There are some really great “counter services” restaurants at Walt Disney World in Orlando Florida. This is a first-person presentation on three of them: Flame Tree Barbecue, The Earl of Sandwich and Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe. Also included here is information on researching the best restaurants at the “World”.
FLAME TREE BARBECUE
Everyone has their own favorite Barbecue place, so trying one in a theme park can challenge your taste buds. And even though Flame Tree is in a Disney park, I was not quite sure until we visited The Flame Tree Barbecue in Animal Kingdom. My wife and I felt they did compare very well to our local BBQ pits. Smoked Barbecue Ribs, pulled pork and chicken sandwiches, baked beans and cole slow, it was a pleasure to stop twice during our last trip.
At the Flame Tree BBQ the hot meals are $9-11 each but there are also salads and a fruit plate for a little less. But don’t forget to share an order of fries or onion rings. There is plenty of outdoor seating, and various breeds of birds (like Egrets) to accompany your meal. The scenery is really nice and quiet, and be sure to look around at the pavilion carvings and period decorations. The way it’s laid out, you are out of the way of the busy main walkways so there is some privacy. You will enjoy the meal.
THE EARL OF SANDWICH
The Earl of Sandwich in Downtown Disney is another great stop, and it reminds me of deli-style stores in big cities, but without the bulk meat purchases. There are soups and salads, a wide variety of delicious carefully-designed hot and cold sandwiches, and some pre-wrapped sides and desserts. All of it is very good and will draw you back many times for a quick, but well-prepared meal.
The Earl’s sandwiches have names and cost about $6 each. These include the The Full Montagu (Roasted Beef, Turkey, Swiss & Cheddar Cheese, Lettuce, Roma Tomato & Earl’s Mustard); the Original 1762 (Freshly Roasted Beef, Cheddar Cheese & Creamy Horseradish Sauce); Hawaiian BBQ (Grilled Chicken, Roasted Ham, Hawaiian BBQ Sauce, Aged Swiss Cheese & Fresh Pineapple); the Earl’s Club (Roasted Turkey, Smoked Bacon, Swiss Cheese, Lettuce, Roma Tomato & Sandwich Sauce) and Cannonballs (Meatballs, Marinara, Mozzarella & Parmesan Cheese). They also have salads.
The Earl of Sandwich originated at WDW and was founded by Robert Earl of Planet Hollywood fame and the actual 11th of Earl of Sandwich Lord John Montagu. They are trying to build a nationwide chain, with about a dozen right stores now. This place can have a long time at times, and it’s quite popular with visitors and locals alike. I checked the listing in TripAdvisor and it’s 9th out of 1,224 eating spots in the Orlando area. For Disney fans alone, AllEars.Net is there to hear what your fellow visitors think.
PLAN YOUR MEALS FIRST
I also want to make a recommendation to help plan your next trip to Walt Disney World. It’s good to start planning your Disney World vacations with the restaurants you want to visit, and then go back to prepare the rest of your schedule. So I always begin with The Disney Food Blog and their “Best Restaurant” page. Take some time to read reviews there and on other Disney fan sites. You won’t be disappointed that you planned where you would like to eat first.
PECOS BILLS TALL TALE INN AND CAFE
Finally we arrive at the Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom and Pecos Bills Tall Tale Inn and Cafe, located in Frontierland. They have hamburgers, but it is the Dagwood-style burgers you can create on your own! You order your food at an computer Kiosk, which I thought was a little strange, but then I noticed the fixings bar, and any apprehension I had went away. And this is a big place, tables inside and outside that means room for hundreds.
When you are really hungry, go to Pecos Bills. Combo meals like the Bacon Double Cheeseburger and quarter pounders can double in size with a visit to fixings bar. There are also BBQ Pork sandwiches, chicken wraps, salads and vegetarian burger. In 2009 they added a fried chicken and gravy dinner with corn. And in 2010 they added an Angus Burger. When you add the sides (like chili cheese fries!) plus desserts, you have a meal equal to the five recommended food groups.
The character Pecos Bill is real (or maybe real folklore of the old west), but Disney adopted him to their own devices through film, cartoons and a theme park restaurant. You might remember Melody Time, the Disney animated feature from 1948. The finale of Melody Time was a cartoon about Pecos Bill and his horse, Widowmaker. Pecos Bill in the cartoon was not too politically correct since he smoked, so it’s not widely distributed for today’s audiences. But then came the 1995 Disney movie starring Patrick Swayze as Pecos Bill.
These counter-service options are much faster than sit-down dining (even with the waiting-to-order and pick-up lines) but that means you get back to your real purpose for being at a Walt Disney theme park. Plus counter-service meals are clearly less expensive for everyone particularly families. Have a magical day.