Created by pop music superstar, Gloria Estefan and her husband/producer, Emilio, Bongos Cuban Café reflects the sizzle of Miami's South Beach with Cuban cuisine, Latin rhythms and a tropical theme which is located in Downtown Disney's West Side entertainment complex. It is one of a chain of restaurants and does not take the Disney Dining Plan. We ate here for a late lunch in May 2008.
This was the third time we have eaten at Bongo’s. We decided to split an appetizer platter called the Combo a la Bongo (see photo above) and a dessert. The appetizer platter had more than enough food to fill up the two adults who were sharing it. It included tamal en hoja, papa rellena, croquetas de jamon, masitas de puerco and mini-tostones. The first item was corn meal tamale with ham in it. It was okay but our least favorite item on the plate. It was kind of bland. The papa rellena were large balls of potatoes filled with seasoned ground beef and deep-fried. They were delicious. The croquetas de jamon are ham, rice and cheese fingers (also deep fried). They were tasty but could have used some dipping sauce. The masitas de puerco are a bit hard to see in the picture because of all the onions (which we just picked off). They make up a large portion of the center of the plate. It was chunks of stir fried pork. The flavor was very good, but some pieces were a little dry. There were two mini-tostones. They have a flaky pastry crust. One was filled with shrimp and the other with the same seasoned beef as the papa rellena. Both were very good. I was surprised with the amount of food. This was a full dinner size plate, with a nice variety of options (if you are not vegetarian at least!).
My husband had an absolutely delicious glass of mango juice. It was so good he seriously considered ordering one to go from their take out window to enjoy as we walked around Downtown Disney. I ordered a slice of their tres leches cake for dessert, and in my excitement, I forgot to take a photo. Tres leches means three milks. This is a piece of sponge-like cake that is soaked in a mix of heavy cream, evaporated milk and condensed milk (at least traditionally, I did not check their recipe), and topped with whipped cream and a cherry. This dessert was one reason why we split an appetizer platter instead of ordering our own meals! Although I did not have any this trip, Bongo’s has wonderful sangria as well and a nice bar area to enjoy it if you just want to have a drink.
They do have live music some evenings with an area for dancing. Since they do not accept the Disney Dining Plan, this is probably one of the few restaurants that you don’t need a reservation, which is good because they don’t take them!
Editor's Note: I would like to thank Bethany (lovethemouse from Magictrips) for volunteering to do this PS Spotlight. Bethany also has reviewed the Yak & Yeti Restaurant.