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. [Read more…]

Review: New Sandwiches at The Mara in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

Jambo from The Mara in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge!

It wasn’t all that long ago that we were here, pointing out three Must-Eat Snacks at the Lodge’s Counter Service option and sipping on some new-to-The-Mara Frozen Jungle Juice. But the Jungle Juice wasn’t the only new thing we found on that visit, which is what we’re excited to share with you today.

Longtime standouts at The Mara for lunch and dinner include unique items such as African Potjie Stew and tasty Soups of the Day alongside classic Burgers, Flatbreads, and Chicken Breast Nuggets.

That said, they aren’t afraid to switch things up every once in a while — and that’s a VERY good thing! Every so often, your basic Hot Dog or sandwich gets a bit of an African-inspired twist, as is the case with two of the three new items we’re trying today.

The Mara at Animal Kingdom Lodge

The Mara at Animal Kingdom Lodge

So, come right back into The Mara with us!

Atmosphere

The Mara gets its name from the Masai Mara National Reserve, located in southwestern Kenya on the border of Tanzania.  The small food court is only accessible from outside the resort, on the lower level and near the pool. Once inside, you’ll immediately notice the ceiling artfully mimicking the tree tops and some soft ambient lighting that creates interesting shadows. [Read more…]

News! Mini Mango Pie in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Wins the Dessert Wars

All eyes are on Animal Kingdom with the opening of Pandora — World of AVATAR!

And of course, we’ve been busy trying as many new dishes and snacks as possible at Satu’li Canteen and Pongu Pongu.

But what about the rest of the park? Have we forgotten about all the yum that resides in Africa’s Harambe, Discovery Island, Dinoland, U.S.A. (hey, don’t knock it — it’s home to Restaurantosaurus and the new Smokey Bones Bourbon and Bacon Shake), and Asia’s Anandapur?

Heck, no! In fact, we just found some new desserts at Yak and Yeti Local Food Cafes that are crazy!!

Yak and Yeti Local Food Cafes is the counter service little sister to the Yak and Yeti table service restaurant in Animal Kingdom’s Anandapur. You might see it listed as Yak and Yeti Counter Service sometimes (which may be a little clearer, if not quite so thematic).

Lines at Local Food Cafes

Lines at Local Food Cafes

Most recently, we’ve checked out the Kobe Beef Burger and the Kobe Beef Hotdog, plus you can snag a generous portion of Chicken Fried Rice in a fun take-out container for a snack credit. And the Honey Chicken continues to have a dedicated fan base.

Yak and Yeti Local Foods Cafe Menu

Yak and Yeti Local Foods Cafe Menu

Basically, if you like simple Asian fusion food, you’ll find something here.

But on our most recent visit, we went for something a little sweeter. We spotted two new dessert offerings on the menu (replacing the previous Pineapple Coconut Cake and Triple Chocolate Mousse), so we ordered one of each. Introducing the Mini Chocolate Silk Cake and the Mini Mango Pie.

Yak and Yeti Local Foods Cafe Desserts

Yak and Yeti Local Foods Cafe Desserts

First up was the Mini Chocolate Silk Cake, which, truth be told, was more like a pie than a cake. But you can’t really go wrong with silky chocolate mousse and chocolate chips.

Mini Chocolate Silk Cake

Mini Chocolate Silk Cake

And while this is served up in a small bowl, there are some big and delicious flavors here. In particular, we were massive fans of that crust! It’s basically crushed cookie crumb crust, but it’s divine — and there’s tons of it!

Mini Chocolate Silk Cake

Mini Chocolate Silk Cake

Not only is the crust pressed thickly all around the bowl, it’s on the bottom too, providing lots of texture and flavor to accompany the soft chocolate mousse. We also like the inclusion of chocolate chips, since they provided a slightly chewier texture. Overall, this is a solid choice for a chocolate fan or a picky-ish eater.

Mini Chocolate Silk Cake

Mini Chocolate Silk Cake

But if you want to win the dessert day — and you do — go with the Mini Mango Pie. This one lands in a category for only the most stupidly good desserts. Because it’s really stupid good. And the star — like the Mini Chocolate Silk Cake — is the crust!

