Aloha from the Kona Cafe

by on January 26, 2011 39 Comments

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One of my favorite off the radar restaurants in Walt Disney World is the Kona Cafe.  This eatery is one of the most overlooked restaurants at Walt Disney World.  While its neighbor, O’hana, always proves to

Photo by AJ of

have a huge wait even for those who have made their Advanced Dining Reservations (ADRs) months in advance.  But, many times guests an easily snag an ADR only a few days in advance or even (gasp!) walk up to the podium and be seated relatively quickly.  I’m not sure why Kona does not see more traffic.  Perhaps it is because there are no characters visiting tables and it is not in a park.  But, one of the features of the Kona I love is the ease of getting there.  With its location in the Polynesian resort the Kona Cafe is just a short monorail or ferry ride away from the Magic Kingdom an other area resorts.  I find taking a break from the Magic Kingdom to head over the the Polynesian for a quiet meal is a great way to recharge my park batteries.

Tonga Toast photo by Scarlett Litton

Breakfast is great at the Kona Cafe.  If you have a sweet tooth try the Tonga Toast.  This dish has its own cult following among Disney fans as one of those must have meals while on vacation at WDW.  If you think this is your average French toast, you are woefully mistaken; it consists of a huge piece of sourdough bread stuffed with bananas, fried, and then rolled in a cinnamon sugar mixture.  I love Tonga Toast, but my tummy can’t always it.  I ate breakfast at Kona Cafe three times on my last trip and only mustered up the appetite for this fan favorite once.  If this doesn’t sound like your cup of tea other selections like the Somoan (a poached egg served over smoked pork hash and Hollandaise sauce) or the Big Kahuna (a sampling of breakfast foods) will be more up your alley.  The restaurant also offers standard breakfast options for those with a less adventurous palate.

While the food is fantastic in the morning hours at the Kona Cafe the real star of the show may be the real Kona coffee

The Big Kahuna photo by Scarlett Litton

served here.  As many folks who travel to Walt Disney World on a regular basis can tell you the coffee throughout property is often awful.  However, at the Kona Cafe the standard brewed coffee provided is a Kona blend which truly made me happy on those chilly December mornings on my last trip.  Guests can also opt to order a French press pot of pure Kona coffee for about $7.50 if they are coffee connoisseurs.  Between the stellar java options and the yummy food I can’t recommend the Kona Cafe for breakfast enough!

Kona Cafe seating area photo by AJ of

Lunch is also very tasty at this hidden gem restaurant.  I most recently dined here in December when we walked up with at least 10 people.  We only had to wait a short time before being seated and treated to lovely service by a very sweet cast member.  We were all starving so appetizers were ordered including the sticky wings which I sampled.  This platter is meant for two people, but if people in your party only want to have a few chicken wings you could certainly split it among a few people.  These scrumptious morsels could also just be ordered as your meal (they are that good).

For my entree I opted for the Asian noodle bowl which consists of a spiced broth, an assortment of fresh veggies, and bits of strip steak served with rice noodles.  On a chilly day when my stomach was a little off from days of vacation eating and drinking, it was the perfect choice.  Not only was this dish really yummy, but it felt light yet filling.  I would certainly order it again.  Other folks at my table also enjoyed the fish tacos, the island chicken sandwich, and others.  I look forward to heading to here for a leisurely afternoon meal again.

I am yet to try dinner at the Kona Cafe, but I have heard great things and I can’t wait to give

Potstickers Photo by AJ of

it a shot myself.  Appetizers at dinner time include those fantastic sticky wings, potstickers, and shrimp and coconut curry soup (among other yummy sounding options).  Sounds good right?  I’ve heard good things about the strip steak entree and several of the other options like pomegranate barbecue pork chops and tuna oscar also sound tempting.  The island themed fare continues with desserts like pineapple upside down cake and a Kilauea torte.  There is even a prix fixe menu available in the evenings offering guests a choice of selected appetizers, entrees, and desserts.   If you can’t get an ADR for O’hana’s dinner service, but still have a hankering for an island accented meal (perhaps a drink with an umbrella in it?)  give Kona a try as a great alternative.

