Carnation Café is a table-service restaurant on Disneyland’s Main Street. The restaurant serves American comfort food with both indoor and outdoor seating. We’ve previously tried the lunch and dinner menu at Carnation Café and returned for breakfast, which is what this review will cover. The restaurant serves breakfast until 11 AM most days. Annual Pass and DVC discounts are accepted here. In this review we’ll discuss Carnation Café’s atmosphere, food, and value.
If you’re a Disney Parks fan then there’s a decent chance that you have waxed poetic about the feeling that comes with walking down Main Street in the morning. That fresh morning air, full of possibility, mixed with a castle in the foreground and nostalgic music holds a special spot in many of our minds. What better way to fully embrace that morning on Main Street feeling than sitting down at a table just a few steps off of the sidewalk and having breakfast?
I’ve heard praise about Carnation Café’s breakfast for years. It’s one of those Disneyland legends that has only grown over time as more and more people have tried it. That Main Street atmosphere plays into the hype and love of the restaurant as a breakfast spot. I certainly felt that, as watching excited families, different characters or the marching band come down Main Street while having a meal is charming. While I enjoyed the dinner atmosphere, eating here in the daylight and being able to people watch adds to the atmosphere.
Carnation Café does have both indoor and outdoor seating. If you couldn’t tell already, I would recommend eating outside but that’s not to say that the inside isn’t a nice place to have a meal. Red wallpaper covers the restaurant and is mixed with warm wood tones. There’s an old diner feel to the restaurant, albeit a little more upscale. The Victorian style is more prevalent farther down Main Street at Plaza Inn and Jolly Holiday. Carnation Café feels more similar to walking into your grandmother’s old home but in the best way possible and this place smells like good food instead of the elderly. Carnation Cafe’s aesthetic is comforting and serves food to match the feeling.
Photos of Walt adorn the walls, reminding us of the history Carnation Café has seen. The restaurant has been around since Disneyland opened and, while there have been refreshes, it balances that old fashioned feeling while not being completely out of date.
Moving outside, the seating area has tables adorned with roses and umbrellas to offer shade. There isn’t much to the outside seating in terms of décor, Main Street carries the story and that’s more than enough. As far as atmosphere goes, Carnation Café has one of the best of any Disneyland restaurant strictly thanks to location. It’s very similar to sitting outside at Café Orleans in that way.
But did the food live up the lovely atmosphere? Here’s a look at the menu, which is relatively simple. Restaurants came back from the COVID closure with limited menus but have since added to them. Carnation Cafe may add to the breakfast menu over time but for now the menu features four items between $13-$16. There’s also the Plant-Based Overnight Oats for $7. If you’re looking for a cheap way to eat a table-service meal then this is a good bet, although the lunch and dinner menu here is also affordable.
For my meal, I ordered the Breakfast Skillet. This hearty dish consisted of Mickey-shaped 3-Cheese Egg Bites, Breakfast Potatoes, Chopped Applewood-smoked Bacon, Sliced Smoked Sausage and Shredded Cheese with a Fresh Tomato Garnish. The Mickey Egg Bites are pretty adorable! They also tasted pretty good, if not a little dense. The Potatoes and Bacon were good but not great. My favorite aspect of the dish was the Sausage, which had a little bit of heat to it and was very flavorful.
As a whole, I liked the dish but didn’t love it. I thought a sauce of some kind, maybe a hollandaise, would have tied the whole thing together as it did get a bit dry. Adding some acidity or lighter notes would have been a nice choice as the Tomato Garnish wasn’t extremely noticeable. That said, this was a very filling breakfast and I wasn’t disappointed. At $16, this definitely was the hearties option available.
We also ordered the Buttermilk Pancakes, which were served with Smoked Sausage and Seasonal Compote. Once again, the sausage had a little heat which I liked but your mileage may vary there. The Buttermilk Pancakes were… strange? They were so full of buttermilk that at times they tasted like biscuits. That got in the way of the light and fluffy usual pancake texture, although the flavor was interesting and enjoyable. The fruit compote was good (I wish there was more of it!) but overall the pancakes felt overly dense and I don’t think I’d get them again.
Unfortunately, the food didn’t measure up to the atmosphere here and I came away thinking that I’d rather have lunch at Carnation Café instead of breakfast. That’s not to say that breakfast isn’t an enjoyable experience. I had a lovely time and will likely be going back in the future thanks to just how wonderful relaxing on Main Street with a hot breakfast in front of me was. But the experience was ultimately held back by the food.
Overall Rating – 7.5/10
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Categories: Restaurant Reviews