Okay. So I tried to come up with the Top Three Disneyland Restaurants for First Timers. But there was no way I could limit my picks to just three. So then, I said, hey, let’s try for the Top Five.
So in the end, I cut myself off at Eight.
There is so much good food in Disneyland. Really, it was super hard not to just give you a list of pretty much every restaurant there, and call it a day.
But if you must narrow it down, these are the restaurants that I love. These are the spots that I’d go to every single time if I could. (And mostly, I do.)
Heading to Disneyland, or just dreaming about a pilgrimage there? Check out my picks for the places you have to visit during your very first trip. Whether you’re looking for a meal or a snack, you can’t go wrong with putting these spots on your list.
If I could only eat at one spot in Disneyland for the rest of my life, I’m fairly sure that spot would be Cafe Orleans. Located on New Orleans Square, it’s offers some of the beautiful patio seating that Disneyland is known for.
But I’m going to be honest — Cafe Orleans claims the distinction of offering not just one or two, but three of my favorite Disneyland dishes. (And that’s pretty much all I ever eat there.) First, when you visit here, I insist you order the Pommes Frites. Tossed with Garlic and Parmesan, they’re served with a Cajun Remoulade ramekin. I also insist you order TWO remoulades. At least. Per person.
While I love their gumbo here as well, it’s the Monte Cristo Sandwich that I can’t live without. Pockets of bread layered with Ham, Turkey, and Swiss Cheese are lightly battered and deep-fried. Served with Berry Puree for dipping, this is pretty much something everyone should eat at least once in life.
Not a meat-eater? There’s also an All-Cheese Version. No. Seriously. There is.
Behold. The Three-Cheese Monte Cristo. Did I mention the Double Creme Brie?
But save room for dessert — because you can’t pass on the Mickey Beignets served with Dipping Sauces.
Have this meal just once, and you can say “I’ve been to Disneyland” properly as far as I’m concerned.
But Cafe Orleans has an older, slightly more posh sister — Blue Bayou. And while I usually skip it in favor of Cafe Orleans, if you’re visiting the ‘Land for the first time, you really need to experience this place.
Because more than anything, Blue Bayou is an experience; it’s as much an attraction as a restaurant.
Because the restaurant is fashioned to look like a verandah on a river’s edge. Look below you into the water, and you see travelers, en route to explore the mysteries of the Pirates of the Caribbean.
Honestly, the food is less important here to me than the “view.” I have enjoyed the New Orleans Signature Gumbo. And in this setting, it’s even better.
And yep, to be honest, I like to order the Monte Cristo here, too!
It’s a little fancier (and more expensive), but just as delicious.
Some of my Disneyland dining choices are obviously sentimental; either I love the restaurant, the food, or both. But it’s not like they’re the tip-top of the culinary pyramid or anything. But then, there’s Napa Rose.
Nestled inside Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa, Napa Rose stands as a testament to fine California fusion cuisine, inspired by fresh farm-to-market ingredients.
Chef Andrew Sutton is in charge here, and his menus make use of the freshest items. Prepare to be dazzled by the dishes set before you!
Whether you opt for dinner in the relaxed but beautiful dining room, or choose to make a special occasion of it by indulging in the Chef’s Counter, a meal at Napa Rose is an experience to savor.
Corn Dog Castle
From the heights of gastronomic evolution — to one of the best junk foods that I’ve ever had the pleasure of consuming. Our next spot to visit is Corn Dog Castle in Disney California Adventure.
I know. The juxtaposition can be a little dizzying. But while this is plain fun-fair food, there’s nothing common about it. Because the dogs that they serve are Hand Dipped Corn Dogs. And if you’ve never had this, the real deal, then you are SUPER missing out.
But here’s the even cooler part — if you don’t like corn dogs, they have a couple of other hand dipped options. Some like it hot, and that’s when I recommend the mouth-watering (and maybe a little eye-watering, too) Hand Dipped Hot Link. This one packs a spicy punch — have that water ready!
Not so much a fan of the meat? Then try their Hand Dipped Cheddar Cheese Stick.
Personally, I have a tough time deciding between the three!
If I had to give an overarching theme to the food you find in Disneyland, it would have to be that it is, well, kind of a cut above. Even counter service food doesn’t seem like fast food. And one great example of that fact is the buffet-but-still-counter service fare you enjoy at Plaza Inn.
To begin, the restaurant, which dates back to Disneyland’s earliest days, boasts an ornate interior, replete with crystal chandeliers, gingerbread trim, and velvet.
Breakfast boasts a Character Dining Experience with Minnie Mouse, and you can enjoy plenty of hearty, traditional breakfast options from the buffet, with wait staff assisting you at your table with beverages.
It’s big enough to share, so plan accordingly! Or, you know, don’t.
Cozy Cone Motel
Next on the list, I think any Disneyland First Timer must — must — visit Cars Land in Disney California Adventure. And while you’re there, you might as well grab a bit to eat. And the Cozy Cone Motel is a great place to do it. (Yes, I love Flo’s V-8 Cafe, too, but there’s something so kitschy about getting your eats from a giant road cone.)
Mostly, Cozy Cone is another snack stop, although their Bread Cone assortment would certainly qualify as a meal. But you’re here for the amazing themeing, first and foremost. Bringing Cars to life in the real world was a daunting feat, and Disney has accomplished it extraordinarily.
But then, the food! I fell in love with their Cones early on.
Don’t forget their breakfast cones!!
And Churro Bites with Dipping Sauces are hard to beat.
Which Cone will you be stopping by on your first visit?
Tiki Juice Bar
And then, there’s the Tiki Juice Bar. If a trip to Disneyland is a pilgrimage of sorts, then the Tiki Juice Bar is one of the shrines at which you must pay homage.
It’s not that this is the “original” or anything. Actually, it’s one of those times when Dole’s partnership with Disney landed a treat in both Disneyland and Disney World at the same time. Still. There’s just something super fun about a Dole Whip in Disneyland.
Awh, who am I kidding? There are two reasons that this is a must-stop spot. And they are 1) Cherries; and 2) Umbrellas. East Coast Disney folk have been super jealous of these cute little details for…well, ever, actually.
So it is practically required that you enjoy a Dole Whip Float with these embellishments. I swear, I don’t know how, but they make them taste better.
Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar
Speaking of Tiki Culture, there’s one newer place at Disneyland that has firmly established itself in the list of spots ya gotta try the first time out. I’m talking about Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar in Disneyland Hotel.
As one of my friends put it succinctly, it’s “the best of the Jungle Cruise, Adventurers Club, and Tiki Room rolled into a liquor license.” I couldn’t agree more.
With hundreds of wonders and wares covering every available space — souvenirs from Trader Sam’s five decades of exploration — you’ll never get to the end of the detail here. So take in some, plan for a return trip to see some more, and settle down to choose your poison.
Because there has never been a more fun drink menu. Anywhere. Ever.
Witness the beauty and majesty of the Uh Oa! (I hope you brought a friend along.)
But there’s some truly delicious food too! For a little taste of lots of things, try the Pu-Pu Platter.
Or the burger. Sometimes it has pineapples.
And if you’ve still got room for more food after all of that — well, I’m speechless.
There is so much good, great, awesome eats at Disneyland, it’s hard to narrow it down. Here’s hoping that I’ve given you a jump off point for planning a truly delicious trip to one of my favorite spots to eat on earth!
Now I wanna hear from you guys! If you’re helping someone plan a first trip to Disneyland, what are your top spots that they must eat? Weigh in with your suggestions in comments below!