We say this nearly every time we write about dining at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, but just know we mean it when we say that it is truly one of the BEST parks you can visit as a food-lover.
At Animal Kingdom, you’ll be met with fresh takes on cuisine from around the world — definitely not your average rubbery theme park hot dog and box of popcorn. In fact, the park is home to several of our favorite restaurants in all of Disney World, and even one of our favorite lounges. Yep, we’re talking about Nomad Lounge. This smaller-scale dining spot is located in Discovery Island, in the same building as Tiffins, Animal Kingdom’s signature restaurant. This has been one of our favorite spots for quite some time now, but it is now boasting some NEW menu items, so of course — we’re headed to try them out and review them for you guys.
Get ready, y’all! We’re excited about this one!
Nomad Lounge is home to a wide variety of hand-crafted cocktails, wines, zero-proof beverages, and small plates. Each menu item is inspired by the cuisine of African, Asian, and South American countries. You’re also able to get food from Tiffin’s here!
The restaurant in itself celebrates the experience of travel, so it’s perfect for those of you with both an adventurous sprit AND palette. What we love about this lounge is the relaxing and welcoming atmosphere that comes from the beautiful design of the inside dining room or the stunning views of Discovery River that you’ll experience if you’re able to dine on the outdoor covered patio. This is actually our favorite spot to sit, as it’s so beautiful out on the water.
Our only complaint about the atmosphere, operation, and design of the restaurant itself is that you can’t make reservations for the lounge. This can make it extremely difficult to get in, as you have to attempt it the day-of and there is usually a LONG wait. Another downside is that many of the tables are very short, as they’re lounge-style. However, some might prefer that as it allows for a more intimate experience.
Speaking of seating, you’ll be seated at either the standard tables and chairs in the inside dining room, the bar seating, or the outdoor seating that’s on the water.
You’ll be able to view the eats and drinks that are available by scanning the QR code for the online menu or by utilizing the reusable menus provided by Cast Members. At the table, you’ll be greeted with cloth napkins and your silverware, which gives the lounge a more upscale feel.
Alright, now that we’ve taken a deeper dive into what you can expect from the atmosphere of the lounge, it’s time for the exciting part. THE FOOD!
Today, we’re going to be trying out the Grilled Chicken Satay for $14, the Korean BBQ Mushroom Bao Buns for $15, the Lamb Merguez-Stuffed Medjool Dates for $16, and the Pineapple-Glazed Pork Belly for $15.
Grilled Chicken Satay
The Grilled Chicken Satay is a dish that consists of grilled, skewered chicken thighs, curry marinade, cilantro, pickled green papaya, and peanut sauce.
These are made with a very tender, juicy, dark meat. There’s quite a bit of seasoning on these, which we enjoyed, but please not that there IS a bold curry flavor on these. The peanut sauce with chopped peanuts on top added a great texture and nutty flavor that added a complexity to the curry and the dish as a whole. It also comes with a lime wedge that really brightened up the dish and added a tang that we enjoyed.
Fair warning, though: these are SPICY. It’s not a sweet kind of spice, but you can make it a sweeter spice by pairing it with the pickled onions provided on the side.
Overall, we really enjoyed these!
Korean BBQ Mushroom Bao Buns
The Korean BBQ Mushroom Bao Buns are made with grilled oyster mushrooms, cucumber kimchi, and pickled green papaya. This is a vegan dish, which we found exciting!
We were genuinely SHOCKED at how good these were. The papaya was delicious and sweet and paired so well with the savory umami flavor from the mushrooms. We will say, though, that you do need to like mushrooms in order to truly enjoy this dish. The mushroom texture is also there, so take note of that, too. The pickled veggies added a brightness and a fun crunch that adds some contrast to the mushroom texture, and the bao buns were soft and sticky, like any good bao bun should be.
Another great option. We loved these.
Lamb Merguez-Stuffed Medjool Dates
The Lamb Merguez-Stuffed Medjool Dates are made with Mediool dates, Moroccan lamb sausage, bacon, hummus, green olives, harissa vinaigrette, mehti paratha, and papadom.
These. Are. So. Good. The lamb sausage used, merguez, is a great option for those who love a good sweet and salty combo. (Hi, it’s us!) The dates were so soft, perfectly ripe, and deliciously sweet with that decadent caramel flavor typical of dates.
The sausage was tender and well-spiced without being too spicy, which paired oh so well with the sweetness of the dates.
The dish also comes with a side of papadom and methi paratha, which are very thin, crunchy, and melt in your mouth. The papadom resembles a very thin chip and the methi paratha is a bit doughier, and resembles a softer pita bread. They’re both delicious and are PERFECT for scooping up the creamy hummus and the additional toppings.
We loved this. Another 10/10.
Pineapple-Glazed Pork Belly
The pineapple-glazed pork belly comes with guajillo chili sauce, chicharrones, and spiced pickled vegetable slaw. If you haven’t already guessed, this dish is SPICY.
As a whole, the dish was absolutely packed with flavor. The pork itself, however, was just a thick piece of meat that wasn’t all that flavorful. It did have a crispy skin texture on top, which we found nice, and if you ate it with all the components of the dish on top, it was delicious.
The chili sauce resembled a sweet and spicy barbecue sauce that tasted a bit heavy on the chili powder. The veggies were crunchy and delicious, if not a bit vinegary, and they did help to tone down the spice.
Overall, it’s a great item, but it wasn’t our favorite out of what we ate on this day.
Nosh or Not
So… should YOU dine at Nomad Lounge? Well, if you’re searching for a nice, relaxing place to dine while also appreciating what Disney’s Animal Kingdom is all about (Adventure!), then this is a great choice. It’s also a great place to have some drinks and a light meal while simply enjoying the presence of your group without the super intricate theming or character interactions. We’d also recommend this restaurant to those of you who have adventurous palettes and are hoping to try unique takes on cuisine from around the globe.
Eat here if you:
- Love the adventurous theming of Animal Kingdom
- Are hoping for a light meal with some specialty cocktails or mocktails
- Have an adventurous palette and want to try something new
You should’t eat here if you have picky eaters in your group! The food here is packed with all sorts of flavors, textures, and spices that might be a bit much for smaller children or even adults who aren’t particularly adventurous with their meals. Further, it comes at a bit of a higher price, which we do find worth it, but it might not fit every budget considering you’re only receiving a small plate. Lastly, this might be a skip if you’re in a hurry. The wait to get in could be long and grueling, and this is the type of place that you’d want to relax in for a while. After all, it is a lounge.
Skip this lounge if you:
- Have picky eaters in your group
- Are on a strict budget
- Are in a hurry
Ultimately, this is one of our favorite lounges at Disney World and for good reason. While yes, the small plates and beverages come at a higher cost, the value is there FOR SURE. The flavors are complex, the food is well-done, and the presentation is beautiful. While these are small plates, the amount of food is made up for when it comes to quality and flavor.
Compared to Tiffin’s, this is a great spot if you couldn’t get reservations or don’t want to pay the even higher price of dining at a signature restaurant. As far as eateries in Animal Kingdom go, this one is at the top of our list.
We’re always blown away by the service and the quality and flavor of the food here, and this time was no different. We’ll continue to visit this restaurant, even if it means waiting in a looooong line. It’s just that good!
We’ll continue to keep you updated with Disney and restaurant news, so make sure to follow along for more so that you never miss a thing!
Have you ever been to Nomad Lounge? Let us know in the comments!
The post REVIEW: Nomad Lounge Has 4 NEW Menu Items in Disney World! first appeared on the disney food blog.