Review: Cafe Orleans Restaurant at Disneyland
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 price-wise falls between two other nearby restaurants: the excellent French Market and Blue Bayou, which is “in” Pirates of the Caribbean. Cuisine-wise, Cafe Orleans is the best of the three restaurants, and arguably the top table service restaurant in Disneyland.
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, Cafe Orleans 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.
Our visit to Cafe Orleans had been a long time coming. Dining reservations at Disneyland normally aren’t necessary, but Blue Bayou and Cafe Orleans seem to be the exceptions.
We finally had the foresight to make reservations first thing one morning when we got to the park for an afternoon meal at Cafe Orleans. Famed Omnibus rider and consumer of Disneyland foods, Guy Selga, joined us for the meal.
Guy eats at Cafe Orleans approximately 13 times per month, so we took his recommendation and got an appetizer of the Pommes Frites to split. This turned out to be a huge mistake. The ‘to split’ part, that is. These were so good that having to share them should be a crime.
If it were socially acceptable (is it?) I would have pulled the thing of Pommes Frites close to me and growled anytime Sarah or Guy tried to take one. I guess I’m a bit like Joey in that regard. The point is that these frites, caked with Parmesan and garlic and accompanied by Cajun Spice Remoulade are to die for. These are not your garden variety french fries, and definitely should not be overlooked.
For entrees, Sarah ordered the N’awlins Vegetable Ragout with Chicken. Sarah thought it was a good mix of fresh vegetables, with the seasoning providing a slight spice to it. She also thought the blackened chicken was moist and perfectly cooked.
I tried a bit of this and admittedly wasn’t all that impressed. I thought it was relatively mild and although the vegetables were good, it just didn’t do a whole lot for me. (In fairness, vegetable dishes definitely are not my thing.)
Guy ordered the Chicken Gumbo Crepe. With both of these crepes, the crepe itself was clearly freshly-made, and the flavor reflected that.
I was a bit skeptical of how this dish would fuse two Creole classics together, but the Chicken Gumbo Crepe was fantastic. The gumbo itself was flavorful, and as is the case with gumbo, it had a spicy flair, but was still relatively mild. The chicken and sausage mix did work perfectly in (and on) the crepe.
I ultimately settled on the Seafood Herb Crepe. I was hesitant to order this as I’ve been burned by entrees that are essentially “seafood in places where you normally wouldn’t expect it” in the past, but I decided to take the plunge. Like everything else we had, the seafood was fresh and tender, with the tomato sauce giving it just the right amount of Creole flavor.
This seems fairly inventive as far as crepes go, and I’d definitely recommend it for seafood fans. I do have to admit that I slightly preferred the Chicken Gumbo Crepe, though. You really can’t go wrong either way–both of these crepes rank as some of the best-tasting things I’ve had at Disneyland. Definitely not what you’d expect from a theme park restaurant in terms of freshness and quality.
For our final entree, we have the proverbial elephant in the room: the famous Monte Cristo. Outside of snack foods like Dole Whips, churros, and corn dogs, the Monte Cristo is probably the most talked about and hyped food available at Disneyland. It’s greasy ham and cheese in fried dough–and I mean that in the best way possible. It’s the ultimate in culinary indulgences–and excesses, and should definitely be ordered at Cafe Orleans if you’re going to get it (the exact same sandwich is more expensive at Blue Bayou).
Granted, I eat a lot of terrible-for-you foods in the Disney parks, but even I have a tough time finishing an entire Monte Cristo by myself. It’s not that the sandwich is bad–it’s just a lot. Potentially too much fried, greasy, sweet stuff in one meal. Sort of like sitting down for a meal of four donuts, plus some ham on the side.
I love the Monte Cristo, I just think it’s the type of thing you order for the table, and split among 2-3 people. Countless Disneyland fans have disagreed with me in the past when I’ve shared this sentiment, so what do I know? Maybe it’s the perfect meal for one! Either way, you should definitely order the Monte Cristo. Your stomach will thank you later.
For dessert, the star is certainly the Mickey Beignets. With that said, it is worth noting that the Mickey Beignets at Cafe Orleans are more than double the price of the Mickey Beignets at the nearby Mint Julep Bar.
The only difference is that the beignets at Cafe Orleans come with dipping sauce. These beignets are delicious…but why not just grab them at your leisure from Mint Julep Bar?
Overall, thanks to fairly moderate price points, excellent ambiance, and authentic yet approachable cuisine, Cafe Orleans scores big kudos from us. It, along with Carnation Cafe probably represent the two best values in Disneyland Resort table service dining, and Cafe Orleans also ranks in the top 5 overall Disneyland Resort restaurants for us. It’s certainly better than its overrated New Orleans Square “relative” Blue Bayou, and at a lower price point.
