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Vegetarian Counter Service Options – Part Three

July 9, 2012

Vegetarian Counter Service Options – Part Three

There are over twenty resorts at WDW. Resorts are broken down into three main categories, value, moderate, and deluxe. All of them have at least one counter service restaurant. Some are better then other for vegetarians.

The value resorts have large food courts that are the only available dining options at those resorts, aside from pizza delivery. I’ve stayed at each value resort at least once, except for Art of Animation, which just opened in May, but I have a room booked there this fall. The other value resorts are; All Star Sports, All Star Music, All Star Movies, and Pop Century.

The All Star resorts are pretty interchangeable, and aside from the décor they’re pretty much identical. The three food courts, End Zone at Sports, Intermission at Music, and World Premiere at Movies share the same menus with only small changes at each, and the vegetarian options are the same at all three; create-your-own salad, cheese quesadilla, veggie burger, and cheese pizza. All Disney counter service pizza is notorious for being bad, but the All Star resorts gets the prize for being the worst of the worst. The cheese quesadilla is fine, if you like plain and boring, as it is just cheese, no veggies or anything. I don’t know about you, but when I make quesadillas at home, I cram in as many veggies as possible, to the point of explosion. The veggie burgers and salad I haven’t actually tried, but salad’s salad, and the veggie burgers here are the same as elsewhere on property, and I avoid those whenever possible. My advice for eating at the All Star resorts? Don’t do it and stay somewhere else.

Pop Century has a much better food court, even before I went vegetarian I preferred Pop Century to the All Stars for many reasons, the food court, Everything Pop, only being one of them. Of course the regular cheese pizza and veggie burgers are served, but they also have vegetable lo mien, more varied salad selections, vegetarian lasagna, a vegetarian calzone, make-your-own burritos at lunch, and a selection of flatbreads. I’ve always found the food to be good for what it is. You won’t have any amazing meals here, but you’ll go far from being hungry. My favorite of everything I’ve tried here has been the burritos, which I’ve been able to load up with beans, rice, olives, guacamole, sour cream, cheese, and salsa. I’ve also had the vegetarian calzone, which is huge and easily enough for more then one person. The lo mien is good, but I don’t think there are nearly enough vegetables in it.

Vegetable Lo Mien at Everything Pop – September 2011

Art of Animation, the newest value resort’s food court, Landscape of Flavors, I’m really looking forward to. I actually think Everything Pop has more options overall, but they’ve made such an interesting menu at Landscape of Flavors, and the food has been getting good reviews. On the menu for lunch and dinner here; caprese sandwich, create-your-own salad, tandoori acorn squash with Indian side dishes, cheese pizza, vegetable pizza, create-your-own pasta, and a house-made veggie burger, (so not the same ones as other places.) With a two week trip coming up, I plan on trying most of the options here, but I’m most excited about the Indian food.

The moderate resorts are; Port Orleans, Caribbean Beach, and Coronado Springs. Caribbean Beach only has one quick service location, Old Port Royale, (think Pirates of the Caribbean,) and aside from plain pasta, pizza, and that good old veggie burger, the only unique option is a vegetable platter, which is all of their side dishes from the hot entrees at dinner. Actually it’s a selection of five of the six side dishes, which doesn’t make sense to me to just cut out one from the offerings. I mean if the platter was three or four I’d get it, but instead of choosing five, it’s just choosing the one you don’t want.

Coronado Springs has two counter service locations; Café Rix and Pepper Market. Café Rix has some different menu options, but they’re all very plain, including peanut butter and jelly, and cottage cheese with fruits or vegetables. Nothing I’d really consider a meal. Plus I don’t think I’ll ever want a peanut butter and jelly sandwich badly enough to spend $5 on one. (I should mention that just about every counter service on property sells Smucker’s Uncrustables, so if you’re ever really hungry, and need a quick pick me up, those are always available. And are actually a slightly better deal as a kids meal, since for $5 you get the sandwich, plus two sides, which can be fresh fruit, and a small bottle of water. Pepper Market offers many more choices then Café Rix, including nachos, quesadillas, burritos, salads, that darn veggie burger, pizza, (though they do have margherita pizza here in addition to the usual plain cheese,) and some pasta selections.

Port Orleans food courts Riverside Mill, in Riverside, and Sassagoula Floatworks in the French Quarter, offer very few vegetarian options; salad, pizza, quesadilla, and plain pasta are the only options at either restaurant.

I haven’t personally tried any of the moderate resort’s food courts, and honestly unless I end up staying at one, or there’s a big menu change to entice me, I probably won’t. If I had to eat at one, I’d probably pick Coronado Springs, for Pepper Market, but even that’s only open as counter service for breakfast and dinner. Lunch has changed to buffet, and it doesn’t appear to be changing back anytime soon.

The deluxe resort counter service locations are smaller then those at the value resorts, but where the lack in quantity, (which is understandable, since the value resorts have many more guests on any given day then the deluxe resorts,) the food makes up for in quality.

One of the nice things about most deluxe resorts is there close proximity to each other, so it’s very easy to have a lot of accessible dining options if staying at one. The one exception to that rule is Animal Kingdom Lodge, since the only way to get anyplace else from there is by bus, and the only things relatively close by are Animal Kingdom park, and Blizzard Beach. However Animal Kingdom Lodge is probably the best resort for vegetarians as far as dining options go. The two table service restaurants here, Jiko and Sanaa, both have separate vegan and vegetarian menus, and Boma is an excellent buffet with plenty of vegetarian options. But this is about counter service, and Animal Kingdom Lodge’s Mara is awesome. There are only a couple of actual vegetarian options on the menu, but since a lot of the stuff is made to order, it’s easy to get the meat left off certain dishes, such as the chicken flatbread with corn and cilantro sauce, without the chicken. Other options are an actual vegetable flatbread, falafel pita, and salad. So not a ton of choices, more it’s all very good quality food, and none of it’s boring.

