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"Simple is Delicious" at the Wolfgang Puck Express

Andrew Rossi

For my latest review I have decided to do something a little different. While all my past reviews have focused on Disney's table service dining locations, I have realized that I have been overlooking the numerous counter service restaurants located around property. For many Guests travelling to Walt Disney World, these quick service dining locations are their primary dining options, either because they want to dine on a budget or they don't want to spend the time it would take to have a full service meal. One of the great things about Disney World is that it features a tremendous variety of counter service options that go beyond merely hot dogs, hamburgers, and chicken nuggets. In fact, some of the quick service locations across property offer dining experiences that are nearly just as good as a full service restaurant. This review will highlight one such location.

When one hears the name Wolfgang Puck, the thought of a casual, quick service dining experience is not necessarily the first thing that comes to mind. This is, however, exactly what is offered at the Wolfgang Puck Express at the Downtown Disney Marketplace. Specializing in sandwiches, salads, pizzas, and pastas, this restaurant certainly lives up to its slogan that “simple is delicious.”

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Overview:
Downtown Disney offers plenty of dining options and features a wide array of cuisines, but despite this it always seems as though every restaurant is packed. For those Guests who have not made reservations in advance, this often means very long waits. Fortunately, there are several quick service locations here as well for those Guests who may not want to wait. Tucked back between Disney's Days of Christmas and Mickey's Pantry, the Wolfgang Puck Express can sometimes be overlooked, but it offers a dining experience worthy of its famous namesake.

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Presenting a more casual take on some of the signature dishes that made chef Wolfgang Puck famous, this dining location offers a great alternative to the large crowds found in Downtown Disney's various sit down restaurants. The restaurant is what could be considered an “enhanced” counter service location; you place your order at the counter as you enter, find a table to sit at while your food is being prepared, and then have your meals delivered directly to your table. The result is the feel of a sit down restaurant but with much quicker service.

Atmosphere:
The Wolfgang Puck Express is not the largest dining venue, but it still offers plenty of seating. While the restaurant used to feature a large covered patio for outdoor seating, this space has now been enclosed to allow more diners to enjoy the climate-controlled environment during the hot summer months.

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There are still a few tables located outside for those wishing to dine al fresco. What is nice about the restaurant's location is that it is tucked out of the way, so if you are eating outside there are not a lot of people walking and there is very little noise. While the restaurant's decor has no specific theme, the overall design is very minimalist and simple, giving it a casual and laid back atmosphere.

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The restaurant's sense of openness, with its high vaulted ceilings and numerous windows which allow for plenty of light, give the dining room a sense of being larger than it actually is. The only real visual décor elements in the main dining area are black and white photographs on the walls.

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One of the best elements of the restaurant's atmosphere is the area just after the counter where you place your order.

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As you make your way into the main dining area you pass through a room that makes you feel as though you are walking through the kitchen. Not only are there pots and pans hanging from racks on the ceiling, but you are able to see right into the area where the chefs are preparing the food as well as the large oven used for making the pizzas. This part of the restaurant presents a bit of a contrast from the main seating area, a more classic style as opposed to the modern feel of the dining room.

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The Menu:
For a counter service restaurant, the menu at Wolfgang Puck Express is very extensive. It is certainly safe to say that it is a menu that offers something for everyone. It starts with their numerous salads which include Butter Lettuce ($7.00) with goat cheese and balsamic vinaigrette, Caesar ($7.00) or served with chicken ($11.00), Chinese Chicken ($11.00) with crispy wontons, cashews, ginger, and a sesame honey dressing, Roasted Beet ($9.00) with goat cheese, oranges, candied pecans, fresh greens, and balsamic dressing, Curried Chicken ($13.00) with apples, lettuce, golden raisins, avocado, and toasted pecans, Rotisserie Turkey Cobb ($14.00) mixed with eggs, bacon, beans, tomatoes, gorgonzola, avocado and balsamic, Greek ($10.00) topped with feta, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and a creamy yogurt dressing, and Barbecued Chicken ($11.00) with romaine, cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, crispy tortilla strips, and ranch dressing.

