My favourite (mostly) plant based options in Walt Disney World
I was very happy to see that recently Disney now have at least one plant based option in all quick service and table service restaurants in Walt Disney World. As someone who is vegetarian and very quickly making more and more solely plant based food decisions (I’m not vegan yet but getting there!) this was welcome news. On trips in the past I often had to look up menus to ensure I could get something to eat wherever we decided to eat.
Here are some words I’ll be using and what they mean:
- omni - omnivore, eats both animal meat and plants
- vegetarian - doesn’t eat animal meat but will eat dairy (eggs & animal milk). In my case I do not eat gelatine although some vegetarians do. I also do not eat fish or seafood products (when someone does it’s pescatarian not vegetarian)
- vegan - doesn’t eat animal meat or any products derived from animals (eggs, milk, honey)
- plant based - doesn’t contain any product derived from animals (i.e. no meat, eggs, honey etc.)
- quick service - you order at a counter and bring your own food to a table
- table service - you get waiter service and your food is brought out to you
I’m going to detail some of my favourite (and not so favourite) meals from our January 2020 trip.
Unfortunately although Disney have done some fantastic work with documenting the plant based choices in Magic Kingdom the quick service restaurant choices aren’t great. I found this even when I was eating omni, it’s mostly burgers and hotdogs. For quick service I always go to Pecos Bill’s Tall Tale Inn & Cafe and get the vegetable rice bowl, it’s pretty plain but there is a toppings bar where you can load up on jalapeños and salsa.
One of my worst meals from the trip was the plant based brat and tots from Friar’s Nook, it was incredibly dry. I believe it is a Beyond sausage that they use but it was fried beyond (geddit?) recognition.
For Dole whip (the plain stuff is vegan as is!) hit up Aloha Isle! I love Dole whip as it’s pineapple-y delicious and even in the fierce Florida heat doesn’t immediately melt into a puddle.
Contempo Cafe in the Contemporary (it’s Magic Kingdom area so counts?) was where we tended to go for a quick bite in the evening when we came home from the parks (we were staying in the Contemporary). We had the tofu protein bowl which was substantial but pretty boring. Toby had the vegetarian pizza which he reported as being very nice but basic. I also had the Kale Power Greens Salad one evening which was enormous and very tasty.
I had my favourite table service meal from my trip here in Liberty Tree Tavern. It was the Revolutionary Meatloaf, this was a few thick slices of Impossible protein with mashed potatoes, crisp green beans and mushroom gravy. It was absolutely delicious and I would recommend anyone have it. We had it a la carte for lunch but you can have it bottomless at dinner time. Our server was also really knowledgable when it came to protein substitutes.
I’m going to speak about the brunch at California Grill even though it’s not Magic Kingdom, I think it counts as it’s in the area! We went before on a previous trip and loved it, we were both omni at the time though. This trip we didn’t love it so much. We were sat in a very crowded area of the restaurant and the people on the table beside us were extremely loud and having a conversation with the table beside them all about Run Disney (I even know the exact training regime they used ha ha). I understand that this is just poor luck though.
The brunch comes with bottomless sparkling wine which the server kept referring to as champagne when I could clearly taste and see that it was cava. The chef very kindly walked us through the buffet selections and brought us down a few plates of specially made veggie food. I ordered the plant based shakshuka which came with tofu instead of eggs. It was a very odd dish. It was like a spinach soup with kale and a small amount of tofu, not like the hearty spiced tomato based dish I’m used to. It was messy and difficult to eat as it was too liquid for a fork but had too many large pieces of kale for a spoon. Toby had eggs Benedict minus the ham and with avocado, he said the hollandaise lacked any flavour and the muffins were hard and quite difficult to eat.
The buffet had fairly limited options and the mains were disappointing for the price that it costs to dine there. Another thing to note for any veggie or vegan folk is that our server on a previous visit was completely unaware that a lot of wines contain animal products and made the claim that all of their wines were free of animal product, a quick Google of items on their wine list disproved his claims.
Another location that isn’t strictly Magic Kingdom is Storybook Dining in Wilderness Lodge. This is the Snow White character dining experience where you get to meet Snow, Grumpy, Dopey and the Evil Queen! There are several plant based options available if you ask for the menu. Toby had A Stroll Through Nature which is a vegetarian gnocchi dish which is a large portion and very tasty. I’ve heard a few food blogs say this in one of the best dishes in the restaurant even for omni’s. I had a plant based version of Brother’s Grimm Roasted Chicken, which was made from Gardein chick’n I believe. The dish was delicious but like a lot of the food in Walt Disney World very heavily salted (side note: always taste your food there before salting it!). I thought the service was a bit rushed and haphazard (the server managed to pour water over me). I think this is still a good character experience though and worth a visit, even just for the hilarious conversations with the Evil Queen!
Another not Magic Kingdom destination is Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, this is a highly themed cocktail bar in the Polynesian Resort, even if you don’t drink this is a destination you should visit because it’s just so much fun! When we were here we ate a few items off the bar menu. Firstly the rainbow rolls, super tasty enough for a couple of pieces of sushi each and next the tofu lettuce cups, pretty tasty and again enough to share. Between these two dishes we had a substantial enough snack.
