Cowboy Cookout Barbecue is a counter service restaurant at Disneyland Paris in Frontierland’s Cottonwood Creek Ranch. This review takes a look at the BBQ served here, along with the ambiance of this eatery, the upside of dining here, and the backstory of this community outside of Thunder Mesa.
Frontierland at Disneyland Paris is one of Disney’s best lands in the world, and here seems like as good of spot as any to share more of what makes it special. For starters, the land is divided into the town of Thunder Mesa and the outskirts of the city, which includes Cottonwood Creek Ranch.
Cowboy Cookout BBQ is in the Cottonwood Creek Ranch barn, in an area that reflects the agricultural communities that sprung up adjacent to towns around the Gold Rush. When the BBQ originally opened, the idea was for it to ‘exude festivity’ with a buffet (as mentioned, it’s now counter service), a makeshift performance stage, outdoor seating, and a small animal farm.
The restaurant was inspired by the Amish country in Indiana (perhaps why we like it so much–feels like our former home!). Cowboy Cookout was “inspired by that sort of rural community, where everyone pitches in. According to [its] story, the furniture is a gift from members of the community and that’s why none of the chairs match, and all of the tables are different colors.” Outside the restaurant, several elements appear rustic, and that’s because many are authentic.
While Cottonwood Creek doesn’t have nearly as elaborate of a backstory as Thunder Mesa’s, it’s interesting to see how the pieces fit together to form the whole of Frontierland. (Details of this backstory are pulled from Disneyland Paris: From Sketch to Reality – you can see photos and concept art of Cottonwood Creek Ranch on pages 118-119.)
While a lot has changed at Cowboy Cookout BBQ since the park opened, it still has the communal, rustic atmosphere. It’s this atmosphere–and rustic design–that makes this one of the Top 10 Themed Restaurants at Disneyland Paris for us. Moreover, performers can still be found here during certain times of the year (we saw them at Christmas), adding to the warm, inviting atmosphere of the restaurant.
Even when performers are not on stage, the fire pits and communal seating create a cozy atmosphere, and give Cowboy Cookout Barbecue a rural atmosphere. After a long, chaotic day in the park, entering a place where everything seems to move at a slower pace can be a needed respite.
It helps that Cowboy Cookout Barbecue is one of the few restaurants at Disneyland Paris that is consistently open late (well, late by this park’s standards). If it’s after 6 p.m., your options might be limited, and Cowboy Cookout might be the only open restaurant that doesn’t have insane lines.
Like most counter service restaurants at Disneyland Paris, the menu is pretty simple, with only a few choices. Each of these sets includes a soft drink (or beer for added charge), potato wedges or salad, and greek yogurt or a brownie. These vary in price, but are all pretty comparable in cost to similar options in the U.S. parks.
The highlight of the meal was the Smoked Pork Ribs. I had previously enjoyed the ribs at Lucky Nugget Saloon, and I assumed these would be the same. They were not. (In fairness, that entree costs a few euro more.)
Very good, tender, and with a subtle smokiness that enhanced the flavor, but not quite as good as I recall Lucky Nugget’s tasting. Still, highly recommended.
Sarah ordered the chicken, and likewise thought it was pretty good. While I didn’t find this to be as good as the ribs (99 times out of 100, I’m going to favor ribs over chicken, though), I was impressed that the meat was moist and not overcooked or dry.
For one of the desserts, I got the Pecan Tart, which was fine. Not really memorable one way or the other. Next time, I’d go for the Magnum Ice Cream.
The potato wedges are fantastic, too. (Not pictured are the second side orders of potatoes we ordered on another visit to Cowboy Cookout.)
While no one ordered the burger, based on what I saw, it appeared that the standard Disneyland Paris Angus Cheeseburger has changed since my last visit (the previous one should’ve offended people more than Disneyland Paris’ regional pricing discrepancies). The new burger actually looked palatable! While I still am not quite ready to test my luck until reading some positive reviews, this is a promising step in the right direction…
Overall, Cowboy Cookout Barbecue is one of the best counter service options at Disneyland Paris. In fact, if you forced me to pick only one counter service restaurant at Disneyland Paris, this would be it. The atmosphere is absolutely fantastic and a great way to refresh after a busy, the prices are very fair given the portion sizes, and the food is quite good for counter service, especially by Disneyland Paris standards. For other things to know when planning a visit to Disneyland Paris, check out our Disneyland Paris Trip Planning Guide. For those who have been, what do you think of Cowboy Cookout BBQ?