While the resorts feature a plethora of delicious table service restaurants, the parks have some great options for Christmas or Christmas Eve dinner. For this edition of Foodie Friday, we check out the top 5 in-park table service restaurants for Christmas and Christmas Eve dinner.
Be Our Guest, Magic Kingdom
My family first dined at Be Our Guest last year for dinner. The theming and decor are flawless and the food is good. I wouldn’t rank the food at the top of Disney dining, but the restaurant makes up for any shortcomings.
For my family, we want a nice, quiet dinner on Christmas and Christmas Eve. The experience starts when you check in outside Be Our Guest. Be Our Guest has a very exclusive feel to it, as it’s extremely difficult to secure a reservation. After checking in, you’re instructed to wait on the bridge until your buzzer goes off. Once your family is called, you’re greeted by a server at the large wooden doors and welcomed inside the dark, ominous castle. The door automatically closes behind you without giving bystanders a glimpse inside. Because guests can’t really get into the restaurant without a reservation (or waiting an insurmountable amount of time,) it has a Club 33 exclusive feel to it.
As for the restaurant and the meal itself – the decor is beautiful. It has high ceilings that are intricately decorated with molding and hanging chandeliers. The dining room is dim, yet features a golden hue at the same time. The back of the main dining room features large, expansive windows that look out to a snowy scene outside. It’s easy to forget that you’re still in Magic Kingdom – especially when you get the beer menu!
As for the food – like I said, it’s good but not great. You won’t have a bad meal at Be Our Guest, but the decor is the real star here. The menu is French inspired. For an appetizer, I definitely recommend the French Onion Soup. Last year I had the Sauteed Shrimp and Scallops for my entree. It’s served in a puff pastry with seasonal vegetables and mushrooms. It’s heavy on the seafood and surprisingly light on the filler. It’s definitely filling! It’s a little on the salty side, but it’s token French comfort food. My dad really enjoyed the Herb-crusted lamb. It’s served with celery root and seasonal vegetables.
Dessert at Be Our Guest is an experience. Your server will wheel a cart over and you can pick your dessert. I had to go with “The Grey Stuff.” It’s a chocolate shell filled with cookie cream and topped with “The Grey Stuff.” The cookie was crunchier than I expected. I expected a brownie-like texture and it’s definitely more of a cookie. The grey stuff, well, it’s delicious! It’s like a hybrid of a moose, icing and whipped cream. The other desserts include assorted cupcakes. My mom went with the Triple Chocolate cupcake and my dad chose the Lemon Meringue cupcake, which they both really enjoyed it. This year we plan on getting four different desserts and sharing them!
Rose and Crown Dining Room, EPCOT
I really wanted to save this one for New Year’s Eve dinner, as we dined there last year for the holiday and it was a fantastic meal. If your family enjoys a good pint, then Rose and Crown is the place for you. We love to grab a beer or two on New Year’s Eve, which made Rose and Crown a great spot for dinner before counting down the new year. But the restaurant has so much more than great beer!
It also works for Christmas and Christmas Eve! The food at Rose and Crown is a mix between pub, traditional English, and downright comfort food. From fish and chips to bangers and mash, to their version of a surf and turf: a fried fish filet served with steak and Yorkshire pudding – this place is a great spot to eat, drink and be merry!
While most of Rose and Crown is covered, it’s a pretty cool experience to eat outside. After all, how many places can you actually eat outside in December? Most of the outdoor area is covered – so it’s not ideal for Illuminations, but you may be able to catch a little bit of the show. The covered patio comes in handy when there’s inclement weather, and they have heaters if it gets too chilly outside.
So how’s the food? Last year we went with the Scotch Eggs to start. Funny little fact – I have family in England and when I told them that we were having Scotch Eggs as an appetizer, he found it peculiar. Scotch Eggs are hard boiled eggs that are then wrapped in sausage meat and deep fried. Served with a mustard sauce, this popular dish is actually served on picnics as a light snack. Regardless, the scotch egg was very good. The eggs are decently sized, making it easy to split into quarters.
As an entree, I had to go with the Grilled New York Strip Steak and Fried Fish. This English version of surf and turf was unreal. It’ll definitely knock your cholesterol up a few points, but it’s extremely tasty. The dish is served with a Jameson Whiskey Peppercorn sauce, which cuts into the fattiness of the dish a bit. I was most excited to try the Loaded Yorkshire Pudding. Yorkshire pudding is a popular English side dish made from a batter of eggs, flour and milk. It’s extremely difficult to perfect – if you remove it from the oven too soon or too much air gets to it, it sinks. It’s extremely decadent and reminded me a bit of mashed potatoes, which went perfect with this “meat and potatoes” dish.
My mom passed on the fish and chips, which is usually her favorite dish, and went with the Pan-roasted salmon. She really enjoyed the salmon, which is served with a side of vegetables, braised leeks and a stone ground mustard vinaigrette. My dad opted for the Shepherd’s Pie, which he said wasn’t as good as my grandma’s version, but then again, that’s some tough competition.
Chefs de France, EPCOT
I’m going to throw in a quick note here. Our experience at Chefs de France wasn’t the best. We went on Christmas Eve one year and the service seemed slow and distracted. The food wasn’t as hot as we’d like, and the overall experience just wasn’t there. But, I know a lot of people love this spot, so I included it. I’ll say this – the food tasted good. Chefs de France was highly recommended by friends, so we chalked it up as it being Christmas Eve and the servers being overwhelmed, but I’m not sure we’ll be returning.
