Paradise Garden Grill is a counter service restaurant in Disney California Adventure at Disneyland Resort that specializes in Mediterranean skewers. The menu includes steak, chicken, meatball, and tofu skewers, plus a gyro. It’s sort of the “little brother” to the larger Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta to which it is adjacent and shares a seating area (BoardWalk Pizza & Pasta is a large, walk-in restaurant whereas Paradise Garden Grill uses a kiosk and window ordering set-up). Both were added to Paradise Pier as part of Disney California Adventure’s huge overhaul, replacing the eclectic Pizza Oom Mow Mow and Burger Invasion. Although those were two true Disney Legends, all was not lost, as Paradise Garden Grill is a fantastic restaurant.
Since Paradise Garden Grill employs a kiosk and window set-up, all of the seating is outdoors. This is fine, as the Paradise Garden seating area shared between Paradise Garden Grill and Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta has a beautiful, elegant Victorian look. This area has ornate detailing, and looks quite pretty at night. It lacks the sense of place found elsewhere in the Disney parks, so it’s not always my favorite spot, but there’s no denying that it looks good.
The biggest plus to this seating area is the live music that regularly performs at the Paradise Garden Bandstand. You can find the schedule for the main group, the Ellis Island Boys, here. While seats close to the stage put you right in the center of the energetic performances, we recommend sitting a little further away, as close to the stage is loud. We’ve seen other groups here from time to time, mostly during seasonal events. Meet & greets also occur in this area during seasonal events (sorry, Mediterranean Mickey isn’t a fixture of the restaurant, I just don’t have a single photo of the restaurant signage, for some reason, so I had no good header photo).
What makes Paradise Garden Grill so great? Let’s take a look…
Paradise Garden Grill is perhaps the most underrated restaurant in Disney California Adventure. The skewers are excellent, and make for a rare healthy option at Disney California Adventure. The portion sizes are pretty good once you consider the rice pilaf, cucumber salad, and pita bread that all skewers include.
Although our preference would be for more meat and less other stuff, in our experience the pilaf, cucumber salad, and pita have all tasted fresh and been delicious side options. These items can often be “throw-away” sides that you don’t eat because of their poor flavor, but that’s not the case at Paradise Garden Grill. With that said, let’s take a look at some of the menu items we’ve tried…
The beef is slightly spicy, but the creamy sauce helps effectively balance that out. When on the pita with a bit of the cucumber salad, the combination of flavors here work great. Plus, I think you get slightly more meat this way than on the other skewers.
Sarah prefers the Lemon-Oregano Chicken Mediterranean Skewer with the Moroccan chili sauce. The chicken here has a great taste (tender and nicely-spiced), but I’m not a big fan of the Moroccan chili sauce. Worth noting is that you can get the sauce on the side for this and any of the skewers.
I assume this is the healthiest skewer combination, and it’s certainly not lacking in flavor (it actually has a very interesting flavor thanks to the combination of tomato and chili), but I favor the Tzatziki.
Another delicious option is the Beef Gyro Platter. I’ve found that the gyro meat is tender and flavorful, with the pita being soft and fresh. The accompanying tabouli is also pretty good (again, “fresh” is the operative buzzword). The big downside to this Beef Gyro Platter is that you get less food–it doesn’t come with the skewer sides–for more money. If you’re a light eater, this might be fine, but I think even moderate eaters won’t be satisfied with this portion size. It needs another side, or something.
For dessert, Paradise Garden Grill serves Baklava and the Chocolate Brownie and Strawberry Skewer. We’re not fans of either. Both taste generic and are fairly uninspired. There are much better desserts around Disney California Adventure (namely in Cars Land and on Buena Vista Street), so don’t bother with these. Given the prices, the portion sizes here are also too small.
At one time, the biggest downside to Paradise Garden Grill was the limited menu, but that has improved recently with the addition of the Beef Gyro. Thanks to that and the salad, there are now six different entrees on the menu (we count the different skewer meats as unique items, but not the various sauces and combinations). Still, with how good these items are and how successful seasonal events like Opa or Viva Navidad have been at Paradise Garden Grill, it seems like there could be a couple more items (at the very least, bring back that apple-flavored Manzana Lift from Viva Navidad–I’d stop everyday for that soda!).
In fact, some of our favorite items have come when from Paradise Garden Grill during these special events. It would be a shame to see Paradise Garden Grill abandon the skewers, but it would be nice if there were a couple other items a la the Beef Gyro in addition to the skewers. For instance, the Torta al Pastor sandwich (pictured below) served during Viva Navidad was excellent, with great flavor thanks to the pork, avocado, and textured bread.
Overall, Paradise Garden Grill is an excellent restaurant–a surprise winner at Disney California Adventure and one of the best overall restaurants at Disneyland Resort. The portions are solid, and the quality of the food is above the norm for Disney theme parks. It’s also a rare semi-healthy option, if that matters to you. I far prefer it to Bengal BBQ over at Disneyland because it has both healthy and less-healthy options, so there is something for both of us. If menu diversity is an issue for you, it’s so close to Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta that your party can split up and grab something at both places. Add to the good food a beautiful open-air seating area and live entertainment, and Paradise Garden Grill is one of the top counter service restaurants at Disneyland Resort. We find ourselves eating here more than anywhere else in DCA!