One of the special events that can take a Disney vacation from being a wonderful memory to an unforgettable memory is all of the varied dining experiences you get to take in. Some of the most memorable of those experiences are restaurants that Disney refers to as “Signature Dining Restaurants”. These are the best of the best table service restaurants and have their own category because if you are on the Disney Dining Plan these will cost you two table service dining credits in most circumstances. The main method that we have used to pick this list of five is first on food experience and then on atmosphere. Above all to make our list the food at the restaurants had to be very high in quality and the atmosphere immersive and worthy of fine dining. Both in atmosphere and in food quality most any fine dining restaurant at Disney World will be a wonderful experience, but the five we are highlighting below, in no particular order, are five of our favorites and are ones that we would say “Shouldn’t Be Missed!”
1. Yachtsman’s Steakhouse – This is one of my most favorite restaurants in all of Disney when it comes to recommending a romantic night out. Yachtsman’s Steakhouse is both elegant and casual in a way that only Disney could make work. The restaurant is full of beautiful hard wood decor and one of my favorite characteristics is that you pass the meat trimming room when being taken to your table. When it comes to the food Yachtsman’s certainly does not disappoint. It is one fine dining option at Disney World that I would recommend to someone who is not a particularly adventurous eater. The majority of the entrees on the menu are a specific cut of steak along with some type of side dish such as mashed potatoes, potato gratin, or a twice baked potato. With that said there are also some nice choices of appetizers, entrees, and sides on the menu that are a bit more adventurous. So this restaurant does work nicely if your group is comprised of some adventurous eaters and some non-adventurous eaters. My favorite menu item at the Yachtsman’s Steakhouse is the 16 oz. Prime Rib-Eye Steak, which is served with Brioche, Bone Marrow, and Point Reyes Blue Cheese Cutter. This is actually the picture you see above although some of the accompaniments may be slightly different than what is now on the menu. All in all Yachtsman’s Steakhouse is a restaurant you cannot go wrong with when looking for a signature meal at Disney World. The steaks are always cooked to perfection, you can’t argue with great sides like potatoes au gratin or the delicious truffle macaroni and cheese, and you are just five minutes from a leisurely stroll through Epcot’s World Showcase after dinner.
2. California Grill – California Grill is one of the most notable signature restaurants at Disney World. Located on the top floor the Contemporary Resort, sits a beautiful restaurant with a beautiful view (see the picture above). In addition to the fantastic view, which may be reason enough to dine here, this restaurant just underwent a major refurbishment in 2014 and is now better than ever. The view and setting is maybe the most sought after part of California Grill, but this is food that definitely should not take a back seat. Now, before we get to food this restaurant has an award winning wine menu and is a place wine connoisseurs go regularly when at Disney World. After getting your glass of wine you will want to try a selection from the chef’s fantastic sushi menu. The Dragon Roll, with spicy tuna, tempura shrimp, avocado, and dragon sauce is one of the favorites. Once you finish your sushi the appetizers and entrees just get even more spectacular. From the Bison Striploin to the Braised Lamb Shank to their signature Pork Two Ways dish you cannot go wrong here. After your meal and some fantastic dessert selections, such as a Breakfast cinnamon roll and bacon for dessert, you think the night is over, but it is far from it. Everyone who dines at California Grill is invited to use the outdoor observation deck to take in the sights and the sounds of the Seven Seas Lagoon and the Magic Kingdom and this includes the nightly fireworks extravaganza Wishes. Even if you dine earlier in the evening you can bring your receipt back at fireworks time and gain access to the observation deck. California Grill certainly has the food and setting deserving of the title of signature dining.
3. Narcoossee’s – This restaurant is big favorite of seasoned Walt Disney World travelers. It is set in a beautiful location by the boat dock at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort with a fantastic view of the Magic Kingdom. This restaurant is both elegant and casual, so make an evening of it and dress up if headed here on a date or enjoy it with the family. It is important to note this restaurant is it’s own building, not attached to the main hotel, but this does give guests a beautiful walk to the restaurant before dinner. The walk into the front doors even lets you walk by a the herb garden used by the restaurant, which just signifies the freshness of the ingredients here. The inside has the feel of an elegant restaurant, but one set at the beach, so the feel is not stuffy at all. Along with the setting the menu offers a great selection of seafood dishes such as the BBQ Shrimp and Grits appetizer, the Maine Lobster Bisque, or any of their seasonal fish dishes which they modify according to the season. If you are not a fan of seafood there are other great options here though such as a great New York Strip Steak with Idaho Cream Potatoes. Narcoossee’s also is known for their fantastic Key Lime Pie, signature of the south Florida area that this restaurant represents. This restaurant is a great option for a fine dining meal in a somewhat casual, beachy setting at Disney World. You definitely cannot go wrong with this land and sea signature restaurant.
4. Le Cellier – Le Cellier is one of the most popular signature dining restaurants at Walt Disney World that is actually inside of a theme park. Sitting in the Canada Pavilion of Epcot’s World Showcase, Le Cellier is a signature steakhouse serving up great steaks and traditional Canadian dishes. The restaurant is a great escape from being inside of a theme park as you are sent into “The Cellar” of the Canada Pavilion to have a remarkable meal. The restaurant is meant to represent a wine cellar and it does deliver on that feel. Dark woods, low ceilings, and archways make this a very intimate and romantic experience. The first great part of the meal at Le Cellier will be the bread basket, which contains a couple of types of rolls that are nice, but also contains their own pretzel bread which is delicious and certainly the star of the bread service. The pretzel bread is especially delicious when dipped into the signature soup at Le Cellier, the Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup. It is creamy, cheesey, and has bacon in it, what could be better? The Le Cellier Poutine Fries are also great as an appetizer or as a side dish to share during the main entree. When it comes to your entree the Le Cellier Filet Mignon is not to be missed. It is a fantastic cut of meat and includes a great risotto as well as a tasty truffle butter sauce. All in all, everything on the menu at Le Cellier is tasty, so go and enjoy one of the best meals you could ever find inside of a theme park.
5. Flying Fish Restaurant – The newly re-imagined Flying Fish, located on the Boardwalk between Epcot and Hollywood Studios, is a great option for a fantastic signature meal. The setting is romantic and well-themed to a seaside restaurant that now has a slightly modern feel after the redesign, but the food is the real star. This restaurant is definitely one you will want to hit if you are an adventurous eater, although they certainly have some more traditional options if that is what you are after. The restaurant, as you can probably tell by the name, specializes in serving up some of the best seafood on Disney property, and probably anywhere for that matter. The Corn-Encrusted Wild Gulf Shrimp appetizer is a great way to get yourself into the seafood mood or if you are feeling adventurous give the Kurobuta Pork Belly a try. For the entrees the Flying Fish offers several great items weather you are interested in the surf or the turf! The Ora King New Zealand Salmon with pancetta-laced ivory lentils, kale, and a garden vinaigrette is a great choice from the seafood options. If you are after a meal on the more adventurous side try the fantastic Wagyu Filet Mignon with Okinawan potatoes, foraged mushrooms, rainbow carrots, and Bordelaise sauce or the Bison Strip Loin with ancient grains, salsify, cipollini onions, and a sun-dried tomato choron sauce. All in all the experience at Flying Fish is incredible and you can continue your evening out right next door at the newly opened AbracadaBar, which is a bar in a way that only Disney can create a bar!
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