Counter Dining in Style at Disney

by Gray Cargill on July 6, 2010

Once again, I am very pleased to bring you a guest post by foodie blogger extraordinaire AJ Wolfe of the Disney Food Blog. A few weeks ago, AJ shared with us an excellent itinerary for solo travelers attending Disney World’s Food and Wine Festival.  Today, AJ discusses counter dining options located in Disney theme parks that can provide the solo traveler with an extra special experience.

Flying Fish Chef's Counter

Flying Fish Chef’s Counter

It’s been mentioned before on this blog how Disney parks fit the solo traveler quite well, but I think one of the best ways to indulge while going solo is by dining counter-side at some of the fabulous restaurants.

Chef’s Counters

For those who may be unfamiliar with the concept, a Chef’s Counter is a seating counter (natch) — usually facing an open kitchen — that can be found in many upscale restaurants. Guests at the Chef’s Counter are often treated not only to the show of the open kitchen, but also to the personal attention of the Executive Chef. In some cases, the chef may even make variations on the typical menu to suit specific likes, dislikes, and whims of the Chef’s Counter guests!

Two of my favorite Chef’s Counters can be found at Disney’s signature restaurants:


Steak at Flying Fish

Flying Fish Cafe
While Flying Fish Cafe specializes in seafood, the restaurant showcases incredible steaks and vegetarian dishes as well. The understated decor (including stylized flying fish, of course) and robust menu are the perfect setting for an evening of relaxation with a twist.

Vegetarian Bento Box at Flying Fish

Vegetarian Bento Box at Flying Fish

The restaurant is located on Disney World’s Boardwalk, which offers plenty of after-dinner activity. When you’re done with your meal, head over to Epcot to catch Illuminations at 9pm or stop by Jellyrolls — a fun dueling piano bar — for an after-dinner drink. Don’t forget to bring a few dollar bills so that you can request songs!

Napa Rose Chefs Counter

Napa Rose Chefs Counter

Napa Rose
Located in Disney’s Grand Californian Resort in Disneyland, Napa Rose is the place to indulge when you find yourself in the Anaheim, California, area. With Chef Andrew Sutton at the helm, this spot is known state-wide for incredible food.

The counter here is active and exciting, and while it costs no more than a standard pre fixe menu at the restaurant, you are likely to have the Chef’s special touches coming your way.  Arrive armed with requests!

Sizzling Beach Rock Appetizer at Napa Rose

Sizzling Beach Rock Appetizer at Napa Rose

Other Counter Dining

While these suggestions aren’t specifically Chef’s Counters, they do offer some not-to-be-missed eats!

Wolfgang Puck Cafe
Wolfgang Puck is synonymous with fresh, inspired cuisine, and it continues here at his Orlando, Florida, eatery. This Downtown Disney district hot spot offers incredible sushi and entrees ranging from pumpkin ravioli and Chilean salmon to meat loaf and wood-fired pizzas.

Have a seat at the Wolfgang Puck Cafe counter and don’t forget to treat yourself to one of Puck’s delicious desserts.

California Grill

California Grill

California Grill Sushi Counter
While California Grill has long been established as a top tier signature dining spot in Walt Disney World, its sushi counter is an up-and-coming delight. The highly recommended dishes include Yellowfin Tuna Three Ways: Poke, Tartare, and Tataki; and Yoshie’s Deluxe Sushi Platter: Maki and Nigiri.

If you time your visit just right, you’ll be treated to a wonderful view of the Magic Kingdom fireworks show through the restaurant’s floor-to-ceiling windows!

Enjoy the Show!

While many folks think that dining at Disney relegates them to eating overcooked hamburgers and soggy french fries, think again! Any gourmand can find spectacular meals at Disney parks and resorts, and those mentioned above are some of the very best. But be sure to go hungry — trust me when I say you’ll want to sample everything on the menu!

To book Walt Disney World Resort dining, call 407-WDW-DINE or book online here. Reservations can be made 180 days in advance. To book Disneyland Resort dining, call 714-781-DINE up to 60 days in advance.

You can catch me writing about Disney Food most days of the week over at The Disney Food Blog. Hope to see you there!

This blog post is proudly featured in the 6th Dismarks’ Disney Blog Carnival.


DFB GuidePlanning a trip to Walt Disney World? The DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining e-book can save you time and money while providing you with all the information and tools you need to make the most of your dining experience at “The World”. Read my review of the book here. Click here to download your copy today!

SoloFriendly August 10, 2010 at 3:49 pm

I can't believe I still haven't made it to Jiko. That is a definite priority for me for my next trip. Thanks, Sarah.

Sarah Inkin August 10, 2010 at 2:47 pm

You can eat at “the Cooking Place” at Jiko in the Animal Kingdom Lodge! It's so much fun to watch them prepare the food in front of you and the smells are out of this world! I ate there on my solo 2006 trip and agree that counter dining is the way to go if you're a solo traveler!

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