Flo’s V8 Cafe Review


This Flo’s V8 Cafe review could easily summarize our opinion of this Cars Land restaurant at Disney California Adventure in three words: “Eat at Flo’s.” Flo’s V8 Cafe combines the best of Disney theming, quality comfort food, and incredible ambiance to become one of the top Disneyland Resort restaurants.

Starting with the theme, Flo’s V8 Cafe is modeled after a real restaurant on Route 66, Midpoint Cafe in Midpoint, Texas. Before you snort in derision that the real restaurant is in Texas and this is a California theme park, it’s fair to say that this restaurant could be found anywhere along Route 66, including California. More than anything, it looks like Flo’s V8 Cafe that caters to talking cars from a certain Pixar film, which is set in a fictional town an an area that’s most likely Arizona…which is also not California. Whatever. The cafe and the land work, and they work well.

Flo’s V8 Cafe is a mix of real-life 60s-era car culture and backstory from Cars having to do with the rise of racing in Radiator Springs. The neon will draw you toward the restaurant, where you’ll notice great details such as oil cans, gas pumps, cacti, and varying types of architecture depending upon what side of the restaurant you view. Once inside, the rest of the details will continue to mesmerize you.

The main lobby and line area has a large dome ceiling with color-changing lighting and a modern lighting fixture. This, against the checkered floor and the jukebox tunes of Cars Land give Flo’s V8 Cafe a 1960s soda-fountain feel. Different dining rooms have different themes, with part of the restaurant decorated in a “pit” style, another area decorated as a trophy room, and another area featuring awards, accolades, and posters from Flo’s career as a singer.

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All of these details inside are really cool and worth some time exploring, but the absolute best place to eat is actually outside, behind the restaurant in an area that overlooks Ornament Valley (and Radiator Springs Racers). Soaking up the ambiance in this seating area at night while enjoying a nice Racer 5 IPA (speaking of which, I commend Disney for going with a local microbrew from Bear Republic Brewery) might just be my favorite thing to do in all of Cars Land.

The ambiance inside is great, too. There, you’re transported to the bygone era of car culture, whereas outside, you feel the “natural” world of Radiator Springs. In both cases, the atmosphere you’re experiencing is not one that will remind you of the cartoon world of Cars or of being in a theme park. In both cases, you’re truly transported away from Disneyland Resort and into totally different locations entirely.

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This is the greatest allure of Flo’s V8 Cafe, and it’s a testament to the Imagineers that they were able to convey a car theme that isn’t simply straight out of a scene in Cars. Yes, the references to the film are there, but beyond the exterior design bearing a striking resemble to a locale in the movie, the restaurant does not seem cartoonish at all.

Of course, all of the ambiance in the world doesn’t make a whole lot of difference for a restaurant if the restaurant’s food is awful. Fortunately, Flo’s food is quite good. During our visit for the grand reopening of Disney California Adventure, we ate at Flo’s several times, and enjoyed the experience each time (disclosure: one meal was comped as part of the Cars Land launch party; the other three meals we paid for ourselves). Our food was very good overall, with one slight misstep. We have heard a lot of praise for Flo’s from others, and our meals largely fall in line with this praise (even if they didn’t, the ambiance and theming would make for any culinary shortcomings).

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One dish that we don’t think lived up to the hype was the Turkey Breast with Old Fashioned Turkey Gravy. I’m a bit biased here as I always go for dark meat, but I thought this meat was a bit dry and lacking flavor. The gravy helped with this–and perhaps that’s why it’s served with gravy–but our expectations were higher. Just to give you a frame of reference, I’d say about half of all white-meat turkey I eat is dry. So take my opinion for what it’s worth on Flo’s turkey.

We also tried the NY Strip Loin and the Pork Loin with Coca-Cola BBQ sauce, and both were excellent. Not only was the meat very good for a counter service, but the sides made for a meal that was very filling, too. My highlight is the Pork Loin with the Coke BBQ sauce. I couldn’t easily recognize the flavor as Coke, but the meat was tender and moist, and the BBQ sauce added the perfect flavor to meat that was already very good. Each entree comes with a garlic chive roll and a couple of vegetable based sides. The garlic chive roll is delicious, so don’t overlook it as “just a piece of bread.”

