Review: Breakfast at Kona Cafe in Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

We are kicking off this week right with one of my favorite breakfasts in all of the Disney Food Universe — Kona Cafe!

This mainstay of Walt Disney World flies under the radar quite a lot of the time. If you don’t know better, you’ll probably write it off as just a garden variety hotel lobby restaurant, good for grabbing a bite before you move onto bigger things.

For me — and for many Disney fans in the know — it’s a destination.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s take a look around, then dive right into the eats.

Atmosphere

If it’s been a while since your last visit to the Polynesian, then you’re in for a bit of a surprise. The hotel, one of Disney World’s original resorts, recently underwent a huge renovation.

The work not only added many new enhancements, like Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, and the Pineapple Lanai (your home for Dole Whip at the Poly). But it also transformed areas like the hotel’s lobby. While I miss the sound of the old waterfall, I think this assortment of glass float lights is a nice, new focal point.

Kona Cafe

Newly Renovated Polynesian Village Resort Lobby

Still, for better or for worse, Kona Cafe has remained largely unchanged. Located off of the second floor atrium, it still appears to be a rather ho-hum restaurant.

Kona Cafe sign

Kona Cafe Entrance

Like, never in a million years would you think something special is happening here.

Artsy glass panels and very colorful, tropical flower-patterned carpet break up the space and separate it a bit from the walkway. However, since we aren’t talking full walls here, and Kona opens into an atrium, it can get noisy at times.

seating Kona Cafe

View Into the Atrium from the Restaurant

The seating area is pretty standard as well, with banquettes and individual chairs. It’s comfortable, but tables that share these common bench-like booths are situated too close together for my liking. I never love the feeling that I’m sharing my breakfast with the stranger at my elbow.

Seating Area

Seating Area

I prefer the tables that stand a little off to themselves.

Seating

Seating

There are a few interesting decor details, however. The leaf lights overhead give a modern twist to the tropical garden motif.

more lights Kona Cafe

Lighting Detail

And if you look closely at those giant flowers covering the carpet, you just may come across a Hidden Mickey.

Hidden Mickey in Carpet

Hidden Mickey in the Carpet

But nothing beats the view of a monorail pulling up outside! This is something that never fails to put a smile on my face. Monorails with your breakfast! Best start to my day ever. :-)

Lighting and a View Outside

Lighting and a View Outside

Okay — time to check out breakfast.

Eats

Kona Cafe is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Each meal time has its charms, but breakfast is probably my favorite. The menu rarely changes, and in this case, that’s a very good thing. I guarantee you that riots would break out if certain items disappeared.

Kona Cafe Menu

Menu — Click to Enlarge

But in addition to the regular menu, I was also in for a treat, as Kona was featuring their seasonal specialty, Red Velvet Pancakes!! I’ve never managed to try them before, so I was super psyched to finally have a chance to give them a go.

Special Breakfast Menu

Special Breakfast Menu

One of Kona’s most well-known menu items is their French Press Pot of Kona Coffee. And if you agree that this is some of the best coffee you’ve ever tasted, you can even take some home with you.

Kona Cafe Beverages

Beverages — Click to Enlarge

We took our own advice and ordered some! And really, it is delicious — dark roasted and full bodied. It’s a great start to your morning and some of the very best coffee you can get in Walt Disney World.

French Press Coffee

French Press Pot of Kona Coffee

But I also can’t pass up Liliko’i Juice, another Kona treat. Okay, so it’s basically a blend of Orange, Passion Fruit, and Guava Juices that you can get other places (under different names). But it’s still just as much of an eye-opener!

Lilikoi Juice

Liliko’i Juice

And since we’ve arrived at the food, well, let’s just dive right into the good stuff! The table, of course, ordered Tonga Toast. This cousin of French Toast is served with Strawberry Compote and a side of Bacon or Sausage.

Tonga Toast

Tonga Toast

For all of you out there who haven’t experienced this cult favorite, it’s thick-cut Sourdough Bread, stuffed with Bananas, and then battered and deep-fried. Once it comes out, it’s rolled in Cinnamon and Sugar.

Close up on Tonga Toast

Tonga Toast — Up Close

The tangy-sweet Strawberry Compote adds a nice brightness to the rich flavors, and also adds terrific color to an otherwise drab plate. The compote is also what sets ordering Tonga Toast at Kona apart from ordering it at the counter service Captain Cook’s downstairs. While they’re identical, you don’t get the compote at Captain Cook’s. (Can’t make it to the Poly at all? Check out our recipe for making this crave-worthy breakfast at home.)

