“The rhythm is gonna get you” if you happen to be dining at Bongo’s Cuban Café! Situated at Downtown Disney’s West Side, Bongo’s offers deliciously seasoned Cuban food in a lively atmosphere. On Friday and Saturday nights you’ll also find a live band and DJ. The DJ plays international dance music and the band plays classic Latin music such as Gloria Estefan and Selena. My companion and I decided to head down on a Friday night to have dinner and check out the night life.
We showed up to Bongos at about 7:30 and there was a bit of a line to see a hostess. Once we were greeted and put our name on the list we headed back to the bar to get a drink. Their front bar was packed so we went to a bar at the back end of the restaurant. This bar was also very busy but we were still greeted and offered drinks in a reasonable time. We decided to try the South Beach mojito which was very good and not too sweet for our taste. We didn’t finish that round before we were buzzed for our table.
We arrived at our table after a short walk up the stairs. We were excited to sit upstairs because we wanted to see what it was like on the second floor. Our server came by quickly and introduced herself as Ali. She saw that we already had drinks and offered us waters which we gratefully accepted; their mojitos are quite strong! The menu has quite a bit to choose from and for someone like my friend who isn’t every familiar with Cuban food it was a little intimidating. All of the appetizers sounded good but we settled for an order of ceviche. We hadn’t chosen our main meal before the ceviche was at our table. It was delicious! There were peppers, onion and cilantro in the mix and it was served with plantain chips. We really couldn’t get over how good it was and devoured the whole thing.
Between shoveling bites of ceviche in to our mouths we finally decided. I wanted to stick with seafood and chose the Fish Cuban Criolla. Ali explained that it was a white fish sautéed in a lite tomato based sauce with onions and peppers. It sounded good to me so I went for it. My friend decided to order the Cuban Style Skirt Steak. Ali told us that it was marinated in mojo sauce and served with chimichurri sauce on the side. I’m pretty sure it was the combination of sauces that sold my friend on the dish.
While we waited for our entrees to arrive, we ordered another round of drinks. I got a White Chocolate Raspberry Martini and my friend decided to try a Pineapple Mojito. Our drinks seemed to take a really long time. Ali came by, apologized and said the bar was really busy. While we waited the DJ was cranking up the jams downstairs. Everybody including the wait staff was dancing and having a good time! Our drinks arrived and they were good.
We didn’t have to wait very long for our food, maybe 15 minutes. It looked great and was absolutely delicious. The fish melted in my mouth. The sauce was so good! I even added my rice into the sauce until it was all gone. Honestly, I enjoyed it so much I think I could have eaten two servings. My companion enjoyed her food a lot as well. She said the steak was great; a little overcooked but seasoned so well that she could overlook it. Both dishes came out with white rice and sweet plantains. We enjoyed these, especially the plantains because we don’t get them very often.
Once we were done with dinner we ordered tres leches. It was good but I think there was too much whipped cream on it. To complement our dessert we had Cuban coffees with Frangelico. Their coffee is amazing and with the Frangelico it tasted like a little piece of heaven! We finished our coffee and dessert and paid the tab. We decided to sit outside on their upstairs terrace afterwards so my friend could have a smoke. It was lovely out there. It overlooks Downtown Disney, good for people watching. We were both very satisfied.
F- Food – Delicious! All of the dishes we tried were extremely good. 5 out of 5!
A- Atmosphere – The atmosphere in Bongos was really high energy. The music was loud and everybody was having a fun time. I recommend going out there on Friday and Saturday if you’re looking for more of a party atmosphere. If not, try it during the week.
S- Service – The service was really good. Our server was knowledgeable and suggested dishes that we really enjoyed.
T- Tips – Make a reservation if you plan to go between 7 PM-9 PM, they get pretty busy. If you haven’t had Cuban food before, ask your server for help. Most likely they know a lot about it since they sell it every day.
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