Let’s say you’re in Hollywood Studios. It’s about a million degrees or freezing outside, and you’re hungry. You need some A/C (or heat) and food stat. So, you head right into ABC Commissary.
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More often than not, I think, that’s the drill for ABC Commissary. The theme (that of… well, a basic studio lot commissary) isn’t altogether exciting, and mostly it has a reputation for being a great place — above anything else — to score an easy seat in the air conditioning, and maybe grab a burger and a Coke.
But there are a few dishes here we hadn’t paid much attention to previously that get a fair amount of love from DFB readers. So here we are at the Commissary, ready to try a couple of choices unique to this spot… and do a little exploring while were at it.
The name tells you just about everything: ABC Commissary is themed as a cafeteria on a studio lot — in this case, that of the ABC network.
And this completely explains the decor: a very basic collection of insane amounts of seating, peppered with props, pics, and posters from ABC shows.
And plants and stuff.
Oh, and some palm trees, while we’re at it 😉 .
Clips from ABC shows are looped on high-hanging screens throughout your meal.
For my part, I got a kick out of seeing this display of props from “The Middle” in the entryway. Did anyone watch this past season’s finale — the one where the Heck family finally gets to go on Sue’s dream vacation to Disney World? If so, you may recognize Sue’s scrapbook and Brick’s own Mickey ears. A script signed by the cast is on display, too.
Fun fact! AJ and I got stuck in Epcot’s France Pavilion while Patricia Heaton (“Frankie Heck”) and Neil Flynn (“Mike Heck”) were filming a scene. Here’s the instagram pic for proof! (Not that you’ll ever hear either of us complain about being “stuck” next to Les Halles… moving on!)
I believe this cross promotion totally works, because who here is ready to admit that half the reason they begged their parents to go on their first Disney vacation is because you watched the entire Full House gang — Kimmy Gibler included! — descend upon Disney World when “Jesse and the Rippers” landed a Magic Kingdom gig?
Anyhoo, enough reminiscing about “Full House” (wait… is there ever such a thing as too much reminiscing about “Full House”?). On to the food!
While the surroundings here aren’t known for being remarkably unique, the menu has a couple of options that you won’t find elsewhere. Sure, you can grab a burger or a Chicken Club sandwich. A Seafood Platter has a home here, too, featuring shrimp and fish with fries.
But on this visit, my friend and I were up for trying the Asian Salad with Chicken, and the Couscous, Quinoa, and Arugula Salad with Salmon since we’d heard good things. We also went with the Angus Cheeseburger with Horseradish Sauce and Fried Shrimp… for good measure ;).
The Asian Chicken Salad comes topped with lightly seasoned chicken on top (though you can order just the salad or top it with salmon instead). At first glance, it seemed pretty plain, with just the chicken and iceberg lettuce mix greeting the eye and the tastebuds.
But upon digging in a littler further, the snap of the shelled edamame and crunchy noodles gave this salad a nice variety in texture, and the light hint of sesame-ginger dressing provided a boost to the flavor, too.
Though I enjoyed the general flavors, I appreciated the level of freshness more than anything. It’s worth noting that both salads on the menu are made “tossed-to-order.”
Even though the salads we tried are quite different from each other, they have a few things in common. Like in the Asian Chicken Salad, at first I didn’t think there was much more to the Couscous, Quinoa, and Arugula Salad with Salmon other than the salmon and arugula upon first taste. Likewise, the dressing was put on with a very light touch, allowing the flavors of the salad ingredients to come through.
But again, as I dug in further, I was happy to find plenty of the quinoa and couscous blend throughout. Between that and the hearty serving of salmon (tender, and not at all dry), this one is surprisingly filling.
If you’ve shied away from couscous or quinoa, I think this is a great way to give it a try — there is plenty of it without being overwhelming.
The one complaint I’ve heard about this salad is that it has too many black olives. Not being much into olives, I wasn’t looking forward to that aspect. But my salad had so few that I barely registered their presence. I’m not sure if this was unique to my salad or a recipe tweak, but I liked the general blend. In fact, I was struck by how much I enjoyed this salad, finding it to be both unique and well-prepared, and I would get it again.
Finally, we tried the Angus Cheeseburger with Horseradish Sauce and Fried Shrimp, for a minor twist on a typical cheeseburger, which comes with fries.
For those who aren’t huge fans of the strong, distinct flavor of horseradish sauce, you’ll be glad to know it’s served on the side.
Essentially, the only thing that differentiates this burger from a regular cheeseburger is the three fried shrimp on top, which you can tuck in your burger, attempt to keep on top :), or use as a side item for dipping in the horseradish.
The breading on the shrimp adds a nice flavor (can you ever go wrong with panko crumbs?), but the pieces of shrimp were pretty small and thin. While that’s good for tucking them in the burger, if you like, it didn’t lend enough uniqueness to steer me to pay the extra money for the shrimp over just getting the regular bacon cheeseburger in the future. The burger itself was pretty standard — it will do the trick if a burger is what you’re after.
We (and Disney food fans all over) say it all the time: “Disney food is not just burgers and fries.” And I’d say ABC Commissary does a decent job at proving this case. Now, did my most recent visit to ABC Commissary convince me it’s a must-stop? No — I’m such a fan of atmosphere along with my food in the parks, and ABC Commissary doesn’t hold up as well as Backlot Express or even the outdoor eateries along Sunset Boulevard, like Rosie’s All American Cafe, where you can enjoy the park views and the small Victory Garden.
However, having enjoyed the salads, it gave me more of an appreciation for what this spot strives to do in bringing a few unexpected items to the table for park-goers, and healthier choices at that. If those ideas strike your fancy, pull up a seat by the sparkling light of some sequined costumes from “Nashville,” and give ABC Commissary a go!
Have you dined at ABC Commissary recently? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!