If there is one thing I love most about a trip to Disneyland, its the food! This trip we tried to find all of the most interesting and delicious things to eat throughout our entire 3 day visit, and here’s the report!
First of all. Shout out to Sarah, Brek, and Rhett who did research on all the yummy food before the trip, we couldn’t have eaten all that we did without their dedicated efforts;)
We ate lots of snacks and novelties that you can get throughout the park, and we also made reservations and dined at a few of the sit-down dine-in restaurants. The overarching theme we discovered was, Novelty is Disney’s strong point. At all of the sit down restaurants where we ordered FOOD food, you know, like a salad or something…(name that movie…) we were disappointed with high high prices and the mediocre, to even sub-par food that was served.
Also. I was celebrating my birthday while I was there, and we asked everywhere we went if they did anything for birthdays so I’ll include the free birthday treats as we go through all the places to eat!
Oh. and one little disclaimer—I’m so sorry the photos are a bit incomplete and less than perfect because I wasn’t here for work, the photos weren’t my top priority. They’re pretty much all iphone shots hastily taken before the food was eaten!
Alright now for all the details:
If you haven’t been to the dole whip restaurant lately, they’ve added some major menu items. They now have new flavors of dole whip (raspberry and orange and regular pineapple) which can be served individually or swirled with your choice of 2 together. We did the original pineapple but added bacon (it's like pineapple glazed and it's not on the menu you have to ask for it) and it was super good! We asked for it on the side in case we didn’t like it, but by the first bite we dumped the whole cup of bacon bits onto the pineapple treat! We also tried the pineapple + raspberry swirl, sans bacon, and it was delicious too!
At the same place as the dole whip they are also now selling “bao buns” which is bread stuffed with meat and/or veggies. We tried the beef option and we all liked it!
CAFE ORLEANS - menu
For our first sit down restaurant we decided on Cafe Orleans (near pirates) You’ll likely need a reservation to get a seat here, so plan accordingly. At Cafe Orleans the pomme frites (fries with garlic and stuff on them) are what drew us in, and they did not disappoint. They were BOMB. They were crispy and salty and had the yummiest sauce on the side. this restaurant also has monte Cristo sandwiches-which are kind of iconic to Disney Foodies. They are $20 and pretty heavy- but super good, just definitely share (It’s a deep fried ham + cheese sandwich with berry dipping sauce. They also have an all-cheese no meat option.) We also tried the “bourbon street chicken” it was ok, nothing to write home about in my opinion. Smallish portion, and served with brussel sprouts (or whatever the seasonal vegetable is that day) If we were doing it again I think we would stick with just an order of pomme frites, and possibly one monte cristo to share.
This place does a Mickey Beignet for people celebrating their birthdays!
FRENCH MARKET - menu
We Stopped by for dinner here the first night, you don’t need a reservation, its one of the “lunch-line” style establishments of Disneyland. On the Menu they have Jumbalaya, Corn Chowder and Beef Stew both served in a sour dough bread bowl, french dip sandwiches, a shrimp po’ boy sandwhich, and a few other items. We got the jambalaya, the corn chowder, the beef stew, and a bag of beignets.I would suggest getting the beignets somewhere else, because in my opinion they are wayyy better with dipping sauce which is not available here. The corn chowder and the jambalaya were both really tasty, but I don’t know that they were worth the cost. The jambalaya serving size was VERY SMALL. Like honestly probably less than 1 and 1/4 cups total of food, and it was $15. The beef stew tasted like something you’d get at a chain restaurant or out of a can, so definitely skip it. They also serve mint juleps (a specialty drink) here. We didn’t try one, so I don’t have much to say other than, if you’re searching for them, here they are!
