According to legend, Disney Springs was founded in the mid-1800s by a cattle rancher who discovered the town’s eponymous springs, and the community grew from there. It is, however, a tale developed by Walt Disney Imagineering and established in this region that is similar to other seaside villages in Florida.
Disney Springs 120 acres comprise four district areas: West Side, Town Center, The Landing, and Marketplace. I was relieved to discover free surface parking and any of the color-coded garages (Orange, Lime, and Grapefruit) to explore new and old haunts.
This was all part of Downtown Disney the last time I was in Orlando, which had developed from the Disney Village Marketplace and Pleasure Island. The Springs, Town Center, and The Landing were all parking lots back then, but they’re a lot more interesting to explore today.
There are many of Disney Springs restaurants and franchises in Walt Disney World and the surrounding region, including Planet Hollywood, the Rainforest Caf, STK, City Works (their Peanut Butter Snickers Cup is still great), Starbucks, and even the House of Blues. Yet, over the last 50 years, Disney Springs cuisine has improved in terms of variety and nutritional content.
When I visited Disney Springs for the first time as a travel journalist, I was surprised to discover a few of Disney Springs eateries that pre-dated Disney. Thus it is said.
My parents honeymooned in the region before Walt Disney World debuted on October 1, 1971, thus we were a Disney family before WDW began. They brought us to Disney in the mid-1970s, when WDW still utilized the ticket system rather than a daily charge, and my mother was nicknamed Snow White, my father, Prince Charming, and with the seven of us following after them like little ducks, someone at the parks dubbed us the Seven Dwarfs.
I was always Doc, Happy was the other PhD holder in the family, and my eldest sister was always Dopey. We could recall such experiences whenever we saw our corresponding character. There was even a Jeopardy question created by my family for my father’s birthday one year.
When my daughter was younger, I dropped roughly 10 pounds by bringing her to the Disney parks for three days and the Wonder cruise for four. I just couldn’t stomach any more burgers, fries, chicken fingers, or hot dogs. I don’t believe that will happen any longer. The alternatives have vastly enhanced.
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- 1 The Top 13 Disney Springs Restaurants
- 1.1 Cookes of Dublin And Raglan Road Irish Pub
- 1.2 The Hanger Bar at Jock Lindsay’s
- 1.3 Maria & Enzo’s RistoranteandHideaway Tunnel Bar
- 1.4 The Yacht Club
- 1.5 T-Rex Restaurant
- 1.6 37 Paradiso
- 1.7 Paddlefish
- 1.8 Terralina Italian Crafted
- 1.9 Erin McKennas Bakery in New York City
- 1.10 The Earl of Sandwiches
- 1.11 The Food Vans
The Top 13 Disney Springs Restaurants
Cookes of Dublin And Raglan Road Irish Pub
+140793803001640 Buena Vista Dr +140793803001640 Buena Vista Dr
Given our roots in Dublin, we couldn’t pass up this Disney Springs Irish Bar. And this one has two distinct halves. Raglan Road is the actual pub side, with outdoor dining not far from a fabricated statue of Irish poet Patrick Kavanaugh, sitting on a bench with space for a picture opportunity. The hostess informed me that the two restaurants occupy the same area.
In the nights, there is Irish music and dancing, as well as some amusing products in the shop, ranging from Irish sayings to Trinity College Dublin stuff.
I like the titles on the brunch menu. Rack of Heaven or Nom Nom Wings, however the latter is a Guinness-glazed complete rack of baby back ribs, so that seems more suitable.
The term “Kiss Before Shrimp” reminds you to kiss your loved one (unless they’re also eating it) before you sample it. This potent garlic and chile lemon butter sauce will be secreted from your pores for days.
If you’re looking for a delicious Irish breakfast in Disney Springs, this is the place to go. Get the Whole Irish, which includes a Cheshire heritage pig Irish banger, black and white pudding, bacon, roasted tomato, mushrooms, and fried eggs with roasted potatoes.