Mini Mango Pie

Mini Mango Pie

That thick graham cracker crust could not be better. It’s got just the right amount of saltiness from the butter that’s holding the crumbs together and sweetness from the incorporated sugar. It’s just dynamite! Crust heaven!

Mini Mango Pie

Mini Mango Pie

And there’s so much of it! And we’re so happy there’s so much of it!

But of course, pie is not made of crust alone (although we’d eat that… just sayin’). And here the sweet/tart mango filling is light and tropical — perfect for a hot Animal Kingdom day.

Mini Mango Pie

Mini Mango Pie

It’s the consistency of mousse without being too airy, which is a wonderful contrast to the crust. And it just tasted amazing. Wonderfully mango-licious.

(Those who have had the awesome mango pie in the restaurant at Yak & Yeti know it’s good. But THIS. IS. BETTER.)

Mini Mango Pie

Mini Mango Pie

At $4.99 or a Disney Dining Plan snack credit, we say… gogetthisnowandbuyoneforustooplease. And in case you were wondering, the Mini Chocolate Silk Cake and the Mini Mango Pie have replaced the Pineapple Coconut Cake and the Triple Chocolate Mousse cake that used to be here, and we say: good riddance! You were fine, but we’ve moved on to better desserts.

What is your dessert fave at Animal Kingdom? Let us know in the comments! 

New! Cheeseburger Poutine at The Daily Poutine in Disney Springs

Now that summer has officially (or unofficially?) begun, we all have one thing on our minds.

Grillin’!

And one of the most essential fresh-from-the-grill dishes is a juicy BURGER. Slap a piece of cheese on it and you’re there.

But what happens when one of our favorite Disney Springs counter service spots creates their own take on a meaty burger? Well, that’s when a little something called Cheeseburger Poutine is born at The Daily Poutine!

You already know poutine A) if you’re lucky enough to be Canadian or B) because we can’t stop talking about it :) . Large cut French fries, squeaky cheese curds, and brown gravy. That’s the purist’s version, and it’s a thing of beauty.

The Daily Poutine

The Daily Poutine in Disney Springs

But plenty of jazzed up versions show up around Disney World in spots like Le Cellier Steakhouse in Epcot’s Canada Pavilion, and — ever since around this time last year — The Daily Poutine in Disney Springs. And now — for the time being, at least — you can add Cheeseburger Poutine to the list, joining Italian, French, and Latin Poutine (and, of course, the Classic).

[Read more…]

Review: Warm Apple Crisp from Sunshine Seasons in Epcot’s Land Pavilion

Disney World’s fancy desserts are impressive with their layered fruits and house-made gelato and gaufrettes for texture.

And we love a creme brulee as much as the next guy with crisped, caramelized sugar on his upper lip. But, really, there is nothing like a good, soul-warming apple crisp.

We recently fell in love with the apple crisp they’re serving up at The BOATHOUSE in Disney Springs. And this typically-seasonal dessert finds a home on table service menus and in quick service dessert cases alike.

Today, we want to talk about the latter. And, not all that surprisingly, we found our most recent Warm Apple Crisp food hug at Sunshine Seasons in the Land Pavilion at Epcot.

Sunshine Seasons at The Land pavilion in Epcot

Sunshine Seasons at The Land pavilion in Epcot

Of course, we could have gone with an old favorite and ordered the Strawberry Shortcake (yum!) or a new favorite with the Mickey Oreo Cheesecake. But Warm Apple Crisp is the current seasonal dessert here, so we couldn’t pass it up. [Read more…]

Review: Grab-and-Go Menu Available at Art Smith’s Homecomin’!

We’re so excited to share that one of our favorite new restaurants in Disney World — Chef Art Smith’s (awesome!) Homecomin’offers grab-and-go options! (Oh, and yes, apparently the name has changed from “Homecoming” to “Homecomin’.” Just FYI.)