If you are more in the mood for a sandwich there are several to choose from. These include the Pesto Chicken Salad ($10.00) topped with romaine, red onions, and plum tomatoes, the Rotisserie Turkey Club ($13.00) with avocado, bacon, red onion, plum tomatoes, and romaine, Chicken Aioli ($10.00) with mozzarella, romaine, tomatoes, red onions, and a cilantro aioli, the Roasted Turkey ($14.00) topped with cheddar, caramelized onions, arugula, port wine sauce, house dressing, and a horseradish cream, Meatloaf ($14.00) accompanied by provolone, bacon, tomato chutney, horseradish cream, and crispy onions, and the Roasted Vegetable ($13.00) with mozzarella, pesto, lettuce, tomato, and a horseradish cream.

The menu also features a number of pizzas prepared in the restaurant's wood-fired oven. Among these are the Traditional Margherita ($11.00), Fennel Sausage ($11.00) topped with pesto, roasted sweet peppers, and mozzarella, the Classic Cheese ($10.00), Pepperoni and Mushroom ($11.00), Barbeque Chicken ($13.00) topped with red onion, cilantro, tomatoes and a smoky BBQ sauce, Seasonal Vegetables ($12.00), Four Cheese Pesto ($12.00) featuring parmesan, mozzarella, fontina, and goat cheese with plum tomatoes, fresh basil, and sun-tomatoes, and the Spicy Chicken ($13.00) with sweet peppers, tomatoes, fresh cilantro, and parmesan.

For those looking for a heartier meal than sandwiches, salads, or pizzas, there are also several “Wolfgang's Classics” to choose from. These include a Half Rotisserie Chicken ($16.00) topped with garlic butter and rosemary and accompanied by mashed potatoes, Oven Roasted Salmon ($18.00) topped with fennel, tomatoes, arugula, and a horseradish cream, Spaghetti ($12.00), Spaghetti and Meatballs ($16.00), Spaghetti Bolognese ($15.00), Chicken Alfredo ($15.00) with peas and bacon, Macaroni and Cheese ($11.00), and Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf ($15.00) topped with a port wine sauce and crispy onion rings and served alongside mashed potatoes.

For my meal I started with the Butternut Squash Soup ($6.00), which was absolutely delicious. Smooth and creamy, it was just the right consistency. The soup came garnished with chives and a roasted pepper swirl, which proved to be the perfect complement to the squash by adding a little kick of spiciness. The soup itself was somewhat sweet, but not overwhelmingly so, and the red pepper and chives actually helped to enhance the flavor without being too overpowering. The soup was thick, rich, and filling and also came with a small slice of bread which was perfect for dipping. The serving size is large enough that this could easily be split between two people.

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Next I chose the Barbeque Chicken Pizza ($13.00). The barbeque sauce itself had a little hint of smokiness, but it certainly did not overpower the other ingredients. In fact, I would not have minded if there had been a little more barbeque sauce on the pizza. The pizza came topped with a good amount of chicken and red onions that paired very well with it and added even more flavor. I was worried that the cilantro would be too strong, but there was just the right amount to compliment the other flavors and provide an added little kick. The pizza itself had a very thin crust, nice and crispy along the edges but softer toward the center. The dough was light and cooked to perfection, with the edges of the pizza just slightly burned enough that it added to the flavor. Again, this is another dish that could easily be shared, especially if starting with a soup or salad beforehand.

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Service:
At a counter service restaurant one of the things you expect is fast service and the two servers taking orders were very efficient so the line of Guests ordering never became too backed up. Because of the way the restaurant works, once you place your order at the counter you then find a table in the dining room and have your food delivered to you. While the food was brought out in a timely manner and the server asked me if I needed anything when he first delivered my meal, it seemed as though all the servers walking about the dining room were most concerned with getting the tables cleaned and turned over rather than checking in on the Guests who were eating. While this is certainly important in a quick service restaurant that has a high turnover rate, it seemed to come at the expense of their interaction and attention to the Guests who were currently dining there.

