The worst thing at Disneyland is not the 90-minute line for Space Mountain, the price tag on the toy your kid wants, nor the pain from the stroller wheels that run over your toes; it’s missing out on the best food!
Don’t wait until you’re totally “hangry” and run to the nearest food stand for overpriced ice cream, hoping the sugar high will power you and your ornery kiddos through the next line. Do yourself a favor and pick out where you’re going to go before you start your day at Disneyland.
Mark my words: all restaurants are not equal in the Magic Kingdom. We’ve mapped out the best restaurants at both Disneyland and California Adventure, ranging from the fancy cuisine to the grab-n-go snacks.
1. Blue Bayou in Adventureland
Feast yer eyes matey! This one-of-a-kind restaurant is actually inside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Experience what it was like to sit in an upscale sidewalk cafe back in the day in New Orleans. They do all things cajun very well; you can’t go wrong with this menu. Be sure to make a reservation because this place fills up far in advance.
2. Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante in Frontierland
This is the birthplace of Doritos! No joke. In 1964 the founder of Frito-lay got permission from Mr. Walt Disney himself to open a Mexican restaurant in Disneyland. He proceeded to create this delectable snack from leftover tortillas and a chip empire was born.
The burrito combo plate (pictured above) is definitely the most popular dish.
3. Harbour Galley in Frontierland
For the happiest tastebuds on earth, you’ve gotta try this Lobster roll! Also, a best kept secret is to sit at a table close to the water for a late dinner and then linger there for a while until the fireworks show. It’s one of the most pleasant and unobstructed views in the park!
Psst! Order a hot chocolate so it doesn’t seem like you’re overstaying your welcome. 😉
4. Cafe Orleans in New Orleans Square
While the entrees at this restaurant are delicious, THE BEST thing here are the fresh, hot, perfectly powdered Mickey beignets at the mint julep counter off to the side of the restaurant. You’re welcome.
5. Bengal BBQ in Adventureland
This festive eatery has been around for 25 years and let me tell you, the wait is worth it. The amazing aroma of smoked meat kabobs wafts throughout Adventureland and it’s been one of my faves since I was a kid.
They’re also known for their novelty beverages. A while back it was “pomegranate piranha lemonade” complete with pomegranate flavored boba balls and passion fruit mango foam on top. You’ll have to go see for yourself what their latest drink is!
6. Treats and Snacks in the Carts
These snacks are so popular that sometimes the supply just can’t meet the demand! Sadly, it’s been reported that even after waiting in line, you can come up empty and have to start again at another cart. But don’t be discouraged! It’s all part of the experience.
Helpful tip: Tthe pineapple dole whip (#2) is near the entrance of Adventureland and the rest are strewn throughout the park. The Disney cast members are unbelievably friendly, so don’t hesitate to ask them to point you in the direction that will satisfy your craving.
Now, if you feel as though you may single-handedly tip over the “treat yourself” bandwagon after consuming these rich treats, there are plenty of healthy alternatives to choose from!
Thankfully in recent years Disneyland has introduced fruits, veggies, yogurts, etc! I took the following picture inside the Starbucks on Disneyland’s Main Street. You can also find these in various carts strewn throughout both parks.
Oh, and don’t worry too much about calorie intake. You definitely burn it all off racking up miles on your Fitbit.
1. Wine Country Trattoria & Sonoma Terrace
Ali and I went here a few months back and really enjoyed the ambience out on the terrace. You can either sit out there, or up in the Trattoria restaurant for a more formal experience. Ali raved about the salmon and the presentation was so pretty, she snapped a shot of it.
To be honest, the wine was just good, not great, but overall the meal was very tasty and I would go back again and try a different wine.
2. Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta
Let’s be real, you might not have the luxury of going to California Adventure with your friend like I did and you may not choose to take your energetic brood to an elaborate Italian feast, complete with creme brulees all around. But you still want pasta. Then this place is perfect for you!
Enjoy their sundried tomato pasta with chicken while your kids tear up a pepperoni pizza or heaping bowl of spaghetti with meatballs. It’s a quick dining experience to fit in between Soarin’ Over California and securing a spot to see the World of Color show when the sun sets!
3. Corn Dog Castle
Oh. My. Goodness. These corn dogs… I am at a loss for words to adequately describe my secret love for them (I guess it’s no longer a secret). My mouth is watering just typing this.
I don’t know what they put in that batter, but it’s truly magical. And they’re nice and big and they fill you up, unlike the whimpy ones from Hot Dog On A Stick.
4. Ariel’s Grotto
Disney does a very good job of incorporating their adorable characters into various attractions in the parks, whether it’s the meet-and-greet areas to get autographs, or, performances & parades, or in restaurants like this one. The menu changes, so be sure to look it up before you go.
This fixed-price dining experience is very popular and just like Blue Bayou, it’s best to make a reservation. If you have little girls, they’ll be instantly transported to cloud nine because they get to meet the princesses, a memory they’ll share with their daughters and granddaughters for years to come.
5. Carthay Circle Restaurant
From the classic California boardwalk in Paradise Pier to the great rapids at Grizzly Peak, California Adventure stays true to it’s name. This restaurant being no exception is modeled after the iconic theater of Hollywood’s Golden Age (1917-1960).
The menu features unique dishes such as Crisp Duck Confit with chestnut gnocchi, Herb-Crusted Lamb Scaloppini, and Shellfish Cioppino with royal shrimp, black mussels, Manila clams and snow crab claws.
And it wouldn’t be Hollywood without the “and a show” part of dinner and a show. Check out their exclusive package that offers special reserved seating for the World of Color show.
6. California Adventure’s Annual Food and Wine Festival
This is a seasonal event in the month of April but worth considering, especially if you’re planning to come to California Adventure for spring break! I checked it out this year for the first time and it exceeded my expectations. They set up themed booths like “LAstyle” and “¡Viva Fresca!” throughout the park with various wine and food pairings on the menus.
You can sip on a flight of reds or whites as well as beer samplings. To go with your drinks, each booth offers different “tapas” like beet salad, poke, and wagyu beef with polenta mash. Delight yourself in the wonderful fare this festival has to offer as you hop on and off rides with little snacks sprinkled in between.