Want to find some cheap entrees from Disneyland’s counter service restaurants? This post offers exactly that, with our favorites that are filling, inexpensive (by Disney standards), and actually good. Disneyland has some of the best theme park food in the world, offering a variety of options that are nothing like the stereotypical theme park fare (although there are plenty of ordinary burgers, hot dogs, and pizza if you want something safe and familiar).
Unfortunately, some of the best counter service meals at Disneyland are now fairly pricey. This includes our beloved Plaza Inn, which now has multiple dishes at or above $18, including that famous fried chicken. Our other favorites in the park have also crept up in price, including French Market and Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante. Unsurprisingly, Docking Bay 7 in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge debuted with high prices, but at least it has the quality to match. (The lunch-only Felucian Garden Spread served in Star Wars Land arguably deserves a spot on this list–it’s pictured at the top of the post.)
Even go-to dining spots that historically offered good value for money have vanished. Most notable among these is fan-favorite Bengal Barbecue. In a move that implicitly acknowledges this, that dining spot now sells a Bengal Rice Plate meal, which costs $17. The good news is that while the value proposition has declined at many of Disneyland’s more popular restaurants, it has improved elsewhere…
Before we get started, it’s worth noting that Disneyland regularly changes its menus. While some of the items here have been mainstays for several years, others (including our “new favorite” at the end of the post) are relatively new–and served at restaurants known for churning through their menus.
If you’re planning for a trip months from now (or are reading this months after we’ve published it), be sure to consult the official Disneyland dining page for current menus. There’s sense getting hyped up about an item that was removed from a menu–or had its price jacked up by $5–before you had a chance to try it.
We’ll start at the front of the park, knocking out an obvious one before we even leave Main Street USA. That’s Jolly Holiday Bakery & Cafe, where you can find a range of sandwiches that are relatively inexpensive by Disneyland standards.
I’m partial to the Roast Beef and Smoked Cheddar on Hoagie Roll, which I find ticks all of the right boxes: sufficiently interesting, delicious, filling, and not too expensive. Sarah’s go-to is the Jolly Holiday Combo. This has been a staple of the menu for several years, and it’s basically a delicious grilled cheese sandwich with tomato basil soup. Simple, but delicious and potentially a shareable snack if you’re rather go that route. (Arguably, any of the sandwiches at Jolly Holiday belong on this list.)
Sticking in this area, we have what’s potentially a questionable pick: the Hot Dog of the Month at Refreshment Corner.
Now, I’ve long been skeptical of the value for money offered by this location and Casey’s Corner, but I’ve tried the last two of these, and both have been foot-long hot dogs that are piled high with toppings and come with a side of chips. They aren’t killer deals, but they’re better than the ‘guilty pleasures’ you’ll find in Tomorrowland (or elsewhere around Disneyland).
Back in Fantasyland at Red Rose Taverne, Disneyland’s once temporary but seemingly now-permanent Beauty and the Beast-decorated restaurant. Here, we have a twofer: the Enchanted Cauli-Flower Sandwich (Sarah’s pick) and the Slow-cooked Beef Poutine (my pick).
Both of these ~$11 options check all of the right boxes: ambitious, filling, fun, and tasty. Even I like the Enchanted Cauli-Flower Sandwich, and have to admit it’s far better than I’d expect. The poutine is simply but decadent and satisfying–and always comes with a generous helping of beef.
If we wanted to make this a “three-fer” the Stuffed French Toast served for breakfast at Red Rose Taverne is simply divine.
Breakfast wasn’t really what I had in mind when writing this post, but that is the stuff of dreams. I’m not totally convinced it’s a good value for money given the portion size, but that won’t stop me from ordering it again and again.
Finally, we come to the whole reason that this post exists: the newish Lobster Mac ‘n’ Cheese in a Sourdough Bread Bowl at Harbour Galley.
We’ve had very hit or miss results with Harbour Galley over the years. I still vividly recall our last meal there, some two years ago when we gave the $15 Lobster Galley Chips a try.
These Lobster chips were served in a paper bag with only a few pieces of rubbery lobster and fewer chips than you’d find beside one of those sandwiches at Jolly Holiday Bakery. Truly pathetic, and made us swear off Harbour Galley for a while. (In perusing seasonal menus the last couple of years, I don’t think we missed much.)
The Lobster Mac & Cheese Bread Bowl is a classic Disney redemption tale. It’s only $1 more expensive than the delicious off-menu Mac & Cheese Bread Bowl at Pacific Wharf Cafe across the Esplanade, and this has has a generous portion of lobster mixed in with the mac & cheese.
It’s not gourmet quality, but the Lobster Mac & Cheese Bread Bowl is very good. It’s also roughly double the size of those pathetic lobster chips, and for less money. This is now one of my go-to entrees in Disneyland. It should be especially good on a chilly holiday evening sitting along the Rivers of America.
Unfortunately, that’s really about it in terms of items that fulfill our requirements of being not just cheap, but also delicious, filling, and interesting. Sure, you can find inexpensive slices of pizza or pasta in Tomorrowland, but it’s not worth eating. Likewise, Fantasyland has a number of options for good smaller items that are not too costly, but those are more snack-sized. The good news is that Disney California Adventure and Downtown Disney also have a variety of options that satisfy our requirements here, and we’ll be back with subsequent posts in this series to cover what good cheap eats they’re serving.
What are your favorite inexpensive meals at Disneyland…or are there any good values left to be found? Do you agree or disagree with our choices? 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!