Thursday, April 20, 2023

Favorite Quick Serve Restaurants in Disney World


As I've said before, food is a major part of your Walt Disney World vacation.  Food tastes run the gamut, and Disney has something for everyone.  We spend a lot of time thinking about the table service restaurants on our trip - in general, we do one table service and one quick service meal a day (the third meal usually being something from the groceries we order into our resort or something quick and easy to eat on the go for breakfast - gotta hit the parks early!)

The quick service restaurants on property aren't as interesting thematically or often as adventurous as the table service ones.  But there are more of them, and they serve an important function - getting some food into you before you continue your tiring day of walking and riding attractions.  So I thought I'd show some love today to five of my favorite quick serve restaurants on property.  I can't say these are the "best", as I haven't dined everywhere.  But in my opinion, there's something about each of these that's worthwhile.

For ease of use, I'm going to pick five restaurants, one from each park and one at a resort, and talk a little about the food and the atmosphere of each.  So without further ado:

5.  Backlot Express (Hollywood Studios)

There's not much fancy about this one.  I actually considered putting Docking Bay 7 here, as the food options are generally more interesting.  But there's something to be said for some good old fashioned American food.  You can get a good burger here, including one topped with pulled pork.  There's also a Cuban, a teriyaki chicken bowl and a southwest salad.  Decent variety for a quick serve place.

I also like this place because it has a good central location off of Commissary Lane, and is large and spacious (a theme you'll see repeated here).  There are good indoor and outdoor areas to dine.  It's designed to look like a production warehouse, with many movie props sprinkled throughout, so there's something to look at while eating or waiting for your meal.  As I said, this is just a solid option in a park that doesn't have a ton of great ones.

4. Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe (Magic Kingdom)

Another huge location, it can still get pretty crowded in there.  One of the nice things about this place though is that it basically connects to Tortuga Tavern in Adventureland, a location that isn't often open so you can use that seating area as an overflow from Pecos Bill and have a quieter experience.  

Pecos Bill is located in Frontierland and as such, has a largely southwestern theme in the food.  They have tacos, nachos, fajitas, etc, along with the usual burger selection.  Prices are reasonable and there's enough variety to make it interesting.  Magic Kingdom's quick serve game is not the best, but this is a kind of no frills place that is a good stopover in the middle of a busy day in the park.

3. Captain Cook's (Polynesian Village Resort)

This is the only entry on here that's not in the parks, but it is extremely easy to get here.  Most resorts have a quick serve location and that's the function Captain Cook's serves here at the Polynesian.  Is it "better" than most of these others?  I'd say they're comparable, though the fare here tends to skew towards the theme of the resort (I'm partial to the Aloha pork sandwich, personally).  

As mentioned, the Magic Kingdom quick serve options are not the best, and the Polynesian is just a quick monorail stop away.  I wouldn't necessarily go out of my way to eat here (not like I would for a table service location such as 'Ohana or Steakhouse 71) but it's nice to get away from the fray of Magic Kingdom and enjoy the Poly while you eat here.  You can eat at a table outside and overlook the pool (and Seven Seas Lagoon) as you gaze back at the Cinderella castle.  As an added bonus, you can stop into Pineapple Lanai for a Dole Whip before you move on with your day - it's sure to be less crowded than Aloha Isle at Magic Kingdom).

2. La Cantina de San Angel (Epcot)

The best thing about this restaurant is the location - it overlooks World Showcase Lagoon in Epcot, providing some of the best views as you sit and eat.  It can tend to get crowded, and your opinion of the place largely depends on whether you like Mexican food, as that's pretty much all you get here.  But if these aren't an issue, this is a good spot to be.

There are a variety of tacos, plus empanadas, nachos and an arroz con pollo bowl.  In terms of cuisine, this is certainly better and more authentic than similar fare at Pecos Bill.  Epcot is a park with a large variety of dining locations, but there's a lot to like here and makes for a good stopping point as you head into (or out of) World Showcase during a hot, busy day.

1. Satu'li Canteen (Animal Kingdom)

This is far and away my favorite quick serve restaurant on property, and stands up to many of the table service restaurants.  It's located in Pandora in Animal Kingdom, and blends right in.  There are a plentiful number of seats, both inside and outside.  The place is large and well kept and is a must do for us when we're at the park.

The food is unlike anything you can find elsewhere in Disney.  It largely consists of bowls that you can customize by changing the base and sauce.  I usually lean towards the combination beef and chicken bowl, but you can't go wrong with any of them (there are also shrimp and tuna options).  It's a unique place to eat that feels like you're actually on another planet.  The theming and cuisine are both top notch for quick service.  I hope Disney considers this place when planning future themed dining locations because it is both exotic and approachable for all guests.  

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