Flo’s V8 Cafe in Cars Land has become one of our go-to spots for late afternoons and evenings in Disney California Adventure. The restaurant’s “back porch” is a relaxing respite from Disneyland Resort’s crowds, and the spot offers a great view of Radiator Springs Racers and the Cadillac Mountain Range.
Of course, Flo’s V8 Cafe used to be a great spot to enjoy the best counter service cuisine in all of Disneyland Resort. That was the case for the first few years after Cars Land opened, when the original menu offered high quality comfort food, good portion sizes, and fair prices.
Unfortunately, that menu was replaced by a ‘sandwich-centric’ one. It had a few plated dishes, but those were significantly more expensive and had smaller portion sizes than the original menu. Now, Flo’s V8 Cafe has another new-ish menu, and we’re back to see how it stacks up to both its predecessor and debut offerings…
In case you’re unfamiliar with it, Flo’s V8 Cafe is a mix of real-life 60s-era car culture and backstory from Cars having to do with the rise of racing in Radiator Springs. The “original” Flo’s V8 Cafe from Cars is based upon the historic Midpoint Café dating to the 1920s, and named for its location midday through the original Route 66.
Of course, the design here is pulled from the movie, and the striking exterior and glowing neon is a pitch-perfect copy of that. Imagineers have rounded out the restaurant with details not contemplated by the film, making it feel like you’re inside something that’s a cross between authentic mid-century car culture and a Disney movie “set.”
We’ll start with Flo’s Famous Fried Chicken served with Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Gravy, and Seasonal Vegetables. (Or in my case, the ultimate seasonal vegetable: Steak Fries.)
I wanted to love this. I’m a total sucker for the iconic fried chicken at Plaza Inn, and the idea of sitting out back at Flo’s and munching on a huge plate of fried chicken sounded divine.
And it was…initially. The first piece was exceptional, juicy and perfectly cooked. However, the second was overcooked and bone dry. Eating it became a chore after a couple of bites, to the point that I didn’t even finish it–and I love fried chicken!
The sides were good, especially those comforting garlic mashed potatoes. Perhaps you’ll have better luck here, but I can’t recommend rolling the dice on this fried chicken, especially given the eye-popping price. (At least the portion is large, I guess?)
Fortunately, for over $5 less, you can order the Blue Plate Special: “Breaded Chicken Breast fried until crispy and juicy, served on top of Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Seasonal Vegetables and topped with creamy Country-style Gravy.”
I ordered this the day after having Flo’s Famous Fried Chicken, and far preferred this. Granted, breaded chicken isn’t the same as fried chicken (and the portion is undoubtedly smaller here), but this was a far more satisfying dish–that ultimately left me just as full, since I could stomach it all. In fact, I’d say that this dish reminds me of the OG Flo’s V8 Cafe menu.
Next, we have Fillmore’s Pot Pie (heh, nice pun). This is filled with creamy sweet corn and potato, chiles, and cheddar cheese, topped with flaky pie crust and a side of fresh fruit.
Fillmore’s Pot Pie has a surprising amount of heat thanks to the chiles, with the buttery crust and thick sweet corn and cheddar cheese filling providing a nice, hearty contrast.
Fillmore’s Pot Pie is essentially homemade comfort food, but with a bit of punch. It’s a winner.
For our last entree, we have the Cobb de Ville Salad: “Mixed Lettuce, Turkey Breast, crispy Bacon, Blue Cheese, Hard-boiled Egg, Corn, and Tomatoes with House-made Ranch Dressing.”
Disneyland Resort does salads well at its counter service restaurants, and this is no exception. This is a sizable Cobb Salad with a variety of quality toppings; a filling value for money. Personally, I prefer the salads over at Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta, but wouldn’t hesitate to order this if I wanted something healthy at Flo’s.
Finally, for dessert we have the Flo’s Classic Shake with “Road Gravel.”
This is rich and delicious. Fortunately, this isn’t authentic gravel; instead rock chunks, Disney has used little balls of chocolate. Arguably It added a nice texture to our chocolate shake, which was very good.
The new menu is an improvement over its predecessor, but still a big downgrade from the original menu at Flo’s V8 Cafe. We do wish there were a couple more non-sandwich items, but that seems to be what most guests prefer.
If this had just one more dish on the ‘everyday comfort foods’ side of the menu (or if Flo’s Fried Chicken were actually good), we’d be on board.
Overall, it feels like Flo’s V8 Cafe is still squandering its potential. Half of its menu is humdrum pedestrian options, and only 2 of the comfort foods deliver on their full potential. Our expectations are not unreasonable; even at its most ambitious, Flo’s V8 Cafe served the type of comfort foods you’d find at a roadside restaurant on the real Route 66. Flo’s doesn’t need to be an exotic or adventurous place to eat (to the contrary, it should not be those things)–its menu just needs about the same level of ambition as Plaza Inn or a counter service version of Carnation Cafe. Is that too much to ask?
If you’ve been to Flo’s V8 Cafe, which entrees and desserts do you like best? Have you noticed a decline in the food here since it opened? Do you continue to dine here for the ambiance and great views of Radiator Springs Racers? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment of Flo’s? 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!