Friday, December 13, 2013

Dining Downtown and at the Boardwalk

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Of course the parks at Disney are great, and along with that have some great dining options!  But let's say you want a little more of an adult atmosphere.  It is pretty well known that Downtown Disney, and the Boardwalk Area, are great for this, especially in the nighttime hours!

So why not look here for a dining reservation?  Truly, you won't be disappointed.

Let's start with Downtown Disney:

If you're entering from the Disney Bus stop, the first table-service restaurant you'll encounter is Rainforest Cafe
Ideal for: The Planner
Price Range: $15-$30, or 1 table-service credit
Link to Menu:Lunch/Dinner
  • This restaurant, being a familiar favorite, books up in advance!  Be sure to make reservations ahead of time if you plan on dining here!
  • Pros:
    • Great atmosphere, typical of Rainforest Cafe Restaurant
    • Generous portions
  • Cons: Pretty standard American menu options
  • Other Notes: Being one of the first restaurants from the Disney bus stop, it might be a good choice if you plan on stopping by Downtown for some light shopping, but not being there all day.  The Downtown area is huge, and this option would give your feet a rest.

Next up, a little bit down the way, you'll run into T-Rex
Ideal for: The Planner
Price Range: $15-$30, or 1 table-service credit
Link to Menu: Lunch/Dinner
  • Much like Rainforest Cafe, due to the fun theming of the restaurant, it tends to book up early!  Be sure to reserve a spot in advance if you plan on stopping here!
  • Pros:
    • Huge portions, with tasty food
    • Really fun atmosphere
  • Cons:
    • Long waits for food while at the table
    • Pretty standard American restaurant fare
  • Other Notes: Every 20 minutes, a magnificent meteor show occurs in the restaurant, which only enhances the already immersive atmosphere.

Then, out on the water, try Fulton's Crab House
Ideal for: The Spender
Price Range: $30-$60, or 2 table-service credits
Link to Menu: LunchDinner
  • Fulton's menu is very upscale, and it's prices reflect that.
  • Pros:
    • Great riverboat atmosphere, especially at night
    • Good seafood, and an extensive wine menu
  • Cons:
    • Expensive
  • Other Notes: Seafood is definitely the star of this menu, and with very few non-seafood options to choose from, consider only going here if your entire party is planning on eating it!

Very close to Fulton's is Portobello Country Italian Trattoria
Ideal for: The Romantic
Price Range: $30-60, or 1 table-service credit
Link to Menu: LunchDinner
  • One of the more romantic restaurants in Downtown Disney, with a classy Italian vibe.
  • Pros: Really high quality, rustic Italian foods
  • Cons:
    • Somewhat short menu, so not a lot to choose from
    • Rather bland atmosphere
  • Other Notes: Just recently opened was the Portobello Meatball and Beer Bar.  This walk up option serves 4 types of meatball sliders with a few beer choices, and is a good option for a taste of this restaurant.

And very near that is Raglan Road
Ideal for: Those who want to have Fun, The Impulsive
Price Range: $15-$30, or 1 table-service credit (remember, no alcohol included!)
Link to Menu: LunchDinnerPub
  • Evenings get pretty wild here, described as a "tipsy cocktail party," so it's great for those looking to have a good time!  Also, the pub serves great food as well, and doesn't require a reservation.
  • Pros:
    • Authentic Irish pub feel (only much bigger!)
    • Great food (and even better desserts!)
    • Live entertainment most nights of the week
  • Cons:
    • The restaurant can get loud, especially at night
  • Other Notes: The bars (not just the alcohol, but the actual wood and countertops) in the restaurant are imported directly from Ireland.

And in the same area is Paradiso 37
Ideal for: Those who want to have Fun
Price Range: $15-$30, or 1 table-service credit
Link to Menu: Paradiso 37
  • This place is perfect for those who want to have more of an adult atmosphere during their trip, becoming more club-like in the later hours.
  • Pros:
    • Definitely aimed toward an adult crowd
    • Lots of beautiful seating areas with different views
    • Really great food with North, Central, and South American inspiration
  • Cons:
    • Like Raglan Road, the restaurant can get loud, especially at night
  • Other Notes: With nightly entertainment and a tequila tower with 37 varieties, this place knows how to have fun!  For a calmer atmosphere, visit during the afternoon.

Also in Downtown Disney, try something a little more familiar, Planet Hollywood
Ideal for: The Saver
Price Range: $15-$30, or 1 table-service credit
Link to Menu: Planet Hollywood
  • Some of the cheaper table-service food in Downtown Disney, with large portions for the price.
  • Pros: Fun movie memorabilia covering every inch of the restaurant
  • Cons:
    • Extremely loud rock music constantly playing
    • Food and service mediocre in comparison to other Downtown restaurants
  • Other Notes: This restaurant is ideal for the movie/music buff.  The loud, club-like atmosphere without it actually being a club make it a little less than ideal for most types of people.

