This past week was my spring break from the intense demands of school, so I escaped to Orlando with my family in search of some sunshine and some well deserved eats. Though we were land-locked in Orlando, we had something much better than the beach… DISNEY WORLD. Okay, maybe its not that much better than the beach, but luckily for us, we were staying only 15 minutes away from Disney Springs (aka Downtown Disney)!
For those of you that don’t know, Downtown Disney used to be called Pleasure Island, aka the Disney nightlife scene filled with restaurants, live music, and plenty of bars/clubs for all those party animals. Since its’ closing in 2008, Pleasure Island was renamed and revamped to Disney Springs in 2015. Disney Springs essentially became the new Pleasure Island on steroids, at least doubling in size and equipped with numerous new restaurants and a fully functioning outdoor mall.
Disney Springs is a fun and energetic place to be with bright lights and live music at every corner. At place with this much money invested, you’ll be sure to find some awesome eats from celebrity chefs. So here it is, my guide of Where to Eat at Disney Springs as well as a few other cool spots in the nearby area!
Located in the newer development of Disney Springs, I felt inclined to try it just because of my everlasting devotion to Rick Bayless. As a loyal returning customer to Frontera Grill in Chicago, I hate to say it but Frontera Cocina just didn’t come up to the same level. Regardless, Frontera Cocina is still really good Mexican cuisine and definitely one of the upper tier restaurants at Disney Springs. Virtually everything on the menu is going to be delish because it’s got that Rick Bayless touch, but the Aged Cotija Mashed Potatoes are a must order side dish.
Erin McKenna’s Bakery:
Also located in the newer development of Disney Springs, Erin and McKenna’s is an all vegan bakery (score!) with locations also in New York and Los Angeles. Whether you’re looking for a morning pastry or bagel, a sweet tooth snack, or even some vegan soft serve… Erin and McKenna’s has got you covered. The donuts are to die for, you honestly wouldn’t even know it’s vegan. Take any non-vegan meat eater here and you’ll have em fooled for sure!
A Pleasure Island original, Bongos is a long timer and a personal favorite of mine in the realm of Disney Springs… and for a good reason too. A HUGE two-story restaurant located near the Cirque Du Soeil Theater, you won’t be able to miss it… in fact, you’ll be able to hear it before you even see the place. With live music and professional dancers, this Cuban inspired restaurant is always a good time. Not to mention the food can hold its own. Mojitos are a must with large sticks of sugar cane coming out amongst fresh mint and lime. Make sure to get at least 2+ orders of the tostones with garlic mojo because they’re a star on the menu and will go fast!
My French Café:
Moving beyond the borders of Disney Springs is a small café called My French Café located in Windermere, a suburb of Orlando and only about a 30-minute drive from Disney Springs. This place is small but worth the drive. Loaded with quiches, pastries, and crepes, My French Café is the perfect spot for a quick sit down breakfast or midday pick me up. These pastries are authentic and delicious, and by that I mean they’re packed with plenty of good butter!
For the best onion rings in the country, go to BurgerFi. Yes, that’s a bold statement, but I wouldn’t say it if I didn’t mean it! With the same kind of hip, burger joint feel that Shake Shack provides, BurgerFi is a cool burger chain with 3 other locations in Florida. They have some killer combos like the breakfast burger with a whole hash brown patty layered between to one of the better veggie burgers I’ve had in my life. If you have the choice of fries to onion rings… order the onion rings. They’re absolutely massive and the thickness of the beer batter is something I’ve never seen before. These onion rings alone are worth the visit.
Last but not least on my guide is the Kooky Coconut, a good 2-hour drive from Disney Springs out in Indian Rocks Beach. Yes it’s ridiculously out of the way but I just threw this one in for good measure because I love it so much. Located right on the beach, the Kooky Coconut is a funky little beach spot. With over 20 rotating homemade ice cream flavors and some Cuban and Mexican influenced snacks on their menu, the Kooky Coconut is the perfect place to eat after a long day on the beach. The main reason you go to the Kooky Coconut though is for the ice cream, specifically the Toasted Coconut. It’s one flavor that’s always on their menu and its just that good that they had to name the restaurant after it!