It has been too long since my last visit to Epcot’s Tangierine Cafe. (Yep, that’s spelled correctly. It’s like a play on words, right? Tangiers, Morocco — Tangierine? Get it? OK, moving on.)
My absence from this spot recently is kind of shocking, since it’s always voted some of the best and most interesting counter service food that you can get anywhere in Walt Disney World.
Located right on the promenade in the Morocco Pavilion, Tangierine Cafe offers an immersive atmosphere and good food with the ring of authenticity. Or at least, that’s always been my experience before.
Tangierine Cafe is very photogenic. The whole Morocco pavilion is gorgeous, and this is no exception.
Once inside, you’ll find a cafeteria-style ordering area, and limited seating.
As you probably know, the construction of the Morocco Pavilion was sponsored by the government of Morocco; the design was overseen by King Hassan II himself! And so, the intricate decor and detail you see here represent design details authentic to Moroccan ideals.
Zellige tile, colored glass, and beautiful light fixtures punctuate the space and transport you to your exotic destination.
Choose a seat inside, or enjoy lunch on the outdoor terrace that’s off to the side of the front entrance. It provides an excellent vantage for people watching.
There’s also a wonderful little room in the back of the space, set apart from the high-celinged main dining room. Since it’s rather hidden, sometimes you’ll find it empty. It’s a great spot to take a break from the Epcot crowds.
Additional outdoor seating, with umbrella-shaded tables, is available on the other side of the restaurant.
Back inside, you’ll make your selections and await your food. Beverage options include a few Moroccan beers, which are available by the bottle, in addition to standard soft drink options.
You’ll find another hidden gem in the back of the restaurant, near the cash register. A bar devoted to Coffee and Pastries demands a little of your time. This is also the home of some of those delicious and refreshing Grown Up Slushies that we’ve told you about before.
In the case, you’ll find some authentic Moroccan pastries here, including different varieties of Baklava as well as Semolina Cookies, and Almond Pastries, and other house specialties.
You’ll also find standard options, like Cookies and Muffins.
After a light breakfast, I was definitely ready for something substantial for lunch. And you’ll find hearty portions at Tangierine Cafe, even though the menu features some better-for-you options.
The menu for Speciality Coffees and Drinks is located over the Coffee and Pastry Bar, so be sure to check it out as well.
My friend decided to give the Vegetarian Platter a try. This substantial plate of food is a DFB Favorite recommendation for a hearty meatless meal!
The plate includes Couscous, Lentils, Tabbouleh, Hummus, Marinated Olives, and Falafel, accompanied by Moroccan Bread.
The Falafel — deep-fried patties of Pureed Chickpeas — are served on a bed of Shredded Lettuce and garnished with Onions. They’re flavorful, but my friend and I were both turned off by the “stale” hard texture. Perhaps it was because we were eating a bit later at night?
I decided to stick with one of my favorites — the Chicken Shawarma Platter.
Shawarma is basically a term for meat slow-roasted on a spit, and then shaved off. You’ll find a variety of meats prepared this way, including Chicken and Lamb. If you’re familiar with the meat on Greek Gyros, then you have the basic concept.
Well, Chicken doesn’t so much…shave. 😉 So instead, you have pieces of Roasted Chicken, seasoned with exotic herbs and spices. The platter is served with Moroccan Bread, Couscous, Tabbouleh, and Hummus. Taziki, a rich yogurt-based condiment, tops the Chicken, along with Marinated Onions. (Warning! Cilantro in abundance!)
Another friend opted for the Moroccan Kefta Sandwich, which comes with a less traditional side of French Fries.
Kefta are Meatballs, normally made of ground Beef or Lamb (or a combination.) Here, they’re served wrapped in a Pita, and accompanied by a lightly dressed salad of Shredded Lettuce, Tomatoes, and Onions. The combination of flavors from the meat and the light dressing provide a nice introduction to the seasonings of Morocco. I think this would be a great option for someone who is interested in trying Middle Eastern or North African food for the first time.
Unfortunately, the french fries were…horrible. I’d heard great things about the fries here for some reason, but ours were worse than bad. Again, perhaps because we were eating rather late in the day.
I hear it all the time from you guys and I completely agree — Tangierine Cafe is something very special. I regret dining there very late, as I think we didn’t give the place a fair shake heading in when the park was about to close. But, then again, I could take the stance that a restaurant’s food should be consistently good regardless of when you dine, right?
That said, my complaints about the three dishes were minimal; and this place still does really offer some of the best and most “exotic” counter service fare in Disney World. It has been a reliable meal option for as long as I can remember.
One weak spot — and actually, I’d say the same for the other Morocco restaurants, Spice Road Table and Restaurant Marrakesh — is the Kids’ Meals. Hamburgers and Chicken Nuggets/Fingers are the choices here, and that’s a shame. While I understand they have to be available for the picky eaters, I’m very confident that some children would welcome the opportunity to try more authentic fare.
Now it’s time to hear from all of you Tangierine Fans. Tell us what you love about Tangierine Cafe in comments below!