9 Unexpected Things to Eat and Drink at Disney World
Theme parks aren't traditionally known for their adventurous fare and upscale dining, but Walt Disney World is not your regular theme park. From unexpected treats to treasures hiding deep within Epcot's World Showcase country pavilions, you'd never expect these brilliantly executed dishes, traditional delights, and wildly expensive pours to exist in the Mouse House — and yet, they remain some of Disney's best:
Modeled after a classic French bistro, Epcot's Chef's de France serves the standard hits, but it's the escargot that's worth booking a table for. Served in hefty pools of garlic butter and, understandably, sans shell, the Burgundian snails are always a sure bet.
Whole Fried Fish
Tucked within Disney's Animal Kingdom is a fine-dining eatery honoring Asian, African and South American cuisines, and within that restaurant is the wildest thing you'll ever find inside a Disney park: a head-on, whole fried sustainable fish. Yes, at Tiffins, you'll find an entire deep-fried yellowtail, teeth and all, on a bed of crunchy Thai green papaya slaw. Delicious and one of Disney's best, it comes with the added bonus of horrifying fellow theme park diners as it lands on the table.
Don't assume a raw bar at Disney is akin to gas station sushi, because at The Boathouse, you'll find incredible wild-caught blue shrimp and lump crab — and that's just the beginning. Once you've had your fill of freshly-shucked oysters, don't miss the steamed clams or, for a true indulgence beyond the raw bar, the addictive sriracha mayo-tossed firecracker shrimp, a personal favorite. Paddlefish, housed within a three-floor 19th century riverboat, boasts a steamer menu of snow crab, Key West shrimp and whole lobsters and for an expense report blow-out while traveling on business, Yachtsman Steakhouse's $135 Chilled Admiral's Tower for two, jam-packed with mussels, Maine lobster, snow crab and scallop ceviche, is sure to alert accounting in the best way possible.
The tequila bar within Epcot's Mexico pavilion is popular for obvious reasons — two words: avocado margaritas — but La Cava del Tequila punches well above their theme park weight, boasting 100 tequilas and a carefully crafted menu of cocktails that are finished off with a salt rim made from ants or, if it's on the menu, with crushed grasshoppers.
Olivia's Cafe at Disney's Old Key West Resort is as off-the-beaten-path as it gets, so it's fitting that they're the only spot on property selling Bahamian-style conch fritters, fried to perfection and served with Key lime mustard and remoulade.
Morimoto Asia's 11,000-square-foot restaurant at the bustling Disney Springs district is one of Disney World's best, exhibited nowhere better than with its Peking duck. Served alongside hoisin miso and tortillas for do-it-yourself wraps, the crispy-skinned birds can only be ordered by a minimum of two people, yet are proudly hung on display in the center of the open kitchen for all to see.
Yes, a Coca-Cola flagship store isn't quite the vibe, but look beyond the expansive selection of branded merchandise and proceed directly to the rooftop beverage bar where you can sip sodas from Sweden, Zimbabwe, Panama, and Peru and even order drinks with surprising combinations, including a TaB mocktail.
Oasis Sips and Sweets, a grab-and-go counter within Epcot's Moroccan pavillion, offers a miniature world tour of tasty treats, including Melomakarona (orange honey cookies), Ergolavi (Greek almond cookies), Kataifi (shredded phyllo with nuts and honey), Ghriba-Kourabiedes (almond butter cookies) and plenty of Baklava, available to order individually or sample as a collection of three, five, or seven.
Extremely good wine
Disney World takes their wine program extremely seriously, and nowhere is that more true than at Wine Bar George. Helmed by Master Sommelier George Miliotis, who himself is often on duty, the standalone restaurant is like a palace for the indecisive, making all of their 160 wines available by the ounce. There are plenty of options for all price points, but it's the '82 Mouton Rothschild, the only Bordeaux Château to be upgraded from a second to first growth at the tune of about $5,000 per bottle, that offers a standout opportunity to imbibe in one of the world's best without breaking the bank. The inviting restaurant also boasts a Borgogno tasting with six decades of Barolo, including unique bottles from the '60s and '70s, allowing diners to travel through time without even getting up from the table.