Best Dishes at Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival
This lists our top 10 favorite dishes at the Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival, which is Disneyland Resort’s spring foodie event. Here we cover the best items at the booths, including marvelous meats, savory snacks, and decadent desserts.
We think such a list is useful, as the dishes are of varying quality: some good, some bad, and some ugly. Rather than doing individual marketplace booth reviews, we wanted to at least drop in with some must-try snacks for those of you visiting in the near future who want a concise resource of what to eat at this year’s flagship Food & Wine Festival at Disneyland Resort.
As a general matter, you’ll notice that many of our recommendations are heavy. It’s been a few years since we last did this foodie event, but we were surprised just how many dishes at the Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival could be described as “elevated comfort food.”
This makes sense to an extent–California has a lot of great street food that’s indulgent or decadent. It’s also a state of diverse and inventive flavors, coastal cuisine, and healthy living. Some of that is present throughout the Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival, but it’s certainly not prominent–nor are those items the ‘best of the fest.’
This caught us a bit off guard, especially as Epcot’s festivals have seemingly done a better job at offering a range of interesting and ambitious cuisine (look at something like the Trowell & Trellis Outdoor Kitchen, which is much more interesting than DCA’s Impossible slider). With that said, the overall quality of the culinary lineup at the DCA Food & Wine Festival is still very high, and with fewer “misses” than its Epcot counterpart. Still, the menus play things safe a lot more than we expected.
March 3, 2023 Update: We’ve just started tasting our way around the 2023 Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival, which began today and runs through April 25, 2023. A lot of favorites from last year have returned, and are as good as ever.
This list is still mostly accurate as a result. With that said, we’ll be back for another update at the end of the weekend to share additional new dishes that we really love at the 2023 Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival.
On a tangentially related note, the Sip & Savor Pass is back for the 2023 Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival. The Sip & Savor Pass provides a commemorative credential, lanyard and 8 tabs redeemable for food and nonalcoholic beverages at the 2023 DCA Food & Wine Festival marketplace booths.
We recommend buying the Sip & Savor Pass. It’s a good value you should buy only the most expensive items at each food booth. You get 8 tabs to use on food and non-alcoholic beverages. Even at the higher price point, your per item breakeven cost is $7.13. With several savory items on our ‘recommended’ list below clocking in at $8.50 each, the pass offers good bang for buck if you’re planning on sampling a number of items at the event–just pay for desserts out of pocket.
Anyway, let’s start with the best-of the Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival list…
Black & Tan Beef Potato Puffs (D*Lish Booth) – The beef here has a rich flavor thanks to the Karl Strauss Brewing Co., Wreck Alley Stout Gravy, which is really the highlight.
That unique twist on this plus a sizable portion makes this otherwise ordinary dish something worthwhile. Also, at $8.50, it’s an exceptional use of a Sip & Savor Pass tab.
Glazed BBQ Pork Belly (LA Style Booth) – This pork belly with Furikake-Togarashi Mac Salad has clear Asian influences, and is something you might find in Koreatown. The portion here is sizable, with the meat being rich and deeply flavorful–but also a bit on the fatty side (even for pork belly).
I liked this a lot more than Sarah did–it’d be one of my top overall picks. If you’re a healthier eater or have already had several heavy dishes, you might look elsewhere. Another great use of the Sip & Savor Pass tabs, though.
French Onion Grilled Beef Tenderloin Slider (Cluck-a-Doodle-Moo Booth) – This consists of a sizable chunk of Grilled Beef Tenderloin topped with a Gruyère Cheese Sauce and Grilled Caramelized Onions, served on an Onion Roll.
We were skeptical that the tenderloin here would be low quality, masked by the slathering of sauce and onions, but this is really tasty. The meat is delicious on its own, and the other ingredients only enhance–not mask–it. And yet again another great Sip & Savor item.
IPA Sausage Dog (California Craft Brews Booth) – This sausage dog on a soft pretzel roll with onion-pepper jardinière, cheddar cheese sauce and malt vinegar-jalapeño crunch is an “elevated hot dog” at its finest.
This is fairly “basic” for a foodie event, but if this were on one of the permanent menus at DCA or Disneyland, it would absolutely have a cult following. It’s that good, with just the right amount of heat, a great blend of textures and flavors.
Artichoke Toast with California Olive Tapenade (I Heart Artichokes Booth) – Toasted Sliced Baguette with Artichoke Cream Cheese, topped with a zesty Olive and Artichoke Tapenade and garnished with a drizzle of Olive Oil.
Both of the above items are fantastic foods that we’d suggest sampling. If forced to choose, we’d opt for the Artichoke Toast, which is a fun twist on a California brunch staple. The tapenade is rich and bold, offset nicely by the cream cheese. Somehow, it’s both indulgent and refreshing–highly recommended.
Grilled Top Sirloin (Garlic Kisses Booth) – This is our top savory recommendation of the entire DCA Food & Wine Festival. The grilled top sirloin is an absolute crowd-pleaser, offering an approachable dish for “meat & potatoes” people as well as something more ambitious for foodies. The Roasted Garlic-Gruyère Smashed Potatoes and creamy and addictively delicious; the perfectly-prepared meat topped with refreshing chimichurri and fermented black garlic are likewise fantastic. Highly, highly recommended.
