Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Los Angeles Area >
Feb 9, 2008 09:39 PM

Decent eating in Disneyland?

Disneyland is not about the food, obviously. But it would be great if some regular Disneylanders who are also CHs could post their advice for getting edible, reliable, reasonably healthy and not exorbitantly priced food that is either within Disneyland or California Adventure, or in Downtown Disney, or maybe just across the street on Harbor.

I'm prompted to make this request by a really bad experience at Cove Bar, a spot that has been commented on favorably on this board. On a slow night, we waited 20 minutes for drinks and when the food finally arrived 3 of 4 "hot" dishes were ice cold. We complained to the waiter and he said "I'll tell the chef" as if it was the chef's fault for waiting till food turned cold to serve it.

I'm sure there were people near me in the park enjoying much better meals and I'd like to know their tips for my next visit. Thanks.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Ah, the Disney food conundrum. I have lived it many times.

    My solution of choice is Lee's Sandwiches, the banh mi chain. There is a branch on Harbor off Ball Road (12905 Harbor), just a few miles from the park. I think it opens at 7 so you could go early and take sandwiches in, but I usually swing by afterward for an after-park meal on the way home.

    For in-park eating, good food is tough, healthy is tougher. In general, you'll probably do better in California Adventure than Disneyland. Here area few notes.

    The only truly great food at Disneyland are the corn dogs. There is a corn dog stand on Main Street and Corn Dog Castle in the pier section of CA (get the hot links corn dog).

    Disneyland: The best food is in New Orleans Square. Blue Bayou has a good monte cristo sandwich and you get to eat while watching the Pirate's ride, but you need reservations, sometimes weeks in advance. Country Kitchen does a decent pulled pork sandwich and fried chicken. There is a clam chowder in a bread bowl place which is okay too. All of these are close together, clustered around the Pirates ride.

    Pretty much everything else in the park sucks, with the exception of junk food like churros and other snacks which can be okay.

    And never eat in Tomorrowland!! I can't emphasize that enough.

    California Adventure, in general, has better food. There are a few places I've never been to but have wanted to try...maybe someone else could chime in on them. Right as you enter, toward the right, there is a bbq style place which looks pretty good. There is also a full-on restaurant, Napa Rose, but I've just never been able to justify trying to find fine cuisine at a Disney Park.

    Right outside the tram stop for the parks is a La Brea Bakery which has pretty good salads and sandwiches. This may be your best bet for healthy food. It's a lot more accessible than the rest of Downtown Disney if you want to make a quick meal and then return to the parks.

    Good luck.

    2 Replies
    1. re: sku

      Boy, are you missing out, then... because Napa Rose is actually one of the best restaurants in Orange County. It's not ridiculously priced, either -- at least no more ridiculously priced than your choice of Newport Beach or Laguna Beach fine-dining restaurants.

      And it IS possible to get a decent meal in the parks -- much easier than in the past. The secret is to not try and eat a whole meal at once. The prices are expensive, of course, but remember to ask for your Annual Passport discount if you're entitled to one. If you are hoping to eat cheaply, bring your own food and put it in one of the rental lockers.

      The skewers at the Bengal Barbecue are OK, but the bacon-wrapped asparagus skewers are excellent. The "spicy" sauces, BTW, tend to be extremely salty so you'll want to stick with sweet sauces, or just get a bunch of asparagus. Each skewer has five pieces.

      Toward the entrance to Adventureland is the Enchanted Tiki Room, where you can get a quite tasty pineapple Dole whip. There's also a fruit cart near the Winnie the Pooh attraction, which has surprisingly good fruit (especially in spring and summer, when the fruits are in season).

      The soup in a bread bowl -- gumbo or clam chowder -- next to Pirates of the Caribbean is always a winner. Expensive, yes. Sometimes you get the bottom of the pot and it's very salty -- if so, return it to any window and complain and they'll give you another (assuming you haven't obviously been eating it up).

      I disagree about not eating in Tomorrowland -- I really like the "pizza salad" at Redd Rockett's Pizza Port.

      Near the Hub (the statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse) is the Plaza Inn, which has very tasty fried chicken -- the secret is to ask for it slightly well-done so they have to fry it up for you. They may ask you to step back to allow other, less-savvy people to get the stuff sitting under the heat lamp, and if the line is ridiculous (summer, Spring Break, Christmas) or they're understaffed (rarely), they may not be able to accommodate you.

      The bakery in Main Street, U.S.A. has what might be the best coconut macaroons in existence. I *love* those macaroons.

