Walt Disney World has made a lot of adjustments over the last year to be able to operate under COVID restrictions. That has mean smaller capacity, wearing masks, changing lines to create social distancing. And while we are seeing some of those changes being adjusted, masks are still required to be worn inside unless eating. The restrictions have also changed the way the buffet restaurants operate. They have switched to an all-you-care-to-eat style, the difference is explained here. The restaurants that typically have characters have also adjusted to create a safe distance. With all of this in mind, we’ve created a list of the restaurants that are your best choices for this year based on the adjustments made. There are still several restaurants that are still closed but will hopefully in the near future. The restaurants have been grouped together by park, there’s a brief description of the restaurant as well as the reason it is on this list.
Other than a masked server and less tables, this restaurant will be the same as though you were visiting any other time. Giving you the same experience even though you are visiting at the end of a pandemic.
This restaurant is found in the Adventureland area of the Magic Kingdom. The theming pulls from the Jungle Cruise attraction that is also found in this area of the park. The restaurant is filled with relics from the many excursions the Jungle Cruise has taken. The food is Asian influenced with a lot of spicy flavours filling up the menu. There’s Thai Noodles, Curried Vegetable Stew, Siu Pork. I highly recommend the Kungaloosh for dessert, it’s a chocolate cake with caramelized bananas and cashew caramel ice cream. For a full review of the restaurant click here.
Liberty Tree Tavern. Liberty Square.
This is an all-you-care-to-enjoy restaurant, but it has always been so, which means the tables were designed to hold large platters of food. There will be lots of room for your plates and the bountiful skillets.
Liberty Tree Tavern is a restaurant located in Liberty Square. This restaurant serves an all-you-care-to-enjoy style meal. This means guests pay a flat rate to receive of an assortment of food brought to their table by the plenty. Liberty Tree Tavern’s cuisine is American Thanksgiving. The meal includes pot roast, turkey, pork, potatoes, seasonal vegetables. Guests pay a flat fee for the meal that also comes with a salad and the crowd pleasing Oooey Gooey Toffee Cake.
Everything is the same at this restaurant, other than less guests. It may be tricky to grab a reservation here because it is a small spot so there won’t be many reservations to be had.
The Plaza Restaurant is located in the shadows of Cinderella’s Castle. Guests can enjoy their meal and stare in awe of the beautiful castle. The menu is American favourites: meatloaf, fried chicken sandwich, and a club sandwich. Be sure to indulge in on of their delicious milkshakes. The Plaza Restaurant is actually the cheapest restaurant, table service that is, located at the Magic Kingdom. Which means you’ll walk away with more money in your pocket. For a full review of the restaurant click here.
Tony’s Town Square Restaurant is a very low key restaurant with minimal interaction with the serving staff and the guests. Which means you won’t be missing out on any added element by visiting during this time.
I’ve eaten at this restaurant so many times I don’t think I could even count them all. It was a family favourite growing up because of the nods to Lady and Tramp and the easy Italian menu. Tony’s is located at the entrance into the Magic Kingdom, at the very top of Main Street U.S.A. It’s menu is filled with delicious pasta dishes, and they have a vast wine selection. It’s still one of my favourites because of all this and the beautiful patio they have out front that gives you the chance to people watch while enjoying your meal. Get a full review of the restaurant here.
Chef de France. France Pavilion.
The only restaurant open right now in the France pavilion is Chef de France. There will certainly be less guests than normal in this typically tight quartered restaurant, but that won’t change the experience of dining here.
This French restaurant is found in the French Pavilion and is modelled after a bustling french restaurant. With tables close together and windows covering the perimeter, you’ll feel like you’re in Paris. You’ll be served by a server straight from France, and the menu is also all in French so you may need a translation to find the dish you’re looking for. The Appetizer menu is as large as the entree menu. With a French Onion soup, a lobster bisque, charcuterie board, cheese board and escargot, you may just want to load up on appetizers and finish off with dessert. They do offer a prix fix menu if you want to have an appetizer, entree and dessert.
Coral Reef Restaurant. The Seas.
This is a great choice to dine at this year. The main drawing point of this restaurant is the larger than life tanks that line the large wall of the restaurant. Which means, the main reason for dining here is still the same. The only modification will be cast members wearing masks and less guests.