Y’all know that Disney Springs has added lots of quality food stops, including Top Chef Master (and master of Mexican cuisine in America) Rick Bayless’ Frontera Cocina and the fully updated Paddlefish. But even before its opening, Homecomin': Florida Kitchen and Southern Shine — the official full name of Art Smith’s labor of love in Disney Springs — captured our attention.

The backstory here is that Chef Art is originally from Florida, and the restaurant is a charming homage to the state of his birth. From colorful murals depicting Florida agricultural life to booths reminiscent of church pews, Homecomin’ is clearly full of Art’s very big love.

Chef Art Smith on Opening Day

Chef Art Smith on Opening Day

[Read more…]

Review: Raspberry Smoothie at Auntie Gravity’s Galactic Goodies

Do you remember, by chance, how much we loved the Iced Coffee Float at Auntie Gravity’s Galactic Goodies?

If not, then lemme tell ya. We loved it a LOT. But since there’s a new sipping spot/coffee joint in Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland with Joffrey’s Revive Coffee Kiosk, the offerings at Auntie Gravity’s (also located in Tomorrowland) have changed up a bit.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I think Joffrey’s Revive is a terrific addition to Magic Kingdom. But I have to admit I was bummed to find that one of the subsequent changes was the removal of Iced Coffee Floats from Auntie Gravity’s.

So, with that, it’s time to find a different sipper from Auntie (who still serves up soft-serve ice cream, too, by the way).

Ice Cream and Smoothies sign

Ice Cream and Smoothies sign

Fortunately, she still has a few tricks up her sleeve, as Auntie Gravity’s is one of the few spots where you can find Smoothies, available in Raspberry or Strawberry. [Read more…]

Dining in Disneyland: Secret Menu Mozzarella Sticks at Stage Door Cafe

We are back in Disneyland today with a review of a “Secret Menu” item from Stage Door Cafe! You’ll find this hidden gem in Disneyland’s Frontierland, right around the corner from the Golden Horseshoe Saloon.

Stage Door Cafe

Stage Door Cafe

This hard-to-find eatery is teensy, with barely enough space for more than ten people in the counter service ordering area.

[Read more…]

Review: New Snacks at Liberty Inn in Epcot’s World Showcase

While we count down to all the delicious snacks at this fall’s Food and Wine Festival, Liberty Inn at Epcot’s World Showcase has a couple new things to try!

Liberty Inn is located in Epcot’s World Showcase, which is basically a buffet of international treats! With all the available options, you might be tempted to skip over colonial fare here. However, Liberty Inn is a solid choice for a quick-service meal with picky eaters — getting a decent New York Strip Steak for less than $12 doesn’t hurt either.

Liberty Inn is attached to the impressive American Adventure building with indoor and outdoor seating. If you find yourself wandering the World Showcase without an advance dining reservation, this could be the perfect way to beat the heat!

After your meal, step next door to watch the talented a cappella group, Voices of Liberty perform!

Liberty Inn sign

Liberty Inn sign

[Read more…]

Review: Smoky Cheddar Grits at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Welcome back to Animal Kingdom’s Smiling Crocodile!

Now, you may be thinking, “Huh? What do you mean ‘welcome back’? I’ve never heard of the Smiling Crocodile.”

Well, the Smiling Crocodile previously went by a name you may be more familiar with:  the Gardens Kiosk. In fact, several Animal Kingdom snack stands have received mini-makeovers in the form of new names and, in several cases, updated paint colors; spots like the Eight Spoon Cafe (formerly the Beastly Kiosk), Mahindi (which was Harambe Popcorn) and Warung Outpost (previously known as Upcountry Beverages).

In most cases, though, the changes have been in name and fresh coats of paint only while the menus have remained the same. The Smiling Crocodile, however, is one of the exceptions to the rule. Last summer brought a menu refresh to this kiosk featuring the Trek Power Salad and Farmers Salad along with some unique and refreshing beverages.

The Smiling Crocodile

The Smiling Crocodile

But our recent visit to the Smiling Crocodile was to check out its refreshed menu and try one of the new items: Smoky Cheddar Grits. Care to join us? [Read more…]