The Best Restaurants at Disneyland
Here are the best places to eat at Disneyland in Anaheim, California — its two theme parks, two hotels and Downtown Disney District dining and entertainment complex.
Galactic Gastronomy: Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo
You needn’t be well-versed in Jedis and nerfherders to eat like a Star Wars character. Stroll into Disneyland’s Galaxy’s Edge land and you’ll be immersed in this otherworldly realm. The counter-service Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo plates up hefty intergalactic meals such as smoked kaadu ribs with a blueberry muffin and cabbage slaw, and a meat-free Ithorian Garden Loaf “meatloaf” with mushroom sauce. For yet quicker fuel, quench your thirst in Luke Skywalker-approved style by drinking a refreshing glass of milk at the Milk Stand: blue milk – it has a fruity twist — or green milk – a orange blossom/tangerine tang — your choice. They’re not made of dairy, actually, but coconut and rice milks, so they're vegan. Get other literal tastes of Stars Wars with jerky and spicy sausage wraps at Ronto Roasters, or go boozy at Oga’s Cantina with a Bloody Rancor (like a Mary, with chile liqueur).
Hot Diggity Dog: Little Red Wagon
Forget artisan. Forget gourmet. If you really want to embrace a Disneyland vacation, head to Main Street and treat yourself to a corn dog. A humble cart called the Little Red Wagon has no dedicated page on the Disneyland website and no posted menu. All day every day, though, folks line up to have this battered and fried dog within the outfit’s petite ice cream truck-like housing. Each corn dog emerges piping hot, with a crisp outer layer and a cushiony interior. The salty frank and sweet-ish cornbread-like coating complement each other like Beauty and the Beast. Fans universally agree that this is the best corn dog ever, but if you happen to be at Disney California Adventure instead, you can get a pretty close substitute at the Corn Dog Castle.
Just Chillin’: Tiki Juice Bar
You never heard of the Tiki Juice Bar? Neither did we – until we sought out the source of Dole Whip®. As it turns out, this frosty, silky, sweet and tangy soft-serve wonder does, indeed, have a home with a name. It’s a little counter outside the Enchanted Tiki Room. In true Adventureland style, the Dole Whip is tropically flavored with pineapple. Even better, this creamy, luscious frozen treat is entirely dairy-free. We like a simple swirly cone-full, but we do see fellow Mouseketeers enjoying a Dole Whip Float. That has pineapple juice and the soft-serve. More disciplined guests order only the pineapple juice, which is also refreshing.
Enchanted Sandwich: Café Orleans
Café Orleans has welcomed hungry park-goers in New Orleans Square since 1966, yet we wouldn’t urge you to dine there based on nostalgia alone. The Monte Cristo sandwich with pommes frites is one big reason enough to recommend the old-timer. First, that sandwich: Kind of like a croque-monsieur, it is filled with turkey, ham and Swiss cheese; battered and fried; and topped with powdered sugar and pureed berries. Its partner on the plate has its own destination status. These french fries are tossed with garlic, parsley and Parmesan cheese, then served with a spicy Cajun remoulade. At lunchtime, you can get that same Monte Cristo at the more upscale Blue Bayou. The only catch: It comes with a fruit skewer instead of the fries, and it costs a bit more.
Breakfast: River Belle Terrace
Frontierland is the ultimate tribute to Americana, and the cheerful, frilly River Belle Terrace carries through in a culinary way. The wholesome edibles are satisfying all day long, yet breakfast takes the proverbial cake. This is where seasoned park-goers start their morning, fueling up on a short rib skillet with sunny-side-up eggs, Mickey Mouse pancakes and scrambled eggs with bacon and a biscuit. The riverfront view is just a bonus. Should you find yourself hankering for a patriotic repast later in the day, we’d recommend River Belle’s pimento cheese dip followed by citrus herb-crusted game hen or a beef brisket sandwich with smoked provolone and fried onions. Finish up with a maple-bacon parfait.
