“ Ponderosa Steakhouse / 6362 International Drive / Orlando, FL 32819 / Tel: 407-352-9343 „
I went for lunch at Ponderosa and spent $26 for two adults. This isn't that "CHEAP" considering the "CHEAP" quality of food they serve. The women bathroom was disgusting and there was plenty of staff that should have been able to monitor the bathrooms better! The sweet and sour chicken I ordered was overcooked and my husbands sirlion steak fit in the palm of his hand (very small portion). Mac n cheese was blan and other items had too much salt. Overall horrible place for a buffet style lunch or dinner. Golden Corral would be my suggestion for those of you wanting a nicer quality buffet.
Would never go there again!! Firstly, my "steak" turned out to be burger meat and then our daughter got served someone else's left over fries. We knew this because the ones at the bottom of the pile had dried up ketchup stuck to them and she hadn't used any on hers. The waiter then dropped a half bowl of tomato soup on our table and covered us in it and all he said was "Oh crap" and then ran off in to the kitchen. He did return about 6 mins later with a handful of tissues, but by then we'd cleaned ourselves off. For a buffet meal we found Sizzlers to be much better quality and choice.
we first visited ponderosa in september 2006 , as it was our first day and we had seen a man walking up and down the side walk carry a board advertising the restaurant so we went. You walk in and order you main meal and drinks and your server takes you to your seat. At $10.99 plus tax for the meal and around $1.89 for you drinks with free refills we thought this was a good buy in iteslf. You then can help yourselves to the buffet whilst waiting for your main meal. well were surprised to find the food on the buffet cart was in itself a meal on its own and were somewhat full when the main meal arrived, their was a large selection of vegetables and potatoes and gravey, and not to mention the puddings there was section on its own dedicated to the puddings. As we were new to Florida we did not realise that this was the normal and nearly every restaurant offers and all you can eat buffet, and they also did a nice buffet breakfast for $3.99 plus $1.89 for a drink also with refills. It would seem that you get free refills almost everywhere in Florida which is nice.The server was very polite and kept our table clear, but then again they would be they do after all work for their tips. Overall our experience of this restaurant was very good and would recommend it for anyone who is visiting florida and is unsure of where to go for a cheap decent meal.
I went to Florida just over a year ago now with work and on one of our free evenings a group of us chose to go to Ponderosa for an evening meal on the recommendation from one of the group who had been before. I honestly couldn't tell you which one on International Drive it was as there is two but, as they all operate on the scale and order process it will still give you an idea what to expect when you eat at one of them.
Ponderosa has five restaurants in Orlando. Two are on International Drive, two in Kissimee and one at Lake Beuna Vista. They are all named Ponderosa Steakhouses. They operate a meal policy where by diners can order a meal to be served to them and then still eat from the 'all you can eat' buffet.
They all pretty much follow the same theme too with a cream decor and diners order their main meal an drinks as they enter at the counter before they go through into the main dining area. Once you've ordered you are shown to a table and your server then brings you over your drinks and main meals once they are ready. If ordering soft drinks these are refillable and so are quite good value. You can start helping yourself to the buffet once you have your table.
As you enter through the main double doors the menus are displayed in picture form on the walls. They have meals listed depending on price. There are normally 4 rows with the top row all being meals priced at $9.99 and the bottom row normally at $19.99. Meals consist mainly of things like chicken and fries, steak and fries and I even saw lobster! It is just the main meal on the board that you order as things like starters and desserts are all in the buffet choice.
Staff and servers:
The counter staff I came into contact with were very helpful -they were quick at getting the order through and as soon as I had ordered the other member of staff was ready to show us to our table. The drinks we had ordered arrived really quickly and when we wanted refills these also came very quickly. The member of of staff who was bringing our drinks and main meals was lovely and friendly and seemed very happy. There are a few staff behind the self serve buffet counters that are constantly putting out food and if you need them they were also very helpful. Overall I cannot fault the staff at all.
The food variety:
I chose to have a steak as my main meal which I was able to have cooked medium rare and it was very nice for $9.99. The fries were plentiful and it was also served with a Small salad. Of course the main selection of food is from the buffet - I believe it changes daily on what they offer apart form some dishes that are available pretty much every day. On my visit I saw chilli, spaghetti, extra fries, meatballs, scrambled eggs, noodles, chicken curry and prawn crackers. I know there was plenty of other hot dishes but, these are the only ones I remember trying! For dessert they have have a selection of ice cream and jellies and the main thing I liked was that they had a ice cream machine that you could get Mr Whippy type ice cream out of in chocolate, strawberry and vanilla flavours. I was so excited by this as the selection of toppings they had for the ice cream was excellent! They had chocolate strands, chocolates drops, lots of different flavoured sauces and even some crushed M&M's - I was in dessert heaven!!!
Overall there was a really good amount of food on offer and plenty to keep everyone happy.
