Meat on the Menu: Where to Steak Your Claim at Disney

Harmony and fun are earmarks of Disney, of course, and that carries through to its restaurant menus – which is nice, since even the most loving families don't see eye-to-eye on everything! For example, perhaps your group has a meat lover in its midst. If beef is what's for dinner, you won't go hungry at Orlando's Walt Disney World, dedicated purveyors of prime cuts – both Shula's and the Yachtsman Steakhouse may come to mind – abound. But what of the rest of your troupe: the seafood lovers, the vegetarians, the sushi fiends and the adventurous eaters always on the hunt for an exotic experience? Moreover, what about the little (or big) ones who want to dine in a castle? This is Disney World, after all. Well, fear not. Carnivores can find fantastic cuts – not to mention creative ones – all over the Kingdom. At the popular Polynesian-themed Kona Cafe, for example, miso butter turns a typical strip loin into an Asian-infused excursion. STK's dedicated offerings at Disney Springs reel them in with DJ-spun beats and keep them there with expertly grilled meats. And deep in the heart of Fantasyland, the castle of the Beast is home to Be Our Guest, boasting three brilliantly-themed fairy tale dining rooms, French-inspired fare and a steak that's fit for a prince.



Magic Kingdom ®

Appropriately located in the Fantasyland realm of the Magic Kingdom, Be Our Guest brings diners inside the Beast's castle. Lunchtime here is a fast-service affair but come dinner, things become far more formal, with sit-down table service in three brilliantly themed rooms: the West Wing, Belle's beautiful book-lined library or the grand and regal ballroom where snow fall peppers the windows and cherubs soar amid the chandeliers. The menu, like the tale, is French-inspired with onion soup and charcuterie, chicken breast Provencal and thyme-scented rack pork chops, delicate ratatouille and â€" for steak lovers â€" a perfectly seared New York strip served with garlic butter and pommes frites (aka: steak fries). For Disney lovers in search of opulent themed venues, Be Our Guest is a natural match.

Recommended for Walt Disney World ®'s Best Steaks because: Be Our Guest invites park-goers into Belle's realm and offers a strip steak worthy of a prince and generous enough for a beast.

A.D.'s expert tip: Regardless of where you're seated, take a little time to explore. Each dining room is different, each magnificently themed.

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Magic Kingdom ®

The relaxed Polynesian vibe of the Kona Café permeates the ambiance at all three squares, leaving few dishes untouched, including its miso-buttered strip loin. Scallion mashed potatoes, Misoyaki baby eggplant, sake reduction, and wild mushrooms turn an old boys' club offering into something entirely inventive. The Duo of Pork, which pairs Asian barbecue-style pork belly and chili-rubbed pork tenderloin is another meat lover's pleaser. Notable: Kona Cafe is open for all three meals, and some of its breakfast offerings could easily do double-duty on the dessert menu! For fans of poultry, seafood and vegetables, there are options a'plenty, making the Kona Café a versatile choice.

Recommended for Walt Disney World ®'s Best Steaks because: The Kona Cafe gives the traditional New York strip an island makeover via a teriyaki-pineapple glaze. Savory. Sweet. Unexpected.

A.D.'s expert tip: Dessert show! Kona Cafe's onstage pastry kitchen allows you to watch your sweet treat come together before you tear it apart.

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Affording incredible views of the Disney landscape from the 15th floor of Disney's Contemporary Resort, this fashionable, long-time favorite has undergone a 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. Meat lovers will also find the 24-hour short rib "filet" a melt-in-your-mouth experience. With new floor-to-ceiling windows expanding its already sweeping 360-degree vistas, steak (and seafood, and sushi, and dessert, etc. 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 Steaks because: California Grill's masterminds knew enough to hang onto the best of the old – including the oak-grilled filet – before embracing a new design and menu.

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.

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Disney Springs ®

Disney Springs' dedicated steakhouse is a different affair than other Walt Disney World venues in that it embraces the popular chain's slick, big-city atmosphere. If the Yachtsman is where you'd bring grandma and all the kids (and it would be a solid choice), STK is more like dining behind the velvet rope at a high-end cosmopolitan nightclub. You can pop in for a $15 cocktail and soak up the atmosphere – this includes a DJ spinning beats – or stay for a long-haul meal that might include a beautifully seared 34-oz. dry-aged tomahawk long bone ribeye for two. STK boasts a host of sauce and topping options, as well. But if you like your truffle butter or your chimichurri sauce, you'll pay for it. As is the norm in many steakhouses, just about everything is a la carte.

Recommended for Walt Disney World ®'s Best Steaks because: With clubby sophistication and thoughtfully prepared food, STK brings another facet of fine dining to Disney Springs' rapidly growing roster of culinary heavy hitters.

A.D.'s expert tip: The DJ means business. Translation: not a venue for quiet, intimate chit-chat.