Although it lacks the experience of dining along the peaceful waters of Pirates of the Caribbean, dining in an open air location in the beautifully-themed New Orleans Square is a pretty good consolation prize. Cafe Orleans should appeal to a wide range of diners–from picky eaters to those looking for more authentic Creole foods–and we recommend it without any hesitations to anyone heading to Disneyland.
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!
Have you dined at Cafe Orleans? What did you order? What did you think of it? Planning on going? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Any questions? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!
Went to Cafe Orleans this last April. Had the Shrimp & Grits. Soooo delicious. Been trying to find the recipe ever since. Suggestions?
I have a reservation here, but see the menu has changed dramatically! Any chance you will be reviewing the new menu soon?!
I’m glad I’m not the only one who doesn’t care for Disneyland’s Monte Cristo sandwiches. I remember having them for the first time as a pre-teen at a restaurant in California and LOVING them, then years later at my first time having lunch at the Blue Bayou and being very disappointed by them. Too greasy and doughy were my primary thoughts as well.
ERMAHGERD! Thank you for this post. We are planning the second trip in as a family and my oldest and I are planning every bite of our trip. Thank you for letting us know that the beignets are a better deal around the corner. We’ll be sure to stop there.
They are a better deal but those sauces make those beignets. They really do! The vanilla cremé anglaise and the raspberry sauce are to die for! I recommended having a reservation just for those!
Had dinner here towards the end of March. Sadly the crepes don’t look like what you photographed. They’re more like crepe rolls. Per you last post on Disneyland dining (price increase and portion size decreasing) it is so true. My entree barely covered half my plate and there was barely enough sauce. Good news is that there were plenty of fries for the 3 of us.
We tried the biengets everywhere at Disneyland, Cafe Orleans had hands down the best. The ones from jazz kitchen were hockey pucks and the ones from mint julep were disappointing, they were flat and stale. We have ordered the beignets several times from café Orleans and they have always been fresh and tasty. They are different than Cafe du Monde, but definitely the best on the west coast, unless you are making them yourselves.
Thanks for your review. I was wondering is the seafood crepe is spicy at all? It is really what sold me to put this on the itinerary, but I don’t do spicy well. (And already planning to have a heart stopping monte cristo at BB!)
I had to re read the last comment, at first I thought he said you could order pomme frites at the mint julep bar…..just dreaming I guess lol I was at this location last week and I had the pumpkin beignets from the mint julep bar they were fresh indeed and soo yummy a must try. I have personally eaten the ham version of the monte cristo in both locations and they were the same to me. Both delicious, yet I still haven’t learned I can’t eat a whole one by myself. I’ve also had the beignets at Jazz kitchen multiple times… Hey a girls has to eat breakfast right. They are bigger and rectangular in shape however the Mickey one are, well, Mickey shaped and while the taste and freshness are a luck of the draw at each location. I think the Mickey shaped ones bring a slightly bigger smile!
I, too, have been a fan of Cafe Orleans for several years. Our favorite thing there is the beignets for dessert! While the beignets at the Mint Julep bar may be cheaper, the ones at Cafe Orleans outshine them because they are always hot. We get them occasionally at the Mint Julep bar when we’re not eating at CO, but about half the time, they are cold. That has never happened at CO. And, the sauces just make them so much better!
My husband and I have been going to Cafe Orleans since they opened. It is our favorite Disneyland park restaurant. It is one of the only restaurants that offered a great tasting and healthy vegetarian meal option – the ratatouille/ragout. It was a large meal of nicely cooked veggies and great “corn cakes”, i.e. polenta cakes. Eventually, they even added to option to have a chicken breast with it. This was a great option for my husband and at only an extra $2.00 is a GREAT price. I would add the chicken to my order and have it on the side to give to him.
Unfortunately, in February January Cafe Orleans significantly reduced the portion size for the ratatouille/ragout meal. It is now $15.50 for a very small bowl of veggies and a smaller polenta cake. The size pictured in the review is the larger version. Picture the above entree reduced by over 1/3.
It feels like Disney is doing some price gouging for those of us looking for a healthy, vegetarian meal option.
Tom I love you comments and reviews from all this amazing places, we love all Disney related stuff and try to visit at least once a year, we live in Mexico so every time we visit we try to make it better than the last one.
I loooove beignets but have only tried them at the tiny “coffe shop” beside French. Market, where is this Mint Julpe Bar your tslking about?? Are they cheaper there????
Congrats again on this awesome site!!! And thanks for taking the time to write this and give all of us tips for our next visits or just to help us learn more about our favorite places on earth!!
