We continue our series of ranking the restaurants we’ve been to at Disney Parks. Today we move to counter-service restaurants at Disneyland Resort. The idea of this post is to keep adding to the list as we go more and more places. There are a few rules (more like guidelines) and caveats applied to these rankings.
These rankings include Disneyland, California Adventure, the Disney owned hotels in the area, and Downtown Disney. Disneyland focuses heavily on counter-service restaurants as opposed to table-service restaurants. As the title states, this post is only ranking the restaurants we’ve been to. While that is quite a few it does not come close to all of them. I’m not going to include snack stands (sorry Dole Whip and chimichangas) and a few restaurants will be left out because it has been too long since we have been there. Along with that, we’re leaving bars off of the lists, despite our affection for Trader Sam’s (it would currently rank number 3 here) and, to a lesser degree, Oga’s Cantina. If we’re missing one of your favorites from the list, leave us a comment and we’ll be sure to try that place next time!
In these rankings I will try to balance all of the factors – value, quality of food, atmosphere, etc. To be honest, I rely more heavily on the quality of food than other factors because most restaurants tend to have a similar price range and counter-service places usually don’t excel in atmosphere. If we have a review to a certain restaurant then it is linked in that restaurant’s name. Let’s get to the rankings!
33. Pym Test Kitchen (California Adventure) – Sadly, the Avengers Campus restaurant is the worst of any counter-service place we’ve tried. The food we had was stale and without sufficient flavor. The atmosphere is fine and there are some nice moments inside of the ordering bay but the seating is nondescript. Overall, Pym Test Kitchen is a very disappointing experience.
32. Poultry Palace (California Adventure) – Sadly, another entry from California Adventure. This is a snack stand in Pixar Pier that serves some Disneyland Resort classics like a Turkey Leg, Chimichanga and Corn on the Cob. Those are all fine and what we’d recommend getting. The original option is a chicken drumstick meal with coleslaw. It’s not a good option and there’s really no reason to go there, even if they have a crazy mascot that I’ve affectionately nicknamed Sir Poultry Knight.
31. Smokejumpers Grill (California Adventure) – When people think of bland theme park food, Smokejumpers Grill is basically what comes to mind. The burgers are bland and the menu is boring and overpriced. There was a toppings bar here for a while which is a nice plus but, frankly, I would stay away from this place although they have bolstered the menu recently, including some delicious desserts!
30. Alien Pizza Planet (Disneyland) – Here lies the classic theme park counter-service option. Pizza Planet looks like a big mess hall with close seating. You grab what you want from the counters up front and then go take your seat under some large alien figures. It’s not great. The pizza is just fine, certainly better than other theme park pizza I’ve had, but nothing to write home about.
29. Café Daisy – The new Toontown eatery is largely disappointing. Like Pizza Planet, nothing is horrendous and the food offered won’t make for a terrible meal. But it’s not good either. I like the vegetarian option pretty well, a couple of the drinks and the chili cheese sauce. Runaway Railway is a good reason to visit Toontown, Café Daisy is not.
28. Napolini Pizzeria (Downtown Disney) – The pizza is much better than Alien Pizza Planet so I had to rank it higher. Everything else is worse though so I’m not going to rank it extremely high. Napolini isn’t much better than the usual fast, casual pizza place. They serve plenty of different varieties of personal pizzas. The seating is limited and all outside but this is a pretty good spot for a late night dinner after the parks close.
27. Corn Dog Castle (California Adventure) – It’s no Little Red Wagon (which ranks much higher on this list) but Corn Dog Castle offers a good corn dog. That makes sense because it’s a castle where corn dogs are king? I’m unclear of the logistics there. Anyway, the food is solid but there’s not much of an atmosphere to talk about.
26. Red Rose Taverne (Disneyland) – The rethemed Village Haus now boasts a Beauty and the Beast motif that is fine but not exactly inspired. The menu here is somewhat interesting albeit on the heavier side of things. I wouldn’t go out of my way to try this but there are worse things to eat in the park!
25. Taqueria at Tortilla Jo’s (Downtown Disney) – Like most of the Downtown Disney locations, there’s no real atmosphere at this restaurant as you order at the counter and then find a table outside. This location is one of the more affordable spots though with burritos, tacos and nachos all ranging from 9 to 11 dollars. The quality is maybe a small step above your local Chipotle but this isn’t a bad option when walking through Downtown Disney late at night.
24. Galactic Grill (Disneyland) – I’ve always had a very low opinion of Galactic Grill in Tomorrowland, to the point where it’s a punch line between Melissa and I. But I’ve slowly been making my way through the menu and I’m honestly halfway impressed. They have the best counter-service salad at Disneyland and the Mushroom Philly is a decent non-meat option.