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The Epcot World Showcase may be well known for its "drink around the world" aspects, but in recent years it has exploded into a dine-around-the-world destination, as well. In Canada, the top-shelf option is the Le Cellier Steakhouse, where the nation's northern influence touches the menu in shades of maple (and a couple of twists on poutine) but the steaks are the real deal, whether you go for the N.Y. Strip, the filet mignon, the Black Angus ribeye or a big splurge on the porterhouse steak for two. The latter is served with loaded mashed potatoes, crispy onions, lobster macaroni and cheese, Béarnaise sauce and blue cheese fondue. You better make a few circuits around the showcase after a meal like that.

Recommended for Walt Disney World ®'s Best Steaks because: Oh, Canada! Le Cellier proves our neighbors to the north know their steaks as well as their poutine.

A.D.'s expert tip: Have room for dessert? Try the maple creme brulee: ooh la la!

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Lake Buena Vista

Al fresco dining with sweeping golf course views and a comfortable clubhouse feel inside make the Turf Club Bar and Grill an excellent option for families looking for a fine array of steakhouse-style offerings alongside the Lake Buena Vista course. Nestled inside Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa, diners can relax with a beverage at their 19th (watering) hole, shoot pool and of course, enjoy a fine meal in a comfortably casual setting with an equestrian theme. Notable beef offerings include an excellent grilled New York strip with lobster fondue and a truly memorable prime rib served with a cherry-peppercorn sauce. Come hungry.

Recommended for Walt Disney World ®'s Best Steaks because: Its clandestine location makes the Turf Club a venue many locals don't even know about; its steak and prime rib make it worth a visit.

A.D.'s expert tip: The Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa is accessible from Downtown Disney by water taxi, making the Turf Club a dining option where getting there is part of the fun.

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Disney Springs ®

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 Steaks because: Despite the focus on seafood, the Boathouse offers the turf-over-surf crowd a host of options to get excited (and hungry) about.

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.

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Walt Disney World ®

The '72 Dolphins may have gone undefeated, but your hunger will be down for the count before halftime, particularly if you partake in Coach Don's massive 48-ounce Porterhouse. Despite this lauded restaurant's NFL connection, its atmosphere is decidedly traditional. Team photos are displayed in grand, formal frames befitting a steakhouse, though the menu is printed on the side of a football â€" a playful touch for a beloved team. Located inside the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort, Shula's earns high marks from discriminating diners and critics.

Recommended for Walt Disney World ®'s Best Steaks because: The Shula name is legendary on the gridiron and the grill. Visit the Swan and Dolphin to find out why.

A.D.'s expert tip: No reservation? Shula's Lounge, connected to the restaurant, is first-come,first-served and offers the same exact menu in less formal digs.

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Walt Disney World ®

Living up to its New York namesake's reputation, Orlando's version of Bull & Bear pulls out the stops with attentive service and a traditional, club-like steakhouse atmosphere with contemporary touches. Portions are hearty, beef is top-quality and the menu offers both traditional favorites and refreshing surprises; sometimes a melding of the two. Popular favorites include the Bull & Bear Shellfish Platter (the crab cocktail is a standout) and the formidable, Fred Flintstone-sized Tomahawk, a blockbuster, bone-in, 36-ounce cut of dry-aged Certified Angus Beef that is carved tableside and dressed with the velvety drippings of a beef-tallow candle.

Recommended for Walt Disney World ®'s Best Steaks because: In four words? Charred filet of beef. Steak lovers at Disney's Hollywood Studios, look no further.

A.D.'s expert tip: If you really want to put the "up" in "upscale," conisder the Waldorf's Suite Life Private Dining Experience, which brings the Bull & Bear's impeccable food and service right to your hotel suite.

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Disney's Hollywood Studios™

Grain-fed. Aged in-house. Oak-fired. Is your mouth watering yet? These are some of the sexiest phrases in the realm of steak and all three apply at the upscale (but family-friendly) steakhouse inside Disney's Yacht Club Resort, where butches cut steaks by hand and you can even watch the process. Food voyeurism aside, the steaks at the Yachtsman are no joke. From the 8-oz. center cut filet mignon to the 12-oz. New York strip with peppercorn-brandy sauce to the hefty 17-oz. bone-in ribeye, it's a carnivore's delight from end-to-end. Delicious charcuterie and cheese, an excellent seafood selection (not to mention the truffle macaroni and cheese) will please the palates of those less beef-inclined.

Recommended for Walt Disney World ®'s Best Steaks because: The Yachtsman offers a top-shelf steakhouse experience in a wonderfully un-stuffy atmosphere.

A.D.'s expert tip: If you have the inclination (and the room), pair an appropriate wine with the artisanal cheese and/or charcuterie samplers.

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Meet A.D. Thompson

Amy Drew has spent nearly three decades as a professional writer and roughly half her life as a Floridian. The words, she has found, come easier with bare feet and rum.

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