Satu’li Canteen the counter service restaurant in Pandora – World of Avatar at Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom theme park. In this WDW dining review, we’ll share food photos, offer thoughts on the menu, ambiance and theme at Satu’li Canteen, and share whether we think it’s worth dining here. (Updated August 5, 2020.)
For starters, Satu’li Canteen is on the far side of Pandora, adjacent to Pongu Pongu and the Windtraders gift shop, which is at the exit to Avatar Flight of Passage, now one of the most popular rides at Walt Disney World. The restaurant participates in the Disney Dining Plan as a 1-credit counter service location, but does not offer any other form of discounts.
Satu’li Canteen was the first restaurant at Walt Disney World to debut Mobile Order, a feature in the My Disney Experience mobile app that is now ubiquitous and highly recommended as a time-saver. The process is pretty self-explanatory, but we have a How to Use Mobile Order at Walt Disney World Guide just in case you need it.
The idea behind Satu’li Canteen is that it used to be an RDA mess hall, but has been repurposed into a peaceful dining facility by Alpha Centauri Expeditions (ACE) and adorned with Na’vi art and cultural items. “It’s the perfect place to refuel as you venture through the Valley of Mo’ara.”
So in other words, Satu’li Canteen has been repurposed much like the rest of Pandora…and to a larger extent, like a lot of Animal Kingdom as a whole. And really, this ‘repurposed space’ motif is a common design-style Disney uses far beyond Animal Kingdom.
Unlike the rest of Pandora – World of Avatar, I don’t think Satu’li Canteen is particularly effective from a thematic perspective. Sure, you could say they nailed the theme they were going for, but it seems like a poor choice to go for a mess hall vibe in the first place.
Walt Disney World already has plenty of loud, cavernous restaurants. Something sprawling and intimate would’ve been perfect here, especially considering that Animal Kingdom’s other counter service restaurants are mostly simple, outdoor venues.
To me, Satu’li Canteen feels like a giant hangar, the weird love child of Animal Kingdom Lodge, Tatooine Traders, and Smokejumpers Grill. There’s a layer of detail applied to all of this for visual interest, but I didn’t find any of it particularly satisfying. This struck me as a contrast to the rest of Pandora–a bit of a swing and a miss.
The restaurant’s main offering is a “Create-Your-Own-Bowl” plus two varieties of Bao Buns. On the plus side, the food was good across the board. Animal Kingdom already had what was arguably the best counter service lineup of any park at Walt Disney World. Now, I’d say that point is not arguable.
The highlight at Satu’li Canteen is the “Create-Your-Own-Bowl” option, which lets you select a protein, base, and sauce. If you’re a health-nut like Sarah, you can order the chicken with quinoa and chimichurri sauce.
If you’re more interested in foods that taste delicious like me, the beef with potatoes and creamy herb dressing should be your pick. In other words, there’s something for everyone with the options here, and they can be light and healthy or heavy and ‘comforting.’
We tried a few variations of the bowls, and I felt the grilled beef was the best pick for a protein. It was high-quality, relatively lean meat that had excellent flavor and was perfectly-prepared medium rare.
This Grilled Beef with Red & Sweet Potato Hash and Creamy Herb Dressing Bowl is my new go-to option at Animal Kingdom. The beef is exceptional, and the creamy herb dressing is addictively good.
The potatoes round the dish out as nice filler, which also add a bit of herb and spice to the mix. Not only is this filling and delicious, but it’s also a strong value for money. I cannot say enough good things about it.
The chicken was also good, but less of a standout comparatively-speaking. Sarah was really impressed by her chicken bowl, and was pleased that Walt Disney World had healthy (or at least healthier–it’s all relative) options that actually taste good at a counter service restaurant.
I tried the chicken and while it’s good, there’s no comparison between it and the beef bowl. Unless you “need” to eat healthy, go with the beef.
We both agreed that the fish did not ‘work’ quite as well in the bowl, but it was still a good option and higher quality than you’d typically find as a component of a counter service dish. We did not try the tofu.
In addition to these bowls–which offer and exceptional blend of quality, size, and price–there are a few other menu items, like steamed pods, which are Pandora’s twist on burgers.
I found the pods to be good–better than a cheeseburger at Restaurantosaurus, for example–but less filling than the bowls. The bun to meat ratio could’ve been a bit better. If this were Magic Kingdom, these pods would be a standout menu item, but with the exceptional bowls at Satu’li Canteen, I don’t see myself ordering the pods ever again.
Moreover, while the quality of the pods is higher than a standard Walt Disney World counter service burger, there is something to be said for just embracing a low-quality burger and piling it high with toppings to mask the taste and get a cheap meal in the process.
In terms of desserts, the Blueberry Cream Cheese Mousse is definitely the way to go. First of all, it scores major points for looking cool. If someone made up a backstory that this is what blue alien smurf kittens eat to get their color (like flamingos!), I’d totally buy into that.
As for flavor, it was a nice mix of blueberry and tropical. Rich and flavorful, but not so much so that you’d need to split it. (Don’t share it–we made that mistake.) Off the top of my head, I can’t think of there being a better counter service dessert at Animal Kingdom. In fact, I’d say the two best desserts in the park are this and the Pongu Lumpia at Pongu Pongu. Both are phenomenal, must-eats.
We also tried the Chocolate Cake with a Crunchy Cookie Layer and Banana Cream Topping. This didn’t work for either of us. There was an odd, bitter tang to the flavor, which was otherwise sweet.
Sarah’s generally a fan of dark chocolate, but that wasn’t quite what was going on here.
The drink above is also not recommended.
I’m not sure what was going on here, but it tasted like day old Mountain Dew, cut with 50% water.
Finally, a quick update to “check in” on Satu’li Canteen to see whether its initial quality has held up, as often new Walt Disney World restaurants cut corners or go downhill over time.
We’re happy to report that this is not the case. To the contrary, Satu’li Canteen retains the same great menu and portion sizes (our most recent meal here was July 2020) as it did upon opening. Meanwhile, prices continue to increase while portion sizes decrease at Flame Tree BBQ–closing the gap between the two top tier Animal Kingdom dining options.
Overall, we have been so consistently impressed with Satu’li Canteen that we’ve penciled it into our 1-Day Animal Kingdom Itinerary as where you should have dinner. (Lunch at Tiffins plus dinner here or at Flame Tree BBQ might be one epic day for your stomach.) The food is ambitious and delicious, the portion sizes are large, and the menu is solid from beginning to end. Even several years after the debut of Pandora – World of Avatar, the quality remains high–largely outperforming Flame Tree BBQ.
Thematically, Satu’li Canteen a disappointment given how impressive everything else in Pandora is, but I guess you can just eat outside and stare at the floating mountains to “fix” that. In a park where the “theme” for most counter service restaurants is simply the scenery, the fact that there’s actually indoor, air-conditioned seating here is at least a plus, and not enough to tarnish an otherwise exceptional restaurant. All things considered, Satu’li Canteen is an elite eatery, deserving its ranking in the top 5 on our List of the Best Counter Service Restaurants at Walt Disney World.
Have you dined at Satu’li Canteen? What did you think of the food here? What about the theme and atmosphere? Is it on your must-do list for Animal Kingdom, or would you prefer dining elsewhere? If you’ve yet to dine here, any questions about the restaurant? We enjoy hearing your feedback–and it’s helpful for other readers to hear a diversity of opinions–so we’d really appreciate it if you’d share your experience in the comments below!