Ultimate Foodie Guide to Epcot Table Service
The quickest way to start a fight among Disney fans is to state in declarative terms which Epcot Table Service restaurant is the best. We will have peace on Earth long before we attain universal consent on this topic. The conversation is combative because many restaurants are worthy of the claim. Here’s the foodie’s guide to Epcot, the true Happiest Place on Earth for food lovers.
In the Quick Service guide to Epcot, I said in unequivocal terms that eating at Future World is a mistake. With Table Service restaurants, I still hold that opinion, but there are two exceptions.
Coral Reef Restaurant
Opinions are mixed about Coral Reef. This eatery is part of The Seas with Nemo & Friends, the aquatic pavilion in Future World. It’s easy to find, and the view is inimitable. You’re seated close to a gigantic aquarium brimming with marine life. You can watch them swim around their home while you eat.
In a macabre turn, the cuisine here is mostly seafood. Yes, you can watch the fish while you devour their kin. You’re living a nature video here. Some guests enjoy the fresh ingredients here while others believe that the view far surpasses the food quality. What I’ll say is that the steak is good, and the desserts are excellent. Draw your own conclusions from that.
Garden Grill Restaurant
The lone character meal at Future World resides in The Land Pavilion. Here, you’ll dine in a slowly spinning restaurant. The tables are on a turntable that gradually rotates you through various parts of Living with the Land, the adjoining attraction beneath you. The characters are Chip and Dale as the hosts, with Mickey and Pluto along for the ride. Mickey’s clothed in an adorable farmer outfit that is super for photo ops.
The food here is rustic. Chefs utilize many ingredients produced at The Land. Heavy entrees like turkey and pot roast pair nicely with the freshest vegetables imaginable. I’m of the opinion that the dining experience is better than the meal itself. You can do better at the back of the park. However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t add that some people I know believe Garden Grill is one of the best Table Service restaurants at Walt Disney World.
There are 11 pavilions at the World Showcase. Nine of them have Table Service restaurants, and two have Signature Dining experiences. You can eat well here for a month without ever duplicating entrees. It is THE best place to dine at Walt Dine World, and I’ll go a step beyond that. The World Showcase has the best food of any theme park in the world…by a lot. Foodies should plan to eat most of your meals at the back of Epcot.
The two classiest places to eat at the World Showcase are in the France Pavilion and the Canada Pavilion. These restaurants are much more expensive than standard sit-down meals. Also, you’ll need two entitlements on the Disney Dining Plan to eat one meal. Due to these factors, many tourists choose the two places for special events like birthdays, anniversaries, and other celebrations.
This restaurant is the pride of the France Pavilion and has been since its inception. In the early days, Disney officials wanted to prove that they were serious about cuisine. They persuaded the late Paul Bocuse to open a restaurant here. The founder of the Bocuse d’Or was already one of the most famous French chefs of the 20th century when Disney contacted him.
Intrigued by the idea, Bocuse sent his son, Jerome, to run the kitchen. Jérôme Bocuse has been in charge ever since. When you dine here, you’ll experience elegant French cuisine of the highest level. In terms of pedigree, only Victoria & Albert’s can match it. Foodies should have Monsieur Paul on their bucket list.
Technically, two pavilions don’t have a Table Service restaurant. One is The American Experience, which is Quick Service-only. The other is the Canada Pavilion, which hosts Le Cellier. Given the name, you won’t be surprised to know that the sitting area here is basically a tastefully appointed wine cellar with tables. Niagara wines populate most of the list, but famous Canadian beers are available, too.
Despite the name, Le Cellier is a steakhouse at heart. The kitchen serves beautiful chops that will leave you salivating long after your plate is empty. The most famous dish is the Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup, which has bacon and pale ale flavors thrown in for good measure. Couples have the option to plus their meals. The Châteaubriand for Two ain’t cheap ($129 at time of publication), but the wagyu beef is peerless.
Table Service by Pavilion
The remaining nine pavilions (including France) offer at least one Table Service restaurant. Some of them even have multiples, and so I will break the choices down by pavilions rather than the individual establishments.
Caveat: Every restaurant here serves some combination of breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Please research what is open and when, as meal services sometimes change.
