Review: Contempo Café in Disney’s Contemporary Resort

Aaaaand I’m back at Contempo Café!

No surprise, really. After all, this Counter Service spot in Disney’s Contemporary Resort is easy enough for anyone to get to, regardless of whether or not you are staying at any of the Resorts on the Monorail Loop. Because I’m thinking it’s a pretty safe bet that your Disney World vacation plans include a trip to the Magic Kingdom. And the Contemporary boasts not only easy access via Monorail; it’s also the only Resort you can walk to directly from Magic Kingdom!

Even more, though, I love to stop here due to Contempo Café’s history of serving better-than-you’d-expect counter service grub, from surprisingly memorable entrees to some seriously stellar desserts.

So stroll or Monorail on in with me to check out what’s new (and which of my favorite entrees has remained, thankfully, nearly unchanged) at the Contempo Café!

Atmosphere

Contempo Cafe is located in the Grand Canyon Concourse adjacent to Chef Mickey’s. Basically, there’s no way you can go hungry in this zone! Contempo Cafe definitely has that we’re-trying-to-be-contemporary vibe that we know and love of the Resort, with lots of linear design and brushed nickel finishes.

Contempo Cafe Entrance

Contempo Cafe Entrance

It’s bright, open and, well… pretty loud most of the time. Aside from the Monorail zooming through regularly (hooray!), you get chatter from both open-air restaurants and the general hullabaloo of a busy resort. I find it to be festive, but if you’re craving some quiet, this may not be your spot.

Monorail!

Monorail!

Still, you gotta check out the epic Mary Blair mosaics that surround the area. Don’t forget to find the five-legged goat — Mary Blair’s not to not everything being perfect.

Mary Blair Mosaic

Mary Blair Mosaic

They may just convince you to sit for a spell to take it all in. And, hey, if you’re here, anyway…

Eats

No point in keeping you in suspense regarding that favorite entree of mine. Contempo’s Beef Pot Roast has been one of my favorite counter service meals since I discovered it over four years ago. Rich Brown Gravy coats a substantial portion of Sunday-dinner-at-Grandma’s-good Pot Roast.

Beef Pot Roast

Beef Pot Roast

Plus I don’t hate a Green Bean — and these are good ones. (See how they’re still green because they haven’t been cooked until forever?) Now, Potato Wedges on the side are okay, but I would honestly trade them for the Mashed Potatoes that used to come with this meal. Definitely opt for those if you’ve got a choice!

Flatbreads have been part of the scene here for some time, too, and the folks at Contempo Cafe rotate options fairly frequently. Of course, this girl from New York simply couldn’t resist trying the Buffalo Chicken Flatbread on my visit (be sure to check out the current specialty on your trip!).

Buffalo Chicken Flatbread

Buffalo Chicken Flatbread

The base is a pleasantly crispy, golden crust. The pulled Buffalo Chicken offered that spicy kick that I always look for with buffalo chicken, plus there’s tons of melty Mozzarella Cheese. And here’s a closeup on that drizzle of killer Blue Cheese Fondue.

Buffalo Chicken Flatbread

Buffalo Chicken Flatbread

But, where’s the celery? It’s in the hefty dashes of celery salt sprinkled all over the top! Disney World flatbreads can be found in several Resort (and a few Park) counter service locations, but this one seriously rises to the top, in my opinion. Pinocchio Village Haus (where flatbreads are among the main offerings) could learn a thing or two from Contempo, in this case.

Now, for some more recent additions to the menu! I simply had to try the Braised Beef Grilled Cheese. Apologies in advance if this makes you as hungry as it makes me just to look at it.

Braised Beef Grilled Cheese

Braised Beef Grilled Cheese

A substantial and perfectly toasted Brioche Bun is packed with Pot-Braised Shredded Beef, Cheddar Cheese, AND CHEESE SAUCE, plus some BBQ Sauce for good measure. Seriously.

Braised Beef Grilled Cheese

Braised Beef Grilled Cheese

That cheese sauce I mentioned? Yep, that’s Plastic Cheese!

Plastic Cheese

Plastic Cheese

Oh, my goodness me. If you find yourself missing the Pot Roast Mac and Cheese that is sadly no longer served at Friar’s Nook, why don’t you hop on the Monorail from Magic Kingdom and grab yourself this very worthy replacement?

Well, since “MORE BEEF” appears to be today’s motto… The “Chicago Style” Italian Beef Sub is Shaved Italian Beef on a Crusty Baguette with Mozzarella Cheese.

Chicago Style Italian Beef

Chicago Style Italian Beef

Accompaniments include a small container of Relish and a dipping bowl of tasty Au Jus to jazz up the sub a bit.

Au Jus

Au Jus

It’s fine, but if you’re looking for the better beef experience in terms of flavor and tenderness, the Pot Roast or Braised Beef Grilled Cheese will still be your best bet.

Of course, among the more unique offerings, I couldn’t resist that Counter Service classic: Chicken Breast Nuggets – a must no matter what. Crunchy, savory, filling… pretty close to perfection every time.

Chicken Nuggets

Chicken Nuggets

No matter what you choose for your main dish at Contempo, though, I highly suggest saving room for dessert. Now, Contempo Café is best known for its rotating selections of cupcakes. WAY back in the day, it made its mark with cupcakes like the Ducle de Leche. And I have to give credit to the more recent Churro Cupcake, which really was a winner during its limited run.

