From a 1930s culinary landmark to a kitschy ‘50s drive-in theater, restaurants at Disney’s Hollywood Studios are inspired by TV and movie sets – part of the park’s Tinseltown fun and whimsy.
50’s Prime Time Cafe. You could be on the set of a classic 1950s sitcom at this family-friendly restaurant where “mom” will remind you to eat all of your vegetables and keep your elbows off the
table – but she’ll allow you to watch TV at the table, with retro TVs tuned in to clips of 1950s sitcoms like “Father Knows Best.” Fill up on golden fried chicken, meatloaf and pot roast or jump right to a peanut butter and jelly milkshake, Prime Time’s signature sip. The adjacent Tune-In Lounge is a cool spot for a late afternoon cocktail such as Dad’s Electric Lemonade. Open daily for lunch and dinner.
The Hollywood Brown Derby. The stylish ambience of the original Hollywood Brown Derby is re-created in the studio’s most upscale restaurant with teak and mahogany accents, reproductions of the chandeliers, signature brass derby hat lamps and caricatures on the walls. The classic Cobb Salad is the restaurant’s most popular entrée, created in the 1930s by the Derby’s then-owner, Bob Cobb. In addition to Derby originals, the menu offers signature dishes such as spice-rubbed black grouper, ahi tuna seared rare and a char-grilled New York strip steak. Open daily for lunch and dinner.
Hollywood & Vine. This is a family destination for breakfast and lunch, where little fans can sing along with their favorite “Playhouse Disney” pals, featuring stars including JoJo and Goliath from “JoJo’s Circus” and June and Leo from “Disney’s Little Einsteins.” The buffet includes grown-up favorites such as pot roast, herb-roasted salmon and salads, and a buffet just for kids. At dinner, the ambience is more subdued and the restaurant shows off its Art Deco, 1950s diner décor and a generous buffet with fresh seafood, meats and casseroles – with a sundae station for kids of all ages.
Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano. Tucked on a back street, you’re transported to Little Italy for favorites such as brick-oven pizza, pastas, oak-grilled salmon and pork Marsala. Sip a Moretti beer or Mama’s sangria sold by the carafe. Open daily for lunch and dinner.
Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant. “Terrifying Plants” stalk the planet and “Invaders” touch down from another dimension at this kitschy restaurant that features favorite science fiction and monster flicks teamed with drive-in food, from burgers to pasta and baby back ribs. On a replica of a studio soundstage, the 250-seat restaurant re-creates a 1950s drive-in theater in the middle of Hollywood Hills (without the smog). Diners are seated in flashy, chrome-gilded cars and fiber-optic stars twinkle in the sky. The screen comes to life with trailers from “Cat Women of the Moon,” “Invasion of the Saucerman” and more – a 45-minute reel of the best of science fiction trailers and cartoons. Open daily for lunch and dinner.
For a Fast Bite
From burgers to Cuban sandwiches and fresh fruit and veggies, diverse quick-service options offer something for everyone. ABC Commissary near the Chinese Theatre takes a global approach with chicken curry, fish and chips, Cuban sandwiches and burgers. Backlot Express just steps from “Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular” focuses on sandwiches, from grilled vegetables to grilled turkey and cheese, burger and hot dogs, but salads are on the menu, too.
Studio Catering Co. Flatbread Grill next to “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” Movie Set Adventure serves grilled chicken with black beans and rice, pulled pork sandwiches and Greek and Caesar salads – a full-service bar makes it a popular spot. Adjacent to The Hollywood Brown Derby, Starring Rolls Cafe is more sweet than savory, but sells enormous sandwiches (big enough for two) such as turkey or Black Forest ham on foccacia, and bagels with smoked salmon or pastrami. Near the Muppet*Vision 3-D attraction, “Toy Story” Pizza Planet Arcade is the spot for crisp pies and salads, with arcade-style games to occupy kids.
On Sunset Boulevard, Sunset Ranch is inspired by the Los Angeles farmers’ market, with outdoor seating and walk-up windows for burgers and soups at Rosie’s All-American Cafe; pizzas, salads and sandwiches at Catalina Eddie’s; fresh fruit and veggies at Anaheim Produce; and giant smoked turkey legs at Toluca Legs Turkey Co.
For reservations at any of the table-service restaurants, call 407/WDW-DINE. For same-day seating, go to the kiosk at the corner of Hollywood and Sunset before 1 p.m., or to the restaurant.
Wrapping it up
I have eaten at nearly every, actually everyplace, in this park. My favorite hideaways are long gone (The Catwalk Bar) but there are some great places to eat at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. You can certainly find something for every type of appetite during your visit. My favorite place, though, is the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant; they make great burgers and shakes. Give it a shot next time you’re at the park.