Disneyland Resort is home to some delicious food. From corn dogs to sushi, there is a wide variety offered and most exceeds the typical theme park fare. The Disneyland website lists 109 different dining choices spread across Disneyland, California Adventure, Downtown Disney and the three Disney hotels. Since I have my doubts about anyone getting to all 109 on a single trip, I decided it my civic duty to compile my top 10 list. Could I have done something more helpful to society? Maybe but you are reading this nonetheless. Before the list, a few rules…
- No bars, lounges, or just snack places – I’m looking for places to get a full meal. While we’ve all gone for the classic dessert as a meal, I have been told that this is not a healthy way to go. For the record, there are some bars that serve meals. Trader Sam’s (Disneyland Hotel) and The Cove Bar (California Adventure) both offer some very good food. In trying to keep this a little less complicated I’m just going to leave them off the list. Cove Bar likely would have landed just outside the top ten and Trader Sam’s would probably be in the top five.
- Downtown Disney gets knocked down a little – I think Downtown Disney is on the verge of getting a massive renovation (I don’t have sources or anything, this is just an educated guess). Considering that, plus the underwhelming options in the area, will knock most of their restaurants off of the rankings.
- I haven’t eaten everywhere. Piggy-backing off the last rule, I haven’t eaten everywhere at Disneyland Resort. This includes a few of the bigger names in Downtown Disney. If something you love isn’t on the list, drop a comment and let me know!
- This is all subjective. Obviously, this is a blog and is all opinion based. I like to think that I have an open mind to most any food and will try anything. The list’s criteria includes atmosphere, food, and value. Both counter-service and table-service restaurants are considered.
We have full reviews of most of these restaurants on the blog. If you are interested in one of them, just click on the title an it will take you there assuming that we’ve reviewed that restaurant. I will warn you, some are a few years out of date! Before the list, let’s do a few honorable mentions…
Earl of Sandwich (Downtown Disney) – There is nothing remarkable about Earl of Sandwich but this quick-service location offers one of the best values on property. I really enjoy their holiday turkey sandwich and if you are looking for a cheap meal and are in the area then this is a good choice.
Pacific Wharf Cafe (DCA) – I think I like the idea of this restaurant more than the actual food. This cafe offers sandwiches, soups and salads. Both the soups and salads can come in bread bowls that are delicious. Maybe the most appealing aspect of this quick-service restaurant is the smell.
Bengal Barbecue (DL) – While the focus at Bengal Barbecue is simple in just making skewers, they make them well and the items don’t cost guests much. I enjoy some of the drinks offered here too. All in all, I think Bengal Barbecue offers a nice change of pace.
Storyteller’s Cafe (Grand Californian Hotel) – This table-service restaurant is just a nice place to have a meal. The mood is far more relaxed than inside the parks and the restaurant has a nice variety on the menu. While I wasn’t blown away by the food, I still enjoyed it.
Hungry Bear Restaurant (Disneyland) – This simply makes the list because of the beautiful views the restaurant offers. Sitting right on the Rivers of America, Hungry Bear is a great place to enjoy the sights while having a meal. Oh, and they have funnel cakes.
On to the top ten!
10. Flo’s V8 Cafe (DCA) – Flo’s food is a fairly divisive subject. The menu was once ambitious and now has been dumbed down to serve fairly bland items. The breakfast is still somewhat interesting but is hit and miss. Why Flo’s makes the cut is because of the wonderful atmosphere. The counter-service restaurant sits right in the middle of Cars Land and is themed to an old-time diner. There are different rooms with wonderful details abound. My favorite place to sit is right near a window facing Radiator Springs Racers. Flo’s offers one of the best atmospheres on the list, unfortunately the food can’t quite measure up. I recommend going for breakfast. Honestly, I think the Cozy Cone’s offer better lunch/dinner options even though they aren’t on this list.
9. French Market (Disneyland) – If you don’t think Disneyland is the least bit romantic then I challenge you to get a meal from the French Market (preferably the Jambalaya), find a seat overlooking the river at dusk, and listen to the live jazz band play. This idealized version of New Orleans has been going strong for decades and it’s largely thanks to the beautiful atmosphere. The food is pretty good, as well, offering Cajun inspired dishes at counter-service prices. While there isn’t anything extremely authentic or spicy coming from these meals I still enjoy eating here.
