There is no question that our family loved Disney. We’ve been to Disney World and Disneyland more times than we should admit, but still love it. I have long proclaimed Disney World as being far superior in dining choices, something that seemed neglected at Disneyland where most of the choices have been typical fast food offerings. There is still good food to be found, though, and the options seem to be improving during the last few years. Here are my top ten choices for counter service restaurants in Disneyland and California Adventure, no particular order.
1. Hungry Bear Restaurant – Tucked away in a back corner on the way to Splash Mountain, Hungry Bear features good cheeseburgers and fries (including sweet potato fries – my favorite!) plus salads and tomato sandwiches (even a fried green tomato one). Save room for their pies…yum. This is a great place to relax while you sit overlooking the river and is frequently overlooked by the crowds.
Steak Gumbo in a Bread Bowl
2. Royal Street Veranda – This is a little window where you can order delicious gumbo or clam chowder in a bread bowl. The gumbo is a little spicy and will definitely warm you up if you’re there in the winter. Save room for dessert because they serve fritters with dipping sauce! In the fall, watch for the pumpkin spice ones…yum!
3. Rancho del Zocalo – While it’s not the best Mexican food ever, it’s great when you’re in the mood for something a little different and it’s not bad. The grilled chicken or enchiladas are good choices. This place is beautiful in the evening, when you can eat outside by lantern light. It’s also a bit quieter than most.
4. Bengal Barbecue – Love these skewers! There’s not a designated seating area, but you can grab these and eat them anywhere. They’re a bit pricy since each skewer is about $4, but I still like splurging on them when I’m in the mood. If you like spicy foods, try the Banyan Beef Skewer. The Safari Skewer with bacon-wrapped asparagus is amazing, too, but really you can’t go wrong with any skewer here.
5. The Golden Horseshoe – Go for the atmosphere and to get out of the sun or cold depending on the season. The food isn’t great, but you can grab a seat early and then eat while you enjoy a show. You can even grab food nearby and bring it in if you like. They do have a large chocolate cake and though it’s not on the menu, you can choose chili as a side instead of fries.
Coconut Curry Chicken Rice Bowl
1. The Lucky Fortune Cookery – Make your own rice bowl by choosing your own meat and sauce. I loved the chicken with coconut curry sauce. The chicken was tender and included vegetables. Rice “bowls” are served in Chinese takeout boxes.
2. Cozy Cones Motel – These cones are pretty cute and serve up some fun snacks, although it is a little time-consuming if you have to go to several cones to get food for multiple members of your group. They serve up some unique popcorn flavors, several different drinks (loved the “Pear of Dice” soda), chili con queso in a bread cone, & sugary churro bites with chocolate dipping sauce, among other things. Fun.
3. Pacific Wharf Café – Grab some clam chowder in a Boudin sourdough bread bowl made right at the attached bakery that you can tour and get a sample from. There are also fresh salads.
Lemon-Oregano Chicken Skewers with Mediterranean Chili Sauce
4. Paradise Garden Grill – This spot has an abundance of shaded seating, good food, and sometimes even some live music. Paradise Garden Grill serves Greek salads, pita bread, & skewers. Choose your skewer and your sauce (or even two), served with rice pilaf, pita bread, & cucumber salad. The Lemon-Oregano Chicken skewers are fantastic with either the Mediterranean Chili (spicy) or the Tzatziki, although I don’t think you can go wrong with any of them.
5. Ghirardelli Soda Fountain – A smaller version of my favorite ice cream shop (that’s the Bay Area girl in me coming through), Ghirardelli’s ice cream sundaes are the best! Grab your favorite or get the GIANT 8-scoop Earthquake and share with the fam. Don’t forget to snag your chocolate sample while you’re there, too.