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Jun 4, 2011 10:51 PM

NorCal Hound w/kids heading to Disneyland: critique my plan!

I have read a dozen or so threads and think I have a plan of attack for Disneyland now. Special thanks to sku, Das Ubergeek, degustateur, and Kitchen Queen for your great reviews and suggestions in past threads. I learned so much (like avoiding eating in DLR from sku's two great threads).

First a little about us: DH is lactose intolerant but otherwise eats everything. We really only have a problem at French and Italian restaurants that use cream or cheese in many dishes. I eat everything and have a hearty appetite. We have 2 and 5 year old girls who are relatively adventurous eaters for kids. They regularly enjoy Fijian/Indian, Afghan, Korean, Vietnamese, Thai, Muslim Chinese, Greek, Filipino, etc. Older one doesn't like spicy food but younger one loves it. A prime example of her commitment to good spicy food was when her nose was running, eyes crying with tears dripping off her chin, and wailing when she wasn't swallowing, yet she kept shoveling in spicy Fijian/Indian rice with both hands at 20 months old!

Budget isn't an issue, but I want the most bang for my buck, not a fancy place just because we can afford it. Given the fact that we have our kids. I don't want to do Napa Rose. That kind of experience (and those prices) are best on date nights, IMHO.


We drive in Thursday, arriving sometime that evening. No dinner plans yet for Thursday night. I would love to go somewhere where leftovers could be reheated for breakfast (we're staying at the HoJo in a Kids' Suite which has a microwave and fridge). Ideas? Probably someplace off the 5 given our drive from NorCal. Not sure what time we hit the LA area which is why we might just play this by ear. I am a Bruin but haven't been back to LA in nearly 15 years. My college favorites were the Cuban and Brazilian restaurants (can't remember where--Sawtelle? Sepulveda?), Monterey Park, and K-town eateries.


If we don't have any Thursday dinner leftovers for Friday's breakfast, we will just eat Lee's Sandwiches for breakfast or pick up something to go from Mimi's so we can get to the security tables early. I know Ariel's Grotto has crappy food but my 5 year old is obsessed with princesses and I don't want to wait 2 hours in line at PFF. So that will be Friday's lunch.

My girls still nap so we will walk back to the hotel and relax in the afternoon. Before heading back to DL, I want to grab an early dinner at Marisco Puerto Esperanza. Fri dinner hopefully won't take too long (I need to see how early they open for dinner) as I believe DL will close at 7 pm for the Halloween party and then DCA will be packed. If MPE is crowded on Friday nights, maybe we should go to Thai Nakorn Fri? I need a relatively fast option, which is why I'm skipping the Ethiopian restaurants.


Sat morning we will pick up Lee's Sandwiches for lunch and possibly for Sat breakfast too. Then dinner at Thai Nakorn before heading back into the park.


Finally, for Sunday breakfast (leisurely since we leave for NorCal and won't be going back to DL), I want try the homemade corned beef hash at Jagerhaus.

Backup options I also have on deck include Park Ave., Break of Dawn for breakfast, and a couple other standard Mexican restaurants (but we have plenty of them up here so the seafood and the Oaxacan paces most intrigue me).

Your thoughts? I am sure we will snack on corn dogs, churros, and Dole Whips in the park. Maybe even try the Monte Christo just to say we tried it (if we don't have to sit down to get it!)?

ETA: Argh! Just found out MPE closed when the auto-add of restaurants didn't include it. Maybe the Oaxacan place Das Ubergeek mentioned in one of the threads?

Napa Rose Restaurant
1600 S Disneyland Dr, Anaheim, CA 92802

2525 E Ball Rd, Anaheim, CA 92806

Thai Nakorn Restaurant
12532 Garden Grove Blvd, Garden Grove, CA 92843

Break of Dawn
24351 Avenida De La Carlota Ste N6, Laguna Hills, CA 92653

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  1. Have you thought about Zankou Chicken since you're already going to be in Anaheim?

    3 Replies
    1. re: hobbess

      Never head of Zankou Chicken when searching for DL area restaurants. Will go google it now!

