Food is an attraction in its own right at Disneyland. There are long lines for the most popular treats like Dole Whip or turkey legs, and you can buy all sorts of snack-themed merchandise, in everything from pins to tees to plushies. When you’re spending a whole day or more at one place, you need a lot of options and the parks provide them in spades.
But what are the best eats at Disneyland? With so many options, park goers are faced with endless choices for breakfast, lunch, snacks, dinner, and late-night munchies, and it can be hard to narrow them down. These are eight of the best foods available at the Disney parks, a foodie bucket list of sorts.
Of course, there’s a lot of personal taste that comes into deciding what makes the “Best Food” at Disneyland. Some people are crazy about Lamplight Lounge’s Lobster Nachos; others can’t leave without their turkey leg. The beauty of a day at Disney park is the variety and the opportunity to eat lots of different types of things. This list is a great starting point to make your own bucket list of eats.
When you’re looking to stop for a while and get delicious food that will fill you up and keep you going, head for these meals.
Monte Cristo at Cafe Orleans
This is one of the most indulgent sandwiches out there. A fluffy deep-fried delight of ham, turkey, and Swiss dusted with powdered sugar and served with maple syrup, it’s a melty blend of sweet, salty, and savory flavors. Disney changes up what it is served with; it might be maple syrup, or a tart berry purée.
Not only is it delicious, Disneyland’s Monte Cristo is a very generous size. You can order it at the casual Cafe Orleans (around $21) or the more upscale Blue Bayou restaurant (lunch only, about $30) in New Orleans Square.
At either location the sandwich is pretty much identical, but Cafe Orleans has the edge: it’s a little easier to get a table, although reservations are recommended for both, and because they also offer the Three-Cheese Monte Cristo, which swaps the meat for ultra-creamy mozzarella and brie. Which sandwich should you go for?
It’s hard to say, but you can count on either to make a great lunch at Disneyland.
Fried chicken at the Plaza Inn
The Plaza Inn itself is a delight to eat in, with glamorous pink-tinted Victorian interiors and a sprawling terrace with a view of the castle. There are some solid options on the menu, with a great pot roast and desserts, but if you are in any doubt as to what to order, go with the fried chicken plate.
For one, it’s huge. Three pieces of chicken, a hearty dollop of mashed potatoes, plenty of vegetables, and a biscuit, all covered in gravy, will easily feed two. It’s also absolutely delicious. Fried chicken is an American classic just like Disneyland, so the two together just fit. It’s tender, juicy, perfectly seasoned, and a crowd-pleaser for your entire party.
You can order this for lunch or dinner for about $18, and while reservations are not needed for the cafeteria-style service, you might want to stake out a table, especially during busy periods.
These lighter bites are the best things around to start a meal off right, or for some relaxed snacking in a beautiful location. Is it a coincidence that the items on this list so far have been fried? Maybe, but Disneyland certainly knows their way around batter and hot oil.
Whether it is country-style comfort food like the simple fried chicken platter, or the more gourmet options below, these indulgent options have rightfully earned their spot on this list.
Pommes frites at Cafe Orleans
In French, this simply means fried potatoes, but these thin fries are anything but simple. At New Orleans Square’s Cafe Orleans, these would make a great starter for a meal of shrimp and grits or the famed Monte Cristo. For about $8, they come out fresh and hot, tossed in a delicious parmesan, garlic, and herb mixture. Dip them in the Cajun remoulade sauce they’re served with.
Again, this is a generous portion and great for sharing (but no shame in keeping them all for yourself… they’re that tasty). Cafe Orleans is a lovely place for lunch or dinner no matter what you order, with its lively French Quarter ambience, well-appointed dining room, and outdoor tables. Again, reservations are highly recommended but you might have luck walking up if you go at an off-peak eating time.
Carthay Signature Fried Biscuits at Carthay Circle
The Carthay Circle restaurant in California Adventure is one of several fine dining spots at the Disneyland resort and the only one in the parks themselves (not including the ultra-exclusive Club 33). It boasts a lounge and restaurant inspired by the original Snow White theatre in Los Angeles, with art deco interiors and luxurious Disney stylings throughout.
The menu changes seasonally, but a mainstay item on their starter menu is the fried biscuits, which are similar to hush puppies but star a melting inside of white cheddar, bacon, and jalapeños, to be slathered with the apricot-honey butter served alongside.
They are an incredible mix of umami flavors that the sweet spread brings out to perfection. While the food at Carthay Circle seems to be excellent all across the board, it is these biscuits and the signature cocktails that have guests raving and coming back for more.
Make sure you make reservations well in advance for the restaurant, as they are not available at the lounge, which has a separate kitchen and menu.
Because it’s Disneyland, there is no dress code for the Carthay Circle, which sees people in everything from shorts and Mickey ears to Disney-bounding finery, but because the ambience is elegant and upscale, you might want to consider snazzing up your wardrobe a bit for this dining experience.
Tip: the outside terrace has one of California Adventure’s best views of the Disneyland fireworks by the castle, if you can time your reservation to the show.
It’s impossible to go to Disneyland and not satisfy your sweet tooth. With churros and cotton candy around every corner, it’s easy to do, but hold out for one of these amazing desserts and you won’t be disappointed.
