Carnation Café is a table-service restaurant on Disneyland’s Main Street. The restaurant serves American comfort food with both indoor and outdoor seating. While Carnation Café is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, this review will only cover the lunch and dinner menu. Annual Pass and DVC discounts are accepted here. In this review we’ll cover Carnation Cafe’s atmosphere, food, and value.
Disneyland’s Main Street is quaint and romantical. I’ve heard many scoff at the smaller castle but one of the benefits of the smaller size is that the Main Street feels like its own entity instead of just the opening curtains for a grand view. There are a few little areas tucked away, including the beautiful flower market, and the restaurants are all cohesive in that small town, Victorian architecture theme. That is especially true for Carnation Café.
Jolly Holiday Bakery and Plaza Inn both sit at the very end of Main Street but Carnation Cafe resides right in the middle. Main Street is supposed to mimic a small town and this restaurant acts as a sort of meet up location – the Cafe where all the locals would meet before or after work. Both the food (more on that later) and the atmosphere set that up and make it work within Carnation Cafe’s setting.
There are very few seats actually inside of Carnation Café, I would guess about ten tables total. That said, it does have a nice atmosphere. The décor is reminiscent of an early or mid-1900’s diner. The lamps and wallpaper in the photo above really reflect that.
Would I call this the prettiest restaurant at Disneyland? No, although those that love this style may disagree. But Carnation Café does feel like a tribute to a bygone era and that is Main Street’s goal.
The outdoor seating is far more cramped but still has a nice atmosphere. There are heat lamps and umbrellas to protect from whatever weather might come. The reds and whites of the inside seating are still very apparent outside. Sitting outside will also give you a view of Main Street and there is just a good energy to the restaurant. It’s warm and comforting, much like the food that is served there.
Speaking of the food, here’s a look at the menu. It’s a fairly simple menu, not terribly ambitious, but the big draw here is the value offered for it being a table-service restaurant. With the most expensive option for dinner being $21 and most entrees falling somewhere around $15, Carnation Café has counter-service like prices.
For one of our entrees we went with the Penne Pasta with Shrimp. This included Penne and Sautéed Shrimp with Broccoli and Mushrooms in a creamy Garlic Sauce. It was a pretty rich dish and nothing overly complex. I thought the sauce was nice and the Broccoli and Mushrooms added some variation in flavor. The one downside here is that the Shrimp weren’t anything to write home about. I don’t think this dish is spectacular but it’s a good option. At $21, this is a fine value but there are better to be found on the menu.
For our other entree, we went with the Homemade Meatloaf. Who made the Meatloaf and where is their home? I couldn’t tell you. What I can tell you is that the dish included a blend of Beef and Pork served with Ketchup Glaze, Mashed Potatoes, Mushroom Gravy, and Seasonal Vegetables and a Dinner Roll. Meatloaf is a strange thing, as I’m never confident in ordering it but always interested. What’s this made of? Who thought of doing this? Will it be any good? It’s like a Hot Dog’s classier, wiser brother.
I’m pleased to report that Carnation Cafe’s Meatloaf was very good. I liked the flavor of the meat itself but covering it with the Mushroom Gravy certainly augmented the dish. Adding in the Mashed Potatoes really warmed me up on what was a cool, February evening. The Vegetables were fine and necessary. Overall, I was impressed by the dish. At just $17, this is a very good value and will definitely fill you up. This is right up there with Plaza Inn’s Fried Chicken (I’d still pick the Fried Chicken) as Disneyland’s best comfort food.
The entrees were good but the real star of the show was this gooey Chocolate Cake with Caramel Sauce. This isn’t on the online menu but it seemed like a normal offering? I’m not sure why it isn’t online. Anyway, the cake was warm and baked perfectly. Pairing it with Caramel Sauce and Vanilla Ice Cream made it even better. Like the entrees, this was a simple dish made really well. I would go back just for this.
Carnation Cafe’s value was very apparent once we got the check. Ordering 2 entrees, a dessert, 2 drinks and paying a standard tip still came in under $50. That does include an AP discount but nonetheless, having all of this food at a table-service restaurant in Disneyland is a great deal.
Overall, I don’t think Carnation Café is going to wow anyone in one certain aspect. Instead it’s just a really nice place to eat, with good food and a really strong value. Disneyland has a fairly robust dining scene but Carnation Café holds its own and brings something to the table among all of the other options. We will be going back!
Overall Rating – 8.5/10
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Categories: Restaurant Reviews