Top 5 Signature Dining Experiences

June 9, 2011
Flying Fish Restaurant - Kristen Hoetzel Photography

Flying Fish Restaurant - Kristen Hoetzel Photography

For those of you who haven’t tried any of the Signature Restaurants at Walt Disney World and are unfamiliar with what to expect… these are restaurants that serve excellent cuisine in an elegant atmosphere. If you are on the Disney Dining Plan these restaurants require 2 table service credits but are well worth it. Some restaurants like Victoria and Albert’s are fine dining so they have not been included. Here are my top 5 Signature Restaurants:

#5 – California Grill (Disney’s Contemporary Resort) – The food here is excellent and since it’s located on top of the resort, you’ll have a perfect view of Wishes from the restaurant. The menu reflects the different cultures of California so it’s a fusion style restaurant including dishes like sushi, filet with Teriyaki BBQ sauce and Pan-seared Artic Char. California Grill is vibrant in color and atmosphere. I found this restaurant to have the highest level of noise of any of the signature restaurants so don’t be surprised if the restaurant seems a little loud.

#4 – Il Mulino New York Trattoria (Walt Disney World Swan Resort) – If you are looking for traditional Italian style food in a contemporary style restaurant with an elegant atmosphere this is a must try. To start your meal they bring you complimentary bread and antipasta that contains sausage and eggplant. When dining in restaurants that are cultural I follow the famous saying “When in Rome…” so I start off with an additional antipasta (starter) and I also get a pasta dish, then an entree and finish off with a dessert. With my meal I have vino and with my dessert an espresso. Now the food is a lot so the best way to have the complete experience is to share this with someone else, otherwise you’ll have a lot of food to take home. This restaurants is pretty quiet so it’s great for a romantic night out.

#3 – Hollywood Brown Derby (Disney’s Hollywood Studios) – When thinking of what signature restaurants to dine at, the last thing people think of is visiting a theme park restaurant for it. However, Hollywood Brown Derby is the exception to this. Designed after the famous Brown Derby, it is an authentic replica with a relaxing atmosphere. They serve contemporary American cuisine included their famous Cobb Salad and Grapefruit Cake. The service is top notch and the food unique and delicious. They offer a wonderful wine list, tea list and if you like you can book the Fantasmic! Package or Dine Wine an Imagineer. I like the fact that once you step into the Hollywood Brown Derby, you are treated like a celebrity and forget that you are even dining in a theme park.

#2 – Flying Fish (Disney’s Boardwalk Inn) – For fresh seafood and fish dishes in a whimsical atmosphere visit the Flying Fish. The restaurant is beautiful with it’s mural painted walls and light beach colors. The menu changes often so it’s unlikely that when you return to dine that you’ll even have the opportunity have the same dish you had last time. The menu is mainly fish but you can find pasta, lamb and beef on the menu. They have the most amazing cheese plate, that is one item I always start off with even though the cheese change every time. The restaurant also offers a Chef’s Tasting Wine Dinner, which includes a 6 course prix-fixe menu accompanied by expert chosen wines. When you are finished you can take a nice leisurely stroll along the boardwalk and have a relaxing evening or stop into Jelly Rolls or the Atlantic Dance Hall for a more lively entertaining night.

#1 – Narcoossee’s (Disney Grand Floridian Resort and Spa) – Located on the pier of Disney’s Grand Floridian, overlooking the Seven Seas Lagoon, Narcoossee’s offers exquisite fresh seafood, perfectly cook filet mignon, chicken and vegetarian dishes. This is one of the most romantic restaurants with it’s dim-lit dining room and view of the water. If you make your reservation for just the right time ,you can step outside on the verandah and view Wishes and the Electrical Water Pageant which goes right by the restaurant. My favorite dish is the Surf and Turf, medallions of filet mignon and lobster tail served with green beans and Duchess potatoes. But you must save room for dessert! They have the best cheesecake in the entire world. The Almond-crusted Cheesecake with Lambert Cherry Sauce is something you can’t pass up… unless you are allergic to nuts. It is sinfully delicious and wonderful with a glass of champagne or recommended wine to end your romantic night out.

These are just my top 5 and doesn’t include every great restaurant that I’ve dined at. I haven’t had a bad experience at any of the Signature Restaurants. Every one of them serves great food and has exceptional service so don’t hesitate to check any of them out.

Did you favorite make the list? If not, which is your favorite? I’d love to hear what you like and your favorite dish from that restaurant.

Kristen Hoetzel is the creator of and a Sorcerer Radio DJ. When she’s not cooking, writing, making videos or DJing, she’s at a Nashville Predators hockey game cheering on her boys or off to some new and exciting destination taking pictures and trying new foods. You call follow her on Twitter @CookingwMickeyandFacebook.

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5 Responses to Top 5 Signature Dining Experiences

  1. Beth on June 9, 2011 at 9:10 AM

    Great list! Our goal is try every one of these! We love California Grill. The food is delicious and of course, as you mentioned, the view can’t be beat. But a close second for us is Artist Point at Wilderness Lodge. I loved the Portobello Soup, the Salmon and the Berry Cobbler.

  2. Julie on June 9, 2011 at 9:57 AM

    Thanks for this post My husband and I will be visiting WDW in October to celebrate our 15 year anniversary and I picked the GF Narraccosses for our special anniversary meal makes me excited to see you rank it as your top choice plus we’ll be dining at Brown Derby too. Looking forward to some great food and dining memories

  3. Kathy Kelly on June 9, 2011 at 3:36 PM

    Hmmm. I’ve only been to one out of the five: Flying Fish. I’ve got to get on the ball!! Great article, thanks!

  4. Melissa on June 9, 2011 at 11:48 PM

    Great lineup! It sure is hard to narrow down and you did a great job!

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