Disney Food News: Big Stories of 2009

UPDATE: Read about the Opening Date for Be Our Guest Restaurant and Reservations Info!

Happy New Year’s Eve, all! It’s been a wonderful nine months since I’ve started the Food Blog, and I look forward to more exciting Disney food news, reviews, photos, history, and everything in between as we march into 2010.

Thank you for reading, sharing incredible pictures and stories, and keeping me company as I rattle on and on about one of my favorite things: Disney food!

Now, what better way to culminate the decade of the “noughts” than to remember our big Disney Food news stories from this year? Original? No. Still fun? Yes! Here we go…

KouzzinaNew Disney Restaurants Open in 2009
This has been quite a year for new restaurants in Disney parks!

  • Sanaa, a restaurant that incorporates a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach, opens in Animal Kingdom Lodge’s new Kidani Village.
  • Cat Cora opens Kouzzina, her first signature restaurant, on the Disney World Boardwalk.
  • Paradiso 37, a hub of delicious tapas and tequila, opens in Disney World’s Downtown Disney.
  • Celebration Round Up and BBQ heats things up again at Disneyland’s Big Thunder Ranch.
  • Disney World’s Animal Kingdom introduces a new type of quick-service dining with the Picnic in the Park.
  • Customize your own rice bowl at the renovated and re-placed Lucky Fortune Cookery in Disneyland.
  • Disney World’s La Cava del Tequila brings Mexico’s favorite drink to the forefront in the World Showcase. The sheer number of varieties on the Cava del Tequila menu is astonishing.
Screen Shot of Online Advanced Dining Reservations System

Screen Shot of Online Advanced Dining Reservations System

Online Advanced Dining Reservations and Online Menus at DisneyWorld.com
Finally. After so many years of setting three alarms for 6:50 AM and convincing everyone in the household to call on a different phone line…we have online ADRs! [Read more…]

Paradiso 37 Review

We haven’t had a good, solid restaurant review for a while, and I have a lot of them in the hopper! We’ll start today with Paradiso 37, where I had the good fortune to dine in September!

paradiso 37

Paradiso 37 Entrance

Paradiso 37 Entrance

The Atmosphere
You’ll remember that Paradiso 37, located on Pleasure Island in Disney World’s Downtown Disney, recently opened its doors. We posted some great food photos when Paradiso opened, and I wanted to supplement those with a few more photos and my review of the restaurant. Be sure to check out that link for the background of this new restaurant specializing in Latin American street food and cuisine.

We headed to Paradiso for lunch, and I was blown away by the incredible “bar glasses” chandelier. I’ve never seen anything like it, and the whimsy and risk prepared me for the menu I was about to see.

Paradiso 37 Bar Glasses Chandelier

Paradiso 37 Bar Glasses Chandelier

We were brought to our table and felt very comfortable in the open dining room. This place is clearly made for socializing — you can see almost every table in the restaurant from any vantage point, and the tapas-heavy menu screams “share me!” It’s also made for drinking (if you like that sort of thing); the floor-to-ceiling display of tequila bottles as the focal point of the room makes a gorgeous design statement, and the restaurant prides itself on its varied tequila, beer, and margarita offerings.

Paradiso 37 Dining Room

Paradiso 37 Dining Room

Paradiso 37 Tequila Bottle Bar Focal Point

Paradiso 37 Tequila Bottle Bar Focal Point

Paradiso 37 Partial Margarita Menu

Paradiso 37 Partial Margarita Menu

Paradiso 37 Tequila Menu

Paradiso 37 Tequila Menu

Paradiso 37 Beer Menu

Paradiso 37 Beer Menu

And while the indoor dining is lovely, the outdoor dining area, with its own bar and a fantastic view of Saratoga Springs Resort and the Characters in Flight balloon, is the perfect spot for an evening out with friends or a yummy family lunch.

Outdoor Seating and View

Outdoor Seating and View

Characters in Flight

Characters in Flight

Paradiso 37 Outdoor bar

Paradiso 37 Outdoor bar

The Meal
We were seated next to a table of four who seemed to have ordered every appetizer on the menu. We wondered why, but soon envied them. What we discovered was that Paradiso 37 seems to have spent a lot of time crafting interesting, delicious “appetizers and shareables,” but didn’t spend nearly as much time on the design of the entrees — at least in our opinion! Again, another piece of evidence that this place might want you to mix, mingle, drink, and socialize rather than tuck into a big meal.

I started out with a margarita, which was delicious — sour with a very strong flavor and not at all watery. From there, we dove into our outstanding appetizers: Central American Crazy Corn, which is fire roasted corn-on-the-cob with a spicy pepper sauce & chefs special cheeses; and the Mexican Dipping Trio — fresh corn tortilla chips served with three dips of chunky guacamole, chili con carne & queso fundido (we substituted more Fundido for the Guac…even though we’re from Texas, we’re not big guac fans).

Paradiso 37 Margarita

Paradiso 37 Margarita

Paradiso 37 Corn Appetizer

Paradiso 37 Corn Appetizer

Paradiso 37 chips, queso, and chili con carne

Paradiso 37 chips, queso, and chili con carne

The corn was delicious — clearly the spotlight of the meal for me. The combination of the (not-too-spicy) spicy pepper sauce with those melted cheeses was perfect. It tasted as good as it looks.

The fundido and chili with tortilla chips was good as well. Just be sure your fundido was fully melted; ours wasn’t, and after trying to cut it with a spoon, we asked if this was really what the texture was supposed to be. The manager soon came to our table with replacement fundido — smooth and, thank goodness, fully melted. The taste was divine, and I was more than willing to excuse the mistake.

We were full by this time, but our entrees soon came to the table: North American Sliders, served with your choice of Blackened Mahi Mahi, Grilled BBQ Chicken or BBQ Pulled Pork, served with fries (we got Grilled BBQ Chicken); and Baja Burrito — a flour tortilla with your choice of grilled chicken or beef with sauteed peppers, squash, red onions, chefs special cheeses and topped with sweet chipode BBQ sauce, served with cilantro rice and black beans.

Paradiso 37 Burrito

Paradiso 37 Burrito

Paradiso 37 BBQ Chicken Sliders entree

Paradiso 37 BBQ Chicken Sliders entree

French Fries

French Fries

Like I said, when you go to Paradiso 37, go for the appetizers/tapas and the drinks. The entrees were nothing special, and we weren’t all that impressed. Though everything tasted fine, we wished we’d spent the money and calories sampling a few more of those appetizers instead of choosing entrees. Live and learn!

Dessert was delicious, though. I knew I’d already posted photos of the mini-ice-cream-cones on my previous Paradiso 37 blog, so we decided to go for the churros, dusted with cinnamon sugar and served with caramel sauce; and Chilean sopapillas — crispy fritters dusted in sugar and served with chocolate sauce. Both were fantastic choices, and although the “fried-things-with-dipping-sauces” is a common dessert theme in Disney World right now, these impressed us more than other versions we tried on our trip. I’m also posting a photo of the restaurant’s signature dessert, which we didn’t order, but looks…hefty!

Paradiso 37 Churros and Sopapillas for dipping

Paradiso 37 Churros and Sopapillas for dipping

Paradiso 37 Signature Dessert

Paradiso 37 Signature Dessert

I highly recommend Paradiso 37 for drinks and appetizers, but unfortunately can’t recommend it so quite so highly for dinner entrees. That said, I hope you do get the chance to head over there for a fun evening on your next trip — enough of the appetizers and drinks are interesting and tasty enough to make it worth your while!

Disney Food Post Weekly Round-Up: Part II

Animal Kingdom eat here
Here’s the second in this week’s Round-Up series! Thanks to everyone out there covering such great Disney Food topics!

Main Street Gazette bids farewell to Spoodles: Main Street Gazette designer Eric Hoffman provides a tribute to Spoodles and memories of his family’s most recent meal there.

Scott Joseph discusses Party for the Senses changes and Paradiso 37: Legendary food critic Scott Joseph gives his view on this year’s Epcot Food and Wine Festival Party for the Senses updates as well as his review of Paradiso 37.

The Orange County Register analyzes Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue menu changes in Disneyland: Scroll down through the article to catch the info about the barbecue. It follows some other interesting info about Disneyland’s recent changes and construction.

SoloFriendly recaps her trip to Tangierine Cafe: SoloFriendly reviews the very popular counter service restaurant in World Showcase’s Morocco pavilion — and explains why the name has that weird spelling!

StitchKingdom shares the new Cap’n Jack’s All-Day Menu: WDW’s Downtown Disney has added Cap’n Jack’s to its list of all-day eateries.

Paradiso 37 Photos

Pinvestigator Cody, as many Disney fans know him, writes the Global Disney Pinvestigation blog and recently had the chance to dine at Disney’s newest restaurant, Paradiso 37 in Downtown Disney. He was kind enough to share with Disney Food Blog readers his mouth-watering pics of the meal!

Macaroni and Cheese Balls

Macaroni and Cheese Balls

Tacos

Tacos

Burger and French Fries

Burger and French Fries

Beef and Cheese Quesadilla

Beef and Cheese Quesadilla

Ice Cream Cone Dessert

Ice Cream Cone Dessert

This restaurant, operated by E-Brands, opened last month in Downtown Disney. Its tagline, “Street Foods of the Americas,” indicates this new venue’s menu, which includes items from the 37 countries of North, South, and Central America. But it’s the tequila bar that’s exciting a lot of foodies; Paradiso 37 features more than 50 kinds of tequila and 10 signature frozen margaritas.

Tower Bars

Tower Bars

Live entertainment is offered Sunday – Thursday 6pm to 11:30pm, and Friday and Saturday 6pm to 12:30am. For reservations please call 407-934-3700.

Good Disney Food Posts Around the Web

Eat HereI’ve come across a bunch of great reviews and photos over the past few weeks and wanted to highlight a few of them. Thanks for all the good food writing, all!

Scott Joseph Orlando’s Chefs de France Review: Highlights the fascinating history of Chefs de France, including its three famous owners, along with Scott Joseph’s excellent food critique. If you’re a foodie and visit Orlando, you should be subscribed to this blog.

Touring Plans’ Research Results on When to Make your Advanced Dining Reservations for Certain Restaurants: Touring Plans releases and analyzes research here about how far in advance you’ve got to book those Disney dining reservations. Find out the theme park restaurants where you can possibly dine as a “walk up” customer, and which you need to book right at that 90-day window.

Etckt’s ESPN Club review: A great writer and Disney afficionado (who’s been quite close to the Mouse in the past) reviews his recent ESPN Club experience at the Boardwalk. Great photos.

SoloFriendly’s Coral Reef Review and SoloFriendly’s BlueZoo review: Excellent, detailed, and honest reviews of a couple of restaurants not everyone who visits Disney World knows about. And these are from the perspective of an adult, solo traveler in Disney World, which makes them even more interesting.

Laughing Place Paradiso 37 Pictures and Review: A good, thorough review of the restaurant’s opening day, including some comments from E-brands Restaurants CEO Rashid Choufani. LOTS of photos, folks!

Paradiso 37 to Open to Guests Tomorrow…Ltd.

Paradiso 37 Concept Art (c)Disney

Paradiso 37 Concept Art (c)Disney

Good news! Paradiso 37, the newest restaurant at Disney World’s Downtown Disney, will be opening tomorrow…sort of. The restaurant will open to walk-up traffic only, and reservations won’t be taken.

Here’s Disney’s website language about the restaurant:
This high-energy restaurant and bar serves up unique cuisine inspired by the Street Foods of the Americas. Menu items from North, South and Central America will be featured for lunch and dinner. Paradiso 37 features an international wine bar and a one of a kind tequila tower bar with more than 50 kinds of tequila and a selection of signature frozen margaritas.

Come in for a cup of specialty coffee at Paradiso 37 when they open at 11:00 a.m., and return in the evening for festive food, beverages, and entertainment; the restaurant closes late at night.

Even more good news: An impromptu review from a cast member over on The Disney Blog just became available! Check it out here: The Disney Blog Paradiso 37 Cast Member review.