23. Tropical Hideaway (Disneyland) – Disneyland’s latest counter-service has a great atmosphere and offers a few fun treats. Between the array of Dole Whips and Bao Buns, Tropical Hideaway is a good place to grab a snack and watch the Jungle Cruise boats travel by. It’s a little lower on the list because the menu is limited and getting a full meal here isn’t as easy as other places on the list.
22. Hungry Bear Restaurant (Disneyland) – Hungry Bear has funnel cakes and one of the best atmospheres offered! Unfortunately, the savory items are hit and miss. I’m disappointed that the Fried Green Tomato Sandwich isn’t here anymore but it’s hard to rank this too low even if your best option is to go to Harbour Galley and go sit here with a funnel cake dessert!
21. Refreshment Corner (Disneyland) – Sometimes you just really need some chili or a hot dog. Maybe both! Refreshment Corner has you covered with some pretty inventive hot dogs and some hearty chili. The atmosphere is nice enough, being on the corner of Main Street. Shout out to the Spicy Firefly Chips for being Disneyland’s cheapest savory snack!
20. Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta (California Adventure) – This quick-service Italian spot in the back of DCA served some surprisingly fresh fare. We really enjoyed the specialty pizza, at the time it was Shrimp Scampi, and the pasta is more than serviceable for being a counter-service restaurant. The restaurant is also affordable, with no menu item topping $13. It likely won’t blow you away but this is one of the more dependable and value-filled options in California Adventure.
19. Jolly Holiday Bakery (Disneyland) – If you come to Jolly Holiday Bakery for the treats and Main Street ambiance then you are in good shape. I love the setting and the Raspberry Rose Macaron is one of the best single items in Disneyland. Unfortunately, I don’t feel the same about some of the savory items. They aren’t bad but they aren’t particularly interesting outside of the Grilled Cheese Birria. Since this ranking is focused more on actual meals you can have, Jolly Holiday ranks pretty low. Come here for dessert though!
18. Ronto Roasters (Disneyland) – There’s a few counter-service places that specialize in one certain thing at Disneyland. Thankfully, that one special thing is usually delicious and that’s the case at Ronto Roasters. The Ronto Wrap is very good, especially the peppercorn sauce. Sitting in Galaxy’s Edge is always a good option too, so points to the atmosphere.
17. Royal Street Veranda (Disneyland) – If soup in bread bowls is your jam then this should shoot up the list. Royal Street Veranda offers Clam Chowder and Gumbo in bread bowls, as well as a good salad and vegetarian option. The soup is really good and the bread bowls are fresh and delicious. The catch is that this is all they offer and eating soup when it’s 90 degrees out isn’t usually a fun idea. But on a cool night, going over to this counter in New Orleans Square is a great option.
16. Cozy Cone Motel (California Adventure) – This is a little tricky, as the Cozy Cones are actually 4 different snack stands that sell different items. Seeing how they serve some great items, I included the whole group anyway. The Prickly Pear Soda is a favorite of mine. The bread cone filled with chili con queso is one of those items where it looks like it should taste terrible but, while you are eating it, you swear that it’s the best thing you’ve ever tasted. All in all, the Cozy Cones serve some of the best food in California Adventure, even if that food doesn’t look particularly appetizing.
15. Aunt Cass Cafe (California Adventure) – Formerly Pacific Wharf Cafe, the renamed restaurant has several exciting options and a wonderful Turkey Pesto Club. The bread bowls are delicious and they serve practically everything in them. I’m not a big fan of the seating here (which also pertains to Cocina Cucamonga and Lucky Fortune Cookery) so that doesn’t help things but the overhaul has certainly helped things!
14. Rancho Del Zocalo (Disneyland) – The biggest fall in our 2023 reranking is this restaurant. The atmosphere is still phenomenal. Sadly, the food hasn’t been nearly as good since reopening in 2021. I miss the Carne Asada and Enchilada platter. That said, I think this is one of the best spots to sit in all of Disneyland and the food is still decent and fairly priced.
13. Bengal Barbecue (Disneyland) – One of the better values anywhere at Disneyland, Bengal Barbecue offers meat (and other) skewers. The price is around $5 and the product is typically delicious. This is a little lower in the rankings because the menu isn’t very large and might not be a great place for a full meal. I think this spot is a little overrated compared to other Disneyland-goers. For a filling snack or light lunch, this is a fantastic place to go.
12. Black Tap Craft Burgers & Shakes (Downtown Disney) – The actual cuisine here is higher quality than most on the list, as the burger patties are among the best in the whole resort and the menu is more eclectic than one might imagine. The reason this doesn’t crack the top 10 is because the prices are more on par with a table-service restaurant and the atmosphere doesn’t reach those heights. Overall, it’s a good place to grab a burger if you’re willing to spend a little more but there are better options.
11. Troubadour Tavern (Disneyland) – Like Bengal Barbecue and the next pick, Troubadour Tavern specializes in one item – Baked Potatoes. Fortunately, the little quick service spot across from It’s a Small World does them really well. There’s a few other options here including pretzels and Turkey Legs but the Baked Potatoes are the star of the show. There isn’t much seating here but it is in a nice corner of the park that is pleasant to relax in.
