California Grill reviews

Disney's Contemporary Resort
Reader rating Reader rating 9.1 / 10
Average Reader Rating: 9.1  
"As good, or better, as before."
Reviewed on Jan 27, 2014 by senor_jorge
Rating: 9  
A visit to California Grill was something we looked forward to for our trip in early December.  We wanted to check out the recent renovations of the space, as well as the menu.

We checked in downstairs, and went straight up and were seated immediately.  Stepping off the elevator, and seeing the wine cooler is impressive!  I'm still undecided about the new interior.  There seems to be more seating, but it doesn't seem to be more crowded with the possible exception of the seats by the windows.  I took one for the team and took the bench seating with my back to the window.  My only issue was the lump under the cushion.   

The food:  Excellent!  The grilled filet has been my standard order during previous visits, but I wanted to try something different on this trip.  I also skipped the cheese board.  I started with the goat cheese ravioli.  It was one of the best things I had during our trip.  The cheese had great texture and flavor.  The sauce had just the right amount of fennel, and everything worked together beautifully!  I'd have been happy with a larger serving as my entree.  I chose Pork Two Ways with pork belly and tenderloin.  Both were prepared perfectly.  The belly almost melted in my mouth, but was not overcooked.  The richness and flavor were great.  The tenderloin was as good or better.  It was tender without being overcooked to the point that it starts turning into mush.  The flavor was great as well.  Both cuts had been seasoned, but the seasoning complimented the flavor of the meat rather than masked it.  The Goat Cheese Polenta, was fantastic as well.  No one flavor was overpowering, and everything worked together to make it savory and very enjoyable.  The Lemon Meringue Cheesecake was tart but the sweetness from the meringue balanced it out.  In truth, the meringue was the star of that dish.

My wife really liked her Sushi appetizer, as well as her filet.  She prefers her steak cooked medium, which is a little more done than I prefer, but the sample I had was great.  On our next visit I may have to try one for myself.  I really liked the previous version on the menu, but felt that the sauce overpowered the beef flavor a little too much so I usually asked for sauce on the side.  That's no longer an issue for me!

Our favorite restaurant usually bounces back and forth between California Grill and Yachtsman and nothing we experienced on this trip has changed that.  California Grill remains is still on the must visit list for each trip.
"A Tastey Tradition"
Reviewed on Jul 04, 2013 by Duke of Disney
Rating: 10  
I've been going to this place since I was in a stroller. The food and atmosphere has always been great, I've never once not enjoyed my food. I especially have enjoyed the people that have been there for years that remember us when we go, that means a great deal. The sushi and steak items have always been my favorites. You won't find a better place in the park to watch the fireworks from - and have it all at your fingertips. Everything on the menu is great, I've had it all.
"5+ Stars!"
Reviewed on Mar 10, 2013 by GroomerMinnie
Rating: 10  
Perfect Service, Perfect Food, Perfect Atmosphere! We have dined here a few times. We dined here once during Wishes, it was very Magical. DH and I were seating on the MK side and we got our entrees just before the show started. The lights were dimmed and the Music was piped through the restaurant. No crowds, perfect temperature and amazing food! It was very romantic. Another time we went we were seated by the open kitchen and that was also amazing watching them prepare the food and plates. Our servers are always superb. Food is out of this world. Definitely a must do for couples!
"Amazing experience"
Reviewed on Sep 10, 2012 by Megan
Rating: 10  
Ate here for the first time in March, and its on my list to do again in October. The sushi was great, much better than anything I've eaten at home. I planned our dinner so we would be eating during the fireworks, and it was wonderful to go out on the observation deck for a unique view of Wishes.
"Always a must!"
Reviewed on Aug 26, 2012 by wdisney9000
Rating: 9  
We dine here every trip and are always blown away by the food and the service. The setting is awesome and the balcony has awesome views. Every server we have had is always very knowledgeable about the wine and food selection. They always make good reccomendations which makes me feel safe when I order somethin.g that I normally wouldn't. It can be very romantic if you get the backroom or if you prefer more of a party atmosphere, the main room is great.
"Super Cali Fragelistic Expedali Gorgeous"
Reviewed on Aug 21, 2012 by Real mad hatter
Rating: 10  
OMG,OMG,OMG. Now this is what food should taste like. A Gastronomic adventure of the third kind.From the presentation to the views.My sushi was top class,salmon & ginger,where did the chef get that idea from?Our steaks were that tender,we used our forks to cut it.And Wishes fireworks from the viewing deck outside the 15th floor,what a way to finnish off a superb night.In January 2013 it closes for 6 months for renovations.We will be back in 2014.
"The Best Meal of our Lives"
Reviewed on Apr 19, 2012 by paul gethen
Rating: 10  
We ate at the California Grill to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. The food, service and view was out of this world. The waiter advised us well on wines and informed us about the viewing gallery on the top of the contemporary to watch Wishes fireworks.

