Disney Vacation Libation – La Cava del Tequila

A funny thing happened on the way to the Gran Fiesta Tour…

Disney Vacation Libation – La Cava del Tequila

Megan and I, on our Epic Mother/Daughter Disney Summer Road Trip, had so many opportunities to try new things!  One of the best was finally getting to find out what all the hullabaloo is about for the little bar inside Epcot’s Mexico Pavilion.  So many of my Disney friends love La Cava del Tequila and have waxed poetic about it repeatedly. Now we know why!  We enjoyed ourselves so much, we visited twice!

The first time we stopped in La Cava, we really were on our way to the Gran Fiesta Tour.  We’d just finished a delicious lunch at La Cantina de San Angel and thought a leisurely boat ride with the Three Caballeros sounded like a great way to digest a bit and relax in the cool, dark interior of the Mexico Pavilion.  As we were making our way to the ride, I remembered how much I’d been wanting to at least check out the offerings in this much touted corner of World Showcase.  Megan was totally on board and we headed on in.

First of all, the greeters are fantastic!  Friendly and helpful, they offered to find us a table, but we asked if we could just go to the bar instead.  Of course!  The service at the bar was just as great.  We were greeted by a very friendly young woman who was happy to make recommendations and share the drink menu with us.

We noticed right away that there were tequila flights set up on the back of the bar, so we asked about how those worked exactly.  Each flight consisted of three tastes of tequila (good, better, best), presented with salt, lime, and a shot of tomato juice to be taken after the first tequila sample (to cleanse the palate).  While the set up looked like a lot of tequila, the three servings amount to the equivalent of about a shot-and-a-half.  (Description – La Cava Tequila Flight:  22 Casa Noble Blanco, Partida Reposado, Ambhar Añejo)  Megan and I thought this sounded like a fun adventure and abandoned our plans for margaritas in favor of learning more about tequila!  We were very happy with our decision.

The next day, we found ourselves in Epcot again and knew we’d be heading back to the Mexico Pavilion for the margaritas we’d passed on the day before.  Our second visit to La Cava del Tequila was every bit as great as the first.  The margarita menu is awesome.  I knew from reading rave reviews that I wanted to try the Avocado Margarita which sounds kind of odd, but is ridiculously delicious!  I normally find margaritas a tad too sweet, but the avocado version is just exactly right.  Megan opted for the Passion Fruit Margarita and was very pleased with her selection – I tried a sip and it was exotic, refreshing, and very tasty!

So…La Cava del Tequila…Megan and I both give it a two-thumbs–up for service, atmosphere, presentation and flavor.  We will most definitely stop in again at the earliest opportunity!

Have you visited?  Are you a fan of La Cava del Tequila?  What’s your favorite Disney vacation libation to order there?

Disney Character Dining – Chef Mickey’s Versus Tusker House

Looking for a character dining experience at Walt Disney World?  Love Mickey, Minnie and the gang?  You have two choices:  Chef Mickey’s (Disney’s Contemporary Resort) and Tusker House (Disney’s Animal Kingdom).  Which one should you choose?  Both take one Table Service Credit on the Disney Dining Plan, both are similarly priced (Tusker House is slightly less expensive).  Both provide excellent character meet-n-greets with great photo ops.  Let me see if I can help you with a few pro’s and cons.Meeting Minnie at Chef Mickey's

Disney Character Dining – Chef Mickey’s Versus Tusker House

Chef Mickey’s Pros

Not in a Park – No park ticket required to meet the Fab Five in air-conditioned comfort.  Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, and Pluto (dressed as chefs) make the rounds while you eat.  Because you don’t need park access, Chef Mickey’s is a very popular first and last day choice for many guests.

Easy to Reach from Magic Kingdom – Walk or grab the monorail!  Start the day with breakfast at Chef Mickey’s before heading to Magic Kingdom or take a break for a meal later in the day.

Pluto Fans Rejoice – If Pluto’s your favorite, Chef Mickey’s is a fantastic way to get a meet-n-greet with this lovable pooch.

Chef Mickey’s Cons

Very Basic Fare – Read:  Mediocre food.  Unfortunately, Chef Mickey’s popularity is more about the location and characters than the actual culinary choices.  If you’re picky and/or prefer pretty bland, meat-and-potatoes (or pasta) dishes, this may be a solid choice.  If you want more diversity in buffet choices with a few slightly more adventurous flavors, this is not the place for you.

