Top 10 Disneyland Counter Service Restaurants


Counter service dining at Disneyland Resort continues to improve, and it’s now to the point where almost every restaurant offers at least something worthwhile. Some of these restaurants are incredibly popular fan-favorites, whereas some are lesser known options in the Disneyland Resort hotels. For those unfamiliar, counter service (or quick service) restaurants is Disneyspeak for fast food. Disneyland is often bemoaned for having nothing but burgers and hot dogs, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. This list actually has no locations that specialize in either, unless you count the hot dogs in corn dogs, but we think those get a pass as a sacred Disneyland institution. (Maybe the killjoys who complain about Cracker Jacks at baseball games would disagree.) No matter where you eat at Disneyland, if you’re eating nothing but burgers and hot dogs, you’re making exactly zero effort, because unique foods are everywhere.

This list is based on our subjective determination of best based upon our opinion of food quality, value, and theme–with an emphasis on food quality. Of course, it’s only based on restaurants where we’ve actually dined (in most cases, several times), but we’ve dined at most counter service restaurants at Disneyland Resort. We’ve left a few popular Downtown Disney restaurants off the list (namely, Earl of Sandwich) in favor of the unique, “distinctly Disney” choices.

Below is a brief synopsis why each restaurant is a great pick, along with what specific items we recommend from the various restaurants!

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10. Corn Dog Castle/Little Red Wagon – (menu) – It might seem like a bit of a stretch to include a corn dog stand(s) on a top 10 list like this, but it’s not. For a while, Corn Dog Castle was my preferred place to grab a corn dog. Recently, I gave Little Red Wagon another shot and had what was most definitely the best corn dog of my life. Corn Dog Castle makes the list for its  “diversity” (3 corn dog options); Little Red Wagon lacks that diversity, but its standard corn dog is the gold standard. Regardless of which one you visit, request the corn dog without the chips to save a couple dollars and room in your stomach for better snacks elsewhere.

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9. Pacific Wharf Cafe/Royal Street Veranda – (menu) – Sarah eats at one of these restaurants (usually Royal Street Veranda) at least once per trip for their bread bowl gumbo. As to which is better, although I prefer the New Orleans Square ambiance of Royal Street Veranda, the more robust menu of Pacific Wharf Cafe gives it the edge for me. I don’t normally eat at Royal Street Veranda because I don’t like having soup when it’s hot outside, but the sandwiches and desserts at Pacific Wharf Cafe actually appeal to me.

8. Jolly Holiday Bakery & Cafe - (menu) - Jolly Holiday Bakery is an excellent option, especially for baked treats. Several of the items on the lunch and dinner menus are good options, but we feel like these menus could probably use a couple more items in order for Jolly Holiday Bakery to stand as an elite counter service restaurant in Disneyland. However, when you add the best selections of baked goods of any restaurant in Disneyland, Jolly Holiday becomes one of the best overall dining options in Disneyland.

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7. Paradise Garden Grill – (menu) – After trying time and time again to see what everyone else loves about Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta, we finally decided to give Paradise Garden Grill a try instead. It became an instant favorite of ours, and is now in regular rotation. My favorite thing here (which is a new addition that might be considered temporary) is the Beef Gyro Platter. The great thing about Paradise Garden Grill–beyond the delicious grilled food–is its seating in Paradise Garden. This is a great place to sit, relax, and enjoy live music.

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6.  Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante - (menu) – Rancho del Zocalo is one of the many Disneyland restaurants that’s technically a counter service restaurant, but has meals that are almost table service quality. The prices at Rancho reflect that, as many options here are priced slightly above what you’d find at an average counter service restaurant. However, the quality and portion size more than explains why the dishes are priced where they are. Add to that very impressive ambiance in a venue that is (dare we say) romantically lit at night, this could be a great place for a cheap date! If you really want to save money, split the Carne Asada & Red Chile Enchilada (or Tamale, depending upon the season) Platter (our recommendation here) with your date. Or not. Depends upon how your date feels about being taken out for fast food and splitting a meal.

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5. Tangaroa Terrace – (menu) – Initially, we considered Tangaroa Terrace a so-so place to go when Trader Sam’s was full. Each time we return, we’re more and more impressed with it. On our most recent visits for breakfast and dinner, we had exceptional meals, trying the Banana-Carmel French Toast for breakfast and the Teriyaki New York Strip Steak for dinner. These two items became two of our favorite counter service items anywhere, and solidified Tangaroa Terrace’s spot as a top counter service restaurant (and the most underrated one) at Disneyland Resort.

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4. Hungry Bear Restaurant – (menu) – Hungry Bear Restaurant just barely edges out Tangaroa Terrace for the #4 slot, and it mostly does so because of its superior desserts (Lemon Cupcake and Trixie’s Pie). Its main entree menu is solid, but less impressive, with the standout item being the Fried Green Tomato Sandwich. This is another restaurant we really enjoy for the ambiance–there are few better ways to relax than by grabbing a table at the edge of the Rivers of America at sunset.

