*This gluten free dining experience took place in July 2019. It includes information about dairy free modifications, fish/shellfish, peanut, and chicken & turkey allergies.
Dinner at Kona Cafe
Kona Cafe, located at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, has become an instant favorite with us (and especially Brandon) after we visited a few months ago when they launched their new all-day lunch & dinner menu. We enjoy the low-key atmosphere and some of the new menu items, along with classic favorites.
The Polynesian Village Resort is one of my favorites on Disney property. I absolutely love the retro Mid-Century Modern / Tiki vibe.
On the night we went for dinner, the weather was pretty stormy outside — perfect for a tropical storm vibe, but not so great for guests planning on going to the Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show. In fact, we both commented on how busy the lobby and general public areas of the resort were. It’s definitely the busiest I’ve seen it in a long time.
Because it was so busy, we were told that we would be seated close to our reservation time instead of early. So, we took that time to wander the surrounding shops and found a nice cozy spot to sit and relax before dinner.
I forgot to take too many photos while we were in the restaurant — mostly because the restaurant was really extremely crowded. I usually only see Kona that crowded during breakfast, so this was definitely a surprise. The photo I took above was taken as we were leaving the restaurant and the table seatings were started to empty a bit.
As you can see, the restaurant is open to the second floor, so it’s very open and you can watch a lot of the action nearby, including the lines for the monorail!
Like most restaurants at Disney World, Kona Cafe does offer guests an allergy-friendly menu. I do always recommend that you speak with a chef too, if you have any questions or want to talk about other potential options for you to enjoy. I also especially recommend this if you have multiple special dietary needs.
After we ordered our meals, our server brought us bread service to enjoy. I was served the Deanna’s Gluten Free allergy-friendly rolls. These are gluten free, dairy free, and cover several other special dietary needs, as well. I was served regular butter, but you can request Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread too.
I can pretty much make a meal out of these and some sushi when we dine here for an easy and filling meal. I’ve had good luck with the rolls being properly heated here, and they have been enjoyable on every visit I’ve been there. For some reason ‘Ohana right next door never seems to properly heat these rolls, which is a bit odd since they share kitchen space.
Because Brandon can have gluten, he was brought the classic rolls served at the restaurant. These are peanut free.
For my entree, I ordered the Crispy Baked Cheddar Cheeseburger with Smothered in Crispy Cheddar, Maple-Black Pepper Bacon, Roasted Tomato, and Braised Onions. This is served on a gluten free bun. It is also marked safe for Egg, Fish/Shellfish, Peanut/Tree Nut, and Soy Allergies. It does contain dairy, but you could get a burger plain without cheese.
If you’re a cheese person, this is a must-order burger at Kona Cafe. There was so much cheese, that it was kind of a bit ridiculous. I absolutely loved the crispy baked cheddar crisp served on the burger. And, I especially loved the maple-black pepper bacon and braised onions. This was a pretty big burger, and all of the toppings were super flavorful. If you can have dairy, this is definitely a great option. One word of caution, the burger is fairly messy and greasy. So be prepared!
The fries served with it were also good (and made in a dedicated allergy fryer), but these are the fries you can get pretty much everywhere at Disney. So, they weren’t anything special.
If you can’t have dairy or are looking for something a bit lighter or seafood-based, look no further than Kona’s sushi options. On a previous visit, I ordered the California Roll. This is marked safe for Gluten/Wheat, Fish, Milk, and Peanut/Tree Nut Allergies. I am always really impressed with the quality of their sushi. They do a great job, and everything always tastes really fresh. Plus, they have gluten free soy sauce on hand too!
Brandon has been loving the Pork Belly Noodle Bowl with Bone Broth, Rice Noodles, Soy Egg, Mushrooms, Bok Choy, and Hot Sesame Oil. This is marked safe for Fish/Shellfish, Milk, and Peanut/Tree Nut Allergies and it’s also chicken & turkey free too. He’s ordered this three times now, so I’d say it’s a winner.
One interesting note about this dish and even the mashed potatoes he’s ordered several times. We both have noticed that these are not consistently prepared. The noodle bowl, for instance, sometimes has one type of mushroom and other times not. And, on this visit, his pork belly looked quite different from previous visits. He was also served the soy marinated egg, which he has not always had in his noodle bowl. We double-checked everything, but we were still noticing that the dish seems to vary depending on the night we visit.
Brandon also really enjoys the mashed potatoes. These contain dairy but are safe for Gluten/Wheat, Egg, Fish/Shellfish, Peanut/Tree Nut, and Soy Allergies and are also chicken & turkey free. These are super creamy and rich. So, they’re a good side to order if you really love mashed potatoes.
As you can see from this photo and the one above, the mashed potatoes have also been slightly inconsistent too. On Father’s Day, when we took Brandon’s dad out, we were served potatoes with the skins mashed into the dish. On this occasion, they weren’t, and we had the addition of green onion. So, I’d say consistency could be an issue at this restaurant. Thankfully, despite the consistency issues everything has tasted great for both of us, even with the variations.
With a much larger all-day menu that includes sandwiches, entrees, noodle bowls, and sushi, there’s just about something for everyone at Kona Cafe. Add to that a good amount of options for guests with special dietary needs, and you have the makings for a great table service option for lunch and dinner. Both of us agreed that this is definitely a location we’ll keep going back to for an easy-going and filling meal in one of our favorite resorts.
Have you been to Kona Cafe? What do you think of their new lunch & dinner options?