The head waiter presented my wife with a prearranged Eternity Ring in a glass Slipper before desert which she was thrilled with !

In summary we were made to feel very special.

Paul and Laura - England.
"Best fireworks view and Best food"
Reviewed on Apr 03, 2012 by jpittore1
Rating: 10  
We are DVC members and make this the first restaurant on every trip. Can't wait to go again. Bring your camera to take pictures and watch the fireworks. They pump the music up to the outstide deck.
"excellent food and views"
Reviewed on Feb 26, 2012 by safaribob
Rating: 9  
My wife and I ate at the California Grill for the first time on our recent trip to WDW. As advertised, the views were amazing and the food was just as impressive. Our waitress was very friendly and helpful with suggesting things on the menu. We both had a snapper in paella that was simply amazing. I would give this place a 10/10 except for one thing. If you are on the DDP, there are particular sushi (appetizers) that you can't get. Of course these were the first two things that I requested. No where on the menu or the WDW restaurant overview does it mention this. Aside from that, this place is a can't miss.
"Simply the best!"
Reviewed on Dec 18, 2011 by erikas
Rating: 10  
The ever changing menu and the service has never let us down! We have come here on our last night for every one of our visits to WDW. This time, I tried the bison with the truffle mac & cheese which was fantastic! My wife had the scallops with risotto which was also great. Our server was attentive and made excellent wine recommendations. This restaurant is a must-do!
"Best food in Disney!"
Reviewed on May 19, 2011 by Par4jh
Rating: 10  
Every year when my family and I visit the parks the California grill is always a must. When you start your evening at the grill you ride up a private elevator up to the top of the contemporary. Once you exit your elevator you take your first breath taking look at the park area below you. The service is amazing and always make sure you have the best night possible. If a member of your party has any food allergies no worry the staff will do their best to accomadate you. If your lucky and get a resevation around 6:00 you will get to see the amazing sun set, it is trully breath taking sight. After your meal you can leave and even return to the top of the contemporary to see the MK firework display.
"2nd visit december 2010"
Reviewed on Jan 24, 2011 by EvilQueen-T
Rating: 2  
went to california grill the 1st time in the summer of 2007 and it was by far one of the best meals/dining experiences we'd maybe ever had. was really looking forward to returning when i took my sister for her 40th birthday december 2010. service was terrible, both in the lounge/bar area and from our waiter. meal undercooked and had to be sent back. waiter was slow/lost most of the time. appetizers came out before our drinks (sodas not anything difficult) arrived at the table. walked in to see lots of empty lounge tables with dirty glasses/dishes on them. stood for about 20 minutes then asked someone to clean one for us to use it. waitress came by once, i was waiting for the 2nd person in party (the bday girl) to return from restroom before we ordered so the waitress never came back. several attempts to hail her down useless. i was soooooooo disappointed after our original experience. inconsistency kills it for me.
"One word: Incredible"
Reviewed on Nov 03, 2010 by CrescentLake
Rating: 10  
Of our most recent trip in the Spring of 2010, the highlight was eating at the California Grill. The beef was the most delicious I have ever had, the view was nothing short of incredible, and the desert was to die for. I would offer one bit of advice: take your time throughout the meal and explore. We stood atop the Contemporary and tried to spot Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, all the hotels, and Discovery Island/River Country and had a very fun time doing it. After desert, we went outside and watched Wishes, which completed the evening. If you can eat here, do it, it is pricey, but you wont regret it.

