Even without the threat of a global pandemic, dining outdoors is an underrated delight. While the sweltering Florida summers can often force us to retreat into the comfort of air conditioned dining rooms, the rest of the year provides for mostly pleasant weather to enjoy a meal under the stars or while basking in the sun. The following WDW restaurants offer the most enjoyable outdoor dining experiences on property.
1. Spice Road Table – Epcot
Located just off the shores of World Showcase Lagoon in the Morocco pavilion, this Mediterranean-themed restaurant boasts a covered patio with ample outdoor dining. Snack on small plates of spicy garlic shrimp or hummus with olives before filling up on entrees such as the coriander-crusted rack of lamb while you gaze across the water to the Norway pavilion, where the crowds will be waiting in line for Frozen Ever After while you relax and enjoy a meal outside.
2. The Boathouse – Disney Springs
If ever there was a location made for outdoor dining, The Boathouse is it. With its dockside bar and open-air dining room, this is one of the go-to destinations for pandemic dining at Disney Springs. Enjoy views of Village Lake while indulging in cocktails and seafood, including oysters, Maine lobster claws, and grilled mahi tacos. Filet mignon sliders and classic cheeseburgers are also available, for those who prefer not to venture too far from shore for their meals. Amphicar tours continue to operate, creating an unparalleled ambiance for diners while they decide if they’d like to seize the opportunity to cruise the lake in style after they’ve finished their meal.
3. Geyser Point Bar & Grill – Wilderness Lodge
Yet another waterside eatery, this one can be found on the shores of Bay Lake. Guests dine beneath a canopy of oversized rustic timbers, with separate menus offered for its lounge area and dining “room”. Under normal circumstances, visitors can pull up a chair for a late evening bison cheeseburger while awaiting the electrical water pageant to pass by (usually at around 9:30pm), though with operation of this tradition temporarily suspended we’ll instead have to settle for a homey meal in the crisp night air. The lounge menu offers a few holdovers from the dining room selection, while also adding lighter fare such as edamame and a handcrafted charcuterie plate.
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4. Three Bridges Bar & Grill – Coronado Springs
Much like Geyser Point, this resort restaurant boasts lakefront dining in a completely open-air space, this time overlooking Coronado Springs’ Lago Dorado. The elegantly-appointed eatery stands in the shadow of the resort’s Gran Destino Tower, which recently opened and features 545 guest rooms (including 50 suites), many of which offer views of the lake below. The menu includes Spanish-inspired shareables like the warm manchego and Oaxaca cheese dip as well as entrees such as braised pork tacos, crispy chicken sliders, and the Three Bridges signature burger.
5. Tony’s Town Square – Magic Kingdom
This Lady and the Tramp-inspired Italian eatery just inside the entrance to the Magic Kingdom earns its place on this list for being the only table service restaurant that offers outdoor dining in the shadow of Cinderella’s castle. While it might be in bad form to recreate the film’s iconic noodle-sharing kiss considering the current climate, you can still dine like a pair of pups in love while enjoying signature Italian dishes including chicken parmigiana, Tony’s pizza pies and, of course, spaghetti with meatballs. Classic Italian desserts are also offered, such as your choice of gelato or cannoli.
6. Nomad Lounge – Animal Kingdom
Located beside Tiffins on Discovery Island, this welcoming lounge features a covered patio area with outdoor dining that offers a global array of appetizers and specialty cocktails. Its menu may not be extensive, though its offerings are tasty and well-proportioned considering the price tag. The Impossible sliders, for instance, feature a pair of nearly full size plant-based burgers accompanied by hulking Yucca fries while the Tiffin signature bread service includes a trio of breads served with ginger-pear chutney, red pepper hummus, and spiced coriander yogurt. The cocktail menu is a bit more robust, with cleverly-monikered mixes such as the leaping lizard and night monkey, which combines guava puree and dark rum with coffee simple syrup and lime juice.
7. Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ – Disney Springs
The addition of the Shine Bar + Social outdoor patio area has made Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ a welcoming destination during these uncertain times. The eatery offers farm-to-table options devised by the award-winning chef himself, from braised short ribs and country fried steak to the namesake’s famous fried chicken served with mashed potatoes and a cheddar drop biscuit. Brunch is also offered on the weekends with a plethora of options, including fried green tomatoes and fried chicken and doughnuts.
8. Olivia’s Cafe – Old Key West Resort
This quaint cafe offers limited dockside seating, though that shouldn’t dissuade guests from paying a visit to this underrated dining spot. Olivia’s serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner with surprising flair, featuring many items that guests won’t be able to help but devour with their eyes before even touching their forks to the plate. The banana bread French toast comes topped with coconut whipped cream and banana-rum syrup as well as a choice of bacon or sausage, while later-in-the-day offerings include southernmost buttermilk chicken slathered in gravy or the Cayo Hueso shrimp pasta. The key lime tart with toasted meringue and mango and raspberry sauce is not to be missed.