I haven’t had much motivation to blog since the coronavirus pandemic spread to America because it just feels wrong to be inspiring travel when we are unsure of when we will be able to get out again. But I think we need a little hope that one day we will be back at Disney World again, or wherever else in the world we want to go, or even just at our favorite restaurants near home.
Just before all of this began, I had the most wonderful trip to Disney World with my sister and two of her friends. We had done a family trip to Disney three years ago before we moved to Germany, and I was shocked by how much had changed as far as dining since the last time. Either that, or I was just a lot more invested in it this time around, thanks to the foodstagram life.
It was a lot of fun traveling with friends who were just as excited to eat and drink as I was, and over our five days in all four parks and Disney Springs, we tasted a ton…to the point where I didn’t want to check my bill at the end. They make it so easy to pay for things with your Magic Band, which is linked to your credit card, that sometimes you forget how much you’re spending. But I have no regrets! The food and drink were what really made the trip extra special, because honestly, the parks were super crowded with long wait times for rides. So whenever we needed something to do when we didn’t feel like standing in line, we ate or drank!
I was so impressed with the variety of options available at the quick service restaurants, as in restaurants where you order at a counter rather than having someone wait on you. I was expecting burgers and hot dogs and French fries, and instead I got to try burrito bowls, tacos, macaroni and cheese, and loaded tater tots. We only ate at two sit-down restaurants the whole time because almost all of them require reservations, and the best ones were booked up months in advance. It worked out well, though, only eating at fast food because it was cheap, quick and we could eat whenever we wanted.
I could also see how Disney is trying to cater more toward adults. There are no open container rules within the parks, and with the exception of Magic Kingdom, all parks offered to-go alcoholic beverages from quick service restaurants, and most had a variety of beer, wine and cocktails.
I never thought I would even be discussing the Disney dining scene this much, but as it has always been a magical wonderland for families, it’s now also the happiest place on Earth for foodies. As four people, we ordered a ton of different things and shared bites and sips, so I came up with this list of my favorite things I ate and drank during our trip.
Gnocchi sea gnocchi do and Ger’s bread and butter pudding – Raglan Road
I feel like we had the full Irish experience at this restaurant. We were seated just in time to see the step-dancing performance set to the tune of live Irish folk music. There was a huge selection of beers, and I particularly liked that they had a flight of four different Irish beers. I had this sea scallops and gnocchi with white wine butter sauce for dinner, which not only tasted amazing, but I know for a fact is authentic because I ate the same thing last year in Dublin! The meal would not have been complete without the warm bread and butter pudding for dessert. All in all, it was a fantastic dinner, and while it wasn’t my first choice of restaurants in Disney Springs, I was glad they had a reservation open for us so we could experience it.
Mo’ara Margarita and Pongu lumpia – Pongu Pongu
Need a break after standing in line for a few hours for the new Avatar rides? Head to Pongu Pongu for a frozen cocktail! While I had the margarita and loved it, the Rum Blossom was equally delicious, so you really can’t go wrong with either. Kids can even indulge in a non-alcoholic frozen drink called a Night Blossom. And I highly recommend the lumpia as a snack with your drink; it’s a Filipino pineapple-cream-cheese-filled pastry!
Baked Macaroni and Cheese with pulled pork – Flame Tree Barbecue
Mac and cheese is my favorite food, so I had to have it when I saw it on the menu at Flame Tree Barbecue and that it was topped with pulled pork, cole slaw, onion rings, and barbecue sauce. I admit this isn’t as unique as a lot of the food choices at Animal Kingdom, but it was super satisfying and sometimes, that’s just what you need.
Cinnamon with Caramelized Apple and Crumble Crunch Ice Cream – L’Artisan des Glaces, France pavilion
This was the best ice cream I’ve ever had in my life. Considering my favorite dessert is a warm apple crumble with vanilla ice cream, I shouldn’t be surprised, but this flavor had all the components mashed into one and that’s what made it really spectacular. The base is a cinnamon ice cream that had apples mixed in, and the best part: the crunchy bits of buttery crumble scattered throughout.
Citron Slush – Les Vins des Chefs de France, France pavilion
I grew up loving frozen lemonades in the summer, and this is basically the adult version! I can’t say I’m particularly fond of vodka anymore, but the Grey Goose in this drink is not overpowering; you can barely taste it! So you get all the freshness of the lemon flavor that is perfectly balanced with the alcohol.