      1. re: hobbess

        Anaheim has some good Med/Armenian/Lebanese choices.. I would look into them ( They are very close to DL ) Perhaps Das Ubergeek will have some more to say on this.. in his past write ups ( I know for sure that he explores that area, and I have read his posts on the topic as well.) He is an Expert on that area and loves finds.. The Zankou there is not that great compared to other locations in So Cal, but the Bakeries in the area ( same plaza too.. ) have good cookies..
        Enjoy and if its October when your comming, well you have allot more time work on this..

        1. re: Foodandwine

          We will be there in Sept, but yes I know we have plenty of time. I am just one those people who like to plan and have back-ups! ;). We all really liked shawerma, dolma, etc. I will go look to that now and find DU's old threads on this.

      2. That's quite an ambitious plan you have laid out. Am I correct in guessing that you won't be down this way until October? I noticed your mention of the DL/DCA Halloween event. They've actually been alternating the Halloweentime event between DL and DCA.
        I believe that for Cuban food, you're thinking Versailles in Culver City on Venice Blvd. I'm not sure if there's a more famous place for Cuban in the area, but Versailles comes to my mind first because the garlic chicken is great and the fried plantains are amazing.
        As for your OC/DL experience, I would really highly suggest skipping Ariel's Grotto. The food is simply overpriced slop. If you're looking to provide your daughter with the Princess experience, there's a special princess exhibit located just south of the It's a Small World ride. There's a show and the princesses come out, I believe (I'm not an expert because I have boys). Check the DL website for more details. If you end up eating inside the park, I discovered the Village Haus restaurant in Fantasyland across the way from the Casey's train ride. Angus burgers are okay, but the Angus Pastrami Burgers and the Chicken Sausage on Pretzel rolls were significantly better. If you're interested in Character dining, Goofy's Kitchen and Storyteller's Cafe are known to be good choices. Snacks throughout the park are plentiful, however, be warned that the corn dogs are not as fabulous as they were before. It's not an all-beef dog anymore, as I understand. The Dole Pineapple whips are a must! Bengal Barbeque has options for meat on a stick. Big Thunder Ranch has an AYCE barbeque meal options served family style, if you're interested. The last time we were there, my cousin invented a new DCA snack by buying a sourdough loaf from Boudin and a turkey leg. With some musturd and mayo we had yummy tiny sandwiches that made other park guests asking us where where we got our snack.
        Thai Nakorn is a good choice, but it gets really crowded on a Saturday night. If you're interested in Vietnamese 7 courses of beef, I would suggest Hong An or Thien An. Pagolac is a good substitute. You're super close to Little Saigon, so a visit there wouldn't be out of the question. Korean BBQ might also be an option with Cham Sut Gol and Shik Do Rak being good choices for that.
        For Sunday, Break of Dawn is in the opposite direction of your way home, so I'm not sure if that's what you intended. Traffic headed up North can't be fun on a Sunday.
        Your pre-trip research is pretty impressive, and you've got some great resources in DU and company...their recs are tip top.

        Thai Nakorn Restaurant
        12532 Garden Grove Blvd, Garden Grove, CA 92843

        Break of Dawn
        24351 Avenida De La Carlota Ste N6, Laguna Hills, CA 92653

        Pagolac Restaurant
        14580 Brookhurst St, Westminster, CA 92683

        Thien An Restaurant
        13518 Harbor Blvd, Garden Grove, CA 92843

        Goofy's Kitchen
        1150 W Magic Way, Anaheim, CA 92802

        Cham Sut Gol
        3700 W Olympic Blvd Ste 101, Los Angeles, CA 90019

        Hong An Restaurant
        9862 Westminster Ave, Garden Grove, CA 92844

        10 Replies
        1. re: attran99

          Versailles! Yes, that's it. There was a great Brazilian place someplace too, but very much a hole in the wall.

          Yes, we are going to be there in late Sept after Halloween time has started and school is in session. I'm hoping that means less crowds in the parks and on the freeways Sunday morning!

          Princess Fantasy Faire (PFF) is a 2 hour wait at times and I'd rather suffer through mediocre food than wait 2 hours in line for a show and then 2 minutes with a princess. Ariel's Grotto guarantees quality 1-on-1 time while DH and I can drink something alcoholic. That is going to be worth the price! :)

          The turkey and bread option sounds delicious and creative! How clever!

          We have Hong An up here and i do like 7 courses of beef. There is a huge Vietnamese Am community in San Jose so we have great options here too. I am leaning more toward Korean now that you mention it as we have mediocre Korean food compared to SoCal.

