Animal Kingdom: Nomad Lounge Review

Disney's Nomad Lounge

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Nomad Lounge is a relaxing lounge located in Animal Kingdom, attached to Tiffins, one of their popular Signature restaurants. Nomad Lounge is located on Discovery Island, just before the bridge that leads into Pandora. It has become one of my favorite places to eat during a day at Animal Kingdom.

Tip: Visiting the lounges attached to these higher-end dining venues is a way to experience some of the offerings of a signature restaurant kitchen without requiring a massive budget or an Advanced Dining Reservation.

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Nomad Lounge Hours and Dining Plan Information

Nomad Lounge opens daily at 11:30a and will remain open until park closing time. Unlike Table Service restaurants, there are no reservations offered at Nomad Lounge. All seating is on a first come, first serve basis.

While I have sometimes not gotten my preferred sitting area, so far I have not had to wait to be seated somewhere. In general, you walk in and wander to the seat of your choice. A Cast Member will come by to serve you once you are seated.

Disney Dining Plans are not accepted at Nomad Lounge. However, the Tables in Wonderland dining discount card is accepted. Tables in Wonderland gives you a 20% discount on both food and drinks.

Comfy couches on the Nomad Lounge porch

Atmosphere at Nomad Lounge

The lounge features an interior seating area with a full bar or an outside area with a covered porch overlooking the water. The décor on the inside is lovely, evoking travels through Africa and Asia, and is a warm environment. Large windows give a view to the outside porch, and by extension, of the water beyond it.

But the star of the show is definitely that covered porch. The porch angles around the left side of the building and consists of tables for 2 along the railing or sofa groupings with a low table along the outside wall of the building. The table sizes themselves are pretty small, so if you order a number of items, be prepared to jam them all on there.

The main downside to the sofa groupings is that the table is a low coffee table, which requires you to lean down really low to eat your food. A minor thing, really, but something to take note of if you really dislike that kind of arrangement.​

The calm and serenity that can be found on this porch cannot be overstated. We just love it. Here you are sitting along what is probably one of the most crowded walkways in all of Animal Kingdom, but you completely forget about that.

Somehow you no longer pay attention to the people walking across the bridge, or the noise that these people inevitably make. I’m not entirely sure how Disney manages this, but they do. It’s a testament to just how engrossed you become in the atmosphere that is Nomad Lounge.

The weather will be the main factor influencing whether seats are easy or hard to come by on the porch. It was packed to the gills when Doug and I were there on a gorgeous April day, and mostly empty in the sweltering heat of early September while the air conditioned interior was full.

Tip: In the late afternoon on a hot day, avoid sitting towards the back end of the porch on a sunny day. The position of the sun causes these seats to get blasted. This might not be as bad on a mild day, but on a hot day it can negatively impact your dining experience.

Nomad Lounge Menu

The Nomad Lounge menu is a collection of small plate offerings, as well as their famous churros. The menu is also constantly evolving, with some options removed and replaced with new choices fairly frequently.

Because of this, make sure to check the menu shortly before your trip to get an idea of what will be on offer when you are there. The Wagyu Beef Sliders I had during my first visit to Nomad Lounge were not on the menu for the second trip, but are now back on it, with different sides.

In terms of price, some of the menu items are definitely expensive considering they are “small plates”. The servings are not exactly large.

Updated Nomad Lounge Menu (12/14/2019)

The menu looks VERY different now from when I was last there. Unfortunately, my beloved Chicken Satay is gone! I’m leaving it in the review in hopes it comes back some day. But here is the most recent menu according to Disney’s website.

