The 2022 Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival is off and running, going until April 26th. Between all of the Festival Marketplaces and restaurants, there are over 100 specialty items to try if you’re so inclined. While I won’t reach anywhere near that number, I have set down a path of stuffing my face with a number of food items from the festival. In this post, I’ll rank all of the items I’ve tried and will continue to update the post throughout the month as I eat more and more, all in the name of research!
All of the items I’ve tried are eligible as part of the Sip & Savor Pass. Guests pay a flat rate ($57 or $52 with a Magic Key or Cast Member discount) for a pass that will have 8 tabs. Those 8 tabs are redeemable for Festival Marketplaces, restaurant specialty dishes as well as non-alcoholic beverages. We recommend using the tabs on savory food items, as the drinks and desserts are cheaper.
Not counting the drink on this list, I’ve tried 23 items (I repeated 1) and paid $156 ($171 without a discount) for 3 Sip & Savor Passes. The total price of those dishes would be $182.50, so there is some savings to be had if you’re going to eat at the festival throughout the month. I recommend the Sip & Savor if you were going to spend the day trying some things you want or if you’ll make repeat trips, as the pass doesn’t have an expiration until the end of the festival. If you want some desserts instead though, just pay out of pocket.
That leads me to the bigger question on if the food is worth trying. There are several good, or even great dishes, but the prices are fairly high if paying for each one individually. I think two items would be enough for a meal and usually those totals would be around $16. That may be a little high for a light lunch or dinner but the quality is there for some dishes. As for what dishes are worth it, let’s get to the rankings!
24. Peanut Butter & Jelly Mac (Nuts About Cheese – $8.25)
This crime against humanity is served with brown sugar streusel and strawberry crackle on top. The strawberry crackle is just the candy, Pop Rocks. There are several Disney foods that live in infamy, Dessert Poop in Animal Kingdom and Beverly at Epcot’s Club Cool come to mind. This dish might fit the bill. If you’re interested in what peanut butter & jelly and macaroni & cheese taste like together then I have two things to say. 1. Who are you? 2. Don’t try this, just trust me that it’s bad. I could do a whole blog post on this dish because every aspect of it confuses me but it’s terrible.
23. Pepperoni Pizza Slider (Smokejumpers Grill – $7.99)
There’s a large jump from last place to the Pepperoni Pizza Slider, as everything left on this list is at least average. The Pepperoni Pizza Slider consists of angus beef and pork sausage patty, pepperoni, pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese, and fried pepperoni served on a ciabatta slider roll and topped with a pepperoncini. I didn’t hate this but the marinara and meat patty drowned out the other taste and neither of those were exceptional. It was fine but nothing more.
22. Avocado Toast (Pacific Wharf Cafe – $7.99)
The Avocado Toast consists of smashed avocado on toasted sourdough bread, fire-roasted cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, cilantro and balsamic reduction. The individual components of this were mostly enjoyable but as a whole I thought it was a bit sloppy. The tomatoes were very large but delicious, as was the balsamic. I didn’t find the avocado to be anything special and the cilantro was overpowering in bites.
21. Peach-Blueberry Lemonade with blueberry flavor-filled boba (Smokejumpers Grill – $5.99)
This is the lone drink on the list so far and it essentially tasted like lemonade with blueberry boba in it. I didn’t get any peach in the flavor and the lemonade was good but nothing out of the ordinary. There are better drinks in the park.
20. California Artisan Cheese Selection (Uncork California – $8.50)
This cheese plate was served with two different types of cheese – Habanero Jack and TomaProvence. I liked both of them but enjoyed TomaProvence more. I thought the dish could have used another cheese to add to the variety. There were also crackers, grapes, dried mango and nuts but all of them were fairly generic. While the cheese was good, I don’t think this is much better than what you could find in a grocery store.
