You might not be surprised to find there's a New England-style fish house inside the Magic Kingdom's patriotic Liberty Square. Or that you can go there to satisfy your craving for fried shrimp or fish baskets with slaw and creamy clam chowder to boot. But if I told you the same place where you can score a lobster roll also has a menu laden with fresh-healthier options like a hummus and broccoli slaw sandwich or hearty vegetarian chili, you might be. For fast-casual seafood service in the shadow of the Haunted Mansion, look no farther than the Columbia Harbour House.
Recommended for Walt Disney World ®'s Best Seafood because: Columbia Harbour House offers good, fast-casual seafood with healthier options for those who don't do fried.
A.D.'s expert tip: Try to run reconnaissance upstairs while someone in your party is ordering, especially when the place is crowded. It's often quieter and some people don't realize there's another floor.
Located in the Walt Disney World Swan Hotel, Kimonos is a stylish venue built for one purpose: to satisfy your sushi-and-sake cravings and, later in the evening, your penchant for karaoke (which, few would argue, becomes increasingly appealing following the sake). Fresh colorful offerings from the sea are artfully presented – sushi is something of a spectator sport, so feel free to watch the chef-artisans at the bar – but if your tastes run more to the cooked side of the menu, tempura dishes, kobe beef and duck satay are among the offerings. A beautiful collection of kimonos, hence the name, help set the mood in this contemporary Japanese-style venue.
Recommended for Walt Disney World ®'s Best Seafood because: Kimonos showcases three of Japan's greatest exports: sushi, sashimi and sub-par singing (in the form of karaoke). Good times!
A.D.'s expert tip: Love karaoke? Whether its your time to shine or a hilarious spectator sport, Kimonos is the place to take part. Come early if it's not your thing.
Fish. Chips. Beer. Boom. It's really all you need. The Yorkshire County Fish Shop is a quick, casual alternative to a longer visit to the Rose & Crown in EPCOT's United Kingdom World Showcase if you're craving a bit of Brit cuisine. Nine bucks gets you the house special – there's really only one, fish and chips. Eight more and you've got a beer – Bass or Harp – to go with. Lines usually move fast and there's seating behind the stand around back. The crispy fish makes a great fast lunch, dinner or snack and you're on the move again. Of course, if you time it right, you'll be getting the ketchup on your chips just as the Illuminations fireworks show begins to explode over EPCOT.
Recommended for Walt Disney World ®'s Best Seafood because: Enjoyable seafood doesn't have to mean fine dining. Yorkshire County Fish Shop offers EPCOT-infused British flavor without taking much of your time or money.
A.D.'s expert tip: If you've never tried malt vinegar on batter-fried fish, you should. You're in "the UK," after all.
The wonderful thing about Tokyo Dining – aside from its sleek good looks, A+ Japanese wait staff and lovely views of the World Showcase Lagoon – is its options. While the focus here is on three of Japanese cuisine's most famous Ss: sushi, sashimi and sake, you don't have to like your seafood raw – or even served in rolls – to have a first class experience. In fact, you don't even need to like seafood. Options abound in the form of tempura chicken or veggies and even steak. Bento boxes offer the less adventurous a chance to keep things safe and venture out a little.
Recommended for Walt Disney World ®'s Best Seafood because: Soothing ambiance and fresh, succulent (and often raw) fish make Tokyo Dining a go-to venue for your sushi fix at EPCOT.
A.D.'s expert tip: Sake and specialty rolls: the way to go Tokyo.
Okay, we know what you're thinking. Seafood at a bowling alley? Well, Splitsville is not your average bowling alley, it's more of a diner-bar-bowling alley-family emporium. Also, it has a sushi bar. Offerings run the from the usual roll suspects – California, volcano, rainbow – to unique creations with Disneyesque names like the Beauty and the Beast roll, to a phenomenal low-carb option called the Alberto. You wouldn't think a roll without rice were possible, but there you have it. For those less seafood-enthusiastic, a vast array of bowling alley eats (burgers, nachos, loaded fries and beyond) will fit the bill nicely.
Recommended for Walt Disney World ®'s Best Seafood because: Why Splitsville? Because in what universe save Disney's does a bowling alley become a sushi bar venue?
A.D.'s expert tip: The Alberto roll, a tuna-avocado-cucumber concoction (no rice) is the low-carb dieter's sushi prayer answered!
