Beyond the normal theme park food that you can find everywhere, Disneyland Resort has some delicious foods that you’ll be craving long after your trip. Choosing the right options at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure counter service restaurants can be difficult, so we thought we’d share our “Top 7 Must Eats,” and you’re here for it…how cool is that?
Of course, in typical “Top 7 Must See” fashion, this list might not be the actual Top 7. It’s the top 7 as of right now, based on what jumped out to me when I looked through my Disneyland food photos before writing this post. My stomach is a fickle creature, and an entirely different set of photos might jump out if I looked at them tomorrow. That said, this list has some pretty delicious options that everyone visiting Disneyland Resort ought to try!
Let’s dig in!
1. Plaza Inn Specialty Chicken, Plaza Inn
The Plaza Inn Specialty Chicken is the end-all, be-all of fried chicken. I don’t know what the secret ingredient in that breading is, but the fried chicken is the culinary equivalent of crack. The chicken itself is moist and perfectly breaded, with flavor that’s out of this world. There is a reason the Plaza Inn fried chicken has a cult-like following among Disneyland fans, and this one case where a popular food actually lives up to the hype. It’s some of the best fried chicken I’ve had. The price may seem a bit higher than other counter service options at Disneyland, but given the portion size, it’s actually a pretty good deal. This chicken is a Disneyland institution, and it should be a criminal offense to visit Disneyland and not try this. “Leave the churro, take the fried chicken.”
2. Lobster Nachos, Cove Bar
Your mouth is the “Happiest Place on Earth” after you take a bite of these nachos. A nice Zombie from the bar to wash them down doesn’t hurt, nor does the beautiful view out over Paradise Bay. The Lobster Nachos consist of tender lobster pieces atop fresh corn tortilla chips, beans, Pico de Gallo, Serrano Peppers, cilantro, Chipotle Crema, and shredded jack and cheddar cheeses (none of that fake squeeze cheese here!). If your mouth isn’t watering after reading that description, you are probably a communist. While the Cove Bar isn’t technically a counter service restaurant, this makes the list because these are about the price of a normal counter service entree, and the nachos offer great bang for buck thanks to their huge portion size.
3. Market French Dip, French Market
This used to be a French Market mainstay, and when it returned for “One More Disney Day,” the line for it was out the door and the wait was easily 30 minutes. That night guaranteed the sandwich’s return to the menu, and Disneyland guests are all the better for it. It’s no surprise that this is such a favorite: the meat is tender, moist, and flavorful, and the au jus dip helps make it all melt in your mouth. The Cajun Chips are pretty spectacular, too, with excellent seasoning that is almost addictive. French Market is one of the best counter service restaurants at Disneyland, and this is its best entree.
4. Steak Gumbo, Royal Street Veranda
This one is actually Sarah’s pick, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t include it because it’s one of two foods she must have every time we visit Disneyland (the other being the Matterhorn Macaroon). I’ll admit that this gumbo in a sourdough bread bowl is pretty good, but most of the time I can’t fathom eating soup in the hot Southern California weather, so I usually head to French Market while she orders this. The gumbo has a generous amount of steak and a hearty flavor, with the perfect amount of seasoning and vegetables. In other words, it’s far from the broth-water you might expect from theme park gumbo. The bread bowl can be a mixed bag, but I generally like it, especially for ripping off pieces and dipping into the gumbo.
5. Corn Dog, Corn Dog Castle
Some people think there’s no such thing as a bad corn dog, some people think there’s no such thing as a good corn dog. It’s a pretty divisive piece of food. I happen to think there are good and bad corn dogs, and the ones at Corn Dog Castle in Disney California Adventure’s Paradise Pier are decidedly good. Perfectly breaded with a crunchy, thin outer layer with moist breading underneath and a tasty hot dog underneath, these are a great snack to enjoy while walking around Paradise Pier and relaxing. There are also Hot-Link Corn Dogs and Cheddar Cheese Sticks (a corn dog with cheese instead of “dog”) for the adventurous types, but I recommend sticking with the classic.
6. Brioche French Toast, Flo’s V8 Cafe
We’re not generally fans of counter service breakfast at Disneyland Resort, so it’s somewhat noteworthy that one of our Top 7 favorite counter service foods is a breakfast item (the French Toast at Tangaroa Terrace just missed the list, so there were almost TWO breakfast items!). Actually, categorizing the breakfast categorization of this french toast is a bit suspect. With the sugary french toast and the sweet caramel sauce, it’s basically a dessert. Of course, it does have bananas on it, so that must count for something. Regardless of what it is, it’s incredibly delicious. Kids, if you can convince your parents that this is a nutritious breakfast, I would hazard a guess that you can convince them of just about anything. (Perhaps that one of the delicious Flo’s V8 Cafe milkshakes would be a good drink to accompany this…it does have milk in it!)
7. Trixie’s Pie, Hungry Bear Restaurant
Since its extended refurbishment and menu overhaul a couple of years ago, Hungry Bear Restaurant has been on a roll. There are a few items that could make this list from Hungry Bear, including the Lemon “Bumblebee” Cupcake and Fried Green Tomato Sandwich, but we’re giving the nod to Trixie’s Pie. You may recognize it as being named after the rotund Country Bear, Trixie. This nod to one of my favorite attractions gives it bonus points (and I’m guessing Trixie knows a thing or two about pies), but it’s a winner even without that thanks to its delicious taste. It’s more or less a brownie pie, with rich cream on top and a moist center. The texture here is varied, and the dessert is sizable and rich. We definitely recommend splitting this.
So there you have our “Top 7 Must Eats” from Disneyland Resort counter service restaurants! We know there are some snubs with which some of you may disagree (sorry, Dole Whip fans!), but with so many great foods at Disneyland Resort counter service restaurants, it’s pretty difficult to narrow the list down to just the Top 7.
To plan your trip to Disneyland, read our “10 Steps for Planning a Disneyland Trip” post!
For updates on Disneyland, the latest news, and tips, sign up for our free monthly newsletter!
What would be on your list of “Top 7 Disneyland Must Eats”? Do you like the items we’ve listed? Plan on trying some of them when you visit Disneyland? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments!