One of the best thing about visiting Disneyland in California is the amazing food! I know that many of you die-hard Disney World fans out there will hate hearing this but when it comes to eating, Disneyland does it better. There is something here for everyone, whether you are looking for a fine dining experience with a stellar wine program or the most heavenly corn dogs your taste buds have ever experienced.
The rise in fine dining at the Disneyland Resort is often an unexpected delight. At the hotels, top award winners are Napa Rose at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa and Steakhouse 55 at the Disneyland Hotel. Trained sommeliers have elevated the quality of dining service throughout the Resort in restaurants including Napa Rose, Steakhouse 55 and Storytellers Cafe at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, and Carthay Circle Restaurant and Lounge at Disney California Adventure Park.
Even though my motto at Disney is “calories don’t count”, Disneyland chefs do provide healthy options. For lifestyle dining options, or for requests from guests with food allergies or intolerances, there are a wide range of choices, from kosher to gluten-friendly and sugar-free.
For families, the Mickey Check makes it easy to identify healthier food options in the all of the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, part of an ongoing program that launched in 2006 with nutrition guidelines. Choices that receive the Mickey Check must meet Disney Nutrition Guidelines that limit calories, saturated fat, sodium and sugar. For example, Blue Bayou Restaurant in Disneyland Park now offers seared salmon, spaghetti, broccolini and fresh fruit for kids. (Kids’ Complete Meals must be ordered without substitutions and include at least three of the following food groups: fruits and vegetables; low-fat dairy; whole grains; or lean protein, beans, eggs and nuts.)
The Mickey Check also appears on some Disney-licensed food products sold at retail locations, on qualifying recipes at Disney.com and Family.com, and on menus at quick-service restaurants at the Disneyland and Walt Disney World resorts.
Dining Inside Disney California Adventure Park
At Disney California Adventure, Carthay Circle Restaurant and Lounge is designed to be one of the premier dining locations at the Disneyland Resort. The cuisine is the star, with artisan ingredients, locally sourced produce, seafood and meats from throughout Southern California.
Also found on Buena Vista Street are three spots for quick bites: Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Cafe serving Disney baked goods and Starbucks La Boulange™ pastry items along with Starbucks coffee and espresso beverages; Mortimer’s Market with whole and cut fruits, bottled water, juices and soft drinks; and Clarabelle’s Hand-Scooped Ice Cream.
Cars Land has three spots for guest to fuel up: Flo’s V8 Cafe with an on-stage rotisserie and house-made pies; Cozy Cone Motel with tasty cone-theme treats from churro bites to chili “cone” queso; and Fillmore’s Taste-In with whole and cut fruits, bottled water, juices and soft drinks.
Also at Disney California Adventure, guests can grab a sandwich or sweets at Pacific Wharf Café. Cocina Cucamonga Mexican Grill offers tacos with steak, pork, or grilled chicken. Hearty Asian creations are served at Lucky Fortune Cookery, with beef, chicken or tofu with vegetables, rice and your choice of four sauces.
The dining pavilion in Paradise Pier provides plenty of seating and two restaurants. Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta offers something for everyone, from hearty pasta dishes to delicious salads and pizzas with flavors from traditional cheese to vegetarian with roasted seasonal vegetables. Next door, Paradise Garden Grill offers a Mediterranean spin with chicken, beef, vegetable and tofu skewers served with a choice of sauce, including Moroccan chili tomato and tandoori-spiced yogurt. Refreshing Greek salads and a kid’s menu also are available. The menu at Paradise Garden Grill occasionally changes to reflect special seasonal offerings and events being celebrated at Disney California Adventure.
Corn Dog Castle serves a popular beach snack in two flavors, original and hot-link. Bayside Brews offers domestic and specialty beers on tap for guests 21 years of age and older, along with a selection of non-alcoholic beverages and warm, salted pretzels.
In Grizzly Peak, guests can enjoy the updated menu at Smokejumpers Grill, which offers American classics and tasty new items such as the spicy buffalo chicken sandwich or vegetarian BBQ jackfruit sandwich, each served with waffle-cut fries or onion rings. For the junior smokejumpers, options include chicken tenders and grilled cheese sandwiches.
