When visiting Orlando we always make a stop in Downtown Disney. Our focus has always been the Marketplace but the West Side offers a whole other selection of shops, fun and dining, including a new favourite.
On a recent trip to Disney World we were looking for some new dining options that we could use as part of our dining plan and that didn’t require theme park access. We took a chance on Bongos Cuban Cafe and I’m glad we did.
Located in the vibrant Downtown Disney West Side, full of funky shops and live entertainment in the courtyard, you’ll find this two-storey restaurant. The main floor offers a wide-open dining area that blends into a bar. The second floor has quite booths nestled in alcoves but we opted for the more open seating over looking the first floor and the live band. You’ll also find outdoor seating on the second floor overlooking the bustling shopping area.
I fell in love with Bongo Cuban Cafe even before ordering dinner. It was the live band. I love live music. There’s something about live Cuban or jazz music that seems so club-like. No matter how good a recording a restaurant may have, nothing beats live music in my opinion. Our second floor seat gave us a great view of the band without being overwhelmed by the volume.
I found our hostess to be rather uninterested in her job and our arrival but our server more than made up for her attitude. He was chatty, friendly, and very helpful when it came to explaining the menu and offering suggestions. Of course I had to start my meal with a cocktail. The original Cuban mojitos was refreshing and not alcohol heavy in taste. I loved the fresh mint leaves and I even got to keep the bongo shaped glass it came in.
I was at a loss when it came time to decide on a meal so I went with The Cuban Tour – A meat lovers delight, Roast Pork, Shredded Seared Beef and Shredded Chicken, served with Green Plantains, White Rice, Black Beans & three sauces. Chimmi Churri, Homemade Mojo and a Cumin Mojo all served in a warm skillet. Source menu pdf.
This was perfect, giving me a little taste of a few different dishes. Actually my husband and oldest daughter also order this dish. It’s a great if you can’t decide on just one thing but I think I’d order this again next time). The dish is quite filling but we made sure to keep some room for dessert, at least to share.
Bongos Cuban Cafe has worked the palm motif throughout, such as on the stair railings and the ceiling. The big columns inside are designed to look like you’re sitting under palm trees as the evening approaches they light up.
I loved the meat-focused dishes with a little spice but if you have picky little eaters you’ll find some basics on the kids menu, including cheese pizza and thin tenderized steak.
The amazing service and delicious food coupled with the live music makes Bongos Cuban Cafe a new family favourite for Downtown Disney dining. I especially love that I can use my Disney Dining Plan, making one less thing I have to worry about on vacation.