La Cava Avocado Margarita – La Cava del Tequila, Mexico pavilion
If you’re adventurous enough to go beyond the typical margarita, La Cava del Tequila will WOW you. With ingredients like habaneros, cucumber, and cinnamon, these drinks are far from ordinary. I went specifically for the avocado margarita. The avocado gave the frozen cocktail a nice creamy texture, while the melon liquer brought a fruitiness that is refreshing on a hot Florida day. I’m also a big fan of a salty rim, and the hibiscus salt used on this one was a unique finishing touch.
Tacos de Pescado – La Cantina de San Angel, Mexico pavilion
With its margaritas and delicious food, I think Mexico was my favorite country in the World Showcase. I loved the flavors in the fish tacos because it came with a yummy corn and black bean slaw. After eating them for dinner our first night in Epcot, it was so tempting to order them again on our second night, but I ended up eating the tacos al pastor from Choza de Margarita across the way, and they were too spicy for me.
School Bread – Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe, Norway pavilion
This is the closest I’ve gotten to a true Norwegian style pastry outside of Norway. Scandinavian pastries are actually my favorite, because I love the sweet dense dough, whereas French pastries, for example, tend to be flaky. The ones I’m familiar with are in a spiral roll shape, but perhaps the bakeries did have this traditional school bread and I overlooked them because of the coconut, which I’m not usually a fan of. Anyway, I tried just a bite of this one, and despite the coconut, I loved how the dough instantly took me back to eating these pastries on my travels.
Mediterranean Lamb Wrap – Tangierine Café, Morocco pavilion
First of all, after going to Tangier, the pun in this cafe name really makes me happy. Second, the Mediterranean lamb wrap made me just as happy. It was a full meal for $14.95, served with tabouleh, couscous salad, and a side of tzatziki. Mediterranean flavors are my favorite, and there is something super satisfying about a pita wrap to me. I suppose it’s a better version of a sandwich with a bunch of flavors wrapped into one.
Traditional Poutine – Refreshment Port, World showcase entrance
I can see Canadians questioning the authenticity of this poutine, but it is poutine nevertheless and I soaked up every last bit of that beef gravy. The fries were perfectly crispy and the cheese curds were GINORMOUS! That’s all I can really ask for in a poutine.
S’more French Toast sandwich – Woody’s lunch box
We went to Woody’s Lunch Box in Toy Story Land specifically for their homemade poptarts. I loved the flavor of mine (chocolate hazelnut with maple bacon), but I wasn’t the biggest fan of the dough. The s’more French toast sandwich, however, was a pleasant surprise. It was served grilled and warm with a marshmallow and chocolate ganache filling. The bread was dipped in graham cracker crumbs for a nice crunch. Great concept and great execution.
Pomegranate Margarita – The Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge
As you can probably tell, I tried quite a few margaritas on this trip, and the pomegranate one from the Brown Derby Lounge was my favorite! The fruitiness of the pomegranate was unbelievably refreshing on a hot day, and it was perfectly balanced with the alcohol—not too strong like some of the other margaritas I had! I was really impressed with the variety on the cocktail list here, and while it looks like a ritzy bar, the prices are comparable to other places, and they still offer cocktails to-go.
Dad’s Stuffed Pork Chop – 50’s Prime Time Cafe
We had a wonderful experience at the 50’s Prime Time Cafe. The theme made me feel like I was on the set of an I Love Lucy episode, and the servers can even yell at you if you have your elbows on the table! My pork chop was a huge portion stuffed with cheese and apples and served with roasted potatoes. I certainly got my money’s worth here! Plus I loved their margarita.
Sweet and Spicy Chicken Waffle Sandwich – Sleepy Hollow
If you’re looking to switch up your typical boring breakfast, this is the place to do it. The sweet and spicy sauce on the fried chicken had amazing flavor, and it was sitting on a slaw to cool things down. They also offer a fruit and Nutella waffle if you’re looking for something on the sweeter side.
Loaded Buffalo Chicken Tots – The Friar’s Nook
This was yet another winning concept. I was shocked to see how inventive some of the dishes were at the fast service restaurants, like these tater tots smothered with buffalo chicken, blue cheese, and chopped celery. It had a little bit of everything I wanted packed into one filling, tasty dish.
Raspberry-Pineapple Swirl Dole Whip – Aloha Isle
I’ve heard so much hype about Disney’s Dole Whip, and I wasn’t convinced I would like it because I’m not a huge pineapple fan. But hey, #DoItForTheInsta. Well not only was this pink and yellow swirl insta-worthy, it was also fresh and fruity with just the right amount of sweet. Now I can see why these are popular, especially with how hot it gets in Orlando. And apparently Disney just released the recipe for making it at home? I can’t wait to try it!