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Monday Top 10: The best counter-service restaurants at Walt Disney World

August 11, 2014, 10:55 AM · You've got to eat when you're on vacation. But why settle for the same burgers and pizza slices you can find at the mall food court when you should be enjoying a unique get-away? Here are the Top 10 counter-service restaurants in the four Walt Disney World theme parks, as selected by Theme Park Insider readers. (Note that we're talking about walk-up food locations where you can get an actual meal here, and not including snack bars that just serve ice cream, etc.) Remember, you can help us pick the best of the best by rating the rides, shows, restaurants, and hotels in our theme park listings.

10. Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe
Magic Kingdom

Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe

Yeah, it's almost always crazy-busy in here, but with a massive toppings bar, you can upgrade those plain French fries to chili cheese fries for no extra charge.

9. Columbia Harbour House
Magic Kingdom

Columbia Harbour House

Sure, fans like the lobster roll, clam chowder and other seafood favorites. But it's comfortable upstairs seating that's the real bonus at this Liberty Square eatery.

8. Starring Rolls Cafe
Disney's Hollywood Studios

Starring Rolls Cafe

The place for aspiring star-chasers to enjoy muffins, pastries, sandwiches and desserts before heading down Sunset Boulevard.

7. Flame Tree Barbecue
Disney's Animal Kingdom

Flame Tree Barbecue

Enjoy a view of Mount Everest from across the lagoon as you tear into your choice of barbecue ribs, chicken or pork.

6. Yorkshire County Fish Shop
Epcot

Yorkshire County Fish Shop

We can't decide if this take-away window's more popular for its crispy fish and chips... or its Bass and Harp beers.

5. Katsura Grill
Epcot

Katsura Grill

Enjoy some udon or curry and tell yourself, "Hey, I'm at Tokyo Disney!" Well, yeah, sort of. ;^)

4. Tangierine Cafe
Epcot

Tangierine Cafe

Order the shawarma and imagine that you've joined the Avengers. Hey, it's the closest you'll get to seeing them at Disney World.

3. Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe
Epcot

Kringla Bakeri og Kafe

Two words: School Bread.

2. Les Halles Boulangerie and Patisserie
Epcot

Les Halles Boulangerie and Patisserie

French pastries, breads, soups... there are no wrong choices here. But a hot baguette, lobster bisque and a chocolate eclair makes a very nice lunch.

1. Sleepy Hollow Refreshments
Magic Kingdom

Sleepy Hollow Refreshments

Take it away, TPI reader Emily: "With chicken and waffle sandwiches, root beer floats, soft serve ice cream, and giant, homemade ice cream and chocolate chip cookie sandwiches, this is the best place to get a snack in Walt Disney World."

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Replies (10)

August 11, 2014 at 12:16 PM · I find the offerings at WDW, specifically Magic Kingdom, to be sub-par compared to Disneyland. I would like to open up the discussion to other readers who have visited both Disneyland and WDW, could Magic Kingdom stand an upgrade to food quality and offerings, or is it okay where it is today?
August 11, 2014 at 12:25 PM · Wow, a ranking that I really agree with especially the No. 1 Sleepy Hollow. I just wish it stayed open later into the evening. Also, Sunshine Seasons at The Land not being on the list is a welcome surprise. I always thought it was way over rated as for quality and value.
August 11, 2014 at 12:53 PM · I think it's tough to compare a place for a meal with a bakery. I'd separate them and list these as my favorites: Tangerine Cafe, Columbia Harbour House, and Flame Tree Barbecue. All three are on this list, so nice work!

Also, I'd agree with the other comment that Disneyland's counter service is superior, especially to the Magic Kingdom.

August 11, 2014 at 1:01 PM · The Disneyland list is coming. I've got 52 lists a year to do! :^)
August 11, 2014 at 1:42 PM · I'm a really big fan of Pecos Bill's...The entrees are pretty pedestrian, but that fixin's bar make it a great value.

I concur with the bakery comment. It's tough to compare quick serve places with each other when some don't even offer full meals. Starring Rolls does have a limited supply of sandwiches, but I wouldn't consider it a place to eat lunch if you're not getting there right at 11:00 AM for a sandwich.

I also concur with the Disneyland comment, but you have to consider that DL is more of a locals park, and in order to keep those locals from eating at home or at a place that is a 10-15 minute walk from the gates, the food has to be good. WDW has the advantage of a captive audience, and their quick serve places just need to be as good as comparatively priced generic fast food. WDW also has a larger supply of table service restaurants, so the quick serve meals need to be different enough from their table service counterparts to necessitate the price differential. I would also say that the Disney Dining Plan probably has a lot to do with the lack of truly excellent quick serve restaurants. Since guests pay a set rate for meals regardless of what they purchase, it waters down a lot of the quick serve restaurants.

August 11, 2014 at 2:56 PM · Although the fish -and- especially the chips at the Fish Shop are excellent, our favorite is the Sunshine Seasons food court. It's an excellent value and has good Chinese for a counter restaurant, great soups and a wide variety of foods and sandwiches for the whole family. I do miss the BBQ restaurant that used to be there in the old format though. Amazing how few BBQ restaurants there are a theme parks, especially when all the food can be prepared in advance and is easy to serve quickly
August 11, 2014 at 5:45 PM · Flame Tree BBQ and Columbia Harbor House are too low on the list. They should be in the top three!
August 11, 2014 at 6:02 PM · I agree with Anthony. My thoughts exactly...In fact, Flame Tree BBQ is my favorite restaurant, quick serve or sit down, at WDW. Excellent ribs and the seating with the view of Everest is tremendous.
August 12, 2014 at 9:15 AM · No Casey's??? I know they are overpriced hotdogs but sometimes it's exactly what you want in the park!
August 15, 2014 at 8:03 AM · Backlot express and cosmic rays are my favs. Love the fish shop tho.

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