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!

Atmosphere

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

DFB Challenge: The Walt Disney World Beer Crawl

Alrighty, Guys — it’s time for another fun Disney Food Blog Challenge. And this one is definitely for the grown ups!

Everyone’s aware that craft Beer has become increasingly popular. Sure, through the years, you always had the garden variety options…

Lovely Beer!

Lovely Beer!

But these days, Craft Beers and International Selections are where it’s at. So we thought that it was high time we take a closer look at some of the interesting beer that you can get throughout Walt Disney World.

In the interest of interactive fun, we decided to come up with another DFB Food — er, Beverage — Crawl, dedicated to the world of beer, and all that it encompasses.

And we know that there are LOTS of you out there who are serious about your study and research of this important subject. We are in it for the fun. ;-) So we definitely want YOUR comments below on what you think the Can’t Miss Beers of Walt Disney World are!

Because this is a rather weighty subject, we’ll spread it out over a 3 day visit. But feel free to consolidate as your tolerance level allows.

Grab some beer nuts, and let’s go!

Day One: Explore Epcot

We’ll start our 3-day Beer Crawl in the best place for sampling a wide variety of food and drink — Epcot!

When beer is the main attraction of the day, it’s a good idea to get some sustenance first thing. We love to enter Epcot via the International Gateway Entrance and start our day with a stop in Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie in the France Pavilion for a petit déjeuner of French Pastries and Coffee or Chocolat Chaud.

We especially love the Frangipane Triangles!

Frangipane -- Cross Section

Frangipane — Cross Section

If you’d like a full-on breakfast platter-type situation, head to Sunshine Seasons (although the Croissant Berry Bread Pudding gets our vote).

Fueled up and ready to go, it’s time to hit World Showcase!

Moosehead in the Canada Pavilion

We all have our traditions, and one that we love to embrace is the First Beer of the Day in Epcot. And that honor almost always goes to Moosehead as we begin our Drinking Journey around the World! Find it at the Canada Beer Stand located near the entrance to Le Cellier Steakhouse.

The beer offerings in Canada

Stroll the area, making time to check out the Totem Poles before you head to your next stop.

Rose and Crown Pub and Dining Room in the UK Pavilion

With a small breakfast and your first brew under your belt, it’s time to stop for lunch and more beer in one of our favorite Epcot dining spots.

The Rose and Crown Pub and Dining Room in the UK Pavilion offers a wide array of beer and cider from the British Isles. Make your advance dining reservation ahead of time for a sit down meal, or take a gamble with finding a spot in the pub (it can get pretty crowded in there). Note that you can also get beers at a counter outside the restaurant and pub.

Sampling British beers is your goal here, so we recommend the Imperial Sampler, which normally includes pours of Bass, Harp, Strongbow, Boddington’s, and Guinness.

Imperial Sampler

Alternatively, you can choose from a long list of Pub Blends, which are half-and-half mixes of some of the beer on tap. You’ll never go wrong with a Black and Tan — half Bass Ale and half Guinness.

Of course, if you have a favorite beer among those on tap, enjoy a pint of that one instead. We especially love to order a Guinness, served with its famous Shamrock Head!

Shamrock Design on Top of Guinness

And if you visit on a weekday, don’t forget to say “hello” to Carl the Bartender!

Japan

With a little lunch under your belt, it’s time to hit up the Japan Pavilion for another unique stop on your beer tour. Kirin Frozen Beer comes with a fluffy, semi-frozen head that keeps your beer cold a little longer in that warm Florida sun.

While the picture below is from Tokyo Dining, you can also get a portable version in a plastic cup at Kabuki Cafe.

Frozen Kirin Beer in Epcot's Japan

Frozen Kirin Beer in Epcot’s Japan

Take in some time listening to the drummers or checking out the [Read more…]

Review: Lunch at Bongos Cuban Cafe in Disney World’s Downtown Disney

Sometimes I need a little Gloria Estefan in my life, so I high tail it over to Bongos Cuban Cafe!

I’m just kidding. I rarely need any Gloria Estefan in my life, but I DO need the deliciousness that is Bongos. Seriously, you guys, I haven’t had a bad meal here…ever. It’s a hidden gem, and if you haven’t been there, start your planning engines for your next trip!

