The Grand Floridian Cafe is one of my favorite restaurants at the Walt Disney World Resort. It kind of flies under the radar, especially compared to other more popular restaurants at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa like Victoria and Albert’s or 1900 Park Fare. The Grand Floridian Cafe retains the same sort of Victorian charm that the rest of the resort has while serving up classic American entrees in a more casual atmosphere than the rest of the resort’s restaurants.
The Grand Floridian Cafe is open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I’ve dined here for all three meals but I’ll be sharing a different review for each one because they really are so different. Dinner at the Grand Floridian Cafe is a nice change of pace compared to the hustle and bustle that usually surrounds the restaurants at the monorail resorts. There is no dress code for The Grand Floridian Cafe like there is for signature dining experiences like Citricos, Narcoosees, and Victoria and Albert’s, and a meal here does not necessarily have to be as expensive or require as much advance planning as the resort’s character dining at 1900 Park Fare.
I’m sure that for some guests these factors act as more cons than pros, but even in a more casual setting than the rest of the resort’s restaurants, dining here still does feel like you’re dining at the Grand Floridian. It’s not casual to the point where you feel like you’re paying table service prices for a quick service experience, but it’s more relaxed than the other options at this resort with equally as delicious menu items. And while on the more casual side, the atmosphere really is full of elegant touches, like fresh flowers on the tables and views of the rose garden by the windows.
For beverages, this location offers standard soda, tea, and juice along with a full bar, the standard Disney resort cocktail menu that you’ll find at each of the Disney resorts, wine by the glass and the bottle, specialty cocktails exclusive to this restaurant, and specialty non-alcoholic mixed drinks. While I find that it goes better with breakfast, my favorite specialty cocktail the Key West is available for lunch and dinner as well. The Key West is a “frozen blend of Puréed Strawberries and Orange Juice laced with Bacardi Rum,” and at $10 it’s one of the best values for a mixed drink at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.
Each time I’ve dined here with Chaz, he’s enjoyed the Smoked Turkey, “Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon, Red Stag Black Cherry Bourbon, Grenadine, and Odwalla Lemonade with a hint of Hickory Smoke, garnished with Luxardo Gourmet Maraschino Cherries,” which you’ll find on the standard Disney resort bar menus.
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For wine, my favorite wine (that is also conveniently on the Disney resort bar menu) is Dr. Loosen Riesling, “lightly sweet, green apple, and citrus flavors elegantly laced with racy acidity minerality form steep slate slopes,” though for something more specific to this location I sometimes order the Château d’Aqueria Tavel Rosé, “Penetrating cherry-berry fragrance offset by floral notes, full-bodied, and succulently fruity on the palate, red cherries and wild berries carrying into a long, crisp finish.”
As for the eats, this is one menu where I could really order any entree and enjoy my meal. Let’s start with the appetizers though. The French Onion Soup is a solid choice here, with a sweet onion flavor and perfectly melted cheese, as is the salad option which rotates seasonally. Additionally you’ll find more standard options like Caeser Salad, and a delicious cheese board that at only $15 is a fraction of what a similar dish would cost at other restaurants at the resort.
I have two “go-to” entrees when dining at the Grand Floridian Cafe, though I’m confident that anything on the menu will be delicious and memorable. One of my go-to’s is the Shrimp and Grits, “Jumbo Shrimp with Chorizo and Fennel served on top of creamy Mascarpone Cheese Grits.” First of all, being from New England restaurants near me seldom offer grits to begin with, and when they do it’s hard to compare with the grits you’ll find in Florida. These grits are creamy with just the right amount of cheesiness.
Another one of my favorites here is the Artisan-made Spinach-Ricotta Ravioli, “Tuscan Kale, Seared Alba Mushrooms, Shaved Parmesan Cheese, Herb Pesto-Yogurt Sauce and Warmed Tomato Vinaigrette.” I’ll be perfectly honest and say that the first time I tried these ravioli was during my Disney College Program, when I tried a lot of pasta at Disney’s restaurants simply because it’s usually one of the more cheaper items on a menu (in this case $19).
But I’m so happy I tried this one because it’s really one of my favorite dinners at the entire resort. I’m all about fresh ricotta and spinach when it comes to pasta dishes like this and the Grand Floridian Cafe’s version just has everything I’m looking for with a slight kick thanks to the tomato vinaigrette.
For another budget-friendly (but still tasty) dish, I would recommend the Cafe Sandwich, “Open-faced hot Sandwich with Ham, Roasted Turkey Breast, Bacon, Tomato, Boursin Cheese Sauce, and Fried Onion Rings.” It may not sound like much, but for spur of the moment table service lunch without feeling like you’re breaking the bank this is a savory and satisfying way to spend the afternoon at the Grand Floridian. At just $16, it’s only slightly more expensive than your average Disney quick service meal, and it comes with the ambiance of dining in such a beautiful location.
Without thinking about a budget, the most expensive entree is the New York Strip Steak featuring “Smashed Roasted Garlic and Chive-Red Bliss Potatoes, Broccolini, and House-made Steak Sauce,” and at a price point of $34 it’s similar to the steak offered at Be Our Guest Restaurant in the Magic Kingdom. Other stand-out entrees are all below the $30 mark and include a Miso Glazed Salmon, and the restaurants famous burger, the Lobster ‘Thermidor’ Burger made with a 7-oz Artisanal Burger Patty and Lobster-Parmesan Thermidor Sauce on a Seared Brioche Bun and served with Cafe’s Signature Seasoned French Fries.”
Have room for dessert? I usually don’t have room for dessert (though I certainly wish I did!) but if you can save the extra stomach space the Chocolate Timbale at the Grand Floridian Cafe is incredible. This dessert features a “Chocolate Gateaux with Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse,” and can be included as part of the menu’s dessert sampler if you’re looking to try a couple of the desserts offered.
If you are staying for dessert, be sure to get a cup of coffee to accompany your after-dinner sweets. I love Joffrey’s Coffee and the Grand Floridian Cafe serves some first-class cappuccinos (that also come frozen!) using Joffrey’s signature blends made exclusively for the Walt Disney World Resort.
I’d give the Grand Floridian Cafe a 95% rating. It’s really difficult to honestly think of any shortcomings with this location, and the more I thought about it I would detract some points for the noise levels during a busy dinner rush. It doesn’t bother me too much, given that anywhere in a resort that focuses on families is bound to be on the louder side (and it’s really not even an issue at all during lunch and breakfast), but the more casual ambiance definitely makes it one of the more kid-friendly restaurants at the resort. Still, it’s one of my favorite stops along the Magic Kingdom monorail route, and I highly recommend it if you’re looking to get the “Grand” experience at a “Port Orleans” price.