It is with deepest pride and greatest pleasure that I welcome you today! And now, I invite you to relax, pull up a chair, as Blushful Belle proudly presents: your guide to all things food at Disneyland! Let’s be honest, one of the best things about visiting the Happiest Place on Earth is all of the wonderful foods you’ll get to see, smell and taste! I always look forward to filling that rumbly in my tumbly at all hours of the day with all of the amazing dining options. Churros, Mickey-shaped pretzels, corn dogs, Dole Whip, the list goes on and on! I’ll be sharing my tried-and-true favorites for breakfast, lunch and dinner at both parks (scroll down if you’re just looking for California Adventure food), as well as some elevated dining options if you’re celebrating a special occasion, so hold onto your hats and let’s chow down!
Food at Disneyland
Ah, the most important meal of the day. There are several dining options for breakfast both in and out of the parks, like at the nearby Disney Resorts and the Downtown Disney District. From personal experience, our favorite way to start the day is with a character breakfast at Storytellers Café at the Grand Californian Hotel and Spa! Freddy and I have been making reservations for this same character breakfast every year for the past 4 years and it never gets old! Mickey and friends are usually dressed up in their cute safari/adventure outfits and make sure to walk around and greet all the guests—it’s adorable! As for the buffet-style breakfast itself, you can choose from a variety of options like scrambled eggs, eggs benedict, fresh fruit, pastry items, made-to-order omelets, and let’s not forget the ever-important Mickey waffles! One of our favorite benefits to this buffet-style breakfast is that we fill up on all the food, pastries and coffee we can get our hands on, that way we don’t feel the urge to snack at 10am or eat an early lunch. It’s around $40/person for the buffet, so it’s definitely a “treat yo self” moment, but it’s honestly worth it for the amazing experience, service food! That breakfast usually holds us over til at least noon or later! We usually try to get a reservation between 7a-8a so that we can spend 45 minutes to an hour eating and then head over to the parks right after (only a 5 min walk!). There are other character breakfast options at the Disneyland Hotel and Paradise Pier Hotel, but there’s only one character breakfast available inside Disneyland which is at the Plaza Inn. You can make reservations in advance and it’s super convenient with the restaurant situated right on Main Street. You’ll be ready to head off to your next adventure right after your meal!
We try to keep our lunch light, especially if we’ve gone to a character breakfast that morning, because let’s face it: I need to save room for my afternoon churro! My favorite lunch spot in Disneyland is the Little Red Wagon corn dog cart right off of Main Street, specifically right outside the Plaza Inn. It’s likely one of the cheapest meals you’ll find in Disneyland—a corn dog with a bag of chips or sliced apples for $9.29. It doesn’t get much better than that folks! And if you don’t eat meat, Hakuna Matata! I’ll be sharing plenty of more options just around the riverbend.
The Hungry Bear Restaurant over in Critter Country near Splash Mountain is another favorite that we’ve eaten at a few times. It’s a bit more secluded and quiet in this neck of the woods if you’re looking for an escape from the chaos. They have ample seating on their upper deck that overlooks Tom Sawyer Island, and you’ll get a nice view of the Mark Twain Riverboat cruising by on the Rivers of America—make sure to wave to the passengers! You can get a sandwich or hamburger with fries for $11-$13 which isn’t too bad. The chicken sandwich and the crispy fish sandwich are really good, and anytime I see onion rings on the menu you can bet I’ll be ordering them.
If you’re making your way towards Adventureland, Bengal Barbecue has yummy skewers and poke bowls (this is one that we have yet to try but the menu looks delish!) and prices under $15 per person. If you’re looking for a vegetarian option, the Tropical Imports fruit stand is right next door. If you’re having a jazzy time over in New Orleans Square, the French Market Restaurant serves up a jambalaya that feeds your heart and soul. Oh, and don’t forget to pick up some tasty beignets next door at the Mint Julep Bar! The 3-pack of Mickey-shaped beignets are just under $5 and so Instagram worthy!
