Disneyland Resort Unique Eats: Beyond the Turkey Legby Lisa Stiglic, contributing writer
Every guest has a favorite at the Disneyland Resort. Some go for the attractions, some for the pin-trading, maybe for the characters. But for me, it's all about the food. Churros, Mickey Mouse pretzels, and the almighty King Henry VIII mobile meal: the turkey leg. This mountain of meat is so popular with guests it even has its own shirt!
But what about the fried pickles, the lobster nachos and shrimp po' boys? Fried pickles? Disneyland has fried pickles? Maybe it's time to rest the turkey leg and get your own leg up on some unique eats hidden throughout Disneyland and Disney California Adventure.
Food locations abound in the Disneyland Resort, so I'm choosing to highlight a few not-so-known edibles that are sure to be added to every guest's favorites list.
If you're starting your day in Disneyland, head to New Orleans Square, straight to the beignets. I actually just discovered these last year (which is a bit sad considering I spent three years as a cast member and worked in New Orleans Square). These Mickey Mouse-shaped, deep-fried donut delights are at the walk-up Mint Julep Bar window, or you can order them inside Cafe Orleans.
Window-side, they come in a paper bag filled with powdered sugar, and half of the fun of eating these tasty treats is the mess you'll make. During Halloween time, you can choose a pumpkin version, and December offers a candy cane flavor. Oh, and try the mint julep with them; it's a great way to start the day.
And lunch? Visit Cafe Orleans, which offers up a fried-green tomato sandwich served with slaw and fresh fruit. If you want to expand your Southern travels, then try next door at French Market Cafe, where you can dine on the fried shrimp po' boy sandwich—crunchy schrimp with a citrus caper spread piled on a buttery roll.
My favorite discovery is at Harbour Galley right across from the Splash Mountain entrance. It's tucked away near the dock of the Sailing Ship Columbia. This menu offers seafood fare including lobster bisque and lobster roll, which was my choice of the day. Seating can be a bit iffy at this location, so if you're unable to secure a table, the neighboring Hungry Bear Restaurant has plenty.
Fortunately, both Harbour Galley and Hungry Bear are scheduled to remain open during the 2016 renovations taking place along Rivers of America.
The aforementioned fried pickles? Try Carnation Cafe on Main Street. The Cafe changed menus a few years ago when the Main Street Bakery relocated to what is now Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe. The Carnation Cafe expanded with more seating inside and a menu that now boasts comfort foods, like Walt Disney's favorites meatloaf and fried chicken. The panko and Parmesan-encrusted pickle spears come with a tasty house sauce. Just make sure you have plenty of napkins—they can be a bit messy.
Disney California Adventure (DCA) park
Since the inception of Disneyland Resort's second park, food locations have come and gone the way of the California boardwalk (MaliBurritos, anyone?). Wolfgang Puck and Robert Mondavi have both attempted eateries within DCA, but neither stayed for the duration. After a decade, things have settled nicely, and this park has some fabulous food finds if you look hard enough.
Cars Land has the big E-ticket attraction. Go for Radiator Springs Racers, but stay for the brioche French toast at Flo's V-8 Cafe. After you grab a Fastpass for Racers, pop in to Flo's and order this delectable breakfast sensation of baked, fluffy goodness topped with salted caramel sauce and bananas. There is plenty of seating here, too. I opt to go outside to enjoy the optical illusion of dining in the middle of Radiator Springs while watching the racers fly by.
If lunch is on the menu, definitely stop in at the Cove Bar in Paradise Pier. I'm not sure which is better here—the stunning view or the menu offerings. It's hard to choose between the lobster nachos or the Buffalo chicken wings. Both are quickly gaining followers. And, the Cove Bar just reopened with a new expansion so now it boasts twice the seating to enjoy those nachos.
Farther down on the boardwalk, you'll find Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta. I like this eatery partly because of the location where it's hidden and seemingly not crowded but mostly because of the five-cheese ravioli. This perfect pasta topped with pesto sauce and toasted pine nuts leaves your taste buds and belly satisfied.
If you have time, stop by Carthay Circle Lounge on Buena Vista Street for dessert. The menu boasts macaron ice cream sandwiches and eclairs. I went with the eclairs because pastries are my weakness (see Mickey beignets). While there, take time to explore. Walt Disney's first animated feature, Snow White, debuted at the original Carthay Circle Theater in Hollywood, so you'll see plenty of photos from that milestone. Also, if you look closely, you might spot the Pixar wine bottle collection signed by John Lasseter.
Reservations are highly recommended for sit-down restaurants including Cafe Orleans and Carnation Cafe. You can reserve up to 60 days in advance by calling Disneyland Resort Dining or going on the Disneyland website. Annual passport discounts apply at most dining locations. Check with cast members before you order. Mint Julep window does not accept AP discounts.
I wish I had more time to delve into all food offerings within Disneyland and DCA, but there's always another visit in the future—the hotels, perhaps? In the meantime, on your next trip explore more than just the attractions and characters; look beyond the turkey leg and search out the culinary creations the Disneyland Resort has to offer.