I love good food. The meals are definitely a highlight for me no matter what sort of trip I’m planning – Disney or otherwise. So when it comes to making restaurant reservations, I take that very seriously. But the truth is, Disney World is a theme park with tons to do. And as much as I love enjoying a good meal, I also want to ride rides, meet characters, and see fireworks and parades. So I don’t want to spend all of my time in restaurants.
The good news is that Disney has some really excellent counter service restaurants to visit that will take up a lot less time in your day but still offer some delicious cuisine. There are plenty of places you can go that offer the typical chicken fingers, burgers, or pizza, but I like something a little different. And I’m happy to say that Disney has stepped it up lately with their offerings at counter service restaurants. Here are my top places to visit when I need a quick bite to eat at Disney World.
Harambe Market – Animal Kingdom
If you’ve read any of my food reviews or my top 10 table service restaurant list, it should come as no surprise to you that I love the flavors of Animal Kingdom and Animal Kingdom Lodge. The African/Indian/Asian spices and cuisine offered at these places really win me over. So when Animal Kingdom added Harambe Market, I was thrilled to have a quick service place to get some of these flavors. There are some good options here and the seating area is nice and well themed. I love the curry sausage corn dog myself, and I like the option of having some of the African Coca-Cola products here too.
Columbia Harbour House – Magic Kingdom
I’m not sure which I like more – the atmosphere or the food here. Columbia Harbour House has a focus on seafood, which is my personal favorite type of food. If you just want a quick fish and chips (or fried shrimp) they do that well here, but they also have a fantastic lobster roll. But aside from the food, it’s a really great place to sit down. The nautical feel of the place is fun, but it’s also really large, which means it’s usually not difficult to find a seat even if it’s crowded. There’s an upstairs seating area which gives even more room and looks down on the Magic Kingdom.
Landscape of Flavors – Art of Animation
My favorite counter service restaurant of any resort I’ve been to definitely has to be the Landscape of Flavors at the Art of Animation resort. Most of the value and moderate resorts seem to just have your typical foods like burgers and chicken. And while the deluxe resorts might have more interesting things, they don’t have nearly as many options. But Landscape of Flavors offers both interesting choices and a wide variety. I particularly love the section where you can get a meal with naan bread, and the surf and surf burger. And the gelato they have for dessert is pretty delicious too.
Satuli Canteen – Animal Kingdom
The newest counter service restaurant at Disney is the Satuli Canteen, in the Pandora: the World of Avatar area. The options here are more interesting than your typical burgers and chicken fingers, but still delicious and even potentially healthier. You can customize a “bowl” or go for their pods, and each option is very tasty. With so many different combinations you can make with the bowls, it’s easier to get something different every time.
La Cantina de San Angel – Epcot
One of the things I love about La Cantina is the location – there’s a lovely outdoor seating area right on the lake. And during lunch time they also open up La Hacienda for more seating. I don’t eat a ton of meals here but I like stopping by for a snack. They have great nachos and churros here.
Capt. Cook’s – Polynesian Resort
I don’t get to spend as much time at the Poly as I would like to (maybe someday I’ll actually get to stay there!). But I have eaten at Capt. Cook’s on a couple of occasions. It’s a good spot to grab a meal while waiting to get into Trader Sam’s. And they have unique and delicious offerings here, with Polynesian flair. The pulled pork nachos are my favorite, but I also really enjoyed the Thai Coconut Meatballs.
The Daily Poutine – Disney Springs
This might not be considered a counter service location as it’s really more of a “snack” stand than a full meal place, but the portions are really large and could easily count as a meal so I’m going to include it here. This is probably my favorite place to eat in Disney Springs. I absolutely love french fries, I’m such a sucker for them, and piling them with other deliciousness just makes it even better. My favorite is the Latin Poutine, which has Fried Yucca, Black Beans, Pulled Pork, and Queso Fresco.
The Mara – Animal Kingdom Lodge
The counter service location at Animal Kingdom Lodge is a great balance of having more traditional offerings, like a bacon cheeseburger and caesar salad, with more unique offerings. I’ve enjoyed some of the different flatbreads here, and my husband really liked the African stew. And while I haven’t tried the falafel burger yet, it sounds great. They also have a wide variety of tasty baked goods, including the popular zebra domes.
Sunshine Seasons – Epcot
Sunshine Seasons has something for everyone, with 4 different areas of cuisine – the Asian noodle shop (my personal favorite),the grill shop, the sandwich shop, and the soups and salads shop. Plus they have some good desserts, including the tasty strawberry shortcake.
Sunshine Tree Terrace – Magic Kingdom
Okay, so this isn’t really a counter service restaurant in the sense that you could get a meal here. But they serve one food item that pretty much has to make my list because it’s my favorite thing ever. Sunshine Tree Terrace is where you will find the citrus swirl, the most delicious combination of sweet, creamy vanilla ice cream and icy, tart orange. You can read all about my love affair with the citrus swirl here. It may not be a “meal” but you could have it for breakfast. Or lunch. Or dinner. Or as a snack. I mean, I’ve done all of those things.
What’s your favorite spot in Disney to grab a counter service meal?