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3. Flo’s V8 Cafe – (menu) – People either seem to love Flo’s V8 Cafe. We fall squarely in the “love it” camp. Flo’s serves mostly comfort food, but it’s quality food and not everything is terrible for you (it wouldn’t bother me if it were!), so even Sarah likes it. My favorite thing here is the Pork Loin with the Coke BBQ sauce. The meat is tender and moist, the BBQ sauce adds great flavor to meat, and the vegetables and chive roll round out the meal well and make it an excellent value. Flo’s is a double threat, serving a great Brioche French Toast for breakfast that made our list of the Top 7 “Must Eat” Foods at Disneyland Resort. Plus, what’s better than enjoying your meal under the neon lights of Cars Land?!

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2. French Market – (menu) – French Market is probably the most well-rounded counter service restaurant in all of Disneyland Resort, offering something (delicious) for everyone as well as incredible ambiance in New Orleans Square and great entertainment. Only one thing prevents it from taking the top spot, and that’s crack-like fried chicken. In all seriousness, just about everything at French Market that we’ve tried is delicious, albeit a little on the pricey side in comparison to other counter service. Like many of these restaurants, though, the quality and portion sizes surpass what you’ll find at other counter service restaurants. My favorite item is the Market French Dip, but you can’t go wrong with the pasta or chicken, either. For dessert, go with the Bananas Foster Cheesecake. We’re not fans of the Mint Julep here, but lots of people love it, so consider giving it a try.

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1. Plaza Inn – (menu) – In my opinion, Plaza Inn is the undisputed champion of Disneyland counter service dining. It’s really not even close. The comfort food here is second to none, and it feels like a “table service light” restaurant. The glorious fried chicken is Plaza Inn’s claim to fame, and unlike some Disneyland snacks that get hyped-up, this chicken actually lives up to the hype. It’s more addictive than nicotine and more delicious than bacon ice cream. During the holidays, the menu gets even better with the Yule Log added, but it’s pretty spectacular year-round. Sarah is not a big fan of Plaza Inn, which is why it didn’t receive a perfect score in our review, but I think most guests will love this place.

So there you have our top 10 counter service restaurants at Disneyland Resort! There are a few notable omissions, the biggest of which is probably Bengal Barbecue. We really like Bengal Barbecue as a place to grab a quick snack, but the prices are so high for the portion sizes that you’re likely to spend $20 or more for a filling meal! Second is Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta, where we’ve had a couple of better meals recently (their Mac & Cheese Flatbread was amazing!), but it’s still hit or miss. Another one that some people seem to love is Redd Rockett’s Pizza Port, and we just flat out don’t like that place! Plenty of other restaurants that didn’t make the list have great dishes–it was difficult to narrow the best restaurants down to just 10!

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Your Thoughts…

Which restaurants would make your list of the top 10 counter service restaurants at Disneyland Resort? Do you agree or disagree with what we’ve listed? Plan on trying some of them when you visit Disneyland? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments!

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28 Responses to “Top 10 Disneyland Counter Service Restaurants”

  1. Nate Parrish says:

    No Starfield of Greens Salad??!??! Blasphemous! Just kidding, great list. I think Hungry Bear is should be a little higher and Royal Street Veranda should be lower, but thats just me.

  2. mitchellfrost@gmail.com says:

    Really enjoyed the lucky fortune cookery and cocina cucamonga on the pacific wharf. My wife had her first EVER corn dog at corn dog castle (and loved it- like a true patriot). And the Jolly Holiday Bakery is always delightful.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Lucky Fortune Cookery is one I’d like to give another shot. Sarah ate there once and didn’t like it, so we haven’t been back.

      The downside to being a corn dog-addict is that sometimes I miss out on trying other restaurants! ;)

  3. Dan Heaton says:

    My favorite meal during my Disneyland trip (which was all counter-service restaurants) was the bread bowl clam chowder. I didn’t have a great meal at the Hungry Bear Restaurant, but the ambiance was definitely a big plus. I can’t wait to check out some of the other places on this list!

  4. Whitney says:

    LOVE Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante! We discovered it on our trip last October and it was my favorite meal!! My husband is also very sad that Disney World doesn’t have a a corn dog equivalent to the Little Red Wagon :)

  5. KCmike says:

    I’m having deja vu. I thought you already covered this topic before. Maybe I’m just too tired. I do agree Plaza Inn’s Chicken dinner is the undisputed heavy weight champion of the counter service meals at Disneyland.

    What do you think is better…Cosmic Rays Chicken dinner or Plaza Inn?

  6. Tommy says:

    I was a little surprised that River Belle Terrace made the list and that it made it to number six. Of all the wonderful things to eat I find it hard to cough up $13 for a cold sandwich and a few baked beans. I think Village Haus and Tomorrowland Terrace both top River Belle Terrace.

    Otherwise good choices. Paradise Garden Grill is my new favorite.

    Still have never had a corndog. I think I ate one once as a little kid. But definitely never one at Disneyland.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      It seems like there’s not a lot of love for River Belle Terrace out there, but I love it. You get a lot of meat and can pile the toppings on. Plus, the sandwiches are (relatively) healthy. I’ll admit that it’s not the most unique food at Disneyland, but the sandwiches are great.

