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What are the best restaurants at Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando?

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Published: September 5, 2013 at 3:37 PM

Yesterday, we brought you Theme Park Insider readers' collective opinion on the worst restaurants at the Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando theme park resorts. Today, we look to the opposite end of the quality scale, and honor the restaurants you've selected to be among the Orlando theme parks' best.

Lombard's Seafood Grille
Readers' choice as the best theme park restaurant in Orlando

According to our Theme Park Insider reader ratings, here are the top table-service and counter-service restaurants in the Orlando-area theme parks. (10 votes minimum)

Best table-service restaurants

  1. Lombard's Seafood Grille, Universal Studios Florida
  2. The Hollywood Brown Derby, Disney's Hollywood Studios
  3. Mythos Restaurant, Universal's Islands of Adventure
  4. Finnegan's Bar and Grill, Universal Studios Florida
  5. Teppan Edo, Epcot

Best counter-service restaurants

  1. Be Our Guest*, Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom
  2. Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe, Epcot
  3. The Three Broomsticks, Universal's Islands of Adventure
  4. Krusty Burger, Universal Studios Florida
  5. Flame Tree Barbecue, Disney's Animal Kingdom

*We've got Be Our Guest listed as a counter service restaurant, since we've heard it serves more guests that way at lunch than as a table service restaurant at dinner, even though many readers are rating it on the basis of dinner. Either way, though, it's making these lists.

(Update: We also had Finnegan's on the counter service list by mistake, originally. That's corrected, which bumps Liberty Tree Tavern from the table-service top five, and promotes Flame Tree Barbecue to the counter-service list.)

If you've dined at any of these restaurants recently (past year or so), please follow those links above to submit your own rating, and a short review if you're a registered member of Theme Park Insider. (Member can submit reviews on any listed attraction, restaurant or hotel. You don't need to register to submit a rating, however.)

Of course, visitors to the Orlando theme parks have abundant options outside the parks, including many top-quality restaurants in the resorts' hotels and in the Downtown Disney and CityWalk marketplaces.

Our fans on Facebook recommended 'Ohana at Disney's Polynesian Resort, along with Victoria & Albert's at the Grand Floridian next door. In Downtown Disney, our Facebook fans liked Bongos, while Margaritaville and the NASCAR Cafe at CityWalk earned some shout-outs, too.

Over on Twitter, the California Grill atop Disney's Contemporary Resort earned the most mentions. That restaurant is reopening next Monday, September 9, with a new look and menu, and we'd love to hear some reviews from visitors. Just email us at themeparkinsider@gmail.com with pictures and descriptions!

Our Twitter followers also recommended 'Ohana and the Kona Cafe at the Polynesian, as well as Jiko, Boma, and Sanaa at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, Trails End at Fort Wilderness, and Kouzzina at Disney's Boardwalk.

Readers' Opinions

From N B on September 5, 2013 at 3:54 PM
The new Simpsons area food is pretty good all the way around, but Mythos always has something great on the menu as they change it all the time.

I know my wife always bought some sort of meal deal during our Disney trips, but the only place that sticks in my mind is Ohana. Great Mai Tai's and meats on sticks.....

From Rob McCullough on September 5, 2013 at 4:16 PM
I'm just thrilled to see how well the UO locations did on this. I have felt for years that while WDW gets tons of attention for its F&B, UO has offered constiantly high quality food that is fairly priced and served in well themed venues by well trained and friendly staff. Kudos Chef Jason and staff.
From Cory R on September 5, 2013 at 4:45 PM
From a food standpoint alone, Le Cellier has my favorite food of the Orlando theme parks. Thematically, nothing beats Be Our Guest for me. If we expand to restaurants at resorts, Artists Point at Wilderness Lodge is one of my all time favorites.
From Melanie Howe on September 5, 2013 at 5:01 PM
Huh.... I'm thrilled that Lombard's topped the list (and that Mythos & Finnegan's made the top 5), but I'm a bit surprised. I've never had a bad experience there -- and last year's experience viewing Universal's anniversary cinema-spectacular thingy on the lagoon from their deck was wonderful -- but I'd never noticed it getting that much love from TPI readers. Guess I missed something. Regardless -- way to go, Universal!!
From Rachelle Beaney on September 5, 2013 at 5:18 PM
I know that the three broomsticks is incredibly well themed - and perhaps it's improved since we were there in 2011 but I found the food to be absolutely awful and was really surprised to see it on this list! Perhaps people rate it so high because of the ambiance :) Good list though - eat at a number of these places in Nov so I can rate them after that :)
From James Trexen on September 5, 2013 at 5:41 PM
I usually try and eat light when I go to parks, but of all the places I have had full meals, I enjoyed Via Napoli at Epcot. According to some relatives I went with, all of the ingredients are straight from Italy, which is a plus in my book. Likewise, I've always enjoyed Louie's at Universal for counter service. What can I say, I'm a pizza guy.

*slightly related* I'm really glad Universal has a real winner on their hands with the new Simpsons restaurant. As a 90's kid, I grew up watching the series and look forward to eating there when I head back next. It sounds like it might even surpass Louie's on my list.

