/ Monday, September 9th, 2013

Kona CafeIn recent years, my family has established a few new traditions which we now adhere to on all of our Disney trips. We tend to always visit Epcot first and the Magic Kingdom last, sample at least one new food, and eat at Kona Café on the first night of our trip. Nestled on the second floor of the Great Ceremonial House at the Polynesian Resort, Kona Café serves a wide array of cuisine all inspired by its tropical Polynesian setting. It is a great restaurant to indulge in as it is so easy to get to from most places in WDW. As the Polynesian is located on the Monorail line, one only needs to take the Monorail from the Magic Kingdom, or get to the Ticket and Transportation Center from any other location and take the Monorail from there to the resort.

Upon first glimpsing Kona Café, you immediately get the sense of its size due to the open air feel of the dining room. I love this floor plan as it allows guests to look out into the atrium of the Great Ceremonial House and take in the lush vegetation, sounds of flowing water, and that distinct Polynesian lobby smell. (Seriously- what is that smell?? Someone please bottle it so I can buy it.) The décor throughout the dining room also features subtle details hinting at the South Seas such as wrought iron and glass displays, unique lighting fixtures, and tropical carpeting (look for a Hidden Mickey!). Adding to the open floor plan, there is also an open air pastry kitchen where diners can obtain a preview of all of the desserts and watch the pastry chefs create delicious goodies.

While you are waiting to be seated, you can take the time to explore the entire second floor of the Great Ceremonial House as your pager will work throughout that entire area. You can use this time to soak up the ambiance, browse the gift shop, or stop by the Tambu Lounge where you can check on sports scores on the big screen televisions and order pre-dinner drinks.

Kona Café is open for all three meals with breakfast ranging from 7:30am-11:45am. The heavy hitter during the breakfast hours is Tonga Toast- a delicious creation of sourdough French Toast stuffed with bananas and coated in cinnamon sugar. It is hands down one of the most delicious things I have ever tried! Other breakfast options include steak and eggs, omelets, pancakes, and The Samoan which features poached eggs with Hollandaise served over a smoked pulled pork hash. The most popular breakfast beverage is the Kona Coffee which is definitely needed if you are off for a long day in the parks.Kona Cafe

For lunch, Kona offers two distinct specials dubbed the Polynesian Plate Lunch. You can order either pan fried chicken with coconut and mango sauces or grilled teriyaki steak with grilled pineapple salsa. Lunch also features various sandwiches, tacos, and sushi options.

However, it is dinnertime where Kona Café really shines with its culinary offerings. Once you are seated, you are presented with Hawaiian bread and macadamia nut-honey butter which is whipped to perfection. Appetizers include lump crab cakes, seasonal artisan cheeses, salads, and sticky wings. Entrees include grilled curry-crusted lamb chops, sesame seared sea scallops, Pan-Asian noodles, and various sushi options. My favorite entrée is the Teriyaki-Style New York Strip which is served with rice and the most delectable sauce. For dessert you can’t go wrong with the banana chocolate crème brulee, Kilauea torte, or chocolate fondue.

Kona CafeLet’s also take a minute to talk about the Lapu Lapu. If you have read the post I wrote in the past centered on the best drinks in WDW, you know that I am obsessed with the Lapu Lapu. As we eat in Kona Café the very first night of our trip, it is when I finally have that drink in front of me that I enter into vacation mode. The Lapu Lapu features dark rum and tropical fruit juices with a splash of Bacardi 151 on top in a hollowed out pineapple. While it can be a little pricey, it is delicious and you definitely get that bang for your buck. You can order the Lapu Lapu at the Tambu Lounge while waiting to be seated or once you are already settled inside Kona Café.

While I can sing the praises of Kona Café all day long, there is one negative that you will encounter: the bathroom. The only bathroom easily accessible from Kona Café requires you to exit the restaurant and walk over towards Ohana. While the walk itself it no big deal, since the bathroom is shared by both restaurants and Ohana can become packed, the bathroom seems to always have a line and is rather small. While that whole situation isn’t the best, Kona Café is still a great place to dine.

Kona Café has easily become one of my favorite dining locations on property- it’s accessible, delicious, provides a great atmosphere, and you can’t go wrong with the Lapu Lapu! With all of those great factors, what are you waiting for? Go make that dining reservation now!

Do you love Kona Café? Which meal there is your favorite? Are you as obsessed with the Lapu Lapu as I am? Let me know in the comments below, I would love to hear from you!


Caitlin Corsello was born and raised in New York. She graduated from Adelphi University with a Masters in Mental Health Counseling in 2012. Her love for Disney started as an infant and has continued to grow with family vacations to Disney parks almost every year since. She holds a particular interest in WDW’s parks and attractions, never passing up an opportunity to visit. She looks forward to continuing to explore and learn about all things Disney and to share that passion with readers.



9 thoughts on “Disney From The Twenty-Something: Kona Cafe”

  1. Tony E (BacksideOfWater) says:

    Had my first Lapu Lapu last April. I loved it and can’t wait to try another one.

  2. Mary C says:

    Love the Kona Cafe. We have tried to duplicate the special butter and bread but it isn’t quite the same. I guess I need more tropical foliage at home. The Lapu Lapu is so large that I always sneak a few sips from my dinner companion.

  3. Tony says:

    We always eat at the Kona Cafe at least once on each trip. My family loves the Tonga Toast for breakfast. I usually grab my Lapu Lapu’s at the Tambu Lounge, but I think I’ll just order it at the table on our next visit. Thanks for the tip! 🙂

  4. Mike says:

    Give me the Samoan for breakfast any day. Pulled pork hash? I’ll take it. You can keep the tonga toast (I’m not a banana person).

    And yes Kona’s lunches and dinners are great too.

  5. Caitlin Corsello (giantnfl) says:

    Tony E — Isn’t it delicious? I’m glad you tried it!

    Mary C — That bread and butter combination is amazing, definitely worth trying to duplicate at home.

    Tony — I love Tonga Toast too, but I usually end up stopping in at Captain Cook’s one morning to pick some up and saving my Table Service meal for dinner at Kona Cafe. But I am glad you enjoyed the tip, it’s definitely easier to just order your Lapu Lapu from your table while enjoying some bread and appetizers!

    Mike — I have yet to sample the Samoan, but it does sound delicious!

  6. Danna Long says:

    Hadn’t eaten at the Kona for a while, but on our last visit in July we enjoyed a yummy lunch. Got the sticky wings for an appetizer–loved them! Great flavor!
    Haven’t tried the Lapu Lapu yet but you guys sold me on the fact that our next visit THAT is definitely going on my ‘must do’ list!! 🙂

  7. Renee says:

    Breakfast at Kona is a must for us on every trip – since my first bite of Tonga Toast! It is just as you decribed – the view, the lobby smell (i’m convinced its the plants and the soil- its been teh same since my first trip to the Polynesian in the 70’s) and, of course, the food. I have never thought about giving up breakfast at Kona to try dinner, but after reading this, i can hardly wait to try it.

  8. Caitlin Corsello (giantnfl) says:

    Danna Long — I love love the sticky wings! And I’m glad you’re going to try the Lapu Lapu next time, you won’t be disappointed =)

    Renee — Hmm, I like your theory on the source of that amazing smell! As for trying dinner, I think you will love it! And don’t worry, you can still get your Tonga Toast fix another morning at Captain Cook’s!

  9. John G says:

    I love the Kona cafe for the simple reason it sells Kona coffee. If you have never had real Kona coffee, give it a try! They make a French press carafe of it for you and it is the best coffee available at Disney by far. Make me dream of Hawai’i…