The dining room:
The dining area is nicely laid out with the tables all laid out on either side of the building and the buffet area in the centre facing the main door where you pay for your food. The lighting is good with it not being too bright and not too dim. The tables are fairly basic as are the chairs but, not that bad that they aren't comfortable to use! There are plenty of them too and as a general guide I would say the building could fit about 150 diners in. Of course I am not sure if this is the same for each Ponderosa but, I'd imagine they would try to keep them all of a similar size to make the most profit from having a buffet style restaurant.
Ponderosa are open all day and serve three different meals. They are open for breakfast which includes all the usual breakfast items you expect such as eggs, bacon, sausage and cereals along with a variety of juices and tea/coffee. Breakfast is served between 7.30am - 11.30am and is just a small $3.99 for the all you can eat. This is definitely a good way to get a hearty breakfast for cheap! They are then also open for lunch between 11.30 - 4pm and dinner is served between 4pm - 11pm.
A good bonus is that all children aged 5 and under eat for free with each full paying adult.
I was really impressed by Ponderosa both in terms of service from the staff and the range of food available. I cannot say the food is the most amazing I've ever had but, for the price it is certainly not the worst and also is good enough for those who either are on a budget or just don't like spending a lot of money on food when on holiday. The fact that if travelling with young children means you will only pay for adults is a bonus as prices are really good anyway. I have already planned in a few trips to Ponderosa for different meal times for our upcoming trip as I know that it will save us a lot of money and that everyone in our group will be happy with the food here. I honestly think this place is somewhere you have to try - sure if you don't like mass produced grub you probably won't like it but, I bet those on a budget will love it just as much as I do!
Ah, the Ponderosa, home to the all you can stuff down your gullet buffet.
They use to be in England you know, but they closed them down because of the unruly element that would pay for one meal or one drink and bring in twenty of their mates!
The last Ponderosa I went to was in Kissimmee on the H192.
Why the Ponderosa though, what is it that makes it different from any other restaurant out there?
Simple, tacky and cheap!
Ponderosa offer a simple dining experience with an unlimited amount of food and drink in with the price. You can get a meal for say £5, and go up to the buffet and fill your self up until you could not manage a wafer thin mint!
The help yourself evening buffet stretched the length of the restaurant with over 50 hot dishes to add to your meal. I had the shrimp to accommodate the fact that I knew I would be stuffing myself silly and was amazed at the variation and quality of the buffet. I had some chicken wings, meatballs and macaroni cheese to start with, went back and grabbed some corn on the cob, some more chicken wings and some salad stuff. They seemed to replenish things fairly quickly and you did not have to queue to get round to the good stuff. I went back for some more chicken wings again.
For vegetarians, this is probably the best franchised restaurant in the area to dine at. There must have been 30 vegetables to choose from as well as a salad bar that again had many different options. The hot pasta such as macaroni cheese seemed to be the only option for veggies, but considering these are to add to your meal, it made a decent selection choice. They had Spaghetti Bolognese as well.
Steak, lots of different steaks! Their evening menu is cheap and cheerful with steaks starting from about £5 a shot up to about £8.50
Not the best cut of steak and probably equivalent to a Beefeater steak rather than an American steakhouse steak.
The seafood is mainly shrimp, which is their description of king prawns
Sirloin & Fried Shrimp
Sirloin & Grilled Shrimp
Sirloin & Chicken Monterey
And lots more, check it out here.
Now notice there is no salads or vegetarian meals here? Bit off putting if you do happen to have one of those carrot crunchers with you but hey, if I go to a vegetarians house, I eat their meals!
Seriously though, if you are vegetarian and do not eat fish then there is not really a meal for you but the buffet would suffice. You could pay for the shrimp and ask them to release them in to the sea I guess, then take your empty plate to the buffet and get stuffed without the chicken wings.
The taste and quality of the food was pretty good considering. Not what I would expect in a sit down restaurant with candles on the table but better than school dinners if you know what I mean. Sorry dinner ladies, not trying to upset you here but when I went to school dinner ladies served up lumpy potato and stringy cabbage. Some of the vegetables were in a sauce and whatever the sauce was, be it tomato, cheese of cream, you could guarantee its sweetness as America adds sugar to sugar!
The same buffet is transformed in the mornings and it becomes a giant breakfast pig-out for those interested in fuelling themselves up for the entire day. If you can think of it, its there. Be warned though, the sugar products will tempt your children to stray so make sure you sit them down and get them cereal or something healthy like fruit.
The sausage is a tiny shrivelled thing that you can hardly notice, yes thats the sausage! The bacon is not much better as they love to fry it to a crisp. The taste of both though is okay although very salty. The selection is on the list above but just to please the hard core readers;
Lunch is a similar occasion with burgers and sandwiches as well as the main menu, the same buffet applies.
SERVICE & STUFF
Very good once you get to your table. The drinks are refilled free of charge and the server will do the utmost to please you as they live on tips. The server will tell you what and where things are, bring you some freshly baked bread and have a good old chat with you making you feel quite welcome.