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As for the sides, my favorite of these was the mashed potatoes, but I am a sucker for mashed potatoes. The cole slaw would probably rate second for me. None of the sides are especially amazing, but none of them are bad, either. About what you would expect from a counter service restaurant preparing cooked vegetables. As for entrees, there is also a Veggie Tater Bake and some sort of salad on the menu, but why would you order either of these items when delicious meats are available?!

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We only tried one of the pies, the Strawberry Rhubarb pie, and it was excellent. Based on the reactions of friends with whom we dined over the course of the week, you couldn’t go wrong with any of the pies, even the one that oddly combined apple and cheddar! We also ordered a chocolate shake with “road gravel.” As best I can tell, the road gravel isn’t actual chunks of rocks, but little balls of chocolate. It added a nice texture to our chocolate shake, which was very good.

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Prices at Flo’s are surprisingly reasonable for what you get. Although technically a counter service restaurant, it’s at the upper end of the spectrum, being a counter service restaurant that serves its meals on real plates and with real silverware (like Plaza Inn at Disneyland). Entrees are priced at around $12, but for sizable pieces of good meat plus two sides and a roll, this isn’t too bad (at least in comparison to other prices at Disneyland).

For a park that opened with an abundance of restaurants, Disney California Adventure is shallow on good counter service options. From the perspective of food, Flo’s V8 Cafe might just be the best Disney California Adventure counter service restaurant. It’s miles better than the Cars Land alternative, Cozy Cone Motel, and is even better than fan favorites like Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta, and Paradise Garden Grill. When looking at all of Disneyland Resort, Flo’s still does pretty well. If Flo’s were just an ordinary restaurant in Innoventions, and this review were from the perspective of food only, Flo’s would be pretty good, but wouldn’t be one of our favorite Disneyland Resort restaurants. (The prospect of having to go in Innoventions to eat there would actually move it down the list!) Since it’s actually a good restaurant with the best theming and far and away the best ambiance in all of Disneyland Resort, it becomes our favorite counter service restaurant at Disneyland Resort.

Your Thoughts…

If you’ve been to Flo’s V8 Cafe, which entrees and desserts do you like best? Where is your favorite “room” to eat? If you haven’t been, does this make you want to visit Cars Land even more? Share your thoughts in the comments!

To read other Disneyland restaurant reviews, check out our Disney Dining Reviews Index.

Overall Score: 10/10

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26 Responses to “Flo’s V8 Cafe Review”

  1. Dan says:

    We decided to try Flo’s for breakfast one morning, and I hate to say it, but it was one of the worst breakfast I had ever had at the parks. The eggs were just wrong, and so was their texture.

    Since then, we have been a little afraid to try the other meals.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I’d never use breakfast as a proxy for any other meal at any Disney restaurants. Breakfast is downright bad at a lot of Disney restaurants that have excellent lunch and dinner options.

      That said… I’ve heard some positive things about Flo’s at breakfast, so I’m surprised to hear this. Did you try the French toast?

  2. Kevin Crossman says:

    Our family prefers the menu mix of Paradise Grill and Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta (including two kids under 15) compared to Flo’s. I wish there was a more diverse menu. My 10 year old didn’t understand why they didn’t have hamburgers at a diner.

    But the food at Flo’s is tasty and you cannot be the atmosphere and views (and during the summer, the air conditioning!).

    • Tom Bricker says:

      If I recall correctly, you’re a pretty big fan of those Paradise Pier restaurants (I think we discussed them before…), while I like the menus there, I’ve never had an “outstanding” meal there. I am starting to come around on them a bit more after dining there last June, but they still aren’t at the top of my list.

      A big, greasy burger would make a lot of sense at Flo’s. I don’t think I’ve ever been to that kind of restaurant that DIDN’T serve a delicious heart-attack inducing burger. I’m not upset that Disney went with a different menu, but it is a bit surprising.

  3. Tim says:

    I think you touched on part of what makes Flo’s a success, that it is an environment that can stand on its own independent of the Cars films. One doesn’t need to understand a single thing about the plot of either movie or recognize a single character to appreciate that this is a fully-realized classic roadside diner experience. However one feels about the movies, Cars Land and Flo’s succeed on their own. Cars Land serves the world of Cars better than either movie could. It’s almost like this is the form these characters and settings were meant to be.

  4. Ashley says:

    Excuse me, Flo? What’s the soup du jour?