Try the OMG Burger for a very safe bet. It’s a short rib and brisket beef burger with Irish bacon, Dubliner Irish cheddar, and crispy potato straws, but it’s the Jameson Irish whiskey BBQ sauce that gets the OMG reaction.
Return to Cookes for supper, which is reported to have been founded in 1934. I couldn’t find a match in Ireland, but don’t let it deter you; the cuisine is great and fresh. Pick from their famed fish and chips, the pie of the day, the hog in a box (pork shoulder), the chicken sandwich, the Cookes Classic Battered Burger, the BBQ Dream Burger, or the Buffalo Chicken Sandwich.
Although I like the Dubliner Cheese, I vote for the Dubliner Burger. The sirloin burger is cooked to my preference of well done, and the garlic mayonnaise goes nicely with their ketchup. I can’t do the smashed peas, although it’s a regular sight here or in Dublin.
The Hanger Bar at Jock Lindsay’s
Pleasure Island Boat Dock +14079395277
The Hangar Bar, a Disney Springs restaurant that may predate Walt Disney World, was founded in 1955. The material I discovered indicated that it was based on the Indiana Jones films, which came as no surprise after hearing a cast member state, We do not take artifacts as payment. Nobody could convince me that the restaurant existed prior to Disney Springs. I suppose it’s one of those Imagineering miracles.
It’s simple to enjoy a Happy Hour here now that they provide tapas-style eating with shared meals. Particularly when it begins at noon. They said that this has always been the case, not because of the epidemic, but because of the aging population in Central Florida.
The Air Pirates Cargo Loaded Pretzel was wonderful, and I would order it again. The snakebite sliders scared me too much to attempt, but let me know if you’re more daring. The flatbreads, as well as the chicken wings and Doctor Astorgas Queso Dip, were popular at several nearby tables.
Seasonal Tacos (fish for me) and Satipos Empanadas are family favorites. The tastes and savoriness are exactly great, with enough acid to balance it all out.
Maria & Enzo’s RistoranteandHideaway Tunnel Bar
+14075603696 Disney Springs is located at 1560 E Buena Vista Dr.
The hideaway, tucked under a bridge like your favorite little secret, wasn’t open while I was there, but I’d want to return to view it. The atmosphere in the dining area under the pedestrian bridge is serene and private. The chicken parmesan looks delectable, and the promise of gelato seems like a winning combo.
Without a romantic date, you may visit the whole restaurant over the bridge, which includes a pizza, seafood, and grill. It’s packed, cheery, and buzzing with the pleasant hum of satisfied customers.
The Yacht Club
E Buena Vista Dr. +140793926281620 E Buena Vista Dr.
The Oyster Bar Neon Sign will catch your attention in a generally quiet and collected location, as one of the most interesting entrances with Amphicars coming in or out of the water.
We understood that with their emphasis on fresh seafood, this would be more my daughter’s pace than mine, but I was prepared for the challenge. The atmosphere is upbeat, with boat equipment and engines hanging from the walls.
Its raw bar has a big selection of half-shell oysters, wild-caught Sea of Cortez shrimp, Yellowfin Tuna Poke (my daughter likes the avocado, mango, and soy lime vinaigrette), and jumbo lump crab and avocado.
On that particular day, they had coriander-seared yellowfin tuna, Gulf of Mexico red grouper, and cedar-planked Gulf of Maine salmon. Considering my affinity for Copper River cedar-planked salmon, I felt the latter would be an excellent option. That was true. It was very satisfying, served with green beans, fresh potatoes, and a lemon vinaigrette.
My daughter enjoys the finely cut truffle fries, however the lemon aioli does not last as long as the fries. They gladly provided more. We both thought that this was one of the greatest dining options in Disney Springs.
The next time you’re in the neighborhood, try the Firecracker Shrimp. I’m already eyeing the grilled Mahi tacos. Gibsons Heritage Steaks are another option. I believe these are USDA Blue Star Heritage Angus Beef from Australia. I’ll ask for more of the tale the next time I visit.
E Buena Vista Dr.