Dining on a Budget:
The Wolfgang Puck Express is a great option for dining on a budget, especially if you want an experience similar to the Wolfgang Puck Café (also found at Downtown Disney) at a more affordable price. For example, the Butternut Squash Soup that costs $6.00 at the Express is $8.00 at the Café. While the menu selections are fewer and simpler than the Café, the quality and taste are just as good. In addition, you will find that the portion sizes at Wolfgang Puck Express are big enough that sharing a dish between two people becomes an easy way to save even more. If each person were to get a soup or a salad, splitting a sandwich or a pizza would be more than enough for a meal. If you are still hungry, you could always get a dessert as well, all of which are also reasonably priced.

If you are on the Disney Dining Plan, the Wolfgang Puck Express is one of the best values for your counter service credits as the meals you will find here are of tremendous quality (certainly better than just getting a burger or hot dog in the park) and the serving sizes large enough that you will almost certainly have leftovers. The best way to maximize your Disney Dining Plan is finding those restaurants that will get you the most for your money. For example, you could get a cheese pizza from Pizza Planet for $9.00 or you could go to Wolfgang Puck Express and get the Barbeque Chicken Pizza for $13.00 or even something like the Oven Roasted Salmon for $18.00 all for the same one counter service credit. In many ways, dining at Wolfgang Puck Express is almost like dining at a table service restaurant for a counter service credit.

The Overall Experience:
At this point I should note that while this review is of the Wolfgang Puck Express located in the Downtown Disney Marketplace, there is also one on the West Side as well. However, the West Side location is smaller and its menu options are more limited. The Wolfgang Puck Express is a great place to grab a quick bite to eat and I highly recommend it to anyone visiting Downtown Disney who does not feel like waiting a long time for a table at one of the sit-down restaurants. Bearing the name of Wolfgang Puck, you know that the food is going to be of a high quality and the Wolfgang Puck Express certainly delivers, offering a calm and relaxing meal in a quiet and laid-back environment. Not only is it one of the better counter service restaurants to be found in Downtown Disney, but I would consider it one of my favorites among all quick service restaurants in Disney World.

See past restaurant reviews by guest blogger Andrew Rossi.

Check out Reader Reviews of the Wolfgang Puck Express and post your own too!

The previous post in this blog was Mid-Month Mousy Mindboggler.

The next post in this blog is Floral Mickey Disneyland Entrance.

Comments (19)

Mary Beth:

Back in Sept. was the first time we ate at Wolfgang Puck Express and really enjoyed the food. I am sure we will return their again. We do have a question and not sure if you could answer. We had one person bringing our food and drinks then another took dishes away. Is it proper to leave a tip? We were not sure who would get it or what to do? We felt a need to leave one.

Marcie Price:

Wolfgang Puck Express is our favorite place to eat. If you are on the Quick Service Dining Plan, you can't beat the value here. Since it is in Downtown Disney, it is a little out of the way so it may take some planning to get there. We have been vacationing at Disney World for the past six summers, and always make it a point to eat at Wolfgang Puck's. The variety of food can't be topped. Much better than the "park" food at QS Restaurants.
The Meatloaf is wonderful!! Pizza is great! The French toast is very good as well. Would recommend that you make dining here a MUST!!

Barry Christian :

Thanks for the review. One thing I might add though is how great the breakfast is. We ate breakfast there last year on our last day and ended up wishing we had eaten there every day using our dining plan. The prices may seem high until you find out that an order of bacon or an order of eggs is enough for at least two people or maybe even three or four.

This is our favorite Counter service meal on the dining plan. We always get the roasted chicken with green beans and mashed potatoes and top it off with Creme Brulee! What an awesome meal!!

NIkki:

Wolfgang Puck Express is probably my favorite quick-service location in all of Disney World. For the quality of food you receive for one quick-service credit, it really is a steal. I have eaten there my last three trips and have not yet been disappointed.

Tim:

Is this the one that used to be located on the other side of Downtown Disney next to Bongos? I seem to remember a small walk in take out section that didn't have even half of what is offered here!

amanda Macomber:

WE eat there every year when we go to WDW, we always spend one evening at Downtown Disney and this is our place to eat. It has really good food for quick service, I highly recommend it!

Tracy:

This is one of my favorite restaurants. I appreciate that the servers clear the tables quickly. Even when busy, I've been asked if I needed a soda refill. I ALWAYS leave a tip. I also tip the Magical Express driver even though I never have a carry-on bag. It amazes me the families who pack entire households and can't give the driver a few bucks.

