You’re in for a treat today, as we visit one of my most favorite Disney World restaurants —
Sanaa is truly a hidden Disney treasure, and while I hope you all have the opportunity to enjoy it, honestly, I hope the word never totally gets out!
I know that may sound selfish, but Sanaa is a favorite of mine for many, many reasons. In addition to a number of truly exquisite meals in the past, I also appreciate the quiet atmosphere. And it’s never been difficult to get an Advance Dining Reservation here — even at the last minute.
There had been some changes in the menu since I visited last, so I was anxious to book dinner at Sanaa on a recent trip to see if it’s still just as wonderful as it’s always been.
Sanaa is a hidden gem in part because it’s actually somewhat hidden. To get to Sanaa, you’ll need to head to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Once there, look for signs pointing you toward Kidani Village, the Disney Vacation Club portion of the resort.
As with all of the other restaurants at Animal Kingdom Lodge, Sanaa has been thoughtfully named. The word “sanaa” is Swahili for “art”. Step up to the restaurant’s entrance, and you start to see why. Hand woven trays decorate the area behind the podium and beautiful beads line the counter.
Be on the lookout for this guy though. (We’re talking about the Hidden Mickey…not the bird. ) You’ll catch a an artistically rendered glimpse or two of him throughout the area.
One of my favorite touches are the African Proverbs that you’ll find on walls throughout Kidani Village. Think about it for a while!
While you wait for your table — and the wait isn’t likely to be long — you’ll get your first glimpse of Sunset Savanna. Keep your eyes peeled. The area is home to dozens of birds and animals, including gazelles, zebras, cranes, ostriches, and more. And right outside THESE windows, you my get to see a tortoise or two.
En route to your table, you’ll pass the Lounge. This is one of my favorite spots to relax and unwind.
Because it’s opened continuously from 11:30 to midnight, it’s a good option if you’re looking for a meal at one of those in-between times, or you just want to meet friends for a quiet night cap.
This is a detail that I love about Animal Kingdom Lodge (and most spots in Disney, actually) — no space is left untouched. Check out the rich detail on the ceiling in the bar area, which provides a subtle sense of definition…
…And this is what I mean. Once you enter the main restaurant, you leave the “building” of the entrance, and you’re under the canopy of a sprawling acacia tree.
It blends beautifully with the wide-arched picture windows, and melds the interior with the exterior.
Request a window-side table, and you’ll enjoy great views of the savanna as you dine.
Chances are pretty good that you’ll even see a few of these guys.
And it’s a good time to note — the ever-changing parade of wildlife outside the windows is a great diversion for little people in your group! There are few better ways to distract a toddler than by pointing out real life zebras!
Seating is broken up into small alcoves, and tables and chairs are fashioned with the same artisan detail as other surroundings. The mismatched chairs give the space an eclectic feel.
Padded booths also offer a cozy option, if you prefer extra comfort to views.
And remember when I said to keep an eye out for Mickey sightings?
Because the restaurant is decorated to resemble an East African spice market, you’ll find some interesting elements. I always stop to take in this
Zanzibar Coffee Pot Display. It’s fascinating!
Coffee from a street vendor in the exotic Spice Islands? Ah…to be there now! Well, we’ll just have to content ourselves with some of Sanaa’s outside-the-box offerings. Not a bad alternative in my opinion! Let’s take a look.
You’ll soon find that there’s more to the art at Sanaa than just the visual, however. The restaurant seeks to highlight “The Art of African Cooking with Indian Flavors”. To that end, what you receive on your plate will be just as much of an epicurean art form as any display you’ve seen thus far.
While I didn’t enjoy one on this visit, I usually like to start my meal with a Malawi Mango Margarita, one of my favorite Disney Margaritas. This frozen version combines Tequila with Van der Hum Tangerine Liqueur, Mango Purée, and Lime Juice for a good sweet-tart balance.
If you enjoy getting your fill of Safari Amber at Disney, be sure to order one at Sanaa, where it’s available on tap.
We love to start a meal here with the Indian-Style Bread Service. It is important to note that bread at Sanaa is not complimentary. But I would definitely recommend that you try it. The Naan here is to die for.
Choose three types of bread from five choices — Plain Naan, Garlic-Ginger Naan, Spiced Naan, Onion Kucha, or Paneer Paratha. On a previous visit, we chose Naan, Onion Kulcha, and Paneer Paratha.
