It’s been a while, Paradiso 37.
In the past, I’ve enjoyed dining at this waterfront spot, (now) located in The Landing at Disney Springs. (It hasn’t moved. It’s just that everything has grown up around it.)
The waterside views from the back of the open air restaurant were previously something special. (Like, not every place had them.) But these days, with the nearly complete transformation of Disney Springs, practically every restaurant has a table with a view.
So are favorites like Crazy Corn and the Paradiso Chocolate Stack still enough to win Paradiso 37 a spot on your advance dining reservations list? Read on to find out — and to see how the restaurant’s recent reno changed it up a bit.
If you’re a longtime fan of Paradiso 37 (P37 for short from here on out), you may notice that a couple of changes have taken place within the last few years. From the outside, the restaurant looks much the same, with a paint job that’s just a shade or two lighter.
But the recent reno did add a couple of features. The restaurant now boasts two entrances — one to the upper seating area, and one to the lower area. Here’s a shot of the bar upstairs. The door is just to the right of the photo.
But in spite of these changes, many of P37’s striking decor elements remain. The glass wall highlighting bottles of tequila still lets the light shine through in striking fashion.
And our old friend the tequila bottle and margarita glass chandelier made the cut as well.
Beyond that, very little about the inside has changed. The booths did receive some new upholstery.
But the whole space still feels kind of waterfront warehouse-y, with pops of color thrown in to break up all the neutrals.
In fact, the inside is looking a little dated at this point, especially in contrast to all of the shiny, new-but-it-looks-old thing happening throughout Disney Springs.
Enough about the decor, though. Let’s get to the menus.
We had recently heard that Chef Tim Keating, formerly at the helm of our old favorite Flying Fish, was now running the kitchen at Orlando’s Urbain 40, but that his influence might extend to P37. So we were anxious to see what, if any, changes had been made to the menu. (Spoiler alert: not many changes had been made, so we’re assuming Chef Keating hasn’t gotten around to updating this menu, yet. Stay tuned.)
The theme here is a “Taste of the Americas,” so you’ll find everything from Canadian Poutine to Colombian Arepa Cakes. The menu seems a little more heavily weighted toward Mexico and Central and South America, though. That poutine was an anomaly in more ways than one.
So, yes — changes to the menu were very minimal. Starting with the drinks, it looks to be much the same as the last time we were here years ago.
As is the case with many Disney Springs spots, P37 offers souvenir glasses that you can keep with the purchase of their specialty cocktails. They also offer a few interesting “liquor-free” drinks as well, which also include the Celebration Glass.
All of our favorite desserts were also still on offer, including the Paradiso Chocolate Stack.
Curiously, P37 is still touting their distinction as serving the “World’s Coldest Draft Beer,” stubbornly flying in the face of craft beer afficionados who would tell you that that temp of 29 degrees is so, so wrong.
I’ll let you guys get into it with them over that.
Especially since I normally order the DFB staffer favorite beverage Sangria Margarita when I visit. 😀
And yes, for those of you worried that the Twisted Margarita of days past has left the building, it hasn’t. It’s just been renamed.
We did find a few new things to try, and we’ll get to those in a sec. But in the meantime, we also decided that it was totally necessary to revisit old favorites. You know. For research. It’s good to know if they change up a favorite formulation. 😉 We started with the aptly named Crazy Corn, which serves two (or more).
Ears of corn are split into quarters, brushed with ají amarillo (Peruvian yellow pepper paste), covered in a mixture of cheeses, and are then broiled.
The result is a incredible mix of sweet, slightly spicy, cheesy glory that you will not want to stop eating. Ever. Like, for real. This is one of my favorite things I’ve ever eaten in Disney World, and it STILL is.
We also went with another dish we’d enjoyed before, the Beef and Chorizo Skewers. This one serves at least two as well.
The skewers are paired with roasted cherry tomatoes and tiny pita bread loaves. The plate was generously dressed with a flavorful chimichurri sauce.
To counterbalance the spicy, bright flavors of the chimichurri, there was also a side of yogurt sauce, which tasted a whole lot like tzatziki.
The beef skewers were delicious and tender, and were well cooked without being over cooked.
Likewise, the chorizo was fantastic, and we loved the combo of the spicy flavors and slightly oily (but in a good way) textures with the chimichurri, which cut through the richness of the meat a bit.
Because there was so much good food to enjoy, we didn’t even touch the pita bread. But seriously, you’d totally have a meal between this platter and the crazy corn, especially if you used the bread to make tiny little sammies.
Did you see that I snuck in a reference to poutine above? You know me well if you know that there’s no way we weren’t ordering Canadian poutine.
Yep, that’s how the menu lists it. Canadian Poutine. I guess that’s in contrast to like, North Dakota poutine?
Anyhoo — what this wasn’t was Canadian Poutine. I say that because there wasn’t a single cheese curd in sight. Plus there was pulled meat, peppers, and more things that are totally NOT on Canadian Poutine.