To while away a lunch, dine al fresco at Wine Country Trattoria at the Golden Vine Winery, with a menu of pastas, grilled sandwiches and California wines by the glass. At dinner, the menu adds braised beef ravioli, herb-roasted chicken alfredo and braised lamb shank. The Alfresco Tasting Terrace, on the second floor of the Golden Vine Winery, offers small plates of classic Mediterranean favorites complemented by wines from the “Disney Family of Wines,” a collection whose vintners have a personal connection to the Disney name.
Dining Inside Disney Disneyland Park
In Disneyland Park, favorite quick bites include Disney baked goods and Starbucks La Boulange™ pastry items along with Starbucks coffee and espresso beverages from Market House on Main Street, U.S.A.; lobster bisque or clam chowder served in a sourdough bread bowl and shrimp salad from the Harbour Galley in New Orleans Square; sandwiches and sweets from the Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe on Main Street, U.S.A.; easy-to-eat skewer snacks at The Bengal Barbecue and the legendary Dole Whip at the Tiki Juice Bar in Adventureland; Mickey-shaped beignets from the Mint Julep Bar in New Orleans Square; hot pizza from Redd Rockett’s Pizza Port and a variety of Star Wars-inspired menu items from Galactic Grill in the Tomorrowland Terrace location, both in Tomorrowland.
For a relaxing meal, spots such as Carnation Café on Main Street, U.S.A., serve generous salads and the legendary loaded baked potato soup, along with Walt’s favorite meatloaf and fried chicken. Guests will find lunchtime favorites like fish and chips, chili in a sourdough bread bowl and ice cream sundaes, in an entertaining indoor setting at The Golden Horseshoe in Frontierland. Enchanting Blue Bayou Restaurant in New Orleans Square, one of the most- requested reservations, offers diners specialties such as gumbo, jambalaya and filet mignon.
Cafe Orleans, also in New Orleans Square is the perfect spot to people watch as you grab a bite—fan favorites include the fried green tomato sandwich and famous Monte Cristo sandwich. Casual, family-friendly eats are on the menu at Plaza Inn on Main Street, U.S.A., and River Belle Terrace in New Orleans Square, a table-service location serving up barbecue favorites. For authentic Mexican, Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante in Frontierland dishes up taco and burrito platters and now serves breakfast. Hungry Bear Restaurant, nestled in the shady trees in Critter Country, is a favorite for Disney fans who recommend the burgers and funnel cake.
For a leisurely way to enjoy a delicious meal and time with Disney characters as they stop by each table for photos and autographs, make reservations for a Character Dining Experience. These include:
- Disneyland: Plaza Inn on Main Street, U.S.A., daily Minnie & Friends – Breakfast in the Park.
- At the hotels:
- Chip ‘n Dale Critter Breakfast at Storytellers Cafe offers a delicious breakfast buffet at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa.
- Goofy’s Kitchen at the Disneyland Hotel offers a daily brunch where Goofy and his pals entertain
- Surf’s Up! Breakfast with Mickey and Friends in Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel guests will be entertained by Mickey Mouse and friends at the PCH Grill.
- Advance Dining Reservations are recommended and can be made by:
- Visiting Disneyland.com/dine
- Calling 714-781-DINE (714-781-3463)
- Speaking with an Authorized Disney Travel Agent
The Downtown Disney District offers diverse flavors and a variety of choices for any palate, from spicy pasta jambalaya and grilled bourbon-glazed salmon at Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen to Skuna Bay salmon and suckling pig at Catal Restaurant. The Downtown Disney District is conveniently located just outside the theme parks and near the hotels.
Hearty dishes (and 175 TV screens, including the ones in the restrooms) give ESPNZone diners plenty of energy for the restaurant’s interactive ESPN Zone Sports Arena. For California-inspired cuisine, take a seat at La Brea Bakery, and try a grilled panini or homemade soup.
For Mexican, it’s Tortilla Jo’s handmade tortillas; for Italian, Naples Ristorante e Pizzeria and adjacent Napolini for thin-crust pizzas, pastas, soups and sandwiches. Kids love the tropical storms, waterfalls, aquarium and live parrots at Rainforest Cafe, where guests enjoy choosing from more than 50 varied items on the menu.
The original Starbucks location at the Downtown Disney District brings one of the coffee company’s most engaging experiences to guests with technology and content designed specifically for this store, including an interactive touch screen and 10-foot video installation. In addition to its regular beverage and food selection, the store offers some of the rarest coffees available. In 2016, a second popular Starbucks location was added to Downtown Disney next to Disney Vacation Club near the Disneyland Hotel and Disneyland Monorail Station.
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