From 202.140.108.87 on September 5, 2013 at 5:47 PM
Maybe Lombard's and Hollywood Brown Derby have improved in quality the last two years. I would have said they were the two worst value for money places, over priced for sub-standard food. Next time I visit I might try them again.
From Rob Pastor on September 5, 2013 at 7:28 PM
That's a good list from my experience. I've eaten at 7 of those on the list. The nice thing about Universal's full service restaurants on this list, is the food is very good and the prices are much more reasonable than at WDW full service restaurants, and at Universal you don't really need to reserve more than a day ahead, if that.
From Anthony Murphy on September 5, 2013 at 8:57 PM
I feel that this is really Universal skewed. Mythos, yes. The rest? Eh

Also all the bad places are Disney? Come on man....,

From David Brown on September 6, 2013 at 12:37 AM
Looking at those ratings I have to say from my experience they seem to have very little to do with the actual food and the comparative quality. I've eaten at both Mythos and Lombards, (more than once), and whilst both are on our 'must do' list if at Universal neither of them produces food that even approximates to the quality of, say, Jiko, Narcoosees, Artist Point, California Grill... To be honest I've eaten better at many of Disney's mid-range restaurants. Mythos is certainly better than many out there but I refuse to rate something as 'better' because it's cheaper or easier to get a reservation. For me it's about the food and the atmosphere.

For what it's worth Artist Point delivered the single best meal I've ever eaten in Orlando, and to be honest one of the best meals I've ever eaten anywhere, period.

From Kelly Muggleton on September 6, 2013 at 3:08 AM
Last time I went to Finnegans the floor was filthy, my food was forgotten so my party had theirs without me and when it arrived was covered in grease. Never again.
This is such a subjective area though, I know.
From 82.132.218.244 on September 6, 2013 at 5:34 AM
I must echo Rachelle Beaney's sentiment. The WWoHP is stunning and the theming of the Thee Broomsticks is great... The food is abysmal.

Where is Sunshine Seasons?

From Mark Hollamon on September 6, 2013 at 6:03 AM
Now I don't know what to do! I always feel that those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it and two of the 5 top table service restaurants are ones I would not think of trying again.

First the good (actually great): Mythos! By far it is my favorite theme park restaurant in the history of theme parks! The food is outstanding, the service is great and the ambiance is quite good as well.

The Hollywood Brown Derby is also quite good, however, several years ago they changed the recipe for their signature dessert, the grapefruit cake and to me it has never been as good.

I know it is everybody's personal opinion, but from the unremarkable experience we received from both Lombards and Finnegan's I have no idea how they made the list. I can think of at least a half dozen sit down eateries on property that are better.

I am also stunned that the readers would recommend the NASCAR Cafe, because without a doubt it is one of if not the worst sit down restaurant of any theme park in Orlando. The food and service was terrible before they remodeled the place a few years back and my wife and I decided to try it again after it reopened and it was the same (exact same) poor quality food and the service was similarly poor.

In my opinion outside of Mythos, one cannot go wrong eating at the Biergarten or Le Cellier for either lunch or dinner at Epcot and La Hacienda de San Angel at Epcot for dinner only. Excellent food and atmosphere.

These are what I call the "normal" restaurants. Obviously if your taste buds want more excitement and your wallet can support that, Victoria and Alberts, the California Grille, and Todd English's bluezoo are all top notch choices!

One restaurant i was surprised didn't make the "I'll Pass" list was the Cape May Cafe in the Disney's Beach Club Resort. We dined with friends and my takeaway from the experience was it was a slightly dressed up version of Angel's Seafood Buffet on 192. MEH is an understatement!

From Robert Niles on September 6, 2013 at 8:33 AM
Sunshine Seasons? You've got to be kidding.

IMO, that's the worst counter-service restaurant in Orlando. Inedible trash.

I was surprised that anyone mentioned NASCAR, too, but several people did. Outside of Emeril's, I can't remember getting consistently good meals anywhere in CityWalk.

From 68.202.245.152 on September 6, 2013 at 3:16 PM
I have a favorite at each.
At Universal i love Three Broomsticks(it really fits into the potter atmosphere and sells Butterbeer which means you avoid the lines at the carts outside). As for Disney i normally enjoy eating at Sunshine Seasons at Epcot.They have a lot of healthy choices to choose from and not to mention big portions too.
From 74.77.23.96 on September 6, 2013 at 3:26 PM
IMHO the best food we've had at WDW came from the Flying Fish Café. Close seconds were the California Grill and Jiko's.
Have had very good service at Coral Reef - but lackluster food and vice versa.
Le Cellier has been hit or miss for us - tho we LOVE the pretzel bread!
V&A and Citricos are on our "To Do" list.
Thanks for the great post(s)!
From Doug Jenkins on September 6, 2013 at 3:30 PM
Agree with Mythos, Flanigan's and Simpsons, (Cleatis waffle / chicken sandwich is incredible). Le Cellar is excellent also, but is next to impossible to get into unless you schedule months out. I don't do that. Surprised no one mentioned The Palm in the Hard Rock Hotel. Best steak I have ever eaten!
From 65.9.24.60 on September 6, 2013 at 5:58 PM
UOR. Best is Mythos followed by Lombard's. CityWalk's best and hidden treasure is Latin Café. I usually buy the Movie & Meal Deal ticket and have a nice early dinner then take in a movie; or vice-verse.

At WDW, I prefer the pavilions at Germany, Mexico, Canada and Norway.

I must also agree with a lot of your commenters that service and quality has generally lagged behind the high-brow average prices charged.

From Andrew G on September 9, 2013 at 2:11 AM
Sunshine Seasons is hit and miss, depending on what you get and what time of day. It's far from the worst or inedible trash. It's certainly not the best, though.

Flame Tree is okay, but again, I wouldn't put it in the top 5. Three Broomsticks is awful. Great ambiance, but the chicken is always dry and overcooked.

I'd like to see Clumiba Harbor House up there, and maybe even Village Haus. Both have significantly stepped up their game in the past couple of years. Aside from those two, I generally try to avoid counter service in the parks, although I do admit to generally hitting up Flame Tree in a pinch. AK just doesn't have a ton of great options.

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