Hi everyone! I’m planning a trip to the West Coast this November to visit Disneyland. I haven’t yet written about Disneyland, so you don’t know exactly how much I LOVE this place. I first visited Disneyland WAY back in 1997. I went just before construction began for Disney’s California Adventure. In fact, the famous Disneyland sign was due to come down the week after I left. I stayed at the Disneyland Hotel, and had a very cool view of Disneyland from my room. Not that I stayed much in my room. I was so excited to be in Walt’s park. I’m fortunate that I have traveled to Disneyland more than once, in fact, I’ve been many times, for work and for fun. My favorite visit was when I was invited by Walt Disney Art Classics for an event that coincided with Disneyland’s 45th Anniversary. I simply had the best time. If I can ever find my pictures from that event, I’ll write an entry about that trip…that was the first time I visited the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank.
I won’t begin to write (in this post) about everything I love about Disneyland…I’m going to focus on just the food in this entry. As you know I’m a travel agent, and I plan client’s vacations all the time to Disneyland, so I thought I should have some entry about my favorite meals at the Happiest Place on Earth. I really like the food at the Disneyland Resort. I like it much better than the food at Walt Disney World. (I’m not going to include Boma or the bread service at Sanaa in that, though! lol).
I’ll separate it in four categories: The hotels, Downtown Disney, Disneyland & Disney California Adventure. Now, there are new restaurants that have opened since I’ve visited, and menu changes happen a lot; so this list is just my favorites and not every restaurant at Disneyland Resort. Let’s begin the culinary journey…
Disney’s Grand Californian Resort & Spa: This is my favorite of the three hotels, but to be honest, I love all three of the Disney resorts in Southern California.
- Whitewater Snacks — I like to go here when the park is crowded. I’ve always order the nachos (they’re so good). This eatery is located close to the Grand California’s DCA park entrance, so it’s really easy to leave the park for a few minutes and grab a quick bite. As an added bonus, this is usually uncrowded for lunch (most guests are in the parks) and it’s usually quiet.
- StoryTellers Cafe — has a great character breakfast; and is (usually) a wonderfully quiet place for lunch. Dinner is good as well! Always a good choice!
- Napa Rose — https://disneyland.disney.go.com/dining/grand-californian-hotel/napa-rose/ I’ve enjoyed every meal that I’ve had here. It’s a bit pricey, but perfect for that special occasion!
- Steakhouse 55–is a great choice for breakfast, and for dinner the steaks are fantastic, but the 24 layer chocolate cake is why you should visit Steakhouse 55. Yes, I said “TWENTY FOUR”. You’re Welcome.
- Goofy’s Kitchen is my favorite character breakfast. The first time I ate here, I was introduced to “breakfast pizza”. yum
Paradise Pier Hotel:
- Surfside Lounge is my go-to for quick snacks
Here’s a list of all of the restaurants currently at Downtown Disney:
And, here are my favorites:
- Earl of Sandwich — I’ve been fortunate to visit with Earl at Downtown Disney in California, Disney Village in Paris & Disney Springs at Walt Disney World. I usually get the Original 1762 (roast beef); but that Tuna Melt is a good option. As is Earl’s Club. I need to try the Holiday Turkey. It’s hard for me to try new stuff when the 1762 or that Tuna Melt is on the menu!
- Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen — you’ll want the jambalaya, or if they are serving it–the chicken & waffles.
- Tortilla Joe’s — I had my very first fish taco here. At the time, no one (at least not in Georgia!) was serving fish tacos…I had never heard of them, and I now order them whenever I see them on a menu!
- Sprinkles — decadent “California” cupcakes. Get the “Salty Caramel” if available. It’s the best one I’ve tried. (although all I’ve tried have been good!)
Some of my favorite food can be found inside Disneyland park. Here are some of my favorites. (in no particular order, other than the Corn Dog, which is a MUST have at least once per trip to Southern California)
- Little Red Wagon — Just go. No excuses. It’s simply the best thing in theme park food. EVER. If you’ve been to Disneyland and didn’t get this corn dog, message me to book your next Disneyland vacation. YOU NEED TO GO BACK. email@example.com
And, here is the Corn Dog story and what happens when you mess with perfection. (This is an old video, so the updates about the Stage Door Cafe is old news — so basically all you have to do is watch the first 2 1/2 minutes ). Hopefully Disneyland learned an important lesson and will just leave this perfect meal alone!
- The Fried Chicken at the Plaza Inn. This is another “Must-Have” or it’s just not a trip to Disneyland.
- While we’re talking Plaza Inn, let’s not forget their salad. It’s simply delicious.
- The Blue Bayou. A Disneyland Classic. Eat indoors while the boats of the Pirates of the Caribbean float by. Everything that I’ve had at this restaurant has been delicious. You will want to eat her for the atmosphere. You will want to go back for the food. It’s one of those restaurants that can’t be duplicated. It’s a wonderful dining experience. I’ve not had anything that I didn’t like. Here is the official page: https://disneyland.disney.go.com/dining/disneyland/blue-bayou-restaurant/ Pro tip — don’t order the Monte Cristo here. It’s amazing, but you can get that at my next recommendation. At Blue Bayou…just get anything else and taste the awesome.