It’s Cuban food of awesomeness — tons of flavor, not-always-efficient-but-at-least-friendly service, and drinks that are BIGGER THAN YOUR HEAD. Plus souvenir glasses. And POPSYCAKES!

Atmosphere

Located in Downtown Disney West Side, most Disney guests know this eatery as “the place with the big pineapple out front.” During the evening, Bongos looks and feels like a nightclub that you’d find in Old Havana or South Beach. It’s like a party waiting to happen, this place.

Open and airy, you can imagine the celebration spilling out onto the “street” during especially festive times.

Outdoor Atmosphere

Outdoor Atmosphere

And a festive good time is what you’d expect here, as is evident from the two bars that dominate the inside.

Second Bar Area

Bar Area

Sit yourself down on actual bongos at the bar up front! Fun (and REALLY uncomfortable!).

First Bar Area

Bongo Bar Stools and Cool, Colorful Lighting in the Front Bar Area

So if you’re tired of sitting on the Bongos, no worries; this place offers a wide array of seating areas. The upstairs seating area — both inside and outside on the balcony — offer good views of the surrounding Downtown Disney area.

It may be a teensy bit quieter upstairs at night, but during the day (for lunch) the whole place is nice and relaxed.

Upstairs Seating

Upstairs Seating

Yep — two-story ceilings and [Read more…]

NEWS! Downtown Disney Foodtopia Coming This October!

Welp, Downtown Disney Orlando has added another awesome food-focused piece of news to the Food Trucks and Disney Springs Restaurants!

Throughout October, eight Downtown Disney restaurants will feature 3-course dinners at bargain prices at the NEW Downtown Disney Foodtopia event!

Menus

Three full courses and a non-alcoholic beverage are included! Let’s take a look at some of the menus…

Paradiso 37: Choose from blackened mahi sliders, a hearty beef burrito, or chicken enchiladas paired with a starter and dessert.

Paradiso 37 Chocolate Stack Dessert

Planet Hollywood: Entree options are Celebrity BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger, lasagna, or Southwest Salad.

Wolfgang Puck Café: Start with garlic and white bean hummus, a Caesar salad, or butternut squash soup. Entrees include pesto chicken, crispy pork loin, or spaghetti Bolognese. Desserts are key lime pie, carrot cake, or a brownie sundae. See our Wolfgang Puck Cafe dinner review here!

Carrot Cake at Wolfgang Puck!

Splitsville: Choose from eight appetizers and 10 entrées, with a brownie and ice cream for dessert.

Splitsville -- Outside View

Fulton’s Crab House: Shrimp cocktail, steamed clams and mussels, or jumbo lump crab cake to start; a whole Rhode Island lobster, cioppino, or filet mignon for an entrée, and a Tollhouse Cookie sundae, key lime pie, or root beer float for dessert.

Details

Dates and Times:
October 1 – 31; 5:30-7:30PM

Cost:
Prices do not include tax and gratuity.
$30: Bongos Cuban Café, House of Blues, Paradiso 37, Planet Hollywood, Portobello, Splitsville Luxury Lanes, and [Read more…]

Disney Food Post Round-Up: April 29, 2012

It’s official, everyone! The big news this week: Starbucks is coming to Disney Parks! Whether you love it or hate it, the coffee king will be opening six locations soon — one in each domestic Disney park.

Later today, stay tuned for pictures of the new Art of Animation Food Court and Menus! We’re reporting live from Disney World this week!

Disney Food News

We’ve got more food news (including a new chef at Mama Melrose’s, opening date for Disneyland’s Candy Palace and Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor, plus a new confectionery, Trolley Treats, coming to Disney California Adventure) on our Disney Food News Pin Board, where Disney Food News is updated on a regular basis!

DFB Podcast Episode 3

We’re excited to finally announce the third episode of the DFB Podcast, which you can download now!

Thanks to everyone who’s listening for being so generous with your time, comments, and support!

In this episode, we share Disney Food News, answer listener questions, reveal our trivia winner from last week (and ask a new trivia question), and discuss non-buffet character meals in Disney World and Disneyland!

Click here to go to the Podcast page for Episode 3. And don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast via RSS or on iTunes!

On To The Round-Up

DisneyCaribbeanBeach.com shares the recipe for Poolside Lemonade – a fave cocktail at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort.

disZine shares how to get free cupcakes when Sprinkle Cupcakes helps promote DreamWorks’ upcoming dramedy, People Like Us!