Everyone has favorites at the World Showcase. For most travelers, your preferences will depend on the flavors of the host nations. Chinese, Mexican, Italian, and Japanese are all types of cuisine that have brand recognition around the world. So, there’s an Occam’s razor aspect for foodies. When you want Chinese food, go to the China Pavilion, and so forth.
Nine Dragons is your choice at the China Pavilion. The cuisine here represents all four major regions of the country, with menu items highlighting Cantonese, Kiangche, Mandarin, and Szechuan flavors. Dumplings, Bao buns, and pot stickers are all available. Also, the restaurant itself is gorgeous. It’s one of the classiest Table Service establishments on the Disney campus.
Les Chefs de France is one of the easiest restaurants to notice during a walk through the World Showcase. You must walk past it to get where you’re going as you traverse the 1.3 miles around World Showcase Lagoon.
While Monsieur Paul steals its thunder, Les Chefs de France serves exquisite French cuisine at approximately half the price. It’s also not quite as snooty. When you dine at Monsieur Paul, you will feel the need to dress up.
The restaurant on the bottom floor is nearly as good, but you can rock your jorts here (you know, don’t, but you CAN). It’s a much more comfortable setting, although you’ll still run into the occasional French cast member who wants to make the experience more authentic by acting snooty.
Dinner and a show is an integral part of a couple of restaurants at the World Showcase. Germany’s version is Biergarten, where you can eat schnitzel and sausages to your heart’s content. Tubed meats are seemingly everywhere here, and the copious amounts of alcohol create the perception that it’s Oktoberfest all the time. It’s a Bavarian buffet complete with all the beers you can drink.
The show part depends on the hour and the day. Sometimes, men in lederhosen play the accordion while they dance and sing. On other occasions, they play those elongated tube instruments called alphorns or the xylophones or whatever. There’s even a bells show that’s impossibly complex. This place is ideal for families who want hearty meals or fans of bears and meats.
Do you prefer pizza or wine today? That’s your choice when you pick between the two Table Service restaurants at the Italy Pavilion. Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria is in the conversation for the best pizza place in Orlando, while the wine cellar at Tutto Italia Ristorante is a wine connoisseur’s dream.
You’ll have an easier time getting a table at Via Napoli. This place is cavernous, highlighted by a cooking fireplace that looks like a Roman deity devouring your doughy offering. Kids adore this visual, although you will likely have to point it out to them. As for the food, the cheese that they use in their pizzas is the freshest and tastiest that I’ve ever had in my wife…and we mail order Giordano’s of Chicago sometimes.
The wine cellar at Tutto Italia is an intimate setting with less than 100 seats available. It’s one of the slowest dining experiences at Disney as well. Cast members will expect you to linger as you sample many of the wines available.
The cuisine is classic Italian to an almost comical extent. Prosciutto, Bolognese, and Parmigiana dishes are seemingly everywhere on the menu. And the desserts are sorbets and cannoli, too. This place has one of the most loyal followings of anything at the World Showcase, although I should stress that it’s more for the wine than the food.
The Table Service restaurants at the Japan Pavilion are two sides of the same coin. The cuisine is mainly similar; it’s the presentation that diverges. Tokyo Dining is an upscale establishment, a place where you’ll feel awkward when you put your elbows on the table. Teppan Edo employs Teppan-yaki, that thing at Benihana’s, where you sit at a giant group table while the chef puts on a show.
The flavors are unmistakably Japanese. Sushi and sashimi dishes are readily available, and both places sell a miso soup. Tokyo Dining even takes the authenticity a step further by offering a Chef’s Creation Bento Box. It features many staples of Japanese cuisine packaged together in a delightful box. I highly recommend it for first-time visitors. You’ll get a sampler of several different entrees in an adorable package.
When you want a refined meal in an elegant setting, you’ll select Tokyo Dining. When you want silly fun during your meal, you’ll choose Teppan Edo. Availability will play a factor, too. Both restaurants are frequently booked. You must schedule reservations in advance to ensure a table at either place.
PS: If you’re dining with a finicky guest, you can still eat here, assuming that your companion likes steak. Both restaurants serve beef tenderloin.
