One of my very favorite Disney hotel counter service spots is Contempo Cafe at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
Let’s head over to the Contemporary for some late night eats!
The Contempo Cafe is located on the Grand Canyon Concourse of Disney’s Contemporary Resort, adjacent to Chef Mickey’s. While the restaurant has only been open since 2008, there’s an immediate sense of history here owing to its location.
Monorails have been buzzing through this concourse since the very beginning. And while the offerings have changed — a souvenir book from the 1970s reminds us that the Contemporary was once home to nine restaurants and lounges! — the interior as we all remember it from childhood remains very much the same.
You’ll still spy the soaring, colorful mosaic mural created by Disney artist and imagineer Mary Blair, that serves as the centerpiece to the concourse and a wall to the restaurant.
While not as large as some of the food court-style food service offerings of the value resorts, the Contempo Cafe occupies quite a bit of space. Because of the soaring ceilings and spacious layout, you feel as though you have plenty of room to stretch and spread out.
Seating is comfortable, dominated by tables and chairs with a clean, modern, almost Scandinavian feel. (Don’t miss the Mickeys!)
Though the area is spacious, it can get quite loud at breakfast or dinner times, as monorails whoosh through and Chef Mickey’s is at full-throttle napkin twirling. Keep that in mind if you are looking for a quiet venue. At times when Chef Mickey’s is not serving, it can actually be quite peaceful.
But what about the food, you ask? Let’s head there now.
As you walk beneath the archway of the restaurant, you’re greeted by LCD menu boards. These change throughout the day to reflect the meals available at that time. As you can see, we were here for dinner!
Menu offerings are a little lighter here for the most part. Sandwiches, flatbreads, and salads comprise the bulk of the menu. For reviews of one of the salads as well as a couple of the flatbreads, check out this guest review.
The menus offer tempting pictures and descriptions, but no pricing. You’ll have to head to the ordering kiosks for that info.
Speaking of, ordering kiosks are getting more and more common in counter service spots throughout Walt Disney World. You’ll find them at popular stops like Captain Cook’s and Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe as well.
Since the Contempo offered some of the first self-serve operations, there’s a handy dandy tutorial to help you navigate the system.
Once you’re ready to take the plunge, head to a kiosk to order your prepared food. The machines are located along the mural wall. (Can you tell that I seriously love that mural? Go ahead…ask me about the five-legged goat!)
Ordering from the kiosks is easy, as long as you pay attention. The system takes you through the process step by step, and even allows you to customize some menu items, like choice of cheese on your burger.
You can also choose from platters or a la carte offerings.
Once you have selected your prepared foods, you can shop the Self-Serve Bakery and Market for additional items.
NOTE: This is where you score those amazing cupcakes for which the Contempo Cafe has become so famous. (And if cupcakes are your thing, be sure to check out our Disney Cupcake Gallery. You’ll see many Contempo Cafe cupcakes there!)
As you can see, during our visit they were still featuring some of the more recent additions to the cupcake rotation: the Birthday Cake Cupcake and the Pineapple Rum Cupcake. The classic (and fantastic!) Red Velvet Cupcake was also available.
You also find a wide array of convenient Grab and Go options. I love this handy menu that has pricing for most items in one convenient location. There are a few items that aren’t listed here, though, so be sure to check out all the coolers to know your options.
Make your way around the Market area and you see many of the convenience items that are available in other resort counter service locations, like cereal and bananas. These are great options for someone looking for a quick, inexpensive bite before an early start (or if your kid happens to be in an all-cereal-all-the-time phase).
The coolers are stocked with a good supply of bottled drinks, ranging from milk and juice, to alcoholic beverages, including full bottles of wine. Here’s where we found a few items not listed on the menu. We spied sushi as well as side salads.
If sports or energy drinks are what you’re after, there’s a decent selection of those, too.
Rounding out the cooler selections are additional a la carte offerings and Kids’ Picks beverages and side items.
