If you’re heading to Disneyland, I have done all of the taste testing for you so that can know without a doubt The Best Things to Eat at Disneyland (and what not to waste your money on).
About 25 years had passed between my first and second visits to Disneyland, so I was committed to making them count. I wanted to see, experience and eat everything I could – and I think we made a sizeable dent in the massive list of Disneyland food offerings.
To start with, I scoured Disneyland’s menus before I headed to the parks and made lists of everything I wanted to try and where it could be found. This helped immensely with planning our days, knowing how much to budget for, and we also saved time at the parks because we knew where we were headed and didn’t have to roam around reading the menus.
Oh, and before I get into this list – I should introduce the other half of the “we” I keep referring to! This is my friend and business partner, Stacey, who I run In the Kids Kitchen with. This was a totally kids-free vacation… and we decided to go to Disneyland. (Yes, my daughter has forgiven me.)
It’s borderline obscene how much food we ate while at Disneyland – but we felt it our duty as food bloggers to try as much food as humanly possible so that we could report back!
(Plus having someone to split things with made things a little bit easier.)
We tried to stick to the more foodie options that were unique to the park, and one of the best things about Disney is that you will have conventional items (for picky eaters) alongside super foodie selections on the same menu, so you don’t have to sacrifice eating great food when you have picky eaters in tow.
There were several items that we tried that did not make the list, and not necessarily because they were bad, but because they weren’t anything special. There are so many delicious food options at Disneyland, there is no need to waste time, calories and money on the boring ones!
Also – pro tip: bring Ziplock baggies and possibly a couple small empty food containers with you to the parks. While many places have to-go containers, they aren’t sealable and it can lead to a bit of a mess.
Before we get started, here are some quick facts you need to know about Disneyland (which is in California).
Disneyland is comprised of two parks: Disneyland Park and Disneyland California Adventure Park. They are side by side, facing each other.
They each offer different experiences, rides, and restaurants. Disneyland is more traditional “princesses and classic rides” while California Adventure has a lot of the modern Disney/Pixar/Marvel attractions and is a little bit more grown-up (and you can even order alcoholic drinks there).
I’ve divided this post into three parts – Disneyland recommendations, California Adventures recommendations, and a Printable Must-Eat Checklist at the bottom for you to print off and take with you to the parks.
Also, before we get to the list – I wanted to share an awesome resource with you that I use when booking my Disneyland vacation.
Get Away Today is a family-oriented travel agency that offers the ONLY refundable Disneyland tickets and they are often having amazing sales or deals.
You can book your park tickets, hotels (Disney and off-property), transportation and more activities to fill up your vacation through them – and it doesn’t cost you anything extra. (You actually usually end up saving a ton more than if you were to try to book all of these things on your own.) They are fully accredited by Disney and often offer cheaper park tickets than you can purchase directly from Disney.
Best Things to Eat at Disneyland
I spent my first morning at Disneyland by myself and decided to hit up Carnation Cafe which is one of the best breakfast spots and is conveniently located right on Main Street after you enter the park (so you don’t have to worry about getting distracted by other attractions on your way to breakfast.)
The menu here is small but they do everything well – my mouth was watering looking around at the plates on the tables around me as I waited for my pancakes. Some of the breakfast offerings include:
- Oscar’s All American Breakfast dish with eggs, potatoes, biscuit and choice of bacon or sausage
- Huevos rancheros
- Spinach and tomato egg white frittata served with a side of fruit
I had the Apple-Granola Pancakes and a Cafe Mocha. I’m actually not a huge fan of pancakes, but these were amazing!
The perfect, fluffy cinnamon apple pancakes were topped with apple pie filling and crunchy, not-too-sweet granola and served with hickory-smoked bacon. The Cafe Mocha was strong, hot and delicious – and the cup was big enough to last all breakfast.
There was both indoor and outdoor seating at this location – both were scenic and quiet.
Hands down, my favorite spot at Disneyland California was Cafe Orleans – we ate there twice on our vacation!
Cafe Orleans is adjacent to the Mint Julep Bar which is a great grab-and-go spot if you just want beignets and a coffee (or a virgin mint julep). They also offer seasonal beignet flavors.
However, if you have time for a sit-down meal, you will not regret making a reservation or stopping in at Cafe Orleans.
To start, we ordered the New Orleans Gumbo and Lobster Cobb Salad. The soup was filling and flavorful, an authentic gumbo that you can tell was started from a good roux and cooked low and slow for hours, but we both were unimpressed with the salad – it had very little lobster and we both found the dressing to have a weird aftertaste.
So, we ordered more food! And I’m so glad we did because the Garlic Parmesan Fries (“Pommes Frites“) served with a Cajun Spice Rémoulade were honestly one of the best things I have ever eaten. It’s been a couple months since we got home, and I still think of those french fries the way other women think about ex-lovers. They were that good.
