As I confessed in my earlier post, “Top 10 Best Foods at Disneyland,” I spend more time at Disneyland than any man in his early 30s should probably ever admit. One of the main reasons for this is that the food is pretty exceptional — and it seems like I make a new culinary discovery every time I go back.
That said, it’s high time I post an addendum to the list I crafted last year. This time, I’ve broadened the scope to include food at Disney’s California Adventure, which sits directly across from Disneyland.
10) Soft-Serve Swirl Cone at Catch a Flave (California Adventure)
I’m not a huge ice cream eater, but the urge struck me just right one hot summer day, and I indulged in a swirl cone. And oh… my… goodness. The ice cream was incredibly creamy and rich — bordering on frozen custard, it seemed.
9) Lobster Nachos at Ariel’s Grotto (California Adventure)
Whenever I order lobster nachos at a restaurant, I usually have the same complaint: too much chip, not enough lobster. Not the case here. Ariel’s Grotto piles on a surprisingly heavy helping of the crustacean, and not a single chip goes unused.
8) Chocolate-Covered Peanut Butter Sandwich at Greetings from California (California Adventure)
I haven’t tried every confection at the sweets counter in California Adventure, and I’m sure plenty of them merit mention. But the peanut butter sandwich is definitely a standout among what I have tried. A thick creamy layer of peanut butter on a perfectly crisp cookie, slathered in the ideal amount of chocolate. (Drool.)
7) Cobb Salad at Plaza Inn (Disneyland)
I know what you’re thinking. I’m shocked that there’s a salad on this list, too. But if you’ve ever had the Disneyland cobb salad, you’ll know why it’s here. And you’ll also know that it’s hardly the salad you order when you’re watching your figure. Mounds of cheese, meat and goodness of all kinds, tossed in a creamy blue cheese dressing, with a breadstick on the side. It’s a staple in my Disneyland diet. (Plus, if you don’t feel like fighting the fireworks crowd at night, you can buy a salad, plop down in the Plaza Inn’s ample seating area, and enjoy a decent view of the exploding night sky above the hedges that line the restaurant’s patio.)
6) Bleu Cheese and Wine Pairing at Terrace Wine Tasting (California Adventure)
I don’t know much about wine, but I love listening to people who do. And the staff at the Terrace Wine Tasting bar at California Adventure certainly seems to know its stuff. The bleu cheese and red wine pairing was a lot of fun. The cheeses, delicious in their own right, were paired perfectly with their red wine counterparts. And I had a Disney cast member on hand the whole time to walk me through what I was tasting and explain why it all worked so well together.
5) Jumbo Rice Krispie Treat at Greetings from California (California Adventure)
Much like the peanut butter sandwich, you just have to eat one to understand. And I recommend you do. Never has a more sublime krispie-to-mallow ratio been achieved.
4) Cheddar Broccoli Soup in a Bread Bowl at Pacific Wharf Café (California Adventure)
The soup is quite good. But you order it for the bread bowl, which is phenomenal. How can it not be when it was just pulled out of the oven at the Boudin bakery next door?
3) Free Fresh Tortilla at the Mission Tortilla Factory (California Adventure)
The brief tour at the Mission Tortilla Factory at California Adventure is cute, and it’s worth doing once. So, why have I done the tour more than an estimated two dozen times? Because of the free fresh-off-the-conveyor-belt tortilla at the end, of course. (And come on… how many things at a theme park are free?)
2) Fried Chicken Dinner at Plaza Inn (Disneyland)
I owe this discovery to a friend. She wouldn’t stop talking about the chicken dinner at the Plaza Inn, and I finally gave it a try just to shut her up. But man, she was right. It’s not just good because it’s fried chicken. It’s good fried chicken. You win again, Disneyland. (And the fireworks view I mentioned with the cobb salad applies here too.)
1) Family-Style Barbecue Feast at Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue (Disneyland)
One of Disneyland’s newest dining options is also one of its most noteworthy. Dinner at the ranch is a family-style all-you-can-eat extravaganza of barbecue chicken and ribs, smoked sausages, cole slaw, baked beans, corn on the cob and cornbread. It comes at a price (a few bucks shy of $30 a person), but the food is good, the setting is rustic and relaxing, and there’s no loophole to the all-you-can-eat clause. Before we even touched our meal, my friend demanded an extra bucket filled exclusively with ribs. And our waitress happily obliged — that time, as well as several other times during the course of our dinner.