10/10. I would rate it higher if I could.
Reviewed on May 13, 2010 by mrs_skellington
Rating: 7  
i really thought my family exaggerated how good this place is. i thought the view was amazing, however i was not exactly thrilled with the food. im by no means saying it wasnt good but it definitly wasnt to die for. i think one trip there was enough for me. i miss the concourse steakhouse :(
"Still a 10.00"
Reviewed on Nov 21, 2009 by Trotsky
Rating: 10  
My wife and I are passholders - we go to WDW about every 6 months, and tend to frequent only Signiture Restaurants. Our recent trip (Nov 2009)included TWO stops at the Grill...

As always - the BEST food, the BEST ambiance. The California Grill is a 12 on a 1-10 scale. It WILL cost you... but it is worth it.
Reviewed on Oct 07, 2009 by RatherBinDisney
Rating: 10  
This was our 4th visit to CA Grill and each time the food and service just get better! Donald our waiter made the meal so enjoyable. We feel so relaxed and welcomed when we dine and always have a great time! During dessert we always order a glass of Moscato D'Oro and this time we explained how difficult it is to obtain the wine where we are from. Donald gave us some extra wine at no charge and then gave us the bottle to take back home with us so we could track it down! The food was fantastic! Always a pleasure dining there!!! THE BEST!!!
"Dinner with a View!"
Reviewed on Jul 19, 2009 by GlenAngl
Rating: 10  
Great food! Great view! Fun place overall!
"The Best Restaurant at WDW"
Reviewed on Jan 22, 2009 by 
Rating: 10  
My wife and I are retired - we visit WDW every six months, and go to EVERY Signature Restaurant.

The California Grill is the BEST of these. Best food, best service, best people. It will cost you - but it is HIGHLY worth it.
"A "Must Dine" Eating Establishment"
Reviewed on Aug 30, 2008 by cdr point luvr
Rating: 10  
This classic Disney restaurant, perched high atop the Contemporary Resort Hotel, offers sweeping views of Bay Lake and the Magic Kingdom. This alone is worth the price.... what it may lack in ambience (it was somewhat noisy) is made up for with panorama.

The menu is somewhat eclectic. Specialties include sushi and flatbread pizzas, and the dinner entrees range from steaks to seafood. There is something on the menu for everyone. The dishes are thoughtfully arranged and look like works of art. I was very satisfied with my meal, but I would have to say that I enjoyed my meal at Boma better. The California Grill is pricey, of course, and costs two table services for those on the meal plan, but it was worth it. The wait staff was superb, attentive and very knowledgeable about the menu selections.

For those wanting a perfect seat for the Magic Kingdom fireworks, the California Grill not only offers one of the best viewing areas for it, but the sound from the show is also pumped through the restaurant's speaker system. Enjoy a stroll on the deck on top of the Contemporary after dinner for a special view of the Magic Kingdom.

Would I do it again: Definitely
High Points: The view
Low Points: Hard to get a reservation in time for fireworks, $$$
"One of THE Best!"
Reviewed on Jun 22, 2008 by PlutoInAtlanta
Rating: 10  
We ate here back in May...What can I say about it? It really is one of the best. We were able to get a reservation at quite last minute - like 5 days before we were to be there - all be it, a 9:30 reservation, but still. We got there around 8:30ish, and headed to the bar - we both got a cocktail and headed outside to watch the fireworks.
Wishes is a total different experience from the roof of the Contemp. all I can say. They played the music really loud too, which made it even better!

