We escaped to the Kona Cafe after a madhouse morning in the Magic Kingdom on a recent Disney World visit, and I immediately knew how I was going to frame Kona for this review — it is, indeed, an escape from the hectic theme parks. Located in the Polynesian Resort — a resort located on the Monorail loop — it’s very easy to get to from the Magic Kingdom and Epcot.
As a sister to the Polynesian’s more popular restaurant, ‘Ohana, many folks only try Kona Cafe as a last resort — which means those of us who know better get first crack at it!
This unassuming restaurant is actually a den of cult favorite menu items for many Disney World veterans. Home of Tonga Toast, the Big Kahuna, the Kona Kone, and some of the best steaks on property, Kona Cafe is a frequented and beloved staple for many Disney guests.
Located in the Polynesian Resort‘s Great Ceremonial House, Kona Cafe is to the left of the entrance doors on the second floor of the lobby.
Open to the lobby, the restaurant has the general feel of any ho-hum hotel restaurant, but you might find a few interesting shapes in the bright floral carpeting…
Other Polynesian touches like interesting light fixtures and island fans strive to make this restaurant more out-of-the-ordinary…but they really don’t get the job done. Let’s face it — you don’t come to Kona Cafe for the experience; you come for the food!
And the partially open kitchen is a fun place to watch it happen! On the day I visited, I was able to snap some shots of a Chef preparing two of Kona’s desserts — the famous Kona Kone and the white chocolate cheesecake!
I though it was especially fun to spy the waffle makers spitting out fresh Kona Kones. I even found the piles of blue cotton candy that form the base of the dessert!
Pretty fun for a Disney food nerd like me…
Back to the table to order! The menu recently changed at Kona Cafe, but fan favorites still remain. We visited for lunch, so that’s what we’ll take a look at today.
We started with the Sticky Wings for Two and the Pot Stickers, which are currently duck dumplings with a ginger-soy sauce.
The sticky wings are pretty much the same as the ‘Ohana appetizers, and they’re wonderful. As you know, I’m from Buffalo and swear by my Buffalo wings, but these make a fantastic second in line. They’re sweet and savory all at once, but the flavor isn’t so out-of-the-park that your picky eaters will have any problems. This is pretty much a must-do when you go to Kona for lunch or dinner, so work them in if you can.
The pot stickers were fine, but definitely nothing special. The duck flavor didn’t make a huge impact on either of us, and the dumplings were a bit tough. We’ll stick with the wings and possibly try the new crab cake next time!
Off to the entrees! We ordered the Plate Lunch Pan-Fried Chicken with Coconut and Mango Sauces and the rather famous Angus Chuck Kahuna Burger with bacon and swiss.
Let me just say here at the beginning that although the chicken was fine, I should have ordered that grilled teriyaki steak with grilled pineapple salsa. Everyone raves about it, but silly me was thinking I’d go for the less-caloric option. Sigh. I’m not even sure I saved that many calories! Regardless, the chicken was quite good, but there is a very sweet taste to those Coconut and Mango sauces, so if you’re in any way sensitive to mixing sweet and savory, order the sauces on the side (I definitely would have done so).
Luckily, I got the chance to take a few bites of this gorgeous burger! I’m pretty sure this thing might make its way onto the best burgers in Disney World list sooner rather than later. Just check out the size of that thing! And I’m including an extra pic of the thickness — and the bacon!
Now, it’s on to dessert… . Kona Cafe has plenty to pick from.
We went with the Kilauea Torte (an “explosion of warm liquid chocolate inside a chocolate cookie volcano”) and the White Chocolate Cheesecake.
The torte was quite good, but I wish there’d been more of an “explosion” involved. The volcano itself was more cake than cookie, and while the inside was gooey, it wasn’t exactly a molten river of chocolate. Still, chocolate dessert, whipped cream, I’m not complaining.
The White Chocolate Cheesecake was very standard. It wasn’t the best cheesecake you’ve ever eaten, but it does its duty as dessert well. Sweet, cold, and creamy really can hit the spot on a hot Florida day.
I wish I could be more effusive about these choices, but they were…well…boring. I wonder if we should have chosen some of those below instead. The Kona Kone is very well-known among Disney enthusiasts, and the Chocolate Fondue and Banana Creme Brulee are well-loved desserts as well.
When it comes to Kona Cafe, go with the menu options your neighbors and other Disney fans suggest — they really are the best. From the sticky wings to the burger, steak, tonga toast, and desserts, Disney fan favorites will not let you down here.
If you do decide to choose something else from the menu, you won’t be disappointed; that’s important to note. My experiences and reviews I’ve heard from others back up the belief that the food at Kona is consistently quite good.
This is a great restaurant for a late breakfast or early lunch after a morning in the parks, and it’s not one of the first to book up, so you’re likely to be able to get a reservation here at the last minute.
This is truly hidden gem in Walt Disney World. Highly recommended.
Let us know your thoughts on Kona Cafe! Favorite menu items? Good or Bad Experiences? Share them with other Disney Food Fans in the comments section below!