This sit down restaurant is found in The Sea area of Epcot. The restaurant has a huge aquarium in it, giving guests plenty to look at while they’re waiting for their food. Ask for a table by the aquarium to get a great view of the multitude of sea life. As you’d expect there’s a large selection of fish on the menu and a couple of meat entrees as well. This restaurant isn’t too popular, so it’s great if you’ve made a last minute vacation plan or decide day of that you would like to have a sit down meal at dinner.
This is the only character restaurant I recommend for this year. Garden Grill is always an all-you-care-to-enjoy restaurant that brings your food to the table. So the experience is very much the same as it always has been. The characters will maintain their distance, not hugging guests or giving autographs, but the remainder stays the same.
One of the most popular restaurants in Epcot, this restaurant hosts a character buffet/family style meal. You’ll meet Chip n Dale and Mickey Mouse here. You’ll be served a bountiful platter with pot roast, turkey, pork, salad, veggies, mac and cheese. You can eat your fill, they’ll keep bringing you back more until you say you’ve had enough. The restaurant slowly rotates giving you a view of the greenhouse found in the Land pavilion.
La Hacienda de San Angel. Mexico Pavilion.
The big draw of this restaurant is the beautiful view of the Lagoon in the centre of World Showcase. No restrictions during a pandemic can change that. So the main reason for eating here still remains.
THE place to watch nighttime entertainment at Epcot, La Hacienda de San Angel sits on the lagoon where the fireworks take place. If you have a table by the windows you’ll have an uninhibited view of the fireworks. This restaurant is only open at night, making it harder to grab a reservation for. Here you can dine on tacos and enchiladas but they also have a New York Strip, Shrimp stuffed peppers and braised short rib. Or you can choose to share a meal for 2.
One of the Signature restaurants still open during the COVID restrictions. So if you’re looking to have a high end meal, this is one of your only choices. The token of this restaurant are its steaks, so you’ll still get to enjoy the best parts of this restaurant.
One of our favourite places to dine at on property, Le Cellier is a signature restaurant that is found in the Canadian Pavilion. Guests will start off with a variety of breads, each highlighting the cuisine of the different areas of Canada. As you’d expect the steaks are the highlight of the menu but there are also scallops, salmon and ratatouille on the menu. It’s a dark restaurant, made to look like a Cellar. Even with an advanced reservation you can be waiting a while as this is a meal that you want to sit and relax and enjoy. Grab one of those last reservations and enjoy a very quiet Epcot after your meal as you’re exiting the park.
San Angel Inn Restorante. Mexico Pavilion.
Many guests choose to dine at this restaurant because it’s found in the pavilion’s large temple. It’s a fun outdoor festival feel while being indoors. This has not changed.
San Angel Inn is found inside the Mexican pavilion building. While dining here it’s like you’re dining at night by lanterns that light up the sky. You can watch people shop in the market place and watch the boats drive by. Guests can choose from a huge menu of tacos, chile, pescado, and large salads. It is a very dark restaurant, but a great choice if your family loves Mexican food. The setting in this venue is fantastic, we love spending time in here, especially during a hot day.
Tutto Italia Ristorante. Italy Pavilion.
The food here is amazing. House made pasta, you’ll want to skip your lunch to have lots of room for this meal. This is one of the few restaurants that has an outdoor patio, so if you want to be outdoors to keep yourself even safer while dining at Epcot then this is the obvious choice.
This beautiful Italian restaurant serves dinner from 4:30pm until 9:30pm. Here you’ll find house made pasta, some Italian entree specialities including salmon, rib-eye steak and veal. This is a great choice for families because pasta is a staple for many kids. The adults can also enjoy some lovely glasses of wine along with their meal. This spot does not serve pizza, you’ll have to go to the neighbouring Via Napoli for that. This is another restaurant, similar to Nine Dragons in China, their lunch menu is different from their supper menu. So read the menu carefully before you make your final choice as to where you’ll be dining during your day at Epcot.
Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria. Italy Pavilion.
This restaurant has no special elements to it, so the COVID restrictions have minimal effect on this restaurant.
THE place to grab pizza at Epcot. Made just the way you’d find it in Italy. This is a great place to dine if you’re paying out of pocket because you can order pizza for the whole group to share, as long as you can settle on one. They also offer pasta, lamb chops, steak and chicken breast. So if you have someone who doesn’t LOVE pizza then they’ll have a good choice as well. It’s a loud atmosphere with lots of space for big groups.
