Restaurant Reviews

Ranking California Adventure’s Festival of Holidays Food Marketplace Items

The 2022 Disney California Adventure Festival of Holidays is off and running, lasting through January 8th. Between all of the Festival Marketplaces and restaurants, there are plenty of specialty items to try. While I won’t be able to try them all, 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 ($59 or $54 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 and don’t offer the value.

DCA Festival of Holidays entrance

There is a little bit of value in the Sip & Savor, especially if you qualify for one of the discounts. Focusing on the savory items means that the 8 chosen will likely end up over $54, considering they’re usually $7 or more. 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!

15. Capirotada (Cocina Cucamonga)

This dish is a Mexican Bread Pudding with Raisins, Peanuts, Walnuts and Green Apples, topped with Bananas, Sweetened Condensed Milk and Toasted Coconuts. If that sounds like way too much going on in one dessert that’s because it is! It wasn’t terrible but really it just came out way too sweet without any standout flavor. The peanuts, sprinkles (which aren’t even mentioned in the description!) and coconuts were all compounding flavors that didn’t help the dish at all.

Bread pudding Festival of Holidays DCA

14. Bean & Cheese Pupusa (Festival Cart)

I love a good Pupusa! Unfortunately, this isn’t that. The filling inside of the puffy tortilla was good enough but the flavors weren’t anything special and it didn’t taste fresh at all. Unfortunately, I’ve run into that problem at the Festival Cart plenty of times before. As far as Pupusas go, there are many better than this one.

Pupusa Festival of Holidays DCA

13. Turkey Poutine (Merry Mashups)

This dish consisted of Roasted Turkey, Sweet Potato Bites, Cheese Curds, Gravy and topped with Frosted Cranberries. The bright side here is that the Sweet Potato Bites, known in the real world as Tater Tots, were fresh and had a nice crunch. The rest of this didn’t work for me though, as the turkey was bland and the gravy was average. It was a fine dish but not one I’d get again.

Turkey Poutine Festival of Holidays DCA

12. Pumpkin Layered Cheesecake (Grandma’s Recipes)

It’s hard for me to not love Pumpkin Cheesecake but this was only so-so. The dessert wasn’t so much Pumpkin Cheesecake as it was a New York-style Cheesecake, Pumpkin Gooey Cake and Graham Cracker, topped with Spiced Chantilly. All of it made for a sweet mess with no particular component elevating it. There are much better desserts throughout the resort.

Pumpkin cheesecake Festival of Holidays DCA

11. Chicken Tikka Masala (Favorite Things)

From here on out, I enjoyed these dishes. The Chicken Tikka Masala was served with Cardamom Basmati Rice, Lemon Raita, Cilantro and Garlic Naan Crumble. There’s much better Tikka Masala in the world but if you’re looking for an introduction to the dish, then this does the trick. I thought the crumble was an interesting addition and there was a little heat behind it.

Masala Festival of Holidays DCA

10. Impossible Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes (Grandma’s Recipes)

When you aren’t sure what meatloaf is anyway, does it matter when it’s not actually made out of meat? I enjoyed this iteration that was served with gravy and, I believe, a little bit of ketchup to add in an extra flavor. The dish was hearty and one of the larger servings we’ve had at the festival. I wouldn’t call it a standout but it was good nonetheless.

Impossible Meatloaf Festival of Holidays DCA

9. Santa’s Milk and Cookies Hot Cocoa (Making Spirits Bright)

This drink consisted of Whole Milk with flavors of Cookies & Cream and White Chocolate with flavored Whipped Cream on top. I wouldn’t be mad if all Hot Cocoa tasted this way! The Cookies & Cream was the primary flavor and who doesn’t want a hot Oreo drink in their life? On the surprisingly chilly Disneyland Resort evenings, this is one of my favorite drinks to get.

