Saturday, June 11, 2016

The BEST of: Disneyland - Food

Welcome to a new Disney Park Fan Blog series: "The BEST of ".  During this open-ended series of posts, I will examine many of the things that make Disney theme park experiences unique, and break them down into short lists of "bests".  I'm starting the series off with the best food experiences at The Disneyland Resort.  For this post, I'm breaking the Disneyland food experience up into a dozen different categories.  You can decide in the comments if you agree with these selections, and/or add suggestions of your own.  Enjoy!

BEST Theme Park Treat: Dole Whip
For many people this is a no-brainer.  Dole Whips and Disney seem to go hand-in-hand.  There is only one place at the Disneyland Resort where you can get this quintessential treat, and that's the Tiki Juice Bar at the entrance to Adventureland.  Specifically, right next to the entrance to the Enchanted Tiki Room.  Just look for the often very long line, and you've found it.

The Dole Whip is a refreshing pineapple soft-serve treat, served in a plastic cup, or as a float, in a cup of pineapple juice.  This is one of the most popular treats at Disneyland.  The Tiki Juice Bar also serves pineapple juice on its own, and fresh pineapple spears.  TIP! There are often two lines for the Tiki Juice Bar.  Look inside the queue area for the Enchanted Tiki Room, and if the other side of the Tiki Juice                                                        Bar is open, you may have a shorter wait.

BEST Burger: Village Haus Restaurant
If you are looking for a large, indoor place to enjoy great food and get away from the heat, Village Haus Restaurant in Fantasyland won't disappoint.  The 1/3 Lb.  Angus Pastrami Burger is my favorite burger at Disneyland. This burger features pastrami, swiss cheese and caramelized onions, and is served with your choice of French fries or fresh fruit.  Village Haus also offers plenty of outdoor seating for people watching.

BEST Breakfast: Mickey Mouse Pancake
Rancho Del Zocalo is the only location where you will find this famous Disneyland exclusive.  Three pancakes are cooked together on a griddle to form a Mickey Mouse head.  The finished hotcake is dusted with powdered sugar, and then decorated with fruit to form Mickey's eyes, nose and mouth. The pancake is served with your choice of bacon or sausage, along with maple syrup and whipped butter.

This fan favorite recently moved to Rancho Del Zolalo (next to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad), from the River Belle Terrace restaurant.  The restaurant also serves other American and Mexican-inspired breakfast dishes.  TIP! If you arrive to the park at "rope drop", head over to Rancho Del Zocalo for your Mickey Mouse Pancake, and you just might have the entire place to yourself.  There are even outdoor heaters available on those cooler mornings.

BEST Sit-Down Restaurant: Blue Bayou *
You haven't experienced Disneyland until you have dined at Blue Bayou Restaurant.  This Cajun and Creole-inspired menu offers some of the best food in either park.  But the experience is what makes this place The Disneyland Resort's most popular restaurant.  Blue Bayou's dining room is located inside the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction.  Whether you are enjoying a Monte Cristo sandwich for lunch, or Surf and Turf for dinner, it's always nighttime on the bayou.  If you are lucky enough to get a waterside table, you will see "fireflies" across the water, as boats with park guests float by as they set sail on their swashbuckling adventure.

BEST Snack Food: Beignets
Never heard of these (pronounced "ben-yays")?  These deep friend French Donuts are made to order all day long.  Beignets are light, fluffy and delicious, and are covered with powdered sugar.  These New Orleans favorites have found a home at Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen in Downtown Disney, where they can be ordered off the main restaurant menu.  They are also available at Jazz Kitchen Express (counter service, next door), where they are served in bags of 4, 6 and 10.  TIP! If you like your beignets shaped like a Mickey Mouse head, you can find them inside Disneyland at the French Market in New Orleans Square.  While not always as good as the Jazz Kitchen version, these ones are often available in seasonal flavors, like pumpkin and peppermint.

BEST Place For "Healthy" Food: Pacific Wharf Cafe
The food at Disney California Adventure is considerably underrated, when compared to Disneyland. Finding healthy food options in either park can be a challenge.  Portion sizes are usually too big for light eaters, and burgers, fries, chicken nuggets, etc aren't the best options for anybody.  Pacific Wharf Cafe in the area of the same name has a few above average options for those who want a good meal without all the guilt.

The Turkey Pesto Club is a great choice. Slice turkey, bacon, Swiss cheese and Pesto Aioli are stacked on a Sourdough baguette.  This sandwich is the perfect portion, and very good.  Another great option here is the Chinese Chicken Salad.  How many restaurants have a salad in a bread bowl? This may sound like a strange combination, but it really works.  And did I mention the bread is Boudin Sourdough, baked inside the Bakery Tour attraction right next door? Need I say more?