19. Cubano Slider (D-Lish – $7.50)
Slow-roasted mustard-crusted pork and sliced smoked ham with melted swiss cheese and slice of pickle served on a Hawaiian roll is what makes up the Cubano Slider. I liked the sandwich but it’s brought down by the ham overpowering the other ingredients and it becoming slightly dry. I think the slider could have used a slaw or sauce to liven up the taste. It was a decent dish though.
18. Black & Tan Beef Potato Puffs (D-Lish – $8.50)
Disney has taken to call tater tots everything but tater tots in the last few years. These ‘Potato Puffs’ are tater tots. with Karl Strauss Wreck Alley stout gravy and lager micro sponge and beef on top. I liked the gravy and beef but didn’t think the dish as a whole wasn’t anything especially exciting.
17. Blueberry-Buttermilk Pie (Berry Patch – $6.00)
On first blush, this is delicious! I really liked both components of the dish, especially the filling of the buttermilk pie. Before long it became too sweet and a little bit one note. I think this is a perfect dessert to share though!
16. IPA Sausage Dog (California Craft Brews – $7)
There’s a lot going on here, as the sausage dog is served on a soft pretzel roll with onion-pepper Jardinière, cheddar cheese sauce, and malt vinegar-jalapeño crunch. On the best bites the dog, pretzel roll and cheese sauce were balanced nicely. On the worst bites, the onion taste was overpowering and the other ingredients didn’t mesh. It was a real adventure!
15. Glazed BBQ Pork Belly (LA Style – $8.50)
A trend of sorts in these dishes is that I actually preferred the side than the protein, which is odd for this carnivore. The Pork Belly did have good flavor but ended up being a little salty for my taste. The memorable aspect of the dish is the furikake-togarashi maracroni salad, which is very similar to the amazing mac salad served at Tangaroa Terrace and Trader Sam’s.
14. Mushroom Bao (Lucky Fortune Cookery – $6)
The mushrooms themselves in this were absolutely delicious and worth trying in their own right. Unfortunately, the dish as a whole did tie together very well. I didn’t think the Asian slaw or steamed bao were all that great, but if you like mushrooms then this might be worth trying!
13. Artichoke Toast with Olive Tapenade (I Heart Artichokes – $6.75)
This Artichoke Toast consisted of a toasted sliced baguette with artichoke cream cheese, topped with olive & artichoke tapenade and drizzled with olive oil. While the olive taste became a little overpowering, it did mix well with the cream cheese and olive oil. I thought the dish was cohesive and this could move up the list some if you had a fondness for artichokes or olives.
12. Char Siu Rib (Paradise Garden Grill – $7.49)
This mini version of the restaurant’s full-size portion includes a Chinese-inspired grilled pork rib with steamed rice and almond-cabbage salad. The pork rib itself was tasty with the sauce but a little fatty. I really liked the sides with this though as the rice soaked up the delicious, sweet sauce and the almond-cabbage salad was a great slaw that is one of my favorite individual items of the festival. I’ve wanted to eat it again ever since trying it. Unfortunately, the rib doesn’t live up to the sides.
11. Chile Relleno Empanada with arbol pepper salsa and Oaxaca and Cotija cheeses (Peppers Cali-Ente – $8.50)
I really enjoyed this cheese empanada, as the top 8 on this list are all very good. This is the spiciest dish I’ve tried at the festival but the salsa was delicious. I wish there was a meat mixed into the empanada as the cheese was extremely rich and overpowering at times. Still, this was very good.
10. Mango-Carrot Gazpacho with grilled shrimp and jalapeño crema (Golden Dreams – $8.25)
This Gazpacho had a good amount of flavor, with the mango really coming through. The jalapeno crema added some heat and cream to balance the dish out. The best bites included the grilled shrimp and I wish there was more of it in the Gazpacho. Overall, the flavor was a little bit one note but the different textures and heat from it were delicious.