La Hacienda de San Angel is one of the more famous spots for fans of IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth. The views from this restaurant are phenomenal, rivaled only by ones at Morocco, Japan, and the United Kingdom Pavilions.
But the star of the meal here is the tequila. La Cava del Tequila’s beverages share a menu with La Hacienda. You can get good and drunk while devouring tacos, empanadas, and Flautas. The best thing to order is the La Hacienda, which serves two guests steak, chicken, chorizos, and veggies.
The more famous restaurant is San Angel Inn, which resides inside the Mexico Pavilion. You can’t miss this one, as it’s the restaurant in front of the giant pyramid that functions as the Pavilion’s visual highlight. The pyramid design is recognizable from far across the World Showcase, but it’s mirrored inside as well.
As you walk to the landmark, you will approach the check-in area for San Angel Inn. That’s not even the only historical aspect of the place.
There is a 400-year-old Carmelite monastery to the southwest of Mexico City. It evolved into a restaurant over time. Disney licensed the rights to construct their own version at Epcot. Humorously, many more people know the World Showcase version, which is many centuries younger.
The food here is not just Mexican. I’d go so far as to describe it as Aztec. Fans of this kind of cuisine will feel like the mothership has called them home. To a larger point, you’ll want to eat at San Angel Inn for the experience. It has a strange, dark hue that adds intimacy and a touch of a supernatural vibe.
To my mind, the restaurants at the Morocco Pavilion serve the second-most ambitious cuisine at Walt Disney World, and some others would rank it first. Ingredients like lamb and couscous aren’t for everyone. For foodies, however, they represent a rare treat for the palate.
Your two options here are Spice Road Table and Restaurant Marrakesh. Each of them features a strong selling point beyond the food. Spice Road Table is your best bet to watch IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth when you don’t have a reservation anywhere. Restaurant Marrakesh has belly dancers demonstrating their skill during your meal.
Skewers, kabobs, and shanks are readily available at both places. The meals here are hearty and filling, which isn’t always the greatest strategy at a theme park. Presuming that your stomach can handle it, you’ll love all the spicy foods available at both places.
As far as ranking the two, I agree with TripAdvisor voters, who favor Spice Road Table for the cuisine and frequent availability. When you want dinner and a show, book a table at Restaurant Marrakesh instead.
Epcot’s other character meal is at the Norway Pavilion. Logically, you might expect it to be Frozen-related, but it’s not. Instead, Akershus is Epcot’s answer to Cinderella’s Royal Table. At least five Disney Princesses are in the regular rotation, and you’re assured of meeting at least four, one of whom will invite you to a special photo op before you’re seated.
Everything about Akershus is intended to feel royal. You’ll enter a castle modeled after one in Norway. Then, you’ll dine on Scandinavian cuisine. While some guests express frustration over the novelty of Norwegian flavors, you’re a foodie and want to try new things. More than any other World Showcase pavilion restaurant, Akershus serves novel flavors.
Kjøttkake, Kyllingbryst, Raspeballer, and Flyt aren’t cuisines that most North Americans would know, but you probably do. You’ll only find them at Akershus, which makes this restaurant a destination location during your trip. The one word of warning I’ll offer is that Akershus sells out quickly. You should schedule Advanced Dining Reservations at the 180-day mark.
United Kingdom Pavilion
Rose & Crown Dining Room and Pub is the best. When you dine here, you’re eating all the classic British cuisine that you know and love. While some restaurants at the World Showcase are what I would describe as high-end, Rose & Crown wants you to perceive it as lowbrow. It’s not, but the quality of the recipes gets hidden in plain sight.
You’ll think you’re ordering a simple cheese platter, only to realize that these British cheeses are on a par with the ones at France or Canada, both of which are Signature Dining experience. Rose & Crown’s most popular orders are the English classics, Fish & Chips and Shepherd’s Pie.
Their versions of the dishes are legitimately the finest you’ll ever eat…unless you live in England and have better odds. And dessert here is majestic. The Lemon Scone and English Trifle would be the highlights at many restaurants. But they still fall far short of the star dish here, Sticky Toffee Pudding. It’s in the conversation for best dessert at Disney.