*This dining review took place in August 2013.
|Mara is located by the Pool at AKL Jambo House|
Jambo everyone! The Animal Kingdom Lodge consistently remains one of my favorite resorts on property, not just because of the amazing location but also because of the wonderful restaurants located at this resort. Not only do they provide great African inspired meals, but they also are terrific at accommodating for gluten free & dairy free diners. The Mara is the Animal Kingdom Lodge’s quick service location, and I have eaten here many times for lunch & dinner; however, I’d never eaten here for breakfast. On this particular occasion, I had the opportunity to grab a quick breakfast here and see the great offerings they provide. I was thrilled to have a really tasty breakfast here and found it to be one of my favorite QS locations for breakfast on property!
One of the things that you should know about the Mara is that it can be challenging to find, if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Tucked outside on the ground floor, you’ll want to head past the pool area to find this location. If you take the elevators to the ground floor, walk past the Boma & Jiko entrances and head outside.
You’ll find that the Mara offers traditional fare, as well as lots of African inspired options, as well. This is true for both breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s great to see that even for the quick service meals, the offerings are really unique to this location.
For breakfast, they have a lot of your traditional fare–from the Mickey waffle to the Bounty Platter (which is pretty much at every quick service location). Of course, they do have some unique offerings like Bobotie platter; however, Bobotie has tons of dairy in it, and needs to be specially prepared well in advance if you wanted a GF/DF version (I did this once at Boma. Chef Amber who is now at Kona Cafe made me this amazing dish. See the review HERE). There is also an African Inspired Breakfast Platter which is pretty much GF/DF (depending on how they prepare the pap, etc.).
When I arrived, I asked the cast member on duty for a chef. While I waited, I explored the restaurant–noting that some of the old standbys like the Special Diets stand are no longer there. That’s a bummer! I also didn’t see any Babycakes in the refrigerated section either (I was hoping they might be there). It seems like they have reduced some of the offerings.
Chef Chris from over at Boma came over to assist me. I think he thinks I stalk him! He was like, “I know you” Yep. I come here waaaay too much. He asked what I was in the mood for, and I mentioned I thought the Bounty Platter, mostly because I wanted allergy Mickey waffles (what can I say, you all know I’m a sucker for them!). He said something about being able to make the African Inspired Platter as well. The good news is that I’m really familiar with the Boma menu and I know the scrambled eggs are safe and that often the pap is dairy free. The chakalaka and grilled tomatoes are also great GF/DF, vegetarian and vegan choices. The only thing I didn’t know about was the Merguez sausage which I didn’t ask about. Basically, I knew I wanted the regular platter so I didn’t investigate too much (sorry!). Also, if you like quinoa, you can get hot quinoa here that is also gluten free & dairy free. Just avoid the “toppings” out in the main condiment and drink area–always ask for those from the back. I didn’t take a photo but let’s just say that area was pretty cross contaminated! Chef said it would take about 5-8 minutes.
It all came out pretty quickly, and I will say, I felt like he just went to the Boma kitchen and grabbed and/or made stuff! It was all very Boma like!
|Now this is a bounty platter I can get on board with!|
Having had my share of bounty platters throughout the resort, I will say hands down this is the best one I’ve ever had. I think it was the combination of both AKL prepared food & it being very fresh. But, seriously, this was amazing. The scrambled eggs were very yummy. Perfectly cooked. The bacon seemed a little meatier (does that make sense?) from the stringy bacon you usually get, though I’ll say I’ve been seeing some bacon improvements lately. I skipped the sausage on this platter because sausage and I are not friends. The best part were the breakfast potatoes which have the same seasoning as the ones at Boma (soooo good!) and the Mickey waffles. I definitely scarfed all of this down.
Overall, I plan to go back to the Mara for breakfast again. I get all the flavor of Boma at half the price! Of course, there’s lots of Boma faves you can’t get here, but if you want a quick fix, this is excellent. I also like Chef Chris a lot. He’s pretty goofy, but he always makes sure I get what I need for a safe meal. And of course, the Animal Kingdom Lodge is one of my favorite resorts for theming.
Definitely a solid 9 out of 10 for this particular meal. Overall, I’d give it an 8 but I can’t complain for breakfast at all. I would highly recommend this quick service location!