One of the more prominent transformations on the reimagined Disney Magic was the overhaul to Parrot Cay (one of the three rotational dining restaurants on the ship) into the Brazilian themed restaurant, Carioca’s. The venue’s entrance on the port side of deck 3 aft welcomes guests as they walk down the Portuguese pavement inspired walkway past a beautiful mural featuring the Three Caballeros flying past the Brazilian coastline. Carioca’s has been designed to provide guests with a dynamic dining experience inspired by South American fresh markets. Immediately, you will notice a stark contrast from the darker earth tones of Parrot Cay, to the bright and vibrant design of Carioca’s.
There is a special nod to the previous tenant starting with the entrance doors with palm tree door handles which if you recall there were palm trees on the back of all the chairs in Parrot Cay and the Fish & star ceiling border. Ok, ok, I know they are the same as before and were just repainted, but still it is nice way to remember to Parrot Cay.
The parrot perch chandeliers have been replaced with a variety of hanging lanterns.
Similar to Enchanted Garden on the Dream & Fantasy, Carioca’s will transition from a vibrant festival theme during the day, to an after-hours scene of Rio de Janiero, with the windows softly illuminated with the overhead lanterns flickering at night.
I have been looking forward to dinner at Carioca’s since early last year before it even had a name. Just knowing we would get to try an all new menu was intriguing. After months of teasing, we finally had the opportunity to check it out for ourselves; in fact, we were able to enjoy the menu twice during the Magic’s first week back in service.
This will not be an everything-on-the-menu review, but we did manage to sample decedent selection of menu items over the course of our two dinners. Carioca’s cuisine is a mouthwatering selection of South American specialties begins with Warm Banana Bread With Mango Mint Mojo. The dip is a blend of mangos with mint and lime juice. I was a little unsure about the mix of a banana bread with the dip, but it was quite enjoyable.For our appetizers, my wife tried the Deep Fried Lobster Croquetas with a Banana-Lentil Salad encircled by a side of creamy horseradish. She felt it was just ‘ok’; that it reminded her of a fancier frozen fish stick. She did enjoy the lentil salad.
If you had the opportunity to visit Walt Disney World during Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival, you are sure to like this next appetizer that I could not pass up and ordered on both occasions, the Empanadas Panzudas de Carne.
The Argentinean beef empanada is a generous portion filled with beef and a red chimichurri which is a blend of cilantro, garlic, onion, oregano, pimento, red pepper flakes, red wind vinegar and olive oil.
For the soup & salad course, I tried the Sopa de Frijoles Negros Habanera, which is a delicious Havana-style black bean soup with olive oil. It was very tasty, but I decided not to finish because I was beginning to feel full with the combination of the empanada and now this soup.
On our second cruise and trip to Carioca’s, my wife ordered the Cuban Salad, which is serving of watercress and avocado atop a layer of pineapple drizzled with a cider vinegar dressing and toasted Cuban bread for croutons. She enjoyed the pineapple and avocado combination. The salad wasn’t anything memorable, just average, but she said she would order it again.
The other soup on the menu is the Sancocho de Pollo, with features a decent portion of spiced chicken in a vegetable soup.
While both soups were tasty, and even though I really enjoyed the black bean soup, I’d skip it for the less filling spicy chicken soup to save room for the the next two courses.
For the main course, the Grilled Orange and Lemon-marinated Flank Steak piqued my interest as it was listed as a guest favorite, and I love all things citrus! The flank steak is served on a bed of black bean rice with a side of onion and lime salsa. However, I could not taste the orange and lemon flavor in the meat. The flavorful salsa made up for the lack of flavor in the meat. It is also worth mentioning this is one of three gluten-free main course options at Carioca’s.
My wife loved the Lobster, Shrimp and Mahi Mahi Skewer so much she ordered the entrée again the second time dinning at Carioca’s! The dish is both gluten and dairy free and is beautifully presented. She commented that this is her favorite main entree in all of the DCL main dining rooms. Quinoa is a family favorite in our house, and we cook it often, and the quinoa served was very flavorful. This was cooked very well and the flavors melded together perfectly. I was unable to sample this, as I have a shellfish allergy.
On our second go around in Carioca’s, I opted to try the lighter note offering, the Chicken Crillo Salad. This gluten free option is iceberg lettuce and curly endive which is topped with a roasted cilantro marinated chicken breast. The salad also features goat cheese and pieces of papaya and mango with a sherry vinegar dressing garnished with a couple red malanga chips. I enjoyed the salad, and is a great option to have following the starters like the empanada and black bean soup.
Our daughter enjoyed one of the vegetarian options, the Small Corn Tortillas. This option turned out to be a hit as she enjoyed filling her own tortilla with the veracruzan refried bean dip, green tomatillo-chile and the Salvadorian pupusa relish which is just shredded white cabbage and carrots with some white wine vinegar and salt. She ordered this on both visits. She only made and ate one taco, and then ate the black beans with a spoon.
If you are not already stuffed just wait for the desserts… First up, the Coconut Tres Leches cake which is described as a moist coconut caked soared in three milks served with a light coconut cream. Emily took two bites and that was enough. She was not a big fan.
Next on the Carioca’s dessert menu is the Suspiro Alimenea, a baked lemon cream, topped with a port wine meringue and sprinkled with cinnamon garnished with a plank of dark chocolate accented with a strawberry. This was delicious and Emily wished she had ordered this as well (and plans to on our next trip).
The De La Costa Cream Cheese Flan is the second gluten free dessert option and was served with strawberries and topped with a Pedro Ximeñez reduction. Emily ordered this on our first visit to Carioca’s and said it was also ‘ok.’
I could not resist the urge to order the Carioca’s Ice Cream Sunday which is a generous scoop of dulce de leche ice cream with caramelized apples topped with whipped cream, a Mickey Mouse chocolate and a Churro! Out of all the desserts, this ice cream sunday just edges out the Suspiro Alimenea.
Finally, if you filled up and did not have room for dessert you could always choose nothing for dessert!
Overall, Carioca’s did not disappoint, I like the new look and was even more thrilled with the new menu options. I cannot wait to dine there next fall! I already know that I want to try the Jose Carioca’s entree – a trio of skewered meats. I do want to acknowledge that fact food is probably one of the most subjective topics. We all have different tastes and expectations. We spoke with others that did had a different opinion of the Carioca’s menu.