After the fireworks, we went back inside to wait for our reservation time to come up. Almost on the dot, 9:30 they paged us and we were seated right near the window - had an excellent view of the MK! The one and only negative I would say or have is that they could have turned down the house lights just a bit, so the view would have been even better. It just seemed right on that point of just almost too bright, but hey!

Appitizer - we had the 3 cheese pita bread "pizza". OH MY GOSH - it was amazing!
Dinner - I had the steak - I almost licked the plate! My partner had the sea scallops and, well, he did run his finger over the plate a couple times after he had finished. It really was that good! We didn't have desert as it was pushing a quarter till 11, and didn't want that to sit on our tummies that late - but the chocolate cake looked devine!
Definitly a must if you love a great view and fine food!
"Caligrille Over-rated"
Reviewed on Jun 15, 2008 by catne
Rating: 7  
Food was good, but not great...didn't think it was worth 2 table service credits on the Dining Plan. Desserts were outstanding, though. Service was excellent. Decor was nice, but light-filtering blinds were down while we were there, so awesome view was missing! (5:30 p.m. in May) They told us they don't raise the blinds until sun starts going down...what's the point of paying for the view when you don't get a view!
"amazing food and view"
Reviewed on May 31, 2008 by maryszhi
Rating: 10  
i am going to miss this rest. because it had awesome food with an awesome view of magic kingdom. i also liked when we would go at night and watch the fireworks with the music piped in. i mean, we always see the fireworks from in front of the castle., but this was amazing
Reviewed on Aug 15, 2007 by breezanemom
Rating: 9  
Food was amazing, service was marvelous! My husband and sister took me for my birthday this year and we had a FABULOUS time! I loved looking out and seeing all the Disney parks in the evening! I only wish we could have gotten later seating so that we could see the fireworks!
"Just OK"
Reviewed on Jun 20, 2007 by clarkstallings
Rating: 5  
I think I might have rated CA Grill higher had it not been hyped up to me so much before I dine there. Overall, the atmosphere is nice, though a bit noisy. I really wish that Disney would more strictly enforce the dress code and have a child age limit. I'm not keen on eating a fine meal in such a noisy environment. With regards to the food, while it was passable, it certainly wasn't amazing. I don't even remember what I got. If it had been spectacular, I would have remembered what I ate. All in all, the best dining experience on property is at Jiko.
Reviewed on Mar 15, 2007 by WEDisney
Rating: 10  
Where do I start? Since Disney changed this from “The Top of the World” to the nuevo cuisine of the California Grille I was dead set against it. I have heard so many rave reviews from people about this place that I finally had to try it for myself. I am now kicking myself for all those trips that I didn’t dine here. First off the setting and atmosphere are amazing. I mean you can see the Magic Kingdom while you eat, so what’s not to like. Secondly the food was by far the best I have ever had in all of Disney. The filet could be cut with my fork. The sushi starter and the appetizers were amazing and don’t even get me going on the desserts. When we first arrived (party of two) we were crowded into a tiny elevator and brought of the 14th floor. That was the worst part of the experience (they really need a newer elevator or a better way to get guests up there). Once there it was magical. Our waitress was amazing and walked us through each special and every course. She timed our dinner perfectly and I am sure this is uncommon but it took us over 3 hours to finish our meals. Each course she let us sit and enjoy our cocktails/wine before the next was brought out. We watched the sun set over the Magic Kingdom and were even invited back later in the evening to watch the fireworks from the observation deck outside. Although the meal came to over $300.00 with wine and drinks for two it was so well worth it. It will now be on the top of my “must eat” list from now on. This is the ONLY 10/10 I will give on these reviews.
"Plus and Minus"
Reviewed on Jun 30, 2006 by chazezez
Rating: Not rated  
The food was really good, but we specifically asked for reservations during the fireworks and were pushed out by our server a half hour before they started. We were \"welcome to stay at the bar\" but that would have meant standing around since every seat in the place was full. I\'m not sure if the fireworks had been moved to later time or what, but it was really awkward. If you go, be certain that your reservations are not for more than an hour before the fireworks because you will be pressured out.

