I wanted to share some of the dining experiences Lee and I have had at the Disneyland resort over the last few months. The big one was the Blue Bayou Fantasmic! Dinner Package, but you can read about that HERE.
We tend to go more for quick service dining than table service...while we have some favorites, we try to sample some different things sometimes...though in looking back over the past few months I see we've mostly stayed with the tried and true. :-)
If you read this blog before, then you probably know that we are really into running Disney races. And of course what we eat before (and after) the races is very important! :-)
Our favorite "night-before-the-race" dinner is the Four Cheese Ravioli from Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta at Disney California Adventure. This restaurant tends not to be as crowded as Redd Rocket's in Disneyland - and the latter doesn't offer ravioli. :-) The ravioli is served with pesto sauce and topped with chopped tomatoes and pine nuts. The cast members serving ask if you want the tomatoes and nuts, so it's easy to omit them. I find this to be about the right portion size for me. I do wish that bread came with it. I have sometimes purchased a loaf from either La Brea Bakery or Pacific Wharf Cafe and brought some pieces with me to dinner.
One note on Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta: it used serve individual flatbread pizzas, but around last September switched to more traditional pizza slices with a thicker crust. Lee was very disappointed in that - he really liked the flatbread pizzas.
But you can still get flatbread pizza at one of our other favorite places: Trader Sam's. Or Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Bar, to give it the full name! It's located at the Disneyland Hotel next to the pools in a building shared with the Tangaroa Terrace quick-service restaurant. Trader Sam's has seating both inside and out on the patio. To really experience all of the fun things you have to be inside, but there's often quite a line for indoor seating. It's usually faster to eat outside.
Trader Sam's is known for its specialty beverages that are served in various different souvenir tiki glasses (you have the option to purchase the glass to take home if you wish, but you don't have to). I love the names - things like: Hippopoto-Mai tai, Uh-oa (pictured below), Shrunken Zombie Head, and the Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Rum. (Some of the servers will make you say all of that last one when you order it. :-) )
The food is good, too. Some of the items are the same as those at Tangaroa Terrace next door, but some are only at Trader Sam's. One of my favorite Trader Sam's exclusives is the Chicken Lettuce Wraps. This can be most of a dinner for me. The sauce is spicy (but not hot-spicy) and flavorful. You put it together yourself - it comes with 4-5 butter lettuce cups and then you spoon in the chicken, crispy rice noodles, and sauce and roll it all up. It's messy, but good!
Lee's favorite is the Kalua Pork Flatbread, with pulled pork, red onion, and bbq sauce. I agree that this is very tasty!
We also enjoy the Panko-Crusted Chinese Long Beans. I had no idea what these were the first time we ordered them, but they are really good.
Trader Sam's is a table service location. Our experience is that service is often slow, but it's also been very busy when we've been there, and they always seem to be understaffed. I've had good service when I've been able to sit right at the bar.
Once we've finished one of our Disney races we get cleaned up and are ready for a good breakfast. Our favorite park breakfast is Cinnamon Roll French Toast from River Belle Terrace at Disneyland. It's served with scrambled eggs and choice of bacon or sausage. It's really a good amount of food and it tastes great after running a race!
Another popular choice at River Belle Terrace is the Mark Twain: scrambled eggs, potatoes, biscuit, and choice of bacon or sausage. I don't like the potatoes because there's peppers in them, but they'll substitute extra bacon or sausage for the potatoes.
Flo's V8 Cafe in Cars Land offers some different breakfast items. It's not my top choice, but if we're eating there I usually get the Chicken Tamale with scrambled eggs, salsa verde, and pico de gallo. The tamale is good but the eggs at Flo's have a weird consistency - they seem to be cooked in big casserole pans and they don't really seem like scrambled eggs.
The Brioche French Toast is more like a bread pudding. It's served with salted caramel sauce and bananas, and it's very sweet - too sweet for me.
There's also the traditional American Breakfast with scrambled eggs, potatoes, biscuit, and choice of bacon or sausage. Again, the eggs are a bit odd, and they also put peppers in the potatoes. This is a decent-sized breakfast, at least, whereas I find the tamale and French Toast to be not quite enough food for me.
I really like sandwiches, and Earl of Sandwich in Downtown Disney makes some very good ones - including breakfast sandwiches. I really enjoy their seasonal holiday turkey sandwich, with cranberries, stuffing, and gravy. Earl of Sandwich is a very popular place and the line is usually long, though they move people through pretty efficiently.
But we were talking breakfast. The last time we were there we both ordered the bacon, egg, and cheddar breakfast sandwich (though I requested Swiss instead of cheddar). The sandwich was good but not great. It's also about half the size of their regular sandwiches, so keep that in mind. Of course the price is lower, too - $3.99.
One of our favorite afternoon spots is the Alfresco Tasting Terrace at the Golden Vine Winery in Disney California Adventure. It's open very limited hours, though - doesn't open until 2:00 in the afternoon, and sometimes is only open on the weekends. The seating area is outdoors, and while it's covered with an open lattice-style patio cover, it's not totally shaded, and can be very warm. There's really a wonderful view from some of the tables, though, and it's a very relaxed and quiet spot.
