After a long day at the parks, I found myself craving a sandwich and fries, so we stopped at the Everything Pop food court to see what the chef would be able to do for me.
He offered up a roasted veggie sandwich, and served me this monstrous delight, which I slathered up with honey mustard, and then enjoyed while we watched the Cleveland Indians dash our dreams for a World Series victory.
Because I used a quick service credit from our Disney Dining meal plan, I also received a side of fruit and a container of vegan ice cream (which I used to make a root beer float).
Animal Kingdom Lodge is a vegan food paradise - each of its three table-service restaurants (Boma, Jiko, Sanaa) are known favorites among the vegan community for incredible food options.
I have previously dined for Christmas Day dinner at Boma - Flavors of Africa as a non-vegan and thought the buffet options were plentiful and delicious, but this was my first experience there both for breakfast and as a vegan.
The chef here was very accommodating, as is the trend at Walt Disney World, and offered me a couple of additional options besides showing me what I could eat from the buffet.
I happily dug into a large plate of fruit, oatmeal with all sorts of toppers, and the trademark Mickey Mouse waffles.
My husband and I decided that while we really like buffet at Walt Disney World, we are not "breakfast buffet" people because we don't eat large quantities of food in the morning. We thought our table-service dining credit would be better used for another time of day.
Review: 3/5 ...But only because I don't feel the value is here for breakfast buffet. I would recommend trying Boma for lunch or dinner instead.
At first glace, the offerings at the Everything Pop food court are relatively disappointing for vegans...several of the stations offer vegetarian options, but a few language barriers prevented me from conveying what I was looking for and how I might be able to adapt existing menu items.
Don't fear! Ask to speak with the head chef on duty, and your needs will be met! The veggie burgers on the menu are not vegan-friendly. but the chef will prepare a vegan-friendly patty in the kitchen just for you...you just need to ask. Allow ample time, as this is a special order - I waited about 25 minutes for my food order but really enjoyed a "guilty pleasure" sort of meal...especially with brownies and a soda!
I used a quick-service dining credit for the following meal:
vegan burger with all the trimmings
Erin McKenna's brownie bites
Overall, I had a very pleasant experience and the chef on duty was very friendly in assisting me. This meal was exactly what I was in the mood for: a "junk-food" sort of meal...burger, fries, soda, brownies. It really hit the spot, even though I had about to wait for the specially prepared food. (Plan ahead.)
When we were seated, we let our server know we were vegan and he informed us that there were several other vegan tables that evening and Chef TJ would be out shortly to speak with us. Chef TJ is all smiles, so very happy, and obviously loves his role in feeding vegans on vacation. He showed us the vegan-friendly options on the buffet (not many, as the restaurant is very meat/dairy-heavy), and then asked if there are any particular foods we do not eat. I mentioned eggplant, and he gestured to the kitchen and declared, "the rest of your meal I will make back there".
Then he started showing up with food. And lots of it.
First...a salad. But not just a salad. A fancy salad. With some sort of dressing that I am certain was blended by Zeus and Hera themselves.
Second...samosas. So obviously this guy knows the calling of my heart.
Third...the most gigantic plate of nachos I have ever seen, drenched in a heavenly homemade cheese sauce and dotted with caramelized onions. At this point, I should mention, we were already becoming full. Yet we couldn't. stop. eating.
Fourth...a bowl of mushroom soup. And I loathe mushrooms. And I completely forgot to tell Chef TJ. And yet, this soup...it spoke to me. I ate the entire bowl. It made me question if I really dislike mushrooms, or if I just need Chef TJ to do all future mushroom-prep in my life.
Fifth...our entree...a heaping mass of grilled veggies, tofu, and quinoa, all perfectly seasoned and lovely to gaze upon. I will admit, people were watching as these dishes emerged from the kitchen. It was like artwork.
And finally...dessert, A tower of ice cream sandwiches, bananas, strawberries, and chocolate sauce. Don't worry. I managed to fit this in as well, then casually mentioned to my husband that this might be my first weight-gain vacation. (Post script: it was.)
I felt like I was going to burst when we left the restaurant. This was one of the greatest vegan meals I have ever experienced (even just that entree would have razzle-dazzled me) and I live in Cleveland, Ohio...home to amazing vegan food. Is Trail's End off the beaten path of WDW? For sure. Is it worth venturing there to dine with Chef TJ? Without a doubt. Make sure to check his schedule to be sure he is cooking when you plan to visit.
Getting there: boat from MK is the easiest - you can also Uber from anywhere (relatively inexpensive at WDW) or take a resort bus there from another park
As always, let me know if you have questions!
If you have a couple of hours to devote to eating dinner at Trail's End, I highly recommend the Chef TJ Experience. We stuffed our faces and each plate that arrived from the kitchen was better than the last.