Next up was the Monte Cristo sandwich – can you believe I have never eaten one of these before in my life? This sandwich was giant, super filling, and decadent – I struggled to finish a quarter of it. It was the perfect mash-up between dessert and main, and it is a Disney cult classic for good reason. (Just don’t try to finish one of these yourself and then go ride a roller coaster!)
We went back again for another order of fries and that’s when I ordered the Bread Pudding – and if my multiple visits to Ohana at the Polynesian Resort has taught me anything, it’s that Disney knows how to do bread pudding.
Also, I cannot express my complete and utter adoration of their Mint Julep which is a fresh mint lemonade. Although I was looking forward to a whiskey drink, this sweet non-alcoholic drink was so refreshing and tasty that I was not going to complain! They just started carrying a frozen version at WDW which is equally delicious, but not as prettily garnished.
After Cafe Orleans, I dragged Stacey to Pooh’s Corner because it was time for something sweet.
There were so many delicious dessert options on offer – I finally settled on the chocolate-caramel “Hunny Pot” apple and classic Tigger Tail marshmallow on a stick.
The chocolate-caramel apple used a granny smith so it was that perfect combination of tart and sweet, plus the presentation was amazing.
I wasn’t overly excited for the Tigger Tail but figured I should try it since it was a classic and I was pleasantly surprised to find that between the candy-chocolate coating and the marshmallow, there was a thin layer of honey-caramel. It was such a fun and unexpected touch for a Pooh-themed dessert.
Because we didn’t get our lobster fix at Cafe Orleans, we decided to hit up the Harbor Galley. It has shorter hours than some of the other restaurants in the park, so it’s a good option for lunch or an early supper (just check the times if you are really hoping to eat there).
We went for the Lobster Roll and Lobster Galley Chips, which were basically Lobster NACHOS!
Both menu items had a generous amount of lobster and the lobster roll was incredibly satisfying – a perfectly buttered and toasted roll with a generous cup of perfectly seasoned, cold lobster meat – and the price was phenomenal ($15 at the time of this writing). I was apprehensive about the Lobster Galley Chips but they really worked and were totally addictive. If you’re only going to buy one item, I would recommend the Lobster Roll as the better of the two.
Ooh, and I cannot forget about that Gold Port Galley Lemonade – all-natural frozen passion fruit-lemonade with a mango pineapple sugar. So refreshing!
Some other delicious desserts we found around the park included the classic Dole Whip Float (check out our grown-up version here) from the Tiki Juice Bar – my favorite thing is to buy one and then watch the show at the Tiki Room while I enjoy it.
The Rose Raspberry Macaron from Jolly Holiday Bakery was a revelation – and I don’t use that word lightly. The taste was bright, clean and pleasantly floral. I’ve had lots of rose-flavored treats and I generally find them gross (and do not enjoy the smell of rose water at all) but this macaron was amazing. After trying this, I invested in a great quality rose extract for my own experimenting – this is one area where the quality of the ingredients makes or breaks the recipe.
This macaron is huge – two giant Mickey-head cookies held together by a raspberry rose buttercream and stuffed with 8-10 raspberries. (It’s Disney’s take on the classic French dessert, Isaphan.)
I also loved the Matterhorn Coconut Macaroon and Frosted Sugar Cookies, but if you only get one thing from Jolly Holiday, it needs to be that raspberry rose macaron!
(Jolly Holiday also has several other baked items as shown below and a great priced soup combo, but the soup on offer that day didn’t appeal to me.)
Red Rose Taverne
The famous Grey Stuff can be purchased at Red Rose Taverne, and I opted for the Grey Stuff Gateau which was served on a shortbread cookie and had a surprise filling of red velvet cake. If you’ve never had Grey Stuff, it’s a rich cookies n’cream frosting-meets-pudding. It is a classic, but to be honest it didn’t wow me like some of the other snacks on this list did. It’s a nice-to-try, not a must-try.
(They also have the Gaston Famous Brew which is a frozen Apple-Mango Punch topped with Passion Fruit Foam, but as you’ll see in a moment, I already planned on having two other frozen apple juices that day so I skipped it.)
It was pretty hot the week that we were there, so I was thankful for plenty of frozen drinks!
Edelweiss Snack Cart offers the Frozen Fanta Blue Raspberry and Minute Maid Frozen Apple Juice, in addition to the Chili-Lime Corn on the Cob and the infamous Turkey Legs.
Some people go crazy for the turkey legs – I’m not a big fan of turkey in the first place so it’s not for me, I found it way too salty and not to mention awkward. The corn looked amazing and gets lots of rave reviews so I’ll have to try that next time.
The frozen drinks were awesome though – and surprisingly, I liked the Blue Raspberry the most. The apple juice has a slightly carbonated taste almost like a cider beer which could be a turn-off for some people.
(The Salted Caramel Mochachino in the middle of the above picture was from the Ghiradhelli Chocolate Factory in California Advnture. Divine and so rich that I couldn’t finish it!)
So, I debated including this one on the list… you could say I have a bit of a “beef” with this Grilled Pork Belly Skewer with Hoisin Sauce, Pickled Carrots and Daikon topped with Cilantro.