Hollywood Brown Derby. Hollywood Blvd.
Hollywood Brown Derby is the Signature restaurant at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It’s modelled after the Brown Derby found in California. The main focus of this restaurant is it’s fantastic menu, which of course doesn’t change due to the current restrictions.
This Signature restaurant is open from 3:30pm-8:30pm for dinner. This is one of our favourite restaurants on property. We dined here on our honeymoon and then again to celebrate purchasing our DVC membership. With impeccable service and memorable meals, Hollywood Brown Derby is based on the restaurant of the same name found in Hollywood. There are many pictures adorning the walls of famous actors and actresses. Be sure to try the Cobb salad, reservations are recommended and they require 2 table service meal credits for this meal. Hollywood Brown Derby is found at the end of Hollywood Blvd.
Mama Melrose’s has lots of tables and large seating areas, so the amount of guests allowed through the doors may be less but there will still be plenty of reservations to go around.
Your place to grab pasta at Hollywood Studios. Found right across from Muppets 3D. Be sure to grab a reservation are there are so few place to sit down and eat at Hollywood Studios. For a full review of the restaurant click here.
Rainforest Cafe. Animal Kingdom Entrance.
The Rainforest Cafe is always a fun spot to grab a meal. It’s a great choice to visit during COVID because all of the elements that make this restaurant unique stay the same. Creating a great environment for a family to dine in even during these altered times.
This sit down restaurant is located at the entrance of Animal Kingdom which means you need to head out to the front of the park to dine here. You’ll find all your favourite rainforest cafe items here including their one of a kind atmosphere creating a memorable dining experience for you and your family. With their huge menu and large restaurant, it’s a great spot for large groups.
Tiffins Restaurant. Discovery Island.
Tiffins Restaurant is the Signature Restaurant found at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The main draw of this restaurant is its high quality food and service. Which of course remains the same right now.
Found in Discovery Island, Tiffins Restaurant is the Signature Restaurant at the Animal Kingdom. This menu is globally inspired, with dishes from India, Africa and Asia. The restaurant is known for its incredible design as well as its wine list. Guests can dine here for dinner between 4pm-9pm.
This is one of our favourite places to eat at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. We love the location and we love the food. It’s a big restaurant, with two floors. So there are plenty of reservations to go around and there is plenty of space to physical distance.
We love this restaurant. Found directly across from the bridge taking guests from Asia to Discovery Island, Yak & Yeti is a two floor restaurant that offers Asian inspired dishes. They open for dinner at 4pm and serve until 9:00pm. They have a large menu, similar to the size of Rainforest Cafe, but the location is so much better because it’s in the middle of the park. You can grab lunch here after riding Kali River Rapids and before heading to the Kilimanjaro Safari. For a full review of the restaurant click the heading.
California Grill. Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
One of Disney World’s most sought after reservations is still open. California Grill’s big appeal is the Signature menu and the view. California Grill is located on the top of Disney’s Contemporary Resort, giving guests a beautiful view of the other Monorail Resorts and the Magic Kingdom. The view and the menu are still the same, which means your experience here will be similar to a normal experience.
Located at the top of the Contemporary Resort you need to check in at a podium located on the third floor. You will then take a separate elevator to this restaurant. This restaurant offers a spectacular view of the Castle. It is an open concept. Leaving very little privacy. It’s bright and welcoming, not what you’d expect from the “best” restaurant at Walt Disney World. If you have never seen the castle from this perspective then it is breath taking. This is what you’re paying for with your meal. The view. The meal is not impressive enough for the cost. The Brown Derby in Hollywood Studios and the Cellier in Epcot outshine this restaurant. Many say this is a must do but I would skip it.
Grand Floridian Cafe. Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort.
A true hidden gem, Grand Floridian Cafe is a table service restaurant located on the main floor of Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Many of Grand Floridian’s restaurant are currently closed, which means this is one of guests only options for dining here. The room is large, giving guests lots of space to spread out and still enjoy the beautiful view of the grounds.
