A slew of new restaurants at Disney Springs are making it easier than ever to grab and go.
Were they still calling it Downtown Disney, the last time you paid a visit to Walt Disney World? Well, then, let us catch you up—over the past few years, the resort's shopping, dining and entertainment complex, now renamed Disney Springs, has been slowly evolving into something much more impressive than the already ambitious original. As food all around the resort evolves, so has the eating situation at Disney Springs—from inventive food trucks, to casual favorites you'll know from back home, to more ambitious, finer (but never not fun) dining, there's now an incredible amount of choice, with even more on the way.
But what if the last thing you want, after a busy park day, is a big night out? That's easy—many of the new options offer take-out, often served at convenient grab-and-go windows. We made the rounds of the Springs and had a look at what's on offer—here are some of your best bets.
Art Smith's Homecoming
Oprah's one-time personal chef hails from Florida, and he famously loves to cook Southern. Now he's got one of the best restaurants at Walt Disney World. At the restaurant's busy Porch Bar, you can order fried chicken or catfish sandwiches, a chopped pork barbecue sandwich served with Parker House rolls, a slice of moonshine cake (it's one of Chef Art's specialties) and a couple of other dishes (for instance French fries) to go, all day long.
Morimoto Asia Street Food
Not only did Chef Morimoto go pan-Asian for his impressive Orlando debut, he also launched a counter-service joint to complement the main restaurant-cum-spectacle that they're calling Morimoto Asia. Here on the casual side, you'll find everything from a shrimp tempura roll to a pork bao to one very good chilled sesame noodle dish—perfect fare for those warm Orlando days. This place is open for lunch and dinner.
Chef Rick Bayless has brought his unique brand of Mexican cooking down to the Sunshine State from chilly Chicago—the restaurant itself is super simple, and your options at the to-go window are even more pared down—essentially, they're doing a couple of tacos, guacamole, chips, and drinks, but there's a nice little outdoor hangout spot where you can eat, making this a great choice for a quick bite on your way from one thing to the other.
The Polite Pig
James and Julie Petrakis, the bright lights behind some of Orlando's more popular (and most clued-in) restaurants in recent years, managed to make the transition to a high-volume location like Disney Springs while still offering a rather unique menu, which is a lot of fun to peruse, particularly after a few days spent mindlessly consuming random park food. They're big on barbecue here, but they've also got pleasantly non-traditional sides like a tomato and watermelon salad, roasted beets, barbecue cauliflower and crispy Brussels sprouts. You really can pull together a heck of a meal here; plus, it's counter service, so they're used to doing takeout, which helps.
Disney could have called upon any number of popular brands to do the now-requisite fancy burgers, but their in-house chefs didn't shy away from the challenge of building a concept from the ground up, and the results are, you'll be pleased to hear, quite good. The house made buns are nice and soft; beef patties are monster-sized, or at least they seem that way; french fries are hand-cut, a dizzying array of sauces (you can ask for all of them, they don't mind) have also been made in house and are served fresh. Shakes are great. This is some top-notch eating; prices compare quite favorably to those gourmet chains you've probably tried, elsewhere. Order whatever you like, but the Southern burger, with a perfect fried green tomato and a whack of pimento cheese on top, is an absolute star.
The Daily Poutine
Yes, that's right, there's a kiosk selling poutine, right at the heart of the action. What's not to like about that? You can do classic—fries, beef gravy, and cheese curds—as well as Italian, French and a Latin version, which subs in fried yucca, pulled pork, black beans and queso fresco.
That's just a start, really—other great options include fish and chips from Cookes of Dublin, a beloved classic that managed to survive the transition; it's the casual arm of the ever-popular Raglan Road (it's tucked just in back, on the right as you approach, can't miss it). Over at the House of Blues, their Smokehouse is a good choice for takeout, in case you don't have the time to stick around for the whole experience. Over in the little food truck pod Disney Springs now has going, there are three options—Springs Street Tacos, which needs no explanation, the World Showcase of Flavors, which does sandwiches from around the globe, along with the state fair-in-a-truck Fantasy Fare, where they do fun stuff like corn dogs, chicken and waffles, along with a shrimp and lobster macaroni and cheese. Prefer to stick to your brands? Blaze Pizza and Earl of Sandwich both have very popular locations here; there are also now two Starbucks outposts, too. Sometimes, familiar is best.