We will be dining at cafe Orleans for the first time, feb 4th. I can’t wait, your pics make everything look so delicious.
Btw- love your blog. You are an amazing photographer
TOM DOESN’T SHARE FOOD!
I’m not sure I could stomach a monte cristo on my own, but split (with two orders of fries, of course) it is a perfect meal.
The cheese Monte Cristo sounds really tempting (I love cheese), so I really just need to find someone to split this with and go for it. I like the idea of adding 2 (or 3) orders of fries to make that a complete meal!
I know I’m replying to a very old post and that you probably have already tried the Cheese Monte Cristo. However, they are to DIE for. I did not care for the original Monte Cristo, but the cheese version is really good almost but not quite dessert like. So give it a try if you haven’t already.
I had the chance to eat at Cafe Orleans this last October for the first time and totally agree with you about the Pommes Frites, they were delicious! I also tried the Monte Cristo sandwich and could not eat it. I wasn’t expecting the heavy breading that was more like a doughnut rather than bread. They gave us free Beignets because my daughter was wearing a birthday pin, and that was one of my favorite deserts in the resort.
The Pommes Frites are definitely off-the-scale in yumminess! But I feel compelled to point out that the Monte Cristo at Cafe Orleans is not — repeat, NOT — the “same sandwich” as the one at Blue Bayou.
My boyfriend and I discovered Cafe Orleans on our first trip to Disneyland several years ago. We split an order of Pommes Frites, and ordered both Monte Cristos — the regular one and the one made with different cheeses — and shared those, too. We really loved it all, and that specific meal became a tradition for us on every trip.
However, last summer, we decided to try to get a reservation at Blue Bayou, since we’d never been there, and were lucky enough to get one that same day! We’d read on several fan sites that the Monte Cristo here was the “same sandwich” as at Cafe Orleans, but then I was puzzled when they didn’t offer the cheesy one, too. We decided to split one anyway, and when it came, we were totally blown away! I can’t even describe how amazingly delicious the Blue Bayou’s Monte Cristo was!
I’ll just put it this way, borrowing a comparison from your Pizza Planet review: saying the Monte Cristo at Cafe Orleans and Blue Bayou are the “same sandwich” is like saying Pizza Planet (or Domino’s) and a fresh, gourmet New York or Chicago pie are the “same pizza.” 🙂
I don’t doubt that one sandwich was better than another. I’ve ordered a menu item and then ordered the same item again at the same restaurant a number of times and have had one instance of that meal be superior to the other. Sometimes ingredients are fresher, sometimes it’s cooked better, etc. That said, there is no material difference between the regular Monte Cristo at Cafe Orleans and the one at Blue Bayou. Ingredients, portion size, etc., are all the same.
Actually, they’re *very* different. The one at BB appeared freshly-made with some sort of thick, Texas toast-style bread, while the one at CO seems almost prefab. (It looks itentical to the one I can get at a restaurant here on the other side of the country!)
Not only are the sandwiches prepared with the same ingredients and same recipe, but they are made in the exact same kitchen (the underground “New Orleans Square Main Kitchen”). You’re going to believe what you want to believe, so I won’t further argue the point, but the difference in the sandwiches you had was not a result of them being made differently. Sounds like something ‘went wrong’ in the preparation of the Cafe Orleans one.
Since you’re a photographer, I can send you photos of the two different sandwiches. I don’t “believe” they’re different, I know they are, and I have photographic proof. You said you’ve never had one at either place, so I think, as someone who’s eaten and photographed both, I’m the more credible source here.
I used to read your blog all the time but I recently haven’t been so much because of comments like these. It seems a lot of the times you come off as a know it all and rude. It’s very off putting. You don’t know everything about Disney or traveling in general and maybe someone might know some information you don’t and it’s ok. You might delete this or block me from your site and I honestly don’t care, but if I feel this way I know there are other people that do as well.
I don’t delete any comments unless they’re spam or vulgar, even if I disagree with them or they’re critical of me. Unfortunately, in this case, I don’t even disagree with the comment. I know I have an issue with being a know it all and rude (among other things), and I’m sure plenty of others would agree with you. It’s something I’m trying to be more aware of. In many cases, it would definitely be a good idea for me to have a more diplomatic tone or to take a minute and think before responding in the moment.
So, I appreciate your comment (really). It’s important to keep in mind that I don’t know everything, and also that when I’m responding to comments, that there are *people* on the other end of them.
As to Beth, my apologies for being dismissive and rude to you. That was definitely out of line.
Tom, that was a very respectable and humble response. Good for you!
For the past 6 weeks I’ve been reading through all of your posts. They are amazing by the way.
Even though I don’t find you rude or all-knowing, I do think that you handled that post well. Very respectful! Makes me want to continue reading your posts.
