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Review: Paradiso 37 Drinks, Appetizers, and Dessert

Paradiso 37 in Orlando’s Downtown Disney has been one of my favorite tapas and drinks places in Walt Disney World since it opened on Pleasure Island back in 2009 (…back when Pleasure Island was Pleasure Island).

Today, even though Paradiso has lost a few of its neighbors, it’s still going strong (in my opinion) and offering some of my favorite appetizers and margaritas on property.

A few weeks ago, Erin Foster and I stopped into Paradiso (at my urging — I hadn’t been there in WAY too long) for some eats and treats.

Paradiso 37 Entrance

Paradiso 37 Entrance

Atmosphere

Once again, I was reminded when walking into Paradiso 37 that this restaurant is all about fun — and all different kinds of fun at that!

The martini-glass-and-tequila-bottle chandelier hanging over the foyer is a good indication that this restaurant means business when it comes to happy hour.

Paradiso 37 Bar Glasses Chandelier

Paradiso 37 Bar Glasses Chandelier

And the floor-to-ceiling tequila bar centerpiece showcases what Paradiso 37 is best known for.

Paradiso 37 Tequila Bottle Bar Focal Point

Paradiso 37 Tequila Bottle Bar Focal Point

The decor in the restaurant is comfortable and colorful. While the place could be considered “hip,” it’s not cold or off-putting.

Paradiso 37 Dining Room

Paradiso 37 Dining Room

And spending a meal out on the deck overlooking the lake is positively delightful.

Outdoor Seating and View

Outdoor Seating and View

If you’d prefer a quiet meal, go to Paradiso before the nighttime crowd starts coming in. We usually go for an early lunch, which means a more relaxed atmosphere, better lighting for photos, no waits for a table, and fewer zinging hormones to dodge. ;-)

Eats

While I have had entrees at Paradiso 37, I find the prices to be a bit high to justify getting them when the appetizers are so good I’d rather order three of those instead of an entree. SO, on this visit, Erin and I stuck to appetizers, drinks, and dessert — the perfect way to visit Paradiso 37 in my opinion.

First up, a specialty margarita for Erin and a Mangled Margarita for me! The Mangled Margarita is comprised of layers of frozen margarita and Sangria! I’m usually not a huge Sangria fan, but pairing it with my favorite drink in the whole world made me forget all of that (literally). ;-)

Margarita

Mangled Margarita

Our first appetizer was an old favorite of mine. I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have it again. The Central American Crazy Corn is drop. dead. gorgeous. It must be one of the prettiest, most enticing dishes I’ve ever seen in my life.

Central American Crazy Corn

Corn on the cob is fire roasted, then covered in a savory-spicy yellow pepper sauce and smothered in imported cheeses. A regular order gets you six quarter-cobs…and enough cooked melty cheese on the bottom of the griddle to make anyone a very happy cheese-a-holic.

Crazy Corn

Sadly, I couldn’t eat all six pieces as I knew I had more appetizers to move on to, but let me just say that I would happily do six zillion DFB posts about Central American Crazy Corn if I could keep eating it over and over again. This stuff is to die for!

Crazy Corn

OK — I’m pulling my self away from posting more photos of the Crazy Corn because I imagine SOME of you have had your fill… ;-) We’ll move on to the Chorizo and Beef Skewers, which were presented beautifully…almost as beautifully as the Central American Crazy Corn.

These “serve 2″ (I should hope so!) and consist of spicy chorizo skewers, marinated beef skewers, chimichurri pita bread, and onions. While most menus note that the dish should include marinated mushrooms, I don’t remember them being there. You can see that our dish had tomatoes.

Regardless, these were wonderful. I very much enjoyed the spicy flavor and oily texture of the chorizo (yes, I said oily, and yes, I said I liked it — chorizo tends to be a bit oily…); and the marinated beef was tender and very flavorful. You don’t always know what you’re going to get when it comes to beef skewers in the World, and to have these be moist and juicy was a huge win.

Chorizo and Beef Skewers

We also ordered the North American Corn Dogs — something I didn’t have on my previous trips to Paradiso 37. If you read my Corn Dog Nuggets post previously, you know that these gave new meaning to “gourmet fair food” for me. These were deeeelicious.

North American Corn Dogs

The dogs were salty, moist, and flavorful; the corn breading was light and sweet — very fresh. I was hooked! I’m still hooked!

