Top 5 Counter Service Restaurants at Walt Disney World

This article is going through my top five counter service restaurants at Walt Disney World.  There are counter service restaurants everywhere in the World making it impossible to eat at all of them in any one trip or even two or three trips.  This adds to the variety of a guest’s vacation.  These restaurants serve a wide variety of cuisine making it easy, for even the picky eater, to find something to find something to eat.

And with that introduction, I bring you my top five counter service restaurants at Walt Disney World.

5. Columbia Harbor House

photo courtesy of dadsguidetowdw
photo courtesy of dadsguidetowdw

Columbia Harbor House checks in at number 5 on my list.  There were a bunch of restaurants that could have easily slid into this spot but Columbia Harbor House gets the nod.  Columbia Harbor House has something that the other restaurants didn’t two marquee meals amongst their menu options.  Those options are the Lighthouse Sandwich which is hummus with tomato and broccoli slaw and the lobster roll.  The lobster roll is a traditional lunch/dinner time staple in the summer around New England.

The rest of the menu is pretty standard counter service fare.  Another advantage Columbia Harbor House is a large sitting area that runs back to Fantasyland where the bathrooms are located since there are no bathrooms located in Liberty Square.

Columbia Harbor House is open for lunch and dinner.

Columbia Harbor House Menu

4. Yorkshire County Fish Shop

photo courtesy of disney dining
photo courtesy of disney dining

I am, typically, not a fan of seafood.  However, one of the seafood dishes that I do enjoy is Fish and Chips.  This is the Yorkshire County Fish Shop’s specialty.   In fact, it’s the only entree on the menu.  When a restaurant only has one thing on the menu, it better be done well.  The Yorkshire County Fish Shop does a great shop with the fish and chips.   They come in a basket wrapped in a London newspaper adding to the feel that you have ordered them from a chip stand in London.

The Fish Shop is a great place to go to grab a late-night counter service to take back to the room if you are staying at Boardwalk, Beach Club, or Yacht Club.  Also a good place to get something to snack on while you wait for Illuminations to begin.

Yorkshire County Fish Shop Menu

3. Flame Tree BBQ

photo courtesy of making memories photo blog
photo courtesy of making memories photo blog

Flame Tree BBQ is the best counter service location, in my opinion, at Animal Kingdom.  As the name suggests, they serve BBQ.  For those that aren’t BBQ fans, this is probably not the counter service restaurant for you.  That said, there are a couple of non-BBQ options on the menu as well.  I’m a fan of BBQ so this is a must-eat on just about every trip.

The seating area is large.  However, it is all outside which is a negative for me.  I don’t like to eat outside.  I don’t like to share my food with the bugs and other critters that reside in the seating area.  I’d prefer an indoor seating area.  That keeps Flame Tree BBQ out of the top two but it is an excellent counter service that is an excellent value for your money or dining plan credit.

Flame Tree BBQ Menu

2. Electric Umbrella

photo courtesy around the mouse
photo courtesy around the mouse

The restaurant quickly moved to the top of the list on my family’s first trip.  It was in late September.  It was hot.  It was humid.  We were prepared for it but it was a shock to the system.  We decided to eat at the Electric Umbrella and got a great reward: unlimited self-serve drinks.  We spent a good portion of the afternoon sitting the Electric Umbrella out of the heat and rehydrating.

The menu, at the Umbrella, is pretty standard counter service fare with salads, burgers, and sandwiches.  But it makes up a lot of ground with the unlimited drinks.  There are only a couple of places that have unlimited drinks especially in the parks.  There is a good amount of seating at the Umbrella but will be hard to find a seat during busier times.  Usually one member of my family orders for everyone while the others go find a table.  It is a great place to sit back and re-hydrate.

Electric Umbrella Menu

1. Contempo Cafe

photo courtesy of trip advisor
photo courtesy of trip advisor

This is my favorite place to have a counter service meal.  Contempo Cafe has a varied menu.  It has indoor seating.  It has one thing that no other counter service can provide.  A place to sit and watch the monorail go through the hotel.  I could sit at this restaurant and just watch the monorail go by.  It also has unlimited drinks since it is the refillable mug location for The Contemporary Resort and Bay Lake Tower.

The lunch and dinner menu has something for everyone: flatbreads, sandwiches, burgers, and seafood.  There isn’t a lot of seating because a lot of guests get their meals to go and eat them back in their rooms.  I prefer to eat at the Cafe.  I sit and watch the monorail go by as people come and go throughout the resort.  It has a “Grand Central Station” feel to eat.  It’s a great place to people watch and eat a meal.

Contempo Cafe Breakfast Menu

Contempo Cafe Lunch and Dinner Menu

Here’s what just missed the list:

What restaurants make your list?  Is there a restaurant that I missed which you enjoy?

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Thanks for reading!

8 thoughts on “Top 5 Counter Service Restaurants at Walt Disney World”

  1. Thats a good list. I haven’t eaten at Contempo Cafe. My personal top 5 would be
    5. Yak and Yeti
    4. Gaston’s Tavern (PORK SHANK!!!)
    3. Wolfgang Puck Express
    2. Tangerine Cafe
    1. Flame Tree BBQ

  2. YES! Good list. Columbia Harbor House, Yorkshire County Fish, and Flame Tree would be on my list, too – along with Gaston’s Tavern and Sunshine Seasons. How fun!!!

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