RED ROSE TAVERN- menu
We stopped by the Red Rose Tavern to test out “Gaston’s Famous Brew” Which sounded amazing (apple + mango punch with a passion fruit foam on top) I HATED IT. I don’t know if anyone else had a “Harry Potter Potion Maker” back in the early 2000’s, but I did. And the brew tasted like the creations I made as a 7 year old with my Harry Potter toy. Luckily my husband is a champ and went back to the counter to see if they would exchange it for a coke, and they totally did without even batting an eye (as they should since the drinks are sold for 4-7 dollars and cost them 4-7 cents)
They do have some other menu items that I’m sure are much yummier than that brew, they have a lot of breakfast selections, and they also have the same Pomme Frites from Cafe Orleans here at the Red Rose Tavern, but they aren’t served with the dipping sauce.
Also we saw Gaston, himself outside the tavern, and caught Belle and The Beast on a leisurely stroll during our time there, so though the brew was a bust, we were pretty excited about spotting some favorite characters in their natural habitat.
RIVER BELL TERRACE -menu
This restaurant is CHARMING. It feels like you are in Cinderella’s Parlor. So 10/10 for ambience. We came for the “Cookie Butter Monkey Bread” We didn’t see it on the menu when we were there, but we asked and they delivered. It is listed on the menu linked above under “southern sweet skillet” so maybe we just missed it or something. but it was definitely worth a try.
While we were there we got sucked into ordering other menu items. We ordered the Chicken Chopped Salad, The Shrimp Appetizer, the Side Salad, and the creamy pimento cheese dip. The shrimp had good dipping sauce but only came with 4 shrimp, it was like a mix of bbq and cocktail sauce. The salad was sub-par at best. The chicken was very dry, and the lettuce was a bit soggy. For $20 it should be a much more well-made salad in my opinion. The Creamy Pimento Cheese Dip was ok. It was served with toasted pretzel bread which was OVER DONE and dry and hard.
So. In conclusion, if you go for the monkey bread, DO NOT GET DISTRACTED BY THE BEAUTIFUL CELEBRITIES….aka other menu items (haha any Zoolander fans out there?) Just keep your head down and stay focused on the monkey bread so you don’t waste your $$$$
JOLLY HOLIDAY BAKERY CAFE - menu
This is right on main street, in front of the castle. We stopped in for breakfast one day and hot chocolate during the fireworks one night. They are kind of a Disney-Version Starbucks with some hot and cold drink options, some pre-made sandwich and pastry options and a few cookies, cakes and treats.
We got breakfast sandwiches and quiche served with cups of fruit on the side one morning. They were ok, nothing spectacular. Similar to what you would find at a Starbucks or the freezer aisle of your local grocery store.
The hot chocolate was also average, but it was a perfect treat for watching fireworks in the chilly February evening. We also tried the Mickey Birthday cake macaron, and the cherry chocolate bundt cake. The cake was good, the macaron was NOT. To be fair I do not like any kind of birthday cake flavored anything, and I’ve actually eaten a lot of macarons in my life that were superior to this one. Other flavor options might be better—or if you’re someone who loves birthday cake flavor this might be the treat for you, but it wasn’t for me!
THE COZY CONE - menu
In case you can’t tell by the name, this fun little stop is located in Cars Land in California Adventure. We ended up coming back for seconds after trying out the Bacon Mac and Cheese served in a cone made of bread! We also tried the chili con queso cones which were yummy if you’re a chili fan, and the one we didn’t get to was the seasonal option, which was a “Fiesta”(taco) cone. The cozy cones also have flavored popcorn, and churro bites with icing dip, and ice cream cones!
CARATHAY CIRCLE - menu
This restaurant is really more of a sight-seeing gem than a food gem. It’s a building modeled after the first theater Snow White and the Seven Dwarves was shown in, and it is FANCY. There are old photos of Walt Disney himself greeting, meeting and smiling with other iconic figures of the past (i.e. Shirley Temple) It is really worthy of a walk-through, however the food was a different story.
