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Review: Paradiso 37 at Downtown Disney

After about a year away, I headed back to Paradiso 37 in Orlando’s Downtown Disney recently to see what was new with the menu!

Since my last lunch there, there have been a few menu changes and updates, so let’s take a look!

Atmosphere

The goal of Paradiso 37 is to offer an upscale, though casual and comfortable, dining experience, and I think it does a good job of that.

Personally, I love to visit Paradiso 37 during the quieter hours of the day when the sunshine is streaming in through the massive windows. While the evening features a fun nightlife vibe with live music and a hip crowd, the afternoon is laid back, and it’s easy to snag a table!

Paradiso 37

I was very interested to see that not much had changed about the inside of the restaurant since I was last there. You still have that fantastic floor-to-ceiling tequila bar that tells you THIS is a GREAT place for drinks…especially if you’re a fan of all things margarita like me!

Tequila Tower

One question we had when visiting: is Paradiso 37 appropriate for children? After all, it’s in the middle of what used to be a nightclub district. But they assured me that they welcome children at all times of the day (this is Disney, after all).

If you want to ensure the family-friendly vibe, visit during the day like we did, or sit in the upper dining area, which offers a quieter dining experience.

Inside Tables

Some of the restaurant’s most fantastic features are its outdoor seating options. There are two — one facing the Village Lake (the fabulous body of water that borders all of Downtown Disney and makes for such nice, breezy evenings) and one facing the walkway in the front of the restaurant. You get to choose between “peaceful,” and “see and be seen!”

My preference is the one by the lake, sitting close to the restaurant. There is a sheltered indoor/outdoor seating option that gives you just enough air conditioning combined with fresh air.

Inside-Outside Seating

However, if you prefer full-on outdoor seating, they have you covered there, too. The outdoor patio is a fantastic spot, with views of Saratoga Springs, the Sassagoula River, and the Lake. This upper outdoor seating area is directly over the water and is shady and breezy.

Paradiso Outdoor Seating Area

Eats

Since my past recommendation with this restaurant was to stick with the amazing appetizers, drinks, and desserts, I was looking forward to sampling one of the newer entrees this time.

And speaking of eats and drinks, it’s clear that Paradiso 37 is well regarded for its grand selection of tequila from the soaring tequila bar pictured above. But if you’re less about the tequila and more about the cerveza, they have you what you’re looking for there, too! The restaurant boasts that it serves the world’s coldest draft beer – always holding steady at a cool 29 degrees or slightly below!

Coldest Draft Beer

And how do you know that they’re making good on their claim? You can keep track their handy digital thermometer mounted on the wall and linked to the temp gauge at the bar, which read “27.8˚” on this particularly steamy day. Nice.

Temperature of Draft Beer

Mojitos were the featured drink during my visit, and I loved this clever chalkboard which listed all of the fun varieties to be had.

Paradiso Drink Special Board - click image for larger version

The drink menu and dessert menu show some of the really unique flavors that you can find here, like Agua Fresca, and the fantastic Mangled Margarita (which I tempted you with on my last visit).

Since the P 37 theme is “A Taste of the Americas,” you’ll find specialties that call to mind favorites from North, Central, and South Americas.

Menu - click image for larger version

We found that many of the same items appeared on the menu as we have seen in previous visits, but there seems to be more attention to presentation, and there are a few lighter options as well as some pretty tempting burgers.

Menu - click image for larger version

After some deliberation, we decided to start with a favorite of mine and a Paradiso classic, the Mexican Dipping Trio. Comprised of house made chips and three dips: chili, guacamole made from scratch, and a flavorful spinach queso. As you would expect, the creamy, melty, cheesy queso was the clear winner here for me.

Trio of Dips - Chili, House Made Guacamole, Spinach Queso

Another great dipping option is the salsa, which is made in house. The fire-roasted, tomato-based salsa isn’t the chunky variety, but it has just the right amount of kick to make it a great accompaniment. It’s proven so popular, in fact, that the restaurant will be bottling and selling it in the very near future.

House Made Salsa

I also sampled the Mac and Cheese Bites. Creamy morsels of mac and cheese are breaded and deep-fried to make this little indulgence. They were very good, and drove home the casual, approachable feel of the menu.

Mac and Cheese Bites Cross-Section

Once we had our fill of the appetizers (sadly, I didn’t get my beloved Crazy Corn this time…definitely next time!), it was time to dig into my entree.

I chose the Pineapple Bacon Burger, because I’d never had a sweet-savory burger before. From the menu, this one seemed to be very simple, and I was intrigued to determine whether or not it could hold up without a lot of sauces and flavorings dressing it up.

As it happens, it could.

