Disney Springs located just outside of Walt Disney World, formerly known as Downtown Disney, is a shopping, dining, entertainment area that is like no other. This very diverse complex is filled with a large variety of shops, entertainment venues, and a multi-cultural choice of dining options. What makes this unique network of shops, restaurants, and exceptional entertainment is the Disney name and all it stands for—family, fun, excitement, and most of all, magic. When you visit Disney Springs, you know right away you are in a very special place, with good vibes all around. For the purpsoses of this article, I am going to list ten of the top places to enjoy a delicious meal or snack. Without further ado, bon apetit!
10. Wetzel’s Pretzels/West Side—If you need to satisfy your pretzel craving, this is the place to accomplish that task. The menu offers sweet and salty choices. For example, you can enjoy a warm delicious plain pretzel with a choice of dipping sauces, a baked pepperoni twist pretzel, a wetzel dog, or for your sweet tooth, how about a sinful cinnamon flavored pretzel.
9. Earl of Sandwich/Marketplace— Even though the Earl of Sandwich is a franchise, there are many travelers who do not have access to one of these popular sandwich shops. For those of you who have not dined at an Earl of Sandwich, here is a sampling of their menu, and when you visit Disney Springs, you can decide for yourself whether it would be worth your time. The Earl of Sandwich’s catch phrase is “Enjoy the world’s greatest hot sandwich”. Here are a few of their specialties: Chipotle Chicken Avacado (grilled chicken, bacon, cheddar, avacado, lettuce and chipotle sauce; The Full Montagu (roasted beef, turkey, swiss, cheddar, lettuce, tomato, and mustard sauce; Veggie (feta, cucumber, red peppers, red onions, lettuce, Roma tomato, and creamy Mediterranean dressing); a variety of wraps, salads, and soups; hot breakfast sandwiches, and for that sweet craving, cookie bites, brownies, and brownie bites. If any of these premium sandwiches sound good to you, when you next visit Disney Springs, stop by the Earl of Sandwich and enjoy a delicious, warm flavorful sandwich.
8. Bongo’s Cuban Cafe’ Express/West Side— Take a break at this small quick service venue with outside tables, covered with umbrellas made from straw, keeping with the Cuban theme. The Cuban cuisine will wake up your palate with choices like the classic Cuban sandwich made with slow roasted pork, ham, pickles, swiss cheese and mustard on Cuban bread, a variety of specialty salads, Cuban Criolla minced beef, sweet plantains, and to top off your lunch or dinner, try a Cuban cheese pastry. Bongo’s Cuban Cafe’ Express is one of many cultural dining choices at Disney Springs.
7. Crossroads at House of Blues/West Side— The entertainment at this establishment is fantastic, but the menu choices are also an excellent reason to dine here. The appetizers are definitely for sharing; delicious and filling (voodoo shrimp, pork sliders, BBQ chicken grilled flatbread,etc.). Lunch and Dinner choices are mouthwatering, for instance, shrimp and grits, Jambalaya, St. Louis ribs, Linguini with chicken or shrimp, lobster macaroni and cheese, signature sandwiches and burgers, just to name a few. Be sure to save room for the luscious desserts, like bourbon bread pudding, key lime pie, or triple chocolate cheesecake. You can’t go wrong with the meals and entertainment here at the Crossroads House of Blues.
6. Cookes of Dublin/The Landing— “Wherever you go and whatever you do, may the luck of the Irish be there with you”, especially when you visit this charming Irish Bistro, serving Irish and American cuisine, featuring popular family recipes. Fish & chips tops the menu list, along with chicken and field mushroom pie, Irish style battered sausages, beef and lamb pie, classic Caesar salad, battered burger & chips, double dipped onion rings, and a glass display case highlighting the yummy desserts. Enjoy your dining here at Cookes of Dublin and “may the wind be always at your back”.
