= Cara's Favorite
American cuisine. Lunch and dinner.
Loosen your belt for lip-smacking comfort food as you pass through a time warp into a 1950s family kitchen. Here guests dine while watching The Dick Van Dyke Show and Dennis the Menace on black-and-white TVs sitting on the counter between the toaster and the blender. Linoleum floors, Formica tables, pull-down lamps, plenty of knickknacks, and windows covered in venetian blinds and tacky drapes are accompanied by a menu of savory renditions of good old-fashioned American cuisine. The only thing missing is the sliced white bread. “Mom” herself is your server, making sure everyone in the “family” observes good manners. No fighting at the table! No throwing spitballs! Mustn’t forget to eat your vegetables! Our “cousin” told us to “put away your walkie talkies” (meaning cell phones) and that he had no intention of doing chores, delegating us to set the table.
Stick with the basics here for the best results. My favorite is the sampler plate of crispy, real-deal fried chicken, tender pot roast, and yummy meatloaf accompanied by mashers, fresh green beans, and collard greens. Of course it’s all swimming in gravy so you may want to request it on the side. For dessert, opt for s’moreswhere else can you enjoy the exotic taste of crunchy graham crackers, dripping chocolate, and golden melted marshmallows prepared for you without the hassle and smell of a firepit? Before leaving check out the adjoining Tune-In Lounge for a highball, complete with glowing ice cubes.
Cara's Tip: Ask to sit in one of the restaurant’s “TV kitchens” for a close up of the monitors, although all seats have a fairly good view of several. If you didn’t make advance dining reservations consider having a meal at Tune-In Lounge’s bar where the full menu is served.
Contemporary American cuisine. Lunch and dinner.
The best food at Disney’s Hollywood Studios® is to be found at the illustrious Brown Derby, perfectly re-created right down to the collection of celebrity caricatures hanging on just about every square inch of wall space. The glam of 1930s Hollywood is seen everywhere from the rich mahogany walls and furnishings to the sway of potted palms. Massive cast-iron chandeliers, crisp white tablecloths, snug ruby red banquettes, and derby-shaped art deco lamps all set the mood for a sentimental waltz through the heyday of Hollywood. The cuisine here, however, is nothing but 21st century.
Begin in true Hollywood style with a round of martini flights—a trio of tasting-size gems—then a tantalizing appetizer or two, the best being the cheese and prosciutto cake, a savory and smoky wedge composed of a mixture of brie, Midnight Moon goat cheese, and prosciutto, made perfect by the accompanying antipasto salad and cheese petals of thinly sliced Tete de Moine soft Swiss. Or maybe the over-the-top blue lump crab spring rolls served with a touch of fresh mint, ready to dip in a slightly spicy miso aioli.
After that it’s on to the pan-seared, coriander-spiced grouper with balsamic reduction and fennel oil or whatever the seasonal flavoring may be. Vegetarians as well as non-vegetarians will love the spicy noodle bowl spiked with coconut-crusted tofu, edamame, snap peas, bok choy, and shiitake mushrooms in a red curry broth. Carnivores should think about the succulent grilled filet of beef with a side of Zellwood corn and pancetta risotto and just a splash of arugula pesto; or perhaps the moist mojo-marinated pork chop enlivened with a bubbly crust of golden brown smoked Gouda served over a rich potato hash peppered with smoky bacon.
Now, you absolutely must order a slice of the fabulous, not-too-sweet but oh-so-perfect grapefruit cake or your meal just isn’t complete. Not your typical cake, this one is juice-infused with chunky grapefruit filling, cream cheese frosting, and a candied grapefruit ring piercing the top.
Cara's Tip: The restaurant’s lounge offers both indoor and outdoor patio seating serving wine, beer and cocktails as well as martini flights, wine, Scotch and Grand Marnier flights. Enjoy small plates of artisanal cheeses; charcuterie; duck confit tacos; steamed Prince Edward Island mussels; Derby Cocktail with jumbo lump blue crab, black tiger shrimp, avocado and a horseradish-tomato juice; and two Derby Sliders: Wagyu beef slider with cognac mustard aioli, smoked gouda cheese, bacon and avocado; and a house-made chorizo slider with chipotle mayo, Manchego cheese, pickles, and crispy onions. Even dessert is available with Chocolate Three Ways (praline milk chocolate cream, crunchy ganache, and orange-chocolate mousse); a banana-white chocolate toffee tower on a cocoa-almond cookie and bananas Foster; or strawberry Champagne cheesecake.
American cuisine. Disney Junior character breakfast with Jake, Sofia, Doc McStuffins and Handy Mann. Lunch and Dinner buffet with Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy and Goofy.