I’m a die-hard Disney fan, but I draw the line at making Advance Dining Reservations (ADRs) 180 days out from the beginning of my Walt Disney World vacation. I don’t know what I’ll want to eat tomorrow, let alone six months from now. My brain just doesn’t work like that.
If you want to eat at Cinderella’s Royal Table or Ohana, then by all means please do plan six months ahead. But if stomachs are grumbling—and you forgot to wake up at the crack of dawn 180 days ago—here are five great Disney World restaurants for day of ADRs:
Ale & Compass at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
When the musty old Captain’s Grille was transformed into the elegant, modern Ale & Compass in November 2017, it didn’t get the press it deserved. If you haven’t been to the Yacht Club in a while, you’re missing out on the kind of “nice, but not too nice” American restaurant you’d eat at all the time if it were back home.
Ale & Compass is just a short walk from the International Gateway entrance of the World Showcase. Breakfast features a buffet with unlimited Parker House rolls, lunch has fun flatbreads, and dinner includes a killer seafood pot pie.
Day-of Tip: Make an ADR the night before if you need to eat breakfast at a specific time. ADRs for peak dinner hours dwindle by late afternoon, but the restaurant is rarely totally full, so don’t be afraid to walk up.
Jiko at Animal Kingdom Lodge
Any table at Jiko – The Cooking Place is a good table considering how great the food is, but sitting at the counter in the center of the dining room is a special treat. That’s where you’ll find two large wood-burning ovens, the literal cooking place from the restaurant’s title. Not only will you enjoy a signature restaurant experience featuring a wide range of African dishes, you’ll be able to watch and usually talk with the chefs preparing your meal.
Jiko is open for dinner only at Animal Kingdom Lodge. Try the grilled wild boar tenderloin appetizer and you’ll never be able to order anything else. The Drum Beets dessert is also a standout.
Day-of Tip: Jiko has two ADR time windows: Around 5pm, when they first open, and around 8pm, an hour before they close. The second window always seems to have availability, even through the early evening.
Spice Road Table in Epcot
While Restaurant Marrakesh, at the back of Epcot‘s Morocco pavilion, is a more traditional Moroccan experience, Spice Road Table at the front of the pavilion is a more modern Mediterranean restaurant with fantastic views of the World Showcase Lagoon.
Spice Road Table serves lunch and dinner. It’s a particularly good choice for parties with a mix of adventurous and non-adventurous eaters, or parties with vegetarians and non-vegetarians. Love hummus and are curious what it would be like in french fry form? They’ve got you covered. Just want to eat a bunch of grilled meat on a stick? They’ve got that, too.
Day-of Tip: Many Disney World guests still think Moroccan food is too “exotic” for their palates. Use their ignorance to your advantage. Walk ups are almost always available.
Sebastian’s Bistro at Caribbean Beach Resort
For my money, Sebastian’s Bistro is the best non-signature table service restaurant at Disney World. It’s small, the atmosphere is lovely, and the service is always excellent. Now that Caribbean Beach is the hub of the Skyliner, I don’t understand how this place isn’t packed every single night.
Sebastian’s serves dinner only. The jerk chicken wings are my favorite chicken wings on property, and can be customized to your preferred spiciness level. Don’t miss the Goat Curry, part of the Taste of the Caribbean trio. It’s the only time I’ve ever eaten goat without a bunch of pointy, difficult bones in it.
Day-of Tip: ADRs during peak times are often available into the afternoon.
Tiffins in Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Tiffins is decorated with found objects and art from the trips to Africa and southeast Asia that inspired the Disney Imagineers to design Animal Kingdom. It’s one of the most beautiful restaurants on property, but for some reason, guests have been sleeping on it ever since it opened in 2016.
Serving lunch and dinner, Tiffins features an eclectic mix of international cuisine. The charred octopus appetizer is full of flavor, and the tamarind-braised short rib entree is an excellent alternative for steak lovers. For the truly brave, a whole fried fish is an unforgettable dining experience and an amazing Instagram photo op.
Day-of Tip: I’ve never been to Animal Kingdom when there wasn’t a Tiffins sandwich board at the front of the park saying “Tables Available.”
Have a favorite Walt Disney World restaurant with great same day availability? Let us know in the comments below.
Frank Paiva is a writer and performer living in New York City. They once danced onstage at a Powerline concert with their father.
Frank has visited all 12 Disney theme parks around the world. Their favorites are Disneyland, Tokyo DisneySea, and Animal Kingdom.