8. Lox & Everything Bagel Nachos (A Twist on Tradition)

While I’ve knocked a few dishes for trying too many things, this is what happens when all of those components go right. This consists of Bagel chips, cream cheese, diced smoked salmon, everything spice, and mixture of onions, tomatoes, and capers. While it got to be a little heavy, and is suitable for sharing, the smoked salmon and spices on top of the bagel chips was a winner. Bagel Nachos need to become more popular!

Bagel Nachos Festival of Holidays DCA

7. Impossible Albondigas Soup (Paradise Garden Grill)

A strong contender from Paradise Garden Grill, this is a vegetable soup with Impossible meatballs. The broth tasted similar to a chicken noodle soup broth and there were carrots, onions and other veggies mixed in. As for the meatballs, they tasted like… Meatballs! I enjoyed them and they were very large. I was disappointed when all of the soup was gone. Good soup!

6. Loaded Yucca Fries (Paradise Garden Grill)

This consisted of the fries topped with arbol chile cheese sauce, carne asada, guacamole, sour cream, and pickled red onion. All of the components had a good amount of flavor and this was made really well. We’ve had great luck with festival items at Paradise Garden Grill in general, perhaps because they also serve full size items there? This dish maybe had a little too much goop on it but that’s a minor complaint as it was delicious overall.

Loaded fries Festival of Holidays DCA

5. Holiday Ham Slider (Winter Sliderland)

This Ham slider was served with cranberry-bacon jam and Gruyère on a salt and pepper brioche bun. There was nothing surprising about the dish, it just worked. I really liked the cranberry-bacon jam and the helping of ham was generous. A very nice balance of sweet and salty in this sandwich. Of all the dishes I’ve tried, this tasted the most like the holidays.

Turkey Slider Festival of Holiday DCA

4. Colombian Empanadas (Sonoma Terrace)

These empanadas were filled with beef and served with aji verde and cabbage salad tossed with cilantro dressing and escabeche. The empanadas themselves were very good, as the pastry itself was fresh and had delicious flavor. The aji verde was very spicy but added some delicious flavor. I also liked the cabbage salad, as it added some interesting veggies to a fried dish. This is the type of dish that I wish was at the park permanently!

3. Impossible Chorizo Queso Fundido (Brews & Bites)

A dish this simple probably shouldn’t be so high on my list, but everything about this was delicious. Disney makes surprisingly good tortilla chips, good enough that I crave them! The queso had just enough heat behind it and was a perfect way to warm up on a cool evening. The standout here is the Impossible Chorizo though, as it had more flavor than any other Impossible meat I’ve found. That really elevated the dish and gave it more depth.

Queso Festival of Holidays DCA

2. Chicken Tinga Arepa (Paradise Garden Grill)

Really this is 1B to my first place finisher because on a different day I may have ranked it first. This dish consists of a handmade arepa topped with refried beans, chicken Tinga, cabbage, avocado, and queso fresco. The chicken on the arepa is substantial, full of flavor and juicy. The queso fresco was likewise delicious, adding a refreshing kick to the dish. Finally, the arepa tasted very fresh, warm and doughy.

Arepa Festival of Holidays DCA

1. Sweet Potato-stuffed Corn Muffin (Visions of Sugarplums)

This muffin is served with red beans and rice, which really earns it the top spot. The red beans and rice are surprisingly good with more flavor than I’d expect. I wish they had a little more spice but that’s a personal preference. The Corn Muffin is interesting as it tastes like corn bread before cutting into the middle and finding a sweet potato filling. That filling tastes like a Sweet Potato Pie filling, making for an excellent pair with red beans and rice.

Red beans and rice Festival of Holidays DCA

What’s your favorite item at the festival? Let us know in the comments below! Planning a trip to Disneyland? Check out our Planning Guide here. If you enjoy what you are reading here on Wandering in Disney please share this post with your friends, as well as like our social media pages. You can also subscribe to the blog via WordPress or email. All of those links are on the right side of this page. Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!

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