Pineapple Bacon Burger

It was truly fantastic, and easily one of the best burgers I’ve had anywhere on Disney property. The burger patty itself is a “steak burger,” and combines NY Strip, filet, ribeye, and beef chuck for fantastic flavor.

Add to that the combo of the well-cooked bacon and the grilled pineapple, and you have quite a tasty situation! I was actually really impressed by the sweetness of the grilled pineapple and how it paired with that salty bacon.

Pineapple Bacon Burger Close-Up

The flavors were so awesome that the sandwich didn’t need a sauce at all. It would have been overkill.

Pineapple Bacon Burger Cross-Section

I also got the chance to try some of Paradiso 37′s flavored fries. I’m seeing these on more and more menus, but usually there aren’t so many different varieties.

Here, there are two offerings in addition to the regular flavor: truffle and wasabi. The truffle fries are dusted with a truffle essence, and aren’t overpowering or too strong.

Truffle Fries

Likewise, the wasabi fries were really pleasant! I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the flavors weren’t overwhelming here either; just interesting, with that slightly sharp, pungent bite that you get only from this vibrant cousin to horseradish. I liked them a lot!

Wasabi Fries

Soon, it was time to try dessert, and the attentive staff prepared a special sampler for us to try a little of everything. As always, the Paradiso desserts were a home run.

The center Pineapple Upside Down Cake was very good: moist, not too sweet, with a perfect texture. The P 37 take on Tres Leches is a unique one: the cake is soaked in sweet milk, but is then layered with strawberry mousse and topped with a toasted marshmallow-like meringue.

Dessert Sampling

But the star of the dessert menu for me, without a doubt, is the Paradiso Chocolate Stack! It’s supposed to be cake layered with mousse, but if there is cake involved here, it is truly the richest, most decadent chocolate cake I have ever experienced. This stuff seems like straight up fudge. And it’s a darker chocolate taste, so if you’re not a bittersweet fan, you might skip this one.

Paradiso Chocolate Stack

The fresh churros and sopapillas, with their crisp, sugary outside and tender inside, are delicious as well, served with caramel and sugar dipping sauces.

Churros and Sopapillas

Churros and Sopapillas Close-Up

Overall

Once again, I have thoroughly enjoyed whiling away the lazy afternoon hours at Paradiso 37. The menu enhancements that we experienced make the entrees a much more viable option than on previous visits, though I’m pretty sure there are enough incredible apps on the menu that you could easily share several of those and be perfectly happy.

Go hungry and thirsty and plan to stay a while! Whether it’s tapas and drinks that you’re looking for, desserts and coffee, or a full three-course meal, Paradiso 37 will not disappoint.

What are your thoughts about Paradiso 37 and this fun take on a TASTE of the Americas? Will you be including this Downtown Disney Hotspot in an upcoming trip, or have you sample it before?

The owners of Paradiso 37 kindly invited us to sample the new menu. I was under no obligation to write about the restaurant or to review it positively. For additional information, please see our disclosure policy).

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18 Comments

  1. Alan says:

    It’s nice to read a continuing positive review of Paradiso 37. What a nice addition it has been to the Pleasure Island area. I wish there was a little more positive movement in the re – hab and re – imagination of that area. I feel they have fallen way behind the City Walk section of Universal.

  2. Heidi Bilotti says:

    Was very disappointed with the service this past April when we visited. Took forever to actually get our food and when it came there were no forks or knives to be found. We changed our advanced dinning plans to skip this in July, and took Fultons Crab House instead. Just didn’t think it was really worth it.

  3. Mike says:

    Beer snob chiming in here. You should NEVER drink beer below 33 degrees F. At 32 degrees F and lower, the beer is so cold that it will numb your taste buds, meaning that you will not be able to actually fully TASTE the beer. The same goes for frozen/frosted mugs. Of course, it doesn’t seem to matter much at this place since they only beers they have on draft are mass-produced, flavor-poor lagers.

    Also, I don’t know for sure, but based on the rest of the tap list I bet that the “P37 Lager” is one of those beer AB-Inbev / Miller-Coors “house” lagers that they brew in huge batches and just let each bar put their own name on it.

  4. Marilyn says:

    We visited Paradiso 37 last October. We ordered appetizers and drinks for starters. They sat us very close to the kitchen, so I was watching the chefs etc. dishing out the food to be picked up.
    One chef came out from behind the kitchen to readjust the plates ready for pick up. Before he started do that, he took his hand, wiped the snot from his nose, wiped it on his white coat and then started rearranging plates. I told my husband what had just took place and as we were leaving we told the hostess and said we would never be back. Can’t get past it. ICK. Enough said.