I always love a good afternoon snack, especially at Disneyland! My first course of action is to walk to the nearest churro cart I can find—I can never resist a warm, cinnamon-sugary churro! Freddy and I also love heading over to Pooh Corner to get some sweet treats between lunch and dinner. At first glance the shop just appears to have clothing, toys and stuffed animals, but it also has a delicious bakery filled with fudge, caramel apples, cookies, rice krispy treats…really any sticky smackerel that Pooh bear would approve of! Plus, it’s so fun to sit on the benches outside and watch all the kids meet Pooh, Tigger and Eeyore for the first time. You can expect to fork over anywhere between $5-$20 inside this honey pot of a shop, depending on how many treats you get your paws on.
If you’re a popcorn lover there’s multiple popcorn stands throughout the park that you can smell them from a mile away. If you’re looking for something cold on a warm, sunny day the Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor on Main Street is sure to call your name with the scent of freshly-made waffle cones inviting you in. Or, let’s not forget the ever-popular Dole Whip to satisfy your taste buds over at the Tiki Juice Bar in Adventureland! I have a confession to make: I’ve never had a Dole Whip. Not even once you guys! But I’ve decided that’s going to change when we go to the parks next week—it’s less than $6 so I have no excuse. I’ll put it on my Instagram stories as proof! Don’t overindulge in the snacks too much though, we still haven’t had dinner yet!
We’ve made it our tradition every year to have dinner at Rancho del Zocalo which is right next to the Big Thunder Mountain attraction. The restaurant is tucked into an alleyway which makes it feel like you’ve found a hidden gem. As you walk inside, the aroma of classic Mexican cuisine takes over and you’re transported to another time and place. The restaurant is quick-service style where you walk up and they serve your food right then and there, and once you finish paying you’re greeted by a beautiful, bougainvillea-covered patio with plenty of seating. You can even catch a glimpse of the runaway railroad peeking through the bougainvillea vines. It’s a very peaceful setting, which is why we always come here year after year. My go-to order is the cheese enchiladas ($13) and Freddy usually goes for the burrito ($12.50). I feel it’s a very reasonably-priced meal for the amount of food that you get—I’m always stuffed when we’re finished!
If Mexican food isn’t your thing, the River Belle Terrace is nearby situated right between Frontierland and New Orleans Square. I’ve eaten here a handful of times and the food is really good if you’re in the mood for American cuisine with a BBQ flair: think pulled pork sandwiches, ribs and skillet mac & cheese! Prices range between $15-$35 per adult and the restaurant offers scenic views of the Rivers of America and the Mark Twain River Boat right from the quaint outdoor patio.
Elevated Dining Experiences
If you happen to be celebrating a special occasion during your magical visit, you may want to have a slightly more elevated dining experience to commemorate the celebration. One of my favorite restaurants in the entire park is the Blue Bayou—the food and the ambience are equally amazing! The restaurant is nestled inside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride which is what makes this experience truly unique. With soft lighting throughout the dining area, you can watch the boats calmly float by before they make their decent into the pirate’s lair. The menu is a Creole and Cajun fusion featuring dishes like jambalaya, Monte Cristo sandwiches and the fresh seafood catch of the day. They also have a scrumptious chocolate hazelnut cake for dessert to top of a perfect meal! It’s important to note that the price range per adult is $35-$59.99 and reservations are highly recommended if you want to get in—the restaurant books up incredibly fast due to it’s popularity and you’ll likely have a long wait for a table if you don’t have a reservation. Don’t worry, it’s super easy to make reservations online via the Disneyland website or app!
Food at California Adventure
Whenever we go to California Adventure, we usually do more of a light, quick-service breakfast in order to save room for our favorite lunch (more on that soon!), so our first choice is the Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Cafe. It’s right off of Buena Vista Street when you first walk in, so it’s a great pit stop when you arrive. The cafe serves Starbucks coffee, which is always a must for us, and yummy breakfast sandwiches, pastries and cinnamon rolls. Most of the breakfast sandwiches are less than $6 so it’s a relatively inexpensive meal! We’ve also love the breakfast over at Flo’s V8 Cafe in Cars Land. Flo serves up a traditional American breakfast like scrambled eggs and french toast, but you can also find gluten-free, dairy free, soy-free and nut-free options as well! This is another great quick-service option that has plenty of indoor and outdoor seating. I love the patio that overlooks Radiator Springs, it’s so peaceful in the morning! Most of the main entrée items are between $8-$10. If you’d rather not sit and just go, go, go there are a couple of fruit stands that will have you on your way in no time (check out Mortimer’s Market on Buena Vista Street or Fillmore’s Taste-In in Cars Land).