Disney gets a bad rep for being “expensive” and I honestly do not find that to be the case. I actually find prices in the park to be super reasonable, especially when compared to other parks. You can get a full meal, including drinks and dessert, for under $20 at most quick service locations and even for $12 at some.
But this skewer?
It cost $6.
(And can I call your attention to the size of the skewer compared to my hand – my hand that fits into children’s sized winter gloves with ease?)
It was also my first food stop at Disneyland, so I can see how for a new-to-Disney person it would give a bad impression of the prices to expect at Disney – and that’s my issue.
The skewer was absolutely delicious – but you should get two skewers for the price.
The Plaza Inn
Ah, a return to Disney’s usual amazing prices 😉
For less than $18, we got three pieces of the best fried chicken, mashed potatoes, a buttermilk biscuit, a good serving of green beans and a side of gravy. We were planning on splitting a corn dog after this but neither of us had room even after splitting this. We didn’t love the super-oniony gravy – but the crunchy, tender chicken more than made up for it. Honestly, some of the best fried chicken I’ve ever had.
Best Things to Eat at California Adventure
The Food and Wine Festival was going on while we were at California Adventure so we didn’t eat as many of the “standard” items as we could have, instead tasting some of the unique offerings from the temporary carts.
Also, Pixar Pier was closed and most of the food that I had planned on trying was from restaurants located there so I was a bit thrown off.
I definitely need to revisit and expand on this section, but we still managed to try a decent amount of items – mostly from Cars Land!
The Banana Corn Dog is the dessert selection at this walk-up at California Adventure. You get two plus two dipping sauces for $6
This item seems to be controversial, but I think it was delicious – I’m a fan of Elvis sandwiches and fried bananas, so if you are, too, you’ll like this.
Flo’s V8 Cafe
We ate breakfast and dessert here – and neither were disappointing.
We ordered the Chicken Tamale breakfast (with Scrambled Eggs, Salsa Verde, and Pico de Gallo), Brioche French Toast (with Salted Caramel Sauce and Bananas) and of course, Cars Waffles!
The chicken tamale was good and filling but a bit bland for our palates and we couldn’t get enough of the French Toast. (The waffles are always a solid choice at Disney.)
For dessert, the handpies at Flo’s divided us. I liked the Apple Cheddar Pie (I always melt cheddar cheese on my apple pie) and Stacey liked the Mud Pie which was like a brownie with a pudding centre. I think it would benefit from being served warm and will definitely ask for it warmed the next time.
I had to treat myself to a Hand-dipped Ice Cream Bar from Clarabelle’s. You can top it any way you want – which is a ton of fun for kids (and kids at heart).
Cozy Cones Motel
More amazing frozen drinks: I loved the Vodka and Pomegranate Limeade and Red’s Apple Freeze. I love how Disney plays with it’s menu items and makes such cool concepts accessible.
The pasta in the Bacon Mac and Cheese Served in a Bread Cone was good, but the smoky bacon reminded me a bit too much of the smell of dog food (I’m not a fan of bacon bits either). Next time I want to try the Chile or Pulled Pork versions.
So many delicious beers, wines and pastries at this traditional beer garden adjacent to California Adventure’s Pixar Pier. The Bavarian Pretzel is perfect (and puts the less-flavorful Mickey pretzels to shame) while I also really enjoyed this caramel-custard filled dessert bun.
Rancho Del Zocalo
We were pretty stuffed but we both loved the Citrus Fire Grilled Chicken – it’s a nice change of pace if you want to sit down in the air conditioning for a meal. Everything sounded amazing so I’ll definitely expand this review once we return and can try a few new menu items.
I’m giving an honorable mention to the Cove Bar’s secret menu which looked absolutely amazing but the bar was closed when we visited. I cannot wait to return so I can eat all.the.things.
These are foods that I researched and sounded great, but we never got around to them. Some of these items simply weren’t there when we visited, and some restaurants/items we just didn’t have time or room to stuff in!
- French Market – French dip sandwich, Peach Cobbler
- Hungry Bear – Honey Bee Frozen Lemonade
- Market House – Breakfast Sandwich and Jelly Donut
- Red Rose Taverne – Gaston punch, Maurice Cheesy bread
- Red Rocketts – Chewbacca Cheesecake
- Royal Street Veranda – New Orleans Fritters
- Red Wagon Cart – Hand Dipped Corn Dog
- Pacific Wharf Cafe – Clam Chowder in a Bread Bowl
Grab your free printable checklist for the Best Things to Eat at Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure.
BTW, if you want to laminate this (to prevent water damage or re-use it) this is the laminator I use, and I just buy the super cheap packages of laminate sheets from Amazon. It costs about 13 cents a sheet to laminate which lets us get so much use out of anything we print out, and prevents travel papers from getting damaged.
Pin this Post for Your Future Disneyland Vacation Planning:
I hope this in-depth guide to the best food at Disneyland and California Adventure – and if you’re looking for a more succinct list, be sure to check out my top 12 Must-Eat Disneyland Foods here.