  5. Holly says:

    I had the pineapple bacon burger when I visited this restaurant earlier this year. I often make pineapple wrapped bacon for an appetizer and figured adding in a burger couldn’t hurt. I was right! The burger was definitely delicious.

  6. Bill White says:

    On my most recent visit, we wandered around DD 3 days in a row, and never stopped in here. WHHHHHHYYYYYYY did I pass this place by (Perhaps because the Earl of Sandwich kept luring me back?)? The food looks amazing! When we visit this Fall, I am making a beeline for this place!

  7. John says:

    We went to Paradiso 37 the week after they opened and while we skipped it on our trip last year, we’ll be going back this June on our “Downtown Disney” day. I’m looking forward to it – it’s just simple and fun, and if the food is as good as it was on our first visit, we’ll be pleased.

  8. James says:

    I just ate at Paradiso 37 on Saturday night, and I will have to agree that the appetizers here are great! My party had the nachos, the mini corn dogs, and the crazy corn; they were all awesome!

    Sadly, the entrees were “meh.” We had the beef burrito and the Chilean Salmon. Now I wish I had tried a burger…

    Fortunately, we ended the meal on a high note with the Chocolate Stack. Two chocolate stacks, actually. Good stuff!

  9. Andrea says:

    And now I just added this to my “must dos” this Fall! I’m a burger connoisseur and must try this!!

  10. Alicia says:

    Those sopapillas look more like donut holes. Sopapillas should not have a sugary outside. They also are usually pillow shaped.

  11. Megan says:

    We tried Paradiso 37 on our trip in Sept 2011. We brought DS1 with us. We had a slightly early ADR and the place wasn’t crowded, but the tables were packed together so we felt a bit cramped. Service was only okay. DH claimed the beer was no where near as cold as they said, and he was very disappointed after all of the hype about the temperature. I wanted to try the trio of dips and the crazy corn, so we opted for four appetizers. The dip trio was awful and we didn’t care for any of the flavors. The crazy corn was amazing and everything else was just average. Between two alcoholic drinks, four appetizers and a kids’ meal, we spent about $80. Completely not worth it. I would consider going back as the menu looked amazing… maybe we just hit an off night. Or my expectations were too high.

  12. Jeff says:

    I agree with going during the day.
    The place was a real trainwreck at night.
    Kind of like a “wanna be” hot spot that just didn’t work.
    Too loud, and “bad” loud music at that.
    We sat near the front entrance and saw multiple people step in the door and then immediately turn around after being repelled by the noise.

    Good food & drinks though. We’ll be back for lunch.

  13. I’m with Mike the Beer Snob. Purposefully serving beer colder than it should be served as a marketing gimmick shows a real disrespect to the end product.

  14. mike aloha says:

    Located in Downtown Disney on the Walt Disney World property this was one of my favorite latin restaurants while I was in Disney with my girlfriend.
    BEWARE: You need to make a reservation here. That can easily be done through your Disney Resort or on the WDW website.
    Dishes are not served with chips and salsa (that’s extra). Food was delicious. I got the fish tacos which were unbelievable!!! Be forewarned…the portions are somewhat small for the price. That being said the food was excelent and the price isn’t that bad then most of the other places around you can find. Best place to sit is outside near the lake. If you’re lucky to be there at night during dinner, you may be able to see the Wishes Firework show happening at Magic Kingdom. Call it….an extra suprise you don’t have to pay to see. lol All in all I would recommend this place.

    Less

  15. Jeff says:

    Mark — The Cold Tap SuperCold Draft Beer System is a state of the art draft beer system. This revolutionary technology can reduce the foam loss, enabling you to dispense beer as cold as 29° F. No more glass chillers! On a hot summer day, there is nothing that compares to a SuperCold beer!
    So I support Paradiso37 coldest beer and by the way I love the place its one our top 3.

  16. Melani Gose says:

    Paradisio 37 is a trendy little gem in Downtown Disney. They have an endless selection of cocktails and wines. They have indoor and outdoor seating and usually have live music at night. The food is very good and they have a nice variety of appetizers that can be shared. The staff here hustles and are very friendly.

  17. James says:

    We ate here during a recent trip to WDW and enjoyed our dining experience. The restaurant isn’t as heavily themed as some others in Downtown Disney but still has a nice ambiance. We both had salads, tortilla and shrimp, which were very tasty. There was live music which was fantastic. We’d eat here again for sure. A note – this restaurant is part of the Disney Dining Plan as a table service option, but you are probably better off paying cash and saving your credits for a higher priced option.

  18. Jeff, I’m not doubting that there is some technology that allows them to serve beer that cold. What I and others are saying that serving beer that cold is waste because it inhibits your ability to taste the flavor of the beer. Plus, different beer styles are meant to be served at different temperature ranges so colder isn’t always better.

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