Best Epcot Disney World Quick Counter Service

by josh on December 13, 2012

Epcot is where you’ll find the most diversity in your dining options.  While you’ll still be able to sniff out a hamburger, it won’t be as easy as at the Magic Kingdom where it seems like they’re haunting you at every turn.   Since the Fountain View Café and Boulangerie Patisserie serve mostly snacks, treats, and desserts, I won’t be considering them in the following recommendations.  Both are strongly recommended for a midday snack, especially the Boulangerie Patisserie where you can purchase a wide variety of delicious, freshly baked French treats. When Boulangerie opens with a larger seating section, I’ll revisit it and add it to the list.  Fountain View will also be closing in January for a six month refurbishment that will see it converted into a Starbucks location.

Most Unique Menu

  1. Tangierine Café
  2. Katsura Grill
  3. Sunshine Seasons
  4. Boulangerie Patisserie
  5. Sommerfest
  6. La Cantina de San Angel
  7. Lotus Blossom Café
  8. Kringla Bakeri og Kafe
  9. Liberty Inn
  10. Electric Umbrella
  11. Yorkshire County Fish Shop

This is kind of a silly list because almost all of the food at each quick service in the World Showcase is unique.  I’ve basically ordered the list as to the number of unique items on the menu.  Thus, a quick service like Tangierine Cafe with a robust menu would have a “more unique” menu than La Cantina, even though both locations offer a completely unique menu.  With the exceptions of Electric Umbrella and Yorkshire County Fish Shop, no matter where you go, you’ll come across food that isn’t available elsewhere. And even Liberty Inn and Electric Umbrella have switched things up so they offer unique takes on the standards.

Best “Value” AKA Most Expensive Meal on the Dining Plan

  1. Tangierine Café (Average Entrée Cost $11.55, Most Expensive Entrée Cost $14.99)
  2. Katsura Grill ($9.96, $12.99)
  3. La Cantina de San Angel ($11.64, $12.50)
  4. Sunshine Seasons ($10.87, $12.49)
  5. Lotus Blossom ($8.82, $11.95)
  6. Liberty Inn ($9.39, $10.69)
  7. Electric Umbrealla ($9.24, $10.49)
  8. Boulangerie Patisserie ($7.97, $9.50)
  9. Sommerfest ($8.04, $9.19)
  10. Yorkshire County Fish Shop ($8.99, $8.99)
  11. Kringla Bakeri og Café ($7.55, $8.19)

The excellent Tangierine Cafe comes out on top with Katsura Grill and their teriyaki combos coming in second.  Yorkshire with its one $8.99 entree and Kringla with inexpensive sandwiches round out the list.

Best Value Out of Pocket

  1. Sunshine Seasons
  2. Tangierine Café
  3. Kringla Bakeri og Kafé
  4. Yorkshire County Fish Shop
  5. Boulangerie Patisserie
  6. Sommerfest
  7. Liberty Inn
  8. Katsura Grill
  9. Lotus Blossom
  10. Electric Umbrella
  11. La Cantina de San Angel

Sunshine Seasons delivers the most bang for your buck in terms of cost compared to the quality of ingredients, freshness of food, and portion size.  I would shy away from the Asian entrées, but the rest of the choices are excellent, especially the gigantic sandwiches and tasty grilled options.  Although Tangierine Café is the most expensive counter service at Epcot, the Schwarma Platters are large enough to share, especially if you add one or two extra side dishes that each cost about $2.  The wraps may be enough for two people to share as well and are moderately priced at $9.99, which is about as much as most entrées at the other counter services cost.  The same is true for Kringla, which serves large sandwiches for about $8 and the highly recommended school bread for just north of $2.  Both Yorkshire Fish and Sommerfest have limited menus, but both serve nice size portions of high quality food for one person in the $7-$9 range.  Either would be a fine choice depending on what you’re in the mood to eat. Boulangerie has a vast menu with some items a better value than others. The Warm Croissant Sandwich and French Pizza are particularly good values with both items coming in under $5.  Liberty Inn now offers an above-average strip steak along with a zesty Southwestern Chicken Salad and vegan Chik’n dish.  All three items elevate it from its past status as being one of the lesser quick services at Epcot.  Katsura Grill and Lotus Blossom serve average-at-best fast-food style Asian dishes that will satisfy most people looking for quick Japanese or Chinese food, but won’t compare to your favorite places back home.  Katsura Grill is slightly better because the portions are larger and the menu is more robust.  Electric Umbrella falls to next to last, offering mostly the usual Disney fare at standard prices. The Vegetable Flatbread and Macaroni and Cheese Burger are steps in the right direction, but there still is not a tremendous amount of value for your money here. With expensive food that simply isn’t that good, La Cantina falls to last place.  Just about everyone in the country has a nearby Mexican restaurant that would serve significantly better, cheaper food.

