Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort is a little short on dining options right now. Sure, you can get your Pulled Pork Nachos at Capt. Cook’s, but some of our FAVORITE spots here like ‘Ohana, Trader Sam’s, and Spirit of Aloha are closed still.
But there’s one reliable restaurant that is here to fill the void: Kona Cafe!
This has been one of our go-to spots at Walt Disney World since the resort reopened last summer. We recently had a GREAT breakfast at Kona Cafe, and we stopped by AGAIN recently to try some Polynesian favorites and see if everything is still up to par!
Head into the Great Ceremonial House (AKA the main building) at the Polynesian Village Resort and take a trip up the stairs to find this hidden gem. Kona Cafe has a light and airy atmosphere, as a cafe should! The standout thing about this restaurant is that this second-floor location is open to the hallway and lobby below, which makes for some PRIME people watching!
There are some touches of Asian flare and the South Seas throughout this restaurant, but our FAVORITE part of the decor is the groovy carpet!
This is an indoor restaurant with standard tables and chairs as well as booths. And due to the global health crisis, some booths and tables are currently closed to create distance between parties.
The sushi bar, which is a fun option for seating during “normal” times, is also unavailable right now.
This spot sure LOOKS bright, but is the food as vibrant as the colors in the carpet?!
Kona specializes in a variety of classic foods with a tropical flair. It’s important to note that this is one of the few spots right now with DIFFERENT lunch and dinner menus. The differences are small — a couple of apps and entrees are changed up between lunch and dinner so definitely check before you book your meal. You’ll find a (small, for now) assortment of sushi and Poke’ Bowls…
…Appetizers and Entrees (at lunch you won’t find the Lobster Mac and the Airline Chicken. You will find a story fry option though…
…some Sandwiches and Dashi Bowls…
…an assortment of Dessert Glasses (AKA small desserts layered in a cup)…
…and the Kids’ Menu! This still features arguably one of the COOLEST kids meals in all of Disney World — Kids’ Sushi featuring CHICKEN NUGGET SUSHI. It’s as cool as it sounds!
As far as drinks, you ARE at the Poly, so naturally a selection of tiki and tropical hits are sold here. You can score a Lapu Lapu in a pineapple here, if you don’t want to take the short stroll nearby to Tambu Lounge.
The drink menu is loooong here, compared to most sit down restaurants on property. This spot has a wide selection of unique beers as well.
We were here to channel some Poly favorites, so we started off by drinking the Terrapin Luau Krunkles Passionfruit Orange-Guava IPA. Yep, that’s POG as in Disney’s delicious, scrumptious, SO yummy POG Juice, the iconic tropical drink combo of passionfruit, orange, and guava. It goes by lots of names — Jungle Juice, Florida Sunshine, and more. But it’s a breakfast staple all around the parks and resorts and is beloved by many!
Beer drinkers will enjoy this beer, so long as you’re not the kind of beer drinker that tends to stick to Bud Light or other “easy drinking” beers. This beer had a bright and fresh flavor without being too fruity.
And if you’re not a big IPA fan, don’t worry, this beer isn’t super hoppy.
Our meal at Kona Cafe began as many good Disney World meals do, with bread service! We got soft rolls with plain butter.
Nothing to write home about, really. But then, we remembered that these rolls used to come with macadamia nut butter. A gloriously salty, sweet whipped butter concoction. So we asked our server if that was still a thing. Lo and behold, she brought some out!
This is a liiiiittle bit of a secret menu item since this macadamia nut butter is typically is served on the breakfast menu with the Macadamia Nut Pancakes. When it comes to lunch and dinner time, Kona Cafe may not always have it, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to ask!
After inhaling those soft, soft rolls and the macadamia nut butter, it was time for our entrée! We ordered the Glazed Chicken Wings With Sticky Wing Sauce as our meal, which is actually from the appetizer menu! Let this serve as a reminder: You can ALWAYS order your “main dish” off the appetizer menu!
