Pros: Good, consistent food, quick service, reasonable prices, peaceful atmosphere, monorail access
If youve ever visited Walt Disney World, you know certain restaurants are the big draws. Parents will sell a limb to get into Cinderellas Royal Table, and restaurants such as the California Grill and Victoria and Alberts are known for selling premium, award-winning cuisine, albeit at prices to match. One of my favorite restaurants that is often overlooked is the Kona Cafe.
Tucked into the Polynesian resort, this restaurant can be accessed by car or via the monorail line from EPCOT or the Magic Kingdom. Kona Cafe is located on the second floor of the hotel, to the left as you enter the lobby. As far as Disney goes, this restaurant is a pretty decent value, and provides an excellent respite from the crowded, busy theme parks. You can leave the park for two hours to eat a meal here and return refreshed and ready to tour.
Kona Cafe serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Unlike many other Disney restaurants, reservations are not always necessary here. Particularly for lunch, we have been able to slip in with no wait and found ourselves dining in relative peace and quiet. We have also popped in for just dessert with a relatively minimal wait. For dinner, though, waits tend to build and it never hurts to have reservations ahead of time. Just call 1-407-WDW-DINE to book.
Atmosphere and Service
Just entering the hotel and making your way to the restaurant should get you in the Polynesian spirit. The lobby is decorated with tropical plants and a rushing waterfall. Kona Cafe is bright and airy, with a reddish wood and gold color scheme. Something about the decor reminds me a little of the Cheesecake Factory, but I like the look of the Kona Cafe better. Be sure to swing by the dessert display against the back wall to get your tastebuds going. The restaurant is relatively small but doesnt feel cramped. If you have a wait, a lounge outside the restaurant is a good place to grab yourself a fruity drink with a pineapple slice, or at least a coke.
Service is typically sufficiently friendly and very speedy at the Kona Cafe. Some servers are better than others, and lunch seems to offer a more relaxing dining experience than dinner.
Kona Cafe offers something for everyone. The food is basically American, but there are subtle Asian accents that make it a nice change of pace after a week of hot dogs and hamburgers from theme park vendors.
Breakfast offers yummy, creative options at downright reasonable prices as compared to some of Disneys $25.00 per head character breakfasts. The Tonga Toast is one of the most popular dishes, and with good reason. This is a banana stuffed french toast rolled in cinnamon sugar served with a breakfast meat for $9.00. You can also get plain French Toast for $8.00. If savory is more your thing, Eggs Benedict and potatoes are available for $10.00. Breakfast portions are generous, so consider having your little one share.
I like the Kona Cafe best for lunch. My go-to meal is the Barbecued Pork Sandwich, which is pulled pork with onions. The barbecue sauce is a little sweet and very yummy. This sandwich costs around $10.00. My mom had the Open-Faced Salmon BLT on our last visit. This sandwich is as interesting as it sounds, and is served on focacia bread with yummy sweet potato chips. You can also get a Cheeseburger, Chicken Sandwich, or Asian Noodle Bowl for lunch. Dinner has some carry over from lunch, but features more elaborate dishes like Coconut Almond Chicken for around $16.00 or Slow Roasted Prime Rib for $21.00. Im not a fish person myself, but Im told fish is generally an excellent choice here.
Be sure to save room for dessert, or just go for dessert! These are some of the most fun and attractively presented desserts at any resort restaurant. Ive tried most of them! My favorite is the Apple Brown Betty, and I manage to convince myself it is healthy too. Its got fruit, right? Also highly recommended is the White Chocolate Cheesecake. Even if youre an adult, dont rule out the Kiddie Cone. I got this last time, and its really fun! The cone stands up straight on a plate, surrounded by mounds of fluffy cotton candy. Its full of ice cream, hot fudge, whipped cream, and candy-coated chocolate pieces. All the desserts are $6.00, and most are big enough to share although it would be tough with the cone.
I personally think that the Kona Cafe is one of Disneys best kept dining secrets. The prices are reasonable and its a great place to sit and relax in the middle of a hot Orlando day. Consider taking the monorail to the Polynesian on your next trip to enjoy some yummy pulled pork and a luscious dessert.
*This restaurant is number 3 on my list of Ten Best Places to Eat at Walt Disney World!