Dine Back in the 1970s at Steakhouse 71!

by | Mar 29, 2022

Guests of Disney’s Contemporary Resort have had their pick of excellent dining and entertainment options for fifty years. Many are familiar with the California Grill perched atop the main building, famous for its views of the resort. Chef Mickey’s located in the main lobby is also a well-known destination, seen by thousands each day as they whiz by on a monorail.

Guests who have not stayed at the Contemporary might not know about the resort’s newest destination, Steakhouse 71. To those not walking into the main entrance, it might even feel like they are heading into the basement of the hotel. Despite its somewhat hidden location, you would do well to hunt down a reservation at Steakhouse 71 on your next trip!

In the distant past, Disney converted some convention space to a magical location called the Fiesta Fun Center. They packed this early arcade with pinball machines, video games, and a large shooting gallery. A theater showed Disney movies all day for just $1.50! Over time, the arcade slowly donated its space to other projects until 2008. In that year, the Fun Center finally closed for good and was converted into a hip, new restaurant. 

The Wave . . . Of American Flavors (or just “The Wave” for short), opened its doors, serving modern meals in a much more casual space than the California Grill fourteen floors above. Reservations were not nearly as hard to come by at this hidden gem as the California Grill upstairs even though the price tag was much more palatable. The lounge inside the entrance with its dim, blue lighting gave off vibes of calm serenity until July of 2021. 

(Picture Courtesy Disney; David Roark, photographer)

Steakhouse 71 opened on October 1st, 2021, just in time for the park’s anniversary. The restaurant resides on the first floor of Disney’s Contemporary Resort, just past the escalator to the main concourse. If you arrive by monorail, it is a short trip downstairs from that spacious fourth floor atrium. Take your eyes off that magnificent mosaic mural designed by Mary Blair and head downstairs for your meal!

Once there, find the long hallway that leads inside. The logo sets the stage for a 70s trip. “STEAKHOUSE” is written in block letters with a “71” in a groovy style reminiscent of the A-frame shape of the Contemporary. Head down that hallway, making sure you pause at the pictures of the early days at Walt Disney World along the way.

(Picture Courtesy Disney; David Roark, photographer)

Down that hallway, there is a lounge surrounded by dark wood. The bar front is lively, backlit with swirling orange colors. The slate gray bar top draws a firm line between retro and modern design. Have a seat in the high, wooden chairs while you wait for your table! Maybe help yourself to a fancy drink while you wait. The restaurant features several signature cocktails that embrace the citrus-laden past of the resort.

Inside the full dining room the décor is modern and sleek with plenty of retro flair. Slatted wooden ceilings, wooden chairs, and hip carpets in blue and bone with concentric designs all combine to suggest the 1970s without assaulting the senses. The room is spacious, so take a moment to wander and view some concept art for classic attractions. Hanging lamps, tall planters, and mirrored walls help to break up the room and extend that retro-modern theme.

Steakhouse 71 excels with some dishes with a little more Disney in them. The Floridian eggs benedict subs in crab cake to get a little more seafood in your morning. Walt’s Prime Rib Hash cashes in on the nostalgia for the company’s patriarch. Roasted prime rib joins forces with potatoes, caramelized peppers and onions, and a fried egg on top for an experience far beyond corned beef hash. Not enough food? Indulge in the Seakhouse 71 Feast. After you consume eggs benedict, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, a Mickey waffle, bacon-cheddar grits, potatoes, and fruit, you might need a nap before you head into the parks!

(Picture Courtesy Disney; David Roark, photographer)

It’s great to see some diversity of drinks at the restaurant. Feel good about the coffee, sourced from Conservation International’s Alto Mayo Forest project. Cool off before a hot day in the parks with various cold brewed coffee drinks. Fruit juice punches like sherbet and lemonade strawberry add a little more chill to your morning. If you want a little alcohol in the morning (you’re on vacation), Steakhouse 71 has a few eye-openers for you.

Kids can get in on the morning fun too! Try some oatmeal and cranberries, Mickey waffles, and scrambled eggs. Any kids meal comes with low-fat milk, water, or apple juice along with your choice of apples, potatoes, sausage, yogurt, or bacon. 

