Strawberry salad at Boatwright's

*This dining experience took place in July 2014.

Boatwright's Dining Hall Entrance

There are a few locations at Disney World that I consider hidden gems – locations that are truly overlooked. To me, Boatwright’s Dining Hall is one of those hidden gems. Nestled in the main lobby building of Port Orleans Riverside Resort, guests will find this a welcome break from the hustle and bustle of so many Disney World restaurants.

In addition to the rustic atmosphere, guests will be blown away by the impressive array of comfort food with a Cajun and Southern twist served at Boatwright’s. And as a special diets diner, I’ve been even more impressed with the variety of dishes that are available too. I have two words that says it all…Crawfish Bites (and yes, they are gluten fee and dairy free). 

I recently stopped by Boatwright’s for dinner with friends and fellow bloggers, Alexis from Gluten Free in Orlando and Amanda from Eating Out Without. Both Alexis & I got hooked on Boatwright’s after dining here for my birthday in February 2014. And when it came to deciding where to have dinner as a group, we knew just the place – especially since Amanda had never been before! We wanted to have a memorable mean and dining at Boatwright’s is always memorable.  

Prior to our meal, both Alexis and I made advance notice for a few requests – the crawfish bites appetizer (to be made gluten free and dairy free) and for something really exciting…fried chicken (and waffles in the case of Alexis, but more on that later). We recommend you contact Disney’s Special Diets Department for such requests. 

GNI Brand Rolls at Boatwright's

Once seated, we were greeted by our lovely server and Chef Tony who also brought us GNI brand rolls and some extra virgin olive oil with herbs. I am a huge olive oil fan, and anything of good quality with herbs is OK by me. Admittedly, I don’t think any of us at the table ate more than one of these rolls because we were saving room for the rest of the meal.  

Olive oil with herbs at Boatwright's

First up were our appetizers. As I’ve mentioned (perhaps ad naseum), the crawfish bites here are outstanding and must do every time I visit. Perfectly seasoned, well fried, and smothered in a dairy free remoulade sauce…well, that’s just culinary perfection to me. It’s simple and so delicious. 

Typically, the crawfish bites are not gluten free or dairy free, and I’m always glad when I’m able to request them in advance. 

Crawfish Bites at Boatwright's

Chef Tony also brought out a delicious and fresh seasonal salad. With almonds, fresh strawberries and a beautiful balsamic vinaigrette, this was a new favorite for me. I have a bit of an obsession with balsamic vinegar and it paired well with the fresh fruit. Although I am always prone to ordering the crawfish bites, I may have to order this instead next time!   

Strawberry salad at Boatwright's

For my entree, I asked for gluten free and dairy free fried chicken as did Alexis. Chef Tony turned her entree into an amazing version of chicken and waffles and asked me if I wanted to do the same. I decided to opt for the dirty rice with my entree, as I’m a huge fan of Boatwright’s version. However, after seeing Alexis’ chicken and waffles, I really wished I would have ordered that instead. Note to self…get chicken and waffles next time! You can see Alexis’ full review with pictures on Gluten Free in Orlando. I dare you not to want to order it after you see her photos!  

Amanda ordered the jambalya, a real favorite for me too. You can read her full review, including her review of the gluten free and dairy free version of French Onion Soup on her site. 

Fried Chicken at Boatwright's

I have to say, I really enjoyed this. A lot. Crispy and crunchy with a gorgeous peach sauce on top (stone fruit being a huge favorite of mine), this was perfectly fried and well seasoned. The dirty rice was amazing as always, and I love that it’s made authentically. I have to be honest, I just kept going back to the chicken. It was so good.

Chef Tony mentioned that his recipe for gluten free fried chicken was inspired by a recipe from Posana Cafe in Asheville, North Carolina, and he tweaked my version to be dairy free as well. 

There are so few locations on property that can do something like this. Of course, there’s 50’s Prime Time and allergy chicken tenders at quick service locations. To have another spot that really hit the spot with a comfort food favorite, well that’s golden to me! I also quite liked that the chicken used was boneless. It made for a tender piece of nicely fried chicken. And the seasoning of course was fantastic, made simply and with a touch of Cajun seasoning, as Chef Tony told us. The base for the coating is Namaste, and they only different between mine and Alexis’ version was the addition of buttermilk to hers (which produced a more rich dark color and puffed up the coating).

This was a fantastic meal, and I was entirely too stuff by the end to order dessert. We also as a group took a leisurely stroll to Port Orleans French Quarter for beignets. One of my favorite things to do post-dinner at Boatwright’s is walk the resort. It’s really gorgeous and will make you feel like you’ve been transported somewhere else.   

Port Orleans Entrance

Overall, I can’t say enough good things about Boatwright’s. It has consistently been one of the best Disney restaurants I’ve been to. The food is always outstanding, the chefs amazing, the servers excellent, and the prices really reasonable. 

Port Orleans French Quarter

I’d give this dining experience a solid 9.5 out of 10. Next time I have got to request the gluten free and dairy free chicken and waffles! If you have special requests, you’ll need to make arrangements at least 14 days in advance with Disney’s Special Diets Department. A huge shoutout to Chef Tony for making our meal experience extra magical, as always! 

Have you been to Boatwright’s? What are your favorite special diets menu offerings there?