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BEST Meal In A Cone: 
Cozy Cone Motel
Head over to Carsland at Disney California Adventure to visit the Cozy Cone Motel.  This quick service food court of sorts offers several snack items.  But the bread cones at Cone #3 are a great meal in themselves.  The Chili Cone Queso and the Chicken Verde Cone are the menu standards. But the special cones are my personal favorites.  The Mac & Cheese cone is also topped with crumbled bacon, and the BBQ Pulled Pork cone is topped with cole slaw.  Both are amazing, and after you have eaten the inside, and the cone itself, you will have just had lunch on the go.  But if you are still hungry, the other "cones" feature churros, soft-serve ice cream and popcorn.  So go ahead and stay awhile.  It's not called a "motel" for nothing.

BEST Buffet/Character Meal:  Goofy's Kitchen*

 When it comes to buffets, I prefer Las Vegas, followed by Walt Disney World.  But Disneyland has a few buffet locations to choose from.  Goofy's Kitchen at The Disneyland Hotel has been around for years.  It is one of the only restaurants on property that was designed as a buffet, and offers the best variety of all of the buffet locations at the resort.  Open for breakfast and dinner, this eatery has plenty to choose from, even for the the most picky of eaters.  The family restaurant has lots of options for the kids.
And best of all your host Goofy, and many of his pals are hanging around to meet you and your family.

BEST Homestyle Cookin': Plaza Inn Fried Chicken
While Plaza Inn at the end of Main Street U.S.A. is known for its character breakfast buffet in the mornings, this opening day restaurant is famous for its fried chicken at lunch and dinner.  Plaza Inn (formerly Red Wagon Inn) is a Disneyland landmark, and the golden fried chicken in one of the most popular dishes in the park.  Each dish is served with three pieces of chicken, mashed potatoes, vegetables and a biscuit.  Pot roast and pasta dishes are also available if chicken isn't your thing.  Be sure to save room for dessert. There are plenty to choose from.

BEST Fine Dining: Carthay Circle Restaurant*
The replica of the Los Angeles theater where "Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs" had its world premier is not only Disney California Adventure's icon.  It's also the best restaurant in the park.  This "signature dining" location offers extensive lunch and dinner menus in a plush, art-deco dining room.

Where Blue Bayou at Disneyland has the atmosphere that can't be missed, Carthay Circle has the better menu.  Appetizers like the Fried Biscuits and the Fire Cracker Duck Wings are very popular.  Entrees like the Crisp Duck Confit, Artichoke Crepes, and Grilled Angus Beef Barbacoa are favorites.  The desserts, like the Meyer Lemon Custard Tart are to die for.
The Carthay Circle Lounge features a full bar, along with menu service as well.

TIP! "World of Color" dining packages are available at lunch and dinner, for you to enjoy a special meal, and reserved viewing area for the "World of Color" show in the evening.

Best Fun Food: Corn Dog Castle
Many people will tell you the best corn dogs at the Disneyland Resort are at the Little Red Wagon in Disneyland.  The truth is, the corn dog itself is the exact same thing that is served at Corn Dog Castle in Disney California Adventure.  So why should you go here instead of the more popular Little Red Wagon?  Two reasons.  Corn Dog Castle has three batter-dipped items to choose from.  The original Corn Dog, the spicy Hot Link Corn Dog, and the Cheddar Cheese Stick.  Each item comes with sliced apples or a bag of chips. Little Red Wagon only has the original Corn Dog.

The second reason is the lines.  While Corn Dog Castle can get very busy, the lines at Little Red Wagon are ridiculous, and there's nowhere to sit.    TIP: Corn Dog Castle has ample seating to the left of the building. But if the tables are full, simply walk over to the Paradise Gardens area (next to Goofy's Sky School), where you will find plenty of tables and chairs (and shade).

BEST Meal To Share:Monte Cristo & Pommes Frites*
New Orleans Square is home to Café Orleans.  The patio seating at this restaurant provides the best view of the Rivers of America and the many people strolling along its banks.  Café Orleans is also the best place to enjoy not one, but two different versions of Disneyland's famed, deep fried Monte Cristo sandwich. The original ham, turkey and cheese version is a fan favorite.  A three-cheese version with Swiss, Mozzerella and a double creme Brie is also available.  When coupled with the garlic and parmesan infused Pommes Frites (French Fries), this lunch or dinner combo is the perfect meal for two or even three people to share.

So there you have it.  Disneyland is extra special in the hearts of many because this resort has been able to fit so much into such a compact space.  Where food is concerned, this is especially true.  I don't believe there is any place where you can find so much variety in such a small area. I'm sure you have other items that are your favorites and did not make the list.  Feel free to share them in the comments.  Maybe they will make a future list of Disney Park "Bests".
If you are planning a visit to The Disneyland Resort, and haven't experienced some, or all of these foods, bring this list along with you.

*Reservations are highly recommended for dining at Blue Bayou Restaurant, Goofy's Kitchen, Carthay Circle Restaurant and Cafe Orleans.

Jerry Vargas is an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner. For information on his free services,  CLICK HERE.

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