  • Chicken Manchurian Nomad Bowl: Steamed Rice, Red Cabbage Kimchi, Ginger-Scallion Oil, Crimini
  • Togarashi-spiced Tuna Nomad Bowl: Steamed Rice, Red Cabbage Kimchi, Ginger-Scallion Oil, Crimini
  • Wagyu Beef Nomad Bowl: Steamed Rice, Red Cabbage Kimchi, Ginger-Scallion Oil, Crimini
  • Impossible Sliders: Chipotle Aïoli, Yucca Fries
  • Charcuterie
  • Fish Tacos: Crispy Halibut, Pico de Gallo, Pickled Jalapeño, Radish
  • Tiffins Bread Service: Tadka, Spiced Coriander Yogurt, Ginger-Pear Chutney
  • Wagyu Beef Sliders: Tomato-Pear Jam, Yucca Fries
  • Smoked Pork Ribs: Sweet Soy Glaze, Apple-Jicama Slaw
  • Selection of Artisanal Cheeses
  • Poutine: Smoked Boneless Rib, French Fries, Kungaloosh Gravy, Cheddar Cheese Curds
  • Churros: Chili-strawberry and Vanilla Crema dipping sauces

Nomad Lounge Drinks Menu

The drink menu at Nomad Lounge is an experience in and of itself. First, the sheer quantity of drinks on the menu is impressive. There are so many delicious sounding drinks that it can be hard to decide which ones to pick!

However, the best part of the drinks menu is actually the stories and information found among the pages. It has pictures and stories from the travels of the Disney Imagineers as they traveled the world searching for inspiration for the theming of Animal Kingdom. How cool is that? It makes for interesting reading while you enjoy your time at Nomad Lounge.

Nomad Lounge Gluten Free Menu

One of the reasons I love Nomad Lounge so much is due to the extensive gluten-free offerings. So far in our wanderings, most of the lounges have a limited gluten free menu, with some having only 1 menu item I could eat.

Not so, with Nomad Lounge. They have so many options it can be hard to decide what to choose. In the end, between the food, drinks, and relaxing atmosphere it’s possible to spend a decent chunk of time here, and we absolutely love it.​

In addition to the standard menu, the wait staff can also offer a select portion of the Tiffins appetizer menu. Between these two menus there are several options for people with gluten sensitivity.

Sample of Tiffins Appetizer Menu

I had one waitress there who was very knowledgeable in what foods were safe for me, and another who seemed less confident. As always, if you have any questions please ask to speak with a chef or a manager.​

However, the real star of the Nomad Lounge in the gluten free community are the churros. These are naturally gluten free without any alterations necessary. I’m fairly certain we would all cry if these are ever removed from the menu.

Nomad Lounge Review

Now that you know what Nomad Lounge has to offer, how does the food actually taste? In brief, the food here is delicious. But when have I ever been brief about anything?! I will make note of which items reviewed are gluten free and which are not.

Chicken Satay

The Chicken Satay has become one of my favorite things to order at Nomad Lounge. It is naturally gluten free, which is always great. Just extra reassurance that someone didn’t accidentally forget to substitute any ingredients.

I find the serving size of the Chicken Satay to be pretty generous, especially considering the $10 price tag. It’s a phenomenal option for people on a budget at Disney World who are sick of Quick Service food.

The meat itself is so tender it just falls off the bamboo skewer it is served with. The sauce itself is so delicious and really adds to the flavor of the dish. The addition of the nuts on the outside is a stroke of genius. It adds a rather satisfying crunch and texture which is otherwise missing from this dish.

In general, I am not a fan of cucumber salad so would prefer if a different side was offered with it, but that’s solely a personal preference.

Truffle Poutine

My sister went straight to the poutine quite eagerly during our trip to Disney World. She loved it and inhaled it pretty quickly. They looked mouth wateringly good and I wish that the gravy was made with cornstarch instead of flour so I could eat it, as I really do love poutine.

I was told by the waitress that the poutine could be altered to make it gluten free by the removal of both the crispy onions and the gravy. I declined because without the gravy, then you are just eating french fries with cheese curds. Definitely not the same…

Again, even though this is a small plates menu, the Truffle Poutine was a generous serving size. So much so that Tracey ended up wishing she had left more room for her churros (I made the ultimate sacrifice and helped her eat some of hers after I finished off all of mine…).​

Wagyu Beef Sliders

These are easily made gluten free with the addition of gluten free buns. When Doug and I split this small plate, they even brought out one with a gluten free bun and one with a regular bun. Mine was labeled with the standard allergy skewer to differentiate between them.

