We haven’t had a good, solid restaurant review for a while, and I have a lot of them in the hopper! We’ll start today with Paradiso 37, where I had the good fortune to dine in September!
You’ll remember that Paradiso 37, located on Pleasure Island in Disney World’s Downtown Disney, recently opened its doors. We posted some great food photos when Paradiso opened, and I wanted to supplement those with a few more photos and my review of the restaurant. Be sure to check out that link for the background of this new restaurant specializing in Latin American street food and cuisine.
We headed to Paradiso for lunch, and I was blown away by the incredible “bar glasses” chandelier. I’ve never seen anything like it, and the whimsy and risk prepared me for the menu I was about to see.
We were brought to our table and felt very comfortable in the open dining room. This place is clearly made for socializing — you can see almost every table in the restaurant from any vantage point, and the tapas-heavy menu screams “share me!” It’s also made for drinking (if you like that sort of thing); the floor-to-ceiling display of tequila bottles as the focal point of the room makes a gorgeous design statement, and the restaurant prides itself on its varied tequila, beer, and margarita offerings.
And while the indoor dining is lovely, the outdoor dining area, with its own bar and a fantastic view of Saratoga Springs Resort and the Characters in Flight balloon, is the perfect spot for an evening out with friends or a yummy family lunch.
We were seated next to a table of four who seemed to have ordered every appetizer on the menu. We wondered why, but soon envied them. What we discovered was that Paradiso 37 seems to have spent a lot of time crafting interesting, delicious “appetizers and shareables,” but didn’t spend nearly as much time on the design of the entrees — at least in our opinion! Again, another piece of evidence that this place might want you to mix, mingle, drink, and socialize rather than tuck into a big meal.
I started out with a margarita, which was delicious — sour with a very strong flavor and not at all watery. From there, we dove into our outstanding appetizers: Central American Crazy Corn, which is fire roasted corn-on-the-cob with a spicy pepper sauce & chefs special cheeses; and the Mexican Dipping Trio — fresh corn tortilla chips served with three dips of chunky guacamole, chili con carne & queso fundido (we substituted more Fundido for the Guac…even though we’re from Texas, we’re not big guac fans).
The corn was delicious — clearly the spotlight of the meal for me. The combination of the (not-too-spicy) spicy pepper sauce with those melted cheeses was perfect. It tasted as good as it looks.
The fundido and chili with tortilla chips was good as well. Just be sure your fundido was fully melted; ours wasn’t, and after trying to cut it with a spoon, we asked if this was really what the texture was supposed to be. The manager soon came to our table with replacement fundido — smooth and, thank goodness, fully melted. The taste was divine, and I was more than willing to excuse the mistake.
We were full by this time, but our entrees soon came to the table: North American Sliders, served with your choice of Blackened Mahi Mahi, Grilled BBQ Chicken or BBQ Pulled Pork, served with fries (we got Grilled BBQ Chicken); and Baja Burrito — a flour tortilla with your choice of grilled chicken or beef with sauteed peppers, squash, red onions, chefs special cheeses and topped with sweet chipode BBQ sauce, served with cilantro rice and black beans.
Like I said, when you go to Paradiso 37, go for the appetizers/tapas and the drinks. The entrees were nothing special, and we weren’t all that impressed. Though everything tasted fine, we wished we’d spent the money and calories sampling a few more of those appetizers instead of choosing entrees. Live and learn!
Dessert was delicious, though. I knew I’d already posted photos of the mini-ice-cream-cones on my previous Paradiso 37 blog, so we decided to go for the churros, dusted with cinnamon sugar and served with caramel sauce; and Chilean sopapillas — crispy fritters dusted in sugar and served with chocolate sauce. Both were fantastic choices, and although the “fried-things-with-dipping-sauces” is a common dessert theme in Disney World right now, these impressed us more than other versions we tried on our trip. I’m also posting a photo of the restaurant’s signature dessert, which we didn’t order, but looks…hefty!
I highly recommend Paradiso 37 for drinks and appetizers, but unfortunately can’t recommend it so quite so highly for dinner entrees. That said, I hope you do get the chance to head over there for a fun evening on your next trip — enough of the appetizers and drinks are interesting and tasty enough to make it worth your while!