Find this table-service restaurant on the main floor of the Grand Floridian. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, you can find a superb meal here any time of the day and very often with a last minute or no reservation. It has the lowest cost for a meal out of your choices of table-service restaurants at this resort, making it a great choice for those paying out of pocket. We ate here for a late supper on our honeymoon and I enjoyed a mushroom soup that was delectable, we returned on our Tower of Terror trip for breakfast and I had the Lobster Benedict which I still think of to this day. They’re open for breakfast from 7:30am until 11:00am, lunch from 11:05am-2:00pm and dinner from 5:00pm until 9:00pm. You can find this restaurant in the main building on your direct right upon entering the building from the courtyard. If you are coming from the front desk area make your way to the back of the building passing the Sandy Cove Gift and Sundry Shop on your left.
Kona Cafe. Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.
This open concept restaurant is found on the 2nd floor of the Polynesian Resort in the Magic Kingdom Resort area. There are fewer tables and cast members are masked, but the remainder stays the same.
Kona Cafe is open for each meal of the day and serves American favourites as well as Polynesian inspired dishes. Be sure to choose the Tonga Toast is you are dining here for breakfast, it’s a major crowd pleaser. The menu is very reasonably priced with something for everyone. Sushi, burgers, mahi and noodle bowls. It’s truly a hidden gem, as many guests don’t venture over here unless they are staying at the resort. For a full review click here.
Narcossee’s. Grand Floridian Resort.
This beautiful Signature restaurant is one of two restaurants opened at the Grand Floridian right now. The menu is the same, the service is the same, you can count on having a very similar experience here as you would any other time you would visit.
This Signature Dining restaurant doesn’t appear all that impressive in its decor but that’s because the focus is on the windows and the view you can see through them. Across the lagoon is the entrance to the Magic Kingdom. You can watch the boats glide by as they go pick people up at the different boat launches, and you can even watch the fireworks if you are dining when the show begins. This restaurant specializes in seafood, although there are a few options for the meat lover in your party. It also has a variety of choices for dessert with their very own Narcoosee’s Candy Bar. You can dine here 7 days a week from 5pm-9:30. Being a part of the signature dining category it does require guests to wear business casual dress. Find this restaurant on the northern end of the resort, on your right immediately before you walk onto the boat launch.
A favourite of many DVC members, Olivia’s Cafe offers dining indoors as well as outdoors. They already have ample space for the guests that typically dine here, which means there will be lots of reservations to be had here.
Olivia’s is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The restaurant is extremely casual and offers booth seats, outdoor and indoor seating. You can accommodate large and small groups here. On our most recent vacation we ate here and the restaurant was full of large groups. The food is seafood heavy, with a couple meat options for the meat lovers. I strongly recommend going here for breakfast, the breakfast cocktails are delicious and the choices are unlike any of the other restaurants found on property. Crab Cake Eggs Benedict anyone? For a full review of the restaurant click here.
Sanaa is open as a quick-service restaurant in the morning and as a table service restaurant for lunch and dinner. The main draw of Sanaa is the animal viewing. The restaurant is lined with large windows, giving diners a beautiful view of the animals that call Animal Kingdom Lodge their home. This of course stays the same whether it’s COVID or not. So dining here during the pandemic restrictions won’t be very different from any other time.
This Indian cuisine restaurant has a Savanna view. Explore this impressive menu of lamb and duck. This restaurant has a different menu for lunch and for dinner. The lunch menu is more focused on sandwiches and the dinner menu is more of a full plated meal. Come here intending to enjoy the unique flavours available at this restaurant that you won’t find many other places on Walt Disney World property. If you are paying out of pocket this is a great choice for a restaurant because it is not too expensive but you will experience a higher end feel because of the seclusion of the restaurant. Head to the main lobby and then follow the signs to the floor below. For the dining plan this restaurant requires 1 table service credit. If you are planning a last minute vacation you can usually get a reservation here a month before your date. We dined here last August and we LOVED it. It made my top 5 meals from that trip.
For a full review of the restaurant click here.
Trattoria al Forno has made some adjustments due to the pandemic. Normally the restaurant is open for a character breakfast, as well as Italian dining in the evening. Because of restrictions, they are not open for a character breakfast at this time. They are serving a breakfast that simply doesn’t include characters. The reason I still include this restaurant on my list, even with the changes, is because the food here is amazing. The prices are very reasonable and the venue is stellar. You feel like you’re dining at a Signature restaurant without the added price. You’ll find yourself being pampered by the knowledgeable servers and treated by the delicious dishes. For a full review of the restaurant click here.
24 restaurants. That’s how many we’ve listed. That will more than fill your roster for your Disney World vacation. For more information on planning a trip to Walt Disney World, check out these previous posts: