There are two things about Walt Disney World that I love to do more than anything else: experience it with friends, and eat. So when presented with an opportunity to do both, I jump at the chance. My friend Aaron was going to be in town getting ready to go on the Disney Fantasy Preview Cruise. Giving me a list of possible dates within his stay that we could get together for dinner, one thing stood out. It was an opportunity to get to visit a restaurant I’ve never been to, and to spend a few hours at a resort I’d barely ever set foot in.
Aaron was planning to be staying at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort the night before the cruise due to his conference schedule, so we settled on trying the Maya Grill. Compared to other restaurants, the Maya Grill never seems to do well in the Unofficial Guide so I chose to steer clear of it. This time though I was ready to dive in with an open mind and see how it went.
Parking in the front lot at Coronado was fairly easy, and to be honest I wasn’t very surprised by this. The size and design of the resort presents itself in a spread out manner similar to resorts like Caribbean Beach or Pop Century. Therefore people are not parking in one large parking area, but rather their cars are spread out so people can park near their rooms, many of which are quite far from the front lobby. Inside Aaron met us and guided us back to the restaurant to meet with his wife Miriam and his children – whom I’d only gotten to meet briefly before at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
We were seated fairly quickly, as the restaurant was fairly empty. Surprising for a convention resort, but then again a car seems almost a necessity for staying at this resort, and those with cars can easily go elsewhere. Our table was next to this dark and endlessly swirling pool of water (cenote) at the center of the restaurant that due to proximity made me wonder if we were going to be sacrificed to the Mayan gods as a food offering. It’s a little cheesy looking to be honest, but at the same time it carries off the goal of presenting a meal served in the middle of an ancient Mayan Temple. There are some recreations of traditional Mayan art, and the colors are the deep earthy tones found throughout the culture. And if I have any real complaint. the restaurant is far too dark, to the point of being unable to clearly read the menu.
Aaron went right for the Tequila Flight as his drink of choice with his wife trying the Sangria. The flight looked very good, though there was far too much salt in the presentation, and the lime was placed on top of the salt, which is never a good idea. Forgoing an appetizer, I enjoyed the bread offering – hey, we’re in a temple – which consisted of Cheesy Jalapeño Rolls and some flatbread that, while looking like cardboard due to the lighting, actually had a nice earthy flavor to it. The bread was presented with a Chimichurri sauce that worked well with both.
Miriam had ordered Arrachera and we discovered that, despite what the menu says, it’s no longer a sirloin; in keeping with menu changes throughout Walt Disney World, it’s now a New York Strip – which is a better and tastier cut of meat generally. When it arrived, it looked like the potatoes had also been changed to a mash of some sort. The vegetables were a combination of peppers and corn.
As the dinner menu mostly consists of a choice of some sort of beef dish or fish, it’s not surprising that Aaron and I both ended up ordering fish. Mine was the Mahi-Mahi a la Veracruzana, which I found quite tasty overall, but it could have used a bit more jus in the presentation as vegetables did not drip down into the plate. I’m a huge fan of this sort of rich combination, though, and I really enjoyed it. Aaron chose the Pescado a la Talla which is a grilled tilapia. It looked great, but the menu description does not stand up against the presentation, be forewarned there’s a lot going on on this plate.
Cheryl’s special order was a pasta dish with mushrooms and potatoes. It looked very tasty, but she had commented to me later that it was a bit dry, and needed more as it didn’t seem to be a complete dish to her. The kids ordered off of the children’s menu, which offers Grilled Cheese, Chicken Fingers and Tacos. It’s nice that they were offered some choices that fit the theme of the restaurant.
When dessert was presented nothing really jumped out at me, so I skipped it – as did Aaron and Miriam. Cheryl chose to get the Tropical Fruit Salad, which she seemed to like better than her meal. and the kids each ordered ice cream. If anything I think that dessert was the weakest offerings on the menu, and none of them had any sort of Latin or Caribbean aspects or origins to them, which is supposed to be the entire basis of the restaurant’s menu.
Throughout the meal there is music being played by a live performer. He played a mix of traditional mariachi music and American rock music – much of which was from the 1970s. He was really good and seemed to enjoy his job immensely.
Overall, I’m not rushing back to the Maya Grill for several reasons, not the least of which is the prices. As this is a convention resort everything has additional fees packed into the costs. As such, all the dishes on the menu are about $5 more than for comparable meals at other Disney World Resort restaurants. This is a huge mistake on the part of the owners of the restaurant – who, from the restaurant’s own website, can be determined to be the same as for San Angel Inn and La Hacienda.
I also want to say that the wait staff, while super nice, was a little lacking. Our waiter never came back to the table to ask us about our meals, and it was very hard to get his attention during the meal. To the point where I had to literally get up, go to the drink station, and get water myself for Aaron’s daughter. That should never happen in a restaurant, at all, ever.
What about you? Have you been to the Maya Grill? What did you think? Are you thinking about going? Would you still now? Do you like the Coronado Springs Resort? Disturb the treasure of the gods, and you shall all pay with your lives.