      I’ll possibly give you Village Haus (I’m not a fan, but I know people like it), but Tomorrowland Terrace?! Unless it has very recently improved, I’d rank that in the bottom 5. Curious as to what you enjoy there…I might have to give it a second (more like fourth or fifth) chance!

  7. Tammy says:

    For those in the know (or the need to know), Rancho del Zocalo is also the only place in Disneyland to get Dr. Pepper!

  8. Clint says:

    For me, Flo’s would be at the top just for that pie!

    However, I think you should expand the list to include Downtown Disney. Given its proximity to the parks, we found it just as convenient to find someplace to eat in DD, and the food was generally cheaper and tastier.

    In particular, Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen, Tortilla Jo’s, and Naples Pizza all do a counter service option that we loved. I strongly recommend DD as a viable counter service option at Disneyland.

  9. Andrew Long says:

    Thank you for the list, I really appreciate it! I’m looking forward to trying a few of these new things out next spring and, of course, getting a corn dog or two.

  10. Kirk says:

    Hungry Bear is the best! Had a delicious meal here on Sunday night as we watched them setting up and ferrying performers for Fantasmic! My vegetarian friends loved the Fried Green Tomato sandwich, I went with the Chicken sandwich which is also a great option here.

  11. gabroccoli says:

    We leave for Disneyland in a month! Where is this burger from that you speak of…

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I assume you’re referring to the one on the Facebook post? That’s Tangaroa Terrace. There’s more about it in our review of Tangaroa Terrace (link above).

  12. DRToohey says:

    Nice list – with quickservice i find I’m pretty loyal to a handful of restaurants.
    1. Flo’s
    2. Lucky Fortune Cookery – I’m all about the coconut curry
    3. Paradise Garden Grill – it sometimes even feels slightly healthy
    4. Jolly Holiday – one of the few places on this coast you can get a decent mozzarella caprese

    If Boardwalk pizza ever makes the Mac and cheese one permanent it’d be on my list too – though it is a perfect carb loading spot before a half marathon.

    Hungry Bear is growing on me and the location is a great escape. French Market I’ve had two lackluster meals at – what would you recommend aside from the French Dip (I don’t eat beef)?

    • Tom Bricker says:

      We really like Jolly Holiday Bakery, too. The biggest reason it didn’t make the list is my fault, and that’s because I always just get cupcakes and other sweets here. I’ve only had a sandwich there once (it was good)! I need to try a few more menu items. They all look great, but I’m not yet qualified to review the restaurant.

      • CoreneD says:

        The Jolly Holliday Bakery is my family’s favourite (not a typo – there’s a ‘u’ in favourite in “communist Canada” ;-)) spot. We do love the deserts (flourless choc cake is delish), but have had great sandwiches there & we love the Jolly Holliday Salad. We spent 5 days in the parks last trip & ate here 3-4 days for lunch. Fabulous!

      • Tom Bricker says:

        Waaaaaaaaaait a second…

        …they have internet in Canada?! ;)

  13. Amy says:

    Nice list, I agree Plaza is number one. Then I would go with Flo’s and Jolly Holiday (the tomato soup and roast beef sandwich are great!).

  14. Aaron in DC says:

    I really need to give Plaza Inn a shot. I became PI adverse during my years as a Main Street cast member because the shared kitchen served our primary cast cafeteria (back in the DAY! We won’t say what day that was). I think my contempt for PI had more to do with Inn Between prices than food quality. And boy do I love some good fried chicken, so it’s definitely on the list!

    I find myself surprised by wanting to check out the recently revamped Harbor Galley. I grew up going to Disneyland several times a year, worked there for two years, and was a passholder until I moved to DC. I’ve never once eaten at Harbor Galley. But with a new BBQ Chicken Baked Potato for six bucks and lobster roll for $13 (they run about $20 in DC), this is another joint I’m willing to give a fair shake.

    My only lament is I feel I need a WDW length vacation to sample all the great food at DLR. How do you two manage to fit so much in?

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I am REALLY excited to try Harbour Galley’s new menu. I almost mentioned it in passing in the concluding paragraph, but decided not to. If those items are as good as they look, it will definitely be on this list. We shall see!

      As for how we eat so much, whenever there is something that looks good, I demand that we stop “for the sake of the blog.” Sarah never argues as she likes to eat, too. It’s about the lamest excuse ever (and we eat waaaaaaaay too much because of this), but hey, it works! ;)

  15. Christian says:

    SoCal resident here. Disneyland’s PI chicken beats out Mrs. Knott’s chicken any day (at least in my book). I still wish they would add the chicken & waffles option to the regular menu. Roscoes Chicken & Waffles is being built a mile south on Harbor, but construction looks to be stalled.

  16. Natalye says:

    the Banana-Carmel French Toast looks so good! Hungry Bear is my favorite place to eat at Disneyland!

  17. Doug says:

    Thanks for the great list. We’re a Walt Disney World family planning our first trip to Disneyland this summer. The only thing that would make this list better would be if you identified where each restaurant is located (Disneyland or DCA).

    Love your website!

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