Epcot has some of the best restaurants on Walt Disney World property, but it can be hard to experience them. With festival booths spread throughout World Showcase almost all year, it feels more important to make sure that you try the seasonal offerings than to sit down for a reservation at one of the many great permanent dining locations. It is an embarrassment of riches. Sometimes, even for a Disney fan who goes to the parks as much as I go to them, it is important to make the concerted effort to visit these spots.
As a vegetarian, I have usually shied away from Biergarten at the Germany Pavilion. This is a restaurant focused on bratwurst, franks, schnitzel, chicken, and other options that just aren’t in my diet plan. That being said, Disney is always trying to appeal to the vegetarian and vegan crowds. Biergarten has been adding plant-based options, and meatless options at a pretty consistent basis. Earlier this month, my friend who is on a Keto diet was in Florida for some big football game (dancing around trademarks is fun). This was the perfect time to test both extremes of the Biergarten menu. He would get the meats, and I would get the carbs.
Upon entering the restaurant, you are transported from a bright afternoon in Epcot to a mock-outdoor scene of nighttime in a Bavarian village. We were seated right as the house band was starting the 2:15 p.m. set. This really set up the atmosphere of this unique dining experience, but it also made it quite challenging to order. This is, however, and all-you-care-to-enjoy location. With no limits to how much we could try, we gave our server Sharon an overview of what we wanted, and let her pick our dishes. This was definitely the right move. When in doubt, always trust your server.
First out, we got the pretzel rolls, potato salad, tomato salad (plant-based), macaroni salad, and beats. We knew we shouldn’t fill up before the main course arrived, but this was too appealing to ignore. My buddy tried the tomato salad, which was the only thing low-carb enough for him. He loved it. It was a great, light option that didn’t weigh him down for what was on the horizon. I was not as lucky. My first bites were of the potato salad. Without any hesitation, I can state that the potato salad at Biergarten is one of the ten best things I have ever eaten at Walt Disney World. The seasoning was perfect. The potatoes contained just enough skin to add to the flavor, but the chunks of potato were also big enough to dull the taste of mayo and seasonings. It was so balanced. I needed to have two servings, even before we got to the main event. The pretzel rolls were superb, but the macaroni salad and beats were just passable. Listen, you can’t please everybody with everything.
When Sharon brought my friends first (and only, I must add) plate, it was a pile of chicken, bratwurst, schnitzel, and other meats that surprised both of us. Biergarten is $46 per-person, which seems like a hefty price, until you think of how much all of those different items would cost you at any other restaurant. This was a steal. The joy of Disney buffets, in my opinion, isn’t eating huge quantities of food. A buffet or family style experience at Disney is a great way to test different things. He wasn’t able to pick a favorite item. All of the meats were fresh, and cooked to perfection. He was able to cheat a little on his Keto, and try some of the pastas on the plate. Pasta, by his own admission, is a weakness of his.
Since I am vegetarian, and not completely vegan, Sharon brought me a large scoop of macaroni and cheese, roasted potatoes, sauerkraut, and another pasta dish that did have some eggs in the pasta. It was all brilliant, but I would say the roasted potatoes and macaroni and cheese were the katze meow. Later, she brought a plate of beefless tips. This is something I make for myself on occasion, and I would say that I like mine more than the ones at Biergarten. You will certainly enjoy them if you are looking for plant-based options, but they probably needed a little more char on the outside to bring out a little more flavoring. Still, that is really nit-picking for a restaurant that focuses on carnivores. A hostess told me that they are also working on adding plant-based sausages to the mix. It is likely, by the time you are traveling, those will also be available.
Just when we thought we were too full to even think about food, Sharon dropped off the dessert plate, which was included in the price. Apple strudel with vanilla sauce, cheesecake with berry compote, cookies, and a black forest roll. They also bring out small cups of the berry compote separate from the cheesecake. This is plant-based, as well, but Sharon suggested pouring a little of the vanilla sauce in with the compote and making a fifth dessert option. She was 100% right about that hack. Do it when you are there. It is magnificent. The cookies were standard chocolate chip cookies. The black forest roll is really for hard-core chocolate lovers, but might not be for those of us who like chocolate as a smaller part of the overall dessert. The apple strudel and vanilla sauce was really a hit. You could tell these were quality apple chunks, and the dish was not overly sweet. In the end, we both agreed that the cheesecake was the best of all of the dessert options. Creamy, slightly-sweet, and with the berry flavor to add a tartness for balance.
We ended up being there for almost two hours. The band performed two sets, and we loved them both times. They really liven up the room, and make you feel like you are part of a larger gathering. This is hard to do in a restaurant at limited capacity and tables separated for physical distancing. My friend had actually driven through Germany during Oktoberfest a few years ago. While the vibe was certainly an Americanized version of those events, he said that it really did bring out those same feelings. Raising our glasses in toasts with people from other tables brought a sense of connectedness that has been missing in a lot of ways over the last year. It was a celebration in the middle of the afternoon.
Listen, there is an abundance of quality when it comes to food at Epcot. You can wander the booths at whatever festival is happening at the time. You can grab seafood at Coral Reef. You can taste the fresh ingredients being grown on Living with the Land when eating at Garden Grill. You can have hummus fries at Spice Road Table; barbeque at Regal Eagle; and hit up the bakery in the France Pavilion. Whether or not you ultimately decide on Biergarten is a decision for your traveling party, but I am confident that everybody in your party will be able to find something acceptable when they are there. If a vegetarian and a guy going Keto can enjoy the place that much, it has a wide appeal.