As you can tell I really enjoy the Kona Cafe; I highly recommend this restaurant any time of day.  Another great tidbit about Kona,  guests can check out an area just outside the main dining area which serves coffee (the Kona blend) and pastries in the morning and is converted into a sushi bar later in the day.  I’ve heard guests rave about the high quality meals they’ve had at the sushi bar, but I am yet to try it myself since sushi isn’t really my thing.

What about you?  Do you love the Kona Cafe as much as I do? Or maybe you’ve had a lousy experience there?  Either way I’d love to hear all about it!

Next week I’ll keep up the Polynesian theme and discuss my recent stay there!

Posted on January 26, 2011

39 Responses to “Aloha from the Kona Cafe”

  • What I love about Kona is it’s consistently good and also priced fairly. It also seems to be easier to get into than say Ohanas and it’s somewhere I love to go often.

  • Kona has become a ‘must’ for us every time we are in the parks. For desert, the pineapple upside-down cake is second to none. Also be sure to ask for their bread. It is a sweet roll type of loaf, and is served with macadamia nut butter. A fantastic treat and is, with your meal, ‘on the mouse.’

    I have to say however, that this past weekend we were dissapointed to notice that our beloved curry shrimp soup had been changed. The server said they no longer cook the shrimp in the soup, but the difference in texture and flavor seems greater than that. Still good, but not nearly as tasty as before.

    • Thanks for the feedback and for reading, Billy! I’ve had the bread with the macadamia nut butter and it is delicious so good call there! When I go for dinner I’ll have to give the pineapple upside down cake a try.

      Bummer to hear about the soup being changed it sounded so yummy. I hope you continue to enjoy your meals at the Kona Cafe!

  • Last January, my wife, dad and I went to Kona for lunch while the rest of the family ate in the Castle. While our meal experience didn’t have the bells and whistles that theirs did, when we described the food to them, we all agreed that our meal itself was far superior. Love its location literally off the monorail entrance. Loved the fact that we were warm and dry inside during lunch, then return to MK afterwards for more touring when the rest of the cold and soggy masses were exiting the park from a midday rain!

    • I’ve heard not so great things about the food in the castle, so I’m not all surprised at this assessment. I’ve also heard people say they enjoyed their steak more at Kona than at the beloved Le Cellier! I’m glad you enjoyed your meal and I hope you get to return soon! Thanks for reading!

  • One word sticky wings!

  • by Debbie from Chicago on January 26, 2011, at 1:22 pm EST

    We were there for dinner the first time in October. We had the teriyaki steak that was very good and my 5 year old had the best time with the tallest ice cream sundae I’ve ever seen. We were staying at the poly and I think everything was really good, but I don’t know that I would go out of my way if I weren’t staying there.

    • The beauty of Kona is how it is so easy to get to even if you are relying on Disney transportation. I find most of the table service options in the Magic Kingdom lackluster so its really easy to hop on the monorail or ferry to get to the Poly for your meal. I’m glad you enjoyed your meal there! Thanks for reading!

  • My favorite meal in all of WDW is Tuna Oscar at Kona Cafe…. well, I actually can’t choose a favorite, but it’s in the Top 3. We try to hit Kona on every trip. But I have never been there for breakfast. (Gasp) So that is on my must-do list.

    • When I saw that on the menu when I was doing my research I really wanted to try it. I’m glad I’ve got someone backing that up now! Breakfast is great and they have a lot of unique menu items you won’t find in other restaurants. I hope you enjoy it when you get to experience it! Thanks for reading!

  • Not a comment about Kona, but I did eat at the sushi bar, and it’s only OK. If you haven’t had sushi in New York, Boston, San Francisco or other locations with a significant Japanese community — and I’m not talking about a high end place, just a corner sushi restaurant — then you’ll think it’s pretty good. But it’s not that good, really. Even compared to some other sushi places I’ve been to around the country, it’s a step down. But it’s adequate for a meal if you’re staying at the Poly. Just don’t make a special trip to get the sushi.