- Cafe Orleans — I eat here a lot when I’m at Disneyland. First, this is the place you will want to try the famous Disneyland Monte Cristo. (or try anything else here! I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve had at Cafe Orleans). If you like garlic, DO NOT MISS THE POMMES FRITES. They are traditional French Fried Potatoes tossed with Parmesan, Garlic, and Parsley served with Cajun Spice Rémoulade. You will want to go back just for these as a snack. Pro Tip: Ask for additional sauce!
- Churro Carts– Don’t miss a Disneyland Churro. I’m not sure why, but to me, they taste better at Disneyland.
- The French Market — A great “go-to” place. The corn chowder in the bread bowl is wonderful, as is the Shrimp Po Boy or the French Dip.
- While in Frontierland, don’t miss the Rancho del Zocalo! All of the Mexican food is great here, and it’s very reasonably priced. I usually get the tostado salad with chicken or beef, but the enchiladas are really good here as well. Colorful painted tiles, soothing fountains, adobe archways and hanging plants adorn this peaceful Spanish-style oasis. Take a welcome break in the shade or eat inside under the gentle glow of star-shaped Mexican glass lanterns.
- The River Belle Terrace — This was Walt Disney’s favorite place to have breakfast when he visited the park. I always have breakfast here at least once per trip! At River Belle Terrace, you can sit down to a leisurely breakfast, lunch or dinner while enjoying riverfront views at this iconic Disneyland eatery.Located in the heart of Frontierland, River Belle Terrace has remained a fan favorite for generations and provides lovely table service meals to treat taste buds of all ages. Catch a glimpse of the Mark Twain Riverboat gliding down the Rivers of America as you feast on rib-ticklin’ fare from the classic Southern menu—guaranteed to satisfy dainty belles or gentlemen with bear-sized appetites!
- Tiki Juice Bar — Order up a Dole Whip or a Dole Whip Float at the entrance to Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room.
- Mint Julep Bar — Don’t miss the Mickey-shaped Beignets. As for the actual Mint Julep…it’s a very (VERY) sweet minty drink with lime. Weird, but it has it’s fans. I personally don’t like it at all. The Mint Julep is one classic Disneyland snack that I skip every time I visit after trying it the one time.
- Jolly Holiday Bakery — Go inside to see Mary Poppins’ Victorian decor at it’s finest. While you’re there, have a snack! The Matterhorn Macaroon is quite good!
Now for a bit of advice–I personally can’t remember any meal that I’ve had in Tomorrowland that I enjoyed. There may be something there that I liked, but it wasn’t memorable. Do yourself a favor and eat in any other land while at Disneyland!
And, last but certainly not least:
- My absolute favorite place to eat in California Adventure is Flo’s V8 Cafe. It has some of the best views of any Disneyland restaurant, and the diner-style food is really good! I enjoy Flo’s for every meal, but I especially love it at breakfast…I always grab a table “out back” and watch the Cars race by! Such a fun way to eat!
- The Cozy Cone Motel — Check in at Sally’s to try different “i-cone-ic” treats at each of the 5 giant cones, such as chili “cone” queso, flavored popcorn, pretzel bites, churros, soft-serve “route” beer floats and high-octane limeade for Guests 21 and over.
- Corn Dog Castle is a runner up to corn dogs on Main Street at Disneyland. If you don’t feel like walking across the esplanade to the Little Red Wagon, the Corn Dogs here are pretty good!
- I’ve saved one of my favorites for last…The Carthay Circle Restaurant & Lounge… Introducing a Golden-Era movie palace where food is the star—savor premiere cuisine in a romantic retro backdrop. Feast on innovative fare featuring eclectic Southern California flavors and fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Discover the bold seasonal cuisine of Executive Chef Andrew Sutton, who is also the chef de cuisine of the award-winning Napa Rose restaurant at Disney’s Grand Californian Resort & Spa. You can also do a “World of Color” Dining Package here. More information: https://disneyland.disney.go.com/dining/disney-california-adventure/world-of-color-dining/ I’ve done this and had excellent views of the incredible World of Color, which in my book is a “do not miss” nighttime show!
I hope I’ve given you some great suggestions for dining at the Disneyland Resort! Of course, menus change all the time, so some of the items mentioned or pictured may not be available during your visit. I’m sad to announce that my absolute favorite sandwich anywhere was recently taken off the Hungry Bear Menu in Disneyland’s Critter Country.
It was a wonderful sandwich, made with Fried Green Tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes and served with amazing sweet potato fries. It was always the first thing I ate upon arriving at Disneyland. So, I’ll have to be satisfied with all of the other amazing things Disneyland offers.
If you would like more information about the Disneyland Resort, or you’re ready to begin planning…message me. I’d love to share my experience & knowledge of Disneyland with you! Kenneth@moderntravelpros.com
PS. Honorable Mention: When in Southern California, I never, and I mean never miss an opportunity to visit an In & Out Burger. If you’re in SoCal without a car, just get an Uber. It’s worth leaving Disney for!