid appeal". Chuck e cheese has kid appeal, but I dont want to eat dinner there while on vacation. I do have 2 toddlers tho, so I know I can't take them to a super fancy place, even if it is Disney. And I realize this is a very subjective topic. My travel agent was reccomending some place in Disney and she kept saying "wonderful, just wonderful". When asked what restaurant it compared to at home, she said Applebees. I dont think I am a food snob, and I have eaten at applebees, but I would never describe it as "wonderful, just wonderful". So I am looking for restaurant suggestions (sit down and QS) that are based on yummy food, better than applebees, but not as fancy as Mortons or Ruth Chris. Many thanks!
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Old 01-20-2013, 10:21 PM   #2
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My favorite meals were LTT, Yak amd Yeti and Mama Melrose. Kids meals are pretty standard at Disney places IMHO. At LTT (lunch) I had a wonderful salmon salad (was a daily special), Mama Melrose I had the mushroom flatbread (yummy if you like mushrooms) and a salad (also very good), Yak and Yeti I had Beef and Broccoli (good but could find it at many places outside of Disney). Loved the drink Yak Attack. My son had the steak and shrimp plate- looked very good and he loved it.

Really we liked all the places we ate ate, except for 1900 Park Fare. Was willing to pay for the characters but that was poor quality too (too loud, brief time with them- I missed seeing my daugher with Cinderella, and food was just OK).
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Old 01-20-2013, 10:52 PM   #3
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Breakfast at Kona Cafe is truly superb. Best coffee on property, too.
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Old 01-20-2013, 11:09 PM   #4
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Any of the signature restaurants (Citricos, Narcoossee's, Flying Fish, Jiko, Le Cellier, Monsieur Paul, Hollywood Brown Derby, Yachtsman Steakhouse) would fit the bill nicely. It's going to be pricey, but the food quality will be better than Applebee's, definitely.

Heading down the price scale, Sanaa at AKL-Kidani Village, Tusker House in the Animal Kingdom, Kouzzina on the Boardwalk, Via Napoli in the Italy Pavilion in Epcot, and Chefs de France in the France Pavilion in Epcot put out some very good food, and although Tusker House does have characters at Breakfast and Lunch, the food stands on its own.

For QS restaurants, Columbia Harbor House and Be Our Guest in MK do a very good job, as do Sunshine Seasons and Tangierine Café in Epcot, and Flame Tree BBQ in AK. I like Fairfax Fare in DHS, although many do not like any of the DHS offerings. Also, Earl of Sandwich and Wolfgang Puck Express at DTD are both good QS options.
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Old 01-20-2013, 11:13 PM   #5
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Kona, Olivia's, Boma, Jiko, Sanaa (if you like it), Artist's Point, Cali Grill, Citricos, Flying Fish (hit or miss sometimes), Pucks (all the time), Brown Derby, Chefs De France, both restaurants in Italy, rose and crown (if you like it), marrakesh (if you like it), biergarten (if you like it), Coral Reef (hit or miss), Garden Grill (really the only character menu that is good quality..some of the breakfasts are ok)...

most of the "disney" oriented places are not very good...chef mickeys and cinderellas on the top of that list

other highly overpriced/overrated are le cellier, narcoosees, yachtsman's, most of the places in Studios and Magic Kingdom...

If you want a no-BS assessment of food quality - it has declined and many of the places sling variations on the same tired buffet or "chicken, steak, salmon" sitdown menus...sadly
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Old 01-21-2013, 12:58 AM   #6
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(I have never eaten at Applebees, so I can't compare and contrast that for you, nor have I eaten at Ruth's Chris or Morton's, for reasons that will become incredibly obvious in a moment...)

Well, we're vegetarian, so that's the sort of item we order at any given restaurant. (you can look at menus here on wdwinfo.com or over on allears.net, by the way...sometimes there is a delay in updating a suddenly-changed menu, but they are as updated as they can be!)

We are looking forward to our dinner at Sanaa, lunch at Brown Derby (their coconut tofu noodle bowl is scrumptious), lunch at Tusker House (mmmmm), and tea at the Garden View at Grand Floridian. Those are tried and true for us with table service.

We do also love Kona for breakfast, but just don't have room for it in this trip. We have a few new places planned, and I hope I like them, but I don't know. hope hope hope!

As for counter/quick service, we ADORE Sunshine Seasons in Epcot as well as Columbia Harbor House in Magic Kingdom.

