*This dining experience took place in May 2017.
Dinner at Satu’li Canteen
We recently had the chance to go to a Disney Annual Passholder preview of Pandora: The World of Avatar — a new land located in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. We were so excited to check out all the attractions, the new places to explore, and of course, the food! I’d been hearing great things about the quick service restaurant, Satu’li Canteen, located in Pandora and couldn’t wait to check it out. Here’s a recap of our visit. Since this was our first visit, this is a bit of a lengthy post with lots of photos of the atmosphere and the food!
Be prepared to be hungry!
The entire land of Pandora is beautifully themed. As you enter the Valley of Mo’ara where the land is located, you’ll notice floating mountains, lush plants and flowers, vibrant colors, and lots of cool sounds. It’s pretty impressive. Tucked in a corner of the land is Satu’li Canteen, a fast-casual quick service restaurant.
When you enter, you notice that the Satu’li Canteen is a re-purposed mess hall, formerly used by the RDA, a group that previously (as we learned in the movie) tried to strip Pandora of its rich resources. No longer in use now that RDA is gone, ACE (Alpha Centauri Expeditions) has re-claimed the space for a new dining experience for visitors to Pandora. They serve food that highlights the natural abundance of Pandora.
So, it’s gotta be good, right?!
But, first, let’s explore the theming of the restaurant. The first thing that you notice is this combined use of a former mess hall and a new cafeteria. There’s a bit of an industrial feel to it, but it’s been transformed with local cultural decorations.
There’s both indoor and outdoor seating for guests. We chose to sit in a large booth inside, since we dined here about an hour before they closed for the evening.
There’s a lot of really detailed touches throughout the seating area, and I wish we would have spent more time here looking around. But, we had so much to get in on such a short amount of time!
Here are a few more photos from the dining area, including the outdoor seating.
Once we moved past the seating area, we went to order food. The ordering area looks pretty industrial and generic. It oddly reminded me of Cosmic Ray’s, probably because the ordering area looked very similar.
There’s a bit of a lengthy queue area, which is helpful when it gets crowded.
Overall, we thought the interior of the restaurant was very well done. We loved the story-line and thought the general theming really fit well with the movie and vibe they were setting up in Pandora.
Of course, there was so much in the park that I want to share with you all that’s not food related! If you want to see a bit of Pandora, check out Brandon’s video walkthrough, including a short video clip of Satu’li Canteen and our meal there!
But, of course, we all want to know about the food options! With a new restaurant, it’s always exciting to see how special diets friendly it will be. And, I’m pleased to report that I found Satu’li Canteen to be very special diets friendly. Plus, the food was just delicious.
When we first arrived, we were handed a regular menu for the restaurant.
I asked a cast member for the allergy friendly lunch and dinner menu, which I was given when we entered the ordering area.
If you compare both menus, you’ll find that the gluten free and dairy free options are pretty extensive. And, pretty much everything is naturally gluten free and dairy free on the bowl section of the menu. How cool is that?! Literally, the only thing I couldn’t get in a bowl was the fish and the black bean vinaigrette.
It also seems very vegetarian and vegan friendly too — though the only vegan sauce would be the charred onion chimichurri.
Of course, I do recommend that you speak with a cast member about any questions you might have with the menu. I spoke with a manager, and she brought out an iPad, instead of an ingredients binder, to go over with me. I was most curious about the creamy herb dressing which said it was dairy free. It does contain egg (it’s mayonnaise based), but I was happy to see a creamy sauce as an option.
Satu’li Canteen also serves breakfast, and I was able to see the allergy friendly breakfast menu too. I really want to go back for the Pork Hash, which sounds delicious. The breakfast menu seems like I might need to ask a lot more questions, but it’s nice to see so many gluten free options.
Both Brandon and I decided to get bowls for our meals. The bowls are completely customized. This means you choose your protein, your base, and your sauce. So, there’s lots of combination opportunities, depending on your dietary need. With so much being gluten free and dairy free, I was psyched for the choices.
I decided to order the Chopped Wood-Grill Chicken Bowl with Mixed Whole Grain and Rice and Charred Onion Chimichurri and Creamy Herb Dressing on the side. Each of these components were gluten free and dairy free.
All I have to say is wow.
It was that good. I was so impressed with the flavors and the quality of the food — especially for a quick service. I also loved that we got real plates, silverware, and trays. It was all beautifully presented.
I chose the chicken because I’d been hearing great things about the flavor, and it did not disappoint. There was a ton of grill flavor, and the chicken wasn’t dry at all. I opted for rice because I really hadn’t seen many reviews with rice included. Plus, I love rice so much. I found the rice to be well seasoned and the perfect base for my chicken — though I will definitely have to try the red and sweet potato hash too.
On top of my dish was a vegetable slaw that was light and refreshing. Both Brandon and I both enjoyed it a lot. I did not receive any Boba Balls on my tray. I’m not sure if there is gluten in it (I think there must be if it was omitted), but I know that it does contain yogurt, so it’s not dairy free. Brandon tried them on his bowl and did not enjoy them at all.
Because I love a good condiment, I had to try both of the gluten free and dairy free sauce options. The Charred Onion Chimichurri is on the right of this picture and was outstanding. I can’t say it was something super unique or special, but I love the bright herby flavors of a good chimichurri. This would go really well with the steak.
The Creamy Herb Dressing was good, but I have to say that I didn’t love it. I’d get it again for sure, but I’d choose the Chimichurri over the Creamy Herb Dressing. Still, I’m happy anytime something that is on the creamy-side is dairy free.
Overall, I can’t say enough good things about my bowl and the combination that I chose. Of course, now it just makes me want to go back to order different variations!
Brandon got the Slow-Roasted Sliced Grilled Beef with Red and Sweet Potato Hash and the Charred Onion Chimichurri on the side. This dish is also gluten free and dairy free. Unfortunately, we mistakenly forgot to order his as an allergy too, so that I could try it. I didn’t want to take a chance since it wasn’t prepared as an allergy, even though the dish is naturally gluten free and dairy free.
Overall, he really enjoyed this. If you like a rarer steak, I think you would enjoy the texture of the beef. If you like more well done beef, this might not be for you. I have to say that his portion of potatoes were huge. So, if you want the best bang for you buck on a filling meal, the potatoes are the way to go.
Here’s a close-up of Brandon’s steak bowl. You can see the Boba Balls on his slaw, which weren’t on mine. If you have any texture preferences or don’t like yogurt, I’d recommend just picking them off or requesting the meal without them. We actually saw a button the cashier screen to remove them from a dish.
As you can see by the trays, our meals were beautifully presented and looked great. The real trays (they weren’t plastic) were fantastic, and I really hope they don’t change these down the road.
On a quick note, I did try the Banshee Chardonnay, a wine made elusively for Pandora. (Brandon got the Mo’ara High Country Ale, which is most definitely NOT gluten free). I have to say at $9.00 the portion was small, and the wine wasn’t very good. It’s not something I’d order again. We were also surprised that there was not one gluten free dessert option, so we skipped dessert here.
I can’t say enough good things about Satu’li Canteen at Pandora. It’s a welcome addition to the theme park, and a real step up for quick service food. The food quality was exceptional, the special diets options were good, and the atmosphere was great. We plan on going back again for breakfast and for lunch or dinner too. I’m dying to try out some of the other bowl combinations when I visit!
What do you think about the offerings at Satu’li Canteen? What would you order?