Review: Lava Lounge at the Disney Springs Marketplace

Today we’re taking this blog all the way to the edge… of Downtown Disney!

We’re stopping for drinks and grub at the Lava Lounge, found just about as far as you can go to the end of Downtown Disney’s Marketplace. It’s funny — with the majority of the transformation to Disney Springs affecting the Landing, the West Side, and the parking areas of Downtown Disney, the Marketplace feels largely unchanged.

Now, I know that’s not true, considering the addition of spots like the Marketplace Causeway, the Marketplace Co-op and Dockside Margaritas. But comparatively speaking, and even with the welcome additions in the other areas, it feels nice to still have some familiar spots to enjoy in the area.

It says something about the rate of change in Downtown Disney lately that the Lava Lounge — now just over two years old — feels like one of those familiar spots. Still, being relatively young in the scheme of things, a lot of DFB Readers haven’t had a chance to explore it. So let’s make our way underneath that big ol’ volcano and check it out!

Lava Lounge

Lava Lounge


You’ll experience much of the atmosphere of the Lava Lounge before even entering the Lounge itself. The hallmark of the area, of course, is the “active” volcano, and if you’ve ever been anywhere in the Marketplace when it erupts with fire (about every half hour or so, I think), you’re familiar with the almost thunder-like roar that accompanies it. [Read more…]

Review: Bongos Cuban Café Express

When you’re strolling through Downtown Disney, you really can’t miss Bongos Cuban Café.

The white building is huge, and takes up a hefty bit of space on the West Side, directly opposite Splitsville Luxury Lanes and right next to Exposition Park (home base for the Disney Food Trucks).

And, of course, part of the building is actually structured as an ENORMOUS PINEAPPLE. So that helps raise the profile a bit, too.

What’s harder to find – and indeed, most guests walk right by – is Bongos Cuban Café Express (sometimes referred to as the Bongos Walk-up Window). And it just so happens to be a great place to sit for a spell and grab a quick meal or snack.

The window is tucked into the left side (if you’re facing Bongos). So now that you know it’s there, let’s take a quick glance around!


“Express” is part of the name for a reason — the setting [Read more…]

Review: Tandoori Shrimp at the Namaste Cafe Disney Food Truck

Funny how quickly things can change ‘round these parts…

Not all that long ago (a little more than a year-and-a-half, to be specific), the four Disney Food Trucks were THE newest thing on the dining scene in Downtown Disney. But with all the dining additions to the ever-transforming, will-one-of-these-days-be Disney Springs over the past year, it’s been a while since we’ve had a chance to check out what’s changed at the Trucks!

So our stop today is Namaste Cafe (most often found in Exposition Park on the West Side), the truck inspired by dishes typically served at Animal Kingdom as well as Animal Kingdom Lodge.

The menu continues to feature the Naan and Samosa Dipping Safari, Butter Chicken, and Lamb Kefta (a version of which was originally part of the Superstar Catering Food Truck menu inspired by Hollywood Studios, but I think it’s a more natural fit at Namaste).

Namaste Café Food Truck

Namaste Café Food Truck

In more recent months, Tandoori Shrimp has [Read more…]

Review: Mocha Brownie Cupcake at Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC in Downtown Disney

It was just this past February when many Disney World guests celebrated the opening of Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC  in The Landing of Disney World’s Disney Springs area.

For those who had missed the presence of BabyCakes in Downtown Disney’s Marketplace since its previous location  closed to accommodate construction in March 2014, the new storefront was a welcome re-addition.

While the name has changed, the focus on vegan (dairy-free, egg-free), soy-free, and gluten-free baked goods remains the same, making it a great destination for many Disney World guests on special diets.

Though I’m not on a special diet myself, I sometimes find myself stopping by Erin McKenna’s when I’m at Downtown Disney, anyway. I’ve found that I’ve come to enjoy several of the treats (I can’t walk by without at least entertaining the notion of picking up a slice of Lemon Teacake), and I can never resist any bakery case full o’ cupcakes.

Erin McKenna's Bakery NYC indoor sign

Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC indoor sign



Just a reminder, though, that the updated location has been able to expand its selection, and offers [Read more…]

Rumor: Chef Art’s Florida Fish Camp Coming to Disney Springs

For those keeping a running tally ;) , here’s one more dining possibility for the soon-to-be Disney Springs!

You may know Chef Art Smith as a previous judge on BBQ Pitmasters, or as a founder of such restaurants as Art and Soul in Washington, D.C. or Table Fifty-Two in Chicago. You may even know him as Oprah Winfrey’s former chef, or as the author of Art Smith’s Healthy Comfort or Kitchen Life, with an emphasis on healthier takes on comfort food classics.

Chef Art Smith

Chef Art Smith

Well, he may have one more accomplishment to add to that list soon if the rumors are true… . Recently, the Chef posted a message on his Facebook page. And while it’s important to note that [Read more…]

News and Review: Joffrey’s Tea Traders Cafe at Disney Springs

We have a tour and review for you today of a brand new spot that’s just opened at Downtown Disney (soon to be Disney Springs) — Joffrey’s Tea Traders Cafe!

Tea Traders Cafe Sign

Tea Traders Cafe Sign

The retail shop and tea counter is the brainchild of Joffrey’s, a name that you’re most likely familiar with if you enjoy coffee and tea while out and about at Walt Disney World. Joffrey’s is the official coffee of Disney World and Disneyland, and operates many kiosks and stands throughout Disney parks and resorts.

Let’s take a look around!