Main Street Gazette enjoys the groovy Tie Dye cheesecake at Pop Century’s Everything Pop food court.

Daveland goes back to Disneyland’s Plantation House where fried chicken was the specialty.

Walt Disney World for Grown-Ups finds beer, wine, and mixers at the WDW value resorts.

Studios Central previews snacks in R2-D2 containers for the 2012 Star Wars Weekends.

Disney Wedding Podcast chats with AJ about incorporating Disney food into a wedding reception or other catered event.

Wesh.com shares DFB tips on celebrating your special occasions at a Disney restaurant.

All Fare’s Food Blog reviews the Animal Kingdom’s Flame Tree Barbecue!

Review: Dulce de Leche Popsycake at Bongos Cuban Cafe

Sure, we had an amazing dinner during my recent (and very first! But not my last!) trip to Bongos Cuban Cafe recently.

But I’ve been keeping a bit of a secret from you from that evening!! What I haven’t told you yet? There’s deliciousness to be enjoyed at Bongos even in their gift shop!

Popsycakes!

We spied this display in the shop, right next to the cashier, and I was intrigued. They looked like they’d be pretty bad, overly-preserved Little Debbie knock-offs, but I knew we had to check them out for ya!

Popsycake Display

What is a popsycake, you ask? Well, unless you’ve been hiding under a rock like me (or your love is only for Mickey Bars and Disney cupcakes), you’ve heard of the cake pop craze.

Think of an enormous cake pop, but with a pretzel rod for a stick. Because really, if you can do away with the inedible parts of food wrapping, you SO should.

Popsycake Flavors

The popsycakes come in four different flavors, although I’m not certain the Vanilla Bean version was available the day we were there. But the dark chocolate one included [Read more…]

Review: Bongos Cuban Cafe

At long last, we finally made it to the Downtown Disney hotspot that is Bongos Cuban Cafe!

I’ll admit, I’d been putting off my visit to this restaurant. I hadn’t heard great reviews, and I wasn’t sure I’d like the food. But I’m SUCH a giant loser — what have I been waiting for?!?

I had a great time, I had awesome food…and it’s finally time to peek inside and find out what the Big Pineapple has to offer!

Atmosphere

With architecture billed as “Old Havana” in style, this breezy, open restaurant certainly puts you in the mood for a tropical drink and a conga line. ;-) When we visited just before St. Patrick’s Day, Downtown Disney was alive with the excitement of a young, vibrant crowd, ready to get their dance on! The traditional Cuban dance music pouring out from the restaurant beckons you to come take a closer look and listen, and was perfect for a warm, breezy Florida evening.

Bongos Sign

Originally, our Advanced Dining Reservation was scheduled for much later than our 7:30 meet up time. When we checked in at the podium, though, we had no trouble getting a seat immediately. As a newcomer to Cuban food, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the fun setting hinted of some adventurous eating ahead!

One of THE most amazing features of Bongos is the wide open feel of the place. Seating is available both inside and outside, giving the restaurant an authentic Cuban or Miami vibe. After all, these are places where people “live outside,” and restaurants in these locations really reflect that.

To help with the heat, both inside and out, we noticed high ceilings and lots of ceiling fans. It really lends to the impression of cool, airy spaces.

Outdoor Atmosphere

The upstairs veranda also provides a pleasant view of surrounding hotels, the Characters in Flight balloon, and the lake beyond. VERY cool view, eh??

Upstairs Outdoor Seating

While the walls inside are painted to give an old world, weathered feel (and the stone no doubt lends to a sense of coolness on a sweltering Florida summer day), there are plenty of [Read more…]

Tables in Wonderland Restaurant Additions

Tables in Wonderland Membership Card

Great news! Disney World’s Tables in Wonderland discount program has added four next restaurants to the list of participating locations!

Big River Grille & Brewing Works at Disney’s BoardWalk Resort; Bongo’s Cuban Cafe at Downtown Disney West Side; Paradiso 37 at Downtown Disney Pleasure Island; and Via Napoli in Epcot’s World Showcase are newly accepting the Tables in Wonderland discount card!

For more information and a list of all participating restaurants, see our Tables in Wonderland reference page.