First of all. The restaurant is kind of weird. The different levels of the restaurant have different menus (i.e. If you walk in on the main level and see something that looks good on someone else’s plate, then you get seated on the upper terrace, you won’t be able to order that lower level menu item from your lofty table above.) We went for the Signature Fried Biscuits which are served exclusively on the upper level, (basically cheese filled bread balls) we got sucked in by other menu items (again) and ordered some other appetizers to try. We tried the Duck wings, the mashed potatoes, and the Shaved Speck and Persimmon Salad. So here’s the review. The duck wings I guess are cool, because you can’t get those just anywhere, but I wasn’t really a fan of them. The Signature fried biscuits were interesting but nothing to obsess over, and THE SALAD OH MY GOSH YOU’RE GOING TO DIE. The description says “candied hazelnuts and brie cheese” so we are thinking… we are getting a plate of cheese, which is kind of on us since it is called a salad I guess. I kid you not. It was 2 cubes of cheese (yes like the size of a pair of dice) Sitting on some greens with one pear slice cut into 4 pieces. Like…. we bought 2 cubes of cheese and a pear slice for $15. And; the Brie was fried… and it melted into the breading… it was literally two hollow cubes of fried batter, and a slice of pear.
They did have a good desert menu though, and they let you choose one of them as a complimentary birthday treat, complete with a candle. I chose the brown butter cake with lime cream and pineapple on top and it was pretty good. So My advice here would be maybe go for desert only, and be celebrating someones birthday so you get one for free… and probably share amongst yourselves. Because it really is a cool place to be inside, just not the best place to eat.
The entrees here honestly might be amazing, we were just too preoccupied with snacks and rides to want to eat a gourmet $50+ per plate meal.
TANGORA TERRACE - menu
Ok so . this little place actually wasn’t open while we were there, but I had to include it because we were so sad we missed it! There breakfast menu is what really looks incredible with options like pineapple upside down cake pancakes, and island french toast— plus the dishes are in the 7-13 dollar range so not too crazy for Disney Standards of Spending.
SNACKS, TREATS, AND NOVELTY EATS
Ok you made it this far, ready for the ultimate list of SNACKS AND NOVELTY TREATS???
Disneyland is so full of these little gems, it is impossible to actually taste them all in one trip (because your stomach is too full, and your bank account is too empty) But we did make our way through a good amount, so here’s what we found!
The first stop we made was at the little red wagon that sells Disney’s best hand-dipped corndogs. They are always a winner in my book. This time around they have introduced some new dipping sauce options including bacon ketchup, pickle ranch, and honey mustard. We tried the ranch and the honey mustard and all agreed that the honey mustard was best!
CHOCOLATE COVERED S’MORES
By the pooh bear ride (and where the exit is for splash mountain) there's a little sweet shop that has chocolate covered s'mores that are SO FREAKING GOOD. They aren't very big but you can still share because they are super rich. We went back for seconds… and brought them home for our family to try! At the Pooh Corner shop they sell tigger tails + cheshire cat tails (which are both skewered marshmallows covered in chocolate and sprinkles) They also have chocolate covered pineapple, toffee squares, and an assortment of other confections. Many of the treats found here at Pooh’s Corner can also be found at the coke corner store on Main Street. another fun treat to try from the coke corner store is the rainbow slushies (a bunch of different flavors you can mix and match to create your own colorful cup of slush). They have Stuffed Pretzels (Sweet Cream Cheese Stuffed, Jalepeno Cheese Stuffed, and Mickey Shaped pretzels) here too.
Ok So I’m usually a huge fan of these bad boys, but this trip they weren’t a favorite. If you’re interested in trying out this savory snack, you can find it at the Poultry Place by the Incredicoaster on Pixar Pier, as well as at various food carts throughout the park.
On paradise pier they have lemon sorbet ice cream cones, we got it with lemon only, but they also have a lemon/vanilla swirl option. They can do it “snowcapped” which is lemon flavored white chocolate drizzled over the top, I’m usually not a white chocolate fan but the lemon flavor really does the trick! It was so yummy, we went back for seconds!
One of my favorite things- if not my number one favorite, was just a cinnamon pretzel with cream cheese dip from the pretzel carts. The sugar is all crystalized and melted onto the pretzel perfectly! The carts have cinnamon, salt with cheese dip, and Mickey shaped pretzels. We loved this warm treat as it cooled off later each night.
We also loved the mangos from the little grocery stands available throughout the park. They come with tajin and lime to put on if you like that (which we do) and we picked them up several times during our visit.