What this was, however, was amaaaaaaazingly delicious. Like, we-couldn’t-stop-eating-it-and-were-full-the-rest-of-the-day delicious. I have no judgment if you name a dish incorrectly as long as it’s as incredible as this was.
Lemme break it down for you. You’re looking at Fries, Braised Beef, Gravy, Cheese Sauce, and Cherry Peppers. The sum total of which is so frigging good.
My friend especially liked the contrast between the piquant peppers and the rich cheese sauce. And I gotta say, the cheese sauce was so good, I asked for more, and we proceeded to dip…well, pretty much everything on the table that was edible into it.
So, yeah. After the appetizers, we were pretty pro-P37!
Unfortunately, we weren’t as thrilled with our entree selection. I decided to give one of the Platters of the Americas a try, and went for the Paradiso Surf and Turf. It includes a 6-ounce Skirt Steak, BBQ Shrimp Skewer, Roasted Vegetables, and a Corn Cake.
The shrimp were weirdly and heavily sauced with a tangy mess that didn’t make much of an impression on us. It certainly didn’t taste like barbecue sauce.
The vegetables were very sad indeed, and the sweet but dry corn cake was completely forgettable.
But the worst part was the steak. We were asked for a temperature on our beef, and I requested medium rare. It was anything but, and I felt the quality of the meat was pretty low for the $29 pricetag. It was like getting an overdone breakfast steak at [insert bad breakfast chain restaurant here]. I was really disappointed. And I felt bad for anyone who came to P37 and ordered this without experiencing any of the incredible appetizers I’d just eaten, and assumed this was all P37 could do.
On the bright side, we also ordered a side of Tostones. They were incredible! My friend really loves the twice fried preparation of green plantains, and said they were some of the best she’d ever tasted. Light, crisp, and fresh, they were perfectly prepared and served.
While we had more than our fair share of filling dishes, we couldn’t pass up the option to end with something sweet.
So you know I’m not a huge fan of anything straight chocolate. Frankly, I find it kinda boring. Except when it comes to the incredible Paradiso Chocolate Stack.
I don’t know where the cake ends and the ganache begins, but if you love chocolate, you really need this in your life. It’s like the moistest, fudgiest brownie ever, except better.
But we were less impressed with our other two selections. Previously, the Pineapple Upside Down Cake wowed us with its perfect ratio of flavorful, moist cake to caramelized pineapple topping. This time, however, the whole experience fell flat, mostly owing to the less than interesting cake.
My friend really likes Tres Leches (I soooo don’t), so we tried it as well. It gets points for originality. The Strawberry Mousse in the middle made for some nice flavor and color contrast.
But the frosting was…weird. Sort of marshmallowy, it had this odd, tangy aftertaste, and a bit of a grit to it. I think Cool Whip came into play. My friend thought maybe they were a little heavy handed with the cream of tartar.
Regardless, I’d recommend you skip it. Stick with the Paradiso Chocolate Stack. Or head to Sprinkles for a cupcake. 😀 No wait. Do the Chocolate Stack!
So, my feelings remain unchanged about Paradiso 37: It’s a fairly solid choice if you’re looking for cocktails, tapas/appetizers, and dessert. But I’m not sure I’d mess with much more than that.
At the same time, P37 just…puzzles me. The transformation of Disney Springs is striking and quite beautiful, and we’ve found so many wonderful new places to dine, drink, snack, and shop. Some old favorites, like Raglan Road, have maintained their great standing. Others, such as Paddlefish, have kept up with the times, with stunning renovations to their restaurants and major updates to their menus.
But P37 seems kinda stuck in the past. And I’m just not sure how well that will work, given all of the great options in Disney Springs now.
Sure, there are still a few bright spots. I have friends who live for happy hour with twisted sangria margaritas. Crazy corn is crazy good. And we seriously couldn’t get enough of Paradiso’s slightly bizarre, Latin American twist on that Canadian Classic, Poutine.
But even so, it’s hard to recommend Paradiso 37 for a full dinner when nearly everything at Disney Springs is better. (Well. Maybe not Planet Hollywood Observatory.)
Still, if you find yourself starving and in need of some decadent food, go ahead and stop in. The poutine will keep you going for DAYS. I promise you.
Nosh or Not?
Paradiso 37 might be for you if:
- You’re looking for a great place for drinks and appetizers with friends
- You’d like to find a not-too-crowded restaurant with water-side tables
- You’re a fan of Central or South American street food
- You’re looking for live music and a lively atmosphere on the weekend
You might take a pass on Paradiso 37 if:
- You’re a family with small children looking for late-night or weekend dinner (it gets loud here when the live music starts up)
- You’re not into apps or desserts and just want a good entree
Now, I’m really anxious to hear opinions from all of you out there! Is Paradiso 37 a must do or must skip for you? Leave a comment and let us know what you think!