9. Honey-Orange-glazed Salmon Salad with citrus vinaigrette (Golden Dreams – $8.00)
One of the lighter options at the festival, this chilled salmon served atop the salad is delicious and tastes fresh. I liked the Honey-Orange glaze on top, as it added a nice texture and flavor to the salmon. The citrus vinaigrette on top of the greens was also delicious and I wish there had been a little more. This is a fairly simple dish, perhaps a little too safe but delicious nonetheless.
8. Carbonara-Garlic Mac & Cheese with peppered bacon (Garlic Kissed – $8.00)
While perhaps a little simple, Carbonara Mac is delicious comfort food. The Garlic Mac and Cheese had a great flavor, heavier on the garlic than the cheese and the bacon and herbs added some nice texture to give the dish some variety. This might be the safest bet of a dish that everyone will like at the festival.
7. French Onion Grilled Beef Tenderloin Slider (Cluck-A-Doodle Moo -$8.50)
This slider is the opposite of the salmon, being one of the heavier dishes I’ve tried. The slider is made up of grilled beef tenderloin topped with a Gruyère cheese sauce and caramelized onions served on an onion roll. There’s probably too much cheese sauce overall but it was delicious mixed with beef tenderloin which was cooked to a nice medium. If you’re looking for a slider at the festival, go for this one!
6. Ají de Gallina (Peppers Cali-Ente – $7.25)
This dish consists of spicy yellow chile creamed chicken with jasmine rice and olive tapenade. The ingredients were blended beautifully here and all of them augmented the star of the dish, the spicy yellow chile sauce. I liked the chicken pretty well but just having the sauce and rice was more than enough as it was creamy and had some heat to it.
5. Beer-battered Fish Taco – (Paradise Garden Grill – $7.99)
Another mini version of the larger sized restaurant portion, this fish taco consisted of Baja-style beer-battered fish on a corn tortilla topped with slaw, pico de gallo, cilantro crema, and lime wedge with house-made tortilla chips and roasted red chile-tomato salsa. I was really surprised at how fresh and delicious the ingredients were on the taco. The fish was thick and balanced well with the breading on the outside of it. I also really liked the cilantro crema that balanced out the acidity of the slaw, pico and lime. Also, this place has delicious chips. This is probably the largest portion size of any dish I’ve tried.
4. Next Level Crackers & Cheese (Nuts About Cheese – $8)
This dish consists of House-made herb crackers with white cheddar-infused fromage blanc, spicy prosciutto spread, and cherry jam. After being underwhelmed by other cheese items at the festival this was a great surprise. The fromage blanc and cherry jam were the prominent flavors and they complimented each other. I loved the jam especially. I know it says that the prosciutto spread was spicy but I didn’t get that at all, although it did add a little depth to the dish.
3. Gyro-inspired Flatbread featuring Impossible Ground Beef (LA Style – $6.75)
This flatbread is served with Impossible Ground Beef, chipotle hummus, tzatziki and spiced crispy chickpeas. Of all the dishes I’ve tried, this has the most flavor and all of them work well together. The Impossible Ground Beef was delicious but tzatziki was what really stood out. This does have some spice to it but not enough to overpower the palette.
2. Snickers Macaron (Nuts About Cheese – $6.50)
I don’t often end up with desserts this high in my rankings but this is absolutely delicious. There’s no real secret or surprising factor to it, this tastes like a Snickers was put into a macaron and the mix of flavors is delightful, as is the wonderfully baked texture. It’s not a surprise that this is one of the most popular dishes at the festival.
1. Grilled Top Sirloin with roasted garlic-Gruyère smashed potatoes and black garlic chimichurri (Garlic Kissed – $8.25)
It’s a close contest for first place but this Sirloin tops my list. The steak was cooked pretty well, to about a medium, but it was paired perfectly with cheesy and butter potatoes and delicious chimichurri. There were some peppers on the top to add a little heat and flavor. All in all, there was a wealth of flavors that contributed to a very cohesive and delicious dish. Thinking about it has my mouth watering!
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Categories: Restaurant Reviews