Best Restaurants at Disneyland – A Review

When I think about finding the best restaurants at Disneyland, a line from an old Steely Dan song pops into my head:

I spent a lot of money and I spent a lot of time!  

Both these things are true.  I have spent many an hour on the Los Angeles Chowhound boards, hoping to discover Disneyland dining secrets; I’ve also plunked down outrageous amounts for terrible food in the Park.

The thing is, people don’t go to Disneyland for the food.  But if you know where to look, you can find hidden gems.  Here is a list of the best places we’ve found, complete with reviews.

Little Red Wagon

A cult favorite.  Expect to find a line here, unless you go early or late.  We rolled up to the wagon at 11:30, which was perfect timing: there was no line, and we were able to sit right down at one of the three tables in back.  By the time we left, however, there were at least 20 people waiting.

 

 

We ordered 4 corn dogs and 3 large drinks, for a total of $37.96.  Service was friendly and speedy.  The corn dogs were very salty; the batter was light and fluffy: a delicious combo.  In my opinion the dogs could have been hotter and crispier.

 

 

Big Thunder Ranch BBQ

All-You-Can-Eat BBQ Cowboy Style!  At dinner in this rustic ranch setting, your server will bring you endless helpings of barbeque chicken and ribs, smoked sausages, cole slaw, Ranch beans, corn wheels and cornbread.  If you’ve got a vegetarian in your group, you can also get tofu/veggie skewers.

Dessert is available for an additional cost. You can order up an extravaganza of ranch hand sundaes and old fashioned ice cream floats, seasonal cobblers, fresh strawberry shortcake or…a family-style cookie bake topped with vanilla bean ice cream and hot fudge!  (The cookie bake is a must).

As you chow down, listen to toe-tappin’ country music.

Standouts here are the ribs (very flavorful, with the meat literally falling off the bone), and the cornbread (baked in cute little loaves).

This place gets very busy, so it’s a good idea to make a reservation.  Even with a reservation, expect to wait at least 15 minutes before being seated.
You can make a reservation up to 60 days in advance by contacting Disney Dining:
  • (714) 781-3463 (DINE), option 4
  • dine@disneyland.com

 

Tiki Juice Bar

Take a vacation to a tropical paradise where tangy pineapples are the main ingredient for an assortment of refreshing treats — including pineapple whips, spears and juices. Hosted by Dole®.  Located at the entrance to the Tiki Room.

SUCH a great indulgence on a hot Disneyland day!  The whips are tangy and creamy, the pineapple juice is ice-cold, and if you enjoy them together (in a float), the result is heavenly.

Tip: walk around the corner and you can usually find a seat at the Plaza Pavilion, which faces Main Street.

 

Bengal BBQ

Sink your fangs into savory skewers of beef, chicken, veggies and bacon-wrapped asparagus. Delectable desserts are also available to satisfy sweet-tooth cravings at this wild counter-service restaurant. This is located across from the Jungle Cruise/Indiana Jones. There are tables to stand at, or you can eat at one of the benches in Adventureland.

We ordered 4 beef skewers.  While they were a good protein-packed choice, the quality and deliciousness factors were pretty low.  However, they were perfect in the moment.

 

Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar – at the Disneyland Hotel

We could hear the melodic harmonizing of the two Hawaiian musicians from the edges of the resort grounds. It was an enticing scene: balmy evening, tiki torches, outdoor lounge seating. We chose a comfortable spot close to the music and settled back to enjoy the ambiance.

Our server arrived moments later with bar menus. I noticed that there were no drink prices printed on the menus, but we decided to throw caution to the wind and order “blind.”I had a Shipwreck on the Rocks, Bird had a Jungle River Sunset , Bear got a Schweitzer Falls, and Josh settled on the Skipper Sipper. Our drinks arrived almost instantly, and they were delicious.

 

In the meantime, the kids chose cheeseburgers and Josh and I decided to split a cheeseburger and a plate of chicken lettuce wraps. Again, the food was brought to our table super quickly. The burgers hit the spot. They were loaded with goodies (bacon, pineapple, lettuce , and tomato) and paired with crispy sweet potato fries. They were good, but not the kind of burger that inspires a cult following or anything: a perfect choice for an Indian summer night at Disneyland. The lettuce wraps were sub-par. Ground chicken served in a cloyingly sweet sauce, five butter lettuce leaves, and a couple of tablespoons of crispy rice noodles…not worth the $10.

While the service had been prompt and attentive for the first part of our meal, the second part was marred by a complete lack of service. Finally, Josh and the kids left while I waited for someone – anyone – to appear, which took forrreeevvvver.

Total cost, including gratuity: $96.  All in all, I would say that this was worth it for the ambiance.

 

Plaza Inn

Go for the Fried Chicken.

 

Hungry Bear Restaurant

The best thing here is the Fried Green Tomato Sandwich (cornmeal crusted fried green tomatoes layered with two slices of fresh heirloom tomatoes, topped with havarti, remoulade, jicama-mango slaw and served on a multi-grain roll).  Served with sweet potato fries or zesty slaw, it’s a nice departure from the typical “park food.”

If you’re looking for a healthy option for your kids, try the Kid’s POWER Pack – with string cheese, Nonfat yogurt, sliced apples and Whole-Grain “fish” crackers.

Tip: you can sit above, or find a spot downstairs near the river and watch the boats and canoes go by.

Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop – at California Adventure

All I can say about this place is mmmmm!!

As we walked in, we were greeted by an employee who was handing out samples of Ghirardelli chocolate, which was creamy and delicious.  Everything on the extensive menu sounded like perfection; we finally made some tough choices, then found a table outside.

YUM.  I cannot emphasize that enough.  Here is why:

  • huge scoops of creamy ice cream
  • fresh, thick, perfectly whipped cream
  • generous scoops of nuts
  • thick, rich sauces
Yum, yum, double yum.  Our 4 treats came to $36.42.

 

 

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