Take a Dining Break at The Disneyland Hotelby Lisa Stiglic, contributing writer
When guests think of Disneyland Resort dining, usually images of smoked turkey legs, cinnamon-laced churros, or tart Dole Whips come to mind. What if I told you there's a place with chocolate cream-filled, supersized strawberry donuts, or Polynesian-style slow roasted pork? How about said Dole Whip with rum? Take a break from the overcrowded theme parks this summer and spend a few hours on a culinary course at The Disneyland Hotel, where you just might find a small patch of paradise.
Where to Go
The Disneyland Hotel anchors the west end of Downtown Disney. It consists of three towers, a few conference rooms, and a themed-swimming pool deserving of the overnight price alone. The restaurants are few but definitely noteworthy. And guests do not have to be registered at the hotel to enjoy the eateries. Case in point: me! I drove in from nearby Long Beach, parked my car in Downtown Disney (two hours free parking) and took a tasty trip on the hotel grounds.
The Coffee House
Every journey begins with the first step which should always start with coffee. The Coffee House is adjacent to the conference rooms building located near Goofy's Kitchen and Steakhouse 55 (more later on those).
This quick-service eatery is the early riser's reprieve with coffees, espressos, lattes, and more — oh, and lots of pastries, bagels and muffins. My afternoon visit noted that the pastries were minimal, but I found some mouthwatering substitutes.
The Coffee House also serves up sandwiches and salads during business hours. And that rum-laced Dole Whip I mentioned? This is where to find it. If you can't wait to get into Disneyland for your Dole Whip fix, The Coffee House offers the Dole Whip soft-serve, the Dole Whip Float, and the Dole Whip with a splash of rum. You're welcome. Guests must be 21 to order the rum-infused Dole Whip and two orders per person. Discounts do not apply at this location.
If you're in The Coffee House and hear a lot of younger guests enthusiastically —uh—screaming, then you know you're near Goofy's Kitchen. This specialty character dining establishment boasts a sumptuous brunch buffet with waffles, an omelet station, and some adult beverages, if needed. Dinner buffet consists of a carving station, "Goofyroni and cheese," and a plethora of dessert. And don't forget to try the signature dish: peanut butter and jelly pizza. Chef Goofy visits throughout the restaurant floor to ensure guests are having a magical time, and he might even call on a few other Disney friends to help. Photo ops are available with Chef Goofy in his own goofy kitchen. And now through September 4, Chef Mickey is joining his pal in the kitchen. Two for the price of one!
Reservations are highly recommended and annual passport discounts do apply.
Steakhouse 55 Lounge and Restaurant
The irony is not lost on me that the nicest steakhouse on resort property is next to the loudest restaurant on resort property. Steakhouse 55 Lounge and Restaurant has Goofy's Kitchen for a neighbor. The Lounge is cozy to order a few drinks and watch some games while unwinding or waiting for a table inside the steakhouse. Nosh on flatbreads, lobster pops, or a savory French dip sandwich. Don't forget the imbibements — after all, it is a lounge.
Steakhouse 55 appeals to me on two fronts—one of course is the scrumptious food served and the other is the atmosphere and nod to Hollywood's Golden Era. As you walk through the foyer, you'll notice a few photos of a dapper Walt Disney. Once inside, you can't help but see the large black and white photos of Marilyn Monroe, Lauren Bacall, Cary Grant, and others from the Golden Age of Hollywood. It's always fun to guess who is who and if you're not sure, just ask a cast member for a photo guide.
Steakhouse 55 offers breakfast from 7-11 a.m. Choose from omelets, chicken and waffles, or the signature eggs Benedict trio of choices — classic, serrano ham, or smoked salmon. Dinner options begin at 5 p.m. and, because it is a steakhouse, the choices are aplenty with filet mignon, New York strip, and prime rib — all available with specialty complements such as wine sauce and Bearnaise sauce (additional charges). Other entree options include fowl and fish, and the chef offers a daily special with a continually changing menu. And don't forget dessert. The 24-layer chocolate cake is worth every calorie-laden bite.
Steakhouse 55 does offer allergy-friendly options. Just ask your server. And the restaurant (not the lounge) accepts the Annual Passholder discounts. Again, reservations are highly recommended.
For those of you wondering about lunch, the classic afternoon tea is still available Fridays through Sundays between noon and 3 p.m. Choose from the classic tea option, which includes scones, finger sandwiches, desserts and teas — hot or cold. The premium selection offers the same as the classic, but adds on sparkling wine and a truffle. Younger guests can sample afternoon tea with their own Mickey Mouse inspired treats. Gluten-free and vegan options are available and the passport discount again is welcomed.
Near the Disneyland Hotel pool is a Polynesian-style structure with a few hidden surprises. Named after the most magical god in The Enchanted Tiki Room, Tangaroa Terrace overlooks the poolside while boasting refreshing island-style food. It was a tough choice between the ahi poke or teriyaki chicken, but I managed.
Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Bar
Adjacent to Tangaroa Terrace is head salesman Trader Sam's lair. Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Bar is known for the fun, festive, tropical atmosphere and the luscious libations, but the island eats are just as good. Choose from Kahlua-roasted pork sandwiches; ginger-brushed chicken lettuce wraps; and the signature Pu Pu platter of sweet and spicy wings, glazed Portuguese sausage bites, and panko-crusted Chinese long beans.
Once the sun sets, that's when the party begins! The line is always out the door for a first-come, first-sit evening full of cocktails and cast member antics. Servers will happily concoct favorites such as the rum-inspired Shrunken Zombie head, the Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Rum — with coconut, pineapple and orange juice, and the Mosquito Mojito, which I would order based on the name alone. Sit back and enjoy the show while cast members ring bells, spray water, and light drinks on fire — all in the name of show as Trader Sam would want. Reservations are not taken for Trader Sam's, but passport discounts do apply for food only.
Summer time is destined to be very crowded at both Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park. Take a few hours out of your schedule and venture to The Disneyland Hotel. The food options abound, the beverages refresh, and the crowds lessen. Sounds like paradise to me.