Please forgive me for jumping an old post and stirring the pot, as a former DL Cast Memeber, I’d like to share that there is indeed a central kitchen and the Monte Cristo is very much the same at both Cafe Orleans & Blue Bayou. And Cafe Orleans is not a training location, CM’s prefer to move to the other locations for the same reason a server would probably prefer to move from Chili’s to Ruth’s Chris, better tips 😉
I understand and appreciate that many Disney fans (especially AP’s) are very educated about the parks and the park’s histories and that is awesome! Hopefully the shared joy will we all have will allow us to learn something we may not have known before and pass it along to the next fan 🙂
Love your site Tom, thank you so much for such an incredible resource!
Thank you for your insight.
I feel like it was Beth who was dismissive and rude as soon as her opinion was challenged. Having never seen ANY comments before (even from Disney sites) that doesn’t agree that the sandwiches are the same, seeing photographic “proof” that they look identical, and asking for, and being given, the recipe for the Monte Cristo (from Blue Bayou/Café Orleans) I’d have to think that maybe someone had a less than stellar experience in one place and not the other. I very often see people who “know” that they have the best because they’ve spent a lot of money. Perhaps it was the lightning bugs….
Cafe Orleans has not served breakfast for several years (unfortunately).
The Creole Eggs Benedict remains a find memory.
There are also beignets in Downtown Disney at the Jazz Kitchen. Depending on the day, these seem to be fresher and bigger.
I’ve heard nothing but good things about Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen. It’s definitely on our list of places to try!
We did a taste comparison of the beignets at Jazz Kitchen and Mint Julep Bar (we also chose to not pay the extra $$ for the dipping sauce at Café Orleans) While Jazz Kitchen’s beignets were pretty darned good (I’ll forgive a previous attempt many years ago where I thought they tasted fishy) and cheaper, especially when buying larger amounts, the Mickey beignets were the hands down favorite of my whole family. Add to that they’re Mickey shaped, and you’re eating them in New Orleans Square, they’re the clear winner. But if you’re in DD, or really need to save every penny, Jazz Kitchen IS a very close second.
I must not be as sweet as Tom and Sarah. I think Cafe Orleans is a solid offering, especially as far as theme park dining goes, but I wouldn’t rank it #1. For me, nothing tops the Bayou! Outside of that, for dinner we’re more likely to visit DCA or one of the hotels when table service is in order. We’re more likely to visit Cafe Orleans early in the day rather than lunch or later (I’ve totally had breakfast there, but I’m pretty sure it’s a seasonal thing). To me, there are simply better options (just as good food for less money, or better ambiance and more variety for more money). The limited kitchens of many Disneyland restaurants cause them to have quite limited menus – the Taco Bell concept where the kitchen has just a few things and they put them together in different combinations to make a menu. That said, the food has become much more consistent from it’s humble 2006 beginnings.
Another note – and let first stipulate this is totally NOT an issue for me (maybe I AM as sweet as Sarah and Tom? …prolly not…) – but unnamed sources tell me this tends to be the training/feeder location for Blue Bayou and Club servers. We’ve had complete orders forgotten, pitchers of water accidentally spilled on the table, etc. Personally I give people a wide berth on that sort of stuff. We’re all human, right? But if you’re the type that starts a timer when you set a straw wrapper on your table and adjust down the server’s tip based upon the seconds it takes for them to pick it up, please…STOP DOING THAT!!!!…and keep in mind that your server may be training and it’s a ridiculously busy restaurant at one of the busiest theme parks in the world.
But the entire west side of Disneyland now has solid, respectable, delicious restaurants of all stripes (maybe with the exception of the Golden Horseshoe). Cafe Orleans works brilliantly as the table service restaurant it always should have been, and is well executed. Definitely try it out!
Just to be clear, it’s not our #1 theme park restaurant–just #1 in Disneyland (park). Carthay Circle Restaurant is far superior to it, and other in-park restaurants at other parks are also superior.
There isn’t much competition among table service restaurants in Disneyland (park), but we think this beats Blue Bayou. We don’t dislike Blue Bayou, but it seems to us that the restaurant rests on its laurels and the POTC draw.
Cafe Orleans isn’t fine dining, and it certainly isn’t in the same league as a place like Napa Rose, but for a mid-tier table service restaurant, it’s pretty much perfect to us. Same goes for French Market–it wouldn’t stack up to a mid-tier table service restaurant, but for counter service it’s pretty much perfect. Does that make sense?
the mint julep bar used to have the most amazing egg fritters before they started serving the beignets. Why did they stop? Are there any hidden recipes out there for the fritters? I so looked forward to my fritter each time I visited the park.