Corn Dog Cross Section

We moved on to the Mexican Dipping Trio — a cute little bag of tortilla chips accompanied by three dipping sauces: Guacamole, Spinach Queso Dip, and Chile Con Carne. Once again, I think this is a great value (for Disney World, mind you). It’s only $8 and can easily be an appetizer for two-three people.

Mexican Dipping Trio -- guacamole - spinach queso dip - chile con carne

Finally, we decided to cap off our “meal of appetizers” with a decadent dessert. I’d heard about the Chocolate Stack before, but I’d never tasted it.

Suffice it to say that this is heaven on a plate. I’m not a big fan of ALL-chocolate desserts, but I was bowled over by this one. “Creamy” and “rich” don’t even begin to tell the flavor story here. And even though it’s pretty much all chocolate (see the description on the menu photo), there are different chocolate flavors as well as caramel in this dish.

Menu description of Paradiso Chocolate Stack - click image for larger version

If Erin hadn’t been there, I fear I would have eaten this whole thing by myself. Thanks, Erin…I think.. ;-)

Paradiso Chocolate Stack

Paradiso Chocolate Stack

Overall

I’ve said it before and now I can say it again with even more certainty — Paradiso 37 is one of the best spots around for a meal of tapas/appetizers, drinks, and dessert.

And don’t get stuck in the “entree mold.” While the entrees here are a bit overpriced in my opinion, I think the appetizers are well worth the cost. Pick a few of the appetizers that look good and order ‘em all to share. Then you get several different tastes, a diversified meal, and you have even more room for dessert!

Don’t forget to visit for lunch if you’d prefer a quieter meal with less wait for a table. Lunch is probably a better time to bring the kiddos as well. Sit outside and let them watch the Characters in Flight balloon rise up high in the sky!

Have you been to Paradiso 37 and indulged in appetizers or dessert? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!

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14 Comments

  1. Frank Stefanec says:

    Thx for the review. I see Paradiso 37 every time I go to DDT, but have never stopped, not knowing what to expect. Definitely have to make a visit.
    Lunch and appetizers sounds like a winner.
    Frank

  2. Glenn says:

    Thank you for the Paradiso 37 review! The pictures have me drooling (especially the Mangled Margarita!!!).

    I was there in September 2009 for lunch and fell in love. We went back there later that night for another Mangled Margarita. Hopefully I find time to get there next month.

  3. Michelle says:

    Do they have an actual happy hour there?

  4. Caroline says:

    This is how we always do Paradiso 37! I was just there and forgot to order the corn dogs and never had dessert there yet. But the Mangled Margarita and appies are what we go for.

    I was a bit disappointed in the quality this past time (end of August 2011). This was my 3rd time there and the first time that I was not overly “wowed” by anything. I will give it another try next year when I go down and hopefully have a better experience. My sister did try (and love) the corn! :-)

  5. Megan says:

    We have a 6:45 ADR there for next week. I hope it’s not too late for our little one.

    Thanks for the review. That corn does look amazing! The pictures are great. Thanks for ‘taking one for the team’ on this one. :)

  6. Kat says:

    The chocolate stack looks amazing! I want to try it next time I go to Paradiso. Last time I went I got an appetizer as my meal, I think they are one of the best things offered at Paradiso.

  7. Mardie says:

    Those Crazy Corn photos are just CRUEL when I’m stuck here in New York. :) I’ve never tried Paradiso, but it’s definitely on my list for my next WDW trip!

  8. Savorique says:

    The Mexican trio does indeed sound fantastic. I would order it. And a mojito for me por favor! :)

  9. Alan says:

    I love the fact that Paradiso 37 is holding it’s own after a couple of years. The last thing Pleasure Island needed was a mediocre restaurant. I am a big fan of small plates and good drinks so this aspect of the restaurant makes me happy. Everything looks great and positive review is terrific.

    I’m the opposite of AJ when it comes to the mangled margarita. I love sangria and am so-so with margaritas. But that drink intrigues me.

  10. Amanda says:

    AHHHHHHHHHH, I dream about that cheesy corn.

  11. Gray says:

    This place is at the top of my list for my November trip. Can’t wait to try it!

  12. Rena says:

    I didn’t know what drink to get, so our server suggested I try the Mangled Margarita, and I’m SO GLAD I did! It was FANTASTIC! By far the best drink I’ve had at Disney World on this trip! I highly recommend it!

  13. Sherri Erwin says:

    Wondering here– how do you eat the crazy corn without making a hot mess of yourself? Cut it off the cob? Is it easy to de-cob? Or just pick it up and go for it, with lots of napkins handy?

  14. Lynn says:

    And I believe AP get 20% discount!!

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