Best Seating

  1. Sunshine Seasons
  2. Liberty Inn
  3. Electric Umbrella
  4. Katsura Grill
  5. Lotus Blossom
  6. Tangierine Café
  7. Kringla Bakeri og Café
  8. Boulangerie Patisserie
  9. La Cantina de San Angel
  10. Yorkshire County Fish Shop
  11. Sommerfest

Sunshine Seasons tops the list, offering plenty of air-conditioned seating.  It also tends to be quieter than Liberty Inn or Electric Umbrella and because there are so many tables, you probably won’t have another party eating their food six inches away from you.  Liberty Inn comes in second, with vast air-conditioned seating indoors and a jungle of tables outside.  The only caveat is that it can get loud inside. Electric Umbrella also has plentiful indoor, air-conditioned seating and a vast covered outdoor seating section.  Katsura offers some indoor seating and a lush setting for tables outside, making it one of your best choices in World Showcase.  While entirely outside, Lotus Blossom has somewhat comfortable, covered seating.  Tangierine Cafe features indoor seating, though it isn’t enclosed in comfortable air-conditioning.  There are usually plenty of tables outside in the pleasant Morocco Pavilion outside.  Although Kringla’s seating section is small, it’s less visible, which means only people that are eating food from Kringla sit there. Boulangerie features an indoor seating section that is often crowded, but there’s usually somewhere to set up shop.  La Cantina is a tough one to give a single rating.  Before 3pm, you can take your food into next door La Hacienda de San Angel, because the restaurant only serves dinner.  After that though, the outdoor section is overrun with too many guests.  And because it overlooks the Lagoon, you get squatters in the evening waiting for IllumiNations and it can be difficult to impossible score a table. If there’s no availability, walk up to the outdoor seating area just outside the entrance to the pyramid. These tables are hidden from the promenade and usually unoccupied. Finally, Yorkshire has limited seating.  If you can get a table overlooking the Lagoon, it is quite scenic. You can take your food to the left of Rose & Crown Restaurant, but it’s cramped, outdoors, and uncovered.  Sommerfest only has a few tables inside and a couple outside. It used to be just enough space, but Disney expanded the menu in September 2013, which increased popularity and the number of people looking for a table. Unless you arrive right around 11am or eat after 8pm, it’s unlikely there will be a table available.

Best Food

  1. Sunshine Seasons
  2. Tangierine Café
  3. Boulangerie Patisserie
  4. Kringla Bakeri og Café
  5. Yorkshire County Fish Shop
  6. Sommerfest
  7. Liberty Inn
  8. Electric Umbrella
  9. Katsura Grill
  10. Lotus Blossom
  11. La Cantina de San Angel

Just about everything served at Sunshine Seasons is reliably the best quick service food at any of Disney’s theme parks.  Most items are grilled or otherwise prepared fresh while you wait and the selection and quality are better than similar items served elsewhere. Even the Asian dishes have increased in quality recently.  With its authentic Moroccan dishes, Tangierine Cafe is a favorite of anyone in the know.  While a little different, the flavors and textures should be familiar to most and it shouldn’t be overlooked as being too “out there.”  Boulangerie offers a wide variety of sweet snacks and heartier entrees at reasonable prices. Most items are toasted after you order them. Kringla serves excellent sandwiches and many of their treats are priced lower and taste better than Disney’s other choices.  Although it only offers one item, the fish at Yorkshire is the best on property – crispy without being too greasy.  Sommerfest also offers a small menu, but the frankfurters and bratwurst that it does offer are better than the comparable Disney hot dogs. The Currywurst and Laberkase are nice, unique additions as well.  With a fresher menu, Liberty Inn serves much better food than it once did.  As previously mentioned, the steak, southwest chicken salad, and other newer entrees are all very good. Electric Umbrella has raised the bar also, offering an excellent vegetarian flatbread and proficient Disney staples with a slight twist.  I’ve never been impressed with Katsura Grill, particularly with their teriyaki options.  Most people will have a better teriyaki joint down the road from where they live. Sushi is mass produced and inferior to most grocery stores.  For whatever reason, Disney doesn’t do anything to the Lotus Blossom menu, including raising the prices or substituting out items that don’t work for something else.  I’ve never heard anyone rave about Lotus Blossom, and for good reason, as the food is distinctly below average.  Portions are small at La Cantina and the food never seems to be prepared well.