Everything else I can think of, I either can't remember my feelings about it, or it was for treats, LOL. Beignets at Sassagoula at Port Orleans French Quarter, School Bread, Cloudberry Horn, and Berry Cream Puff at Kringla Bakeri og Cafe in Norway at Epcot....definite MUST dos for us.

Oh wait, we really enjoyed the breakfast at Hollywood and Vine as well as Crystal Palace, but that's because we found the really decadent stuff there. And the cheese grits at H&V.

We're trying Cinderella's Royal Table (only time we'll likely eat in the castle!) and Ohana for breakfast on this trip (DH loves Stitch and wants to dine with him)...I doubt if the food itself will be worth it (with all the Kringla goodies we want to eat we probably shouldn't indulge in breakfast-y decadence!), but those are more for experience than the actual food.
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Old 01-21-2013, 01:11 AM   #7
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I often wonder If the Disney food is actually good or if it's people getting caught up in Disney magic. Would you actually eat at these places if they were in your hometown?
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Old 01-21-2013, 10:06 AM   #8
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In or out of Disney I prefer to avoid buffet meals because the quality is generally lacking and there's often a bit of an ick factor with kids (or ill-mannered adults) around a buffet--even at Disney. We have one buffet breakfast during our upcoming trip, and we'll be there at opening, hopefully it will be okay.

Some of our other meals I am anticipating because I've heard good things about the quality: Yachtsman's Steakhouse, Kouzzina breakfast, Kona Cafe. The other meals are mostly about the atmosphere, with hopes that the food quality is decent (or at least okay): Sci-Fi Dine In Theatre, Ohana, Inn at San Angel and Coral Reef. Even if the food is rotten we'll remember these meals for the experience!
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Old 01-21-2013, 10:16 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by rizzo0904 View Post
I often wonder If the Disney food is actually good or if it's people getting caught up in Disney magic. Would you actually eat at these places if they were in your hometown?
Good question--one I've been thinking about. I've decided I probably would eat at most of the restaurants, but I would expect some of them to be cheaper considering the quality of the product. The only reason I found some of the pricing acceptable was because I expect a pretty big markup when vacationing in a resort situation.

OTOH, I had a couple of meals that I would have been happy to pay more than what I did, regardless of location. Jiko comes to mind.

There are definitely quality meals to be had, but yes, too often I feel like a lot of the positive reviews I see amount to basically, "wow, it didn't suck!"

Better-than-Applebee's quality meals we had on our recent trip: Jiko (so much we ate there twice), Sanaa, Boma (dinner; I was not wowed by breakfast), and (surprisingly to me) Akershus. I'd even put the fish and chips in the UK pavilion in this category.

Everything else was pretty much Applebees (or if you are familiar with Perkins, I'd compare to that as well, especially in terms of breakfasts) quality, which is not necessarily a bad thing, as long as you realize that it comes with a significant markup that does not reflect an increase in quality of the meal. That sounds bad. What I mean is, if you are eating a TS meal in most establishments, expect it to cost about 1.5x to 2x what you would pay for the same food at Applebee's. Do not expect the meal to be 1.5x to 2x better than what you would get at Applebee's. It's still going to taste like Applebee's for the most part.

Not bad, but we all know we wouldn't pay those prices if we weren't a captive audience. What it boils down to for me is convenience--my time is worth more than my money when I'm on vacation. Yeah, I may have paid a crazy price for that early morning character buffet. But I also probably saved 45 minutes that I don't have to spend waiting in line for characters later. And let's face it, the food is just fine, it's hot, and most importantly, I didn't have to cook it. Because of that, I don't mind paying the price.

OP, FWIW, we took our six year old with us to Jiko twice. There were several other children in the restaurant dining with parents as well. All were very well behaved, and the restaurant had enough ambient noise that they were still able to chat, color, etc. without having to be constantly 'shushed' by parents. Other posters can probably talk about other signature dining establishments, but from what I've heard, except for V&A, you really don't need to rule out signature dining just because you have young kids.
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Old 01-21-2013, 10:16 AM   #10
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Unfortunately cost and quality don't always go hand in hand at venues like Disney, Universal etc. Here's some of our favorites!

Resort restaurants: OKW, Olivia's, SSR, The Turf CLub, BWV, Kouzinna, BLT, The Wave, AKV, Sanaa & Boma (the only buffet we still do), Yacht Club, Yachtman's Steak House, Dolphin, Bluezoo, Swan, Il Mulino on them ore pricy side!

