Earl of Sandwich Review (+Hotel Stay Giveaway!)

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Earl of Sandwich is a sandwich shop in Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World, Disneyland, and Disneyland Paris. There are also a few other locations, mostly at airports, around the United States. The restaurant has developed a cult following among Disney fans, particularly for its inventive “Holiday Turkey Sandwich,” which is basically like a mash-up of Thanksgiving dinner in a sandwich.

Each of the Earl of Sandwich locations are unique, but they share the same common backstory. It’s an interesting story that combines true historical figures (yes, there really were Earls of Sandwich) like John Montagu, the supposed inventor of the sandwich in 1762, with a bit of fiction–or perhaps just a bit of truth-stretching–about the history of the sandwich. It is true that Earl of Sandwich’s founder is a descendent of John Montagu, but it’s unclear how many other parts of the story are true. Regardless of what’s true and what’s imagined, it’s nice in that it makes Earl of Sandwich more than just a generic sandwich shop. The paintings of the various Earls of Sandwich, antique books, and things like the “Sandwich Charter” all on the walls give the various locations their own unique wrinkles.

The Earl of Sandwich at the Downtown Disney location in Walt Disney World is always incredibly busy, likely because of its inexpensive price, good sandwiches, and very positive word of mouth. We’ve heard from many Walt Disney World fans who make special trips to Downtown Disney just to visit Earl of Sandwich! Given its prominence at Downtown Disney in Walt Disney World, we think this Earl of Sandwich review is the perfect place to kick-off our second Downtown Disney Area Resort hotel giveaway. Scroll to the bottom of this post to enter! (more…)

Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante Review

Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante is a quick service restaurant in Disneyland’s Frontierland that has a Mexican menu. Although it’s technically counter service, much like Plaza Inn, it’s sort of a ‘buffeteria’ style location with higher quality options on actual plates and with real silverware. It’s also priced slightly above other counter service restaurants in Disneyland, but the portion sizes and ambiance make this forgivable.

Beyond just the buffeteria style, Rancho del Zocalo is a lot like the Frontierland version of Plaza Inn. As opposed to the Main Street and Sleeping Beauty Castle view at Plaza Inn, you get a nice open-air Big Thunder Mountain/Frontierland or romantic “star light” view at Rancho del Zocalo. (I’ve been out of the dating game for a while, but if I were looking for a cheap, romantic place at Disneyland to take someone, the inside area at Rancho after dusk would be near the top of my list!) In place of high quality American comfort food that’s fitting of Main Street, you have high quality Mexican (comfort?) food that’s fitting of Frontierland.

Of course, nothing is more important to a restaurant than its food, but that great ambiance is what keeps us coming back to Rancho del Zocalo. This is something Disneyland counter service restaurants seem to nail far better than their Walt Disney World counterparts, and Rancho del Zocalo is no exception. (more…)

Disneyland Restaurant Reviews

Flo's V8 Cafe in Cars Land at Disney California Adventure. See more Cars Land photos by Tom Bricker: http://www.disneytouristblog.com/cars-land-photos/

Our Disneyland Resort restaurant reviews offer opinions and photos from some of our favorite restaurants at Disney California and Disneyland. Each review contains a detailed description of the restaurant’s ambiance and style, along with lots of Disney food photos, and our picks for the best dishes to order and ones to avoid. There are dozens of restaurants in each of the Disneyland Resort theme parks, and chances are that you won’t have time to try them all…unless you’re a local or are taking a really long trip! Over the last few years, we’ve dined at the majority of the restaurants in Disneyland (park), Disney California Adventure, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, and Disneyland Hotel. Downtown Disney and Paradise Pier Hotel are our only real blind spots as far as dining goes.

If a restaurant that you’re considering is absent from the reviews below, feel free to ask about it in the comments. We’ve thus far only reviewed a portion of the restaurants at which we’ve dined, as we try to eat at each restaurant a couple of times before reviewing it, unless we feel we tried the “core” of the menu and got the full experience in one visit.