Affording incredible views of the Disney landscape from the 15th floor of Disney's Contemporary Resort, this fashionable, long-time favorite has undergone a relatively recent "reimagining," and now features a design inspired by mid-century modern California and an updated menu with exciting additions – but retention of a few old faves, one of which is the sublime oak-fired filet of beef with heirloom tomato risotto, baby vine tomatoes, petite basil and tomato butter. Seafood lovers will have choices to make – flounder, scallops, swordfish – even stew – tempt the palate. And if you're in the mood for sushi, you're in good hands. California Grill serves some 2,000 pieces on a busy night! With new floor-to-ceiling windows expanding its already sweeping 360-degree vistas, seafood and sushi (and steak, and dessert, and so forth ad nauseum) lovers will find a thousand things to enjoy at California Grill, from its menu to its atmosphere.
Recommended for Walt Disney World ®'s Best Seafood because: Whether you like your fish raw or cooked, California Grill serves it up fresh and artfully in beautiful high-rise surrounds.
A.D.'s expert tip: Dining before or after the fireworks? No worries. Bring your receipt to the 2nd-floor check-in desk for re-entry or watch before dinner from the lounge or observation deck.
Oysters. Lobster. Succulent steaks and seafood. And the views? Unparalleled. Folks who stay at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa love it for myriad reasons – and its dining venues are so well-known, they attract guests from other properties, as well. Even locals. Narcoossee's is a fine-dining experience, dinner only, so make it a true night out. Dress the part and take your time, savoring a menu rife with succulent seafood – with land-based options for those who prefer them. Reservations are absolutely recommended; Narcoossee's views of the Seven Seas Lagoon come with privileges. Namely, wonderful seats for the Magic Kingdom fireworks and Electrical Water Pageant.
Recommended for Walt Disney World ®'s Best Seafood because: Narcoossee's is elegant, excellent for special-occasion splurges and expert in its preparation of seafood.
A.D.'s expert tip: Reservations strongly recommended; request a fireworks-friendly window table if your timing will coincide.
Sleek, trendy decor and brilliant lighting provide the perfect complement to celebrity chef Todd English's contemporary take on seafood. BlueZoo is an undeniably glitzy place for date night, a lounge and restaurant in one. Dressing to impress and linger over a few pre-dinner designer cocktails and soak up the venue's soaring extravagance before delving into the likes of teppan-seared jumbo sea scallops, the delights of the raw bar and entrees that include miso-glazed mero, Florida flounder and dirty south swordfish. Feeling spendy? Go for the two-pound Maine "Cantonese-style" lobster, fried and tossed in a sticky soy glaze. Reservations are most certainly required.
Recommended for Walt Disney World ®'s Best Seafood because: The creative cocktails and cuisine at Todd English's BlueZoo, along with its palpable glamor, will make you wonder when they installed the portal to Las Vegas.
A.D.'s expert tip: Almost unbelievable until you take its location (inside the Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel) into account, TE's BlueZoo has a children's menu, but as dinner will set you back a few to begin with, spring for the sitter if possible and enjoy its ambiance to the fullest.
Gone are the fun house mirrors and Ferris wheel parts of its predecessor, Disney-fan favorite the Flying Fish Cafe. The newly minuted version comes with a shortened name – Flying Fish – and exceptionally swanky decor that pairs brilliantly with its sustainable seafood. Plancha-seared scallops, wood-fired Spanish octopus, crispy soft shell crab and Maine lobster nero pasta are among the phenomenal entrees. Got a dining companion who's less than keen on joining the Little Mermaid "under the sea?" Turf items such as Wagyu filet mignon should do nicely. Walking in on a busy evening? The restaurant's beautiful bar is an idea spot to wait, imbibe and peruse the evening's catch, or you can head next door to the steampunk-Houdini haven of AbracadaBar where the drinks are imbued with so much Disney magic, you'll want to make a couple disappear.
Recommended for Walt Disney World ®'s Best Seafood because: Orlando visitors often fail to escape the gravitational pull of the theme-park area. Flying Fish's top-shelf cuisine gives them a good excuse to stay put.
A.D.'s expert tip: Flying Fish Cafe is currently undergoing some renovations, but doors should be back open come Summer 2016.
Walt Disney World's big, beautiful Boathouse venue can accommodate up to 600 seafood and steak lovers amid its nautically themed confines. Views of Lake Buena Vista beckon from throughout; in fact, you can drink and dine al fresco here, as well. Wine, craft beer and cocktails pair well with market-fresh catch and even caviar while diners watch the classic-car-themed amphicars sail past. A beautiful place for special-occasion lunches or dinners, the restaurant's three distinct dining spaces set a lovely tone; private rooms are available for functions, as well. Come hungry. You won't want to miss the wild-caught shrimp or decadent desserts.
Recommended for Walt Disney World ®'s Best Seafood because: For its succulent (and at $16.99, pretty reasonably priced) lobster roll, the BoardWalk Bakery deserves a place on the seafood roster.
A.D.'s expert tip: They say it serves four. We say it serves more. If you have the mouths to feed, don't miss the Gibson's S'mores Baked Alaska.