Dole Whip at the Tiki Juice Bar
Some people come to Disneyland solely for the Dole Whip. So what is it? It’s essentially pineapple soft serve ice cream, but it is so much more. It’s tangy, it’s sweet, it’s creamy, and it’s the perfect refreshing sweet on a hot day. Its cult following has earned it a spot on this list of best foods, especially when you realize that there many different ways to get your Dole Whip fix.
Some people go for the classic flavor, while others want to Float it, by adding fresh pineapple juice and placing a cherry on top. Get this at the Tiki Juice Bar in Adventureland, or sneak over to the new Tropical Hideaway to try the orange, raspberry, or swirl flavors.
The original is a classic for a reason, however, and is well worth the try. (If you’re able to make it over to the Disneyland Hotel’s Coffee House, you can get it with a splash of rum for a boozy tropical treat.) Order on the mobile app to skip the line.
Hand-dipped ice cream bars at Clarabella’s
Make sure you don’t confuse the California Adventure ice cream store, Clarabelle’s Hand-Scooped Ice Cream, with Clarabelle’s Snack Stand in Mickey’s Toontown. The Toontown place mostly serves frozen yogurt and some healthier snack options, while Clarabelle’s in California Adventure is an ice cream lover’s dream.
Anything you get here will be fantastic, and you’d be smart to go with several people so you can sample a bit of everything, or get the giant “kitchen sink” sundae to share.
Some highlights of the menu include the Mangonada, which is ripe mango sorbet under layers of fresh, spicy Mexican flavors like tangy Chamoy sauce, fresh mango, lime juice, and chili powder. You can also booze up your ice cream by ordering the Mich-Helado, made by pouring beer over sweet and savory sorbets and adding tamarind sauce.
But the real crowd pleasers are the custom-made ice cream bars. It’s an easy process… if you can make your mind up about the endless options. You choose your ice cream base, which could include vanilla, chocolate, dark chocolate, or a fresh berry sorbet, and decide what type of chocolate you want to dip it in.
After the crunchy chocolate coating has been applied, you can choose the toppings. Whether you want sprinkles, chocolate chips, Mickey confetti, candy pop rocks, and more, the choice is up to you. You can even go “the Whole Herd” and ask for all the toppings. If you want a unique, fun, and utterly (or should we say “udderly”?) delicious ice cream treat, skip the carts of Mickey bars and get yourself to Clarabelle’s.
“The Grey Stuff” Gateau at Red Rose Taverne
Anyone who knows the Disney classic Beauty and the Beast will know why this on a Disneyland menu, and might start singing along when they order it. “Try the Grey Stuff, it’s delicious. Don’t believe me, ask the dishes!” With a description like that, Disneyland had a lot to live up to when they put it on the menu at this Fantasyland eatery, but they did it very well.
But what is it exactly? The Grey Stuff itself is white chocolate mousse with dark chocolate cookie crumbles… essentially Oreo-flavored mousse.
This is piped beautiful onto a red velvet cake with a raspberry jam center, placed on a scalloped shortbread cookie, and dusted with edible pearls of sugar. It’s as beautiful as it is delicious, fitting for the movie it comes from. The raspberry gives the sweetness a tangy kick, and it’s a great combination of some favorite sweet and creamy flavors.
One of the most magical desserts at Disneyland, any Belle or Beast should head over to Fantasyland to satisfy their sweet tooth.
Let’s begin with food at the Bengal Barbecue.
Skewers at Bengal Barbecue
Sometimes at Disneyland, you’ll need a filling, nutritious, tasty pick-me-up, somewhere between a snack and a meal. Vegetarians and meat eaters alike will find a perfect option at Adventureland’s Bengal Barbecue. Whether you get the vegetable skewer, the tender chicken in sweet Polynesian sauce or the Banyan Beef Skewer, they are relatively healthy for a Disney park snack, and yet indulgent too.
All the meats are grilled and lightly dressed in sauce. Of course, the most popular version of these portable treats are the sticks loaded with bacon and asparagus. Bacon, of course, makes eating your vegetables 100% better. Bengal Barbecue often comes out with new seasonal varieties like pork belly, and these are always worth a try.
Adventureland makes a perfect setting for these budget-friendly skewers (they’re around $5, more for the meat versions), with the animal calls, jungle trees, and, of course, Dole Whip around the corner to finish off your snack break.
The options above outline some of the best year-round foods available at the Disneyland parks but the food is always changing due to season and event. Christmas especially brings a huge wave of new treats to the park (it changes every year; here’s a look at 2018’s offerings).
Some standouts that will hopefully return include:
- Lox and everything bagel nachos (California Adventure Festival of Holidays)
- Vanilla and cranberry trifle (Festival of Holidays)
- Holiday stuffing mac’n’cheese (Festival of Holidays)
- Chocolate peppermint shake (Flo’s V8 Cafe)
- Specialty holiday cocktails (Carthay Circle Restaurant and Lounge)
- Hand-pulled candy canes (limited supplies, Main Street, USA)
- Coconut cream pie (Plaza Inn)
Have you tried any of the year-round or classic Disneyland foods? What will be on your Disney food bucket list?
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