          Yes, I know Break of Dawn is south but we don't work on Mondays so the only reason we leave Sunday is to avoid Monday rush hour commutes. We can arrive home late Sunday.

          Thanks so much for the great ideas!

          Break of Dawn
          24351 Avenida De La Carlota Ste N6, Laguna Hills, CA 92653

          Hong An Restaurant
          9862 Westminster Ave, Garden Grove, CA 92844

          1. re: smiles33

            They have alcohol at one of the restaurants there?? I thought that was strictly verboten except for the 33 Club, or whatever that's called.

            1. re: Phurstluv

              DCA has alcohol and even a BEER TRUCK, with beer on tap. Only DL itself is dry (with the exception of Club 33 as you pointed out).

            2. re: smiles33

              There are, I think, 2 or 3 Brazilian options in the area. Brasa Brasil, Bamboo, and Cafe Brasil. I used to live there a long time ago, and can't remember which one we frequented.
              at DCA, you have few alcoholic options. The Karl Strauss beer truck and the margarita stand in the Pacific Wharf area, the wine tasting area by the Italian restaurant on the way to Pacific Wharf, and Ariel's Grotto. Perhaps if you hit PFF as soon as you enter the gates, you might not have a terrible wait.
              The Hong An down here is owned and operated by different owners. Just a coincidence in naming. You'll love the Korean options, Cham Sut Gol is a favorite of ours when we dine with our 3 boys because of the Trifty/Rite-Aid ice cream bar with cake cones that we have for dessert.
              I second the banh mi from Banh Mi Che Cali below. It's really superb. But I understand the time constraints and the location proximity.

              Banh Mi Che Cali Bakery
              13838 Brookhurst St, Garden Grove, CA 92843

              Brasa Brasil Grill
              10022 Venice Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232

              Cafe Brasil
              11736 W Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA 90066

              Cham Sut Gol
              9252 Garden Grove Blvd # 10 Garden, Grove, CA

              1. re: attran99

                I think it may have been Cafe Brasil? I remember it being paintd bright colors inside and white Christmas lights....

                Cham Sut Gol sounds Ike a great option as we do love our Korean food!

                Cafe Brasil
                11736 W Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA 90066

                Cham Sut Gol
                9252 Garden Grove Blvd, Garden Grove, CA 92844

              2. re: smiles33

                I'm onboard with your plan to pay the Ariel's Grotto fee instead of dealing with the Fantasy Faire line. Although it's not well-advertised, Ariel's Grotto does have a breakfast seating right when the park opens. It's a bit cheaper than the lunch prices, will take less time out of your day, and even they can't mess up breakfast basics. They serve pastries, fruit & cheese, and a big platter of scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, waffles, and potatoes. You get the usual visitation with five princesses, and you're out the door just as the day is getting started.

                1. re: Jordan

                  I read about the breakfast option but per advice from the DISBoards, we're making a bee-line for Fantasyland right when they open.

                2. re: smiles33

                  It pains me to say it, but do not let your fellow Chowhounders talk you out of Ariel's Grotto. The food is bad, but the facetime your kids get with the princesses, is priceless. Make sure the batteries are charged, because the photo's/video from that lunch will be your favorites. Chances are your kids wont touch their food. Not because it is awful,(which it is), but they will be way too busy chatting up Cinderella!

                  1. re: jeffandnat

                    Having kids that love princesses, I can empathize with you. We found the food to be better at Goofy's Kitchen than at Ariel's Grotto. Goofy's Kitchen is in the Disneyland Hotel. It has lots of characters come by so your kids will love it. For a quick snack while at the Park, go into Downtown Disney and grab a bite at La Brea Bakery.

                  2. re: smiles33

                    I am assuming that you know that Versailles in Culver City is not off of the five and not anywhere near where you will be? Wouldn't be a logical stop your first night. I am guessing you just mentioned it as an example of the type of place you used to like when you lived in LA?

                    I've eaten there, btw, several years ago, thought it was good but not great. I'd second DU's suggestion of Ma's Islamic Chinese for your Thursday night dinner.

                    I think the line for the Dole Whips isn't worth the wait. (the line was over a block long and moving VERY slowly on my last visit). You could probably figure out how to make something similar at home, and better to have an extra turn on Winne the Pooh (which is almost never crowded) or the Jungle Cruise than wait in line for overrated food. Just my opinion. :-) (and yes, I've had it before).

