The Walt Disney World Resort offers some truly spectacular dining options. All restaurants are classified as either “table service” or “counter service”. A “counter service” restaurant is Disney’s version of fast food, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the standard burger and fries. Here are a few tips for finding the best counter service restaurants Walt Disney World has to offer!
1. Pick your location
All Disney theme parks, resort hotels, and the Disney Springs area (formerly known as Downtown Disney) offer counter service dining options. You need to make some decisions about where you’d like to eat before narrowing down a specific dining location. Keep in mind that if you want to eat at a counter service restaurant inside a theme park, you have to have valid park admission. You can’t just enter the park to eat and not expect to use a day on your park passes. Plan your meals around where you plan to be. If you aren’t planning on touring a park on a particular day, choose a restaurant in a resort hotel or Disney Springs. Check out “8 Best Counter Service Restaurants in Epcot’s World Showcase.”
2.Pick your cuisine
Disney offers virtually every type of possible cuisine at counter service locations. But not every type of food Is available at every restaurant. Disney’s counter service locations are themed much like their table service locations, and the food will be themed accordingly. Sometimes the location of a counter service restaurant can be a good indication of the type of food served. For example, The Mara, located at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, serves African-inspired cuisine. Animal Kingdom Lodge has an African Animal motif throughout, so the food is consistent with the location theme. Similarly, any counter service location in the World Showcase at Epcot will serve cuisine appropriate to the country where it is located. We’ve compiled the following list of counter service locations based on the type of food they serve:
- The Mara (Animal Kingdom Lodge)
- Tamu Tamu Refreshments (Animal Kingdom)
- Katsura Grill (Epcot World Showcase)
- Lotus Blossom Café (Epcot World Showcase)
- Kabuki Café’ (Epcot World Showcase)
- Yak & Yeti Local Foods Cafe (Animal Kingdom)
- Yorkshire County Fish Shop (Epcot World Showcase)
- Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory (Port Orleans – French Quarter)
- Bongo’s Cuban Café Express (Disney Springs)
- Be Our Guest for LUNCH (Magic Kingdom)
- Les Halles Boulangierie-Patisserie (Epcot World Showcase)
- Sommerfest (Epcot World Showcase)
- Cookes of Dublin (Disney Springs)
- Tangierine Café’
- La Cantina de San Angel (Epcot World Showcase)
- Pepper Market (Coronado Springs)
- Tortuga Tavern (Magic Kingdom)
- Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe (Epcot World Showcase)
- Capt Cook’s (Polynesian Village)
- Columbia Harbor House (Magic Kingdom)
3. Follow the crowds
Some counter service locations are more crowded than others. And the popular locations are popular for a reason. The following list represents the some of the most popular counter service restaurants in Walt Disney World and a sampling of the delicious menu choices.
Columbia Harbour House – This location in the Magic Kingdom is well known for its traditional New England fare, including lobster rolls, fried shrimp, and clam chowder. Dinner offerings include a seafood mac and cheese dish with lobster and shrimp.
Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe – A long-standing Magic Kingdom favorite, this restaurant offers entrees that are big enough to share. They’re well known for their half chicken and ribs combo plate for $16. Other dishes include a barbecue pork sandwich, a bacon angus cheeseburger, and a veggie sandwich.
Be Our Guest Restaurant – As the newest restaurant in Magic Kingdom, Be Our Guest has been an extremely popular location for its quick service lunch offering. The menu is “mildly” french inspired, including items like tuna Niçoise salad, croque monsieur, and coq au vin style braised pork.
The Mara – This restaurant is located within the Animal Kingdom Lodge Jambo House resort hotel. Their African inspired fare is popular with resort guests for a reason. They offer delectable flatbread pizzas, African stews, and falafel pita. If these seem a little too adventurous, fear not. There are also hand-carved turkey and ham sandwiches.
Capt. Cook’s – Located at Polynesian Village, Capt Cook’s offers the elusive “Dole Whip”. If that isn’t reason enough to visit, you may want to try the pulled pork nachos or the hot beef and cheddar sandwich.
Pepper Market – Coronado Springs Resort offers this little quick service gem. Popular Mexican inspired menu items include enchiladas, empanadas, and tacos.
Flame Tree BBQ – St Louis style ribs, smoked turkey breast sandwich, and pulled pork are all offered at this very popular Animal Kingdom location.
Sunshine Seasons – Some visitors to The Land Pavilion in Epcot aren’t even aware of this delicious location on the lowest level. Entrees here are true meals consisting of a main protein dish with sides. A few offerings include oak-grilled rotisserie chicken with black beans and yellow rice, oak-grilled salmon with green beans and roasted potatoes, and spicy Thai green curry shrimp with jasmine rice to name a few.
Contempo Café – Flatbread pizzas, sandwiches and salads are the bulk of the offerings at this Contemporary Resort location. Try the spice-crusted mahi sandwich or the steakhouse salad.
Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe – Although the items on this Epcot World Showcase location’s menu are technically considered “snacks”, there are some offerings that would easily satisfy a lunch appetite. The ham and apple sandwich or the Norwegian club are both delicious. But the real reason to stop by here is the sweet treats. Don’t leave here without sampling the “School Bread”, a traditional Norwegian delight.
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