Avengers-Approved Shawarma, Mickey-Shaped Bread Bowls, and More Must Eats at Disneyland and California Adventure
The food at Disneyland and California Adventure goes way beyond a turkey leg and a Dole Whip now.
You don’t go to most theme parks looking for a good meal. Usually, you go for rides, games, attractions, secret passageways, hidden Easter eggs, and a hit of pure childlike joy and nostalgia. But things are a little different at Disneyland these days.
The Happiest Place on Earth has come a long way since the best you could do was a turkey leg and a Dole Whip. Over the past few years, eating at Disneyland has become a subculture of its own within the larger Disney fandom, with hundreds of Instagram accounts and hashtags devoted to what people are eating right now in the parks. There are themed meals with elaborate presentations, souvenir cups, sit-down dinners, and quick grab-n-go snacks, so you can eat well no matter what your day at Disneyland requires.
Disney’s 100th Anniversary is a great excuse to return to the Orange County theme park. In addition to the celebratory decor, limited edition merch, and platinum medallions, they’ve also rolled out some special Disney100 food items like a Platinum Mickey Popcorn Bucket and a Platinum Mickey Sipper. For the rest of your day, we’ve compiled a guide to the best food and drinks at Disneyland, California Adventure, and Disneyland hotels.
The Best Places to Eat in Disneyland
Most Star Wars fans will queue up for the Millennium Falcon or to make their own lightsaber, but the food options here are just as notable. At Docking Bay 7, order Endorian Fried Chicken Tip Yip and the Felucian Kefta and Hummus Garden Spread; grab a pork wrap and Sour Sarlacc (limeade with raspberry and spicy mango) from Ronto Roasters; then grab an adult beverage at Oga’s Cantina (the Tarkenian Night Flower melds gin, elderflower liqueur, and huckleberry).
Last year’s arrival of Avengers Campus brought with it Pym Test Kitchen (and plenty of Pym-centric salads and sandwiches) along with two Shawarma Palace carts and Terran Treats, a favorite for churros.
In front of New Orleans Square’s Haunted Mansion and overlooking Tom Sawyer Island is a quaint little “dockside” shack that serves an outrageously good lobster roll with house-made potato chips. Pair it with a Gold Port Galley passionfruit lemonade ringed with mango and pineapple sugar.
Little Red Wagon Corn Dogs
There are several places to get corn dogs between the two parks, but the Little Red Wagon on Main Street is a must-visit—especially considering the accompanying signature dips. Pro tip: post-purchase, snag a table (and a moment of quiet) behind the truck.
Everyone heads to the Enchanted Tiki Room near the entrance to Adventureland to have a famous Dole Whip—do this, then skedaddle around the corner to Tropical Hideaway for more. Here, expect fully loaded Dole Whips in different flavors (and extra toppings). But the real treats are the fluffy bao buns with fillings like Char Siu Pork, Lime Chicken, or Chickpeas.
Visit the Plaza Inn (across from the iconic Walt and Mickey statue) for a character breakfast, where you can order Mickey-shaped waffles as (act cool) the real deal walks over to your table. The restaurant also serves lunch and dinner—if you go, definitely spring for the fried chicken, which is perfectly crisp on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside. It's served with biscuits, mashed potatoes, and green beans, making it one of the heartiest meals in the park.
Here, the plant-based chili cheese fries are crowd-pleasers, as are the chicken tenders. Fun fact: The building is an original Disneyland Resort building from 1955, and it was one of Walt's favorite places in the park.
This is the restaurant where you see people dining when you first set sail on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. It’s famous for this vantage point and for reservations filling up fast, which means you’ll need to make yours before you arrive at the park. If you score a table, order the Monte Cristo, which is a decadent riff on the American classic that functions as batter-dipped French toast stuffed with ham, turkey, and Swiss cheese. If a booking is hard to come by, order the sandwich to-go at Café New Orleans.
Across from the Indiana Jones ride, pick up a skewer here with your choice of chicken, vegetables, or beef. Get a bacon-wrapped asparagus, too (just because). Grab a crisp, cold pickle from an icy bin at Tropical Imports next door if it's an extra hot day.