                    I just spent a long day at DL with my daughter and three year old granddaughter a few weeks ago. The plan was be there from opening till midnight close, and to skip DCA (even though, yes, that meant skipping Ariel. Not a big deal since we were front and center for the parade and World's Cutest Granddaughter got her princess fix there. Each princess has her own float. Tip: If you pick out a spot in front of the firehouse you can get a great view with less crowds than closer to the start of the parade route) since we only had one day, and we almost made it (at 11 pm D and I were Disney'd out, WCG probably could have gone the distance.) Daughter and WCG observe halal dietary restrictions, which means meat is out at places like DL. I can tell you that vegetarian options have gotten better in DL in recent years. Also, the fish tacos at the Mexican place in Frontierland aren't bad (though they have a weird service system where you can only get the tacos in certain lines.). Quietest place in DL to eat lunch or just to take a break (and I find it quite pleasant as a place to rest whether eating or not), is the back of the porch at Critter Country, overlooking the river. Their fried green tomato sandwich (which is offered in both a vegetarian option and one that isn't, though I think the non-vegetarian option just has anchovies, IIRC?) isn't an awful snack, lines are short even when the park is crowded (so you can just get a soda or juice if you want) and general ambiance is a LOT more soothing than waiting for the Dole whips. For a sweet treat without a huge wait, try an ice cream sandwich shaped iike Mickey from one of the carts. I'd also skip the churros, but I do tend to be fussy about churros.

                    We may have plenty of standard Mexican places in the San Francisco area, but I don't know of much if anything that matches DU's description of Los Chilangos....Wish I had seen that before my last trip, for a stop on the way home! Next time.....

                    Ma's Islamic
                    601 E Orangethorpe Ave, Anaheim, CA 92801

                3. Looks like a good plan so far.
                  Rather than Lee's, I'd suggest going elsewhere for better banh mi, unless it's just the convenience/time factor you are favoring. Since you are from San Jose, I'm sure you have many banh mi choices up there. but there are also many great options here that open early or are 24 hours, such as banh mi Che Cali (3 for $5).
                  For Korean BBQ, I like light town house on garden grove blvd, near magnolia. But you may want a different type of Korean if you are going to do 7 courses of beef at pagolac, etc.
                  as previously mentioned, goofy's kitchen is good for the kids, serves a decent buffet meal, and serves alcohol. Reservations recommended.
                  It was a sad day when MPE closed. But I'm sure someone can give you a rec for a different mariscos spot.
                  Go bruins

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: I got nothin

                    Go Bruins! Yeah, I know Lee's is mediocre but it's open at 7 am and right on Harbor. This way it doesn't sit in the fridge all night and get soggy. We want to be at the security tables 40 minutes before park opening. Is Che Cali close?

                    We probably will do dinner closer to LA, as I anticipate hitting LA area traffic around 4 or 5 and wanting to avoid the rest of rush hour until closer to 7. With young kids, this is going to be a leisurely drive with lots of stops as opposed to powering through.


                    1. re: smiles33

                      The closest bmcc to disneyland is on brookhurst and westminster, next to the 22, maybe 10 minutes away. There might be closer banh mi options that others can recommend

                  2. For your Thursday night dinner, perhaps stop in Artesia for some great Indian food? I love Indian leftovers. Also in Artesia is a highly recommended Philippino restaurant called Magic Wok - I haven't been yet, but I'm dying to try it.

                    Alternatively, you probably already know this, but traffic on the 5 during "rush hour", which is basically 3-7, is brutal. It may be too difficult with the little ones, but you might want to think about waiting out the traffic in LA and having your dinner there instead. Just a thought!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: aching

                      I agree, I don't want to be on the freeways between 5-7 if I can help it! Artesia sounds familiar but I need to go google it to figure out where it is. Thanks for the Rec--I love Indian food.

                    2. You may have seen this post by DU in your research. I've found it handy when I've had to attend conventions.

                      I believe Nhu Lan is open early too and would be a better bet than Lee's for the bahn mi's.

                      I'm also a big fan of Los Chilango, another DU find. His post and my follow up in this thread.

                      Los Chilangos
                      1830 W Lincoln Ave, Anaheim, CA 92801

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Jase

                        Thanks! I missed that thread as I typed Disneyland in the search field.