Many Disney World fans believe that the Polynesian Resort is the best Disney World Resort available on WDW property. And a lot of that is due to the overall atmosphere and decor of the resort—a wonderfully-themed Hawaiian oasis stationed in Orlando, Florida.

But the food at this resort is also worth nothing, as well.  And today, I’m going to review the Kona Cafe, which can be found at the Polynesian.   Find out if this is a restaurant worth stop by at, and even see how well Kona compares to the Ohana restaurant, as well.

Atmosphere

I have to be honest about this one. When you first get to Kona Cafe, you’re most likely going to be disappointed by it’s charm. Or shall I say lack of charm.

If you’ve stayed at The Polynesian or eaten at Ohana before, you’re probably expecting Hawaiian shirts, tiki men, and an overall tropical feeling. This is missing at Kona Cafe.

What you will find is an open concept restaurant complete with bright colored walls and carpet, a scarce amount of Polynesian decor on the wall, and a sushi bar. Overall it looks like a mediocre hotel restaurant that is going to serve you food that you’re most likely going to forget about the next day.

To top it off, it happens to be right next to Ohana, making the competition fierce and everywhere you go pretty dang loud. But don’t let that deter you from going here. You go to Kona for the food after all, not necessarily the atmosphere.

I think this is the reason many people consider it to be a hidden gem, however, I do know that the wait to get in is getting increasingly longer everyday! So be sure to make a reservation.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Let’s first do a Kona Cafe breakfast review.

Breakfast at Kona Cafe

Kona Cafe starts serving breakfast at 7:30 am and it ends at 11:15 am, making for a shorter breakfast period than Ohana. And there’s a good chance that when you go to check in for breakfast, you are going to find large crowds of people wandering around, waiting for their Ohana reservation, so don’t necessarily expect a quiet relaxed morning.

In fact, if you’re not a morning person, drink some coffee before you arrive. You’ll need the energy. If you hold off though, you can get yourself a cup of Kona Coffee, a coffee brewed in Hawaii. They’ve also got a mimosa flight and a Wasabi Bloody Mary if you’re looking for something a little bit stronger.

The food makes up for it all. If you’ve been to Hawaii before, I think you will be pleasantly surprised at the fact that Disney made an effort to serve truly Hawaiian foods all day long.

At breakfast, you will find things such as Loco Moco (a dish made of hamburger, rice, gravy, and eggs), pancakes with pineapple sauce and macadamia nut butter, and tonga toast—aka cinnamon sugar coated and banana stuffed french toast.

Even just typing this out has me hungry.

I’ve heard the tonga toast is the hottest item on the menu and from the looks of it, with good reason. The best part about it is that everything seems to be reasonably priced (for Disney, at least) with the most expensive thing (the tonga toast) being about $16 (although prices are of course always subject to change).

Let’s now discuss Kona Cafe’s Lunch and Dinner. options.

Lunch and Dinner

While walking around the Polynesian, we got hit by the hunger bug and tried to quickly determine where we wanted to eat.  We wanted good food that wasn’t quick service, and as much as we loved Trader Sam’s, we had been there one too many times and needed a change.

So, I pulled up the app on my phone, found a reservation for twenty minutes later (I got lucky) and we made our way over for lunch. When we got there, the restaurant was pretty empty, which truth be told is a blessing that I definitely didn’t expect.

It’s probably why we were able to get a reservation so easily. It only had to have been around 2 in the afternoon, so we must’ve missed the lunch rush. We were seated right away and began browsing the menu. We decided to start the meal out with the sticky wings, much like the ones served at Ohana’s dinner.

I loved them at Ohana and I loved them here too. Somehow, despite the fact that it is the same hotel, the wings at both restaurants are different. Now, you can never go wrong with wings and I’d highly recommend them at both Kona and Ohana.

As for the main meal, a friend and I decided to order two different things and split it, this way we could try more than one thing. I got the chicken plate and he decided to get the strip loin plate.

These were mouth watering good. We made the right choice, and I’d highly recommend both options.

Last but not least, you have to end with dessert. The friend that I was visiting with had been before and recommended the chocolate fondue and I couldn’t turn it down. I’m a sucker for anything covered in chocolate. Especially cookies and fruit!

It can be a bit pricey though, with the chicken being roughly $23 and the steak being about $34. So if you’re looking for something a little cheaper for lunch but don’t want to miss out on these options, find a quick service spot, maybe Trader Sam’s, and come here for dinner.

The lunch and dinner menu are almost identical, so you won’t be missing out no matter what time of day you stop by. Here’a a quick Disney tip though: much like Ohana, if you decide to visit Kona for dinner, if you can time it right, you can find yourself ending the night while watching the fireworks over the lake. It’s a truly magical experience that I recommend to everyone.  And as mentioned earlier, if you are using a Disney dining plan, most are accepted here so it’s really a win win for everybody.

My Top Favorites

I like to review the best items on the menu so that if you’re having trouble deciding what to get, you’ll have a starting point and options to consider! So if you’re visiting Kona Cafe and you’re not sure what to order, take a look at one of these items (no order). You can also find the full menu here.

  1. Tonga toast
  2. Sticky wings
  3. Liliko’i mimosa
  4. Lemon grass chicken plate
  5. Strip loin plate

Reservations

Okay, I told you guys I’d get to this part. I always recommend booking reservations for Disney dining however Kona is a little different. Do I still recommend a reservation? Absolutely. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever tried to go to a Disney restaurant without one just to be safe. However, Kona is a bit easier than a lot of other restaurants. Now, it has been awhile since I last visited but as I mentioned earlier, we were able to grab a reservation and get a table all under 20 minutes when there. You are able to book reservations months in advance and if this is something you’re interested in trying with Kona, I say go for it. It doesn’t hurt to book out in advance however, if you’re already at Disney and wandering around and decide it’d be a good spot to dine, check out the app or site and see if there are any openings. There’s a good chance you’ll be able to find something.

Overall

I think at one point Kona was in fact a hidden gem however it is gaining the popularity it deserves. From the outside it might not look like much but once you’re seated and scouring the menu, you are quickly going to fall in love. With it’s Polynesian influences, you will find yourself feeling like you’re sitting on the beach in Hawaii, ready to take a dip in the ocean. If you read other blogs or things like Yelp, you’ll find that most people agree. So what are you waiting for? Take the plunge and make that reservation. You won’t regret it.

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