      California Adventure is a lot easier -- the lobster nachos in the bar behind Ariel's Grotto, the sandwiches, pastas and salads at the Wine Country Trattoria, and the food at the Mexican restaurant next to the Mission tortilla factory are all quite good. Pretty much all the food you're going to want to eat is in the Pacific Wharf area.

      Out at Downtown Disney, it's a little more difficult. I like the "small plates" at Uva Bar, but don't care for Catal as it's a bit overwrought and very expensive. Depending on what you get, Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen can be OK, but the little takeaway shop is to be depended upon only for beignets, coffee and bread pudding. The Mexican place, well, you could go to El Torito and it would be the same food cheaper. The Italian pizza joint is astronomically expensive and the service is the worst, not to mention that the pizza is absolutely disgusting. La Brea is OK -- good luck getting a seat.

      The hotels are the biggest surprise, though. Steakhouse 55 in the Disneyland Hotel is actually surprisingly good, though Mastro's it isn't. Yamabuki, a Japanese place in the Paradise Pier Hotel, is very, very good for cooked food but the sushi is just OK. (It's not bad, it's just not fantastic.) And, of course, Napa Rose in Disney's Grand Californian Hotel we've already covered. (Stay tuned later this week for a review... we're going for our "not-a-Valentine's-Day" dinner.

      1. re: sku

        I second the clam chowder bread bowl.

      2. Get the Corn Dog on Main Street. It is the Best Corn Dog you will ever eat! As you walk up Main Street on the right hand side, before you come to the circle, is a cart/wagon that has these huge fresh awesome corn dogs.

        1. I love the Hot Dogs at a place called The Refreshment Corner at the end of Main Street. This isn't to be confused with the Corn Dog Place, which I also love but already mentioned.

          1. You do occasionally get the bad service at Disneyland but it's relatively unusual at most venues. I've always enjoyed the fried calamari appetizer at the above Cove Bar, and the drinks are usually strong. I would have made a bigger stink about what happened, there's usually a manager around.

            Any how, I don't necessarily agree that the best food is at DCA, there's a broader range of choices at Disneyland.

            For DCA my favorite choice is actually just outside the gate to the hotel, Whitewater Snacks, for the grilled chicken and green chile sandwich and fries. It's fast and never crowded. Yes, I know Napa Rose is wonderful but it's not even an option until after you're done with the parks.

            Pacific Wharf Cafe has the bread bowls, choices of salads and soups (they make the bread next door). Just be warned that you will get very little salad inside that bowl.

            The so called "bbq" place is Taste Pilot's Grill, they have a fixins bar for the burgers etc. The bbq is just okay and last time I went the chicken sandwich was pretty bad (pale and cottony).

            Wine Country Trattoria is okay for a sitdown meal, although the service is bad about half the time. They have typical pastas, salads and sandwiches, as well as beer & wine service. Okay if you want a sit down meal with alcohol and won't get freaked out over slow and inattentive service.

            There's a beer truck at the Pacific Wharf that sells Karl Strauss brews. Avoid the Margarita stand, pre mixed slop that is really weak.

            There's a pizza restaurant hidden away near the kiddie rides (Pizza Oom Mow Mow), I went once and it wasn't bad.

            For an upscale experience inside DCA, pretty good really, the upstairs restaurant above Wine Country Trattoria, called the Vineyard Room. I haven't been since they changed up the menu, however. It's another dinner only place, and I think weekends only. But if they're having an evening parade it's a good place to eat dinner.

            Our new favorite discovery is the port and blue cheese tasting flight at the Wine Bar. Three different artisanal blue cheese and 3 or 4 port tastings.

            Inside the trains at the entrance is a decent coffee and desserts place. They have sandwiches and salads. Sometimes the salads are pretty good, but the sandwiches are overchilled.

            Over at Disneyland, my favorite lunch place is the Plaza Inn for Broasted Chicken. It's fast serve but sit-down dining.

            The best food is around New Orleans Square.

            Blue Bayou is overpriced, you're paying for the atmosphere and need to order carefully. Click on my name for two reviews.

            There's also Cafe Orleans which is a more reasonable sit down choice, they serve the Monte Cristo sandwiches. French Market is the fast serve place.

            A lot of people like the bread bowl place but again, you're mostly gettiing bread in those bowls. I like the little fritters (they're cream puff shells, really).

            For grease bombs, the deep fried crumbed items served around Golden Horseshoe are quite good (I think there's a choice of fish, chicken and cheese sticks).

