Walt Disney World offers countless restaurants in its parks and resorts, and there is a restaurant for every kind of cuisine, theme, ambiance, and price range imaginable. Several of these eateries are extremely popular all year round. Favorite places like Be Our Guest Restaurant, ‘Ohana, Chef Mickey’s, The Crystal Palace, Cinderella’s Royal Table, T-REX, and Le Cellier Steakhouse, to name a few, hold a special place in guests’ hearts. Guests are all too familiar with the race to secure reservations up to six months in advance for the most popular restaurants. Why not take a break from the craziness and crowds of these headliners and try out some of the more underrated dining options. More reservation spots may be available for these places at a preferred time, the menus are just as tempting, and the magic still lives here too.
1. Olivia’s Café
Take a boat ride to Disney’s Old Key West Resort, right on the Sassagoula waterway, and check out Olivia’s Cafe. I love the beachy and laid-back atmosphere, lending a nice break from a busy day in the parks. The restaurant’s menu offers Key West specialties and home-style dishes. Guests can also enjoy their meal from the causal patio seating outside.
2. Kona Café
Hop on the monorail to Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, and instead of rushing to ‘Ohana, stop at the Kona Café instead. With a more subdued atmosphere than its next-door neighbor, this restaurant is a favorite of mine for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The menu offers Asian-inspired dishes and there is an on-stage sushi kitchen. Breakfast is a true delight with mouthwatering Tonga Toast and macadamia-pineapple pancakes, to name just a few menu items.
3. The Turf Club Bar and Grill
Tucked along the golf course at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa, the Turf Club and Grill is a hidden delight that often doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. The restaurant does a fantastic job with tasteful equestrian theming, giving homage to the heritage of horse racing. Windows treat guests to views of the lush golf course and Disney Springs. A sports lounge next to the restaurant offers cocktails, soft couches, TVs, and a pool table.
4. Restaurant Marrakesh
Always on my list of must-dos, Restaurant Marrakesh is often overlooked and unappreciated. Tucked away in the back of the Morocco pavilion in Epcot’s World Showcase, this restaurant is usually very easy to make a reservation at, or even take advantage of walk-up seating. The décor resembles an elaborate palace, complete with intricate Moroccan tile. The restaurant entertains guests with exotic belly dancers performing on a small dance floor. Feast on menu selections like couscous with chicken or lamb, meat rolls, and shish kebabs. Once you’ve discovered Restaurant Marrakesh, you’ll never pass this gem up again.
Most guest associate dining at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge with Boma and Jiko. Give Sanaa a chance in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas-Kidani Village, and prepare to be surprised. Guests can smell the mouth-watering aromas wafting out of the restaurant as you approach the stairs that lead down from the main lobby. Huge windows give guests the chance to enjoy the savannah’s resident animals during your meal, from huge turtles to graceful giraffes. The menu features slow-cooked African and Indian dishes, and a highlight is the Indian bread service.
6. La Cantina de San Angel
The Mexico pavilion offers two delicious table service options with La Hacienda de San Angel and the San Angel Inn Restaurante. Consider the outdoor counter service restaurant, La Cantina de San Angel, for a dining choice that is often underrated. The menu includes tasty favorites like soft tacos, churros, empanadas, and nacho specialties. Enjoy your meal in the covered outdoor pavilion overlooking the beautiful World Showcase Lagoon with one of many refreshing margarita choices or Mexican beer.
7. Yak &Yeti Local Food Cafes
Don’t assume that the Yak & Yeti Local Food Cafes is a typical counter service place. Located near the looming shadow of Expedition Everest in the Asia section of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, guests can enjoy the full flavors and dishes of the nearby Yak &Yeti restaurant, but with the convenience of a counter service eatery. A majority of the outdoor seating area is shaded, and it surrounds a lovely fountain.
8. Columbia Harbour House
The Magic Kingdom has a nice selection of counter service restaurants to choose from. An underrated favorite of mine is the Columbia Harbour House, located in Liberty Square. Grab a table on the cozy second floor for a quiet air-conditioned meal overlooking the picturesque Liberty Square. The nautical maps, model ships, and seafaring décor add to this eatery’s fantastic theming of a colonial New England inn. The Columbia Harbour House offers lighter options, such as sandwiches and salads, as well as chicken and fish platters.