Oh, my! Can you smell that? Oh, yeah! That’s the smell of the some good ol’ outdoor barbecue!! The sweet aroma is coming straight from the American Adventure Pavilion in the Epcot World showcase. The Regal Eagle Smokehouse just opened for business this past week and anyone who fancies barbecue is going to want to make their way over to check it out! That, of course, includes my wonderful husband, who has been waiting for this new fast casual restaurant to open its doors since he first heard it was coming! Being the good wifey that I am, we obviously made it a priority to head over there its first opened weekend!
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Regal Eagle Smokehouse
From Festival To Quick Service
For years, the American Adventure pavilion has offered a variety of barbecue options during the numerous festivals the park holds. From burnt ends to brisket, the festival kitchen that has called this exhibit home has attracted crowds from all over the world with its aromatic offerings. It’s no wonder that, after years of success and popularity, they took some of the savory selections and created an entire menu out of them. Regal Eagle Smokehouse is the answer to so many festival goers dreams!! Now, anyone can have barbecue anytime they want when roaming around the Promenade.
Hubby is a HUGE barbecue fan. In fact, for Father’s Day, his request every year is a healthy portion of barbecue beef ribs. Not to mention, we spent some time in South Carolina earlier in our marriage and know just how good Carolina mustard-based barbecue sauce is!! So, when we heard they were offering one at Regal Eagle…that just exponentially elevated the desire to check it out!
Making Our Way Around the Promenade
We arrived at Epcot with the full knowledge that we were going to be battling crowds ~ and for a few good reasons.
- It was the last weekend of The Epcot International Festival of the Arts.
- The runDisney Princess Half Marathon crowd was in town.
- New Englanders were on their winter break ~ which means families EVERYWHERE and
- They opened a new quick service restaurant full of delicious food just about everybody loves to eat.
Yeah – gluttons for punishment for sure. THAT’S how much my husband loves barbecue (and I love my husband).
We made it midday on Saturday and sure enough found it fairly crowded. We also found new obstacles to maneuver as Epcot is undergoing one of the most elaborate of transformations. There are walls here and walls there and Cast Members directing you everywhere. We actually found ourselves walking in areas we had never stepped foot (which I actually found pretty cool, to be honest). It was definitely maze-like and quite a mystery all at the same time.
**Have you read any of Our 11 Dates Around World Showcase: Leaving Footprints in Epcot?
We Made It ~ And Boy Was It Popular!
When we arrived at the back of World Showcase to the American Adventure Pavilion, every picnic table – seat outside was taken by Guests enjoying some barbecue deliciousness. That was encouraging, of course. It looked like we were in for a treat!
We initially saw two lines in front of us to the left and thought that was where we needed to go. In fact, we thought, “Hmmm….they made it an outdoor venue?”
No…no, they didn’t. We were mistaken. That was just the line for the “bar.”
By the way, the bar offers a great selection of craft beers, ciders and more. While this was not our goal destination for THIS trip, we do plan on giving it a try at some point.
The restaurant itself is located inside where Liberty Inn once stood. So, we did have to go inside to order and such. However, we couldn’t just walk through the doors and into the vast dining room. Nope ~ we had to go all the way to the end of the line of Guests waiting to be allowed INTO the venue.
That line extended out to the edge of the Fife & Drum Tavern. Fortunately, it moved quickly, but waiting there gave us the chance to look around and just take in the scenic changes.
The New Scenery
In the center of the restaurant courtyard (not the entire courtyard) sits a giant smoker. It is not a working smoker, but boy did my husband wish it was! Imagine the smells that would have filled the air if it had been! The area where the smoker is located is filled with various odds and ends that just scream Americana. From a horse saddle to campfire style pots and kettles, it brings you back to the days of old.
It didn’t take that long, to be honest, to get us through the line and inside the restaurant. In fact, they did a really good job at managing the crowds.
The restaurant’s “story” (which is standard for all Disney-related venues to have a story to tell) centers around Sam Eagle from The Muppets. He is hosting Sam’s Centennial Cook-Off: A Salute To All Cook-Offs, but Mostly BBQ.” The decor hanging on the beautiful brick wall shares stories of various Muppets, such as Gonzo, and their prize-winning sauces. Each sauce has its fair share of ribbons, awards and sketches to admire, which does make it awkward when Guests want to read each and every word on the certificates (my apologies to all those Guests who had to endure my husband’s lingering curiosity while he read and you ate).
The tables are set up as though it’s a giant church picnic – or at least that’s what it felt like to me. There are bench seats available and the wood tables can be arranged to accommodate a variety of party sizes.
Each table also comes with a fully stocked roll of paper towel to help mop up the barbecue residue everyone should expect to wear by meal’s end. What is a truly nice addition and sweet touch to the restaurant is what Guests will find in the far left front corner of the restaurant. There’s a sink, people! Talk about BRILLIANT!!! This serves as a great way to clean up barbecue-saturated fingers and faces!!
The Regal Eagle Smokehouse Menu
It’s classic backyard barbecue, my friends! We’re talking brisket, ribs, chicken and burgers! For those who are looking for more of a lighter option, they do have a Power Greens Salad with fresh citrus fruit, sunflower seeds, dried cranberries and radishes, drizzled with a fresh citrus vinaigrette. It also comes topped with chilled pulled chicken.
Now, to satisfy the non-meat eaters, they have a plant-based BBQ Jackfruit burger served on garlic toast.
AND ~ for my food allergy buddies ~ Regal Eagle Smokehouse does have a food allergy menu and I’m pretty encouraged by what I saw. You can even take a peek at this on the My Disney Experience app!!
Yay for options and inclusion!!!!
