*This dining experience took place in August 2014.
The Mara, located in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – Jambo House, is one of my favorite quick service locations in the resorts. With African inspired fare, they have a really great variety of options that are also very special diets friendly. It’s one of my go-to spots for quick service breakfast (their breakfast potatoes are outstanding), though I also enjoy it for lunch and dinner.
On this particular occasion, I stopped by for lunch. I was staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge for a long weekend, and I had grand plans to sit around the pool, read, and relax. So, having lunch at the Mara was on my short list of things to do.
The menu at the Mara has a lot of traditional offerings, like the ones on the image above from the menu in the restaurant. However, I wanted to check out the African Stew. It had been a very long time since I’d had it and my friend Alexis from Gluten Free in Orlando had raved about the African Stew when she visited recently.
I was greeted by Chef Frank who came over from the Boma kitchen (one of the benefits of having the Mara and Boma share many of the same kitchen facilities), and he went over options with me. I knew fairly early on that I was interested in the African Stew, and he let me sample a bit to see if I still wanted to order it. The African stew is made beef, turkey, ham, carrots, potatoes, peas, chickpeas, and raisins – in a coconut milk broth. It is served over Basmatic rice, which means it’s a hearty dish.
I decided to get that, and I loved that the dish needed no modifications at all for gluten free and dairy free diners.
As you can see, the portion is huge. So huge, in fact, that I was unable to finish it. With sweet and salty notes, this dish gives you a lot of different flavors in a small bite. The curry flavor was very mild, so even if you think you might be overwhelmed by curry, I would recommend asking for a sample. It really is an approachable version of this stew. I liked the variety of vegetables and meats in this dish, and I equally enjoyed the hint of sweetness from the raisins and the coconut milk. It was subtle but definitely there.
Overall, I really enjoyed the African Stew. It was something different to order outside of the typical allergy chicken tenders that I so often order there and at other quick service locations. It would be the perfect entree for a cool winter day in Florida (and yes, we do get those) or a filling dinner. I would definitely order this one again!
A solid 7 out of 10 for this dining experience for great flavors and a naturally gluten free and dairy free dish.
Have you been to the Mara? Have you tried the African Stew? What are your favorite dishes to order at this quick service location?