Theme Park Restaurants:

Epcot: France, Lunch only, Les Chefs, or QS the Boulangerie/Patisserie (Now Les Halles), Morroco, Tangerine Cafe, Marrakesh, Canada, Le Cellier, Great Britain, The fish and chips shop, Norway, QS the Kringla Bakery Italy, Via Napoli

MK. Love the new BOG for dinner, LTT for lunch only,

DHS, Sci-Fi for lunch only, 50"s Prime Time, The Brown Derby,

DTD: Love Raglans, Wolfgang Puck Express, T-Rex, House of Blues

Sometimes we share entrees so that we can try appetizers etc., We've had delicious meals at all of these restaurants!
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Old 01-21-2013, 11:10 AM   #11
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Kona Cafe at the Poly: it is really good food.
Tusker House at AK: even though it is a buffet, again really good food.
LTT at MK: Lunch and dinner were both winners with my family.
Sept 2008- offsite, Sept 2010- Poly, Sept 2011- GF, Sept 2013-WL, Sept 2014- YC
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Old 01-21-2013, 12:05 PM   #12
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I wouldn't call us food snobs, but we do tend to plan our park days based on our ADRs

Most of the world showcase restaurants fit the bill of being actually good food in addition to having good atmosphere. I think a lot of people reviewing them aren't basing this on the more "authentic" flavors (in quotation marks because we are still in the US and there are some modifications made for the American palate). For instance - I've seen people pan the restaurants in the Italy pavilion - some even going so far as to say that it's "not as good" as Olive Garden.

I like San Angel - I grew up in southern NM eating food in the homes of many first generation Americans (the kids; the parents were born and raised in Mexico). I find the flavors to be fairly authentic but not quite as strong.

Via Napoli is fantastic.

I have only eaten at Nine Dragons once - it was good, but didn't make the list of "every trip."

I can't speak to Teppan Edo, but Tokyo Dining for me was a bust. The sushi was fine, but not spectacular (for that Kona has a sushi bar with a couple of rolls that really knocked my socks off!)

Les Chefs de France is very good and among our favorites (if nothing else the cheese platter is amazing!)

Rose & Crown is a favorite - mostly for the potato leek soup that I still dream about (doesn't everyone??)

At HS, we LOVE the food at Brown Derby. Seriously good.

MK doesn't have much that the food alone would draw us. I like the food at Tony's (it's not spectacular, but it is good) and CRT (again, same review as Tony's) but for both of those it's the atmosphere that really does it.

At AK - Yak & Yeti is good (though we had terrible service there) and the food at Tusker House is wonderful.

Outside of the parks:

Maya Grill is really good! LOVE it.
Only did breakfast at Ohana (couldn't get in to Kona) but LOVE the bread there. The rest of the meal was just "ok" but that bread...I'll go back for that alone.
Kona was always packed (we didn't make ADRs because we were staying there and figured if we were hungry maybe we'd get in...) but without an ADR, you can order anything off the Kona menu at the sushi bar just outside/in the lobby. We loved it so much that we actually saved snack credits for a sushi roll before bed most nights. If there was one here? I'd be there every couple of days. It's that good.
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Old 01-21-2013, 12:09 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by rizzo0904 View Post
I often wonder If the Disney food is actually good or if it's people getting caught up in Disney magic. Would you actually eat at these places if they were in your hometown?
For me, it completely depends on the restaurant. We have restaurants close to our town that are very similar to Biergarten and Teppan Edo and we eat there. If we had a restaurant like Sci-Fi or 50's Prime Time, I would definitely eat there. I would not eat at a place like The Plaza, though. Nothing special about it. So basically, it is much less about the food and much more about the atmosphere.

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Old 01-21-2013, 12:57 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by rizzo0904
I often wonder If the Disney food is actually good or if it's people getting caught up in Disney magic. Would you actually eat at these places if they were in your hometown?
We eat at Applebee's once every five years and always wonder why we even bothered!
If in our hometown, this is where we would eat:
Wolfgang Puck Express on a weekly basis
bluezoo for a special occasion
Jiko for a special occasion
Sanaa when the desire for curry or naan bread and dip arises
Kouzzina for breakfast
Turf Club for lamb chops because I've never attempted to cook lamb
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Old 01-21-2013, 01:09 PM   #15
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Yachtsman and Plaza were our favorites and we would eat at either if it was in our hometown.
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