The tables were clean although very diner style rather than restaurant but this did reflect the actual standard I expected in this kind of environment. Toilets were rooms with urinals and Krappas in them would you believe and also matched the high standards of cleanliness that you would expect in any Kissimmee eatery.
I never checked for disabled access or facilities as I am not disabled myself fortunately nor were my companions but the restaurant is at ground level with a large aisle access which could be accessible in a wheelchair with a helper, I guess.
My only problem with this place is that you have to queue to get in for quite a while. This can be uncomfortable for elderly people, like me ha, ha! What we found best was for one person to queue (me) and the rest to go around the nearby shops for half an hour and come back. If I had got through before they came back they had left me the meals and drinks they wanted and I ordered them. The checkout system is so easy when you do get there, you look at the picture above you on the wall (which also adorn the entrance hall where you queue so that you are starving by the time you get there.) and order the main. Pay there and then and take your receipt to your table, giving it to the server. All soft drinks and hot beverages are refilled free of charge but beer and wine is not.
Sadly, we witnessed a group of English people get a table for 6 and then 4 people sneaked in to join them and help themselves to the buffet. Thankfully they were caught and the family were evicted but this only goes to undermine the reputation of British people on holiday. It was less than a £5 for all you can eat and they still though they could save a few quid by sneaking in. some of the children were only about 5 years old so they are going to grow up with good strong values arent they?
The food is of a good standard but not great yet more than good value for money.
I go now and again but not every year if you know what I mean, its somewhere to go when you cant be bothered to think about what you want to eat or just want to pig out really.
It gets 4 stars from me but for quality V price it would be 5.
As there was a Ponderosa Steakhouse restaurant just over the road from our hotel on International Drive, Orlando, we usually found overselves heading in that direction in the morning for our usual breakfast fix, before the usually mad day ahead of us. There are about five of these restaurants in the Disney vicinity, two on International Drive and three in nearby Kissimmee.
You can come out of there full to the brim for as little as $3.99 and with the high exchange rate (when we went it was about $1.90 to the pound) that works out at approximately just over £2.00.
They do a breakfast buffet, and a lunch and dinner buffet for $8.99 for a steak buffet. If you choose a different item, either chicken, fish, pork or a larger steak, the price may vary up to approx $15.00. The food is plentiful and you can go back again and again to refill - you even get a clean plate but keep your cutlery otherwise you'll find yourself eating with your fingers, not very easy if its porridge you are eating!
We only ate breakfast there as we wanted to try different places for dinner so I can't comment on the dinner buffet
The breakfast buffet included anything you can think of (and some more). The choice was vast and everything looked appetising, well stocked up and clean. You could choose from scrambled eggs, hard boiled eggs, bacon (if you can call it that when, if you dropped it on the floor it shattered!), sausages, corned beef hash, quiche, pork and beans, biscuits (small scones and gravy) stewed tomatoes, home fries, grits (similar to semolina), french toast, pancakes, muffins, brownies, cakes, biscuits, ice cream, jelly, porridge, several cereals, a variety of fresh fruits, salad bar and the list goes on. So you can be as healthy or unhealthy as you like. Its quite a eye opener to watch the mixture of different foods that some people put on their plates. Its easy to tell the Americans too before they speak as they always seem to have bacon, pancakes and maple syrup together.
The waiting staff were all very friendly, and nothing was generally too much trouble, except for a couple of time when they were really busy and forgot to bring our refills.
With the lunch or dinner buffet in addition to whatever steak or other meat you choose you can help yourself to chicken wings and nuggets, taco bar, tortillas, nacho chips, meat balls, garlic red potatoes, mashed potatoes, rice, macaroni & cheese, spaghetti, hot pasta, variety of hot and cold vegetables, soups, bread, cookies, jelly, ice cream, puddings, cakes, fruit and salad.
You pay extra for your first drink, but all refills are then free.
Whether or not you are on a budget, this is a great place to eat, fill up hubby and make him happy until tea time! We found that if we were having a lazy day round the pool or shopping we would have something substantial, but if we were going to head off for the parks, it was better if we ate lighter, so maybe on those days we had cereals and fruit, something not so heavy, especially anticipating the theme park rides. You dont want to see breakfast twice in one day!
Before you eat in any of the restaurants in Orlando, make sure you pick up a few free coupons books or tourist magazines (you can generally find these in your hotel or several other places) and make use of the coupons. Quite often you can save 10% of your total bill or get money off. Its well worth looking through them when you have a quiet moment. We kept forgetting to take them with us, but then we are very disorganised. (Must try harder).
Hope this is useful to anyone travelling to Orlando or thinking of it.
We are conveniently located in the Disney and Universal Studio areas in Orlando & Kissimmee, Florida. Just few minutes from all the attractions. Your family and you can enjoy great meals in a comfortable atmosphere, for breakfast, lunch or dinner.