The Best Thing I Ever Ate at Hollywood Studiosby Roan Poulter, contributing writer
Disney's Hollywood Studios ranks pretty low on most Disney Dining favorite lists. Someone will say that soon there will be multiple offerings coming with Galaxy's Edge (a.k.a. Star Wars Land) and that's true. But you might find yourself glad to know of some alternate options when the crowds surge like a championship soccer match in Bavaria. In holding with our family ratings system, all answers were agreed upon by myself, my wife and our two children. I will break our favorites into the following categories:
- Best Dessert
- Best Atmosphere
- Best Drink
- Best Counter service appetizer
- Best Counter service entrée
- Best Fine Dining appetizer
- Best Fine Dining entrée
Eating dessert first is what made me the man I am today. Sure my doctor has begged me to stop, but hey, you only live once. Disney has a long-standing tradition of sugaring up its guests to fuel their family frivolities, and Hollywood Studios is no exception. From the rarely open Gertie's Ice Cream of Extinction to the well hidden Joffrey's stand behind the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, sweets are everywhere. But only one can be tops and for us it has to be the House-made Sci-Fi Candy Bar at the Sci-Fi Dine-in Theater Restaurant.
Honorable Mentions: The Ice Cream Sandwich – Hollywood Scoops: Best value in the park and perfect to share. Cheesecake – Mama Melrose's Ristorante Italiano: Decadent and delicious, worth going for appetizers and dessert.
There are many fewer options in this category than Epcot. What is available though is quite good. I had a tough time deciding between two, but on the backs of some very talented cast members I am going to proclaim '50s Prime Time Diner the winner. I do suggest going earlier on a slow day for the maximum effect, it's a shame to get a lackluster performance of the saucy Aunt yelling at you for not finishing your green beans.
Honorable Mentions: Sci-Fi Dine-in Restaurant is amazing. The tables are cars, it's dark, even on the hottest day.
Hollywood Studios is definitely second place for drinking, behind Epcot. Whether they were trying to get guests drunk so they didn't notice that all the park was in a state of construction, or just wanted good ole fashioned merry making is debatable. For those of us who want to cool off, get a free dessert and tipsy, the Kahlua and Cream Milkshake at the Dockside Diner is the clear winner. Milkshake, Baileys, Kahlua, need I say more?
Honorable Mentions: There are many good choices around the park, but I always think it's fun to see what new creations are being offered near the stage. It seems a swirling cornucopia of drink ideas that change with the season.
Best Counter Service Appetizer
There aren't a lot of options for appetizers, but we really enjoyed the California Cheese and Charcuterie Plate at the Baseline Tap House. I know, it's not exactly counter service, but it's about as close as we're gonna get.
Best Counter Service Entree
In the coming months, there will be some new locations opening in Galaxy's Edge that will undoubtedly change this, but currently there is one truly outstanding choice. The Fajita Combo Platter at Fairfax Fare is a right-sized meal, shared between two, that combines good value and deliciousness. Everything was fresh and properly spiced.
Honorable Mentions: The pizza at PizzeRizzo is better than I thought it would be and has copious indoor seating.
Best Fine Dining Appetizer – Tie
For those slightly more health conscious types, the Cobb Salad at The Brown Derby is a historic (in both senses of the word) delight. This might be my favorite salad in the whole world. Mostly a textural homogeny containing all the necessary flavor components. Yet, even in the hot wash of dressing and heavy proteins, the chopped lettuce gives fresh notes and keeps the salad from becoming a gut bomb.
Not everyone likes fried foods, I know this. But for those who indulge, the Onion Rings at '50s Prime Time Café are to die for. Crispy exterior, yielding to a soft and properly cooked onion interior with the perfect amount of savory spice and complimenting horseradish dipping sauce.
Best Fine Dining Entree
'50s Prime Time Café - A Sampling of Mom's Favorite Recipes, Golden-Fried Chicken, Fork Tender Pot Roast, and Traditional Meatloaf (with all the fixings): I'm not sure how to start this other than to say that every single item on this sampler plate was exceptional. The fried chicken reminded me of the Plaza Inn in Disneyland Park, simply perfect. Crisp skin without undue greasiness, perfectly seasoned and nearly left gnawing on the bone. The meatloaf was a little on the bland side and needed ketchup, but that seems an honest recreation of my grandmother's meatloaf. The pot roast was fork tender beef in a hearty gravy that also smothered a generous helping of real mashed potatoes with fresh green beans so we could all pretend it was a balanced meal.