This post ranks the best & worst quick service restaurants in EPCOT at Walt Disney World, including both World Showcase and Future World. These counter service rankings are best on overall quality, with factors such as quality, uniqueness, menu variety, and more all taken into account. (Updated July 15, 2023.)
EPCOT has long been regarded as one of the best dining options at Walt Disney World, with World Showcase in particular viewed as a culinary highlight. From the table service restaurant lineup to the snack spots, bakeries, and food booths that always seem to be around thanks to the near-omnipresent festivals, EPCOT has a rich and diverse dining scene.
It thus might come as a surprise that we view EPCOT as having a somewhat weak counter service lineup. Don’t get us wrong–the top picks here are solid, as are a few middle of the pack ones. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of good counter service options here that have “full” menus as compared to Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, or Hollywood Studios.
All in all, EPCOT is a fairly straightforward park when it comes to counter service. The good choices are undeniably good–but often basic–and the rest is varying degrees of decent–but with some standout menu items. There are a couple of surprises, particularly with restaurants that have improved in recent years.
It is also worth noting that most of the options in World Showcase are highly dependent upon what you think of a particular regional cuisine. Namely, if you don’t like it at all, you likely won’t like its EPCOT counterpart, and if you are used to highly authentic versions of a particular cuisine, you might find the EPCOT versions overly Americanized or bland.
Let’s get started with the EPCOT counter service rankings…
T10. Lotus Blossom Cafe – A lot of people might describe Lotus Blossom Cafe as generic mall food court Chinese cuisine. While I don’t necessarily disagree with the mall food court assessment–Lotus Blossom is pretty Americanized–that doesn’t necessarily make it bad. Just go in with proper expectations, and you won’t be (too) disappointed.
My pick here is the orange chicken. Pretty basic pick for a pretty basic place.
T10. Sommerfest – Tucked away in the Germany pavilion back by Biergarten, Sommerfest only ranks this low because of its minimalist menu. Here, the main entrees (brats and pretzels) are fine, but it’s the dessert that stand out.
My go-to picks are the Nudel Gratin (when available) and Pretzel Bread Pudding. Between the two, you’re getting a nice mix of savory and sweet, plus rich and decadent. It’s arguably not a full meal, the the two work nicely as a very hearty snack.
9. Kringla Bakeri og Kafe – The “mascot” of this place is a crown-wearing pretzel. That says it all about the greatness of Kringla, which is one of the best bakeries at Walt Disney World. It has unique sandwiches that offer a unique flavor of Norway alongside some of the absolute best snacks at EPCOT–or anywhere at Walt Disney World.
Kringla’s claim to fame is School Bread, which could probably be elected to public office among Disney fans. School Bread is great, but it overshadows some of the other great desserts at Kringla. Unfortunately, Kringla drops with our latest update as the menu remains scaled back and missing the substantive options. You really can’t do a proper meal here right now, but Kringla still deserves recognition–and a pit stop for sweet treats.
8. Yorkshire County Fish Shop – I used to think Yorkshire County Fish Shop was just ordinary fish & chips. However, I’ve eaten here several times in the last few years and have been impressed. It’s now much easier to see why this has a fan-following among Walt Disney World diehards.
If you get lucky and have fish with crisp batter that’s fresh out of the fryer, with just the right amount of greasiness (call it “lightly moist” if you will), Yorkshire County Fish Shop is tough to beat. The only reason this place is in the #8 slot instead of a much better position is because fish & chips is pretty much all they serve. If you are a fan of fish & chips, this place instantly jumps to at least the #5 slot, maybe as high as #3.
7. Les Halles Boulangerie & Patisserie – Les Halles manages to rank highly because it has very solid sandwiches along with wonderfully flaky pastries and sweet desserts that make for a decadent 50/50 savory/sweets meal.
On vacation, I fully embrace the idea of a meal that is in large part dessert, and Les Halles delivers a “balanced” diet in that regard. Your mileage may vary here, though. Les Halles is also a great option for “filler,” with the bread being among the menu highlights.
