I’m not a fancy girl. If a restaurant employs someone to pull out my chair and place a linen napkin in my lap, then you can bet I’d rather be eating burgers. Over the years I’ve begrudgingly been dragged to nearly every restaurant on Disney property. While they’re all nice, only one has pulled me back over and over: Jiko – The Cooking Place isn’t just my favorite restaurant at any Disney Resort, but it might be my favorite restaurant in the universe! Of course, like all good things, I feel like I should share it with you. So sit back and prepare for the fabulousness that is Jiko!
Jiko can be found at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. When first approaching the lobby, you’ll notice that it’s just across a hallway from Boma – Flavors of Africa. You’ll likely hear loud drums and screaming children. Don’t be deterred: Boma is responsible for all the noise and craziness. That will make it all the more serene when you walk into the quiet calm of Jiko. Around the restaurant walls it looks like a beautiful sunrise. I wasn’t surprised to learn the interior of the restaurant was inspired by the opening scene of The Lion King. In addition to the large dining room, there’s also a smaller wine room for quiet, intimate dining. However, my favorite spot is at the bar. I know what you’re thinking, but it isn’t for the alcohol! 🙂 At the bar a full menu is offered with more relaxed service. Every bartender we’ve spoken to has been at the restaurant for many years and gone out of his way for us. Not to mention there are no reservations needed at the bar!
But what would a restaurant be without the food? A simple thing lured me into Jiko many year ago, the concept of a Filet Mignon steak paired with macaroni and cheese. This sounded like some very interesting comfort food. What I didn’t expect was the most decadent, silky, wonderful macaroni and cheese I’d ever tasted (pictured right)! While I stopped getting the steak years ago, I keep coming back for the macaroni and cheese. You’ll notice that it isn’t on the menu, but don’t worry! It’s hiding back there in the kitchen if you ask. Also available on the menu are a collection of exotic flavors unique to this dining spot. One of my favorites is the Taste of Africa (pictured above). This appetizer features four unique dipping sauces with a collection of breads, some of which are baked fresh in house daily. Jiko is known for its amazing flatbreads, but it is a little more famous for its wine list. Jiko might have the most extensive selection of South African wines in Central Florida. The venue frequently holds specialty wine tastings and paired courses. Wine tastings normally run about $30 per person, but book very far in advance so be sure to plan accordingly.
If wine isn’t your thing, then don’t fret; Jiko has desserts that will make your toes curl. It’s worth stopping by to just soak up the atmosphere and enjoy one of culinary delights. My favorite is the Ghanaian Chocolate and Kenyan Coffee Pot de Crème. That’s a very long name for what’s basically a rich chocolate mousse (pictured left). While the portion seems small, it’s just right after a savory meal. Another favorite is the Pistachio and Cherry Trifle. This isn’t a sweet dessert, but the tartness keeps you guessing and makes it impossible to stop eating! Jiko also has an amazing cheese plate on the dessert menu that I can never seem to get through after a meal, but it’s lovely to munch on over drinks at the bar.
If you’re thinking about trying Jiko there are a few important things to remember. First, you’ll have to stop by at dinner time because that’s the only time it’s open. The first reservations accepted are at 5:30pm, with the restaurant closing around 11:00pm nightly. Final reservations can be made up until 10:00pm nightly. Secondly, Jiko has an enforces a dress code. While most guests will not have a problem, be sure to take a look before making your visit. I was in the bar one evening with a lovely girl who was so upset that she’d been turned away at the restaurant because of her tank top. She was so sad, and I don’t want that to happen to any of you! Lastly, know that this is one of the more expensive dining options at Disney World. Even at the bar our tab is often over $100, making this a spot we mostly save for special occasions.
So will you be trying Jiko on your next trip? Do you have any questions that I can assist with or other restaurants you’d like to see information about? What’s your favorite thing at Jiko? Please let us know in the comments below and as always thank you for reading and commenting!