Christine :

Shhh! Stop telling people about this place.
I love it here and don't want it to get too crowded. The food is great, prices more than reasonable and as much as I love WDW it gives you a couple minutes of non Disney calm is the middle of all the craziness, which for my wife is a huge bonus.
Regarding tipping, as another posted asked, I always tip here as they do almost as much work as the servers at a table service do and deserve a decent tip.

I found this one a few years ago and have enjoyed every thing I have gotten there. It is usually my first place to eat when getting to Disney. My first meal is the 4-cheese pizza and the Creme Brulee for dessert. It was our last place to eat on the way out of town, for breakfast, a couple of weeks ago. The best walk-up on the dining plan.

Jeremy Hardy:

We ate here twice during our December 2012 trip--loved it so much the first time, we had to return! It is certainly one of the best ways to use your DDP QS credits. We had the meatloaf, the rotisserie chicken and our daughters each had pizza. I would say, that if you are not using the dining plan, two adults can definitely split an entree and get even more bang for your buck. As for tipping, we tipped both times we ate there. We noticed that most parties left tips, while a few appeared to leave nothing. Definitely worth a visit.

Helen Dixon:

We have had our last two holidays in Disney. We love Wolfgang Puck. When we came back this year this was the first place we came to eat as my son adores the food. We have the DDP so like you say it's great value too! We don't have Wolfgang Puck here in Britain so it's a real treat when we are on holiday. Can't wait to be back next year as just booked our holiday at Disney today!!

Sharon:

This is the best kept secret in Downtown Disney...let's keep it that way! This is by far the best counter service in all of WDW, and our family never misses when we visit. My son and I are addicted to the Margherita Pizza, but everything is good. We always tip as well since the servers do everything but take your order. Now remember, don't tell anyone :)

Michelle:

Wolfgang Puck Express is truly one of the best values in all of Disney. We generally make it there for breakfast at least once each trip. We managed to fit a dinner in there once, as well. Always top quality food. And, without exception, some of the best service we have ever received at any Disney restaurant. The servers are always super friendly and helpful. And,yes, we always leave a tip. How can you not? The servers have always gone above and beyond- literally every time we've dined there. Did I mention that we really love the servers at Wolfgang Puck Express?? :) They make it worth the effort to get there.

Lynne Blake:

Wolfgang Puck Express is one of the better counter service restaurants. Way above the standard offerings of burgers, chicken fingers and fries. Fresh food, ample portions, plus, they bring your meal to you. No trying to carry trays though a crowded restaurant.

Heather Green:

We always go here on our first night after a long flight from the UK and you feel right in the middle of all things Disney. The chicken and meatloaf are hot favourites with us.

Elizabeth :

Wolfgang Puck Express is by far our families favorite counter service restaurant. And even comes in a close second for favorite restaurant at WDW. We always try to make a point of eating here at least once a trip. If we happen to be using the dining plan, we will come numerous times during the trip. The food is always wonderful. Service is always great and everyone is always friendly. We have tried numerous dishes down through the years, but my families' favorites are the salmon, half chicken, chicken pizza and chicken alfredo. In all we have tried, we have not been disappointed in any of the dishes. Thanks for the review!

Ace:

Glad (and not so glad) that you reviewed this restaurant! I, too, don't want the secret to get out. This place was a fantastic surprise last year. The reviewer forgot to review their deserts: we had the creme brulee and it was so good, it's the standard I use when I dine in restaurants back home. The Chef even brought it to our table and caramelized the topping. **Fantastic**!! The food was so good and the service so excellent that I purposefully buy anything Wolfgang Puck that I can get my hands on back here in reality just to remind me of that visit (his coffees and soups especially).

Don Tatro:

The hidden gem of the Express is there breakfast. We never miss a chance for at least one time having the breakfast Ranch Pizza or the Corn Flake Fried French Toast. Since it only is a counter service, makes for one of the finest gourmet breakfasts around at a terrific price and the fact that you still get someone, usually a fantastic server, to wait on you.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on October 20, 2013 7:39 AM.

The previous post in this blog was Mid-Month Mousy Mindboggler.

The next post in this blog is Floral Mickey Disneyland Entrance.

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