*This gluten free dining experience took place in February 2020. It includes information about dairy free options, as well as a review of fish/shellfish free, peanut free, cabbage free, hazelnut free, and chicken & turkey free options.
Dinner at Sanaa
Sanaa, located at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – Kidani Village, is a long-time favorite of mine and my family’s. In fact, we’ve been going to Sanaa since it’s opened back in 2009. I remember the days when this restaurant was totally off-the-beaten-path and a hidden gem. Of course, now everyone knows about Sanaa and its fantastic special dietary needs options. Recently, Brandon surprised me with a reservation to Sanaa to celebrate my birthday. He knows how much I love Sanaa, so it was such a sweet surprise to celebrate there on my birthday.
Sanaa means “work of art” in Swahili, and this restaurant truly is a work of art. From the moment you arrive, you’ll see beautiful decor inspired by its African roots.
Sanaa has a variety of seating options that include excellent views of the savannah at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort. On this visit, we were seated in a cozy corner away from the main seating area and the outdoor viewing areas. Given that it was late and dark outside, neither of us minded being tucked away a bit.
The restaurant was quite busy and the seating areas near us did fill up quickly. I do love that it felt a bit removed from the rest of the restaurant.
When you dine at Sanaa, you’ll notice that the decor resembles trees in a forest. You’ll see lots of interesting theming and beautiful decorations. I especially loved the light fixtures near our table.
And who doesn’t love a hidden Mickey? Not only is there a hidden Mickey in the table design, but the plates on our table created a hidden Mickey too!
We were both very excited to enjoy the menu that evening and enjoy a relaxing and delicious meal.
Like most Disney owned restaurants, Sanaa does offer an allergy-friendly dinner menu. Guests with special dietary needs can also speak directly with a chef if they have questions or are interested in items not listed on the allergy-friendly menu. On our visit, we opted not to speak with a chef — primarily because we are very familiar with the menu.
Of course, no visit to Sanaa is complete without ordering their allergy-friendly bread service. This includes allergy-friendly naan bread that is marked safe for Gluten/Wheat, Egg, Fish/Shellfish, Milk, Peanut/Tree Nut, and Soy Allergies.
The bread service also comes with a variety of sauces. All of the sauces are gluten free and dairy free, except the cucumber raita which contains dairy. If you’re dairy free, simply swap out the raita with a double of your favorite sauce!
If you want to experience a unique bread service, the one from Sanaa is truly unique. The allergy-friendly naan bread is always so good, and even Brandon as a gluten eater absolutely loves this bread. We both enjoy the sauces, and each of us has our favorites. Mine have to be the mango chutney, coriander chutney, roasted red pepper hummus, and tomato date chutney. Brandon loved the tomato date chutney, tamarind chutney, and the red chili sambal.
One side note. I had heard that Sanaa might be upcharging for the allergy-friendly bread service. On our visit, we paid the $18 normal rate and were not charged an $5, and our server didn’t mention it either. I’m hoping that if they were charging an upcharge that this was for a very brief period and that they have stopped. Disney has never upcharged for any allergy-friendly product in my 11 years of dining there with a special dietary need, and it was definitely be frustrating if they started this. If you’ve been to Sanaa recently, be sure to let me know what your experience was too!
I debated back and forth between so many of the Sanaa entrees. I love them all! I ended up ordering the Potjie-inspired entrees because it’s ages since I’ve ordered any of their curries. I opted to get the Goan Seafood Curry and the Cilantro-Coconut Vegetables. Both of the dishes are gluten free, and the cilantro-coconut vegetable dish was dairy free and vegan.
I’m glad I ordered the Cilantro-Coconut Vegetables because wow, was the Goan Seafood Curry spicy! In the past, it hasn’t lived up to the Goan curry reputation, but it sure did on this visit. Thankfully, I had a milder and not at all spicy second dish to help cool down the spice of the seafood curry. Both were excellent, and I would definitely get this combination again.
Brandon ordered the Grilled New York Strip with Mashed Potatoes, Harvest Vegetables, and Bain’s Butter. This was marked safe for Gluten/Wheat, Egg, Fish/Shellfish, Peanut/Tree Nut, and Soy Allergies. It was also safe for cabbage, chicken & turkey allergies.
Overall, Brandon said his entree was very good. He really liked the mashed potatoes, and he said the steak was well-cooked. I think the only major criticism with his steak was that it was maybe a little fattier than he would have liked. But, overall, a solid option if you’re a steak fan and less inclined to order some of the more spicier dishes at Sanaa.
For dessert, I ordered the African Triple Chocolate Mousse. This is made with Nyangbo Dark Chocolate from Ghana, Tanariva Milk Chocolate from Madagascar, Orelys Blond Chocolate, Chocolate Almond Biscuit, and Strawberries. It is almond flour based, so the dish is gluten free, as is (but contains dairy). If you do have nut allergies, we were advised that Brandon should avoid this with his hazelnut and peanut allergies.
Overall, this is a fantastic dessert, and if you can have dairy, one I highly recommend. It’s rich and decadent and the perfect way to end a meal at Sanaa.
As an aside, my friend Alexis from Alexis’s Gluten Free Adventures asked if we were offered the complimentary birthday Kulfi which is often given out to guests with birthdays. Unfortunately, we were not. But, if you have a birthday, it’s always worth asking about. Most of the Kulfis should be gluten free (contains dairy). You can read more about them on Alexis’s Gluten Free Adventures.
Sanaa never fails to disappoint. I absolutely love the flavors of all of the dishes I’ve had at the restaurant. And, I love that so many dishes are already naturally gluten free (and dairy free) or can be easily modified. Plus, they have one of the best bread services on Disney property! I’m so glad we got to enjoy a meal here, and even better that I got to enjoy my birthday there with Brandon. It was definitely a wonderful and memorable experience.
Have you been to Sanaa? What is your favorite thing to order when you dine there?