Tonga Toast with Strawberry Compote

Tonga Toast with Strawberry Compote

We also ordered another favorite dish, Macadamia Nut Pineapple Pancakes. This island twist on a breakfast favorite includes Macadamia Nut Butter and Pineapple Sauce. The exotic flavors offer a rich start to your day, but as a vacation treat, it’s totally worth it!

Pancakes with pineapple and macadamia nut butter

Macadamia Pineapple Pancakes

We wanted to try something a little on the lighter side and opted for the Fruit Plate. The plate makes creative use of a hollowed out pineapple half as a bowl. It’s then stuffed with seasonal fruits, with even more fruit surrounding it, and Banana Bread is served on the side.

Fruit Plate

Fruit Plate

Another friend chose the Two Eggs — Any Style, and went for Fried Eggs, served sunny side up. This platter comes with Kona Cafe’s Home Fries, which are specially seasoned and delicious, as well as a choice of Ham, Bacon, or Sausage. With the addition of a Biscuit and Fruit, this is a serious plate of food.

Two fried eggs and sides

Two Eggs Any Style, Served with Sausage

I said before that Kona’s menu doesn’t change much. But their seasonal pancake offering is the exception. Last Fall, I had the chance try the Pumpkin Pancakes, and I enjoyed their flavor. But Red Velvet Pancakes also make an appearance around Valentine’s Day each year. And when they’re available, they’re an absolute must, because…

Red velvet pancakes

Red velvet pancakes

Cream Cheese Topping!!! Yep. They don’t even pretend that these things aren’t really dessert in disguise. ;-)

Red Velvet Pancakes drizzled with syrup

Red Velvet Pancakes drizzled with syrup

And seriously, they can call it topping all they want. But we all know that this is Cream Cheese Frosting. Well, I mean basically. By my guess, it’s cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and butter. So what else would you call it?

Yep — I ordered extra.

Red Velvet Breakfast Special

Red Velvet Breakfast Special

Because really, why wouldn’t you?!?

Close up on ice cream

Extra Order of Cream Cheese Topping — Up Close

Okay — so we ingested some serious carbs for breakfast on this visit. But what choice did we have, when there are so many amazing things to try?

And seriously — any time there’s anything with Cream Cheese Frosting on a breakfast menu, you can pretty much know you’ll be seeing it featured here on DFB. :-)

Overall

Kona does it again. Food? Good. Service? Good. What’s not to like?

And nearly every item on the breakfast menu can claim cult status. This is one of the hardest places for me to order, because I want everything, every time!

And really, wouldn’t the world be a better place if we all could splurge on decadent goodies when we’re on vacation? I think so. So if you haven’t already done it, book a breakfast advance dining reservation for Kona Cafe for your next trip. Even if you aren’t staying at the Polynesian, it’s just a monorail ride away from Magic Kingdom.

Is breakfast at Kona Cafe one of your favorite Disney Meals? Let us know your thoughts below in comments!

Comments

  1. Michelle P says

    I’m so glad to hear you had good meal. This was always our go-to breakfast, but the last two times we’ve gone the service has been poor. We had pretty much written it off, but maybe we’ll give it another go. I’ve been missing the macadamia nut pancakes!

  2. Douglas Davis says

    We tried Kong, based on your recommendation and those from other boards last month during a weekend trip. To say it was disappointing would be an understatement. The restaurant was overly busy resulting in horrible service. The food was bland and uninspiring. The best comparison I can come up with is the whole thing came across like a Hawaiian themed Denny’s. So I guess if you love late night Danny’s you may like it.
    Needless to say we expect better and aren’t fans.
    We won’t be going back.

  3. Claire Gregory says

    OH yes!! The Red Velvet pancakes are awesome!! We visited there in November and I had my own Tonga toast for the first time (I have been known to steal a bite from my husband’s plate before). But I was kind of wishing it was February so I could have the red velvet pancakes, is that wrong? Its kind of like kissing Brad Pitt, while fantasizing about George Clooney ;)

  4. Tracy B. says

    My husband and I just ate there on Saturday morning… hadn’t eaten there since we stayed at the Polynesian 20 years ago. We moved here in October, I recently remembered the Tonga Toast and had to go by and have them again. Still wonderful, and wonderful service as well. Highly recommend.