Regal Eats: Napa Rose (Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa)
Maybe it’s best that Napa Rose is located within a Disney hotel, not an actual theme park, so you’ll believe that it’s that special. This is a signature restaurant of the first order, winning scores of awards for its seasonal California ingredients masterfully repurposed into wowzer meals under the direction of Chef Andrew Sutton, who has been blending French techniques with American flavors there for a decade-plus. Indulge in a grilled diver scallop with porcini bacon butter-whipped potatoes; a cedar-smoked pork chop with cherry conserve and mustard potato salad; and whatever chocolate meal-ender is on offer. In the arced dining room with 20-foot vaulted ceilings and arts-and-crafts decor, you’ll face views of the faux High Sierras at Disney’s California Adventure. Choose from 1,000 wines, 80 by the glass. Can’t land a rez? Eat at the chef’s counter or in the fireplace-decked lounge. Thursday through Sunday mornings, a three-course family-style brunch features visits by princesses plus activities for your own mini royals. We’d suggest you attend just for the caramel beignets and pastel cake pops.
Shake It Up: Black Tap Craft Burgers & Shakes (Downtown Disney)
Black Tap’s burgers and shakes are the edible equivalent of an amusement park. The patties are a seven-ounce mix of Prime Black Angus brisket and chuck, with a fat ratio of 73/27. They are "griddled (not grilled)" to keep juiciness in with a seared exterior, and served on a potato bun with fries, lettuce, tomato and pickle on the side. The must-have alternative is The Greg Norman, a half-pound Wagyu patty with blue cheese, arugula, and a dilly buttermilk concoction. There are craft beers, but it’s nearly impossible to pass up a CrazyShake™. Each milkshake is topped in theatrical fashion with cookies, cakes or candies glued together with vanilla frosting. The counter-service eatery has a vibe of 50s luncheonette-meets-'80s-hip-hop. There’s a craft to making that work.
Shared Snacks: Lamplight Lounge (Disney California Adventure)
At Disney destinations, not even nachos are typical. Lamplight Lounge has developed a following for its lobster-topped nachos. This table-service gastropub with a cozy brick-and-concrete backdrop immediately became known for this dish since its 2018 opening in Pixar Pier. The setting is a tribute to all things Pixar. The nachos are a tribute to all thing irresistible — fresh lobster layered on chips with the usual black beans and cheese plus a chipotle crema and a buttery lobster cheese sauce made with house lobster stock. Whether choosing from the upstairs menu or the downstairs one (the lobster nachos are sold in both places), you can round out your meal with chile-ginger-glazed pork drumettes, Yukon potato skins with brown butter-caper yogurt and smoked paprika aioli, and tuna poke with spiced mango nectar.
Creative Californian: Carthay Circle Restaurant and Lounge (Disney California Adventure)
Architecturally, Carthay Circle Restaurant and Lounge is classic; it was designed in 1920s Spanish Revival style to resemble the legendary Carthay Circle Theatre, a now-demolished movie theater known as "The Showplace of the Golden West." This tribute is filled with Disney memorabilia. Food-wise, it’s contemporary. This chef-driven indoor-outdoor upstairs skylit restaurant and its more-casual downstairs lounge showcase locally grown produce and California’s mélange of cuisines. Start with the signature fried biscuits; they filled with a gooey combo of white cheddar, bacon and jalapeno, then plated with apricot-honey butter. After that, good luck narrowing down choices like firecracker duck wings, pan-roasted filet mignon with green peppercorn chimichurri and seasonal desserts.
Jungle Juice: Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar (Disneyland Hotel)
The tropical Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar is themed around the Jungle Cruise’s globe-trotting Trader Sam, abundant adventure. As the walls go volcanic and you chuckle at punny accent pieces, imbibe in fruity concoctions like the Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Rum, with coconut, pineapple and orange. A traveler has got to eat. Here, you can pretend it’s 1969 and share a Pu Pu Platter; this updated version has pork gyoza, chile-garlic edamame and chicken wings with togarashi aioli. At least think about trying the Hawaiian-esque fried Spam musubi with teriyaki. Or go meatless with a plant-based coconut curry lentil garden bowl.
Modern-Day Diner: Catal Restaurant (Downtown Disney)
Think of Catal Restaurant as a modern-day diner with the festive over-the-top décor of a Disneyland establishment and a thoughtful Mediterranean-inspired menu by the Patina Restaurant Group. Breakfast on chilaquiles or eggs before heading into the parks. Lunch on shrimp-octopus tostadas or ahi bruschetta and paella. Happy hour calls for blended chuck/brisket/short rib sliders. After dark, look closely at the wine, cocktail and craft beer selections that might go with your deviled eggs with sriracha aioli, oxtail pappardelle or suckling pig with mole poblano – and braised kale; this is in California, after all. Live it up with a side of gooey bacon mac 'n' cheese.