In the event that you find the Contempo Cafe opened in the middle of the night (which would be odd, since its hours are 6 a.m. until midnight), keep in mind that you cannot purchase alcohol between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. It’s also good to note that Disney’s general policy is that you can purchase only two alcoholic beverages per I.D.
Ice cream novelties are located around the corner from the wall of fridges — for when only a Mickey Bar will do.
Finally, as you’re headed toward the cashier to pay, you’ll spy one more bank of shelves and a menu — for snacks and bottles of wine.
Once you’ve collected all of your grab-and-go items, it’s time to head to the cashier!
Present your selections, as well as the receipt from the ordering kiosk, to the cashier as you pay. You’ll be armed with a pager that will signal you when your food is ready for pick up, back near the bakery.
Once you’re buzzer goes off, head to the window over near the bakery for your freshly-prepared food.
Gotcher eats?? It’s time to grab a table and check out all of the options to dress up your food!
Once you’re seated, you’ll notice that a low wall divides the kitchen and market areas from the beverage and condiment stations. This is where you’ll find the resort microwave and toaster, for heating up foods from home, baby food, or that bagel you just purchased.
Sauces and other condiments are neatly displayed.
There is also a small toppings bar that guests can use to embellish their selections.
The refillable mug station is located here as well.
Free refills in the refillable mugs are also offered on hot cocoa and iced tea.
The Nescafe coffee offerings are located on the beverage station, as is a handy dispenser for coffee creamer. It’s still unclear at this time if Nescafe will be replaced in beverage stations like this as Joffrey’s has been named the official specialty coffee provider at the resort. We will have to wait and see…
There is also a machine offering upscale, espresso-based coffee choices, which are purchased separately from standard coffee and are not available for refill.
And while it’s not exactly 24-hour available Dole Whip , you can get your soft serve ice cream fix here during service hours. Choose from vanilla, chocolate, or swirl. And no refills, please.
Fancy up your ice cream with chocolate or caramel sauce. Or both!
Whew!! Ready to eat?? Me, too! I think you’ll be excited about our choices…
I’d gotten LOTS of Disney Food Blog reader recommendations for the Hot Smoked Turkey Sandwich, so that was my first choice!
This gorgeousness is topped with Brie, Arugula, Green Apple Slices, and Apple Butter, and is served on Challah. With a choice of Fries, Chilled Green Bean Salad, or House Made Potato Chips, I went with the latter.
Now, let me tell you…this sandwich is truly an amazing find. Seriously, it’s better than a lot of the table-service options I found during the trip!
The sandwich fillings were plentiful, the turkey was flavorful, and the combo of the apple crunchiness and the salty brie was out of this world! This is a must-try if you’re anywhere near the Contempo.
Sigh. Just take another look at that picture. I wish I had that for lunch today.
OK, on to the next dish! We’re always interested in trying out different pot roasts around Disney World, so we chose the Beef Pot Roast with Carrots and Roasted Yukon Gold Potato Wedges as our second option.
While I’m not a huge pot roast fan generally, this was probably the best I’ve had on property. No kidding. Served with a generous helping of rich gravy, this was tender, flavorful, and comforting.
The potato wedges were winners, too!
We talk a lot about Captain Cook’s in Disney’s Polynesian Resort as a great resort counter service destination, but I don’t think you should overlook the Contempo Cafe if you’re aiming to escape the park crazy for a bit.
Convenient in its location right on the monorail line, the Contempo offers lighter fare with a modern twist, and good variety that will please just about everybody in your group. Plus, that bakery case alone is worth hopping off the monorail to investigate!
And if you’re looking for a fun place to people watch, you won’t find a much more exciting spot. With the Outer Rim Lounge on one side, the monorail overhead, and Chef Mickey’s nearby, there’s plenty to take in. You’re also steps away from some of the best resort shopping around, as well as beautiful views of Bay Lake and Magic Kingdom. If you haven’t already, I definitely suggest that you give the Contempo Cafe a try.
What are your favorites on the Contempo Cafe menu? Give us your input below!