  5. Lindsay says

    Glad you had a good meal at Kona. We ate here on the last night of our trip last April. I have to say we were very disappointed, it was the worse meal of our trip! The food was dull and the service was slow. We’re not going back this trip!

  6. says

    Yum, everything looks incredible! I just had unlimited pancakes at IHOP yesterday but the idea of eating those red velvet ones is making me drool! And that tonga toast!!

  7. Sherry says

    We try to visit Disney World every year. This last December was our 29th return, and The Kona Cafe is our favorite breakfast spot. My husband can not leave this magical place without his trip to the Kona for breakfast. He enjoys the Big Kahuna or the Steak & Eggs breakfast. I prefer the Tonga Toast or the Fruit Plate. On our last visit the staff was friendly and the service was spot on. We enjoy talking to the servers.

    We do enjoy the Kona Coffee, and yes we did take so home.

  8. George Bey says

    We went there for the first time a few weeks ago. I got the samoan and my daughter got the tonga toast and we split them. It was awesome. Coffee was excellent as advertised and Ann our server was top notch, an institution I would say. Cannot wait to return. Best breakfast of our trip.

  9. Heidi says

    I LOVE the Macadamia Pineapple Nut Pancakes!! It is a MUST on EVERY trip (several times a trip!!)!! I have had the pleasure of trying the red velvet pancakes once and they were awesome especially the cream cheese topping. I’ve tried the Tonga Toast but found it way too sweet.

  10. Beth says

    Last Disney trip was with my mother and my aunt (both in their 60s). As we stood in line for our cult fave, Dole Pineapple Whip, in Adventureland the couple in front of us told us about Kona and Tonga Toast. I immediately whipped out the smart phone and made a reservation for the morning we were leaving. Did I mention how much I love the Disney Dining App? We were definitely NOT disappointed. My aunt and I shared a French press of Kona coffee and both had Tonga Toast. My mother had one of the plates with eggs. Everything was excellent. The service was good. And we left to go home with full bellies and a new Disney tradition. Now we tell everyone not to miss breakfast at Kona!

  11. says

    I’m not a fan of Kona, have never had good food or service, but have never tried for breakfast. The eggs in the two eggs any style picture give me pause, though. They’re improperly cooked, probably on too hot a griddle for eggs. The edges shouldn’t have that kind of crisp browned going on, and the whites shouldn’t have the bubbles. A good chef or cook should know how to turn out something as simple as an egg, any style.

  12. Andrew Z says

    I was here in mid-December and the service was abysmal on a Sunday morning. It mirrored the level of service we got at O’hana a couple of months back….so there’s definitely a bad trend going on at this resort. (really great service at all other WDW restaurants I’ve been to)

    The Kona coffee is definitely delicious. It’s not for everyone though….Especially if you’re expecting the standard low-quality Maxwell House.

    The Tonga Toast is …. awesome. The strawberry compote is what makes it and I couldn’t imagine the toast without it.

    Overall, while I enjoyed the food very much, I’ll probably look at other breakfast options next time I visit WDW.

  13. Paul in CT says

    Kona has always been a favorite for us. I really enjoy the pineapple macadamia nut pancakes with sausage and the Kona coffee (blend or press pot). WE have always experienced excellent, friendly service. I hope that has not changed. Those red velvet pancakes with cream cheese topping look tempting. I may have to try them instead of my favorite in February. :)

  14. Ivis says

    My favorite breakfast dish at Kona is the Samoan!!! (I don’t like anything with cooked fruit, so I won’t eat Tonga Toast)

    You must have it next time you go.

  15. Essie says

    Ate lunch here once and loved it. Now I’m anxious to try the Tonga Toast, but probably at Capt. Cook’s as I like it with syrup anyway.

  16. Jen says

    I look forward to trying breakfast here on my next trip. I had dinner here for the first time in mid December and had wonderful service and a delicious meal. I also really enjoyed the close seating because, as a solo diner, it opened up some very friendly and engaging conversations with the folks on either side of me. This also happened at Chefs de France for lunch, but not at Saana because the tables were not close enough. I love that every restaurant at Disney has such a variety of decor, space and food. Great sense of place!