For those who don’t know, Elote is the corn featured in Nacho Libre. (a Mexican corn treat with mayo, tajin, and Parmesan smothered all over it.) We found the DIY version at a cart between the pier and Cars Land, they just give you buttered corn on the cob and a packet with the other ingredients and you put it together yourself but it was YUMMMMY I was skeptical when rhett got it but we went back for seconds it was so good! I think seasonally or possibly just in a different place, they sell elote prepared, but we couldn’t find it anywhere while we were there.
OTHER RANDOM DISNEY TIPS
PLAN YOUR MEALS
I think the number one thing is plan time in your day to eat dinner and/or breakfast outside of the park for a less expensive and more filling experience. Plan to spend your food money on the snacks and novelties throughout the day, and if there’s a restaurant you’re dying to try do lunch or something but seriously— for meals I would take a break from disney.
the castle is closed
Just a heads up, the castle is closed for refurbishment right now through “spring 2019” so it is not as magical of a scene, and if the photo in front of the castle matters to you I would wait to plan your trip. PLUS. since going under the castle is usually a main throughway, the closure of that route makes the park feel much more crowded because all guests are forced to remain on the other two main walkways to get between rides.
get the max pass
I know its just one more fee to add onto your already expensive trip—but that’s exactly the point, you’ve already spent that much you might as well go all in because the max pass is SO WORTH IT. We only waited in 2 “standard” wait time lines the entire 3 days we were there, we just got fast passes through the app for the big attractions first thing in the morning and then got more fast passes throughout the day so we got to ride way more rides and spend significantly less time standing in line. AND. another bonus feature, all of the photos taken in the park by disney photo staff (you can ask them to take a pic of you any time) and the photos taken during rides and attractions, are included as digital downloads with the max pass. So you can save all those photos to your phone!
for a fun disney breakfast
go to goofy’s kitchen. This is not a money saving off-campus restaurant, though you won’t find it in the park. It’s located in the Disneyland hotel and you’ll need a reservation to get in. I’ve been to several character breakfasts in my lifetime and this was by far the best one. It’s a buffet so you can eat as much as you want and the options were really yummy. Also undivided attention from the characters is rare nowadays inside the park, so if you have little ones who would love a visit from Mickey or Minnie, this is a must!
get a locker
This is the first time I have ever gotten a locker, and I don’t know why I’ve never done it before!! It’s $7 for the day in a small locker and $10 for the day in a large one. This is ideal for storing coats during the day, cameras after you take a few pics and don’t want to have your equipment on rides, an extra pair of shoes and socks to change into after splash mountain, etc. easy to use, easy access right on main street, and super helpful.
take a break
If you are doing more than 2 days in the Disney Parks, consider planning a rest day in between day 2 and 3. Go to the beach, watch a movie, eat some non-Disney food, sleep in… I know vacay time is limited so its not always a possibility but for maximum fun you don’t want to get burned out by back to back to back disney days
RIDE THE TRAIN
This is so silly but the train that goes around Disneyland is so fun, and a really nice chill break from the crowded streets and wild rides. You can ride it around multiple times until you’re ready to get off, and it’s fun to see the different sights while aboard.
WATCH THE PARADES
I have been a long time parade hater because its hot and long and boring (and if you’ve ever been on a dance or cheer team and had to participate in a parade, you get me) BUT DISNEY PARADES ARE DIFFERENT. Its so fun to see the characters, and have a minute to sit down and be entertained. Benches become a hot commodity about an hour before the parade so maybe split into groups and have someone save seats early while someone rides a ride and then switch, or get some food and sit to eat it while you save your seat and wait for the parade to begin.
fireworks are the best
If you can work your schedule to be there a night with fireworks, you won’t want to miss them. Right now, I have to admit they aren’t as magical since the castle isn’t visible but at all other times they’re awesome!!
It’s busy and you’re excited, now is not the time to trip on a curb or twist your ankle on the train tracks of Main Street (we saw this happen to someone while we were there! those tracks are a hazard!) — watch your step, bring sunscreen, have a meeting place in case you get separated, and be smart and careful.