Lunch time and dinner time are fairly similar at Steakhouse 71. A few dinner items are not found on the menu, but if you have your heart set on something, just ask! Your servers are usually happy to accommodate your request. Just ask nicely.

Bacon and Eggs comes highly recommended as an appetizer at all hours. One out of one Tambu Lounge bartenders we surveyed agree!

A classic coastal American menu of appetizers awaits! Salads like the Caesar and Iceberg Wedge will no doubt entertain. A classic shrimp cocktail poached in citrus harkens back to the early days of the resort, when citrus was still a novelty to many American visitors. Crab cakes make a great shareable and some French onion soup rounds out the menu in case you enjoy a hearty soup in Florida heat.

At lunch time, the menu is very sandwich-focused. Crab cake sliders served with Old Bay Remoulade sound like a savory way to unwind midday. Old Bay is the optimal spice blend for any crab dish, of course. The grilled cheese sandwich ups the stakes significantly with gruyere and gouda cheeses, rich pork belly, and caramelized onion jam. You definitely won’t mistake this for kids food! 

Take a moment and enjoy the lounge if you don’t have time for a full meal!

If you didn’t have your fill of prime rib at breakfast, order the prime rib sandwich for lunch. The Steakhouse 71 Stack Burger adds even more meat and positively oozes with American cheese and lemon aioli. If you want to back off the meat train, the Vegetable Wellington is expertly-seasoned mushrooms and artichoke wrapped in a delicate puff pastry.

Kids choose between a cheeseburger, a 4-oz beef filet, fresh fish, or peanut butter and jelly chicken wings. That last one is intriguing on its own! Their meals are the same for lunch or dinner. The selections are not too varied, but there are several different sides to add on like potatoes, broccoli, and green beans.

On to the steaks! The decision between sirloin, filet mignon, New York strip, prime rib, and beef tenderloin is only your first. You will also need to choose a side dish like asparagus, wine-glazed mushrooms, or mashed potatoes. Finally, you must select a savory sauce to adorn your steak. Will you choose the sharp tang of chimichurri, or a rich béarnaise? An earthy and spicy horseradish sauce or a calming red wine sauce? Steakhouse 71 offers seven different choices including their own signature sauce, a blend of 20 different ingredients including vinegar, figs, anchovies, and citrus.

Even smaller plates are more than satisfying with the citrus-infused flavors of these crab cake sliders!

Those not in the mood for a large cut of beef might enjoy a hefty pork chop or a filet of sustainable fish. That vegetable Wellington makes another appearance, as does a chicken breast with parsnip puree and roasted mushrooms. Definitely plenty to choose from at Steakhouse 71!

If you did not save room for dessert, try to combine some stomach space with your fellow guests. The Steakhouse 71 chocolate cake is a massive slice of a many-layered whisky-infused chocolate cake with chocolate mousse and raspberries. To capture some of that Florida citrus vibe, go for the Ambrosia cake with coconut chiffon with mandarin orange and pineapple. The name even suggests that classic 70s “salad” you probably ate for Sunday dinner. On our trip, we enjoyed the crème brûlée, with its perfect crust on top, a surprising chocolate cream base, and perfectly ripe fruit. A nice cup of coffee cut through that sweetness and helped us find the energy to stand up again.

Steakhouse 71 has a lot to offer all day long. Breakfast and lunch are more affordable meals while dinner starts at $35 for an entrée. If you want to save some cash, check out that lunch menu instead of dinner! Also take some time to plan ahead. Since the Contemporary is a short walk from the Magic Kingdom, this is a popular choice for all meals. Reservations open up 60 days before the first day of your trip. You can search for open bookings using the My Disney Experience website or app.

Definitely take some time out of your next trip and swing by the refreshed Steakhouse 71. Better yet, stay at the Contemporary and check out breakfast, lunch, and dinner! This citrus-infused, retro-modern restaurant is sure to please. Your pals at ConciEARS are here to help!

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