5. Wolfgang Puck Express/Marketplace— Enter into the world and kitchen of the famous chef, Wolfgang Puck and choose a table by the kitchen, an indoor dinner room, or if the weather is favorable, a table on the covered outdoor patio. Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the warm, inviting atmosphere is second only to the scrumptious food choices. For breakfast, how about corn flakes french toast or a bacon & cheddar omelet. At lunch time you have your choice of several unique salads (turkey cobb, roasted beet, etc.), sandwiches (bacon wrapped meatloaf, or chicken meatball), pizza, or spaghetti with chicken meatballs, just to name a few. For dinner, the menu is pretty much the same as lunch. For dessert, satisfy your sweet craving with a choice of Creme Brulee with fresh berries or vanilla bean cheesecake. Whether you enjoy breakfast, lunch, or dinner here, I am sure you will be delighted with the food and service.
4. T-REX Restaurant/Marketplace— If you are ready for a prehistoric dining adventure, this is the place for you and your family. Travel back in time to the days of the dinosaurs, including prehistoric animatronic creatures, meteor showers, and themed dining rooms depicting primordial landscapes from a color changing ice cavern to a fern forest buzzing with giant wasps, and many other sights and sounds that makes you feel like you really have traveled back in time. The menu is filled with creative titles; such as Chicken T-Rexadillas (red bell peppers, green onions, Monterey Jack, cheddar cheese, pico de gallo, avacado cream sauce); Jurrasic salad (celery, carrots, tomatoes, black olives, and a choice of dressing); Caesar-saurus salad; Pork-asaurus Sandwich (BBQ sauce, onion strings, cole slaw, served with waffle fries);Paleo shrimp; Prehistoric Pasta; Mastadon Stuffed Chicken (with artichoke hearts, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, lemon butter, red-skinned mashed potatoes, seasonal vegetables); and for dessert, Ice Age Indulgence (for two—layers of ice cream sandwiches, fudge sauce, whipped topping, Heath bar crunch); Cosmic key lime pie, and more. After you have dined on prehistoric dishes, let your future paleontologists visit the Paleo Zone, a hands-on experience where they can dig for hidden dinosaur fossils or pan for precious treasures in Discovery Creek. The Dino-Store is filled with educational toys, apparel, and other dinosaur themed souvenirs. At T-REX, you and your family will be part of a mammoth adventure.
3. Portobello Country Italian Trattoria/The Landing— This beautifully themed Italian Restaurant is located on the waterfront of Lake Buena Vista Lagoon. You can choose a table on the patio overlooking the peaceful Lagoon, or enjoy the beauty of the luxurious dining room. The tantalizing aroma of garlic, oregano, basil, rosemary, thyme, etc. hits your nostrils the moment you enter this Italian Trattoria. The atmosphere and the food are pure Italy. The menu offers so many savory choices that it will be hard to choose your favorite. Begin with a tasty appetizer: Mozzarella Stuffed Rice Balls, Nonna’s Meatballs, Calamari or a Spinach, House, or Caesar Salad; then the choices get harder. I will just give you a few samples of what is on the menu for lunch or dinner: Wood Burning Oven Pizzas (pepperoni, Italian sausage, or a Power Pizza (spinach, olive oil, Pecorino Romano), Spaghetti with Meatballs, Chicken Parmesan, Penne Bolognese (slow cooked beef and pork meat sauce, or try the housemade Artisan Lasagna. You can also choose from specialty sandwiches, like a Calzone (salami, pepperoni, vinegar peppers, fontina, tomato basil dipping sauce, housemade giardiniera, Caprese (ripe tomato, fresh mozzarella, basil, olive oil, green salad), or there is also the Vegetarian sandwich (eggplant, Portobello mushroom, goat cheese, peppers, green salad). After you have enjoyed your meal, you may not have room for dessert, but I am sure they can prepare it to go, and you can enjoy it later. Here are a few luscious choices: Chocolate Paradis (rich chocolate layer cake, chocolate ganache, and toffee crunch), Fragole con Saba (marinated strawberries and berry sorbet, or Fantasia di Meringata (Gelato and sorbet with Italian meringue). How’s that for some sweet offerings? If you’re in the mood for Italian cuisine, Portobello Country Italian Trattoria will definitely satisfy your craving.