Carbonara-Garlic Mac & Cheese (Garlic Kisses Booth) – Although not particularly garlic-y, this elevated mac & cheese is another winner at the Garlic Kisses booth. In addition to a nice mixture of cheeses, the bacon chunks made this a hearty and delicious dish. Give me this in a full sized bread bowl over at Pacific Wharf Cafe!
Entire Dessert Menu at Nuts About Cheese – Once again, we’re recommending just ordering an entire booth’s menu, this time the sweets side at Nuts About Cheese. Here are the items that encompasses:
Next Level Crackers & Cheese – This sweet and savory mix consists of House-made Herb Crackers with White Cheddar-infused Bellwether Farms Fromage Blanc, ‘Nduja Prosciutto Spread and Cherry Jam. Whatever your expectations, this will likely defy them. There’s very little prosciutto to speak of, with the creamy cheese, tangy jam, and earthy crackers instead providing the predominant flavors. It ends up being a fantastic dessert–ambitious, interesting, and delicious. Our favorite of the booth.
Snickers Caramel-Peanut Milk Chocolate Mickey Macaron – What you see is what you get here. This is a chocolate Mickey Mouse-shaped macaron filled with caramel ganache and Snickers pieces. Does that sound good? It should, because it’s fantastic. This wasn’t necessarily destined for greatness. While Disneyland can do macarons really well, just as often they’re overly artificial or otherwise miss the mark. Not so here, this is the best version of exactly what you’d expect if you’re imagining this dessert.
Peanut Butter & Jelly Mac with Brown Sugar Streusel and Strawberry Crackle – Disneyland has introduced some culinary abominations in the last couple years, seemingly chasing headlines and social media infamy. Fearing more of that, no one in our group was particularly excited to try “macaroni & cheese–but with PB&J.” That’s not what this is, at all. Truthfully, I don’t really know what it is–the textures are a bit off, but the flavors are fantastic. Give it a try for yourself.
Finally, speaking of headline-chasing culinary abominations, there’s the Frozen Guacamole. This dessert (?) consists of Avocado Paleta with Lime Crema, Pico de Gallo, Chile-Lime Seasoning, and Tortilla Crunch. This is awful. By itself, the avocado paleta is unique and good–a smooth and light frozen dessert. By itself, the guac toppings are likewise good.
Combined, they are totally at odds and incredibly off-putting. Nothing here melds together, and the end result is downright nasty. I ended up scraping off the toppings and eating the paleta by itself. No one else dared give it a second bite.
Planning a Southern California vacation? For park admission deals, read Tips for Saving Money on Disneyland Tickets. Learn about on-site and off-site hotels in our Anaheim Hotel Reviews & Rankings. For where to eat, check out our Disneyland Restaurant Reviews. For unique ideas of things that’ll improve your trip, check out What to Pack for Disney. For comprehensive advice, consult our Disneyland Vacation Planning Guide. Finally, for guides beyond Disney, check out our Southern California Itineraries for day trips to Los Angeles, Laguna Beach, and tons of other places!
Do you have any favorite–or least favorite–savory snacks or decadent desserts at the 2023 Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival? Will you be attending the event? Any new or returning booths you’re excited to try? Booking any of the special seminars, or sticking to the free ones? Do you agree or disagree with thoughts on the Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival? Any additional thoughts on specific samples? Share any questions, tips, or additional thoughts you have in the comments!
I’m going in April and was wondering if you’re going to update for 2023 soon? Thanks 🙂
The food was very good but the tiny portions are sooooo NOT worth $7-8.50! I would not do it again.
I thought the empanada was delicious. The macaron and wings were good too. Horchata cold brew was good too. Can’t wait to try the items from the garlic kisses booth 🙂
Agree wholeheartedly on the Black & Tan, great selection. You missed though the blueberry buttermilk pie – truly a great comfort food!
We just got back from a trip that ran Sunday-Thursday, and had 20+ items over the course of a few days. Nothing we had would go as as far as BAD in our books, some things were excellent, but the most were simply “pretty good.” The PB&J Mac definitely reminded me of noodles with peanut sauce, but I would’ve preferred something other than strawberry pop rocks to bring the jelly element to the dish. Overall it was still worth trying. I actually found the frozen guacamole to be an intriguing concept and the ingredients were all good, but definitely could use a bit of refining to play better together. The standout best food item was probably the Beef Potato Puffs.
We bought 2 Sip and Savor passes (with MK discount) and got a couple desserts and a few cocktails out-of-pocket.
I think the 3 cocktails I had over the course of the festival were the most impressive flavors (Spicy-Honey Apricot, Sake-Melon ’75, and Rosemary-Bitter Orange Mule), and the non-alcoholic drinks we tried were excellent as well. The Central California Cooler was very good, and the Blackberry Lavender Lemonade was absolutely incredible. All in all, I think the drinks outshone the food this time.
So I went today and got the snickers chocolate macaroon. Was good but very sweet. The peanuts helped balance it out.
Yum! Diets next month?