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Review: Contempo Cafe at Disney’s Contemporary Resort

One of my very favorite Disney hotel counter service spots is Contempo Cafe at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.

Offering awesome cupcakes, it’s an ideal spot to stop off on your way to or from the Magic Kingdom. And like Captain Cook’s or Sunshine Seasons, it offers a wide variety of unique and delicious eats.

Let’s head over to the Contemporary for some late night eats!

Atmosphere

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.

Contempo Cafe on the Concourse of Disney's Contemporary Resort

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.

Mary Blair Mural

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!)

Seating Area

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.

Eats

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.

Menu -- Flatbreads, Salads, and Kids' Picks -- Click to Enlarge

The menus offer tempting pictures and descriptions, but no pricing. You’ll have to head to the ordering kiosks for that info.

Menu -- Sandwiches and Dinner Only Items -- Click to Enlarge

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.

Tutorial on How to Order Your Meal -- Click to Enlarge

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 Kiosks with a Background of the Mary Blair Mosaic

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.

Ordering Process -- Screen 1 -- Click to Enlarge

You can also choose from platters or a la carte offerings.

Ordering Process 2 -- Click to Enlarge

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!)

Grab and Go Pastry and Bakery Items Menu -- Click to Enlarge

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.

Grab and Go Baked Goods Case

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.

Menu of More Grab and Go Items -- Click to Enlarge

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 beĀ  in an all-cereal-all-the-time phase).

Cereal Selection

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.

Grab and Go Drinks

If sports or energy drinks are what you’re after, there’s a decent selection of those, too.

Grab and Go Foods and More Drinks

Rounding out the cooler selections are additional a la carte offerings and Kids’ Picks beverages and side items.

Kids' Picks Grab and Go

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.

FYI Sign About the Sale of Alcoholic Beverages

Ice cream novelties are located around the corner from the wall of fridges — for when only a Mickey Bar will do.

Grab and Go Ice Cream Novelty Freezer

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.

More Menus! -- Snack and Wine Menu -- Click to Enlarge

A Selection of Grab and Go Snacks and Wine by the Bottle

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.

Check Out Area

Once you’re buzzer goes off, head to the window over near the bakery for your freshly-prepared food.

Pick-Up Area

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.

Microwave and Toaster

Sauces and other condiments are neatly displayed.

Condiment Selection

There is also a small toppings bar that guests can use to embellish their selections.

Toppings Bar

The refillable mug station is located here as well.

Fountain Drink Station and with Souvenir Mug Refill Banner

Free refills in the refillable mugs are also offered on hot cocoa and iced tea.

Cocoa and Tea Self Serve Station

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…

Coffee Machine and Creamer Dispenser

There is also a machine offering upscale, espresso-based coffee choices, which are purchased separately from standard coffee and are not available for refill.

Coffee Machine

Fancy Coffee Options

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. :-)

Soft-Serve Ice Cream Machine

Fancy up your ice cream with chocolate or caramel sauce. Or both!

Ice Cream Topping Sauces

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.

Hot Smoked Turkey Sandwich

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.

Hot Smoked Turkey Sandwich -- Up Close

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.

Beef Pot Roast

The potato wedges were winners, too!

Overall

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!

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17 Comments

  1. Katie says:

    AJ, where you at contempo cafe recently? I’m wondering because we are heading up to DW this week and am wondering what cupcakes are going to be there?

  2. Denise says:

    That sandwich looks awesome! Thanks so much for this thorough review. We’ll be staying at BLT in November and now I know exactly what my options are.

  3. Sarah says:

    Oh man oh man!!! Contempo Cafe is one of our favorite stops every visit. We MUST eat there atleast once every time. Their cupcakes are AMAZING! I ordered the hot-turkey sammy with brie last time with a side of my fave- green beans, and thought it was delicious! Far better than some other counter servive eateries. And it has some really cool shopping, and awesome Pin boards too, right in the lobby area. We love taking a break from the hot heat and jumping on the monorail for an awesime bite and pin-trading!! ;)

  4. Christa M. says:

    I need to stop there just for cupcakes!

  5. Christine says:

    We stayed at BLT in March, so we stopped in here a lot. I was totally addicted to the Housemade Chips!! SO tasty! I did have that Turkey Sandwich and only ate half of it, but it was really good!! The cupcakes looked amazing, but I resisted them.

