Dinner at Trails End Restaurant

This review reflects our experience from October of 2017.

There are few names that stand out when you are looking into dining with a special diet in Disney World. One of the most common names is Chef TJ. Chef TJ has made himself known through the years at Disney by offering above and beyond dining experiences for those with special diets, whether you have an allergy or are vegan. Currently Chef TJ can be found at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort at the Trails End Restaurant.

Image from WDWinfo.com

Trails End Restaurant is a little off the beaten path when it comes to Disney dining. But it is worth it if you can snag a reservation with Chef TJ. He often works weeknights (Monday-Friday) for dinner services. He is also taking care of the special diet diners at Hoop-De-Do Revue, so his meals can take a while. If you are traveling just on Disney transportation, you can take a boat from Magic Kingdom or Disney’s Contemporary and Wilderness Lodge Resorts. If you take a boat you will be dropped off near the restaurant. If you drive or take a bus from another park to Fort Wilderness Campgrounds you will need to take an internal shuttle to get you back to the Settlement Depot where Trails End is. This resort is a campground, which means it is huge, so walking from the Outpost to the Settlement is not recommended.

Settlement sign from boat dock

We have dined with Chef TJ at Trails End several times, each time just gets better and better! This trip we dined with our friends who were visiting Chef TJ for the second time. When we checked in we noted our vegan diet and they marked it on our ticket for our server. When I told them of our diet they handed me a buffet guide for major allergens, as a vegan without allergies these are pretty useless. Once seated we asked our server if Chef TJ was here today, he smiled and said yes. After a few minutes Chef TJ came out to greet us. He mentioned that there were several other vegans dining that evening and he was busy with Hoop-De-Do so we may be there for a while. He offered to show me the buffet but I joked about having gotten the buffet guide. Knowing how much food he was going to prepare we declined a view of the buffet. Soon after that Chef TJ began our biggest Trails End meal to date.

Arugula and Beet Salad
Arugula and Beet Salad

Our first course arrived and it was an arugula and beet salad. This salad is very earthy but very good. If you’re not a big beet fan you may not love this. This is a nice light start to this meal.

Pasta with marinara sauce

After he brought out the salad he came out with two bowls of pasta wheels with marinara. He said they were for our boys so they also had something to eat. They both ended up eating from their bowls for the whole meal. We also may have taken a few, or more, bites from their bowls too.

Potato and pea samosas
Potato and pea samosas

Next was one of our favorites, samosas! These potato and pea samosas come smothered in what we believe to be a sweet and sour sauce, which adds a unique flavor to them.

Nachos with house made vegan cheese
Nachos with house made vegan cheese

Our third course was another favorite, okay we have a lot of Chef TJ favorites, nachos! Now these are a special dish because Chef TJ makes this vegan cheese sauce in house. These crispy tortilla chips come covered in vegan cheese, onions and a balsamic drizzle.

Smoked tomato and watermelon salad
Smoked tomato and watermelon salad
Smoked tomato and watermelon salad

Our fourth course was something new for us, a smoked tomato and watermelon salad. This dish comes in a vase filled with smoke that you have to slowly remove for special effect. The only other time we have seen anything like this was one of the non-vegan dishes at Victoria & Albert’s. The smoked tomatoes were great, I was indifferent on the watermelon.

Mushroom tempura
Mushroom tempura

Fifth came another new one, and it was amazing. Mushroom tempura! Please make this again Chef TJ, this was killer. The tempura was fluffy and crispy with a perfectly cooked mushroom inside. These were one of our favorites of the night.

Green bean salad

After the tempura came a green bean salad. This salad was cold with white beans and black eyed peas. None of us really loved it, it was good but based on everything else we had that evening it wasn’t anything special.

Fried corn on the cob

Along with the green bean salad he brought out fried corn on the cob. You read that right, fried corn on the cob. What! This was amazing. The corn was crispy and juicy and I want more of it. Not sure if these counted as two courses or not since they came out at the same time but we’ll say they did.

Broccoli soup

Our seventh course was a bowl of broccoli soup. This soup reminds me of the broccoli cheese soup I once loved from a famous sandwich chain. We were all so full and couldn’t truly enjoy it, but I would eat this all the time if I could.

Fried tofu, grilled vegetables and fried rice
Fried tofu, grilled vegetables
Grilled zucchini, summer squash, tomato and portobellos

Now our main course, number eight, finally came. Our boat of grilled vegetables, fried tofu and a fried rice. This is so good, but by the time you get it you can hardly enjoy it because you’re full of everything else that you couldn’t stop eating. I love the tofu in this dish, its perfectly crispy and has a sweet and sour sauce on it. The grilled vegetables are delicious and we have found this is a great cold breakfast the next day in your resort room.

Dessert tower
Chocolate ice cream, Enjoy Life soft baked cookie
Fried oreos and strawberries

Finally our last course, number nine came and it was dessert! I had told Chef TJ that I was unable to eat bananas currently so he made sure to not use any banana in our dessert tower. This time our tower has fried Oreos, Enjoy Life soft baked chocolate cookies, strawberries, Tofutti chocolate ice cream, cotton candy and chocolate syrup. This dessert is always such a treat. It’s hilarious to see others sitting near you stare at the crazy dessert in front of you. It’s hard to eat, which makes it fun. Also the fried Oreos are A-MAZ-ING.

The whole crew with Chef TJ

We love dining with Chef TJ. He is such a joy and really makes you feel so special when you’re there. He makes sure you are able to eat way too much like everyone else enjoying the buffet. He does an amazing job for everyone with special diets, I always recommend anyone go see him with any allergies or other special needs. This meal often takes over two hours, so plan for an early reservation. Stay after dinner and catch the Electrical Water Pageant out in the water before you head back to your resort.

Would we go back?
Every time!

$$ (you get charged the buffet price, nothing extra)

Corey & Melissa

Author: Melissa

Back in 2014 I created Vegan Disney World after going to Walt Disney World several times and finding no resource for vegan options. Corey and I began this blog from our trips and have now moved closer to the mouse to eat around the parks on a weekly basis. Since the blog started we have cruised on Disney Cruise Line, gone to Tokyo Disneyland and to Disneyland in California!

12 thoughts

  1. We went here in May 2017 after reading your recommendation. It was incredible – and different food than you posted (except the cotton candy dessert tower)! One thing he wanted me to tell other vegans: prepare to be there for hours. Just giving the heads up bc our kids were anxious to use fast passes that evening. But Chef TJ is truly the best!!!

  2. Just went to Trails End for my birthday on a Friday evening and was lucky enough to dine with chef TJ! He cooked us many courses each of which he delivered himself and was so attentive. Just a heads up the manger working that night mentioned that his days working would be changing from Tuesday to Saturday. Overall he really made my day special!!

  3. We were at Trails End last night. It is on our bucket list to have a Chef TJ meal and unfortunately he is on vacation this week. We were cooked a lovely tofu, grilled veg and rice dish by Frank but were not offered any dessert which was disappointing. Our server wasn’t particularly enthusiastic about us being vegan though. One day we will be back! It’s a long way from the UK though.

  4. Being full-time RV nomads, we have stayed at Ft Wilderness campground many times, but have never eaten at Trail’s End as vegans. We thought we would be relegated to the veggie sides and asking if they were cooked without butter. Your meal looked great. Curious what you ordered from Chef TJ. Did you just say bring us whatever vegan options are available or was it a tasting menu of sorts?

  5. I’m bummed because I’m going this weekend and have a reservation for Saturday night. Any idea if there is another Chef who can make the same dishes if he isn’t there?

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