Welp, I finally got a chance to have another meal at Rainforest Cafe!
These restaurants often get a bad rap food-wise. While this is a really fun place to shop and explore, a lot of people wonder how good the food can actually be in such a themed restaurant. (Disney meals are precious and expensive things, and I hate to waste even one!)
But I hadn’t been to an RC for a while, and it was time to head back into the jungle! Come with me and find out how it was…
This is a review of the Rainforest Cafe located in Downtown Disney District at Disneyland. However, the Disney Rainforest locations (one in Disneyland, two in Disney World) are actually quite similar.
The menus themselves — and many of the decor elements — are the same, so keep that in mind if you are only planning to visit one of the two Disney World locations.
One main difference: each location has a slightly different exterior. This Disneyland eatery has a sort of temple-in-the-jungle feeling to it.
As you walk in, you find yourself in a very large gift shop with all manner of Rainforest Cafe merchandise.
And if you’re so inclined, you can certainly start any number of collections here, like this cute Rio collectible cup!
So, once your eyes adjust to the surrounding commerce, it’s time to check in. Or, as they say at Rainforest Cafe, “go to the elephant.”
FYI — the Safari Club mentioned here has been upgraded to the Landry’s Select Club as of April 2012. Safari Club members should head over to the Rainforest Cafe website to see the details. You can also find the information (along with other great membership savings info) in The DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining 2012!
And in case you were worried that you’d miss the pachyderm in question… you won’t.
Now, something else we’ve gotta mention is what I think is a truly fantastic bar…at lest theme-wise. I love that the RC has these fun bar stools in many of its locations. And with the aquarium bar, this is some rockin’ themeing, don’t you think?
And another fun feature of this area are these huge aquariums. And I mean huge! Like guys-in-scuba-gear huge!
Floor to ceiling, they have all kinds of tropical fish, with signs located at the bottom to help you identify the different varieties.
By this point you’re heading into the restaurant to be seated. The first thing you’ll notice is that you’re surrounded by animals. Nope — I don’t mean your fellow theme park guests (HA!), but audio-animatronic jungle and rainforest animals. These active creatures are the centerpiece of Rainforest Cafe’s themeing.
We caught a glimpse of this dude swinging in the trees!
The seating area is large, and is surrounded by the “rainforest.” You may find yourself next to an animatronic bird…
…or maybe even a gorilla. And that’s something to note: If you have small children who startle easily, you may want to request a seat toward the middle of the floor or at least away from the animals.
Since you are seated in a rain forest environment, it “thunderstorms” rather loudly every 20 minutes or so, and the animals all come alive, chattering. It may be a little scary for kiddos who can’t distinguish a real monkey from a fake one. We’ve heard the gorillas are the worst offenders.
While many of the chairs are those rustic, stick and wooden models you see above, there are a few comfortable booths available as well.
The frogs all over this two-top were kinda fun, too! (I promise they won’t come “alive” in the middle of your meal.)
And the jungle feel follows you straight to the restrooms!
The centerpiece of the restaurant is this lovely two-story waterfall, which sports a rainbow. The neon sign reminds us to “Save Our Rainforests.” This is a message echoed throughout the restaurant and gift shop.
As you can see, that waterfall is a two-story affair. The Disneyland location is two stories, so the top floor may be open on busy days.
Whew! Now you’re finally seated and you’ve experienced your first thunderstorm. It’s time to turn our attention to the food! Let’s go!
You see some nods to the “exotic” on the menu, like references to Mexican and Asian fare, but there are also plenty of familiar options, like Buffalo wings (Yessss!) and clam chowder.
Here’s another shout out for the Rio Collectible cup. And who doesn’t want a CoronaRita? That’s what I
always never say.
However, today I decided a fruity drink was in order and went with one of the choices that came in a souvenir hurricane glass. (I still have it! It’s in my cupboard!) Say hello to the Pink Parrot Lemonade.
The menu lists this as a combo of Skyy Infusions Citrus vodka, X-Rated Fusion liqueur, pomegranate syrup, sweet & sour, and Sprite. It tasted pretty light on alcohol and had a hefty pricetag because of the glass. All in all it was fine, but I wouldn’t rush to order another one. It certainly was no Victoria Falls Mist.
We were starving, and of course the table-top advertising did its job. The Awesome Appetizer Adventure was comin’ our way, yes indeedy!
And you know, we were pleasantly surprised. How many times do you order something and it looks nothing like the picture? This actually came pretty darn close!
It was actually quite good! The spinach artichoke dip was decent (and we’re pretty picky), and the chicken tenders were excellent. I think two less hungry people could probably make a meal out of this, easy.
I also asked for extra dipping sauces for the tenders (you’re not surprised), and they brought me Buffalo wing sauce and nacho cheese sauce. They weren’t the best I’d ever had, but they elevated the dipping experience to a notch above honey mustard, so I was pleased.
On to entrees! I tweeted at this point, requesting reader insights into what we should order. The responses were pretty overwhelming for the following two entrees! So if they’re no good, blame it on twitter!
Our first was the Amazon Feast, which consisted of a half rotisserie chicken and St. Louis-style barbecue pork ribs. Side dishes included fries and coleslaw.
The chicken was, again, perfectly fine, but wasn’t overladen with flavor. It tasted like standard grocery store rotisserie. The ribs, on the other hand were quite good – saucy, tender, and smoky. We enjoyed the fries as well! Just the right mix of oily and crispy — and very flavorful.
Our other entree was the Pastalaya. With all the flavor components of a Cajun jambalaya worked into a pasta dish, I had my hopes up pretty high for this one.
It was huge! And…delicious! Filled with huge chunks of chicken, shrimp, and andouille sausage (sausage makes everything better), plus all the appropriate veggies, this was very, very good.
While I only ate about a quarter of it, I would definitely recommend this spicy twist on a classic. (For purists, you can also request the dish served over rice.)
With such generous portions, we were definitely feeling full, but still wanted to round out the meal with a little sweet treat. (OK…a big sweet treat.)
Our first dessert, the Tribal Cheesecake, was pretty unremarkable. It’s standard, frozen restaurant cheesecake. The white ball of fluff is whipped cream, by the way.
The Sparkling Volcano, however, was dazzling indeed!
Beneath the brownie mountain (and I mean mountain) was a ton of ice cream, caramel sauce, and hot fudge. That giant ball on top is all whipped cream. The brownies were excellent. I know you can’t usually rely on restaurant brownies — they’re usually dry or way too spongy. These? Moist, mushy, deep dark rich wonderfulness. I only wished I wasn’t so full! Darn you Pastalaya!
And when they say it’s enough for two or more, they aren’t kidding! The was like an entire pan of brownies on this plate, I kid you not.
Whew. Are you in a food coma? Good. Me, too.
Our experience at Rainforest Cafe was definitely better than we expected. Previous visits to a non-Disney Rainforest Cafe as well as T-Rex at Disney World (which is also owned by the same parent company) had left much to be desired, so we were a little concerned going into the meal.
But the food was tasty and the portions were extremely generous, which made for an overall decent experience. Service was decent as well! Add to that the fun atmosphere, and we would probably visit again (even if we didn’t have to because we write a food blog…and that’s saying something).
What are your favorite menu items at Rainforest Cafe? Let us know in comments!