  6. John Grigas says:

    This is our favorite resort counter-service restaurant. Heck, we were at the Poly last June and STILL took the monorail over to enjoy air conditioning and this counter-service restaurant.

    The made-to-order aspect adds a lot to the quality. Plus, it was a mid-to-late afternoon, and the staff seemed super happy just to have somebody come by!

  7. Ashley W says:

    Everything looks sooooo yummy!

    Do you know how the kisok-type ordering works when there are dietary restrictions involve? Like, how someone might be able to ensure they get a gluten-free option?

  8. Jeff says:

    We enjoy eating here. The Steak Flatbread and Steak Salad are both winners, the atmosphere is enjoyable (it can be a little noisy if Chef Mickey’s next door is having a character breakfast, though) and the location is great.

  9. Chris says:

    What happens if you have a picky-pants who just wants plain pasta, no sauce? Do you just ask at the register?

  10. Cindi says:

    Katie, I was just there two weeks ago, and they had the pineapple, red velvet, and “birthday” cupcakes (which looked to be just a regular cupcake with sprinkles), as well as a worms n dirt, one, which was DELICIOUS. It was my favorite along with the pineapple.

  11. AJ says:

    Katie — This pic was taken in late February and I saw similar cupcakes on my visit this week!

    Denise — It IS awesome!! Oh my gosh, I wish I could have finished the whole thing.

    Sarah — Awesome! Thanks for sharing your review and suggestions!

    Christa M. — Yes, indeed!

    Christine — What is this “resist?” ;-)

    John Grigas — Yay! Thanks for your review and for corroborating my thinking that this place is a hidden gem in the MK area!

    Ashley W — My thinking is that your best bet is to head to a cast member first thing when it comes to ordering. They should be able to tell you the best way to go about customizing the menu items to fit any dietary guidelines :-)

    Jeff — Thanks for the review! Agreed on all points!

    Chris — Ha ha! I would say speak with a cast member before ordering so they can tell you whether or not that option is available via kiosk or only through face to face ordering. I’m sure they’ll be able to accommodate!

    Cindi — Thanks for your feedback! :-)

  12. Nicole says:

    Do they always have the pot roast for dinner? I didn’t see it on the menu on allears so I was just wondering. We are taking a trip in May but we aren’t able to go to Liberty Tree Tavern for the pot roast and thought this might be a great alternative.

  13. Heidi says:

    When we stayed at BLT, we ate at the Contempo Cafe a few times. We both like the Smoked Turkey BLT and i enjoyed the Chopped Chicken Salad also.

  14. Linda says:

    Has anyone tried the no sugar added brownies? My next trip to WDW will be my first with diabetes.

  15. Jess N. says:

    Great, now I’m craving a mahi sandwich and there’s no chance in the near future that I’m getting one. Will be the first thing on my To Eat List next trip…
    My family loves to eat at Contempo Cafe. I suffer through the queazy feeling I get when the monorail comes into the buidling because we enjoy eating here so much.

  16. Cheri says:

    I love Contempo Cafe. This is where I head if the lines for the buses to get “home” are long. I hop on the monorail, get a midnight snack and then head back to MK and usually hop right on the next bus. As much as I love WDW, there are a lot of places to eat there that I probably wouldn’t eat at if they were restaurants back home. Contempo is one of the exceptions and is a must do every trip.

  17. ML says:

    We stayed recently at the Contemporary and came to Contempo Cafe for lunch on our first day. It was a nice, quick option. We had read this entry and knew about the kiosk/buzzer system, but I observed that it confused a number of other guests. Several people were waiting at the country for their food to be ready with receipts before having paid or gotten a buzzer. So either they hadn’t read the process signs, found them confusing, or both. We found the food to be good. My wife ordered a steak salad which she enjoyed (though the kiosks made it either hard or impossible to withhold certain items from the salad). I had the turkey sandwich on the recommendation above. It was delicious, though the combination of the melted brie and buttered bread made it seem a little less healthful than some other options at Disney World. Our kids had chicken nuggets that they enjoyed. We dined there for a later lunch, so there wasn’t too much noise. It was quite sunny, but overall a nice place for a quick lunch.

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