The Yacht and Beach Club resorts, the Boardwalk, and the Swan and Dolphin resorts, are all located just outside of Epcot, (not from the main entrance, but from the “backdoor” between France and the United Kingdom in World Showcase.) They are all within walking distance of each other, Epcot, and Disney Hollywood Studios.

Yacht and Beach Club share Beach Club Marketplace as the only counter service location between the two, and the only options there are cheese pizza, or a grilled vegetable wrap, though if you stay there, the pool bar has a similar, if not the same vegetable wrap. Boardwalk Bakery at the Boardwalk has a tomato and mozzarella sandwich, which is not worth a trip to just for that, but the cupcakes there are unbelievable. There’s also kiosks along the Boardwalk, selling pizza, ravioli, and mozzarella sticks. Picabu Buffeteria at the Dolphin serves nachos, pizza, and lasagna. The Swan and Dolphin are not owned by Disney, so if you’re looking for a way to use up counter service credits on the dining plan, don’t eat here.
The Magic Kingdom resorts are also easy to get to from one another. The monorail makes stops at the Contemporary, Polynesian, and Grand Floridian. There are boats available to the Wilderness Lodge and Grand Floridian, and I believe also the Polynesian. You can walk between the Polynesian and Grand Floridian, and you can walk to the Contemporary from the Magic Kingdom. Each Magic Kingdom resort has one quick service location, Contempo Café at the Contemporary Resort, Captain Cook’s at the Polynesian, Gasparilla Grill at the Grand Floridian, and Roaring Forks at Wilderness Lodge.

Contempo Café at the Contemporary Resort is wonderful. Before going vegetarian I had a wonderful flatbread there, that I’m pretty sure is made to order, and can be ordered without the beef. It would be really good with just the sun-dried tomatoes, goat cheese, and caramelized onions alone. I also had their vegetarian option a couple of years ago, the vegetable bake with feta cheese, which was also good, and a nice comfort food type meal. There are lots of salads and flatbreads that can probably be made vegetarian if you ask.

Roasted Vegetable Bake at Contempo Cafe – September 2010

Captain Cook’s also has great food, and every time I’ve eaten there, it’s been vegetarian, even before I was. The grown up’s grilled cheese is a blend of four or five different cheeses on artisan bread, and the Polynesian salad is very refreshing, with pineapple, blue cheese, and citrus vinaigrette. They also serve cheese pizza.

Polynesian Salad at Captain Cook’s – September 2010

I’ve never been to Gasparilla Grill or Roaring Forks, but both serve salads and cheese pizza. Gasparilla Grill also has vegetable lasagna and a tabbouleh wrap, and Roaring Forks offers a vegetable sandwich.

There are two other resorts on property, Saratoga Springs and Old Key West resort, which are classified as Disney Vacation Club resorts. Good’s to Go at Old Key West and Artist’s Palette at Saratoga Springs both have vegetarian options. Artist’s Palette has a vegetable flatbread, and many of the other flatbreads and their salads are probably able to be made vegetarian. Good’s to Go has a vegetable sandwich.

The last area of Disney that I need to discuss is Downtown Disney, which has a lot of dining options, but most are table service. There are really only five counter service restaurants, Cooke’s of Dublin, Earl of Sandwich, Pollo Campero, Fresh-A-Peel, and my personal favorite, Wolfgang Puck Express.

The only vegetarian option at Cooke’s of Dublin is a garden salad. Earl of Sandwich has slightly more options, including a vegetable sandwich and a caprese sandwich, as well as a selection of salads that are made to order, so all are probably able to be made vegetarian. You also have the option of making any salad a wrap. I’ve never tried any of the vegetarian options here, but I’ve always enjoyed eating here before I went vegetarian, and it’s a great value as well.

Fresh-A-Peel and Pollo Campero are new options in Disney, only opening last year. The menu only features chicken, but most of the side dishes are probably vegetarian if you just want a snack. Fresh-A-Peel has better options, with lots of different salads and wraps that can probably all be made vegetarian.

Also in the same building as Fresh-A-Peel and Pollo Campero, and it’s not well advertised is a Babycakes bakery. All of the stuff they sell is completely vegan and gluten-free. I’ve read very mixed reviews, but trying a bunch of the stuff myself, I have to say it’s pretty good. The only thing I haven’t really cared for are the brownie bites, which I thought were kind of dry, but I love the chocolate chip and pumpkin bread, cupcake tops, and mini doughnuts.

Babycakes Treats – September 2011

Wolfgang Puck Express is my favorite counter service location in Disney. You order at a counter, but then are served at a table, so there’s a very relaxed feeling while eating there. The menu features lots of salads, a roasted vegetable melt sandwich, pizza, (really good pizza, not typical Disney counter service pizza,) spaghetti, and macaroni and cheese. I’ve only tried a salad and pizza so far, but next trip my mind is on that melt, and I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things about the macaroni and cheese.

Four-Cheese Pesto Pizza at Wolfgang Puck Express – September 2010

So there you have it. An overview of all vegetarian dining counter service options in Disney World. I didn’t include any breakfast options, because as long as you stay away from things that include sausage and bacon, most of it’s already vegetarian, and listing every vegetarian snack available in Disney would be next to impossible. But this should give vegetarians a good idea of what’s available, or at least let them know they won’t go hungry!

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