A Disney vacation is already a splurge for most of us. Why spend the extra money (or dining plan points) to dine at one of Disney’s Signature Restaurants? Well, Disney’s signature restaurants are well worth the splurge and are well prepped to accommodate a vegan diner (no sad $20 side salad and steamed broccoli here!). Of course, some are definitely better than others so stick to these top 5 if you are planning a special occasion meal on your next trip. I am not including Victoria & Alberts in this list as V&A’s is really in another category (both by quality and pricing) and deserves a post of its own. Any of these restaurants are perfect to celebrate a birthday or anniversary or just to enjoy a relatively quiet romantic dinner.
5. The Hollywood Brown Derby in Disney’s Hollywood Studios
My main issue with the The Hollywood Brown Derby is that it’s far too nice of a restaurant to actually be in a theme park. I get why it’s in there, but guests in shorts and Mickey hats really detract from a beautifully detailed atmosphere that could handle tailcoats and evening dresses. In regards to the food, however, I have no complaints. A vegan version of their famous Cobb salad can be made for the appetizer or an entree. Ask the chef if he has any extra veggies to throw in. The Noodle Bowl with Wok-fried Coconut Tofu is an already vegan entree and very good, albeit spicy. The wine flights are a fun addition to the meal. If you’re looking for a special occasion lunch or dinner without leaving the theme park and breaking your touring rhythm, The Hollywood Brown Derby is a great choice.
4. Narcoossee’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Set on the edge of the Seven Seas Lagoon, Narcoossee’s offers a beautiful view of the Magic Kingdom fireworks with the music piped in (including Hallowishes and the Christmas fireworks — great if you don’t want to do the hard ticket party). You get a wider view of the show than from Main Street USA which makes for a more complete view of the show and peripheral fireworks. The ambience is an upscale seafood restaurant — lots of couples as well as some families dining here. While the menu is seafood focused, the chef is very accommodating to vegan diners. We had our rehearsal dinner for our wedding here and everyone was blown away by the quality of the food and the service, even with the steep prices. Perfect for celebrating an anniversary.
3. Cítricos at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Citricos is often overlooked amongst the Grand Floridian restaurants but it really is a hidden gem. The yellow and red Mediterranean vibe and open show kitchen lend a more casual feel than some of the other signature options while still maintaining a refined feel. The waitstaff is well educated about the food and can provide background and modifications for each dish. On our recent trip here, I enjoyed a delicious salad for my appetizer, an amazingly textured seared tofu entree, and a delicious Granny Smith green apple sorbet for dessert (and I normally don’t like sorbet). A great choice for a special couples night out.
2. California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Set atop Disney’s Contemporary Resort, the California Grill offers spectacular views during the nightly Magic Kingdom fireworks. I haven’t had the chance to go back since the renovation last year but reviews have been good and the view alone makes this a worthy dining spot. Each time I have gone, the chefs have made a vegan tasting plate for the entree that was very good. Definitely geared towards adults and featuring an extensive wine list, The California Grill is a Disney experience everyone should do at least once.
1. Jiko-The Cooking Place at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
Jiko is the only restaurant on this list with a dedicated vegan menu. Well worth the trek out to the Animal Kingdom Lodge, Jiko offers delicious, healthy cuisine and wine offerings rarely seen in the United States. The service is attentive and courses are not rushed — you will be able to linger over your food and celebrate with your special someone. Lower lighting makes for a romantic vibe. With a dedicated vegan menu, you can relax and enjoy the meal and the company while knowing that you will be getting a delicious meal to boot.
What is your favorite restaurant to celebrate a special occasion in Walt Disney World? Let us know in the comments!