2. The Boathouse/The Landing— At this fine dining restaurant, enjoy upscale waterfront dining, where you can enjoy the best surf and turf cuisine in all of Walt Disney World. From a beautiful, luxurious dining room to a more casual family-friendly dining area, the experience is the same; fun and delicious food for everyone, with a glorious waterfront view of Disney Springs. The menu is a mixture of the best of land and sea, with fresh seafood, a raw bar, steaks and chops, signature salads, etc. Here is a small sampling of the menu here: raw bar—oysters on the half shell, Boathouse lobster cocktail; appetizers—Maine lobster bisque, firecracker shrimp, local Cedar Key Middleneck clams; Lunch and Dinner choices: signature salads, grilled Mahi, Mahi tacos, broiled Atlantic swordfish steak, “Yacht Club club sandwich, classic burger, New England lobster roll, steak sandwich, Caribbean Jack style Rotisserie chicken, grilled wild Baja shrimp & grits, Filet Mignon, Porterhouse steak, Niman Ranch Heritage pork chop, steamed whole Maine lobster. For dessert, there are choices of key lime pie in a Mason jar, mango sorbet, or Florida sunshine cake (for 4). This is actually just a small portion of the incredible menu here at The Boathouse. After your meal, step outside and take a ride on one of the newly restored amphicars (amphibious automobile) which can seat 2 passengers and the professional pilot (driver). Dining at The Boathouse is not just a magnificent dining experience; it is a magical Disney experience.
1. Food Trucks—Location changes— The Food Trucks at Disney Springs are especially handy for quick lunches, snacks, or beverages. During the construction phase of Disney Springs their locations do change, so the best way to find them is to walk around until you come across them or ask someone at any shop. There are 4 popular Food Trucks at Disney Springs and are usually located at the West Side. They are: Fantasy Fare—grilled ham & cheese, hand-dipped corn dog, Buffalo chicken & waffles, and sweet potato puffs with marshmallow cream; World Showcase of Flavors—Pierogies (small dough envelopes filled with mashed potatoes, meat, cheese, or vegetables, crimped to seal the edge, then boiled or fried), Grass-fed beef sliders with Monterey Jack, sweet-hot pickles and housemade chips, grilled chicken breast Gyro (meat, roasted on a verticle spit, thinly sliced, topped with onions served in pita bread) with housemade chips; Superstar Catering—Mushroom flatbread, Beef brisket & pulled chicken sliders with housemade chips, Salmon BLT with chili-lime mayonnaise with housemade chips, Shrimp & lobster macaroni & cheese with Gouda lobster bisque sauce; Namaste Cafe’—Butter Chicken with Basmati rice & pickled vegetables, Lamb Kefta (a mixture of minced meat shaped into small balls and cooked) with tomato cucumber Raita sauce, Tandoori Shrimp with Basmati rice and pickled vegetbles, Naan(pita-style bread) & Samosa (fried turnover filled with minced meat, potatoes, or peas) Dipping Safari (three delectable dipping sauces). There you have it—4 trucks, 4 diversified menus. Pick your favorite cuisine, find a table or seating place, and enjoy. I just really like the ease and choices of Food Trucks, and you don’t have to wait to be served. Just get in that line, place your order, get your food, and go eat.
Disney Springs at Walt Disney World has so much to offer: shopping, dining, entertainment, and it’s open to anyone, not just Disney guests. It is a wondrous place to visit, and when all the construction is done, it will be even more exciting. I have focused on a few of the dining choices, but there is so much more to enjoy at Disney Springs. I can think of no other shopping, dining, or entertainment area that tops this one, except, of course, Walt Disney World itself. When I have visited Disney Springs in the past, I have always felt the Disney magic that exists in all the theme parks. To me, Disney Springs is another Disney theme park without the rides.
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