Looking for the best counter service restaurants at Disneyland for an inexpensive and quick meal? We cover our 10 favorite dining options in California’s castle park, offering entree and dessert recommendations, and more! (Last updated August 1, 2019.)
Note that if you’re looking for the top options at DCA, consult our list of the Best Disney California Adventure Counter Service Restaurants. Disneyland Resort’s second gate is arguably even more of a foodie park than Disneyland now! Still, Disneyland has some excellent options, especially now that a new restaurant has opened in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
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.
Below is a brief synopsis why each restaurant is a great pick, along with what specific items we recommend from the various restaurants…
10. Little Red Wagon – It might seem like a bit of a stretch to include a corn dog stand on a top 10 list like this, but it’s not. Little Red Wagon’s standard corn dog is the gold standard.
Enjoy one in late morning by grabbing a bench facing Sleeping Beauty Castle and decompressing after racing around Fantasyland doing rides. It’s a blissful experience!
9. Royal Street Veranda – The menu here is basic and simple, but it has a couple of Disneyland fan-favorite items. Sarah eats at Royal Street Veranda at least once per trip for their bread bowl gumbo.
I don’t normally eat at Royal Street Veranda because I don’t like having soup when it’s hot outside, but I’d agree that it’s a solid pick during the winter months!
8. Hungry Bear Restaurant – Hungry Bear Restaurant’s stock has dropped considerably in recent years. First, they eliminated fan favorite desserts like the Lemon Cupcake and Trixie’s Pie. Then, the fatal blow was struck, with the removal of the popular Fried Green Tomato Sandwich.
Nevertheless, there are a few solid choices here if you’re in a pinch. More than anything, we like Hungry Bear Restaurant 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.
7. Harbour Galley – This unassuming little dockside window located along the Rivers of America as you head towards Critter Country will catch you by surprise. It doesn’t seem like much, but it has a surprising strong menu with bread bowls, lobster items, and salads.
While the hidden seating area behind Harbour Galley is a delightful reprieve from the crowds, our recommendation here is to take your order (the Lobster Mac & Cheese Bread Bowl is our #1 choice) and walk over to the back of the upper terrace at Hungry Bear Restaurant and enjoy a serene meal overlooking the water, and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
6. Jolly Holiday Bakery & Cafe – 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 it could probably use a couple more items (and menu diversity) in order for Jolly Holiday Bakery to stand as an elite counter service restaurant in Disneyland.
Still, the sandwiches are delicious and 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.
5. Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante – 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.
4. Red Rose Taverne – Back in Fantasyland you’ll find Red Rose Taverne, Disneyland’s once temporary but now-permanent Beauty and the Beast-decorated restaurant. The restaurant itself is charming thanks to its original design, even if the overlay is a yawn.
Thankfully, what this restaurant lacks in Beauty and the Beast theme it makes up for with an excellent menu full of guilty pleasure indulgences and other surprises. Sarah’s top pick at Red Rose Taverne is the Enchanted Cauli-Flower Sandwich while I’m a big fan of the Slow-cooked Beef Poutine.
3. French Market – 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.
2. Plaza Inn – 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.
The fried chicken is 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.
1. Docking Bay 7 Food & Cargo – Disneyland’s newest counter service restaurant is also its best. This large venue in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge has high prices–but no higher than the #2 and #3 restaurants on this list. Additionally, it has an ambitious menu with a variety of options to match those high price points.
On a cool day, the small courtyard of almost-hidden outdoor seating is your best option. As for menu choices, our top picks are the Felucian Garden Spread (pictured above), which is a great option even for non-vegans, and the Smoked Kaadu Ribs…which is like the polar opposite of a vegan option!
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!
If you’re preparing for a Disneyland trip, check out our other planning posts, including how to save money on Disneyland tickets, our Disney packing tips, tips for booking a hotel (off-site or on-site), where to dine, and a number of other things, check out our comprehensive Disneyland Vacation Planning Guide!
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!