  5. Dinah G says:

    I had the American Breakfast (scrambled eggs, breakfast potatoes, bacon, and a biscuit), and the breakfast potatoes were horrible! I don’t remember why, but I do remember that that was my takeaway. I do agree with you that breakfast shouldn’t be the barometer for what is good or not good. And I’ve had friends who have raved about the Pork Loin with the Coke BBQ sauce, so I am looking forward to returning and trying it sometime in the future. Regardless, you are absolutely correct, the outside dining area tucked away in the corner feels like an oasis.

  6. Chronic Gin Deficiency says:

    Oh great Christ but those meat plates look revolting. I understand the needs of mass-service restaurants, but couldn’t they do better than shaved with a rotary slicer? And what’s that suppurating mass on the starboard side of the plate? Looks like something one of my cats might’ve yakked up.

    Food aside, it really does look like an impressive place. Makes me wish those of us who are WDW regulars could do something to get right with the Baby Jesus so we could get something like that here, instead of “Test Track WTF Edition.”

    • Chronic Gin Deficiency says:

      Also too, apple pie topped with cheddar cheese was a very common early-mid 20th century dessert, featured as much or more so than “a la mode,” so it’s kinda-sorta thematically correct.

      • Prof. Brainard says:

        I must echo Chronic Gin Deficiency and say that serving cheddar cheese with apple pie was once very common. My own grandmother was a champion pie baker, and, when apple pie was served, her question was always whether we wanted ours plain or with cheese. Ice cream (a la mode) was never mentioned. Apple pie with cheddar would have also been found on diner menus throughout the country. It was once a classic of American cuisine, but seems to have died off, to the extent that it is now thought to be odd (it was also thought to be so by the constituency of the superb Disney Food Blog, where I had to write a similar comment some time ago). A piece of homemade apple pie with a slab of good Vermont cheddar on top makes for a very satisfying experience.

      • Tom Bricker says:

        Thank you both for the feedback on the cheddar apple pie. I had no idea that it was once a popular dessert. Nice to read that it’s thematically appropriate.

        I’ve only heard good things about it, so what sounds like an odd combination to me likely isn’t that odd. I’m all for adding cheese to things, so I suspect I’d like it.

  7. Chirstian says:

    I thought the Breakfast Tamale was pretty tasty with a not-too spicy kick to it. But that Banana French Toast with caramel sauce is a decadent sugar rush. It should be offered as a desert item instead. I haven’t tried the American breakfast at Flo’s yet.

  8. Jasmine says:

    Flo’s is definitely awesome, but I think both Plaza Inn and Hungry Bear beat it for me, in terms of quick service. I love them all, though!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Plaza Inn definitely beats it for me. French Market does, too. I love Hungry Bear, but that’s also mostly for ambiance.

      • Jasmine says:

        Ditto in regards to Hungry Bear. The main reason I enjoy it is not because of the food, but because of its location.

  9. Betty says:

    Flo’s makes an incredible french toast for breakfast!

  10. Wendell says:

    What’s up, I read your new stuff regularly. Your writing style is awesome,
    keep doing what you’re doing!

  11. Hayley McManus says:

    Is Flos a restraunt you need reservations for?

  12. Danny Kidd says:

    Went to DL and DCA for the first time last fall and I have to admit… I hated the food at Flos V8 Cafe. I was expecting Burgers, Fries, and Shakes. The food doesn’t fit the theming of the restaurant. The food Flos serves would be better suited for a Cracker Barrel style restaurant.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I can understand not liking the food, but why do you think it’s not suited to Flo’s? It’s American comfort food, the type that would customarily be served at roadside diners along Route 66. I think it’s a perfect fit.

      Sure, I wouldn’t mind a few more menu items (a nice, greasy burger and some cheese fries would be great), but I can understand why they were left off the menu in an effort to launch Flo’s as offering more than just ordinary theme park food.

      • Danny Kidd says:

        When I think of Route 66 I think of 50s/60s dinners and that makes me think of burgers and fries.

        American comfort food to me is Cracker Barrel and Bob Evans.

        I just wish they had burgers, fries and chicken nuggets in addition to their current menu. It just strikes me as funny that the main eatery in a land based upon a kids movie doesn’t have burgers, fries and chicken nuggets. My boys are picky eaters and didn’t eat much.

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