For some flair, try Bongos Cuban Cafe
Ideal for: The Impulsive
Price Range: $15-$30, or 1 table-service credit
Link to Menu: Bongos
  • Typically easy to get a table here without a reservation.
  • Pros:
    • Both indoor and outdoor seating with a "Miami" vibe
    • The food here is flavorful without being too spicy
  • Cons:
    • The restaurant is really big, it's easy to get "lost" in here
    • Slightly overpriced
  • Other Notes: The cocktails here are huge, so be aware when ordering them!

And right next door, find Wolfgang Puck Grand Cafe
Ideal for: The Spender
Price Range: $30-$60, or 1 table-service credit
Link to Menu: LunchDinner
  • The interesting creations (and let's face it, the name) come with a more expensive price tag.  This is especially true if you decide to go to "The Dining Room" instead of the Grand Cafe when reserving this restaurant.
  • Pros:
    • Really great cocktails and decadent desserts
    • Interesting and technical flavor profiles in the meals
  • Cons:
    • Due to high ceilings, the restaurant is quite noisy
    • The seating areas are close together and the chairs a little uncomfortable
    • Some of the food here is hit or miss
  • Other Notes: For a more upscale experience, book a reservation for "The Dining Room," upstairs from the Grand Cafe.  Alternatively, for a quick stop while shopping, try the sushi bar inside the restaurant. 

And for some fun with your meal, go to Splitsville
Ideal for: Those who want to have Fun, The Planner
Price Range: $15-$30, or 1 table-service credit
Link to Menu: Splitsville
  • Because of the combination of great food, cocktails, and the bowling alley inside, reservations here fill up!  Definitely a fun option, though, especially into the later hours!
  • Pros:
    • "Upscale" bar food that is really well done
    • Great cocktails that you can get from one of the 5 bars in the restaurant
  • Cons: Recently, reviews are trending toward the negative, especially for service
  • Other Notes: Bowling costs an extra $15-$20 per person, depending on the time of day.  Lane times vary based on the number of people bowling, all things you need to take into account if you plan on getting the full experience here.

And last in Downtown Disney, try Crossroads at House of Blues
Ideal for: The Saver
Price Range: $15-$30, or 1 table-service credit
Link to Menu: House of Blues
  • Cheaper prices and sizable portions make this place great of the saver!
  • Pros:
    • Delicious desserts
    • Great variety of strong cocktails
  • Cons:
    • Despite the amazing authentic decor, the music being played sometimes doesn't match the Blues theme
    • The food isn't the best you can find in Downtown Disney
  • Other Notes: The separate concert venue, "The Club" is next door, and puts on frequent ticketed events.

Next, check out the offerings at Disney's Boardwalk:

First, find The Flying Fish Cafe
Ideal for: The Spender, the Romantic
Price Range: $30-$60, or 2 table-service credits
Link to Menu: Flying Fish
  • This signature dining restaurant comes with a more expensive price tag, but the whimsical feel and delicious food make it great for couples.
  • Pros:
    • Food is excellent across the board: known for seafood, but the steaks, chicken, and vegetarian dishes are equally as great
    • The interior is fancy and fun
  • Cons:
    • Acoustics in the restaurant aren't great, and it's a bit loud
    • Menu changes frequently, so past favorites might not be there a second time
  • Other Notes: After visiting Flying Fish Cafe, stop at Jellyrolls, a dueling piano bar in the Boardwalk area that gets rave reviews.

And also at the Boardwalk, try Kouzzina
Ideal for: The Romantic
Price Range: $30-$60, or 1 table-service credit
Link to Menu: BreakfastDinner
  • This intimate, "modern farmhouse" Greek restaurant is lovely for couples to have a hearty breakfast or comforting dinner together.
  • Pros:
    • Relaxing atmosphere
    • Breakfast menu is really appetizing, and a little different than just a typical breakfast menu
    • Great appetizers (Greek spreads, in particular) and hearty and robust Greek dishes for dinner
  • Cons:
    • Bad acoustics, slightly loud
    • Service here tends to be sub par
  • Other Notes: If you visit Kouzzina and don't have a different dish in mind, try the Cinnamon Chicken for dinner, and make sure to order the Honey Pecan Cinnamon Roll at Breakfast.

I just want to again mention Jellyrolls, the dueling piano bar, on the Boardwalk.  Though I have never personally been, I hope to go on my next trip, because it seems to be the spot for those without children to check out during their trip.

And there you have it!  Downtown Disney is really the place to go for fun nightlife on Disney property, with plenty of options that seem to have been created especially for groups without kids.

Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Please let me know!
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Until next time! <3

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