*This gluten free dining experience took place in August 2018. Notes about dairy free options and modifications are included in this post.
Dinner at Sanaa
Sanaa, located at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Kidani Village, has long been one of my favorite table service restaurants to dine at. While it used to be a bit of a hidden gem of a restaurant on property, word has gotten out and Sanaa is now an extremely popular dining location known for its delicious and unique food options and theming. Recently, we dined at Sanaa with friends who were visiting from out of town. They also have special dietary needs, so we’re sharing some of the dishes that we ordered and they ordered on this visit.
When it comes to atmosphere and theming, Sanaa is simply one of the best themed restaurants at Disney World. Inspired by the flavors of Africa and India, you’ll find touches of this theme throughout the restaurant.
Sanaa also means “Work of Art,” in Swahili, and you’ll find this restaurant a true work of art in its food and decor.
I love that it feels like you are dining al fresco under the trees. You’ll notice that posts and light fixtures help reflect that theme.
The restaurant also has ample window seating, perfect for gazing out onto the Savannah where Sanaa is set. We had dinner in the late evening. So, unfortunately, we did not get a good view of the animals out on the Savannah that night.
If you’re looking for a good time to view animals, we absolutely love the morning time when Sanaa offers a quick service breakfast. The views are stunning, and it’s a perfect way to enjoy a low-key meal with an amazing view. You can read more about this in our breakfast review of Sanaa.
Sanaa also has a charming bar/lounge area. We love this as a place to grab a drink and the gluten free and dairy free bread service offered at this restaurant. You can also order any items off the regular menu at the bar/lounge too.
Of course, our favorite part about Sanaa is the food. We love the African and Indian inspired options that are super flavorful and delicious. Like most Disney World restaurants, Sanaa does carry an allergy-friendly menu. But, we recommend speaking to a chef directly as many dishes not listed on the allergy-friendly menu are actually either gluten free or can be easily modified to be gluten free or even dairy free.
While we were waiting to speak with a chef, we decided to order some drinks. Brandon ordered the African Starr Mojito which is a rum-based drink. We love the freshness of this drink, which is perfect for the summertime.
I just can’t go to Sanaa without ordering the bread service. That’s because they can make a version of their traditional bread service with gluten free and dairy free naan bread. All of the dips that come with this bread service are gluten free and only the cucumber raita dip contains dairy. So, if you’re gluten free, dairy free, or even vegan, you’ll have a ton of choices with this appetizer.
Though Brandon is not gluten free, he eats gluten free dishes a lot. And, admittedly, he has not always enjoyed every gluten free version of certain dishes. However, he agrees that the gluten free and dairy free bread service at Sanaa is a total winner. And, we both happily scarfed down the bread service.
Ever the condiment queen, many of you know that I love a good dip or sauce. Thankfully, the bread service accompaniments are all outstanding. My favorites includes the Mango Chutney, shown here, which is sweet with a slight bit of spiciness.
I am also a big fan of the Tomato Date Chutney and Coriander Chutney too. Brandon’s favorite dip was the Tamarind Chutney which has a bit of a sweet and sour taste to it.
One of our friends also ordered the Scallop Chana which comes with Seared Scallops, Chana Dal, Wilted Greens, and Citrus Gastrique. It is marked safe for Gluten/Wheat, Egg, Fish, and Soy Allergies.
Because we did not request this dish be marked as an allergy, we did not try this appetizer. Our friend said it was quite good and that the scallops were well cooked.
When it came to entrees, we had quite a few special diets dishes. I ordered Today’s Sustainable Fish with Pan-roasted Swordfish over Geelrys Rice, Sukama Wiki, and Citrus Butter. Oddly, this dish was marked as safe for Egg, Peanut/Tree Nut, and Shellfish Allergies but not Gluten/Wheat. But, the chef said it was able to be prepared gluten free. I’m still not sure what ingredient contained gluten, as I received all the listed components.
Overall, this was definitely a solid dish. The swordfish was slightly overcooked. But, all of the components were delicious and paired well together. This was definitely an improvement from the last version of the Sustainable Fish that I had and wasn’t wowed by.
Brandon ordered the Grilled New York Strip with Warm New Potato Salad, Harvest Vegetables, and Bain’s Butter. This dish is marked safe for Gluten/Wheat, Egg, Fish/Shellfish, Peanut/Tree Nut, and Soy Allergies. He asked for the potato salad to be swapped for mashed potatoes, which the restaurant was able to do with no issues. Overall, he said this was very good. And, as you can see, the portion was quite large!
One of our friends who dined with us has an extensive number of special dietary needs that include avoiding gluten/wheat, dairy, soy, corn, tomatoes, peas, onions, vinegar, and sugar. With this in mind, he definitely needed to speak to a chef about a customized option. The chef did a great job at creating a composed dish that included sauteed vegetable stir-fry and braised beef in a coconut milk sauce.
Overall, he was very happy with what he was served. And, we were all impressed with how accommodating and creative the chef was at creating something tasty and safe for my friend.
It was also my friend’s birthday. And, the chef prepared a no sugar added (and no fake sugars) tapioca pudding made with coconut milk, cinnamon, and fresh fruit. We all had a chance to taste this. Overall, I was impressed given my friend’s restrictions and the flavors of the dish served. As expected, the tapioca pudding wasn’t overly sweet. But, it had a nice hint of sweetness with the fruit.
Sanaa continues to be one of my favorite Disney restaurants. I love the variety of options and how special diets friendly the menu is. Add in a great theme and amazing view of the Animal Kingdom Lodge Savannah, and you have a restaurant that is a must do. In fact, we almost always bring friends visiting to Sanaa for something unique and memorable. Want to learn more about Sanaa’s special diets meal options? Check out this recent review from my friend Alexis from Alexis’s Gluten Free Adventures.
Have you been to Sanaa? What did you think of the special dietary needs options when you dined there?