The 2023 Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival is off and running, going until April 25th. 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 ($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.
The price of the Sip & Savor went up by 2 dollars this year which isn’t bad considering most of the food items I’ve seen have gone up by a dollar or two each. There’s definitely some value to be had by purchasing a pass if you’re planning to sample the different items throughout the day or the length of the festival. These passes don’t all have to be used up in one day, just by April 25th, so if you’re local then we’d recommend buying one!
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!
21. Impossible Nacho Mac & Cheese (Avocado Time)
Our last place finisher is a bit divisive and consists of cheddar mac featuring seasoned Impossible ground beef, tomatoes, olives, jalapeños, and guacamole. This didn’t taste too bad at first. I don’t mind the Impossible Beef and all of the other individual components were fine at least. But after a few bites it didn’t make me feel very good because it’s just too much going on. Others might like this one more!
20. Cubano Slider (D-Lish)
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.
19. Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese Flatbread (Golden Dreams)
This flatbread, served with a basil pesto, lacked flavor overall. The bites that worked included the goat cheese because it added some punch. Otherwise, the pesto and beets were both fairly bland and didn’t make this memorable.
18. Blackberry Lavender-Lemonade (Avocado Time)
This drink consists of blackberry purée and syrup, lavender syrup, and pineapple and lemon juices garnished with a lemon wheel. Frankly, it’s just too sour. There’s no lack of flavor or sweetness here, unfortunately it’s just a little bit one note and didn’t have the depth of flavor other drinks or plates had.
17. Blueberry-Buttermilk Pie (Berry Patch)
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)
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. Petite Burrata (Nuts About Cheese)
This consisted of grilled ciabatta with tomato and olive jam, burrata cheese, pesto, and freeze-dried balsamic. The taste was very similar to bruschetta. The burrata was the star of the show and was delicious. The freeze-dried balsamic also added an interesting and welcome texture. Overall though, I just didn’t find this all that interesting or delicious.
14. Glazed BBQ Pork Belly (LA Style)
A trend of sorts in these dishes is that I actually preferred the side over 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.
13. Korean Fried Chicken Sandwich (Studio Catering Co.)
This Korean Fried Chicken is topped with gochujang sauce, kimchi, coleslaw, and pickled onions served on sweet Hawaiian bread. This is one of a few options at Food & Wine Festival that had some spice behind it. I thought the sauce mixed with the coleslaw was a winner. The actual fried chicken wasn’t anything special and that’s what knocks this down the list a little bit, but it’s one of the more interesting dishes offered.
12. Artichoke Toast with Olive Tapenade (I Heart Artichokes)
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.
11. Chile Relleno Empanada (Peppers Cali-Ente)
I really enjoyed this cheese empanada, as the top 10 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. Artichoke Pizzetta (I Heart Artichokes)
This pizzetta is topped with artichoke and roasted garlic cream cheese with sun-dried tomatoes, pickled onions, and lemon olive oil-drizzled micro greens. For not loving (or hearting) artichokes, this marketplace comes up with some great dishes! What really sealed this one for me was the lemon olive oil with the greens. I wish there was more of it, honestly. The rest of the dish was good but not all that memorable.
9. Camarones a la Diabla (Peppers Cali-Ente)
From one spicy dish to another, these shrimp are served with California chile and cilantro rice. The dish just looks spicy and it is. The shrimp here is the star, as they were tender and had good flavor. I enjoyed the rice and sauce but didn’t think it elevated the dish to the next level. That said, this was good for those that like some spice.
8. Carbonara-Garlic Mac & Cheese with peppered bacon (Garlic Kissed)
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. 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.
6. 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.
5. Peach Blueberry Cobbler (Paradise Garden Grill)
It’s hard to figure out how to order these next 2. I gave the Snickers Macaron the nod over the cobbler because it’s more creative and not as commonplace. But truth be told, I actually enjoyed the cobbler just a little bit more. The peaches and blueberries were a great combination and the dish is served hot. It’s not the best cobbler I’ve ever had, but it’s really good and I think anyone who enjoys fruit desserts will like this one a lot.
4. Snickers Macaron (Nuts About Cheese)
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.
3. Grilled Top Sirloin with roasted garlic-Gruyère smashed potatoes and black garlic chimichurri (Garlic Kissed)
This Festival returner narrowly edges out the desserts. 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!
2. Impossible Gyro Fries (Paradise Garden Grill)
What can I say, the Impossible Gyro combinations are real stars of the Food & Wine Fest. This one has even more flavor than the flatbread and consists of waffle fries topped with gyro-spiced IMPOSSIBLE ground beef, cauliflower cheese sauce, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, tzatziki, and pita bread. Just reading it seems like too much going on but it all worked for me, especially the tzatziki and cauliflower cheese sauce. This is one of the heartier options at the festival, as well.
1. Grilled Peach Toast (Pacific Wharf Cafe)
The winner of our rankings is surprisingly large (or we got really lucky on the portion size) with a number of fresh ingredients. Served with ricotta-mascarpone spread and arugula salad on toasted sourdough bread, the Grilled Peach Toast is a perfect marriage of salty and sweet. The ricotta-mascarpone spread is a nice base but it doesn’t overpower the peaches or prosciutto on top. This is the best dish of the festival and I’m already plotting ways to order it as much as possible before April 25th.
What do you think of California Adventure’s Food & Wine Festival? Let us know, along with any other questions you might have, 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!
Categories: Restaurant Reviews