However, watching the sun set from that spot and then watching the lights come on in the Magic Kingdom was wonderful.

The food was fantastic, but the server gave me the impresstion that she thought we were a couple of hicks out for the first nice dinner we\'ve ever had. We\'re both pretty down-to-Earth people, but we do know how to enjoy a great meal and I like to be treated a little like I belong someplace nice. We were both dressed in business casual attire (as is the dress code) and were shocked that we rode up the elevator with someone in sweat pants.

I think it deserves another try, though I will be much more cautious about timing.
"Excellent Date Restaurant"
Reviewed on Sep 19, 2005 by 3IAlienKid
Rating: Not rated  
The food is as good as any comparably priced L.A. restaurant. I was a bit surprised the sushi was straightforwardly traditional Japanese, rather than w/ a California-cuisine twist. But it was still good as traditional goes, fish was very fresh. Our entrees were tender, cooked just right. How can you not like a restaurant where you get to see/hear the fireworks and music?
"Worst Disney Restaurant!"
Reviewed on Jan 17, 2004 by DisneyJoey
Rating: Not rated  
Hate to be the odd one out here, but I have to personally disagree... The scene is May 2003 on our trip's first night at Disney World. I was taking my girlfriend out for a long-overdue dinner to celebrate both her graduation and out 2 and a half year anniversary to a place I heard SOOO many good reviews about. We booked an hour and a half before the fireworks and was told by a Disney Rep on the phone that we'd be seated at a window if we arrived early enough and requested it. We arrived THREE hours before our reservation and requested a window. The place was already PACKED and the employees were very irrate and disgruntled. He told me "we'll see" when I asked him if we'll be getting a window. The place's waiting area is like 2 chairs and a couch, so we were forced to sit on the floor against a wall for 3 hours and watch the EXACT same people who were LONG done with their meals when we arrived not budge. They weren't asked to leave or anything, just sat there at empty table by the glass and waited for the fireworks. To make matters worse, when we were finally seated LONG after the fireworks were over, we didn't even get a window. The food choices were terribly small and when we got our $27/each meals, they were the most disgusting things I've ever eaten, but I suffered through every second to make sure I got my $27 in me. My girlfriend was equally displeased and that ended a terrible night after we left. But nonetheless we went for us, not for Disney. I reccomend eating elsewhere, personally.
"Very good!"
Reviewed on Feb 09, 2003 by number1wdwfan
Rating: Not rated  
My favorite part about the California Grill was when they turned the lights down and let us see the fireworks from the Magic Kingdom. It was unbelievable. It made the whole trip even more wonderful. The food was great too... I really enjoyed it here.
"One of the very best!"
Reviewed on Jan 08, 2003 by diegorivera2
Rating: Not rated  
We (my wife and I) make a point to visit the California Grill as frequently as possible. The cuisine is quite good, the wine list is phenomenal (all are available by the glass), the service is some of the best on-site, and the ambience is perfect. Vegetarians will find ample fare here and the showcase kitchen is a delight; or, you can gaze out upon Bay Lake and the Seven Seas Lagoon as you dine. This is not necessarily a place to take the kids and it's one place you *might* want to dress up a little. Either way is ok. Please note this restaurant will become quite crowded when the MK fireworks are close to starting. The menu offers 'contemporary California cuisine' and has something to offer everyone. Some of my personal favorites include the sushi & sashimi samplers, their raviolis, and their variations on the grilled pork tenderloin. If you're a fan of good food and great service, make your PSs for the California Grill.
"Well worth it"
Reviewed on Dec 10, 2002 by Mississippian
Rating: Not rated  