    • Thanks for the insight, Geoff. Since I haven’t eaten there myself I was just going by what others had told me. I hope our readers find your thoughts on the sushi bar helpful and might prefer to head over to the Japanese Pavilion in Epcot or save a sushi meal for home! Thanks for reading and commenting!

  • It was so nice to think about Kona on this VERY SNOWY day we are having today. On my August trip, I had a chance to visit O’Hana but didn’t have the opportunity to go to Kona. Luckily, that was corrected on my last trip. I was there for lunch and the food was really good, the atmosphere was pleasant and island-like, and the food was reasonably priced. I would definitely recommend it. I’m hoping to go back for breakfast next time I am in Disney!

  • by Caroline Baggerly on January 26, 2011, at 5:26 pm EST

    I love the Kona Cafe. Great Post Kristen!!!

  • Kona for dinner is definitely yummy! Hubby and I went there last December. The teriyaki steak with potatoes was great, and I agree that the bread was delicious.

  • by Chris O'Connor on January 26, 2011, at 8:07 pm EST

    Enjoyed your post- during this ridiculous winter we’re having, it’s nice to think of Kona! It’s a terrific lunchtime escape from the zaniness of the MK and just an easy monorail ride away.

  • We always eat at Kona the first night of our vacation. Don’t miss the amazing chocolate desserts…they are works of art!

  • Great article–but Kona is one of the best-kept secrets in WDW. Let’s just keep it between us. 😉

    This is a must-do dinner for our family each time we’re in WDW. The sticky wings are my favorite wings anywhere, and the Teriyaki Steak is the most underrated steak on property.

  • unfortunately my last experience at Kona was very bad due to horrible service. We were there to celebrate our friends birthday. 1st the chef had forgotten the tofu in my dish, instead of just bringing me tofu, the server took my dish and brought me a new one ( that had less noodles) Someone at the table arranged for a birthday dessert (or so they thought) – it never came. Our friend ordered one of the meals that came with a dessert, she had to insist on it to be delivered. Then they turned the lights out on us. Finally when the dessert came – no one sang happy birthday with us – just us and we sang loudly but it was ignored. I’ve become very disappointed in Ohana due to this.

    • I’m sorry to hear you had a lousy time at Kona! It sounds like a rough night. Every restaurant has a bad night and I hope you give it a shot again, but I totally understand if you don’t. Thanks for the comment!

  • I have to echo your comments on Kona Cafe. We had dinner there after not being able to get a table at Ohana one evening. Almost dejectedly, we accepted a table at Kona for dinner. It was wonderful, and reminded us of some of our better meals on the Big Island which we frequent occasionally. I’m a big fan of Kona coffee as well (the 100%, not blend), so I’m pleasantly surprised to hear they offer that option, well worth the price in my opinion! (I admit, I’m a coffee snob). Thanks for the great article.

    • Isn’t it great when you get a happy surprise like that? I’m glad you had a good meal and you really need to get there for breakfast to enjoy the coffee and the yummy food. Thanks for reading and for the comment!

  • hi, outstanding blog page, and a decent understand! definitely one for my bookmarking.

  • Kristen,
    Next time you go down there for breakfast, you might try the Samoan…it’s eggs benedict on a bed of hawaiian bbq. Wow. We ordered Tonga Toast and The Samoan for the table and shared them boths. Fantastic.

  • Great article on one of my favorite restaurants. Don’t forget to save room for the Chocolate Fondue……….YUM!

  • Our family loves Kona cafe, especially Tonga toast, and I had the best creme brulee I’ve had in my life there- really, and I’m a creme brulee affectionado :). I will say we had pretty terrible service our 2nd visit last trip though, but she didn’t affect the food at all.
    I also wanted to note that we’re NUTS over the Kona sushi bar. I think perhaps Geoff must have gone on an off night? Over our 2 week Poly stay we visited several times and were blown away. We’re from Toronto, ON- a very mulicultural city, so we know our sushi. My husband now has an obsession with Poke too, and wants to stay Poly again just to be closer to it! The chef also talked about plating with our 15yo for a while and was a really nice guy. We’ll be back.

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