Want to have some dinosaur fun with the jungle jeep sitting right in front of you? Landrys Restaurants operates the T-Rex Caf.
If you have a big party, consider the Supersaurus Sampler of appetizers while you wait for your main course. Meatballs, boneless wings, chili con queso, Caprese flatbread, mozzarella sticks, and pork spareribs are included. Certainly plenty to satisfy any hangry youngsters or grownups.
The waitress informed us that the Whiskey Salmon & Shrimp is one of the more popular options, but the Tar Pit Fried Shrimp was a nice lighter option.
Burgers and sandwiches, soups and salads, and prehistoric spaghetti with chicken or shrimp are also available.
Carnivores, on the other hand, may choose from meteor meatloaf, boneyard buffet, Mes-O-Bones, or Triassic Trio. It’s a lot of fun to go through the names and think what your children would like.
This time, for me, I simply couldnt get myself to attempt the Chocolate Extinction though it looked very good so it was time for the Jurassic Salad with great crisp celery and carrots to balance the greens.
Stepping out the entrance, you’ll see the Marketplace Causeway, which leads directly to the Lego Store and their newest creation. It was difficult for me to choose a winner between the Star Wars and Frozen scenes, but Elsa’s relaxed expression grabbed the cake that day.
+140793437001590 Orlando’s Buena Vista Drive
Are you looking for something new and light? Visit out Paradiso 37, where foods from throughout the Americas, such as poutines and quesadillas Argentina, will tantalize your taste buds and re-energize you to go shopping or visit the Parks.
My favorite dish was Peruvian Baja Fish Tacos. They were light and fluffy, with flavorful corn salsa and spicy coleslaw. Three tacos was a bit much for me, but they were simple to split.
The San Juan-style Beef Empanadas will be my next order, but I wish they were from the San Juan Islands rather than San Juan, Argentina, as the waitress assumed, for no reason other than I’d previously been there. Argentina is still on the list of countries to visit eventually.
My kid says she wants to try the vegetarian burger or (maybe both?) the South American Crazy Corn.
+140793426281670 Buena Vista Boulevard
If this steamboat appears familiar, you have a keen eye. It was formerly known as Empress Lilly, after Lillian Disney, Walt Disney’s widow, and housed entertainment and eating sections for 20 years until closing in 1995. During the next 20 years (1996-2016), it was known as Fultons Crab House until being refurbished into the present incarnation, Paddlefish, with new smokestacks and a paddlewheel erected.
The riverboat is (I believe) permanently docked at the pier, with both interior and outdoor seats. Flames burst from smokestacks somewhere in the vicinity in the middle of the day. Since the Lego Loch Ness Monster was facing the other way, I believe it was from Paddlefish.
You can see the Boathouse from the outside (starboard), but if you sit closer to the bow, you can see the shuttle to some of the resort hotels ferrying visitors back and forth.
Crab cakes, calamari, giant lump crab topped fries, beef skewers, fried green tomatoes, and sausage & peppers are among the lunch starters.
If you love cold and raw seafood, try the ahi poke, shrimp cocktail, crab ceviche, or crab guacamole.
My girls like the soup and salad combination. She like New England Clam Chowder, and this creamy soup has bacon and potatoes. The romaine hearts, cucumber, grape tomatoes, and red onions are tossed in a delicious roasted shallot vinaigrette. You might also have their Caesar salad, wedge salad, or Caprese salad.
Her main course selection was more difficult. A stuffed fish with shrimp and scallop cornmeal stuffing, asparagus, red potato, and mustard cream sauce is available. The catfish would have been perfect for my mum. But shrimp are usually a safe bet for my daughter, and they provided crispy shrimp as well as shrimp pasta (a linguine dish with crab broth). It’s not much of a competition. Till she spotted the Crab Cake BLT, but the waiter suggested the shrimp instead, so there you have it.
Salmon would have been my first option, but they use a miso vinaigrette that I’ve never liked, so I had to settle with the vegetarian spaghetti, chicken breast, pork chop, or filet mignon. For me, the filet with mashed potatoes and asparagus was the ideal option. However if I hadn’t been so hungry, the fish tacos would have been fantastic; it’s market catch, so you know it’ll be fresh.
