June 17, 2024

Restaurant Review: Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside’s Not-So-Secret Mega Menu

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I have a love-hate relationship with Mobile Order at Walt Disney World. To be honest, it's mostly love and only a little bit of hate. It's great for breezing past long order kiosks and I




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I have a love-hate relationship with Mobile Order at Walt Disney World. To be honest, it’s mostly love and only a little bit of hate. It’s great for breezing past long order kiosks and I also love that it features food photos that give you an idea (albeit romanticized) of how each dish looks. It’s saved us a lot of time and also steered us towards dishes we otherwise may not have tried thanks to those stock images.

Unfortunately, it has also steered us and other guests away from some great cuisine. Although I can’t prove anything, I blame Mobile Order for the downfall of Sunshine Seasons (thankfully, it’s making a comeback). Then there are the “specialty dine-in options” available at a number of resort food courts all around Walt Disney World. This almost caused us to miss two of my now-favorite entrees at Wilderness Lodge.

It once again almost foiled our dinner plans again at Riverside Mill, the quick service restaurant at Port Orleans Riverside. With the benefit of hindsight, perhaps that would’ve been the better outcome. But it didn’t, and we have this review of the new menu at Riverside Mill Food Court, which is finally back to pre-closure normal. Arguably, it’s better than that.

Let’s start with a bit of quick background. Like most food courts at Walt Disney World, Riverside Mill has multiple ordering bays, so its menu has some variety. For the past few years, that didn’t mean a whole lot–many Walt Disney World food courts weren’t utilizing all of their bays or had scaled back options at each of them.

Even before that, about the only Value or Moderate Resort food court that really wowed was Landscape of Flavors at Art of Animation. The All Stars and Pop Century had gotten better and all of the Moderates had flashes of quality, but there was a lot of stereotypical theme park fare and usually only a couple of unique or interesting dishes.

If you’re going by the online menu or Mobile Order, that still appears to be the case at Riverside Mill–along with pretty much all of the Value and Moderate Resort food courts. I think it actually is all of them, it’s likely safe to extrapolate what we’ve seen at All Star Sports to the other All Stars, and Port Orleans Riverside with French Quarter, but I’m not 100% sure.

The line to look for is “Additional Rotating Selection of Specialty Offerings Available For Dine-In.” That caught my attention and caused us to pop on in during our recent stay before heading off to Disney Springs. (Where we planned to instead dine at EET by Maneet Chauhan.)

In the past, I’ve seen this when a food court has had a couple of rotating dinner specials that change on different days of the week. Having had success with exactly that during a stay at the All Stars, we decided to check out everything on the dine-in menu. At Riverside Mill, we found a dozen-plus items that weren’t on Mobile Order (this is much more than I last saw at All Star Sports).

Here’s a look at everything that’s currently available for dinner as of 2024:

As you can see, it’s a pretty stacked menu from top to bottom. We’ve done the Gumbo and Jambalaya before, and both are pretty good. Definitely on the mild side, but hearty dishes that are fitting of Port Orleans. My only disappointment with this menu is that the Po’ Boy and Muffaletta Sandwich are no more. Those were tasty, and also on-theme for Port Orleans.

A few other dishes we have not tried–and just missed the cut for this meal–are the Bayou Amber Ale Burger, Pimento BLT, Mac & Cheese with Braised Beef, and Barbecued Braised Beef. I’m sure there are other good dishes on that mega-menu, but those are the standouts.

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Before we review the food, let’s take a look around the dining room at Riverside Mill. This is far and away my favorite food court at Walt Disney World for its setting. Nothing else really holds a candle to this.

In comparing my photos of Riverside Mill over the last two decades, not a whole lot has changed…and that’s for the best. The only difference I can notice is that the carpeting was replaced with a hardwood floor, which had to have happened over 5 years ago at this point. While we all might quibble over whether wood or carpet is better in guest rooms, I think it’s fair to say wood is better for cleanliness in food courts. Above is the before, below is after.

Riverside Mill’s appeal is that the ambiance of the seating area is an extension of Port Orleans Resort as a whole. This is accomplished via a working mill wheel, which slowly turns and powers a working cotton press.

There’s a reason mill towns are often described as ‘sleepy’ rather than ‘bustling’ and that’s on display here. The slow, methodical turning of the mechanisms inside is another reminder of a bygone time and place, much like the rest of Port Orleans Riverside.

As the kids say, the vibes are immaculate.

It doesn’t hurt that outside of the prime breakfast and dinner hours, Riverside Mill is often a quiet place to kick back and enjoy a peaceful meal. Even during busy hours, it’s not nearly as chaotic as other food courts.

It helps that the seating area is huge, effectively diluting guests, and the lighting plus the serene setting probably rubs off on guests. Regardless of the reason, Riverside Mill seems to churn at a slower, more pleasant pace than other food courts at Walt Disney World.

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As with the other counter service restaurants at Walt Disney World that can be classified as food courts, there are multiple ordering bays at Riverside Mill.

