In 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.
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.
Let’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.