Friends, we’ve narrowed the field of 64 seeds in the Walt Disney World theme-park restaurants bracket down to a very Sweet Sixteen.
So with just eight matchups left before we have an Elite Eight, let’s run down the remaining competitors and which of them I’d vote for.
(9) Tusker House vs (13) PizzeRizzo: I once again imagine that PizzeRizzo will make short work of its competition and move to the next round, and I once again will not be voting for PizzeRizzo. It’s not that I haven’t eaten there (though I haven’t). It’s that I’ve had Disney’s standard-issue theme-park pizza, and it’s just not impressive. I have, more specifically, eaten the pizza at the old version of this restaurant, once themed to Pizza Planet. Call it an unfair vote if you must, but I stick with the Tusker House.
(6) Oga’s Cantina vs. (15) Flame Tree Barbecue: So, fun fact: I switched the 15 seeds in the last round by accident. (For some reason, typing that sentence made me think of Harrison Ford at the end of The Fugitive. “You switched the samples. You switched the samples, didn’t you?!?” Great movie. I digress.) Though I had everything correct in the last Substack post, I had things wrong when I posted the actual polls, so Regal Eagle Smokehouse went a day later, and sadly was defeated.
Which leaves us with Flame Tree Barbecue as our winner of the “…Really?” sub-competition of this bracket. ‘Cause…really? It’s fine? I guess? I’ve eaten here, and it’s…y’know, barbecue. It’s decent, but not remarkably themed. Oga’s gets my vote because the theming is off the charts. We’ll see if the Flame Tree pulls off another upset.
(1) Hollywood Brown Derby vs. (5) Biergarten: This one’s easy for me. I’ve eaten at both locations, and while the food was very good in both, the theming in the Hollywood Brown Derby puts it over the top. We only have two top seeds in the Sweet Sixteen, but here’s hoping that this one keeps moving.
(14) Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater vs. (10) Crystal Palace: I’m telling you, dinner and a show almost always wins. The drive-in holds a strong enough place in my heart to get the vote.
(9) Garden Grill vs. (5) La Cava Del Tequila: As you may have noticed, we have very, very few high-seeded restaurants in the Sweet Sixteen. (If you presume that the safe bet is the top 4 seeds in each of the brackets move this far, we have just 3 of 16 accounted for.) I choose to believe it speaks to the fact that there’s such a wealth of good options at Walt Disney World. Here, I lean towards Garden Grill, primarily because I’m a sucker for the right kind of kitschy style; something about rotating restaurants feels like a welcome throwback to older dining fads. But if the tequila bar moves on, no harm to me.
(6) Boulangerie Patisserie vs. (7) Satu’li Canteen: I will stick with the French pastries for this one, though I have a feeling that Pandora will take this one.
(1) Tiffins vs. (5) ‘50s Prime Time Cafe: Dinner and a show, gang. It almost always wins. ‘50s Prime Time Cafe gets my vote, hands down.
(11) Sunshine Tree Terrace vs. (7) Via Napoli: This is a hard one, because when we talk about excellent pizza at the Disney theme parks, the conversation must start with Via Napoli. But Sunshine Tree Terrace has Dole Whips, Citrus Swirls, the Adventureland vibe I adore so much, and the Orange Bird. So I must stick with the tasty treats. Sorry, Via Napoli.