Even after living at Walt Disney World for a year, I still didn't see and do everything the most magical place on earth has to offer. But I did a lot. After spending some time away from Disney (sniff) some clear favorites pulled ahead. Now it's time to give them "their place in the sun!"
First up: Sanaa. Once, Maggie and I were chatting with the group behind us in the queue at Soarin' and, upon learning we were cast members, they asked what our favorite restaurant was. Without hesitation, Maggie and I both answered: Sanaa.
It's just that good. The 40% cast member discount didn't hurt, but dining next to giraffes with bread and a spicy-garlic sauce in front of you is a unique dining experience you won't find elsewhere. I'm a "selective" eater too, so if you think this menu is too exciting for you, I promise there's something even for the "chicken nuggets from the kids' menu" type. Besides that, here's why Sanaa rises to the top:
It's outside the parks
A huge perk of Sanaa is that you can eat there without stepping foot in a park. Crowds are lower and it's much easier to snag a last-minute reservation than at similar Animal Kingdom restaurants. You actually feel like you can take a breath when you sit down, instead of thinking about making it to that next Fastpass. Plus, it's only a short bus ride from Animal Kingdom if you want to take an afternoon break out of the heat.
You can dine on the reserve
Animal Kingdom Lodge has its very own reserve at the resort, meaning you can eat lunch or dinner as zebras and other wildlife walk by. Sanaa isn't the only DAK Lodge restaurant with this privilege, but it offers more and clearer views than the others, in my opinion. Just make sure that when you check in you ask for a window table-- it may take an extra few minutes, but my request has never been denied.
Two words: bread service
If there's one thing you know about Sanaa, it's probably its bread service. Five types of naan and nine dipping sauces made for pairing make up this "appetizer," although you could easily make it a light lunch between two people. This is a must eat, and at only $15 one of the cheaper meal options at Disney World.
It's meant for sharing
While I've never let anyone split a Sanaa meal with me, the lunch and dinner menu makes it easy to taste several things. You can try different dishes from their "journey" and "harvest" lists and have your friends or family pick different options, then share them all when they reach your table. There are few things I haven't liked at Sanaa, and the menu frequently changes so you never know what new thing to try next.
Have you been to Sanaa? What's your favorite part about eating there?