6. La Cantina de San Angel – This is a Sarah pick, and is her favorite restaurant in World Showcase. At La Cantina de San Angel, the best option is far and away the rice bowl, followed by the nachos. Those are both great picks that are tasty, relatively filling, refreshing, and somewhat healthy (or at least well-rounded) by Walt Disney World standards.
My main complaint about La Cantina de San Angel is that it seems the portion sizes are small on just about everything else and, despite that, the prices are high. I’ve ordered all of the various tacos, and have left hungry even after spending $15. That’s hard to justify for Mexican cuisine that is good, but not great. The final selling point of La Cantina de San Angel is the waterside tables, but often, those are completely full (on several occasions, we’ve eaten outside the seating area on a random walkway hovering over a trash can).
5. Sunshine Seasons – Sunshine Seasons used to be better, but it still offers decent variety and a few standout entrees. There’s something for everyone here, with each of the stations having at least one ambitious option. This same “used to be better, but still good” sentiment holds true at the bakery, sadly. It also doesn’t help that Sunshine Seasons regularly closes before dinner now.
The other place where Sunshine Seasons falters is that seating area, which has a mall food court vibe that can’t compete with the serenity of being outdoors. We rotate among a few entrees here, but one thing I always get–and highly recommend–is adding a side of the amazing mashed potatoes (you can substitute the standard side with any entree for these, or add them on).
4. Connections Cafe & Eatery – The newest restaurant at EPCOT is where World Showcase meets World Celebration (previously Future World) as the park’s crowd-pleasing high-capacity restaurant with international inspiration. That’s more or less the story of Connections Cafe; you’ll find something for everyone here, including those who want cuisine that’s just a bit more ambitious than standard theme park fare. You will not, however, find truly ambitious or envelope-pushing food. Connections Cafe has international inspiration, not anything that’s actually exotic.
That’s the best way to view Connections Cafe & Eatery is best viewed in a certain light. If you’re in this area of the park, wanting to rest and recharge after Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind or Test Track, it won’t let you down. The space is inviting enough and the menu has some options that pleasantly surprise. Connections Cafe & Eatery is a colossal improvement over what it replaced (Electric Umbrella), but it’s still pretty basic. Like so many things in life and at Walt Disney World, it’s all a matter of perspective and expectations with Connections Cafe & Eatery.
3. Katsura Grill – This might seem like a surprise pick, and maybe it is. Katsura Grill is sort of like the Tony Gwynn of counter service restaurants; if you were to start ranking players, Tony Gwynn might be one easily forgotten because he wasn’t all that flashy, but he was consistent.
Katsura Grill is the same way. It doesn’t have any entrees that really wow, but almost everything is at least good, whereas just about every restaurant on the first half of the list has 1-2 standout items, and several duds (save for the bakeries). The combos offer good variety and value for money, and the sushi is fairly good, too. This isn’t a restaurant that will wow you, so if a specific menu item on one of the lower restaurants “speaks to you,” go for that, but Katsura Grill is consistent.
2. Regal Eagle Smokehouse – It’s a very similar story here as Connections Cafe & Eatery. Regal Eagle Smokehouse is the new BBQ joint in the American Adventure, and it’s the crowd-pleaser. The key differences are that it’s on literally the opposite end of the park as Connections, and that the food is decidedly American. (For the most part, the same could be said of Connections, but this is themed American cuisine!)
At Regal Eagle Smokehouse, you’ll find a variety of different meats cooked to perfection, plus comfort food sides, and craft drafts. Perhaps surprisingly, there are solid plant-based options and a refreshing salad at Regal Eagle. For picky eaters or anyone wanting comfort food, it’s an oasis in World Showcase. While Regal Eagle is not the elite barbecue restaurant at Walt Disney World, it’s good–and a solid choice if your party can’t agree on anything else.
