The world of Pandora draws guests in Disney’s Animal Kingdom because of the crowd-favourite attractions, Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey. However, tucked into the Northern corner of the Valley of Mo’ara (the land of Pandora) is one of the best quick service restaurants that the Disney parks have to offer – Satu’li Canteen.
Lauren and I make a regular habit of dining at Satu’li Canteen about once per trip. The menu, which is on the healthier side of dining options, combined with a quieter atmosphere make this an ideal spot to take a break during your day in the park.
In the Na’vi language, “satu’li” means heritage. The heritage of this quick service location dates back to its opening in the park, alongside Pandora: The World of Avatar, on May 27th, 2017. During its initial opening days, Satu’li Canteen used to be open for breakfast. Nowadays, it’s only open for lunch and dinner each day.
You can find Satu’li Canteen conveniently located outside of Windtraders, the store you pass through after exiting the Flight of Passage attraction. There’s a small courtyard outside, where you can find the small drinks & snacks location Pongu Pongu and the entrance to Satu’li Canteen.
The story behind Satu’li Canteen starts with the evil RDA setting up their mining facilities on Pandora. The actual Quonset-hut structure (an arched, metal building) was originally an RDA mess hall. Once they were put out of business, the structure was repurposed into the Satu’li Canteen it is today.
Now operated by Alpha Centauri Expeditions, Satu’li Canteen is meant to offer comfort dishes for any travelers to Pandora.
Satu’li Canteen can really be broken down into 3 different areas. The outdoor dining area, the indoor seating and the ordering stations.
Outdoor seating is pretty straight forward. The arch of the original building has been extended outwards, covered with a thatched roof and wooden posts to cover the seating below. It’s a great transition from the landscape of Mo’ara into the more industrial reminants from the RDA building.
Inside, guests are ushered along the main path into the ordering area. There, you can place and receive your order before heading out into the indoor dining area.
Along the perimeter of the indoor dining area, guests will find the self-serve drink stations, as well as cutlery and condiments. Above the seating area, the cool metal structure is obscured by Na’vi-inspired décor. Twisted tree branches are bound together to support Na’vi artistic pieces that seem to float in the air.
The space for seating appears to have been carved out of the natural stone from Pandora. Both dining areas are full of natural earthy colours that give Satu’li Canteen a more serene vibe.
Satu’li Canteen prices for entrées may seem a little higher than average, but when you consider the portion size and the fresh ingredients, the $12-17 USD range doesn’t seem too farfetched. Desserts are just above the $5 USD mark. There are also a number of specialty ales and cocktails available for adult guests.
Guests who are using the Quick Service Dining Plan or the Disney Dining Plan will require one quick service credit. For those on the DDP+ or the Deluxe Dining Plan, it will require 1 credit.
The ordering stations can be quite busy, especially during the middle of the day. For whatever reason, lunch seems to be the busiest meal at Satu’li Canteen. Because of that, I always like to mention that you can use the mobile ordering option, through the My Disney Experience app. Place your order ahead of time and let them know when you arrive. Then, head to the mobile order pickup window when you receive your pickup notification.
The entrées are really the star here at Satu’li Canteen. Ordering is done a little differently here, as well. The menu consist of bowls (more like deeper plates) where you can order your protein, base and sauce. This allows for a number of different possible combinations. The five protein options to choose from are currently:
- Slow-Roasted Sliced Grilled Beef
- Chopped Wood-Grilled Chicken
- Grilled Beef & Chicken
- Chili-Garlic Shrimp
- Chili-Spiced Crispy Fried Tofu (Plant-based option)
Next, you select your base:
- Rice & Black Beans
- Red & Sweet Potato Hash
- Lo Mein Noodles
- Hearty Salad
Finally, you select your sauce:
- Charred Green Onion Vinaigrette
- Black Bean Vinaigrette
- Creamy Herb Dressing
Most of the bowls are topped with a vegetable slaw and Boba balls, to give you that other-worldly feel.
Over the years, Lauren and I have ordered a number of different combinations to figure out what we each like best. Even though the items may change on the menu, we have yet to have a particularly bad combination. If we had to pick right now, I’d say we would likely end up ordering these two combinations:
- Grilled beef with red & sweet potato hash with the creamy herb dressing
- Chicken with Lo Mein noodles and the charred green onion vinaigrette
However, like I said, it’s hard to go wrong. The tofu is a strong contender here, and there’s certainly something to be said about the rice & beans and the salad bases. Everyone knows their particular palates. Satu’li Canteen really lets you cater your entrée to your own particular taste.