Guacamole and chips and a frozen Margarita at La Cantina de San Angel is a tradition for us here at Pin Trader Club. When we want to rest our feet and have a snack in Epcot this is our go to place about half the time. The serving of guac and chips is quite large and the guac is chunky and quite pleasant tasting (I always think it could do with a pinch more lime and salt though).
We got an amazing baguette from Les Halles in the French Pavilion which made it all across the world on Soarin’ and back to our hotel room for breakfast the next morning!
We also got a pretzel from the Bier und Brezlen cart in the Germany Pavilion. These babies are huge and easily do two people as quite a filling snack! Side note: Mickey pretzels are also plant based and available at lots of locations all across Walt Disney World.
Sunshine Seasons deserves an honourable mention, whilst I’ve never had anything mind-blowing from here, it is one of the few locations at Walt Disney World that has provided plant based options before it was fashionable to do so. The veggie korma is substantial and filling and always has lots of cashew nuts which I am a fan of.
This ones a little bit of a cheat as it was off the Rose and Crown Pub menu but I believe it is just a bigger portion in the restaurant. This is the “fish” and chips. This was two battered Gardein “fish” fillets with chips and tartar sauce. I was really surprised at how tasty this was considering I am a massive chippy fan. The chips were more like pub chips than chippy chips. They also had malt vinegar at the bar and I really entertained an American lady at the next table when she seen how much I added to my plate! (A perfectly normal amount if you ask me 😂)
We visited San Angel Inn Restaurante for the first time this trip. We had the Plato Vegetariano, which was veggies, beans, guac and tortillas, this was really nice. I would hazard against ordering a starter as you get chips on the table and the portions are large, they will also bring you down extra tortillas if you request, so no extra courses needed here! This is a really cute restaurant that in inside the big building in the Mexico Pavilion so you dine in twilight -even at lunch time! And if you're lucky you might get a seat where you can see the Grand Fiesta Tour boats!
We also went to my favourite character dining Garden Grill! Here you get to dine in a rotating restaurant and see Mickey, Pluto and Chip and Dale while you eat! The meal is a family style platter with corn patties, lots of different veggies and fries, a starter salad and dessert is also included. This is a firm favourite with me and the plant based option comes as quickly as any other meal. When we ate there before and Toby was still omni they were happy to bring us down separate platters.
My favourite quick service meal from HS came from Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo this was the Felucian Kefta and Hummus Garden Spread, this was three large “meat” balls with a herby hummus and pita bread. The “meat” balls were made from Impossible protein and had lots of quinoa with mild spicing. We had this at least twice at HS as it was so tasty! Really refreshing to see one of the parks with so many plant based options that weren’t just burgers.
We had another great meal from Backlot Express which was the Tatooine Two Suns Hummus. This was two different types of hummus (plain and red pepper) topped with fried chickpeas (frickin’ amazing), “meat” pieces (not really required in my opinion), a salad and pita bread. Normally Backlot Express is a location I discount as a choice because I always thought it was just burgers but I’m really glad I looked at the menu because I enjoyed this meal immensely. The portion was a little large for me (I’m quite a small eater) so Toby had a bit extra for his portion so it balanced out quite nicely.
Okay so I have to mention ABC Commissary as we did eat there, I got a portion of fries because the plant based option was a burger (look it might seem like it but I don’t have anything against burgers but I prefer to eat them only 3 or 4 times a year). Toby had the burger and said it was one of the best burgers he’s had on property which is saying something because that man loves burgers! (unlike me 😂)
We don’t spend a lot of time in Animal Kingdom on any of our visits to WDW, it’s a great park but I’ve got agoraphobia and find it the park I can deal with least with the crowds for some reason 🤷🏻♀️ The humidity in AK always gets me feeling pretty flustered too.
I absolutely adore Satu’li Canteen. It’s worth noting that if you’re doing mobile order that you can order any of the sauces for the protein bowls and some of these I believe contain animal product, Vegan Disney World have pretty up to date info on this. If you’re not sure though it’s always better to ask a cast member. I always get the fried tofu, red and sweet potato hash and charred green onion vinaigrette. It has a mild amount of spicing and is tasty and filling, pretty healthy too which is hard to find in theme park food 😂
On our first evening we went to Frontera Cocina as we were in Disney Springs picking up our Annual Passes. I loved the food we got here. We both went for guacamole to share which was chunky and flavourful for a starter. Then we both had the veggie tortillas for our main. I was obsessed with how garlicky the beans were, the texture, the taste -amazing! The margarita menu was also extensive and we each had delicious drinks.
We didn’t manage to go to Erin McKennas bakery this time but it totally deserves a mention because absolutely everything from this delicious bakery is vegan and amazing.
All in all I think Disney have made some great steps in plant based options. They have always provided accessibility in their menus with regards to dietary requirements and it is refreshing to see them extending this to dietary preferences too.
This article was written by elaine on Thursday 30 January 2020.
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