Disney’s Off-the-Beaten-Path Restaurants

As you probably already know, we love to talk about dining at Disney. Planning your advanced dining reservations is a big part of the fun and excitement when planning a Disney trip. Meals are attractions in and of themselves.  But lately, it’s been a little harder to get those popular, highly coveted dining reservations. Well, fear not. We think there are other dining options out there that may be worth your time and tummy space. So we’ve chosen four of Disney’s off-the-beaten-path restaurants and one lounge at WDW to sample and review for you. As always, you are welcome.

Disney's Off-the-Beaten-Path MousekeCocktail

Animal Kingdom

Snow Leopard Nomad Lounge

Our first off-the-beaten path stop is, characteristically, a lounge.  We’ve chosen a cocktail from Nomad Lounge, the bar and lounge located just of off of Tiffin’s restaurant in Animal Kingdom. Nomad serves light bites for adults, and FULL entrees for kids. We love this! Kids can have a good lunch while adults relax, snack, and take in the atmosphere. 

We sat out on the covered patio in soft, low chairs and enjoyed the bread service and the churros, but the stars here were the cocktails.

Juliana loved the Tempting Tigress – Russell’s Reserve 10yr Bourbon, St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram, Tamarind Syrup, and Lime Juice.

And Jen enjoyed the Snow Leopard Salvation – Snow Leopard Vodka, Belle de Brillet Pear Liqueur, Mint, and Lime Juice topped with Ginger Beer.

There’s no shortage of cocktails, beet and wine here, including an amber ale brewed just for Animal Kingdom.

They do not take reservations, but will take your name and offer you a call back on your cell when a table is available.

Off-the-Beaten-Path MousekeDining

Let’s take a look at one of Disney’s Off-the-Beaten-Path Restaurants in the three other parks, Disney Springs, and a surprising resort choice.

Magic Kingdom

Three restaurants in MK seem to take top billing among park-goers: Cinderella’s Royal Table, Be Our Guest, and Crystal Palace. These three fit the bill of  iconic Magic Kingdom dining experiences with classic characters and immersive locations.  But for a great mid-day lunch that’s far friendlier on your budget, consider Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen in Adventureland. This restaurant has a great backstory  themed to the Jungle Cruise. When it opened about 6 years ago, there wasn’t much fanfare and demand, and despite the recent resurgence of the ride’s popularity thanks to the movie,  it’s still usually pretty easy to get a reservation.

It’s tucked away in Adventureland, and if you didn’t know it was there, you might miss it. Once inside, you won’t know where to look first. Fans of Disney lore will love all the artifacts references to the Jungle Cruise attraction, famous imagineers, and the mysterious Society of Adventurers and Explorers.

Food here is Afrian/Asian/Latin inspired,  but don’t let that intimidate the less adventurous. There’s something for everyone. We really liked the Cachapas to start –House-made Corn Pancakes, Beer-braised Pork, Roasted Corn, Fresno Pepper Salsa, and Avocado Cream. The signature dish, “Tastes like Chicken” because it is! – Crispy-fried Chicken with Sweet Chili Glaze, Stir-fried Vegetables, and Seasoned Rice – delivered as promised. And the Perkin’s Thai Noodles were just like your favorite Pad Thai.

Though Skipper Canteen does take reservations, we were able to get on off the walk up list on one of the busiest Magic Kingdom days this year. Be sure to check that Genie app!

Epcot

With so many tasty options at Epcot, we often recommend skipping a table service meal here, especially during a festival. BUT, if you are looking to not eat from a paper tray while hovering over a garbage can, consider spoiling yourself at one of Disney’s off-the-beaten-path restaurants offering fine dining at Le Cellier.

This signature steak house at Epcot’s Canada Pavilion offers guests arguably the best steaks in all of Walt Disney World. But we didn’t bother with all of that. We gorged ourselves on Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup and the Le Cellier Beef Bourguignon Poutine. Once you have this poutine, all other poutines will be ruined for you. And does hot cheese soup sound crazy on a hot Orlando day? Not here. Once inside you will be transported to a rustic Canadian lodge where you’ll want to warm by the fire and never leave.