Tea Traders Cafe is located in The Landing area of Disney Springs. If you’re trying to get your bearings, it’s the ground that was once known as Pleasure Island.

You’ll find the expansive shop right beside [Read more…]

Raglan Road (In Ireland!): An Interview with Chef Kevin Dundon

Welcome to our final report about Disney Food Blog’s recent trip to Ireland for the #RaglanRoadTrip!

Raglan Road. Like, the Real Place.

Raglan Road. Like, the Real Place.

From my time in Dublin, to checking out local producers of fresh ingredients, to spending time in the kitchen with Chef Kevin, it was a first hand look into what inspires this popular [Read more…]

Tips from the DFB Guide: Fun, Free Holiday Activities in Walt Disney World

It’s here — we are officially 181 days out from Christmas!! Woohoo! Have you started your shopping yet?

180 Days Sale

Ha — me neither. But I do know that if I have any hope of scoring advance dining reservations for the uber busy holiday season at Walt Disney World, I need to be ready to book as soon as those lines open up tomorrow.

But how do I fit everything in that I want to do? By planning ahead, of course. And we want to help you do the same.

And that’s why we write the DFB Guide to the Walt Disney World Holidays. Because I want your holiday visit to the ‘World to be nothing less than spectacular.

And when you pre-order the 2015 DFB Guide to the Walt Disney World Holidays right now, you’ll receive the 2014 edition immediately, for free.

Don’t forget — you have three ways to save on the DFB Guide to the Walt Disney World Holidays Guide. Check our our 180 Days ‘Til Christmas Sale to learn more!

But hurry — our sale on this popular guide ends tomorrow at midnight!

Today, let’s explore

[Read more…]

First Look and Review: The New Vivoli Gelateria in Disney World’s Disney Springs

Welcome to your newest cold snack stop in The Landing at Downtown Disney… Vivoli Gelateria (also known as Vivoli Il Gelato)!

Vivoli Gelateria outside 3

Of course, calling it a “cold snack stop” hardly does it justice. For a brand new place on the Disney dining scene, it’s rich with a history that began in Florence, Italy, in 1932, when Raphael Vivoli became one of the founders of the business.

Vivoli Sign

Vivoli Sign

Plus, that little “cold snack” we’re referring to is gelato crafted using many ingredients such as cocoa powder, pistachio, and hazelnut directly from Italy.

Just a few flavors in store

Just a few flavors in store

I can’t wait anymore! Let’s [Read more…]

Raglan Road (In Ireland!): Master Chef Contest Winners Share Their Experiences

If you were following along during our #RaglanRoadTrip coverage, then you know that I recently returned from spending four days in Ireland with the winners of the Raglan Road Master Chef Contest as well as Chef Kevin Dundon.

Winners and Writers at Dunbrody House in Ireland (photo by Raglan Road photographer Ivan Cummins)

Winners and Writers at Dunbrody House in Ireland (photo by Raglan Road photographer Ivan Cummins)

The winners will all contribute a dish to the Raglan Road 10th Anniversary Celebration October! I wanted to get to know our winners a little better, so I asked each of them three simple questions:

What gave you a desire to work with Raglan Road?
What was your first experience with Raglan Road like?
As a home cook, what’s your biggest cooking takeaway from this experience?

Here’s what they had to share with me.


Aaron Von Swearingen had long been a fan of cooking — and Raglan Road. It’s been a favorite spot of his for nearly as long as it’s been around, and he and his family often choose to go there for special occasions.

Aaron Chats with John, Owner of Danescastle Fruit Farm

Aaron Chats with John Mernagh, Owner of Danescastle Fruit Farm

But recently, his passion had taken a different turn: recipe development. So when Aaron heard about the Master Chef contest, he thought the challenge to come up with a three-course meal would be a terrific way to test his new found interest.

And clearly, he rose to the occasion. Following his successful bid to become a Master Chef finalist, Aaron headed to — where else? — Raglan Road to celebrate!

Aaron Getting Tips from John Cook on Filleting Fish

Aaron Getting Tips from John Cook on Filleting Fish

His time in Ireland was, as with other members of the group, transformative. Aaron says that, more than anything, he’s leaving with a clear vision that a simple approach is the best one; focus on simple, great, pure ingredients, and be creative and thoughtful in your presentation. “To know those things, going home, is very freeing,” he summed up.


Like Aaron, Colleen Kerney has a young family and lives in Central Florida. But her motivation for entering the contest was a little different.

Colleen Receives Some Helpful Hints from Chef Julian

Colleen Receives Some Helpful Hints from Chef Julien

Colleen had been in the process of planning a family trip to Ireland, and had even considered leaving at the same time as the contest was planned for. But budgetary constraints led her to reconsider the timing, and she and her family began to earnestly save for a trip some time in the future.

One day recently, she was flipping through a local Central Florida publication when she came across this headline: “Kevin Dundon wants to send YOU to Ireland.” Well. That sounded pretty good to her. And we can say that the rest is history.

Interestingly enough, Colleen hadn’t ever actually dined at Raglan Road, although she was familiar with Chef Kevin because of his cooking show, which airs on PBS. However, she and her extended family celebrated her winning the contest by booking brunch at the Irish Pub.

Oyster Soup, Colleen's Dish

Oyster Soup, Colleen’s Dish

While she enjoyed her time in Ireland immensely and definitely plans to return for that promised family visit in the near future, she also had some fun takeaways from the experience. First and foremost? “Butter makes [Read more…]