            I also love Bengal BBQ, the Dole Whip, and the smoked Turkey legs (there's a second cart near Big Thunder Mountain). We've also developed a taste for the Vanilla Lemonade in hot weather (again near Big Thunder). The bakery on Main Street has good desserts and coffee but the lines are usually too long.

            Finally, they keep changing the menu, but Rancho del Zocalo has some good choices for healthier food.

            Places to avoid for me are Ariel's Grotto, the Mexican restaurant in Cal Adventure (worse than Taco Bell, with a tiny scoop of awful salty salsa, I can't believe anyone would recommend this place), and the fast serve place in Tomorrowland. If you need to eat in Tomorrowland, the Pizza Port can be okay if you get something freshly made.

            I also don't recommend Yamabuki if you've eaten regularly at any local Japanese places. The quality is good, but the prices will blow you away for what you get.

            If you want to do a character brunch, I like the one at Paradise Pier hotel which is Hawaiian themed.

            A final note, if you're freaked out by the big portions and pricing at some of the sitdown places, you can share, and they've always let me order a childs meal (even at Blue Bayou, which has a kiddy portion prime rib).

            1 Reply
            1. re: mlgb

              Ariel's Grotto itself -- the restaurant -- is a must-miss. But the bar behind it (overlooks the lagoon and the loading area for California Screamin', so you'll have a lot of "FIVE, FOUR, THREE, TWO, ONE... SCREEEEEEEEEEEEAM") has some very good appetizers.

              If you're trying to find inexpensive food at Disneyland, you are just out of luck, and no two ways about it. There is no cheap option. You can always go get food elsewhere and drive back in (parking is multiple-entry, so it's $11 per day, not $11 per entry) but that will take a shockingly long time.

              The nachos at the tortilla factory restaurant (the quick serve) are the thing to get.

            2. the Storytellers Cafe in the grand californian hotel next to california adventure has a REALLY good cheeseburger / turkey burger. If you get it with gucacamole for $2 more it comes to about $14 but is worth it.

              there's photos on this site:


              5 Replies
              1. re: EatinThePizzaNaked

                I go several times a year and most of the time end up at the Plaza Inn at the end of Main Street just before you get to Tomorrow Land and the rockets. They have decent broasted chicken, pot roast and a cobb salad for entres. The kids meals are decent too. I always look longingly at the desserts but I am always too full from the chicken. Make sure if you are going for lunch that you get in line a few minutes before it opens as there will be a line to get in once it is open.
                I think any of their soups in bread bowls are overpriced and undersized (except for the bread). The "pizzas" are terrible and the Mexican isn't very good either. Sometimes there are interesting entres at the French Market but for a sure thing that will have something for everyone and be a very nice place to sit, take my suggestion. Oh, by the way, I don't know where home is but we always go to Hof's Hut for dinner. Again, we go several times a year so we never stay til the bitter end. I am going to have to try Napa Rose some day for dinner!

                1. re: Fru

                  The Plaza Inn has great apple pie if you ever have room!

                2. re: EatinThePizzaNaked

                  If you don't want to waste time and money at Storytellers Cafe (and they have some REALLY slow service) you can get a decent cheeseburger (and also veggie burger) from the grill inside White Water Snacks, also in the Grand Californian. Thats about $8 including the fries. They're made to order and brought out to you when they're ready.

                  And for nachos, the version at White Water Snacks is actually good, also about $8. Unless one's taste runs to stale Mission tortilla chips and Velveeta, then that awful place in Pacific Wharf is your man.

                  1. re: mlgb

                    I think you and I must be talking about two completely different places. The place I get the nachos -- which I love -- is a quick-serve place near the beer truck. You seem to be talking about a sit-down restaurant.

                    1. re: Das Ubergeek

                      Nope Cucina Cucamonga, near the beer truck. Have probably been forced to go a dozen times. Awful, awful. High School cafeteria food is better. Taco Bell is better. Salty watery salsa and rotten guacamole. Stale tortilla chips (although I like the sugar cinnamon ones). Actually those nachos remind me of the type you get at baseball stadiums. I guess to each their own. That is in my bottom 3 places in the entire park (along with the hidden stand in the Farmers Market area of DCA and the Tomorrowland Terrace counter service place). To make it even more painful, the lines seem to move particularly slowly for a "fast food" venue. I might even rather go to Ariel's Grotto.

                      White Water Snacks is better, as is Rancho del Zocalo in Disneyland.