Carnation Café is a table service restaurant located on Main Street in Disneyland. This dining review features food photos, thoughts on the food here, and whether this restaurant is worth your money and time when you’re visiting Disney’s California theme parks!
Disneyland’s Carnation Café serves American cuisine for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in an open-air seating area on Main Street. Carnation Cafe was recently refurbished and expanded, and we’ve dined here both before and after the refurb. Like many locations in Disneyland, Carnation Café has rich history.
This review details the lunch menu at Carnation Café. Carnation Café also serves breakfast, and we had heard a number of great things about the breakfast menu. Likewise, the lunch menu is very solid and the prices are very reasonable. Overall, Carnation Café is probably one of the best dining options at Disneyland Resort. For its price point, you absolutely cannot go wrong or do better.
Carnation Cafe is located in the same location where the Carnation Ice Cream Shoppe and the Flower Mart once stood. Advance reservations can be arranged for this restaurant by calling Disney Dining at (714) 781-DINE; reservations are recommended here due to the restaurant’s size, it’s popularity among Disneyland fans, and its prices.
Reservations are more likely to be useful for breakfast than for lunch or dinner here, but you should make reservations for any meal here, if you know in advance that you want to eat here. We did not make reservations, and we were seated immediately, but your luck may not be as good as ours!
I mentioned some history associated with Carnation Café at the start of this post. The former tenants of the space are not the only elements of history at the Café! Chef Oscar Martinez is probably one of the most well-known Cast Members at Disneyland, and is the only Disneyland Cast Member to have received a 60 years of service pin.
It is rumored that he is soon retiring, and as one of the people who is responsible for making the Carnation Café great, he will be missed. If you happen to see him while you’re there, be sure to say hello to him!
For our starter, we ordered the Fried Pickles with Dipping Sauce.
We were pleasantly surprised by these. The creamy house dipping sauce was excellent, and the pickles were lightly battered; enough to give them some extra flavor, but not to totally transform the taste of the pickles into “something else.” Like I said, we were both surprised by these pickles–definitely something we’d order again!
If you’re a healthy eater like I am, you’ll definitely want to order something lean, like this chicken! 😉 Obviously, I’m kidding about the healthy part, but in the fried chicken’s defense, it does come with vegetables! This fried chicken was excellent. It reminded me of the Plaza Inn fried chicken, except slightly higher quality and with some excellent milk gravy.
The mashed potatoes were only okay, but otherwise, this entree was incredible! You won’t want to eat every meal like this (unless your Disney “dream” is to have a heart attack on vacation), but it’s a great lunch option after a healthy breakfast.
Here’s the Green Chile Cheeseburger. It has fried egg on it, and I absolutely love burgers with fried egg.
From the homemade brioche bun to the cheese to the burger itself, this burger was incredible. I could have done without the chile, but otherwise exceptional. It was one of the best Disney burgers I’ve ever tasted, and it’s another item that we’d both highly recommend.
The Main Street Cheeseburger is pictured above.
This is another solid option, albeit not in the same league as the Green Chile Cheeseburger.
This Sourdough Bacon-Cheese Melt is off the hook. It’s juicy, flavorful, and doesn’t seem too greasy or “heavy.” I’m sure it’s far from a healthy option, but it’s worth the splurge.
So, so good, and only slightly more expensive than a counter service burger! I’d fight 100 duck-sized horses to taste this again.
This Homemade Meatloaf is another ridiculously good option that also offers great value for money at less than $15.
Noted meat(loaf) head Guy Selga ordered this on our recent visit, and he had only the highest praise for it. I tried it and concur–very good, and I’m not normally one for meatloaf.
Sarah (again) played it safe, getting the deli sandwich.
You’ll notice it looks different than the one she had on our first visit, but it’s pretty similar. There are much better options on the menu if you don’t want to stay healthy.
Desserts change daily and are brought around on a little cart, really upping the temptation to give in and get one. I didn’t even get to try this before Sarah was finished.
I did, however, have a cherry malt, and it was exceptional–and large! Know what the difference between a shake and a malt is? Neither did we, but that didn’t stop our table from engaging in some friendly debate and speculation before ultimately turning to the Google machine.
Overall, Carnation Cafe is a restaurant at which you must eat while at Disneyland. It has attained legendary status to us. Many Walt Disney World fans rave about the Plaza Restaurant located on Main Street, USA in Florida’s Magic Kingdom as being a great “counter service alternative,” but we weren’t so impressed with that restaurant. The true top “counter service alternative” is clearly Disneyland’s Carnation Cafe.
For the price, you absolutely cannot go wrong eating here. While Disneyland does have a lot of nice counter service options, skip one of them to eat here. You won’t be sorry. In fact, we love Carnation Cafe so much that we recommend eating here on the first day of your trip so that you have the option of visiting the restaurant again on a subsequent day. It has an all-star menu, so it might be wise to dine here more than once!
As for figuring out the rest of your Disneyland trip, including how to save money on Disneyland tickets, our Disney packing tips, whether you should stay off-site or on-site in a Disney hotel, where to dine at Disneyland & Disney California Adventure, and a number of other things, check out our comprehensive Disneyland Trip Planning Guide!
Have you dined at Carnation Cafe? What are your favorite and least favorite items? Do you agree or disagree with our review of this Disneyland restaurant? 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!