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downtown disney

we're going to be in downtown disney and/or disneyland for our anniversary- where would you suggest going?
how about brennans' in downtown disney? what's good? or isn't there a nice italian place? would like to stay out of the parks and hotels for that dinner

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  1. I know you said you want to stay out of the hotels, but The Napa Rose at the Grand Californian hotel is really terrific. I don't think you can have a discussion about the best fine dining restaurant in Orange County without giving Napa Rose some serious consideration... it really is that good. The Grand Californian is connected directly to Downtown Disney... you can enter through the breezeway right next to Libby Lu's, and the restaurant is WELL WORTH IT. Call now for a table. Totally head and shoulders above anything in the Disney complex.

    3 Replies
    1. re: woojink

      Also, Yamabuki in the Paradise Pier is really very tasty. All Disney reservations (including Downtown Disney) are made through Disney Dining at 714-781-DINE, but be prepared for extended hold time.

      In Downtown Disney itself, I've never eaten at Napoli (so! expensive!) but Brennan's is not bad, I actually like Tortilla Jo's as long as you stay away from combo-glop platters, and we often have a good time at Uva Bar, just snacking on "small plates". The larger restaurant connected to Uva Bar, Catal, is just OK.

      I concur with woojink -- Napa Rose, or Yamabuki.

      1. re: Das Ubergeek

        I concur on the recommendations of Yamabuki & Napa Rose. I found Yamabuki to be surprisingly good. I found the atmosphere to be Zen-like in that it was serene and peaceful with an understated (or austere) elegance.

      2. re: woojink

        i agree with everyone...for anniversary go napa rose!

      3. I like Brennans a lot, mostly for the beignets and red beans and rice, but also I go there, the cafe side, because it's quick and I can zip back to the happiest place on earth.

        1. I would join in and highly suggest you dine at The Napa Rose! I am a frequent Disneyland visitor and I have never had a bad meal at The Napa Rose. I have heard from the waiters at the Napa Rose that their brownie recipe has been requested by celebrities who frequent the restaurant. Of course the recipe is never disclosed. If you are into cheese, start off with the cheese appetizer platter. It is not on the menu, but you can request it. Simply amazing! Have fun and Happy Anniversary!

          1. I would avoid Catal (though the Uva bar outside is nice for a cocktail before or after dinner) as my experiences there have been very poor. Napoli is just so-so. To be frank, in our experience the food at Downtown Disney itself is not great. Sounds like the prevailing suggestion is Napa Rose.

            1 Reply
            1. re: johnglowacki

              Definitely don't bother with Catal! The food is so mediocre; however, sitting out on the patio can be nice in the summer evening.

              I wholeheartedly agree with the recs for Napa Rose. I did a birthday for my mom there a few years back, and we had a simply lovely time. I remember the carapaccio being very good, and my stepdad really liked his lamp chop. Mom liked her apple tarte tatinish dessert... Service was attentive and the ambience quite refined.

            2. I'll pile on about Napa Rose, unless cost is an issue. If that's the concern, they do a lounge menu, and there's a four course menu thats a good value at $75 (often we'll just order one of those and share the app and dessert, adding a second main and a side).

              I've also liked the Uva Bar although the service can be not the best and I wouldn't say it's an anniversary experience.

              I haven't been impressed with Yamabuki. It reminds me a lot of Thousand Cranes although I'd rather eat at the latter.

              1. I've never eaten at the Napa Rose (always at Disneyland with the kids), but have probably tried every other restaurant in Downtown Disney. If Napa Rose is out of your budget, we've always been pleased with Napoli (and like it better than Catal) -- none of the restaurants there will blow your socks off, but the thin crust pizzas at Napoli have always been quite serviceable.

                2 Replies
                1. re: NAspy

                  what kind of place is napoli? would this be a good place to have after dinner drinks with friends on a weekday night? we are more interested in catching up with each other rather than people watching.... =)

                  1. re: kinipela

                    It is a relatively large Italian restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating. Most of the time the upstairs section is closed, as far as I can tell, except on weekends when they are busy. The food is just okay, but I agree it is better than Catal. They have a full bar with seating. It is not a quiet place.

                    If you're looking for after-dinner drinks in Downtown Disney I'd go to the Uva Bar outside Catal. Better atmosphere all around, and it won't be any louder outside than in Napoli in my experience.

                2. We go to Disney a lot, but somehow only have eaten at Napa Rose once. It was just ok to me. That being said, if I were going for an anniversary dinner it's still the restaurant I'd pick. I think you have a greater chance of having a really good meal there than at any of the other restaurants. Brennan's is bland, and if you've ever been to New Orleans you'll probably be disappointed. We often eat at Naples (probably the "nice Italian place" you refer to.) It's fine, but nothing to right home about, I wouldn't eat there if it weren't in Downtown Disney. Catal is horrible (Joachim Splichal, why do you hate us so?)

                  One other thing about Napa Rose, the Grand Californian Hotel is really gorgeous inside.

                  1. If you want to go off property, there is a nearby Morton's and Ruth's Chris down Harbor Blvd. Also, Mr. Stox is a lovely restaurant in the vicinity. Of course, the suggestions of Napa Rose are also spot-on, although it is a pricey restaurant.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: kingkong5

                      Not any pricier than the steak houses, and a lot more creative.

                    2. Napa Rose hands down -- if you enjoy wine try one of their matched wine dinners. Most of the staff is trained as sommeliers. Excelent lounge too. Let them know it's a special occasion for a treat!

                      1. I'd definitely stay away from Brennnan's for a special occasion dinner. I went there and was very disappointed by the food. Service was great, but the food was everything you would expect from Disney.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: October

                          Except that Brennan's isn't even operated by Disney....