Like I mentioned earlier, we try not to have a super filling breakfast because our absolute favorite spot for lunch is the Pacific Wharf Café! I have two words for you: bread bowl. Yep that’s right, for less than $15 you can enjoy delicious breads from none other than San Francisco’s famous Boudin Bakery! I grew up eating Boudin’s clam chowder in a bread bowl every summer when I would visit my cousins in California, so when I discovered almost 8 years ago that I could have my favorite meal at California Adventure, I was over the moon excited! I also love this area of the park because it’s so peaceful eating on a deck over-looking the water. If soup isn’t your thing, they also serve salads, sandwiches and some allergy-friendly options. There’s also Asian (Lucky Fortune Cookery) and Mexican (Cocina Cucamonga Mexican Grill) options in the Pacific Wharf area. If everyone in your party wants to eat something different, you can all meet up and dine together on the picnic tables in the center courtyard!
After devouring my entire bread bowl, I’m truthfully not that hungry for snacks! Except, of course, I can usually squeeze one churro in a couple hours later. If you had a lighter lunch and find yourself a bit more hungry in the afternoon, Corn Dog Castle is a great option that is sure to hit the spot. If you’re craving something sweet then be sure to check-in to the Cozy Cone Motel in Cars Land! If you share a love for churros like me, then wait til you experience the churro with chocolate dipping sauce! Oh yes that’s right, just until you thought a churro couldn’t get any sweeter, we just leveled-up my friend! I promise you won’t regret the $5.29 price tag. Side bar: the Cozy Cone also has bacon mac & cheese served in a bread cone…you’re welcome.
We love having dinner over at Smokejumpers Grill in the Grizzly Peak area. It’s located right next to Soarin’ Around The World and they serve super yummy burgers and chicken tenders (with onion rings, of course!). It’s also a reasonably priced meal with menu items under $15. Over on the other side of the park near Pixar Pier you can get your Italian food fix at Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta. We haven’t eaten here yet, but after looking at the menu, sign me up for a slice of cheese pizza and the five-cheese ravioli! Right next door you’ll also find the Paradise Garden Grill which features Mediterranean food and some vegetarian options too! Both of these locations offer food with price points $15 and under, and this area is really fun at night especially with all of the boardwalk lights illuminating the night sky!
Elevated Dining Experiences
The iconic landmark that is the Carthay Circle Theatre is home to a Golden-Era restaurant that is as every bit romantic as it sounds. This is the place you want to be if you’re celebrating a special occasion! If you’re wondering what all the hype is about, the real Carthay Circle Theatre in Los Angeles is where Walt Disney premiered his first animated feature length film in 1937: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. When California Adventure was renovated and re-designed in the summer of 2012, they created a detailed reproduction of the iconic theatre. I dined here with one of my best friends a few years ago and it was the most amazing experience. The restaurant is full of history, such as photos of Walt Disney, and it also reflects the romance and glamour of Hollywood’s Golden Age, including references to the accomplishments of Walt Disney and his original animators. I highly recommend a reservation (can be booked 60 days in advance) as this restaurant is extremely popular, and for good reason! You can also expect to shell out $15-$60 per person, depending on time of day and meal choice.
Another great option is Wine Country Trattoria where you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to Napa Valley. You’ll enjoy a lovely wine selection as well as Tuscan-inspired dishes like spaghetti bolognese, chicken parmesan and lasagna. The restaurant also features an expansive patio that is very serene and relaxing. I’ve also heard wonderful things about the new Lamplight Lounge over on Pixar Pier. Freddy and I have been dying to go here but reservations fill up so quickly! Be sure to check out their menu for mouth-watering brunch, lunch and dinner options—we may just have to stick it out and wait for a table without a reservation because the food sounds amazing! Both of these locations offer good eats $35 and under per person—definitely more of a splurge, but the service and ambience will be well worth it.
I hope these recommendations were helpful! I’ll be sharing so many food finds while we’re at the parks next week, so be sure to follow along with me on Instagram! I’ll be back tomorrow to talk all about one of my favorite hobbies: shopping! Au revoir!