I like this approach. It allows for a greater variety of options, and members of your family can split up before regrouping to pay. Also as with other food courts, the drink station is self-service and located in the middle of the seating area, meaning that you can refill those cups to your heart’s content.

Turning to food, we started with two entrees from the ‘build your own’ entree ordering bay. Protein options here are Mojo-roasted Chicken, Panko Crusted Salmon, and Barbecued Braised Beef.

With this, you select two sides from the following list:

  • Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes
  • Garlic Green Beans
  • Basmati Rice
  • Roasted Rainbow Carrots
  • Edamame Succotash
  • Zesty Vegetable Slaw

First up, the Mojo-roasted Chicken with Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes and Basmati Rice.

This is a good albeit familiar favorite at Walt Disney World. It’s not a common food court item, but it is almost identical to the half-chicken at Sunshine Seasons, right down to the glorious mashed potatoes.

Everything about the chicken is competently-done, with the skin being crisp and the meat being juicy and tender. But honestly, I feel like this isn’t all that different than a take-home chicken you could pick up from the hot foods section at your local grocery store. This isn’t necessarily a knock–it’s a predictable dish that normally turns out well.

Side-wise, the mashed potatoes are pure buttery goodness. As I’ve said countless times, I’m a sucker for Walt Disney World mashed potatoes. There’s probably nothing special about them in objective terms, but I have a ton of sentimentality for them–they remind me of being “home.”

Our other create your own entree is the Panko Crusted Salmon with Roasted Rainbow Carrots and Edamame Succotash.

This was Sarah’s selection, as she wanted to opt for something healthier with the sides–which are admittedly better quality than what I ordered with the chicken. These vegetables tasted good, but they were presumably ordered for their nutritiousness. They couldn’t hold a candle to my buttery and creamy mashed potatoes…but Sarah will probably live a few years longer than me thanks to these. It’s all about tradeoffs.

Walt Disney World usually does salmon really well, even at counter service restaurants or EPCOT festival booths. So this seemed like a slam-dunk as a result.

Not so. It turned out to be the worst salmon we’ve ever had at Walt Disney World (or probably anywhere). It was like the kitchen was trying to prepare a cross between a filet and salmon jerky, and cooked this several hours longer than necessary. It was dry, tough, and just nasty. It would’ve been better if they went all-in and just properly dehydrated and made jerky out of it.

I wish we would’ve looked at the tray of salmon sitting there before ordering this, as they were all visibly unappetizing. We later went back and checked out the next tray full of them to see if it was a one-off, and they looked marginally (but not much) better. So if you’re considering this, definitely give the entrees a glance before committing.

For our final entree, we ordered the Shrimp and Grits with smoked ham, vegetables and cream sauce.

This dish is freshly prepared after you order it, which was very welcome after the salmon debacle. It was cool to watch the Cast Member cook the shrimp and add fresh ingredients to the pan. And there was a fun bit of fire, which appeals to the primitive side of my brain.

The Shrimp and Grits was, without a doubt, the clear winner of our meal at Riverside Mill.

There was a ton of shrimp and diced ham, the grits were thick with just the right amount of texture (not too gritty, but also not too smooth), and the cream sauce made this a delightfully decadent dish.

The Shrimp & Grits is also a very heavy and hearty dish–the type that could be shared between two adults and provide the foundation for a filling meal. Had the salmon not been awful, it would’ve been perfect to split that and this, providing a filling and well-rounded(ish) meal.

I was tasked with eating all of the Shrimp & Grits due to the richness (and I guess it’s somehow unhealthy despite being seafood? I dunno–that doesn’t seem right), and I couldn’t even come close to finishing it all. I had the rest for breakfast the next morning, and ended up leaving our room full.

Ultimately, even with our hit-or-miss meal, Riverside Mill remains our favorite food court at Walt Disney World. I know the first two entree reviews don’t really “sell” it well, but the whole point of this was showcasing how deep the menu is–despite what’s published online and shown via Mobile Order. At the very least, this should accomplish that.

Honestly, that’s probably the biggest takeaway of this post–that the Value and Moderate Resort food courts at Walt Disney World have much deeper menus than Mobile Order or the online menus suggest. It’s worth dropping in and checking out the physical menus for the specialty dine-in options–as there could be a decent number of more ambitious options–before placing a Mobile Order or dismissing a food court out-of-hand due to a supposedly weak menu.

With that said, no food court is destination dining at Walt Disney World. That’s especially true of one that’s a bus ride away from…pretty much everywhere! But if you’re staying at one of the two Port Orleans Resorts, then Riverside Mill is definitely worth checking out–and not just disregarding because the online menus seem limited. Just choose a bit wiser than we did, and you should have a tasty and enjoyable meal!

Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!

Your Thoughts

Have you found longer menus of specialty dine-in options at the Value and Moderate Resort food courts in the last several months? Do you agree that Riverside Mill is one of the best food courts at Walt Disney World when it comes to atmosphere and themed design? What are your thoughts on the entree options at Riverside Mill? If you enjoy dining here, what are your menu recommendations? If you don’t like Riverside Mill, why not? Agree or disagree with our assessment? Share your thoughts in the comments!




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