First, which parks in particular are you thinking about?
Second, how far outside a park are you willing to travel for good food with or without good prices? I'm sure most parks have the usual fast food and pub type places (Applebee's TGIFriday's, etc.) nearby. The more local places are probably are bit further off the beaten track.
But I agree with you, whenever I travel, I always like to find at least one place where the food won't be exactly the same as in thousands of other locations across the country.
Planning right now and just want to see what is out there. I'll drive a good 15 mins for good food. Anyways, the hotel is usually a good 10-15 mins away from the park, well at least when I take my family. :)
If you are going to the Orlando Parks I can recommend a place on International Drive called CRAZY GRILL. This is a Brazilian Churrascaria (An All-You-Can-Eat Steakhouse where the Waiters bring slices of meat to your table on skewers.) You pick the side of meat and they will slice it and place it on your plate. The food is DELICIOUS and you can get some refreshments that are hard to find this side of the Equator including Caprinha (A Mixed drink made with Sugar Cane ) and Guarana (A Soft Drink that tases like a cross between Root Beer and Ginger Ale.) To get there get off of I-4 at either Sand Lake Road (Eastbound) or Kirkman Road (Westbound) -These are the exits that take you to Universal Studios but instead of going to Universal go to International Drive. In the distance you will see one of those "Ejection Seat" (Slingshot) rides. Make your way tword it. The Restaurant is right across the street from the Slingshot. The Cost of your Entree is just $20.00 plus Tax and Drinks! If you like the Beverages take I drive east past Kirkman until you get past the giant Ferris Wheel. There you will find another Brazilian Restaurant called CAMILLAS which has a Brazilian Grocery Store next to it! Go inside and knock yourself out! :)
It is getting harder and harder to find a good local place and the franchised heart attack joints continue to colonize our communities. Even the parks themselves are converting to coporate-sponsored and branded food.
Big corporate branded parks seem to attract branded chain food and the smaller local traditional parks seem to be closer to independent restaurants. It's an interesting correlation. The 1970s theme park built at the highway interchange is really the environment where you'll find anything of local cultural or historical value and the smaller parks seem to be more integrated into the community and have more of a connection and deep roots to the locality.
There's a great old time burger joint next to Seabreeze. Great "slice of life" type of place. There's no 99 cent "value menu" but the prices are more than reasonable and the experience is an attraction in itself! :)
If you are going to PKI take I-75 to Covington, Ky and get off at the first exit. Your destination is the Clarion Hotel (The tall, round one ) On it's top floor is the Riverview, a revolving restaurant that serves some of the best Prime Ribs of Beef on this Planet! :)
It's a tad expensive, but trust me, it's worth the $plurge!
Chet and Matt's Pizza in Sandusky is good. It's quite unique for pizza. It has a modern family hometown sports atmosphere. The food is delicious. Sometimes Chet or Matt will come to your table to personally ask how your meal is.
Most of the interesting places to eat tend to be in urban areas, and most parks are in the boondocks.
That said, there's an upscale Mexican restaurant in downtown Denver called Lime - I didn't test it, but it's probably within walking distance of Elitch Gardens. I know you could see Twister II from my hotel, and the restaurant was even closer to SFEG.
I had the trademark "Scorpion Plate," which was shrimp fried with jalepeno peppers and served with a hot red sauce. It came with the best slaw I've ever eaten (along with typical Mexican beans, rice, etc.), and a frosty glass of limeade. One of the best meals I've ever eaten.
If you check out the hersheypa.com website, click on "regional attractions" and you can link to different tourism agencies in the area, for example Capitol Region and Dutch Country. I'm sure those sites list a ton of eating establishments.
At the main crossroads in Elysburg, there's a decent little Italian place. Not the fanciest, but a nice place to just sit and eat after walking around the park all day.
There's also a lot of interesting places in the Lehigh Valley (Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton area) because of the great variety of nationalities living there. Off the top of my head I'm thinking Aladdin if you like Middle Eastern. Featuring authentic live music and belly dancing on the weekends-- and eventually you WILL be part of the show.
The Hershey Pantry, just east of the factory on Chocolate Avenue. This is a family owned restaurant offering some of the most unique and incredible food I've had at any restaurant - definitely not to be missed! They're open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, right next door to a Hampton Inn I believe.
Dexter beat me to it, but I'll also chime in on Chet & Matt's Pizza. Best pizza around...hands down! We never go to CP/Sandusky without a visit to C&M's. Actually just picked up a shirt from them last week while at Castaway Bay. Plus, make a stop by the mens room and leave a message on the chalkboard...there have been many times I've read messages from other enthusiasts there. All in all, C&M's is the best eats to me.
And if you're looking for good, fresh ice cream, try Tofts dairy & factory right near old Sandusky.
If pizza isn't your thing, there's also TGI Friday's at Castaway Bay & Hotel Breakers. Their Sizzling Chicken & Cheese or Sizzling Chicken & Shrimp are two suggestions from me.
Your request is a little bit too broad. Any park? It would probably help if you specified a price range too. I think it's time for the travel tips thread to be reposted and pinned.
The only place I can ever remember being really cool was when we went to Knoebels for the first time. We stayed in a Red Roof Inn above Knoebels and there was a really cool restaurant where we had breakfast. It had that country Ma & Pop vibe and the food was good. There was a McDonalds across the street.
only thing i know is when in or around Atlanta one must eat at Abdullah's BBQ Rib Shack.. owned by professional wrestler Abdullah The Butcher.. and was seen in many southern rap videos as well as the new movie ATL
Borntocoast said: If you are going to PKI take I-75 to Covington, Ky and get off at the first exit. Your destination is the Clarion Hotel (The tall, round one ) On it's top floor is the Riverview, a revolving restaurant that serves some of the best Prime Ribs of Beef on this Planet!
It's a tad expensive, but trust me, it's worth the $plurge!
Yes, very expensive including much driving. Just go over toward I-75 from PKI (about 2.5 miles) and there is a food row with every thing from McDs to Olive Garden.
While *techincally* "outside the parks", there is a Disney World restaurant where the food is amazing and the service outstanding: Victoria and Albert's. Be forewarned though, dinner for two (with wine pairing and tip) ran us, according to my credit card statement, $385 (yikes, was it really that much?).
As a rather plain person, not very many restaurants grab my attention. I can't get into all of these high-end places that cover foods in fancy sauces and stuff like that. But every once in a while, a restaurant comes out of left field and surprises me with a great meal. On that note, in the Orlando area, if you like seafood, check out the new Dixie Crossroads restaurant in the Festival Bay Mall (the one with the Ron Jon surf shop and Van's Skate World). The specialty here is fresh shrimp, specifically, Rock Shrimp. I guess the only way I can describe it is that it is very tasty and rather lobster-like, but when you add it on to a steak platter, you've got one heck of a great dinner. And for those who are health-conscious, the shrimp is offered either fried, broiled, or sauteed. DC also serves fresh fish, salads, outstanding steaks, and other seafood standards like scallops and clams. And every table gets served a tray of DC's "world-famous" corn fritters. These tasty little fried dough balls that are covered in powdered sugar actually have corn pieces in the dough. It may sound weird, but they are VERY addicting. Prices are reasonable ($20-$30 a plate), especially considering most of the seafood is fresh.