*This gluten free dining experience took place in December 2019 and includes information about dairy free options too.
Lunch at The Mara
The Mara, located at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Jambo House, is a quick service restaurant that serves classic fast food fare with an African twist. It’s long been one of my favorite resort quick service restaurants on Disney property. Recently, I had lunch at The Mara while my family was staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge on vacation.
The Mara is named for a river flowing through Kenya and Tanzania. And, you’ll see decor in the restaurant that follows this theme. In fact, as you enter the restaurant, you’ll see touches of an African reserve, which leads you to the resort’s pool area.
I do love how charming the restaurant’s interior is with wooden beams and light fixtures resembling trees.
On this visit, I did not spend a lot of time in the restaurant because I took my lunch to-go back to my family’s DVC villa. As you can see from the photo, the restaurant has a lot of theming, even in the ordering area.
Because it was December, there were quite a few holiday decorations up too. I love this holiday wreath near the to-go station.
Like many Disney owned restaurants, The Mara does have an allergy-friendly lunch and dinner menu. You can also speak directly to a manager or chef trained to accommodate special dietary needs orders. I always recommend this if you have additional questions, multiple dietary needs, or want to see if items can be easily customized. On this visit, I spoke with one of the managers and also looked at the allergy-friendly menu.
On this visit, I didn’t want anything too heavy, because my family was heading to the Magic Kingdom after lunch. With this in mind, I ordered the Mara Salad which is marked gluten free on the allergy-friendly menu. Once I ordered this with the manager, she gave me a pager and an allergy order form to take with me to the cash register.
Because I have been able to reintroduce dairy back into my diet, you’ll notice I only had gluten listed. But, if you have multiple dietary needs, they will each be marked on the order form.
On this visit, I opted for the Mara Salad which is marked gluten free on the allergy-friendly menu. I believe it could easily be made dairy free by omitting the feta cheese and possibly adjusting the dressing.
The Mara Salad was really excellent. It came with House-grilled Chicken Breast sliced over a bed of Mixed Greens with Red Onions, Lentils, Chickpeas, Cucumbers, Tomatoes and Feta served with Chili-Cilantro Vinaigrette Dressing on the side. I found the salad extremely hearty and very flavorful, and I would definitely get it again.
If you’re dairy free, I recommend talking to a chef about options at The Mara. The restaurant does carry allergy-friendly chicken tenders which are both gluten free and dairy free, as well as sandwiches that can be easily made gluten free and dairy free too. On my most recent previous visit, I ordered the turkey and avocado club sandwich which was made gluten free and dairy free by swapping out the bun.
While it wasn’t anything fancy, I really enjoyed the Mara Salad at The Mara. It was much heartier than I expected and a great lunch or light dinner option. The dressing was extremely flavorful, and I really loved all of the components together. I would definitely get this and many of the other unique quick service options at The Mara. It’s a great go-to restaurant, especially if you’re staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge.
Have you been to The Mara? What did you enjoy when you dined there?