Flame Tree Barbecue is one of two counter service barbecue restaurants at the Disney Parks – but its gorgeous all-outdoor seating area sets it apart. Find out why a former St. Louis resident says it’s the best counter service BBQ at Walt Disney World.

Flame Tree Barbecue: The Best Counter Service BBQ at Disney Parks

Flame Tree BBQ. Photo credit: Walt Disney World.

Flame Tree BBQ. Photo credit: Walt Disney World.

After having lived in St. Louis for a while, I’ll sometimes crave St. Louis-style ribs so badly, I think about hopping on a plane and flying standby back to St. Louis just for some Pappy’s smoked ribs. Thankfully, St. Louis-style ribs were about to come to me. Some of the best barbecue in Walt Disney World is at Animal Kingdom – the first park we visited on our recent stay.

Besides Smokehouse BBQ & Brews at Epcot, Flame Tree Barbecue is the only other counter service barbecue at the Disney parks. But, the one thing Flame Tree has that Smokehouse doesn’t is a gorgeous all-outdoor seating area. Lush landscape, a gorgeous reflection pool and views of Expedition Everest in the distance make Flame Tree a popular outdoor eatery in Animal Kingdom. Open-air pavilion seating, cooled by ceiling fans allows a break from the sun. Note the whimsical, wood carvings that decorate the patio area too, as they share a common theme: the circle of life.

Flame Tree BBQ outdoor dining, view of Expedition Everest. Photo credit: Walt Disney World

Flame Tree BBQ outdoor dining, view of Expedition Everest. Photo credit: Walt Disney World.

Located in the Discovery Island area of Animal Kingdom, this counter service restaurant typically has lines as long as some of the attractions in the park. But, when we visited a few weeks ago, we were sad to see it closed for renovations. Two smaller kiosks nearby (Beastly and Garden kiosks) were picking up the slack by offering some of Flame Tree’s more popular plates: the ½ slab of St. Louis ribs, 1/2 chicken or the ribs and chicken combo. All are served with baked beans and cornbread.

Flame Tree BBQ Outdoor Pavilion. Photo credit: Walt Disney World

Flame Tree BBQ Outdoor Pavilion. Photo credit: Walt Disney World.

I have no idea if Flame Tree’s renovations include its menu, but it also features a pulled pork sandwich, smoked turkey breast sandwich and smoked chicken salad. For vegetarians, there is a fresh seasonal fruit plate. Order an onion ring basket or fries on the side, and to drink, try the Mandarin Orange Lemonade. A limited alcohol menu of Bud Light, Disney’s own Safari Amber or wine is available too. Have a sweet tooth? Chocolate or Key Lime Mousse may hit the spot. For kids, there are the usual Disney kids meal options of a chicken sandwich, Smucker’s Uncrustables sandwich or hot dog, in addition to a barbecue themed baked chicken drumstick. All are served with the grapes, carrot sticks and lowfat milk or water.

Flame Tree BBQ Outdoor Pavilion. Photo credit: Walt Disney World

Flame Tree BBQ Outdoor Pavilion. Photo credit: Walt Disney World

If you’ve never had St. Louis style ribs before, you should know they are smoked without any sauce. You add that later. Two kinds of barbecue sauce (regular and sweet and spicy) are available at the condiment stations located in the outdoor seating pavilions, not at the counter. And because of the unique smoking process, the meats may be pink on the inside, but they are still fully cooked.

On your next visit to Animal Kingdom in the Disney parks, be sure to save room for the always popular Flame Tree Barbecue, located near the entrance to Dino Land.

Have you eaten at Flame Tree Barbecue? What is your favorite menu item?