Disneyland restaurants are scored on a scale of 1-10, with the score being based solely on cuisine and ambiance. Service can be very inconsistent at all Disney restaurants, which is why we don’t factor that into our scores except in certain (noted) circumstances. Due to this inconsistency, we recommend reading a few reviews (not just ours!) of the same restaurant before making a decision on whether to dine there. No matter what you read anywhere, we wouldn’t base a dining decision on reviews that factor service heavily–the reviewer may have had awful service and you may have great service, or vice-a-versa.

As for the scores, they should be viewed like letter grades: 10/10 is an A+, 8/10 is a B-, 6/10 is a D-, (and so on), with any score below a 6/10 being varying degrees of failing. Any restaurant that gets a 8/10 or above is one that we’d recommend. If the restaurant’s score is below that, we’d recommend skipping it. There are too many good dining options to mess with the mediocre or poor ones.

The reviews here are just for the Disneyland Resort in California. We have reviews for Disney restaurants around the globe, including Walt Disney World, Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disney Resort, and Hong Kong Disneyland. Check out our “Disney Dining Reviews Index” page to find them all.

Here are our reviews and other dining resources from Disneyland Resort… (more…)

Paradise Garden Grill Review

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Paradise Garden Grill is a counter service restaurant in Disney California Adventure at Disneyland Resort that specializes in Mediterranean skewers. The menu includes steak, chicken, meatball, and tofu skewers, plus a gyro. It’s sort of the “little brother” to the larger Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta to which it is adjacent and shares a seating area (BoardWalk Pizza & Pasta is a large, walk-in restaurant whereas Paradise Garden Grill uses a kiosk and window ordering set-up). Both were added to Paradise Pier as part of Disney California Adventure’s huge overhaul, replacing the eclectic Pizza Oom Mow Mow and Burger Invasion.

Since Paradise Garden Grill employs a kiosk and window set-up, all of the seating is outdoors. This is fine, as the Paradise Garden seating area shared between Paradise Garden Grill and Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta has a beautiful, elegant Victorian look. This area has ornate detailing, and looks quite pretty at night. It lacks the sense of place found elsewhere in the Disney parks, so it’s not always my favorite spot, but there’s no denying that it looks good.

The biggest plus to this seating area is the live music that regularly performs at the Paradise Garden Bandstand. You can find the schedule for the main group, the Ellis Island Boys, here. While seats close to the stage put you right in the center of the energetic performances, we recommend sitting a little further away, as close to the stage is loud. We’ve seen other groups here from time to time, mostly during seasonal events. Meet & greets also occur in this area during seasonal events (sorry, Mediterranean Mickey isn’t a fixture of the restaurant, I just don’t have a single photo of the restaurant signage, for some reason, so I had no good header photo). (more…)

Cafe Orleans Review

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Cafe Orleans is a table service restaurant in Disneyland’s New Orleans Square with a Creole-inspired menu. It features both indoor and outdoor seating, and truly is reminiscent of a New Orleans cafe. In terms of pricing, it falls between two other restaurants in New Orleans Square: the excellent French Market and Blue Bayou, the restaurant “in” Pirates of the Caribbean. In terms of cuisine, it’s the best of the three restaurants, and arguably the top table service restaurant in Disneyland (park).

Cafe Orleans opened with the original New Orleans Square in 1966 and was originally called Creole Café. Walt Disney chose an ice cream counter inspired by The Happiest Millionaire as well as an antique espresso machine purchased by him and his wife Lilly in Italy. This espresso machine remains in Cafe Orleans today. Another notable piece of decor in Cafe Orleans is an oil painting of Philippe Duc d’Orleans, which is an original of the French nobleman for whom the city is named. While Walt never lived to see Cafe Orleans open, he influenced its design, some of which remains intact today. Over the years, Cafe Orleans has alternated between being a counter service and table service restaurant at various times. Due to a Sara Lee sponsorship, the name changed to Cafe Orleans in 1972 and it began serving specialty sandwiches, fritters, and ice cream concoctions. In 2006, it became the table service restaurant that now exists today. Various other changes have occurred to Cafe Orleans over the years; Disney author Kevin Yee used to work there, and he has an exhaustive history of the restaurant on his site.

With dark woods, paintings and photos lining the walls, and beautiful stained glass, the inside dining area feels like an upscale cafe. However, we opted to dine outside because even the nice interior cannot trump the ambiance of New Orleans Square. (more…)