My wife and I ate here and enjoyed it very much. Our reservations were for after the fireworks, so we sat at the bar and watched. I actually went out on the large observation deck, and in my opinion this is the best place from which to view. Any wine on the menu is available by the glass for one-fourth of the bottle price, so it is possible to try something new or to ask for wine pairings, which I like to do. The menu was a bit limited, with too much fish and not enough meat and seafood, in my opinion, but my wife and I both were able to order. She got the filet and I got the pork tenderloin and both were very good. Many exclaim over the high prices here, but I found them to be quite reasonable, perhaps less than I would expect to pay elsewhere for similar food. Certainly dinner for two with a couple of glasses of wine is likely to cost more than $100, but that's the case almost anywhere. We enjoyed the California Grill and will be back, although the just meat-and-potatoes might not like it here.
Reviewed on Oct 30, 2002 by my2sweetums
Rating: Not rated  
Excellent food and service. I had the Pork Tenderloin which was wonderful. The view is gorgeous, we saw the sunset from our table. The desert was only ok though( we had an apple desert of some kind). I would definitely go again.
Reviewed on Oct 25, 2002 by Minnie85
Rating: Not rated  
AMAZING VIEW!!! I was astounded to see the MK from a semi-areal view, it was the best where the fireworks of the MK were on and we had a window view and everything!
"One of WDW's Finest"
Reviewed on Oct 21, 2002 by MRTJ1994
Rating: Not rated  
By far, one of the best restaurants in all of Walt Disney World. The Grill offers a gourmet experience with an ever-changing seasonal menu of delicious offerings prepared in a colorful environment with a spectacular view. The stage kitchen gives you the opportunity to see how the prep area functions and how the food is prepared. The waitstaff is very knowledgeable of the menu and the selections give you choices not found in just any restaurant. The view is stunning and, if you time it correctly, you can see a memorable view of the Magic Kingdom fireworks and/or the Electrical Water Pageant. It is expensive but I have had some of the greatest meals of my life at the California Grill.
"What a View"
Reviewed on Oct 07, 2002 by chris
Rating: Not rated  
We ate Thanksgiving dinner there last year and it was very good. The view is spectacular and if you can get a good seat for the firewoeks you will be in for a great show. I do find that the wait is a little long at times even with a PS.
"Great view"
Reviewed on Sep 06, 2002 by goofyman
Rating: Not rated  
Great for fireworks, A bit to facny eatin for me,
"Best Luxury Restaurant"
Reviewed on Sep 01, 2002 by WDW-Imagineer
Rating: Not rated  
After waiting quite a while to eat at the critically acclaimed California Grill, I was finally able to break down and make my reservations for dinner. I carefully timed my dinner with the Magic Kingdom's fireworks to further enjoy my experience. Upon arriving at the California Grill, we were seated near the window overlooking Seven Seas Lagoon & Magic Kingdom. Our waiter was fantastic... in my opinion, any waiter who can take your order without writting it down, and get it right is a good waiter. The sushi was excellent as was the entrees and desert. They even have "kids sushi" with swedish fish taking place of the raw fish. When the fireworks started, the lights dimmed and the music heard in the park was piped into the restaurant. Spectacular view from the 15th floor restaurant, certainly a highlight of the evening. California Grill was a perfect evening of great food and fireworks. I would recommend California Grill to anybody who wants to experience the finest in Walt Disney World Cuisine.
"Disney's Finest"
Reviewed on Aug 23, 2002 by Atlaslaw
Rating: Not rated  
California Grill is one of Disney's best restaraunts hands down. It is expensive, but you are paying for extremely high quality food and service. Every meal I've had there has been incredible. The service by the wait staff sets the benchmark for all sit down restaurants in my mind. The menu selection is always varied, guaranteeing that even the pickiest person will probably be able to find something to satisfy their tastes, as long as they are willing to try gourmet, fine dining. As to kid-friendly, can't really speak to that from personal experience, but I will after my trip in November! The best time to dine is to time it to be there when MK closes. The restaurant sits atop the Contemporary looking over the Lagoon and MK and at closing of MK the lights are lowered and they pipe in music from the MK fireworks show. You can usually sit at your table and watch the fireworks, or move to the bar/lounge area, or an outside observation deck to watch. Overall, this restaurant is one of my top three favorites anywhere.
California Grill
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