10. Little Red Wagon Corn Dogs (Disneyland) – This is another case of “if they served more, then this would be higher.” I love the corn dogs at the Little Red Wagon and recommend them to everyone, even if they don’t like corn dogs. Eating here is a Disneyland rite of passage and one of the cheaper, delicious meals you can have at the park.
9. Flo’s V8 Cafe (California Adventure) – This one is tricky. I had the dinner at Flo’s a few years ago and came to love the fried chicken. That has fallen some in quality and the price is high. There’s not much variety in the offerings but what they serve is good and simple. As far as meals I crave, Flo’s fried chicken is near the top of the list so I kept this pretty high in the rankings! If fried chicken isn’t your thing, this would fall down the rankings.
8. Docking Bay 7 Food & Cargo (Disneyland) – Docking Bay 7 follows Galaxy’s Edge’s lead with an immersive theme. Unfortunately, the theme is far less interesting than the rest of the land, being a large storage building. Of course, there are still some great details and the restaurant would rank in the top 3 in terms of counter-service atmospheres. The standard menu is slightly underwhelming but the seasonal items here are consistently good.
7. Plaza Inn (Disneyland) – The Plaza Inn is a perfect blend of good food, decent value, great location, fun atmosphere and tradition. Famous for their delectable fried chicken, the Plaza Inn serves home-style food in large sizes. While the menu isn’t all that exciting, the food fits the time period and setting of Main Street. Frankly, you should get the fried chicken and don’t worry about the rest of the menu. Like the Little Red Wagon, eating here just has a distinct Disneyland feel. The Cast Members clearing plates usually offer up some charming entertainment and the big windows let the sun light up the whole restaurant. It’s a step back in time at the end of Main Street. Combine that with delicious fried chicken and that’s why it is firmly in the top 10. The downside is that the prices have risen quite a bit.
6. Harbour Galley (Disneyland) – Sadly, the Lobster Mac & Cheese in a Bread Bowl comes and goes from this place. If it was permanently on the menu, this could rise to the top 3. As is, Harbour Galley offers delicious sandwiches with a cute outdoor seating area. While the menu is small and not all that adventurous, this restaurant is consistently delicious and has good value.
5. Lucky Fortune Cookery (California Adventure) – Having a revitalized menu has never helped a restaurant more than Lucky Fortune Cookery. Even before the menu refresh, the food was underrated. That included the wonderful Bulgogi Burrito, a favorite of mine and one of the more adventurous options in California Adventure. Add in the Birria Ramen and chicken sandwich and we have one of the best counter-service restaurants at Disneyland Resort.
4. Tiana’s Palace (Disneyland) – Disneyland’s latest addition to this restaurant makes a strong bid toward the top spot. All of the food is ambitious, bursting with flavor, spice and deliciousness. Tiana’s makes an effort with dietary needs, as well. Factor in an excellent atmosphere, one of the most inviting around, and the restaurant should be a mainstay at the top of this list. The only question is if it will keep the quality that it opened with.
3. Tangaroa Terrace (Disneyland Hotel) – If you are tired of crowds, Tangaroa Terrace is a nice respite. At the Disneyland Hotel, Tangaroa Terrace offers Hawaiian inspired dishes. The menu is interesting and the food is decent. Tangaroa Terrace also offers a nice setting, with views around the Disneyland Hotel grounds. Breakfast here is the best counter-service option we’ve found at the resort!
2. Cocina Cucamonga Mexican Grill (California Adventure) – The highest riser in the rankings, as the food here has really improved in the last few years, with the QuesaBirria being the clear standout. The worst thing I can say about the restaurant is that there are so many good taquerias within 5 miles of the park that it’s hard to fully embrace this one. Still, this stands up to many of those which is impressive! Cocina Cucamonga has become my go to place in California Adventure.
1. GCH Craftsman Grill (Grand Californian Hotel) – Defeating Plaza Inn’s Friend Chicken for the top spot in these rankings is no small feat but that’s exactly what GCH Craftsman Grill (formerly known as White Water Snacks) does. Just a few steps outside of California Adventure (use the hotel entrance), GCH has a very relaxed setting that borders on bland. But the food is far from bland. The menu is ambitious and all of the food we’ve tried is very fresh and delicious. The downside here is the price and the atmosphere but the food is good enough on its own to earn the number 1 spot.
Those are my rankings of Disneyland’s counter-service restaurants. I’m looking forward to adding to the list over the years. What would you add or change? Let us know in the comments! Planning a trip to Disneyland? Check out our planning guide to help you out along the way. If you enjoy what you’re reading here on Wandering in Disney please subscribe to the blog and like our Facebook page. You can find both of those on the right side of this page. Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!