Can I tell you how good it feels to type this under the auspices of a presidential administration that doesn’t terrify me on an existential level? Yes, I know, this newsletter has nothing to do with politics (usually), but…boy. President Biden. Vice President Harris. Feels damn good to type.
Anyway. A new round of the bracket! It’s here today! (Unlike the Hall of Presidents, which is now under refurbishment, and I have never been happier for a Disney theme-park attraction to be closed.) That means I have more picks to share with you, so let’s do it.
(1) Cinderella’s Royal Table vs. (9) Tusker House: Both of these are character-dining locations, and I have — as you may recall — dined at neither. While I do love the overall atmosphere in the Africa section of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, eating in Cinderella’s Castle is just…I mean, there’s not much closer to iconography in Disney than that.
(5) Rose and Crown Pub vs. (13) PizzeRizzo: First, I should emphasize: the pub is not the dining room. This is the walk-up part of Rose and Crown, and I’m voting for it, even though I kind of expect the Muppets are moving on here. (And hey, they’re the Muppets, so I get it.)
(6) Oga’s Cantina vs. (3) La Hacienda de San Angel: I’m sticking with San Angel for this one. A lagoon-view restaurant wins in my book, Star Wars be damned.
(7) Restaurant Marrakesh vs. (15) Regal Eagle Smokehouse: I’m voting for Restaurant Marrakesh. I wonder if both Muppet restaurants will move to the next round. (I’m more OK with PizzeRizzo doing so. We’ll see!)
(1) Hollywood Brown Derby vs. (8) Columbia Harbour House: This is a toughie. Both of these restaurants are very successful at their design and aesthetics, they both have solid food, and they’re both must-eats (says this infrequent visitor). I’m going to stick with my gut on this one, and my gut really wants some clam chowder right now. So if it’s my call, we say goodbye to a top seed here.
(5) Biergarten vs. (4) Tokyo Dining: Biergarten. Dinner and a show always wins.
(6) Rose and Crown Dining Room vs. (14) Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater: Like I said. Dinner and a show always wins. Sci-Fi moves on.
(10) Crystal Palace vs. (15) Flame Tree Barbecue: I was genuinely taken aback — as much as these brackets cause such a reaction — when Flame Tree Barbecue won in the first round. I’ve eaten there! It’s…fine! It’s not that memorable, I think. But some of you clearly disagree. I will once again vote against it — Crystal Palace has a distinctive enough design that I like it. But I wonder if we’ll see a surprise victor here.
(1) Le Cellier vs. (9) Garden Grill: I love the food at Le Cellier, and I’m always partial to a good steak. But Garden Grill gets my vote because I love the concept of a rotating restaurant, and getting to overlook Living with the Land is a big plus.
(5) La Cava del Tequila vs. (4) Chefs de France: Can I tell you how badly I want some tequila right now? Failing that, I vote for Cava.
(6) Boulangerie Patisserie vs. (3) Nomad Lounge: I expect Nomad Lounge will win, but a) I haven’t eaten there, and b) authentic French pastries, you guys. Authentic French pastries. Boulangerie Patisserie gets my vote.
(7) Satu’li Canteen vs. (2) Be Our Guest: I’ve eaten at neither of these locations, but I can tell you that I would love to eat at the Beast’s castle. So Be Our Guest gets my vote.
(1) Tiffins vs. (9) Sunshine Seasons: Sunshine Seasons is one of the best counter-service restaurants in the entirety of the Walt Disney World Resort. I’m sure Tiffins is fine — it’s well-liked enough that I knew it should be a top seed — but Sunshine Seasons’ food and design win for me.
(5) Ronto Roasters vs. (4) ‘50s Prime Time Cafe: Dinner and a show almost always wins. (You will notice that I have slightly shifted my opinion from above.) Though the Prime Time Cafe doesn’t technically have a show, the wait staff are a hoot and are allowed to lean into their “characters” in ways that never fail to charm. Sorry, Ronto Roasters.
(11) Sunshine Tree Terrace vs. (3) Teppan Edo: It’s like I always say: dinner and a show…almost always win. Teppan Edo is a really solid teppanyaki restaurant, and yes, there’s performative elements. But Sunshine Tree Terrace is one of my favorite places to visit in all of the Magic Kingdom. Dole Whips for the win.
(7) Via Napoli vs. (2) L’Artisan de Glaces: Via Napoli is a restaurant I last dined at eight years ago, and I still think about the pizza. It wins today.