Side options on the regular menu include creamy coleslaw, beer-battered onion rings, baked beans with burnt ends, mac and cheese, french fries, garlic toast and house-made pickles. Oh, I heard great things about that mac and cheese (more about that in a minute)!!
To drink, there are your Classic Coca-Cola soft drinks, a few craft beers, a non-alcoholic berry punch, milk, bottled water, Joffrey’s coffee options and alcohol beverages such as beer, hard cider, wine and specialty drinks.
Oh ~ I bet you want to hear about the sauces. Right? Yeah – they have those, but give me a minute. I’m waiting to talk about those a little further down (wink, wink).
What Did We Choose??
It was a no-brainer for Hubby. He knew what he wanted before he even saw the menu. He was all about a sampler if they offered one and, sure enough, they have the American Platter! With this, he was able to choose THREE meats from the menu (he chose the chicken, brisket and ribs) and a side to accompany the meats and garlic toast served with it. For his side, Hubby chose the baked beans with burnt ends.
Me? Yeah, it took me a little longer to figure out what I wanted. I stared at that menu, but didn’t decide until we actually arrived at the register to order. I ended up going with the BBQ Burger. Why? Why go with a burger? Well, Hubby was getting three of the other meats – I figured it would be good to go with something completely different. (of course, I suppose “completely different” would have been the Power Greens Salad).
For my side, I chose the mac and cheese because it came highly recommended. My burger was topped with brisket and served on the garlic toast. It was also said to come with a fried onion ring on the top. However, I actually had to ask a Cast Member in back for my onion ring. It was forgotten (sniff, sniff)
To drink, we both went with the Tennessee Lemonade, which was a mixture of Tennessee Whiskey, Odwalla Lemonade and peach.
Now – what did we think?
We picked up our tray after “meh” service at the register. I’m trying to grant them grace because it was opening weekend, crazy busy and certainly full of cranky people who had not had enough sleep because of all the races. From there, we grabbed some silverware and found a seat. We were very fortunate to have found a table fairly quickly and in a good spot. After we were seated comfortably, Hubby went to grab us some of those sauces!
So, Let’s talk about those “saucy” details, shall we?
I had heard all about these the day before we went, so I was eager to give every single one of them a try!!! The selection is found in separate pump containers along the wall parallel to the service counter (but inside the dining room portion). Guests can choose from any and all of the following:
- Spicy Mop Sauce – inspired by Texas-style “mop”
- Sweet BBQ Sauce – inspired by classic dry rub seasonings
- Vinegar-based Sauce – inspired by North Carolina’s tradition of vinegar and pepper
- Tangy Mustard Sauce – often referred to as “Carolina Gold”
We gave three out of the four a try, since Hubby didn’t think I would like the Vinegar-based sauce. To be honest, he was right. I wasn’t even too fond of the Spicy Mop Sauce since I could detect the strong taste of vinegar in that one, too. The Sweet BBQ Sauce was good, but my absolute favorite was the Tangy Mustard Sauce! Oh, my gosh – I dipped my onion ring in it AND poured that on my sandwich. Yum!
Hubby says he liked all of them ~ he couldn’t name a favorite.
Okay – Hubby’s Thoughts on His Actual Meal…
The food was okay ~ yeah, just okay. For Hubby, he, at first, didn’t feel that the portion sizes matched the price. His meal cost $18.99. However, he confessed with the last bite that he felt pretty full, so he ended up calling it a win. His favorite meat on the platter was the brisket – and I concur. It was tender, moist and had great flavor. The ribs were a little dry for him, though I liked the one bite I had…and the chicken was also a little dry. Of course, that’s what the sauce is for, right???
He wasn’t too much of a fan of the baked beans, though. We are used to a Boston-baked bean, which has more of the brown sugar flavor instead of the ketchup base that these had. He ate them, of course, but he doesn’t think he would get them again. Obviously, this is just a personal preference issue.
The mac and cheese lived up to its reputation. It was delicious and I believe I could taste blue cheese in there! The bread crumbs were nice touch, too. It was, however, a little TOO salty and I had to pace myself while eating it for that reason.
My BBQ Burger was just okay. The burger was thin and resembled those frozen hamburger patties we can buy in bulk. The brisket was good, but dry, yet I did like the addition of the tomato. I did love the garlic toast and the fried onion ring I had to fight to get. Once I topped the burger with the Tangy Mustard Sauce? Oh, yeah ~ not a bite was left.
Why we chose to go with the Tennessee Lemonade, I have no clue. It was the middle of the day, we were “sans kids” and it seemed appealing. Needless to say, we gave it a try and it definitely had a strong flavor. I sipped mine very slowly, which means the ice watered down the alcohol flavor over time. Hubby drank his a little faster than I did, but I’m not sure he liked it that much. It may be a one and done for him.
Final Thoughts On The Regal Eagle Smokehouse
So, it was opening weekend and Disney has this wonderful way of making necessary adjustments as time goes on. I think they did an EXCELLENT job at managing the crowd and the food is definitely representative of the time period and story it was aiming to tell.
Full confession, though. I do prefer the barbecue option at Disney Springs much more than this one, but this is the only venue in Epcot that offers this style of cuisine. I do think that it was about time that they pulled the festival favorites into something more permanent. So, yeah – this WILL be popular. I have no doubt in my mind it will attract multitudes!!
So ~ our overall rating?
I’d say we give it a B+ (based on portion sizes, cleanliness, taste and service). While I think there’s room to grow, I still have full confidence, however, that it will satisfy many an appetite that walks through its ginormous, tall doors!
The Regal Eagle Smokehouse is NOW OPEN!!
Is this on your Disney Dining Bucket List?