If you’re looking for a quiet, intimate dining experience, then Chefs de France is probably not the spot for you. The restaurant is modeled after a French cafe, so the tables are very close together. We didn’t know this at first, so the idea of sitting so close to the party next to us was a bit of a disappointment. It wasn’t until I researched the restaurant further that I understood that it was a replication (not Disney trying to cram in every last guest.)
I really like the menu at Chefs de France. It’s similar to Be Our Guest. If I had to choose between the two, I’d choose the ambiance of Be Our Guest and the food from Chefs de France (can I do that?) I had a hard time deciding between the French Onion Soup and the Lobster Bisque. After all, it was Christmas Eve, so my heart was screaming “seafood!” But I was in a French restaurant, so I ultimately decided on the French Onion Soup. I would have liked more caramelized onions in the soup, as it was mostly broth, but the bread and Gruyere cheese was fantastic. Unlike Be Our Guest, they really let the cheese melt and harden on the side of the bowl. If you’ve had French Onion Soup, you know that this is the best part. If you haven’t – the cheese on the side of the bowl bakes and hardens, making it taste like a Cheez-It cracker.
As an entree I’d recommend the duck. I had it the last time I went and it was very good. It’s duck breast and leg confit served with cherries, sweet potato puree and patty pan squash. For some reason, the duck and cherries makes me think of Christmas. Maybe it’s the colors, but I think this is the perfect Christmas dish. I can’t remember what my mom and dad had, but my sister went with the macaroni and cheese. The mac and cheese dish, Gratin de Macaroni, was extremely decadent and creamy. I think we expected a saltier taste, as it was made with Gruyere, but this dish was heavy on the cream and the taste of nutmeg was very prevalent. It wasn’t bad – it just wasn’t what we expected.
Despite what I said, it was a good meal. Every restaurant has an “off” night. Maybe there was something behind the scenes that we didn’t see – maybe they were short-staffed or didn’t expect so many people. Who knows. I’d recommend trying it, but keep my review in mind.
Tutto Italia or Via Napoli, EPCOT
Tutto Italia is another restaurant that we were indifferent toward. Being New Yorkers, we’re Italian food snobs. Well, we’re food snobs. We’re incredibly fortunate to have a lot of great places up here in New York – especially Italian restaurants. While I wasn’t crazy about Tutto Italia, someone from another state may love it; the same way my opinion of the lobster roll at Boardwalk Bakery may be differ from that of someone from New England. Let’s be honest – there’s not many good Italian restaurants at Walt Disney World. Outside of Wolfgang Puck Express (which is a chain,) I’m yet to find a slice of pizza that’s comparable to New York. But I’m not in Disney World to eat pizza, I’m there to stuff my face with different foods I wouldn’t normally eat.
The food reminds me a lot of Carraba’s Italian Grill. It’s a step above Olive Garden. Sure, it’s a far cry from great Italian food, but it gets the job done. I had the lasagna bolognese when we dined there a few years ago. I remember not being crazy about the sauce, but the dish was hearty and filling. The cheese was creamy and the meat added a nice texture to the dish.
I’ve never dined at Via Napoli for dinner, but having eaten lunch there, I could comment on the food and the ambiance. The restaurant is definitely nicer than Tutto Italia. There are essentially two dining rooms – the main dining room, and the former outdoor dining area which has now been englassed.
When we had lunch at Via Napoli, we were seated in the second dining room. I really liked this area, as it was drenched in sunlight (seeing as it’s englassed) and feels very spacious.
We had pizza at Via Napoli, which I’d definitely recommend (even as a pizza snob.) It’s not New York pizza, but I love the taste of a brick oven pizza and really enjoyed the array of toppings. The pizza reminded me of Anthony’s Coal Fire Pizza. The food at Via Napoli is definitely much more traditional Italian – the type of food you’d find at a pizza place that serves more than pizza.
Like I said – both offer good meals, but if you’re looking for a nice Italian dinner and willing to spend the extra money, head over to Il Mulino.
Yak & Yeti, Animal Kingdom
This last recommendation may raise some eyebrows, but hear me out. Yak & Yeti may not be a conventional option for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day dinner, but it’s probably one of the best in-park Table Service restaurants.
As I mentioned in a previous post, Animal Kingdom is the least-crowded park on Christmas Day. If you happen to venture to Animal Kingdom, you’re most likely staying there for the day as it’s a bit off the beaten path. We rarely park hop on our “Animal Kingdom days,” and we try and schedule it for the same day that we go to Boma (if we have a reservation.) If you’re at Animal Kingdom, rather than scheduling a reservation halfway across Disney property, stay at the park and dine at Yak & Yeti.
Yak & Yeti is as intricately themed as Be Our Guest. It has an elaborate backstory and it sticks to it. The adventure begins with the vibrant purple exterior. Once inside, you learn about the restaurant’s backstory. You’ll quickly forget that you’re dining in Animal Kingdom! You’re transported to a far away land through the restaurant’s realistic theming and eclectic decor.
The restaurant serves plenty of seafood, making it a great, although unconventional, spot to enjoy your seafood feast on Christmas Eve. The entrees include Ginger Salmon, Tempura Shrimp, Malaysian Seafood Curry, Teriyaki Mahi Mahi, and Shrimp Lo Mein. For dessert, I’d definitely recommend the Fried Wontons – pineapple and cream cheese fried wontons served with vanilla ice cream and honey-vanilla drizzle. I’ve also heard great things about the mango pie!
The parks definitely offer some interesting choices for Christmas Eve and Christmas dinner. Personally, we prefer the Signatures and resort restaurants for a nice holiday meal, but these options certainly offer a variety of meals to celebrate your holiday.