Loud and Crowded – Big open spaces often full of screaming children.  It just seems crazy noisy to me all the time with lots of distractions.  Goes with the character-dining territory, I know, but Chef Mickey’s is extreme.

Tusker House Pros

Preferred by my Twitter Friends – In a recent Twitter poll I conducted with the simple question, “Which do you prefer?” and a choice between Chef Mickey’s and Tusker House, Tusker House won big (75% to 25%).

Convenient on an Animal Kingdom Day – Tusker House is a fun way to start the day and also a wonderful break for lunch or dinner.  Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, and Goofy make the rounds dressed in their safari attire.

Delicious Flavors of Africa-inspired Dishes (plus plenty for less adventurous eaters).  I wanted to try everything, but had to settle for about a dozen different things to taste before I couldn’t eat another bite.  Our whole group of seven (included varying degrees of pickiness) walked away happy when we had breakfast at Tusker House one morning last year.

Daisy Fans Rejoice – She’s pretty special and if you want to meet her in a park, the lines are often very long (and cut off quickly).  In Tusker House, you’ll have her complete and undivided attention for a few minutes…very sweet!  I love her long eyelashes!

Tusker House Cons

Need a Park Ticket to Dine – Maybe because you have to enter Animal Kingdom to dine at Tusker House it makes it easier to get a reservation there than at Chef Mickey’s.  Seems to me demand is always higher at Chef Mickey’s.

Buffet Area gets Congested – This is basically due to nobody listening to instructions, but it happens anyway.  The hosts and hostesses explain up front that the design of the buffet is to encourage guests to walk up and help themselves to whatever looks delicious.  In reality, nobody does that, everyone forms lines.

Are you a fan of character dining?  Have you been to both Chef Mickey’s and Tusker House?  Which did you prefer?

 

 

Disney World Dining – I Love Appetizers!

Given the choice between appetizer and dessert, I’m choosing the appetizer every time.  That may be hard to imagine for those of you will a sweet tooth, but I’m all about the starter!  Be it soup, salad, cheese plate, or something more exotic, the way I kick off a Disney table service dinner makes all the difference to my meal enjoyment.

Disney World Dining – I Love Appetizers!

It doesn’t much matter where we go.  My eyes are drawn to the top of the menu and the appetizer section.  I tend to avoid heavy-sounding, fried items and favor more unusual choices.  I want to kick off a good meal while not completely ruining my appetite.  Sometimes Raymond and I order and appetizer or salad (or both) to share.  In cooler months, I’m a sucker for a soup or bisque.  The perfect appetizer takes the edge off my hunger while leaving me wanting more (and I’ll have room for my entrée!).

Here are some of my favorites…

The Wave (Disney’s Contemporary Resort) – Seasonal Soup.  When I last had the soup, it was a heavenly sausage, gnocchi, and spinach concoction with a cheese crust on top.  I reproduced it at home and have enjoyed it many times since.  My friend Gaylin recently told me about another Wave appetizer called “Bacon and Eggs” (“Maple-lacquered Pork Belly with Perfect Egg and Tillamook Smoked Cheddar Grits“) and now it’s on the top of my must-try list.  I hope it stays on the menu long enough for me to get there!

Shula’s Steak House (Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort) – Sure, everyone goes to Shula’s for the beef, but before I slice into that perfectly cooked filet, I’m opting for the “Barbequed Shrimp Stuffed with Basil” (“Stuffed with Basil, wrapped in Applewood Smoked Bacon tossed in a Tangy BBQ Sauce“).  Disney World Dining - I Love AppetizersIt’s the perfect combination of flavors and the sauce is fantastic.  Share it with a friend so you have room for that steak.  Check out the full menu here.

Jiko (Animal Kingdom Lodge) – Everything’s been delicious, but the soup is my favorite.  It’s currently “Curried Butternut Squash Bisque” with Duck Confit and Quince Marmalade and I know it’s 500-degress outside right now, but you should run try it before the menu changes.  It’s SO good!!!  And the presentation is fancy too.

So much to eat, so little time…

Kona Café (Polynesian Village Resort) – There are a couple of things we really like to kick off dinner at Kona.  The Sticky Wings and the Pot Stickers.  Both are tasty options, good for sharing, and not too filling.  If you love sushi, the menu offers a nice variety.  We generally enjoy sushi as a meal versus appetizer and I’m guessing that’s why we rarely order it at Kona.

