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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I prefer the tables that stand a little off to themselves.
There are a few interesting decor details, however. The leaf lights overhead give a modern twist to the tropical garden motif.
And if you look closely at those giant flowers covering the carpet, you just may come across a Hidden Mickey.
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.
Okay — time to check out breakfast.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.)
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!
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.
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.
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…
…Cream Cheese Topping!!! Yep. They don’t even pretend that these things aren’t really dessert in disguise.
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.
Because really, why wouldn’t you?!?
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.
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!