But I gotta admit… with exception of the Churro Cupcake, the Contempo Cupcakes — dare I say it? — are lacking some of their original “wow” factor these days. Frankly, I feel like they’ve been eclipsed by some of the items in the dessert case, which still include — thankfully! —  Peanut Butter Pie.

Peanut Butter Pie

Peanut Butter Pie

A snappy Vanilla Tart Shell plays host to Vanilla Cream and a Chocolate Ganache Drizzle and some playful Chocolate Sprinkles. And it’s all topped with a massive scoop of fluffy-yet-rich-and-decadent Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Filling. It’s a MUST, and that’s all there is to it.

I also grabbed the Chocolate Chip Cookie Sandwich, and this is a fun option, too. Closer to a Whoopie Pie, the filling is a Marshmallow Cream. And the Gold Sprinkles and Mickey Chocolate make it cute as well as tasty.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Sandwich

Chocolate Chip Cookie Sandwich

If you’re more in the mood for fruit but don’t want to forego chocolate, we couldn’t agree more. And thankfully there’s a Chocolate Strawberry Tart for that.

Strawberry Tart

Strawberry Tart

The filling is a thick Vanilla Custard, with a thin layer of Chocolate Ganache, a quartet of Fresh Strawberries, and more Chocolate Sauce.

Strawberry Tart

Strawberry Tart

This is a winner for the classic combo of strawberries and chocolate, plus the tasty addition of the tart shell.

Now, because it IS Contempo Café after all, I did still pick up one of those rotating seasonal cupcakes: the Cherry Pie Cupcake on this visit. A swirl of fluffy Vanilla Bean Cream is coated with Graham Cracker Crumbs and topped with a Maraschino Cherry.

Cherry Pie Cupcake

Cherry Pie Cupcake

While I feel the frosting on Contempo cupcakes is somewhat lackluster as of late, I was glad to see that inside the Vanilla Cake is a center of Cherry Pie Filling!

Cherry Pie Cupcake Interior

Cherry Pie Cupcake Interior

Tart, sweet, sticky, happy cherry pie filling! So, even if Contempo cupcakes overall ain’t what they used to be, I did still enjoy this one, since cherry pie filling (the canned variety, of course ;) ), just so happens to be one of my very favorite things. All in all, not a bad end to another delicious experience at Contempo Café.

Nosh or Not?

Contempo Cafe might be for you if…

  • You’re looking for a mid-day break away from the Magic Kingdom — but you don’t want to go too far!
  • Checking out the monorail resorts (or the Contemporary specifically!) is on your Disney World bucket list!
  • You think Peanut Butter Pie is worth the travel. (It is!)

Contempo Cafe might not be your cup of tea if: 

  • You’re just not that into the Contemporary Resort.
  • You want to stay within the gates of the Magic Kingdom, rather than venturing out for lunch.
  • You prefer dining that’s a little more adventurous.

Overall

My verdict still stands: Contempo Cafe retains its coveted place on my list of best Resort Quick Service spots. So it’s a good thing it’s so easily accessible to non-Resort guests thanks to its close proximity to Magic Kingdom! It’s easiest to take the Monorail over from the park since it’s the very first stop; but I suggest the quick walk back to Magic Kingdom after your meal, since walking over to the park is JUST COOL (and you may have a Braised Beef Grilled Cheese to work off). If you don’t feel like tackling the lunch lines at Casey’s Corner or Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe, consider Contempo for lunch or dinner as part of your mid-or-late-day rest and refuel routine. Just make it happen; it’s totally worth it.

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What’s your favorite off-the-beaten-trail quick service grub? Let us know in the comments! 

Comments

  1. Tom C. says

    The Contempo Cafe is a favorite for my family. Convenient since we usually stay at the BLT, and consistently tasty food for a quick service. That being said, I tried the Braised Beef Grilled Cheese back in July, and it is the worst thing I have ever eaten at Walt Disney World…by a lot. I wanted so badly for it to be good, but I couldn’t get past a few bites. Way too salty, way too artificial cheese-y, not exactly fresh tasting.

    This is the only BAD thing I have every ordered at the Contempo Cafe. Most everything else is surprisingly good. The desserts are interesting and delicious!

  2. Tawnia Lewis says

    I love this website!! Thanks for your hard work :)

    If I can leave a constructive comment, it would be super helpful if you could put the date on each post, so then we’ll know if we’re looking at super old posts of food of the past, or right now items!

    Or, if there is a date on here somewhere, could you point it out? thanks to all of you at this site – it’s wonderful!

  3. Leslie says

    I’m thinking about ubering to Contempo cafe to grab breakfast one morning before walking to MK for my September trip. Do you know if the pb pie is available for breakfast?

  4. Lisa says

    This is summer we stayed at BLT and we found Comtempo Cafe to be a hidden surprise for us. We loved it. We tried almost of all the entrees you mentioned, and loved them. Great price, great atmosphere.

  5. Sarah says

    That is NOT a Chicago style Italian beef. That picture hurts my Chicago heart! Also, that it is called giardiniera not relish and it is a magical addition to a real Italian beef (and probably helps this sad substitute).

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