Happy Hour at Catal Restaurant and Uva Barby Todd Pickering, contributing writer
Whether you are a local looking for a great happy hour after work or touring the parks from out of town, heading to Downtown Disney and having happy hour at Catal Restaurant or Uva Bar is a great way to unwind. We tasted some fantastic offerings at both bars and are going to give you the run down of these terrific venues in Downtown Disney.
If you are looking to enjoy the Southern California sunshine, there isn't a better locale in Downtown Disney than Uva Bar. Catal and Uva Bar are run by the same restaurant group but have different menus with a few of the same items available. When living in San Francisco and visiting Disneyland Resort with my friend Tom, it was quite the treat to sit outdoors with a drink. With our heartier Northern California constitutions, we found ourselves at the bar in chillier winter months when the locals proclaimed it wintery cold. We scoffed at this of course with tourists from climes such as Canada, Nordic countries, and Midwesterners and East Coasters escaping brutal winters. The circular bar has ample seating and is always our favorite; there are also plenty of tables surrounding the bar with servers attending to those.
If you are looking to escape the heat of the Southern California sunshine there isn't a better locale in Downtown Disney than the Catal Bar. Sometimes the October trips we took to Southern California produced some brutal heat. Going upstairs and sitting at the lovely (but small) elegant bar in the nice air conditioning is a welcome respite. The food is a little more sophisticated than its outdoor counterpart. When spending a day at the park with Halloween time crowds, turning your back on the hustle and bustle of the parks with a cocktail is just what one needs. There are plenty of tables especially at happy hour, so if you come early you may be able to sit down if you ask the hostess for a seat before the dinner rush begins. On one of these hot days we recommend a cucumber martini, made with vodka, lime juice, agave nectar, cucumber, and fresh mint. It is a nice balance of ingredients with the lime juice and agave nectar balanced to keep it zippy and sweet. The mint is very subtle so that the cucumber flavor shines through. Very easy drinking.
Happy Hour at Uva Bar
Uva Bar has a happy hour Monday through Friday from 2 p.m. until 5 p.m. These hours may be a bit early if you are a local, but if you are touring the parks, waiting for a daytime parade, or avoiding the lunch crowds then popping in for a 2:00 lunch of appetizers is the way to go. Our favorite item on the menu are the corn arepas, which are seared corn cakes topped with pulled pork, guacamole, cilantro, and red onion. The pork is tender and flavorful with creamy guacamole and the corn arepa is griddled nicely so that there is a nice crunch to the outside and is bursting with sweet corn flavor.
The BBQ chicken flatbread has roasted chicken, smoked mozzarella, BBQ sauce, applewood smoked bacon, red onion, pineapple, and micro cilantro. It's a nice amount of chicken with a thin flatbread keeping the carbs to a minimum. The BBQ sauce is on the sweeter side without much heat to it so your friends with a gentler palate will be able to enjoy it. The flatbread makes a lovely lighter meal for one as does the corn arepas.
The carne asada fries on the other hand are best kept as a sharing item. They are made with the Uva garlic fries and topped with marinated flank steak, cheddar cheese, pico de gallo, avocado salsa verde, chipotle crema, and finished with Cotija (a Mexican style crumbly, usually cow's milk cheese similar in taste and texture to a feta cheese). With all of these ingredients it may get soggy, and we highly recommend sharing this among three or more people. If you are by yourself the garlic fries alone are absolutely delicious. We tend to get beer or wine when at the outside bar and they even have the sangria on happy hour.
Happy Hour at Catal Restaurant
While Uva Bar does not serve happy hour on weekends, Catal Restaurant does on every day of the week from 3 to 5 p.m. If you have the weekends off, head on upstairs. The bar is smaller but there is plenty of seating including a nice terrace if you still want the al fresco feel.
The Chicken and waffles are definitely daunting presented like a sandwich, and you would need Goliath's mouth to achieve even just a bite. We recommend taking the top off, drizzling the maple bourbon syrup over the very crispy fried chicken breast, and saving the top waffle for dessert. Did we mention there is also brown sugar bacon with this dish? There is brown sugar bacon served with this dish. The ahi bruschetta is blackened Pacific ahi, Mediterranean salsa, avocado, sriracha, and finished with a balsamic reduction. The tuna is flash-grilled so it is very rare and melts in your mouth. We felt that the heat wasn't too much at all and just the right amount to complement.
Poutine has also been quite popular for the past few years, which is quite the hangover/diner food in Canada. The Canadian version consists quite simply of fries, beef gravy, and cheese curds. The Catal version has red wine-braised short rib, white cheddar Mornay (which is silky white cheese sauce), and Tillamook white cheddar cheese on top of fries. The Mornay sauce acts as the gravy and the curds are replaced with white cheddar cheese. The melt in your mouth braised short rib makes this dish soar above it's diner cousin and again makes for a hearty meal. Soggy fries can be sad so it is recommended to share or be a quick eater if you want the fries to survive the Mornay sauce.
Except for the addition of bacon, the deviled eggs tend to be rather traditional. They are served with a sriracha aioli on the side, which we didn't find too spicy. They eggs were sprinkled with some "bacon confit" which just seemed to be torn bacon. Otherwise these were just solid delicious deviled eggs and it was refreshing that the chef did not reinvent the wheel on this one.
The Vojito is simply a mojito with vodka and blackberries. This drink seems to be rather popular, but with the mint and lime the blackberries seemed a little lost and didn't add too terribly much to the flavor. If one is used to the classic rum cocktail this seemed a little flat but certainly went down easy. The big hit though at Catal Happy Hour are the Mega Drinks that are priced at $35.00 rather than $45.00. The Mega Drinks are served at Uva Bar but are not on the Happy Hour menu. Two people must share these drinks that are mega indeed. With a hot day they seem better shared with a group of three or four as the ice can begin to melt. There are four cocktails that come in this size and they are a Moscow Mule, Mojito, Margarita and a Mango Beer-Tail which is a cocktail made with Mango Beer, Ketel One Botanical Peach & Orange Blossom, peach schnapps, and orange juice.
Half Price Wine Wednesdays at Catal Restaurant
With all the cocktails to try there was no way to tuck into bottles of wine but sharing a bottle of white on a hot day or a big red on a chilly day would be absolutely lovely. It isn't the entire wine list but there were quite a few bottles available for this fantastic deal. You can bet when we tour the parks with visitors and it happens to be a Wednesday you will see us at the bar in Catal. As for the Mega Drinks I will also have to wait until I get a group together and we can all decide on the same adult beverage. Drink responsibly and safely always!