California Grill Vegan Unplugged

This review reflects our experience from October 2017.

Until recently, if you asked Paul and I what our favorite resort restaurant was, we would have said Citricos at Disney’s Grand Floridian, hands down. But our last couple of visits there were lackluster, and we had always wanted to try California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. We had heard about a vegetarian tasting menu and other options, plus the location and view can’t be beat, so we decided to give it a try on our last trip.

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California Grill is located at the top level of Disney’s Contemporary Resort and is a Signature Restaurant. It can only be accessed by a specific elevator on the hotel’s lower floor. You check in, are escorted to the elevator and then head up to the restaurant. California Grill is well known for being a great spot to take in Magic Kingdom fireworks. We had our toddler son with us, and therefore an early reservation time, but the staff let us know that we could bring our receipt with us if we wanted to come back later for fireworks viewing.

Tara and Paul

There isn’t a bad seat in the house – many tables are directly next to windows, and even the ones that aren’t have a pretty fantastic view. The modern and simple feel of the restaurant allows the view to scenery to really take center stage.

Allergy Menu October 2017
Allergy Menu October 2017
Vegan Unplugged October 2017

We were seated right away and Ron, our very enthusiastic waiter, came over shortly after to walk us through the menu. He noticed that we had marked various allergies and also mentioned that we were vegan upon check in and was excited to show us the vegetarian tasting menu, which offered six vegan options and had a fixed price of 36 dollars per person for four choices. There were also options on the allergy menus. Everything on the tasting menu looked fantastic so we decided to stick with that. Ron took our order and was out quickly with drinks and bread, which he double-checked was vegan-friendly before bringing to the table. We asked about Earth Balance but he said they did not offer it there and brought us oil for dipping instead.

Vegan rolls and oil


Paul ordered the vegan fried rice, vegan pho, heirloom tomato salad and flatbread. I ordered the black truffle selezione pasta, the vegan roll, the heirloom tomato salad and the flatbread.

Paul’s Vegan Unplugged
Tara’s Vegan Unplugged

When our food came out, we could not believe the amount on our plates. Each selection was a very generous portion. Paul’s fried rice and my pasta could have nearly been entrees on their own. For the quality of the food, we were surprised how much we were given for the price.

Black Truffle Pasta

Of my choices, the black truffle pasta was the standout. The pasta was very tender and creamy, so creamy that I had Ron double-check that it was indeed vegan. There were fresh tomatoes and herbs mixed in. The vegan roll was my second favorite. The light flavor of the rice combined with the sweet mango and avocado was a nice contrast to the slightly more rich pasta dish. The pho and flatbread were good too, but nothing super special. The vegetables on the flatbread did taste very fresh and were not overly oily. The pho had corn, bok choy, rice noodles and broth. It was not as spicy as a would have hoped. Paul liked his fried rice, and despite the name, it was not too heavy-tasting. He made special note of the crispiness of the mushrooms. The heirloom salad was the one choice that didn’t come as a heaping portion, but he liked how it balanced out the other items he chose.

Vegan Roll

This was one meal that I would have loved to finished, but I was way too full.

Ron mentioned that the kitchen had a vegan specialty for dessert, but said that it took 20 minutes to prepare because it was kept in a deep freezer. It was a chocolate cashew cheesecake. I was tempted to try it, but we did have the extra time to wait with our young son in tow. Maybe next time!



Would we go back?
YES! This is our new favorite!

Paul & Tara

Author: VeganLibrarian

libraries, plants, Disney

15 thoughts

  1. Me and my sister are going to Disney next year and will be on the dining plan. Does anyone know if this restaurant has a good vegan option that is eligible for the dining plan? Im guessing this special menu would not be included which is a shame as it looks really good!

    1. California Grill is a Signature Dining Restaurant and will be two dining credits, even with the Vegan Menu. I would honestly pay out of pocket for this and use your credits towards a buffet like Tusker House.

    1. I just went there a few days ago and was told dress code would be changing in June. They will apparently be discouraging (not allowing?) flip flops and I think they’ll be trying to enforce the already existing business casual attire. It’s a very nice setting and, when I was there, there were a number of people in pool shorts, jeans, etc and it really did distract from the ambiance. The view is gorgeous and the prices are high, so the customers’ attire, I think, should go along with that. By the way, my friend and I shared the 4-plate veggie meal and it was excellent and enough food for both of us.

      1. Oh I’m so happy to hear this! We have always been slightly annoyed by people not following the dress codes at these restaurants when we take the time to get nice for them. I hope they start enforcing it at all of the resort signature restaurants!

    2. I wore a dress and my husband wore some chinos and a button up shirt. We saw others not adhering to the dress code, but Marsha just commented saying that they will start enforcing it soon. We always love an excuse to doll up!

    1. It’s a good amount of food, but splitting it would make it more like a small meal. If you got an appetizer and dessert I think it would be okay.

      1. Thanks for the reply. I’m looking for a small meal and a dessert so sharing this sounds perfect.

  2. CA Grill is always on our go-to list more than once when we visit dishes. I agree with your assessment of the dishes, though I enjoyed the pho quite a bit.

    The Truffle-Scented Tofu Sushi Roll is not to be missed – one of the most amazing explosions of flavors and textures we’ve had anywhere. Yes, it is expensive a $22, I think. But it’s a big order to share or even substitute for an entree if your watching your budget.

  3. California grill is hands-down the best restaurant for vegans at Disney World. The food and view cannot be beat! so excited you now have the choice of what you can have for your vegan unplugged, it used to be up to the chef.

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