And this is certainly big enough for a main course! Our order came with six BIG wings for $12.
Make sure you have PLENTY of napkins handy — these wings are absolutely smothered, covered, and DOUSED in sauce!
That made them really, REALLY messy! The sauce had a good flavor — smoky and sweet — but they were definitely over sauced. We didn’t mind getting our fingers messy!
The wings themselves were cooked PERFECTLY with tender meat and crispy skin. Just tons of sticky, sticky sauce. If you’re missing the Honey-Coriander Chicken Wings from ‘Ohana, we’re sorry to tell you these aren’t as good as those, but they do itch a certain scratch and make you feel as though you’re at ‘Ohana even when, well, you’re at Kona Cafe!
We continued our “We miss ‘Ohana tour” for dessert and got the Bread Pudding — which shh! — is another secret menu item!
We’ve eaten this Bread Pudding before, and it’s important to know that this is SIMILAR to ‘Ohana’s bread pudding, but not quite the same. Notably, the sauce does NOT have bananas in it.
However, the rest of the components we know and love are VERY much there. The consistency is perfect with chunks of pineapple, and the cold ice cream complements the warm pudding and sauce. Honestly, we’re STILL dreaming about this bread pudding long after we ate it. Any time you get a little mini pitcher of sweet, sweet caramel sauce, we’re IN.
If you find yourself at Kona Cafe, this Bread Pudding is a MUST order, and for $12, we even recommend you get a piece to go!
Just know that Kona Cafe only makes so much Bread Pudding each day. So if this is on your must-eat list (and it should be!), go for lunch to make sure they don’t sell out!
Nosh or Not
Head to Kona Cafe if…
- You miss ‘Ohana! The guest favorite family-style meal is VERY MUCH missed at Walt Disney World, and while Kona Cafe doesn’t quite have the atmosphere or the all-you-care-to-eat portions, it does have variations of some favorite ‘Ohana dishes, and it’s as close as we can get to it for now. Plus, seriously, that BREAD PUDDING is everything.
- You find yourself needing a break from Magic Kingdom. The monorail isn’t running to the Polynesian Resort right now, but you can still get there quickly via bus, boat, or with a quick walk from the Transportation and Ticket Center.
- You’re staying at the Polynesian! There are few better ways to say “aloha” (that is, hello or goodbye) to Walt Disney World than with a quality meal at your resort, especially if you’re looking for a unique and delicious lunch.
Dine elsewhere if…
- You’re looking for a more affordable meal. We got in and out for a reasonable price because we ordered an appetizer as our main course, but entrees at Kona Cafe can be a bit expensive. At lunch, they range from $16 for a Turkey Banh Mi to $36 for the Kona-Braised Short Ribs. You can get really delicious, affordable food over at Capt. Cook’s.
- You want something fast! This is a full table service meal, and for lunch or dinner, that can mean eating up valuable park time in the middle of the day.
It’s funny to say because so much of our dining experience here was focused on missing ‘Ohana, but Kona Cafe often lives in the shadow of flashier, more famous monorail loop restaurants like ‘Ohana, California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, and the Grand Floridian Cafe. What Kona Cafe lacks in over-the-top theming, it makes up for in quietly GREAT food with tastes of the region that inspired the resort. It’s hard to want to skip out on classic Disney World dishes like that bread pudding, too. Seriously, that is worth a reservation alone!
We just can’t seem to stay away from Kona Cafe, especially while we await the reopening of ‘Ohana and more restaurants around Walt Disney World. Kona is one of those spots people seem to overlook in favor of bigger, flashier restaurants. But this spot is consistently cranking out reliably good food and, because it’s skipped often, it makes it easier to score a reservation. If you’re looking for something a little different with a lot of fresh, fun flavors, definitely consider stopping by Kona Cafe.
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Is Kona Cafe on your must-visit list, or are you going to wait for ‘Ohana to reopen before eating at the Polynesian? Let us know in the comments!