When people think of theme park food, they often think of the traditional burgers, fries, hot dogs and pizza that you grab from some fast food stand and eat on the run between rides. Not so at Disney World my friend! While you can find these traditional items, Disney World is well-known as a top dining destination that offers everything from traditional theme park food to 5-star restaurants to unique dining experiences that you’ll be hard-pressed to find elsewhere. In fact, Disney World has several delicious and highly unique restaurants that will make you want to go to Disney just to try them!
Here are the top 10 exotic restaurants at Disney World that you must try! Reservations are highly recommended for all of these restaurants due to their popularity.
10. The Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen:
The Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen is one of Disney’s newest restaurants and is located in the Adventureland area of Magic Kingdom, adjacent to the Jungle Cruise ride. This restaurant is a departure from the other more traditional Magic Kingdom restaurants, as it features African, Asian and Latin dishes in a uniquely themed “outpost” for adventurers on the Amazon River. Guests will be immersed in the story of the Jungle Cruise in this moderately-priced restaurant and it’s a great place to cool down and take a break.
9. Bongos Cuban Café:
Bongos is a Cuban restaurant owned by Latin music giants, Gloria and Emilio Estefan. It’s located at Disney Springs and is designed to recreate a 1950’s Havana nightclub. Bongos serves authentic Cuban food amid colorful surroundings, with live Latin music and other nightly entertainment. There’s dancing and of course a conga line! Dinner here is an experience and you’ll want to stay and enjoy the atmosphere. If you’re dining with little ones who may be bothered by the lively music, it’s better to go for lunch. The lunch menu offers much of the same food, but in a quieter atmosphere. It’s the perfect place to start off a night at Disney Springs!
8. The Boathouse:
The Boathouse is part of the new Disney Springs expansion at Downtown Disney and is another one of Disney World’s newest restaurants. The Boathouse is located in the new Landing area and offers upscale waterfront dining, featuring premier steak and seafood. While the menu is attractive, what makes this restaurant particularly interesting are the additional experiences that are available as part of its unique waterfront setting. Guests can take a cruise aboard a water taxi or the19th century steamboat Lady Rose, or even take a ride in one of several vintage Amphicars, which drive right into the water, for a 20-minute tour of Disney Springs! There are other festivities throughout the day at the Boathouse Harbor including flag and bugle ceremonies and a nautical-themed store. The Boathouse also has a more casual outdoor dining menu as well as 3 different bars. Guests will want to linger here and take in the atmosphere before or after dining.
7. The Coral Reef Restaurant:
The Coral Reef is located in the Living Seas exhibit at Epcot and features moderately priced seafood and other dishes like steak and chicken. There is a panoramic wall of windows that allow every table to have a view straight into a living coral reef. This is the largest inland saltwater environment ever built and contains over 4,000 sea creatures, including 85 different species of fish! Guests can watch sharks, sting rays, fish and sea turtles swim by while they dine and may even see a scuba diver! This is a great place for little ones who normally can’t sit still. They’re entertained the whole time! It’s not possible to reserve a table beside the window in advance, but guests can request one at check-in.
6. San Angel Inn:
The San Angel Inn is a Mexican restaurant located inside the Mexican pavilion at Epcot. It is modeled after a 17th century hacienda at the base of the Mayan ruins, which are visible in the distance. You must actually walk through the pavilion to get to the restaurant, which helps to set the scene. The restaurant looks out over a moving river where guests can watch the boats from the Gran Fiesta ride quietly cruise by. It’s always twilight and there’s a patio area adjacent to a marketplace, as well as indoor seating. Traditional music plays in the background and it’s cool and quiet and a great break from the parks on a hot day. You’re completely immersed in this atmosphere and it doesn’t take long before you feel that you’ve really been transported elsewhere. Traditional Mexican food is served at moderate prices. You’ll certainly leave here feeling refreshed!
5. Restaurant Marrakesh:
Restaurant Marrakesh is a moderately-priced Moroccan restaurant located in the Moroccan pavilion at Epcot. It serves traditional Moroccan dishes like shish kebab, couscous and roast lamb. The children’s menu serves more traditional children’s favorites as well. The restaurant is set in a luxurious sultan’s palace and guests will be entertained by a belly dancer performing to traditional music. To get to the restaurant, guests must walk through the Moroccan pavilion which helps to create the sense that you are truly in Morocco.
4. Jiko – The Cooking Place:
Jiko is a fine-dining restaurant located at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, which features African, Indian and Mediterranean cuisine. Much of the food is grilled in the wood-burning ovens and the aroma will have your mouth-watering right away. The light is designed to change subtly throughout the meal to mimic an African sunset and the food is fragrant and delicious. There’s a traditional children’s menu available as well, so families with little ones who only eat three foods shouldn’t worry! Although Animal Kingdom Lodge is a little out of the way if you’re planning to have a quick meal and hit the parks, it’s well worth spending an evening there enjoying its restaurants and the unique features of the Lodge. Guests can spend the remainder of the evening taking in the views of the more than 30 different species of African wildlife roaming the lodge’s savannas.
3. Spirit of Aloha Dinner:
The Spirit of Aloha Dinner is a Polynesian luau which features a family-style tropical feast of pulled pork, barbeque ribs, roasted chicken, vegetables and island-flavored salads and breads, all while enjoying a dinner show which includes hula dancing, traditional music and a fire-eater. Families are invited up on the stage if they would like to join in. This dinner show is quite pricey at over $60 per adult, but it’s a unique experience if Hawaii is not in your travel plans anytime soon! This dinner event takes place at Luau Cove at the Polynesian Village Resort and is an outdoor event.
Sanaa is another spectacular restaurant located at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, featuring Indian and African specialties. It’s not just another Jiko by any means though! It’s set in a traditional marketplace and offers more casual food at more moderate prices. This doesn’t mean that the flavor is sacrificed, however! The food here is excellent, but the most exciting thing about Sanaa has to be the wall of windows that overlook the savanna. Animals stroll by and graze right in front of you as you dine! There’s also an opportunity to dine with an animal specialist at Sanaa. Guests enjoy a 4-course lunch while learning about animal care and conservation at Animal Kingdom from one of the animal specialists. This is a special experience, however, that must be booked in advance.
‘OHana is one of Disney’s long-standing most popular restaurants and a reservation is an absolute must here! ‘Ohana is a Hawaiian restaurant located at the Polynesian Village Resort, directly across the Seven Seas Lagoon from Cinderella’s Castle. With a little planning, guests can time their dinner so that they can watch the fireworks at Magic Kingdom, while sipping tropical drinks from a coconut. This can be quite a magical experience! Dinner is served family-style with platters of dumplings, vegetables, lo mein noodles and salad served at the table, while servers periodically arrive with freshly grilled meats and shrimp on giant skewers. Hawaiian music plays in the background and there are coconut races and a parade for the children. Since it’s located on the monorail, you can easily get to either Epcot or Magic Kingdom after dinner. Check out “7 Things We Love About ‘Ohana.”
These are some of the best exotic meals at Disney World because they offer some of the best food, combined with an actual experience that really takes you away to another time or place. Though Disney does more traditional food extremely well too, these restaurants all offer unique opportunities that you most likely won’t find elsewhere. Give them a try on your next trip, but definitely make your reservations, because everyone else wants to try them too!
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