  17. terry says

    Love breakfast at Kona’s—– and lunch, where there is a tuna sandwich to die for. I’m always torn between the Tonga Toast (but I skip the compote—there’s enough sweet already), the fruit plate, and the macadamia nut pancakes. My hubby swears by the hash. And we’ve really never made a bad choice from that breakfast menu. Yum!

  18. Steven Pluff says

    The wife and I eat breakfast at Kona every time we go to Disney. We stay at the Shades of Green and walk to the Polynesian. The breakfast is always amazing and if it’s not on the menu they’ll make it for you–they do Eggs Benedict for my wife. My favorites are the Big Kahuna, the two egg breakfast, and the Samoan. The last time we were there they were booked solid so the manager seated us by the coffee bar–extremely wonderful gesture that made our anniversary and my return from a deployment so special. I really enjoying going to the Kona

  19. SteveB says

    Ate breakfast at Kona on 1/9 during marathon weekend and enjoyed it as usual. Needed a Tonga Toast fix and it delivered. All others at our table were very happy with their selections. Never get bored having breakfast at Kona. See ya in June!

  20. Angelina says

    Can’t wait! First time at wdw, my husband and I leave on Thursday. Already have an ADR for our Tonga Toast!!!

  21. Lesley says

    Love the Tonga Toast but I always ask for it without the banana since I’m not a fan and have always thought it was better without the compote and with maple syrup!

  22. Amy says

    I’m curious about the Tonga Toast ~ is the banana flavor very strong? I like bananas, but don’t really care for cooked bananas so I’ve never been too interested in trying the Tonga Toast, but it looks so delicious in pictures. And I wonder if you had to pay more for the extra bit of cream cheese frosting, er, topping for your red velvet pancakes ~ those look delicious!

  23. Shannon says

    Amy you can order without banana. I wouldn’t say it’s overly banana flavored. I always get it but usually just pick the banana out. It’s yummy!!

  24. Tina says

    Our First Morning Arrival go to every time! Best Breakfast on property! Only thing you didn’t get in this review that is a must do are the grits! Best grits ever! haha :)

  25. Lori says

    Kona is a staple for us every trip and especially when we take the red eye flight from the west coast. It’s a fantastic way to start out vacation. I hope they still have the red velvet when we arrive the first week of March. Those look amazing!

  26. Kim lobdell says

    I had the red velvet pancakes at Kona last February and I can honestly say that was the best breakfast is have ever had at WDW! I wish I could get something similar here in Michigan.

  27. DEIDRA CONNOR says

    Typically, the food at the Polynesian is good. We just came back from WDW and the Polynesian. We were really looking forward to the Tonga Toast. We usually kick our Disney trip by eating our first breakfast at the Kona Cafe or Captain Cooks before heading to the MK for the day. We were so disappointed with the new Tonga Toast. If you are a fan, be forewarned. They have changed distributors and changed the bread from sourdough to french. The quality has dropped signifiacntly. It’s dryer and offers very little banana filling. So basically it’s just really thick french toast now. What a shame too. Why do they mess with perfection???

  28. Kelly says

    Yes! I agree with Deidra! I just came back from WDW also and of course had to stop at Kona to have my Tonga Toast (it’s become a tradition!)… and I am so incredibly disappointed because they changed the bread! It completely changes the taste and quality of the dish. The bread is way too thick and the inside doesn’t taste like French toast at all.. just doughy bread. They also put this itty bitty tiny bit of banana so you barely taste it. The bread is tough to cut into and I basically had to drown it in the compote because it was so dry and bland. I don’t understand who thought this was a good idea because this toast has so many fans who are going to be very disappointed!

  29. says

    Jacqueline — Kona Cafe is a table service spot, so it would require 1 table service credit. Captain Cook’s is the Polynesian’s counter service location, and you would be able to use your quick service meal credits there.

  30. says

    The $14 breakfast takes a table service an not a quick service? Hmm, might just pay for that instead of wasting a full table service dining credit. We’ve never ate at kona, is it worth the trip?

  31. Denise says

    In regards to the new updated menu at Kona cafe, they need to bring back the Big Kahuna. Every trip since 1982, we have to go to the Poly Kona
    For the Tonga toast (for me) and the Big Kahuna (for hubby who is a big kahuna.)
    I will still go for the Tonga but my hubby will be very disappointed. Also love the Kona coffee. Please bring it back.

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