We both really enjoyed the sliders. The flavor of the meat is delicious and very juicy. However, I think next time I would order them without the gluten free bun. While I typically love the illusion of bread, it took away from the overall flavor in this case.

The meat was so tender that it didn’t hold together well, making it a challenge to eat with the slightly oversized gluten free bun. The bun itself was also a bit crumbly and crumby, so it created issues. In the end I simply took it off the bun and ate it with a fork.

Nomad Lounge Gluten Free Churros

Oh, the churros. What is there to say about the churros? They are absolutely delicious and one of my favorite foods in all of Disney World. I don’t know what they are made with, but they are gluten-free from the get-go. They are accompanied with two sauces: vanilla cream sauce and strawberry chili sauce. They were nice and crispy on the outside but soft on the inside, covered with a good layer of the cinnamon sugar.

While I like both of the dipping sauces, the strawberry chili was the favorite for both Doug and I. However, my sister didn’t like the strawberry chili sauce at all due to the spiciness. She and I have a very different idea of what is too spicy, and she has a very delicate palate when it comes to any sort of heat.

The strawberry flavor was nice and light and sweet, and the chili was just a mild finish of heat that kept the sauce from being too sweet. Tracey disagreed and seemed to think her mouth was on fire.

So depending on your own preferences, just be forewarned that there is some spice to the strawberry chili sauce. I ended up most frequently dipping in both sauces for every bite and it was just delicious.

These churros are very good by anyone’s standards, but for those of us who are gluten free, these are magical. The loss of baked goods has been a huge blow for me, so to be able to sit there and eat some delicious churros is such a treat for me.  

Hightower Rocks

Drinks at Nomad Lounge

Nomad Lounge also offers an extensive menu of specialty drinks, along with a bar to make any other drinks you want to request. We’ve tried a number of them, though with so many options, we didn’t begin to put a dent in the list.

Hightower Rocks is the perfect drink for a sunny afternoon. I found it to be light and refreshing, really a drink that makes me think of summer. It is definitely a sweet drink but has a good blend of tartness to help balance this out. The watermelon flavor tastes quite fresh, not artificial.

The Annapurna Zing is definitely tangier, and dryer, which is to be expected given the ingredients of gin, mint, and ginger beer. I happen to like sour drinks so I thought this drink was also excellent. The presentation of it was also pretty cool with the light up flower on top.

Tracey ordered the Sinaloa Sangria as she is definitely a sangria fan. However, the menu did not mention that it must’ve contained seltzer of some sort, or she would have never gotten it. Carbonation falls under the same category as spicy for my sister, so the drink was difficult for her. She stated that once the ice melted and became more watered down she enjoyed the flavor, but the carbonation kind of ruined it for her.​

Doug sampled the Beer Flight being offered at Nomad Lounge, while I’ve given the Savanna Premium Cider a go. Doug enjoyed his beer flight, with the exception of the IPA. He’s not a lover of IPA’s in the first place so that’s to be expected. He had all sorts of comments about hints of banana in the First Magnitude and the cinnamon flavor and spices in the Kungaloosh, but that all goes over my head.

My cider was very good, definitely a dryer style cider. It was not as fruity as most ciders can tend to be. It was good though, and I love trying as many different kinds of cider as I can. While I enjoyed the cider, I would likely be more inclined to get the Hightower Rocks again or try one of the many other drinks on the menu.​

Final Thoughts

This is a lounge that I cannot wait to go to again and again. The atmosphere is just so soothing and relaxing, which is essential when you want to take a breather from the fast-paced touring style that Disney World often requires. There were people sprawled out on the couches reading books while enjoying their food and drinks, that’s just how relaxed of an environment it can be.

The food was excellent and the wide range of gluten free options were such a treat for me that it automatically made me love it even more. The drink list is also extensive, you could go here numerous times and never repeat anything.

I never once felt rushed to hurry up and leave. This is the perfect place to recharge your batteries when you are in Animal Kingdom.

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Your Thoughts

What have your experiences been at the Nomad Lounge? Did you love it as much as we did? Tell your story in the comments below. Don’t forget to follow The Disney Journey on Facebook and Pinterest.

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