The Best Places to Eat in Disney California Adventure
If you only have time for one place to enjoy a sit-down meal, make it the Lamplight Lounge, one of the newest restaurants in the park. Looking as swish as a boutique hotel with caramel leather chairs, exposed brick walls and a tiled bar overlooking Pixar Pier, the restaurant subtly incorporates famous characters from Pixar movies. The lobster nachos and potato skins might just be the best things in the entire park. Unlike Disneyland, which only recently began serving alcohol in multiple locations around the park, California Adventure has always allowed adults to get a little bit loose.
If you’re feeling indecisive, head to Pacific Wharf, an outdoor food court in the center of the park and a great place to stop before Pixar Pier. The most Instagrammable dishes are the Mickey-shaped bread bowls from Pacific Wharf Café, but other satisfying options include the pork wonton nachos or spicy Szechuan chicken from the Lucky Fortune Cookery, the QuesaBirria Tacos or Tacos Dorados de Papa from Cocina Cucamonga and finally, sweets from Ghiradell’s Soda Fountain & Chocolate Shop.
Another sit-down spot to visit for lunch or dinner, Carthay Circle Restaurant is best known for its fried biscuits stuffed with white cheddar, bacon, and jalapeno. The restaurant and the lounge also offer an impressive cocktail menu, offering hints of 1920s halcyon Hollywood.
Seeking comfort fare in Hollywood Land? This food truck has you covered with a medley of baked potatoes, available at Hollywood Lounge or via mobile order.
Corn dogs are classic theme park food, perfect for on-the-go snacking between rides, and insiders love the ones at the Corn Dog Castle next to Goofy’s Sky School. They also make a great quick option for mobile ordering as you walk over.
There are two different terraces in the wine country-themed courtyard, but insiders prefer the Cheese Plate and the slightly larger wine list at Mendocino Terrace. If you’re a craft beer fan, though, head just next door to Sonoma Terrace Beer Garden instead, where you can snag local beers from Bottle Logic, Unsung, or Brewery X and a Bavarian Pretzel to go with.
In Cars Land, the innovative culinary imagineers have finally come up with a breakthrough to make the impossible possible—now, for the first time, you can have Chili Con Queso on the go. At the Cozy Cone Motel, a restaurant composed of five orange road cones, everything comes wrapped in a cone. That means soft serve, churros, chimichangas, mac & cheese, and that signature “Chili Cone Queso” in a portable, mostly convenient format. It’s also another excellent option for mobile order-ahead snacking.
The Best Places to Eat at the Disney Hotels
Get a taste of wine country and elevated California fare at Napa Rose, or visit Hearthstone Lounge, which has options like chorizo poutine or steak frites. Close out the night with a stop at the GCH Craftsman Bar for bite-sized snacks like nachos, skewers, or wings alongside a slew of specialty cocktails like a Pineapple Ginger Margarita and a Yuzu Daiquiri.
Check out the Polynesian-inspired Tangaroa Terrace, which offers breakfast orders like the Loco Moco Burrito or Japanese Pancakes, along with hearty lunch and dinner options like Tonkotsu Ramen or the Hawaiian Cheeseburger.
Must-Have Desserts at Disney
Sweet treats are pretty much what food lovers come for at Disneyland. Here are our favorites:
Along with the aforementioned Dole Whip, the must-eat treats are centered around Main Street and include the likes of Mickey-shaped beignets at the Mint Julep Bar, specialty sweets in the Jolly Holiday Bakery, plus the toffee churros and any other candy/cupcake/caramel apple that catches your eye at Candy Palace. For something a little extra, head to the Hungry Bear Restaurant in Frontierland, where seasonal funnel cakes are front and center.
Disney California Adventure
The sweetest spots are Clarabelle’s Hand-Scooped Ice Cream on Buena Vista Street (near the Starbucks) and the Pixar Pier Frosty Parfait from the Adorable Snowman Frosted Treats at the edge of Pixar Pier.
The retail and dining promenade just outside the parks has some memorable draws, too, including Kayla’s Cake, Salt & Straw ice cream, and the over-the-top concoctions from the CrazyShake milkshake window at Black Tap Craft Burgers and Shakes.