8. Rancho del Zocalo (Disneyland) – This Mexican quick-service location in Frontierland is a great place to have a meal. There are quite a few different options on the menu, some more authentic than others. The atmosphere is charming and fits in well with Frontierland. I thoroughly enjoy the Carne Asada & Red Chile Enchilada Platter. For $14.49, this is a good value and enough to share or feed a big appetite. I don’t share.
7. Little Red Wagon Corn Dogs (Disneyland) – A wagon selling corn dogs is one of the seven best restaurants at Disneyland? Yes, it is. Frankly, I almost put it in the top five. First, the corn dogs are the best in the world. They aren’t outrageously priced (ask for the corn dog without the chips, this cuts off about three dollars) and won’t disappoint. On top of that, getting a corn dog from the Little Red Wagon at the end of Main Street is a Disneyland rite of passage. Set your drink down on a garbage can, accidentally smear mustard all over your face and enjoy the seventh best Disneyland restaurant.
6. Blue Bayou Restaurant (Disneyland) – Blue Bayou has the best atmosphere of any Disneyland restaurant. There isn’t really a close second. Sitting inside the famed Pirates of the Caribbean, there is a special aura to this restaurant. Sadly, the food and the prices don’t measure up. The entrees aren’t anything special and the prices are outrageous.
5. Steakhouse 55 (Disneyland Hotel) – This Steakhouse doesn’t boast the incredible environment that some on this list have but the restaurant does have very good food, along with some great details and mementos. There are photos of Walt, and other Disney greats, hung around the dining room. Steakhouse 55 offers great several very good steaks and a great breakfast, as well. This is a very good restaurant if you are looking for a nice place to eat. There isn’t any extra Disney magic here but the restaurant doesn’t really need it.
4. Plaza Inn (Disneyland) – Like the Little Red Wagon, Plaza Inn gains points through nostalgia and history. The restaurant has been around since 1955, the year Disneyland opened. This was Walt’s favorite place to have a meal. While the menu has changed since then (and prices have gone up tenfold) the food and atmosphere still feel as if you’re stepping back into a simpler time. Plaza Inn offers some of the best fried chicken around and offers other comfort food. The restaurant serves a character dining breakfast and then transforms into a quick-service location for lunch and dinner. This is my favorite quick-service spot at Disneyland.
3. Cafe Orleans (Disneyland) – This table-service restaurant in New Orleans Square is one of the best values out there for a sit down meal. While I do think the entrees here leave something to be desired, the Pommes Frites are a fantastic appetizer and the Mickey Beignets are a great dessert. Combine that with sitting outside and looking at New Orleans Square and the river and you have the makings of a near perfect afternoon. Definitely request a seat outside, as sitting inside takes away from the restaurant. The prices are similar to French Market than they are to the Blue Bayou, which is a big plus.
2. Carthay Circle Restaurant (California Adventure) – California Adventure’s flagship restaurant really surprised and impressed me. Modeled after the theater where Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs premiered, there is no shortage of detail in the restaurant. Carthay Circle also boasts exquisite service, delicious food and a diverse menu. I think the restaurant is also given a boost from sitting inside of the park’s icon. Get the Signature Fried Biscuits for an appetizer, they are fantastic.
1. Napa Rose (Grand Californian Hotel) – This wasn’t a hard choice. Napa Rose is the best restaurant at Disneyland and I’m not sure there is much argument (at least if you don’t count Club 33). The relaxed and sophisticated California setting is a perfect respite and compliment to the California Adventure, which sits just a few hundred yards away. What really shines at Napa Rose though is the food. The menu focuses heavily on fish and steak and does each of them exceptionally well. Service at Napa Rose is always wonderful. While the prices are certainly high here, I think this is more of a situation where you get what you pay for instead of just the usual Disney inflation. Go here.
That concludes my top ten list. Andrew Stanton, executive chef at both Napa Rose and Carthay Circle, will be thrilled to know he oversees the two highest restaurants on my list. I’m sure this is the moment he’s been waiting for. What did I get wrong on this list? Let me know in the comment!
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