Those of you who follow our adventures regularly know that I am a big believer in dessert first. Chocolate layer cake, cheesecake, chocolate chip cookie Sunday (yep, a sundae), Key Lime Pie, or Vanilla Bean Ice Cream were the alternatives here. We’d had too much from previous restaurants and didn’t have enough space this time.
If you go during supper, you may get snow crab, full Maine lobster, or peel and eat Key West Pink Shrimp straight from the steamer. One of the Disney Springs restaurants we would return to.
Terralina Italian Crafted
E Buena Vista Dr.
Huge queues formed outside this Italian Disney Springs eatery, but they were immediately moved. They had speedy and efficient employees who stayed cheerful despite the heat.
They are perhaps most known for their antipasti tower. It’s gluten-free, which appeals to me, and it’s loaded with Italian ingredients, like prosciutto, spicy capicola, Grana Padano, bocconcini, tomatoes, pickled veggies, grilled zucchini, parmesan crisp, olives, and housemade truffle chips. It serves four people, which was too much for us. But this time I got to choose something different.
We’d tasted fried olives, bruschetta, and (beef) meatballs before, but in all our travels, we’d never seen Italian fries. Fries with salami and a creamy cheese sauce? Different.
Caprese salad, baby greens, Caesar Salad, or Terralina Crafted Italian Salad were among the garden options. This salad had romaine lettuce, bocconcini, shaved parmesan, fennel, cherry tomatoes, red onion, salami, and pepperoncini in a red wine vinaigrette. Yum.
Their wood-fired pizzas are still highly popular, particularly among children. The Margherita is my personal favorite, but they also offer Artisan Pepperoni, Spicy Capicola, Wild Mushroom, Pesto Alla Genovese, and a Pizza of the Week.
The pasta menu included the standard spaghetti Pomodoro with meatballs, housemade lasagna, spaghetti Bolognese, shrimp scampi, and seafood fettuccini, but their speciality was seafood fettuccini. Terralina Alfredo already includes chicken with sun-dried tomatoes and Nonnas pig ragu in their gnocchi. You should try the gnocchi if you like pig. If you like mushrooms, the Wild Mushroom Orecchiette with asparagus and sun-dried tomatoes is a terrific option.
My mother was constantly looking for eggplant parmesan, so it’s always on the menu. It’s served with Pomodoro pasta. My personal favorite is the chicken parmesan, but they’re so good here that they even have a Parmesan Duo with both chicken and eggplant. If you’re very hungry, the Chicken Marsala is a terrific option; it’s half a bird!
When in doubt, go for the ever-popular handmade burger (with fontina cheese and a chili-sage aioli), but choose another side if you don’t like the housemade truffle potato chips. I went with the mashed potatoes instead of the fried potato planks.
Sundaes, sorbets, and fresh fruit are available for dessert. Alternatively you might go to a local store and get some chocolate.
Erin McKennas Bakery in New York City
+185546222921642 B E Buena Vista Dr
We were surprised to discover another Disney Springs restaurant that was dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free, and certified Kosher not far from Terralina. As you walk through the door, you are bombarded with the most beautiful scents! And, if it weren’t for the calories, you could go through the display cases in a couple of weeks.
Erin McKenna, the creator, debuted on Manhattan’s Lower East Side with two rules: a bakery free of allergenic ingredients for children and adorable uniforms. She has excelled in both, enabling everyone to enjoy delectable delights.
Cupcakes, donuts, cookie sandwiches, thin mints, crumb cakes, banana bread loaves, chocolate chip cookies, snickerdoodles, teacakes (iced lemon is my favorite! ), chocolate chip brownie bites, coconut mounds (an easy choice for my daughter! ), and ice cream cookie sandwiches were among the items we saw.
I strongly advise picking one, wandering around for a bit, and then stopping on your way out with your second option. This is one of those Disney Springs restaurants that you will find difficult to refuse.
