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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Jiko – Animal Kingdom Lodge’s Hidden Gem

There are a lot of restaurants in Walt Disney World. Some are good, some are ok, and some are just awful. A general rule of them is that the best restaurants are not in the parks. At times it seems like the further you get from the theme parks the better the restaurant is. This is the case with Jiko.

Jiko is located at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. That alone makes it a hike for anyone who wants to dine here and is not staying at the Lodge. Getting to Jiko is by far the worst part about dining at Jiko. One small tip that might help is the fact that it’s a short trip from the Animal Kingdom. If you are using Disney Transportation try to going to Jiko after visiting the Animal Kingdom. The only drawback of this tip is that you need pants (not shorts) to eat at Jiko. I solved this problem by wearing zip off cargo pants when I ate there.

Once you reach the AKL you still need to find Jiko. Out of all of the restaurants I’ve been to this was the only one I could not find on my own. I had to ask for directions. Most of the time it’s very easy to find a restaurant because there are a lot of signs of the restaurant just sticks out. This is not the case with Jiko. If you are heading over there I can help a little by saying you need to take the elevator down a floor from the main lobby to find Jiko.

Overall Jiko is a dark restaurant. It’s not as dark as the San Angel Inn but it is very dimly lit. It’s about as dark as Le Cellier. Unlike Le Cellier the ambient lighting comes from a few different sources not just the lights over head. For example the back wall is lit up with a cycling light that changes color. Most of the colors are reds, oranges, or other warm colors which adds nicely to the atmosphere.

One entire wall is made up of large windows that look out onto the grounds of the AKL. This would be nice during the summer but if you are going later in the year there is a good chance it’s going to be dark while you are there. Artist Pointe is also like this. Both would be awesome for lunch but who wants to go to an out of the way resort for lunch?

Unlike Artist Point Jiko has good food. Actually it’s not just good it’s some of the best you’ll find in Disney World. It doesn’t match the California Grill but it’s right up there. This is the real reason why Jiko is worth visiting.

What should you start with? We tried the Barbecue Flatbread and it was amazing but you can get a good flatbread in at a number of locations in Disney. We also tried the “Taste of Africa.” You will not find anything like this anywhere else in Disney World. This is an amazing dish with a wide range of flavors. You cannot go wrong with this dish.

For your entre it is a very hard choice. All of the offerings are good. If you want something you can’t get anywhere else try the Swahili Curry Shrimp. If you want something less adventurous you will not go wrong with the Barbecue Beef Short Ribs or the Oak-Grilled Filet.

For desert Jiko has a nice selection but they all tend to be overshadowed by the Tanzanian Chocolate Cheesecake. I don’t know if it’s because it’s Tanzanian or what but this is a great desert.

The service at Jiko was the best we received on our entire trip. They beat the great waiter we got at the Hoop Dee Doo. They beat the California Grille. They were the best. However, I would not expect to get this service again. The lady who waited on us was on loan from the dinner show at the Poly. She used to work at Jiko but got transferred. I feel bad for her. I don’t know what she did to deserve a transfer like that but she was the best we had. Too bad we had her before we went to the Brown Derby or else she would have easily restored our faith in the wait staff at Disney World.

Overall Jiko is worth the trip and that says a lot considering how long it can take to get there if you using Disney Transportation.


  1. I adore Jiko, the ambience and lighting is just perfect, and the food is simply wonderful. I adore the steak mac & cheese with red wine sauce ;-)

  2. Thanks for reminding me about the mac & cheese. They told us how great it was so we tried it. It tasted good but I couldn't help but wonder if it was supposed to be room temperature...