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“Gloria Estefan's Big Hit Restaurant: BONGOS” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Bongos Cuban Cafe

Bongos Cuban Cafe
1498 East Buena Vista Drive, Orlando, FL 32830-1000 (Lake Buena Vista)
407 828 0999
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Ranked #896 of 3,089 restaurants in Orlando
Price range: $20 - $30
Cuisines: Caribbean, Cuban, Contemporary
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Families with children, Romance, Large groups, Outdoor seating
Dining options: Breakfast/Brunch, Lunch, Dinner, Reservations, Late Night
Neighborhood: Lake Buena Vista
Rockford
Top Contributor
131 reviews 131 reviews
58 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 54 cities Reviews in 54 cities
61 helpful votes 61 helpful votes
“Gloria Estefan's Big Hit Restaurant: BONGOS”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 1, 2011

We were exhausted after many days in the Disney parks - we're really getting too old to go but still love it. We'd never been to Downtown Disney before and my husband who loves Cuban food wanted us to try Bongos. I'd read some mixed reviews on-line, but he really wanted to go so off we went.

Of course we got off at the wrong bus stop and had to walk a long way to find it. "Just look for the big pineapple," someone said. Finally, we saw it and went in to ask about getting a meal. The interior looks 1950s Havana - very modern. We didn't have a reservation which is unusual for us but hoped for the best. The gal at the desk gave us the usual buzzer and we went outside to sit in a secluded area on very comfortable seats off the main street in front of the restaurant.

A bartender came out and asked us what we wanted. As I said we were really tired so we decided to get some old-timey drinks, i.e. Perfect Manhattan and an Old Fashioned - both made with Jack Daniels. The bartender brought out what were probably the best drinks we have ever had. He said he normally gave out plastic cups to people out in the patio area, but since we ordered these drinks, he knew he had to give us the right glasses, etc. He was a very charming person.

Well, we sat on that patio and watched the passerbys. The drinks were strong and good. We started to unwind and bought two more. They were pricey but worth every cent. We had a wonderful time just sitting, talking and watching in the comfortable alcove we'd chosen.

When the buzzer did sound we opted to eat outside in the back of the restaurant along the water (near the big balloon which was very pretty in the darkening sky). We ate two of the specialties. Food portions were quite large so we took leftovers back to our hotel and had them the next day for breakfast. My husband had wanted a Cuban sandwich but they only serve them before 4pm so if you want one, make sure you go for lunch instead.

The food was excellent, the view was spectacular, the waiters were charming. It was the most romantic evening we spent while in Orlando.

  • Visited March 2011
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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985 reviews from our community

55% Recommend
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Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Florida
Senior Contributor
27 reviews 27 reviews
20 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
“Pleasantly surprised”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 21, 2011

After reading a lot of negative reviews on here, I was a little unsure about eating here but my mom really wanted to try it and nothing else was grabbing us anyway, so we decided to give it a shot. I was actually surprised that it was pretty decent. We just ordered some soup and a few appetizers to share and they were all quite good. The service was decent too. It was slow when we went, so I'm guessing that most of the bad service here comes from the servers not knowing how to handle large crowds. The prices are a little steep, but it's Disney so that's really to be expected. It might not be the best Cuban food around, but it definitely isn't the worst either. I'd return in the future.

  • Visited March 2011
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Food
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Montana-Florida
Top Contributor
68 reviews 68 reviews
64 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 36 cities Reviews in 36 cities
35 helpful votes 35 helpful votes
“How can the Estefans allow their names on this mess?”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed March 12, 2011

I live in Orlando; it's not difficult to find GOOD Cuban food. This is not it. Service was awful, inattentive, indifferent. It took 3 requests with 2 servers to get a simple glass of water. Our appetizer arrived at the end of the meal, despite 2 requests. Mediocre bread arrived at meal's end. Drinks came after the entree. The servers smiled at our repeated requests for proper orders. And forgot all about it. Black bean soup awful, and Cuban sandwiches only barely adequate. Food improperly seasoned. The table next to us had similar problems with meals being served in a timely fashion, feeding their little ones off their own plates until their children's plates eventually came, by which time, their meals were cold. Concrete walls, concrete floors, cheap metal tables and chairs make for a noise level that will make your eyes water. Never, never ever again!

  • Visited March 2011
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 1 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
    • 1 of 5 stars Food
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st.cloud
1 review
“horrible”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed March 5, 2011

First time to bongos in orlando and it will definitely will be my last, i could'nt believe how poorly this so called great restaurant is operated, the food just plainly sucks,there are no prices on any food item so you dont even have an idea what the bill will be,they first brought my wifes and my food out then like 15min later brought my kids food we literally had to feed our kids with our food,believe me i was pissed and i made sure they new it,I ordered the bongo combo for me and the wife, it was not cooked well at all, they rip people of by overpricing there nasty food,bottom line you will be happier at taco bell. sorry gloria stick to the music,

  • Visited March 2011
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
    • 1 of 5 stars Food
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Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
6 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
“OK for Disney area”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed March 5, 2011

Food wasn't great but adequate for this high commercial district. Had the steak and basically like it and service was good. For me beats the other nearby options.

Visited February 2011
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