You also choose three accompaniments from a list of nine — Red Chile Sambal, Cucumber Raita, Coriander Chutney, Mango Chutney, Coconut Chutney, Garlic Pickle, Spicy Jalapeño-Lime Pickle, Roasted Red Bell Pepper Hummus, or Tamarind Chutney. You can see the three we tried previously in the picture below, but I’d happily try any and all of the choices! They pack an amazing amount of flavor.
This time around, I decided to try something new for a starter — the Seasonal Soup. At the time we visited, Butternut Squash Soup was the offering du jour.
Normally, I’m a big fan of Butternut Squash and Pumpkin Soups, but this time, I felt the kitchen was a little heavy handed with the sweet spices. What should have been an appetizer tasted more like onion-flavored pumpkin pie. And that’s not something I enjoy. Dial back the spices a bit, and this would probably be a winner.
While I wasn’t thrilled with my choice of starter, soon, my main course arrived. I know that there are tons of amazing dishes on the Sanaa menu, but I simply cannot visit here without enjoying their braised dishes, poetically termed “Slow-cooked in Gravy, Simple and Well-seasoned”.
This time, I went with Butter Chicken (surprise!!) and Chicken Vindaloo. Served with your choice of Basmati Rice or Five-Grain Pilaf, I chose the latter. And as always, it was fantastic! I know, I know, you’ve heard it all before. But the Butter Chicken is rich with a stunning combo of Garam Masala, Stewed Tomatoes, and Cream. Chicken Vindaloo provides a full-flavored spiciness that I really enjoyed. The meat was tender and combined with the nutty Pilaf, the textures were awesome.
I always smoosh all of these together so the rice just becomes another texture within the chicken dishes.
My husband opted for a new-to-us dish — the Grilled Beef Sirloin Steak.
Served with Roasted Potatoes, Braised Winter Greens, and Coriander Chutney, the presentation was neatly executed and gorgeous.
He was really pleased with the flavors, and the meat was tender and cooked perfectly. I think we have another contender for Best Disney Steak!
If kiddos are part of your dining crew at Sanaa, you will probably be pleased to see that there are many healthier, Mickey Check menu options. The little person in our crew opted for the Grilled Chicken Breast, served with Basmati Rice and Veggies. The meal also comes with Sliced Apples and your choice of Milk or Bottled Water. It was met with general approval…the rice was a winner.
With our delicious meals consumed, we turned our attention to the dessert menu. To accompany your sweet ending at Sanaa, you can enjoy a couple of different special hot beverages. I always linger over the Loose Tea Selection. But coffee lovers can also indulge in a press pot of Kenya Coffee.
The first sweet we chose was Banana Cheesecake, which is accompanied by Chocolate Sauce and Pistachios. It was good, but be forewarned — it’s seriously banana-y. And extra yellow. Like, there’s some extract and added color goin’ on in there somewhere.
We also tried the Spice Apple Samosas, which come with two Dipping Sauces — Chocolate and Salted Caramel. These were similar to donuts and very good. I’d give the Salted Caramel Sauce a slight edge though, since I think it makes more sense with Apple.
There were also some GREAT kid dessert options! While the Savanna S’mores and “Cookies and Milk” (Decorate-Your-Own Sugar Cookie accompanied by Strawberry Lassi) were intriguing, we ended up choosing the Peanut Butter Turtle. And I was so glad we did! Because — well, look!
A little dome of Peanut Butter Mousse, made without Egg, sits atop a round of Banana Cake. But the Garnishes! That fun Rock Candy and Blue Gel totally made the plate.
The consistency was less like Peanut Butter Mousse (no light and airy here) and more similar to Peanut Butter Candy. Like a super light, whipped peanut butter fudge. Next time I go to Sanaa, I’m totally asking the pastry chef to make me a giant-person sized one of these.
If you’re looking for me to change my tune about Sanaa based upon this latest trip, well, it’s just not gonna happen. It remains one of my favorite dining spots in all of Disney. The food is consistently delicious. The setting is tranquil with a well executed theme. And the service is always gracious.
Sanaa offers everything a seasoned Disney lover enjoys about dining in the ‘World. Add to it that you rarely have to wait for a table here, and it becomes a no-brainer. If you haven’t had the pleasure, you MUST try Sanaa on your very next Disney World visit.
Is Sanaa one of your favorite places to dine in Walt Disney World? Leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts!