It wasn’t too long ago that Starbucks didn’t exist in the Disney Universe.
But although the coffee giant’s presence in Disney Parks has caused quite a bit of heated debate, their popularity is undeniable. And recently, the company has begun piloting a new evening menu, which is meant to appeal to those who are looking for a place to gather after 4PM. Not only does the menu include a select list of Wine and Beer, but there are also Small Plates available — perfect for sharing.
I say “piloting” because the concept is only available in about 30 stores in the US, primarily in large metropolitan areas. More locations are expected to be announced.
And if you are a Starbucks and Disney lover, then you’re in luck, because the Downtown Disney Orlando West Side location is one of the stores that offer the evening menu!
I was intrigued by the whole concept of getting a glass of wine and a snack at a spot that’s normally reserved for meeting my tea and (very rarely) coffee needs. So on a recent trip to Disney World, I decided that I had to check it out.
And there it is! Starbucks. Complete with a hole in its roof for a palm tree to grow through!
You walk into a familiar site — a rope set up for the typical queue. That queue is usually pretty full, too.
Not only is this a massive Starbucks location, but it’s also a Reserve Location, which means you can enjoy rare, small batch offerings of some of the world’s rarest beans. Definitely check it out if you’re a coffee lover. Wendy shared her experience in our full review here.
Looking for a place to sit for a spell? You have plenty of options. From communal seating, to cozy tables for two, you’re likely to find a spot, even at busy times.
Don’t you love the bench seating against this picture window? It’s one of my favorite spots.
Murals that look like chalk drawings depict coffee growing regions across the globe.
Be sure to stop by the interactive screen and check out the action at the Starbucks in Downtown Disney in Anaheim!
There are also really beautiful water views from the inside seating area and the shaded patio area.
But the outside area also has another great focal point — a “live” wall and a glassed-in fireplace.
Now that we’ve looked around a bit, let’s head back in and take a closer look at the Starbucks Evenings menu.
Wanting to sample the Evenings menu? Head to Downtown Disney West Side at 4:00PM, when service expands to include Wine, Beer, and Small Plates.
While the wine list isn’t extensive, there is something for every taste. Wines range from light and sparkling, to medium bodied, and onto reds.
Space above counters has been given over to creative storage of wine and glasses.
On this visit, however, we decided to stick with sampling the eats.
Now, I will say right up front — it was definitely pretty obvious that this was a new offering, and that we also managed to find ourselves with a new employee helping us.
I made my selections from the overhead menu. I was intrigued by the Truffle Popcorn and decided to try it first. The employee who was helping me told me to just grab a bag off the shelf. I was confused, but went ahead and did it.
Turns out she was wrong, and didn’t realize that there were two kinds of popcorn on offer — one in the bag, and one freshly prepared. Luckily I was spotted by one of the managers, who ended up assuring me that not all of the eats had to be ordered “to go,” as my barista had originally told me. In fact, they can be very nicely plated and brought to your table.
Anyway, while the bagged popcorn was just, well, meh, the fresh Truffle Popcorn was absolutely awesome! I could have eaten a lot more of this. Epcot — are you listening?? We have a new flavored popcorn for you to offer! 😀
I also decided to sample the Grilled Veggie Plate. A variety of Grilled Peppers, Zucchini Spears, and Artichoke Hearts are served warm with a Lemon Aioli for dipping.
While it was pretty (we actually got compliments on it!), the flavor fell flat.
But next, I’ll go ahead and share my favorite dish of the evening — the Truffle Mac and Cheese!
I enjoyed the rich flavor of the Cheese Sauce, and the Truffle flavor was nicely balanced, and not overpowering. The crunchy topping of Herbed Parmesan Breadcrumbs provided a nice texture contrast.
We were pretty underwhelmed, however, by the Parmesan Crusted Chicken Skewers. The Honey Dijon Dipping Sauce was a tasty condiment, but overall, these seemed merely reheated, and like they were a bit of an afterthought.
Finally, we tried one of the two Flatbreads that were offered…but I think we got the wrong one. We ordered the Chicken Sausage and Mushroom Flatbread, but I’m pretty sure we ended up with the Artichoke and Goat Cheese Flatbread. Um, I think.
It was fine. But for sure, that Mac and Cheese won the day.
Well. Let’s start with what didn’t go perfectly.
As I mentioned, the new cast member who rang up my order was pretty clueless about the new menu line. Had I not stepped up and asked a bunch of questions when I saw the manager, I would have had to take a huge bag of these items in cardboard boxes “to go.” I also never would have actually gotten the popcorn I paid for. (As it was, I didn’t get the flatbread I paid for.)
So. My impressions…I think this is a great concept. It’s sort of like having a counter service tapas spot. If you’re looking for a cozy evening hangout, and a bar or lounge doesn’t necessarily fit the bill, this just may be a good fit for you.
And if the next question out of your mouth is, “But AJ, can I still get all of my other favorite Starbucks beverages and foods?”
Yep, you sure can. The Starbucks Evenings menu is meant to enhance your experience at the popular java spot; it isn’t meant to take the place of your go-to coffee stop.
Time will tell if the offering gains traction; with so much new to experience at Downtown Disney, I’m not sure when I’ll make it back. But I’d love to hear from you guys!
Are you excited to sip wine or have a beer and enjoy a small plate at Starbucks? Leave a comment and tell us your thoughts!