Hollywood Studios

Grapefruit cake hollywood brown derby

Hollywood Brown Derby isn’t really one of Disney’s off-the-beaten path restaurants, as it sits right on Hollywood Boulevard. But it takes a bak seat to 50s Prime Time and Sci-Fi Dine-In. 

This homage to the original restaurant of old Hollywood’s heyday perfectly reflects everything I love about Hollywood Studios itself. Inside you’ll see caricatures of Hollywood’s elite, including some original pieces from the 1920s restaurant.

While the decor transports you to a more glamorous era, some of us MousekeMoms argue that the enchantment stops there. While some of us loved the signature Cobb Salad or Grapefruit Cake Martini, others of us didn’t enjoy them at all. There was even disagreement about the grapefruit cake itself (my favorite thing, by the way)!

In short, we all agree you have to try it once. In our opinions, Hollywood Studios dining options are sub-par to beging with. But this one is iconic and it’s worth a try at least once. Decide for yourselves. 

Disney Springs

Now that we’ve covered one of Disney’s off-the-beaten-path restaurants in each of the parks, let’s move out attention to Disney Springs.

There are so many choices at Disney Springs, and we love to dine there. Today we are going to shout out to Wine Bar George.  This one is a little easier to get into compared with the heavy hitters: Paddlefish, Raglan Road, Homecomin’ (secret got out on that one, you are welcome Art Smith).

On a recent trip, we walked up and were seated on of George’s many wine bars in the restaurant. We each enjoyed glasses of wine from and extensive list and tasted three of the small plates: Grilled Octopus Salad, Iberico Pork Pluma, and House-Made Meatballs. Let’s just say all platess were practically licked clean.

Resort

In the humble opinions of the MousekeMoms, some of the best dining experiences in all. of Walt Disney World can be found at the resort hotels. One of our favorites just happens to be way off the beaten path and just may surprise you.

Of all hidden gems discussed here,  Toledo – Tapas, Steak & Seafood  shines brightest atop Coronado Spring’s Grand Destino Tower. Like the tower itself, the restaurant’s decor takes it’s inspiration from Spanish surrealist art and  the 1930’s avant-garde. And given Walt Disney’s well-known friendship with Spanish artist Salvador Dali, this relatively newer resort restaurant feels like it was dreamed up by Walt himself.

Bring your friends and your appetites to sample delicious tapas and steaks. Stand-outs for us were the Charred Octopus Salad and the Marinated Hangar Steak. Next time I’ll be sure to bring friends with appetites large enough to try the Bone-In Ribeye for Two, some tapas, and maybe a Sangriatini.

The food here truly shines above any other restaurant found in a moderate Disney resort. You’ll also love the ‘wow’ factor of the views from the rooftop of Grand Destino. And if you time it right, you may catch Epcot’s Harmonious fireworks right form your table. 

MousekeTip

As much as we love resort dining, we think Disney Springs offers some fantastic Table Service options. Literally dozens of restaurants line the pathways, and some have become incredibly popular making reservations scarce. Here’s a pro-tip. Many Disney Springs restaurants, as independent entities, have reservation booking systems that are separate from Disney. If you can’t find what you are looking or via My Disney Experience, check Open Table or call the restaurant directly.

Skipper Canteen

What about you? Did we miss one of Disney’s off-the-beaten-path restaurants that you would recommend? We’d love to know which so we can try it out too. Comment below!

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The MousekeMoms, Lori, Jennifer and Juliana, are experienced Disney moms who dole out valuable, honest, no holds barred information on their weekly podcast to help you plan your Disneyland, Walt Disney World or Disney Cruise Line vacation.

After all, Disney moms know best! And they are the best at planning your Disney vacations as the proud agents and owners of Kingdom and Cruise Travel- where vacation wishes come true.

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