Cheers!: A Review of the Carthay Circle Loungeby Megan Walker, contributing writer
Everybody knows that the parks can get pretty crazy during busy times, which nowadays feel like most times, and it can be great to find a nice, quiet place to sit down and relax for a little bit, away from the hustle and bustle. One of my new favorite places to do just that when visiting the parks is the Carthay Circle Lounge in Disney California Adventure Park.
Located just off the lobby of the main Carthay Circle restaurant on Buena Vista Street, the Lounge is more than just a bar; in fact it doesn't really even feel like a bar at all. While seating for the Lounge includes the chairs and tables in the lobby of the restaurant, the actual Lounge room is fairly small with just a few seats along the bar top, and a handful of other assorted tables. The Lounge is so small in fact that you'll often find a line outside the restaurant of people waiting to get in, but it's definitely worth it.
The key elements that the Carthay Circle Lounge has going for it, which sets it apart from every other bar on the property, are its environment and ambience. Following in the footsteps of the adjoining restaurant, the Lounge's aesthetic is very reminiscent of "old Hollywood." The Lounge is a bit dim in lighting, the volume is generally fairly low, and the Disney-inspired jazz music from the restaurant plays overhead. It really does feel like you stepped back in time to the golden age of Hollywood, which I find to be a lot of fun. This whole vibe also makes the Lounge a quite relaxing place to hang out, it's a totally different world from the hustle and bustle of the parks just outside the doors and offers park-goers a great place to settle down for a bit.
The Lounge, of course, features a full bar and the same drink menu that you'll find in the restaurant. This drink menu is different than the standard Disney drink menu you find at the other restaurants: this one boasts a theming of "old Hollywood," so make sure you give it a good read before settling on a choice.
There are many different cocktails on the menu to choose from (and of course you can request any drink), but my personal favorite drink here is the Ernest's Daiquiri.
The daiquiri—with its mix of rum, grapefruit juice and agave nectar—is delicious, sweet and tart at the same time. It's a great drink for any time of the day, whether you're stopping in for a mid-afternoon treat, dinnertime drinks, or a late-night cocktail. It's also worth noting that I have never had a poorly made drink at the Lounge; I order the daiquiri just about every time I'm there and they've all been fantastic. If cocktails aren't your thing, don't worry, the Lounge also features a nice choice of beers and a decent assortment of wines, including selections from the Disney family of wines.
Additionally, if you're looking for something non-alcoholic, the Lounge has you covered there, as well, with a menu of quite a few different loose-leaf teas; traditional soda options; and a fun variety of non-alcoholic drinks, like California Wine Country Sodas, Rose Petal Soda, flavored mixed lemonades, or sparkling water. I also must add that Carthay Lounge, and the restaurant, as well, has one of the best cups of coffee on resort property.
The drinks aren't the only yummy items at the Carthay Circle Lounge. Believe it or not, the food menu is actually quite good, as well. My all-time favorite thing to eat at the Lounge is the Queso Fundido—it's super cheesy and super delicious. The only downside of this appetizer is the cheese can get a little messy, but it's definitely worth it, it's great to split with friends. Another great appetizer option is the Vietnamese Twice-Cooked Beef Tacos, which are very tasty. One of the unique menu options that the Lounge has are their "rolls"— the Summer Garden Roll and a Spicy Jerk Chicken Roll—which look like sushi, but have no fish in them. The food menu also has some bigger plate items if you're hoping to make a whole meal of the experience, which seem to be the items that rotate most frequently depending on the season. There is also a kids menu with grilled cheese and tomato soup, tacos, and mini hot dogs. Finally, make sure to save room for dessert: Iced Cookies and Cream Sandwich with Cordiella Chocolate Sauce.
Next time you're in the parks and you need a break from the busy environment, or you're just looking for a new place to kick back for a light meal and a drink, give the Carthay Circle Lounge a try. Make sure you show up early, or, if the park is busy be prepared to wait in line for a little bit, but don't let it turn you away. The ambience and environment is one of the best in the park: The drinks are always superb, the food is incredibly tasty, and it's a great experience you won't regret.