1. Festival Food – On the prior iteration of these rankings, the top slot was held by Tangierine Cafe. That spot technically still exists, but now as the Tangierine Cafe: Flavors of Medina festival food “booth.” Exact same location, but with smaller portions and not always open. Still pretty much as good as ever.
We debated keeping Tangierine Cafe: Flavors of Medina as the #1 ranking. After all, it is better than everything else on this list, and you can make a proper meal out of the food here. But that got us thinking. If the new-look Tangierine Cafe is eligible, why not other festival booths, many of which we’d rank above Tangierine Cafe: Flavors of Medina?
Since the goal of this list is practical recommendations for where to eat in EPCOT for a quick meal, we’re going to do exactly that and expand eligibility to the festival booths. Because why not?! Technically, these serve food from a counter, and many have as robust of menus as some of the permanent quick-service restaurants in EPCOT. It would be downright irresponsible of us to direct you to dine at an actual counter service restaurant when EPCOT is home to so much great festival food.
Specific recommendations for booths are beyond the scope of this post–we’d refer you to our guides for each event and date ranges:
With that said, our quick hit advice would be that typically the best booths among those in World Showcase can be found in France and Canada at every single festival. Typically, the more exotic–the better (Morocco, India and Kenya are all highlights at the EPCOT Food & Wine Festival).
Booths that are based on familiar foreign cuisine usually underwhelm (Italy is always awful; China, Japan, and Mexico are usually a mixed bag). European comfort food booths are typically exactly what you’d expect (Germany, Alps, Ireland, Belgium are reliable). Greece, Australia and Hawaii are usually good to great.
The highest highs and the lowest lows can be found in the booths that are based on concepts rather than countries. Quite often, the names are dead giveaways. Is anyone expecting anything ambitious from booths with references to french fries, doughnuts, or chicken wings right in the name? If so, you’re going to be disappointed.
By contrast, booths like Flavors from Fire, BRUNCHCOT, Craftsman’s Courtyard, Coastal Eats, Honey Bee-stro, Florida Fresh, EPCOT Farmers Feast, Citrus Blossom, Char & Chop, Wine & Wedge are all typically more ambitious. Hopefully, you get the idea. The name is often a signal of ambitiousness and, by extension, quality.
During EPCOT festival season, most of our ‘meals’ are at these booths. Our most common strategy is to stop at 3-4 adjacent food booths in the World Celebration (former Future World) area, as that’s typically the area of EPCOT with the highest-density of good to great booths.
Obviously, quality changes with each event and year-to-year. You won’t find all of the aforementioned booths at every single EPCOT event, either. So if you want more thorough and detailed reviews (or food photos), see those guides and our booth reviews.
Cutting through all of this, if you’re a first time visitor to Walt Disney World, all you really need to do are examine the top 5 to determine which is for you. The rest of the list is better for repeat guests looking to try something new, or finding spots to grab a single snack or entree item. In that case, a case can really be made for any of these restaurants depending upon your preference, save for maybe the options in Mexico and China.
Really, though, this list only tells part of the story about dining in EPCOT. Such a big part of the culinary experience is in the grazing and drinking, and you could go two full days in the park without ever eating in a counter service restaurant. Generally speaking, we’re much bigger fans of EPCOT’s table service restaurants, and we also love snacking and sampling the festival food.
From the great bakeries to ice cream to savory snacks at the festival kiosks, EPCOT is great for grazing! It can be costly, but it’s an experience unto itself, and is a great way to supplement smaller or shared meals at these counter service locations. If you’re thinking of going the grazing route, be sure to also check out our Guide to Snacking Around the World at EPCOT. Likewise, for booze, read our Drinking Around the World at EPCOT Tips & Tricks.
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Which EPCOT counter service restaurant is your favorite? Do you prefer doing a dedicated quick-service meal, or grazing the festival food and snack spots around World Celebration and World Showcase? Have you dined at any of the restaurants on this list? Which did you like and dislike? Any spots we snubbed, ranked too highly or too lowly? Do you agree or disagree with our rankings? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!