The Best Thing I Ever Ate at Magic Kingdomby Roan Poulter, contributing writer
I have some disturbing news for you: Much of the food at Magic Kingdom is overpriced, shipped in from some far away kitchens and worst of all, doesn't taste very good. Just ask any of your Disney hating friends, they'll tell you, overpriced under qualified food. But here's the good news: It doesn't have to be this way. I'm going to share the best of the best, my life's culinary culmination, my Coup de Grace. All the rest have been child's play, this is life or death. I will break it down 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
Oh dear reader, you've hit the jackpot!! So many sweets are scattered throughout this park you could get hyperglycemia by sniffing too hard. But what's the best? With names like Ghirardelli at the resort, competition is stiff. But, bite for bite, the coconut bar with pineapple-basil compote and vanilla cream at Skipper's Canteen in Adventureland is the winner. Roughly the size of a stick of butter, this is a true foodie delight. I suggest getting your own, fist fights routinely break out when we share.
Fresh Fruit Waffle Sandwich with Chocolate Hazelnut Spread at Sleepy Hollow in Liberty Square. Chocolate Croissant at Gaston's Tavern in Fantasyland. Both of these treats have a dark heart of chocolatey goodness with warm pastry covers. Neither of them makes my teeth hurt and I always leave wanting more.
Once again, competition is stiff. I snicker in disgust when I see people waiting in a 20-minute line for a hot dog in Tomorrowland knowing they could probably walk in at Skipper's Canteen. The Plaza on Main Street has an amazing hidden view of the park and Tony's Town Square Restaurant is the place most guests probably had no idea even existed. But top of the top? I will say the Butterfly table at Skipper's Canteen. I'd love to say Cinderella's Royal Table or Be Our Guest in Fantasyland, but I was unwilling/unable to get reservations or enough pocket money to ever visit either.
The Butterfly table at Skipper's Canteen is amazingly beautiful. Fireworks from the Plaza is a perfect capstone to a magical day.
No booze at the Kingdom now that Gaston's has dried up. I'm going to call a tie, though my son and I diametrically oppose each other on our selections. I believe and know to be correct, that Aloha Isle's Dole Whip Float, a marvelous combination of Dole Whip and pineapple juice is the clear winner in best drink. My son says I'm a geriatric with no taste buds and that Gaston Tavern's Le Fou's Brew, a frozen concoction of apple slush with mango foam is clearly tops. You should get one of each so you can see I'm right.
Best Counter Service Appetizer
Some amazing treats have come and gone in this category. I wept when Sleepy Hollow stopped hand-dipping corn dogs after a short run (NOTE: There is a late breaking development, the menu for WDW currently shows corn dogs back on the menu, check it out). The loss of the pork shank at Gaston's still gets me misty eyed. Of what remains there is but one undisputed champion, the Chili-Cheese Waffle Fries at the Golden Oak Outpost in Frontierland. It is located on the far side between Pirates of the Caribbean and Splash Mountain. What it lacks in nutritional value it more than makes up in terms of sheer tastiness. Golden fried waffle fries are lavishly slathered with a potent chili and decadent cheese.
Best Counter Service Entrée
For me there is no question, the Sweet and Spicy Chicken Waffle Sandwich at Sleepy Hollow is the king. There really is no substitute for freshly cooked food and this proves it. Watching the waffles and chicken cooked before your eyes is proven in the first bite, the still-moist chicken's breading giving a little crunch, while the sauce delivers powerful sweet and spicy flavor, all blanketed in the soft sweetness of the waffle. The small amount of greens helps to give additional texture and some hope of vitamins. The chips that are included are nearly as much of a treat.
Best Fine Dining Appetizer
In a world of deep-fried appetizers, one stands above. The S.E.A. Shu Mai at Skipper's Canteen is touted as a legendary blend of pork, shrimp, edamame beans, and spices wrapped in gyoza skin, then steamed. The shu mai dumplings were soft, yielding to bites like gyoza, but with a more substantive filling. There are many flavors, but the overall savory pork and spices dominate.
Best Fine Dining Entrée
I will share a grave disappointment I have, I never dined at Be Our Guest Restaurant. I heard great things, but I never put the time into getting a reservation, and I always missed the lunch window. But many wonderful sitting restaurant options are a much easier ticket, Skipper's Canteen, Plaza and Tony's come to mind. Each of them has wonderful food and air conditioned spaces to catch your breath from the punishing Florida sun. But which is the best? I must crown the Italian Trio at Tony's—three classic Italian favorites on one dish: chicken parmigiana, fettuccine alfredo, and spaghetti with pork-beef meatball. A generous helping easily split between two. In addition to this, you might be surprised to find many other legitimate Italian delicacies like house-made gnocchi primavera and Roman-style steak.
Nile Nellies Noodle bowl at Skipper's Canteen and the Meatloaf at the Plaza. All are wonderful dishes and I would strongly argue that they represent a far superior money value per food quantity over almost any other dining choice in the park.
As this will be my final review, at least for some time. I would like to thank everyone who has come along with us on this Gastronomical journey. I go now to seek far lands, exotic flavors and adventures outside the parks. If you're ever curious where we find ourselves, look us up: www.TheWaywardTravelers.com.