The Earl of Sandwiches
E Buena Vista Dr.
Whether you stay at one of the resort hotels or buy it with your tickets, the Disney Dining Plan includes one entree, one side or dessert, and one beverage. Sandwiches, salads, wraps, soups, and hot sides are all available at this location.
They also have a little history section that you may visit while you wait (or eat). Captain James Cook (1728-1799) of the Royal Navy of England became the first European to visit the Hawaiian Islands in 1778, according to their exhibit. He called the archipelago, as well as Montague Island in Alaska, the Sandwich Islands after the 4th Lord of Sandwich.
By their portrayal, John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich led the formidable British Navy as its first Sea Lord prior to Cook’s discovery in 1762. He was a well-known adventurer who held various government positions and enjoyed day-long card games.
According to the account, this left little time for dinner, so they devised the notion of sandwiching meat between two pieces of bread. Consequently, in 1762, the Sandwich was named after this creator, and now, John, the current 11th Earl of Sandwich, and his family are still enthusiastic about this fast cuisine. This tale does come true. Check out the National Portrait Gallery next time you’re in Washington, DC to see whether John Hamilton Mortimers picture of Captain Cook, John Montagu, Sir Joseph Banks, and two unnamed individuals is on exhibit. Sometimes it only takes a little extra digging to figure out what is Disney magic and what is real.
Open for breakfast, you can have a sandwich with an egg and your choice of cheese, bacon, ham, or sausage. You might have a burrito or a breakfast bowl, or you could have some oatmeal with brown sugar and dried cranberries.
For lunch, however, you can choose from The Earls Club, The Original 1762 (beef, cheddar, and horseradish), chipotle chicken avocado (my daughter’s favorite), tuna melt, French dip (my favorite), or The Full Montagu, a combination of beef, turkey, multiple types of cheese, lettuce, tomato, and mustard.
When in doubt, the Finest BLT or Cheese of Pepperoni Pizza is a safe bet.
I’m going to try the Thai Chicken Wrap the next time I come here. My girls are discussing whether to have the buffalo chicken or the spicy tuna. But that Berry Chicken Almond Salad looks delicious as well.
The Food Vans
Not even halfway into Disney Springs (from the Cirque de Soleil side), youll come across three food trucks serving up childhood favorites like hot dogs and mac & cheese. Yet this isn’t your mother’s mac and cheese, and you could find yourself staying for a snack, if not a meal.
Cantina 4 Rivers Barbacoa
With five protein options, it is surprisingly easy to make a decision here. Mulita (a crispy tortilla stack with melted Oaxaca cheese and choice of protein topped with queso fresco and onion cilantro salsa), street tacos, or burrito bowl loaded with brisket barbacoa, chicken tinga, adobo pig, tri-tip steak, or roasted sweet potato. The chicken with Mulita was a no-brainer. There was also a black beans and cilantro rice option for vegans.
Macaroni with Cheese
This cheerful blue and gold-colored food truck drew both children and adults. Although the kids undoubtedly had the most fun with the Mac & Cheese Fritters, the Barbecued Beef Mac & Cheese served with onion rings elicited the most squeals of excitement. It’s all in good humor.
The Lobster and Shrimp Mac & Cheese reminded me that this is not my mother’s macaroni and cheese (from the dark blue and yellow box). Additional selections were six-cheese crispy mac & cheese topped with crunchy cheese puffs (! ), as well as chicken parmesan mac & cheese. The Texan Chili Mac & Cheese was accompanied with corn chips. How times have changed.
Dogs That Are Hot Diggity
The hot dog food truck seems to be the dominant force on the playground. The King Dog (with Thai Peanut Sauce), a BLT All-Beef Hot Dog, the Santa Fe (with Chipotle Mayo, street corn, and chili powder), the Reuben, the Chicago (pickles and sport peppers), and Texas Chili-Cheese hot dogs are available, along with loaded house-made chips. If you don’t believe your dish has enough sweetness or spice, add the Hot Diggity Sauce. Thank heavens for water.