Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Counter-Service Countdown

You didn’t make any advance dining reservations, and none of the sit-down restaurants have anything available. Or you thought you’d be able to feed your group for less than $25 per person, per day, and then took a look at the Walt Disney World menus. Are you consigned to a week of burgers and chicken nuggets? Never fear; I am, as always, here to help! I’ve compiled a list of my ten favorite counter-service restaurants in WDW, with options in nearly ever corner of the World. Here we go:

(Honorable Mention) Studio Catering Company, Disney’s Hollywood Studios (I tried to limit myself to 10, but this deserved a “most improved” award) – What an improvement! Chili Cheese Dogs have been removed to make room for Pressed Tuscan Deli and Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches. Hallelujah!

10. Starring Rolls Café, Disney’s Hollywood Studios – It’s not a huge menu, but if I can get a Black Forest Ham Sandwich and a Caramel Apple with nuts, I’m not complaining; and now there’s sushi, too!

9. Pepper Market, Coronado Springs Resort – This one may be cheating a little, sort of a halfway house between counter service and table service. It’s got some great options though – everything from fajitas to egg rolls!

8. Yorkshire Fish Shop, UK Pavilion (Epcot)Arthur Treacher, eat your heart out; this is how fish and chips should be done.

7. Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Café, Magic KingdomTaco Salad or an Angus Cheeseburger with all the fixin’s, maybe even a side of Cheese Fries. Okay, I didn’t say these would necessarily be healthy options…

6. Sunshine Seasons Food Fair, Land Pavilion (Epcot) – A pork chop, mashed potatoes, and salad for $9.99; need I say more?

5. Beach Club Marketplace, Beach Club – What a find this place was! Tucked in the back of the Beach Club’s gift shop, this was a last resort for dinner one night. After trying their Roast Beef and Brie on Ciabatta Roll, I liked it so much I went back another night for the Smoked Ham and Black Diamond Cheddar on a Multigrain Bun. Yum!

4. Flame Tree BBQ, Animal Kingdom – I love me some barbecue. And when the options range from a pulled pork sandwich to 1/2 Slab of St. Louis Ribs, then Honey, I’m home!

3. Wolfgang Puck Express, Downtown Disney – While you may not find the sushi or tiramisu that I love so much, you can usually get a Meatball and Parmesan Pizza or a Chinois Chicken Salad – not too shabby!

2. Tangerine Café, Morocco Pavilion (Epcot) – Don’t be scared off by the thought of Moroccan cuisine. If you like gyros, then give one of their Shawarma Platters a try. Chicken and/or lamb served with hummus, tabbouleh, Tangerine Couscous Salad and fresh Moroccan bread, these are large enough to share. We come here every trip, and it’s been my daughter’s favorite counter-service location for as long as she can remember.

1. Earl of Sandwich, Downtown Disney – I don’t just like it for its name and history, I swear! That said, you’ve got to hear the history:

In 1762, John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, had his hands full, literally. He was the First Sea Lord of the mighty British Navy, a noted explorer, a patron of the arts and also a dedicated gambler with a love of daylong card games.

This led to little time for food, so he came up with the ingenious idea of putting meat between two slices of bread. From then on it did not matter if you were inspecting the Fleet or laying down a Royal Flush you could eat great food without too much fuss.

Thus the sandwich was named after its inventor the 4th Earl of Sandwich in 1762. Now over 240 years on, the family, now headed by John Montagu, the 11th Earl of Sandwich has reclaimed and reinvented the greatest of all quick foods.

The Earl of Sandwich is dedicated to bringing the sandwich we've all been waiting for. Our signature hot Roast Beef Sandwich, served on hearth baked bread will amaze you. We also serve classic cold sandwiches and wraps, unique salads, fresh fruit smoothies and our very own ice cream sandwiches.

We feel honored that so many have copied our lead but we are here to reclaim the sandwich.”

And reclaim it they have! From The All American - roast turkey, cranberries, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, and buttermilk ranch to The Full Montagu - roast beef and turkey with cheddar and Swiss cheese, romaine lettuce, tomato and Earl's mustard, I’ve never had anything here that I didn’t completely love.

So there you have it; my favorite foods in Walt Disney World that don’t require a reservation. What are your favorites? Come share at Happy Eating, everyone!

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