Sanaa (Kidani Village) – The famous Indian-Style Bread Service!  It’s several different flavors of naan bread served with a variety of dipping sauces that range from savory to sweet to spicy.  Fresh, exotic, and delicious.  Disney World Dining - I Love Appetizers!I can totally see why lots of folks make a reservation just to enjoy the bread service as a snack or light meal all by itself.

Il Mulino (Walt Disney World Swan Resort) – My favorite restaurant for pre-runDisney event carbs!  Starters on the menu come in a huge variety from cheeses and meats to salads, clams and heavier fare.  The most delicious item to me is the Arancini, which is “Italian Rice Balls over Spicy Marinara Sauce”.  I never order it for myself because it’s a lot for an appetizer.  Those delicious servings of rice are fried and very filling.  However, if someone at my table is kind enough to share a bite or two with me, whoa momma!  Deeeelish!

Raglan Road (Disney Springs) – Considered by many to be overrated, Raglan Road has been the source of many a delicious family meal for us throughout the years.  Their menu has a ton of appetizer options.  I’ve tried several appetizers including the dicey-sounding Crock o’ Pate (cold chicken liver spread), which wasn’t bad, actually.  The best thing (to me) by far is the “Rack of Heaven” – “Slow roasted Guinness glazed full rack of baby back ribs.” (Plenty to share.)      THOSE babies are fantastic.  Even if I’m just in Raglan Road for a drink at the amazing bar, I’ll order those ribs.  They make me happy.

Boma (Animal Kingdom Lodge) – Don’t laugh, but there’s one simple salad on Boma’s extensive buffet that stays on my mind long after I’ve eaten there.  It’s the Watermelon Rind Salad.  Sounds potentially boring and awful, doesn’t it?  It’s bright, sweet and tangy, and absolutely perfect to start off a meal full of unusual flavors.  Fear not if you or anyone in your travel party is a picky eater, Boma has plenty of dishes to satisfy everyone.

Are YOU an appetizer or a dessert fan?  Both?  Neither?  What’s your favorite part of Disney dining?  What’s your favorite dish?

 

 

Kona Café Breakfast – Beyond Tonga Toast

Tonga Toast at Kona Café is a Walt Disney World original.  This breakfast specialty has thousands of loyal fans and tops the list of must-do’s for those who have not yet had the privilege.  A generous serving of “Banana-stuffed Sourdough French Toast rolled in Cinnamon Sugar and served with a Strawberry Compote and your choice of Ham, Bacon, or Sausage” – Sounds heavenly and if you love sweet breakfast foods, you will not be disappointed.  Unless you’re me and you prefer savory eats first thing in the morning.

Kona Café Breakfast – Beyond Tonga Toast

For quite some time now, Kona Café has been a Disney vacation tradition.  Raymond and I (and now Joseph) are partial to the Egg White Omelet with roasted red peppers and goat cheese.  It comes with a side of berries and is an all around solid (and healthy) breakfast choice.  In fact, that’s just what they both ordered on our departure day.  Kona Café Breakfast - Beyond Tonga ToastMe? I decided to break away from the usual and try something new.  With quite a few delicious-sounding choices on the menu, I took my time selecting what I considered a splurge.  One, very simple-sounding dish caught my eye:  The Samoan.

Described as, “Poached Eggs with Hollandaise served over Smoked Pulled Pork Hash“, what could I not love about that?  All my favorite food-types in one dish.  In short order, my plate arrived.  It looked much fancier than I’d imagined.  Kona Café Breakfast - Beyond Tonga ToastBeneath a handful of gently sautéed arugula, the “hash” was actually some large, tender fried potatoes in a ring around the pulled pork.  This circle of yumminess was topped with two perfectly prepared poached eggs – yolks soft but not runny, whites firm but not rubbery.  The hollandaise sauce was smooth, thick and tangy.  I was uncharacteristically quiet as I savored every bite.

If you’ve been under the impression that Tonga Toast is your only breakfast option at Kona Café, think again.  Haven’t tried Kona Café yet?  Add it to your to-do list and you just might find a morning visit to Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort becoming a vacation tradition for you, too.

Are you a Kona Café fan?  What’s your favorite breakfast item?