Overall Best Counter Service at Epcot

  1. Sunshine Seasons
  2. Tangierine Café
  3. Kringla Bakeri og Café
  4. Boulangerie Patisserie
  5. Yorkshire County Fish Shop
  6. Liberty Inn
  7. Sommerfest
  8. Katsura Grill
  9. Lotus Blossom
  10. Electric Umbrella
  11. La Cantina de San Angel

Sunshine Seasons either tops the list in each category or is one of the top three choices, so it should be no surprise that it comes up first.  Serving fresh, tasty food in the air-conditioned Land Pavilion, it should be on anyone’s short list.  Tangierine Cafe is your best choice in the World Showcase, offering large portions of high quality food.  Coming in third, Kringla Bakeri serves up some of Disney’s best treats along with reliably above average sandwiches. Boulangerie has a vast selection of treats and several outstanding entrees at reasonable prices. Yorkshire features Disney’s best fried fish along the water – a great location if you can find a table.  With the only air-conditioned seating in World Showcase, Liberty Inn moves up the ranks with its new menu featuring fresher, healthier fare.  Sommerfest is cheap, easy, and offers reliably good frankfurters and bratwursts.  It’s hurt only by the lack of other options and the extremely limited seating.  It’s really not much more than a hole in the wall.  While not everything is great at Katsura Grill, the setting is beautiful and the sushi is okay.  I recommend staying away from the teriyaki items, but you might get lucky elsewhere on the menu.  None of the bottom three locations come recommended.  Lotus Blossom serves up below average Chinese fast food.  Nothing about it is particularly inspired.  Electric Umbrella serves mostly Disney basics at the standard price points and there is much better, more unique food available. In case it isn’t obvious, I don’t hold La Cantina in high regard.  It offers a limited menu, expensive low quality food, and it’s often difficult to find a table.

Overall, there’s a lot of good food at Epcot and it may be difficult to narrow down your choices.  I’d take a long look at Sunshine Seasons and Tangierine Cafe – most people will want to visit for the great food and atmosphere.

 

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Steve December 15, 2010 at 11:52 am

One nice thing about Electric Umbrella is that the soft drinks are self-serve, which means you can get free refills. Of course you don’t actually have to purchase the beverage at EU in the first place if you want to be a bit sneaky…

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Quin February 4, 2011 at 8:43 pm

What about the Boulangerie in France? The sandwiches are huge and the dessert selection – OMG. To die for.

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THEODORE June 23, 2011 at 11:56 pm

RANDOM

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Julia July 19, 2011 at 9:57 pm

The Greek salad at Electric Umbrella is a nice change, tasty, and worth a mention.
The fruit bowl is a nice option for desert as well.

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Mike December 14, 2012 at 3:22 pm

Epcot has the best food of all 4 parks, and beats them by a mile. Just so many different options, probably the only way you wouldn’t prefer Epcot to other places is if you have picky or very resistant to change type of eaters who need hot dogs/hamburgers or deep fried chicken parts.

Didn’t do Mexico or China because where I live there’s plenty of those types of foods, Italy I didn’t either because I eat that at just about every family gathering (Sicilian here), Moroccan food was extremely tasty (except the “mixed greens” that was like eating plastic), German food tasted a bit over done but that could have been the buffet style and I just happened to be in at the wrong time although the desserts were scrumptious, and even Sunshine Seasons which was more “tame” was extremely tasty I even ate the potato salad with my dish and I don’t like potato salad (no mayo in this version) I almost wish I spent more days in Epcot just eating but there wasn’t terribly much to do there other than eat and once you’ve seen all the different countries there wasn’t much “replay” to it.

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Sue December 16, 2012 at 1:46 am

I have to disagree with your review of La Cantina, I love their Carne Asada tacos! It’s become one of our fav places in Epcot along with Sunshine Seasons and Morocco.

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Jeff December 17, 2012 at 1:40 pm

Thanks for doing these “Best of” reviews. I’ve been to Epcot dozens of times over the last few years but never stray past the usual burger fare when at any of the parks. When I went this weekend, I tried Tangierine Café based on the ranking here… and found the Kefta Sandwich to be probably the best fast food item I’ve ever eaten… somewhat like a much-improved cross between a burger and a taco… super super good. Thanks!

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Toby December 18, 2012 at 12:39 pm

La Cantina is our least favorite, our kids enjoy nine dragons. My personal favorite is Kringla (school bread is the tiebreaker) just over tangierine. Oldest daughter loves the fish and chips in Great Britain.

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chris April 29, 2013 at 4:08 pm

I wish all the restaurant names on the top 10 lists had links

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Jay Stemple August 19, 2013 at 7:34 pm

Love Epcot food… hate the kid menu items.
“Hey kids! Isn’t this cool! Food from all over the world! Diversity, uniqueness, untold adventures!

…so what’ll it be junior? Chicken fingers or a PB and J sandwich?

Seriously, what pavilions offer cool and regional items on the kids menu?

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