For dessert, there are currently two options on the menu. The Blueberry Cream Cheese Mousse with a passion fruit curd is certainly the more visually striking of the two options. The glisten of the shell around the mousse makes it fit right in with the flora on Pandora. It feels like you could wander around outside and pluck one of these desserts from among the plants. What the mousse delivers in the looks department, it matches in taste. This is our favourite of the two options.
The Chocolate Cake also has a unique look, but is a little more generic in the taste department. If you’re not looking to be more adventurous, this dessert is for you. It’s still good, just not as fun as the mousse.
As always, you can find the most up-to-date menu here.
We were lucky enough to visit Satu’li Canteen a few years ago, when breakfast was still being served. Honestly, it was really good, and we hope Disney will explore offering breakfast again. I suspect that first thing in the morning, most guests (at least, those without FastPasses) are clambering to line up for Flight of Passage. Breakfast likely isn’t the first thing on their minds. But we can still dream, can’t we?
In the years since, we’ve enjoyed ourselves each time we visit Satu’li Canteen for lunch or dinner. In our experience, lunch is a bit more of a mad house. For some reason, dinner seems to be a little quieter here. I’m not sure if it’s because more people leave the park earlier, or they’re heading for Rivers of Light. It could also be that they’re still in the long Flight of Passage queue. Regardless of the reason, if you’re looking to avoid the busiest time, head here for a later dinner.
We really appreciate that Disney tends to make their new dining locations more environmentally friendly. It was an easy win at Satu’li Canteen, because it fits so well with the overall message of Pandora – conservation and taking care of the planet. There are no single-use plates, straws or utensils here. Everything is collected, washed and sanitized for re-use. I’m happy to bus my own table if it means we’re making a difference to the environment. Instead of tossing a bunch of waste, we can re-use the dishes and cutlery. We’re happy to see Disney (and other guests) make the extra effort.
The food quality at Satu’li Canteen is pretty top notch. Not only are the flavours incredible, but each bowl seems so fresh and dare I say…healthy! It’s certainly not a burger and fries, though the Cheeseburger Steamed Pods (essentially bao bun burgers) are still available on the kids menu (see the above photo). Back when they were on the adult menu, I had no complaints. I suppose there’s nothing to stop any adult from ordering one, but to be honest, the regular entrées are better.
Satu’li Canteen is also a nice contrast from the other Animal Kingdom quick service heavy hitter – Flame Tree Barbecue. Don’t get me wrong, I love Flame Tree. Lauren and I made the Flame Tree Barbecue sauce as wedding favours when we got married. But in the past few years, Satu’li Canteen has crept up my list of favourite quick service restaurants. It hasn’t quite dethroned Flame Tree, but it’s a very close second.
Which restaurant I would choose would depend on how I’m feeling in the day. Flame Tree Barbecue is comfort food. Satu’li Canteen is a fresh and vibrant meal that gives me energy, instead of leaving me feeling sluggish from the meat sweats (it’s a thing…look it up). I enjoy both restaurants immensely, so in reality, we tend to try and do both each time we visit Walt Disney World.
If you haven’t had an opportunity to dine at Satu’li Canteen, do yourself a favour and plan on it for your next vacation. You will not regret it.
Disney QUIPS – Satu’li Canteen
(1 quick service credit on the DDP)
Quick – Meant to feel other-worldly, Satu’li Canteen offers choice for its guests. Mix and match a protein, base and sauce to create a fresh, tasty and relatively health alternative to some of the other quick service restaurants at Disney.
Unique – There really aren’t any other Disney quick service restaurants that offer you the ability to mix and match menu items like you can here. Cater your bowl to your own tastes. Satu’li Canteen also utilizes reusable dishes and cutlery here.
Impressions – The blend of old RDA industrial theming covered over by Na’vi décor and ingenuity makes it a peaceful place to dine. It feels like a separation from the busy park outside.
Palate – You really can’t go wrong with the combinations on the menu, but our favourites are the chicken or beef protein, combined with the creamy herb dressing or onion vinaigrette on a sweet potato hash or lo mein base.
Skip or Stay – Just for the sake of trying some really tasty dishes, Satu’li Canteen is a stay, for sure. If you haven’t already tried it, make a point of visiting on your next trip. If you have been before, it’s time to visit again and maybe try a different bowl combination.