Keeping It Kona: A Dining Review

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Sarah and I recently had the opportunity to enjoy one of WDW’s often overlooked restaurants for dinner recently. The Kona Cafe is located on the second floor of the Great House, the lobby of the Polynesian Hotel. The restaurant seems to be overshadowed by the more popular and exciting Ohana restaurant located near by. But the Kona Cafe has some great characteristics that make it a great choice in many different dining situations. Let’s first start out by talking about the cocktails and starters. The restaurant offers a full drink menu but  the drink offerings are definitely characterized by the island/pacific flare. The signature drinks are the same ones that are offered at the Tambu Lounge, which is just feet away from the restaurant. Here are a couple of photos of the drinks that we had.

The famous Lapu Lapu.

Lapu Lapu

My drink of choice, the Tropical Macaw.

Tropical Macaw

Both drinks were very good. Nice and refreshing.

They give you a loaf of Hawaiian sweet bread and a side of macadamia nut butter as part of your meal. The bread is always warm and very fresh.

Sweet Bread

I had the pot stickers for my appetizer.

Pot Stickers

Sarah had the lump crab cakes.

Crab Cakes

For my entree, I really wanted to order something that would represent the flavor of the Pacific. I ordered the Pomegranate BBQ Pork Chop with fingerling potatoes and Swiss chard. The pork was cooked perfectly, and the accompaniments were very tasty.

Pomegrantate pork chop

Sarah chose the Tuna Oscar and, as an avid fish eater, she believed the tuna to be seared very nicely and said that it tasted very fresh. I’m not a huge fish fan, but I had a bite and it was great.

Tuna Oscar

Last but not least, the grande finale…dessert! They were to-die-for. Here is the Banana Creme Brulee.

Banana-Chocolate Creme Brulee

My pick, the Chocolate Lava Cake served a la mode. Notice the chocolate lettering in the bottom left corner of the plate, very cool.

Chocolate Lava Cake

The service was great and we were able to make an Advance Dining Reservation (ADR) the day of, which leads me to a very important point. The Kona Cafe is a great alternative to some of the more popular, harder to get into resaurants. I believe that the quality and amount of food that you get with your entree makes it a good value, especially on the Disney Dining Plan. We really had nothing to complain about and genuinely enjoyed this dining experience, and we would recommend the Kona Cafe to all diners: couples, singles, and families. So, keep Kona in mind whether you are planning your dining way in advance or you just need a last minute ADR.

The Kona Cafe is one table service credit on the Disney Dining Plan, and they accept the Tables in Wonderland card.

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Posted on May 15, 2009

13 Responses to “Keeping It Kona: A Dining Review”

  • Thanks for the review. Making ADRs on Monday and Kona is on my list. Sometimes need to do simple as opposed to over scheduling multiple Character meals and dinner shows.

  • by Jul from MD on May 15, 2009, at 11:19 pm EDT

    SHHHHHHHH! Don’t tell people about Kona. It’s horrible. It’s awful. Especially for the second week of August, it’s going to be the most miserable restaurant you can imagine. Stay far away. (And if you’re going to not listen anyhow, please wait another 10 hours until I make our ADRs for our party of 10. *grin*)

    Seriously, though, we’ve had both lunch and dinner there and loved it every time. The duck potstickers are insanely good. The salads at lunch are awesome except the one with the mustard dressing (which was very bitter, but the waiter did a great job rushing a different entree out for our person who ordered it).

    It has some of the most unique food around, and the teaser that they do walking you by the desserts on the way to your table is an act of brilliant cruelty. This, by far, is one of the most under-appreciated restaurants, especially for lunch or dinner. Everyone just goes on about tonga toast… at some point we’ll need to get there for breakfast to try it, but we’re so hooked on lunch and dinner.

    Given the challenge for good dining in the MK, this is where we tend to sneak off for a nice meal. The only challenge with it is that the acoustics are terrible and so even with a small crowd, it will be noisy.

    Thanks for posting the info. I’m glad to see they replaced the olive bread with that new bread. It looks much more appealing given that none of our party are big olive fans.

    • by Josh Carver on May 16, 2009, at 8:32 am EDT

      Thanks for the comments Jul, be careful with the Hawaiian sweet bread, that is, if you want to still be hungry for your entree…lol. That slow teasing walk by the desserts just before being seated is where Sarah first noticed the Banana-Chocolate Creme Brulee. It was love at first bite.

  • I’m so glad that you’re sharing the hidden gem that is Kona Cafe. Food-wise, I had one of the best meals of my life there! (For the record, I had pan-Asian noodles and crab cakes.)

    My two complaints are: at least when I’ve been there, it’s incredibly loud, and it’s not kid-friendly at all. The only explicitly children’s item on the menu is “Pirate Punch.” It seems odd that there’s no kids’ menu because there’s a chocolate Lilo & Stitch sculpture near the kitchen.

  • I haven’t been there yet, but I understand that the Kona is one of few places where you can get a decent cup of coffee! We are using one of our reservations there for evening coffee and fireworks down at the beach!

  • I haven’t been there yet, but I understand that the Kona is one of few places where you can get a decent cup of coffee! We are using one of our reservations there for evening coffee and fireworks down at the beach!
    BTW I love your blog!

  • Thanks for the review! I totally agree with you that Kona is an overlooked gem when it comes to lunch and dinner. It seems to have kept up its quality even after the rise in popularity of the dining plan, which sadly isn’t the case for many Disney restaurants. Kona is in our top 3 WDW restaurants, and it’s great to read another positive review!

  • I tried this restaurant with my family just for the deserts, and we loved it so much that when my husband and I came back for our honeymoon we ate there again! The food is excellent- but make sure to save room for desert because it is to die for (your two picks were the best, in my opinion)! The atmosphere is great too- if you get a later reservation you can walk out to the beach after dinner and watch the fireworks at Magic Kingdom over the water… a very romantic and to a fun evening. =)

  • Thanks so much for this review. Adding Kona to our plans in September! Everything sounds so delicous, I want to try to get there a couple of times. Especially if I can figure out how to time it to catch the fireworks afterwards on the beach. Thanks again for all the ideas everyone.

  • Searching for this for some time now, Thank you.

  • Wonderful information. I’ll definitely be back to read more.

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