The Disney Family of Wines is featured there: all of the wines that are offered are from wineries with some kind of Disney connection. So that includes wines from Diane Disney Miller's Silverado Vineyards, Kurt Russell's GoGi, the Lasseter Family Winery, and Fess Parker Winery, among others. Wines can be purchased by the glass or as part of designated wine flights (no substitutions in the wine flights).
They also serve a selection of appetizers inspired by wine country. These are upscale offerings, things like Beef Tenderloin Sliders and a Charcuterie and Cheese Board.
One of our favorites is the Aged Cheddar Risotto Bites. Balls of risotto and cheese, rolled in something crunchy and deep-fried. Not at all healthy, but SO good! They come with two dipping sauces - a garlic-herb aioli and a marinara. The marinara is more like a very flavorful tomato chutney. I love it - I'll eat it by the spoonful after all of the risotto bites are gone.
Our other favorite is the Flatbread Two Ways. Have you noticed the flatbread theme in our dining choices? :-) I think this is supposed to be seasonal, but we've had it three times over the last 6 months and it's always been the same - not that we're complaining, because we like it! It's a half-and-half - one half is fig, arugula, and apple sticks, drizzled with balsamic, and the other half is tomato, olive, and crisp prosciutto. Really good.
While the wines and beverages are served quickly here (the bar is on the terrace), the kitchen tends to be very slow. The last time we were there our order got messed up - another table, who had arrived after us, but apparently ordered the same thing, received it. Our server wasn't paying much attention to us and didn't know it until we asked her what was taking so long. We got lots of apologies, and one of our appetizers was comped, but it was not a very good experience. Had it been our first time there, we might not have returned.
Also at the Golden Vine Winery is the Mendocino Wine Bar. Lots of different wines available by the glass - a much larger selection than at the Alfresco Lounge upstairs. If I'm indulging I usually order one of the sparkling wines, like a prosecco or the Rosa Regale. A somewhat small (and I think overpriced) cheese and fruit box is the only food option. There's some outdoor seating available there on the patio between the Wine Country Trattoria and the Blue Sky Cellar.
If I'm just looking for something sweet...Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop is my first choice. You get a chocolate sample just for walking in, though lately they've switched to their "minis" rather than the full-size chocolate squares. Of course there's all kinds of treats on the menu here - ice cream sundaes, cones, milkshakes and floats, cookies and brownies, hot and cold coffee beverages, and several types of hot cocoa, too. My favorite is the Midnight Reverie sundae: chocolate ice cream, dark chocolate fudge sauce, semi-sweet chocolate chips, whipped cream and a cherry. Oh, and a dark chocolate square on top. Heaven if you love dark chocolate! I've always found the service here to be pretty quick. The only time it wasn't was a very cold evening when almost everyone was ordering hot coffee and cocoa, and they just couldn't make them fast enough.
Another sweet indulgence is the Mickey-head Beignets from the Mint Julep Bar in Disneyland. The regular ones are good, but I prefer to get them in the fall when there are usually pumpkin or gingerbread beignets available. The last time we got these we had a long wait - we were in line for 10 minutes just to order, and then had to wait another 10-15 minutes for our beignets. They were really good, but maybe not quite worth that much of a wait. One word of warning: Do Not Inhale! You can't actually breathe powdered sugar. :-)
One snack item that I haven't tried but I have to mention: the Crunchy Snowman Veggie Cup, available for $3.99 at some of the fruit stands. It's got slices of jicama, black olives, carrots, and celery, and a cup of ranch dressing.
I had an early dinner at Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe in Disneyland recently. I tried their Specialty of the House - Jolly Holiday Combo - a toasted cheese sandwich with tomato basil soup and a small side salad. Now, when you call something a "specialty of the house", I have higher expectations, so I was very disappointed in this. The sandwich was only barely warm and the cheese was definitely not melted - just a little bit soft. I enjoyed the soup and the salad was also very good - it had feta, spiced pecans, tomatoes, and craisins on top of the greens.
We had lunch at the Carthay Circle Restaurant a couple of months ago. The menu there changes seasonally, so what I enjoyed is probably not still on the menu, but is still an example of the types of selections that are available. I started with the Carthay Autumn Salad - mizuna, pears, spiced pecans, and a charred orange vinaigrette. It was very good.
I also ordered the Carthay Soup of the Season - roasted apples with wild rice, kohlrabi, Nueske's ham and duck confit. I couldn't tell you what kohlrabi is, or what it tastes like, but I really liked the soup. Lots of interesting flavors, so maybe one of those was the kohlrabi. :-)
Lee ordered the Carthay 8 oz Angus Burger - with cheddar cheese, pepper bacon and grilled onions. It's served with French fries. Lee says it was a really good burger - and I thought the fries were excellent.
It was a very nice dining experience - it's a beautiful restaurant, and doesn't feel like it's in the middle of a theme park.
If you've dined at these or any other Disneyland Resort restaurants, please share your experiences in our Rate and Review section.