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Going To Disney California Adventure? Here’s The Best Food To Try While You’re There


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Walt Disney once famously said that his beloved park would “continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world. It is something that will never be finished. Something that I can keep developing and adding to,” ensuring that the groundbreaking Anaheim attraction would never become a museum. While he was speaking specifically of Disneyland, it’s a quote that can be readily applied to the Happiest Place on Earth’s sister park, California Adventure. Once home to the famous Hollywood Tower of Terror, the quaint Paradise Pier, and the long-running favorite Aladdin stage show, the park now features Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!, Pixar Pier, and the show-stopping Frozen musical. (Seriously, it’ll give you goosebumps).

The attractions aren’t all that have changed over the years. Restaurants have been revamped, renamed, and completely redone across the park. Foodies fear not; the reputation DCA gained for being a food lover’s paradise isn’t going anywhere (and fortunately, neither are a few of your old favorite dishes). This park still features craft cocktails, sustainable farm-to-table options, and award-winning chefs. That said, you’ll probably notice the chefs aren’t above having a little cheeky fun these days too!

Why don’t you join them? Tighten your bibs and loosen your belts; let’s take a look at the 15 best foods at Disney’s California Adventure Park right now.

Chicken Tamale Breakfast

Flo’s V8 Cafe

As Disney park adventurers go, we’re usually the type that likes to hit the ground running, fully-fueled and ready to go. But for Flo’s V8 Cafe, we’ll make an exception. What better place to fuel up than this Carsland restaurant’s Chicken Tamales, which include scrambled eggs, salsa verde, and pico de gallo? What’s even better, Flo’s features architecture, attention to detail, and immersive views.

You’ll genuinely feel as if you’ve rolled on into the set of the original Cars movie, a more than impressive feat, given that it’s animated.

Brioche French Toast

Flo’s V8 Cafe

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Not everyone prefers a savory breakfast. For some, sweet is the way to go. Well, Flo’s has got sweet, and then some. Check out the Brioche French Toast, which is baked and served with bananas and a salted caramel sauce, like a breakfasty bananas foster.

Fillmore’s Pot Pie

Flo’s V8 Cafe

If you can’t swing by Flo’s for breakfast, head over for dinner. In fact, we’re inclined to believe that experiencing Cars Land at night is the way to go. As the sun goes down, the neon lights up, and the thoroughfare becomes a classic car wonderland. Nowhere is it prettier than Flo’s. Fillmore’s Pot Pie makes our not-to-be-missed list for its winning combination of sweet corn, potato, chiles, and cheddar cheese, topped with a delectable flaky crust.

Flo’s gains extra points from us for including an unusual and filling vegetarian option on their dinner menu, too often a theme park “unicorn.”

Bacon Mac & Cheese Cone

Cozy Cone Motel Snacks

If you have any copies of Bon Appetit or Food & Wine in your house, now would be a good time to turn them over. Or, you know, burn them. If you’re watching Jiro Dreams of Sushi or Chef’s Table, turn off the tv. The Cozy Cone’s Mac & Cheese Cone is in a league of its own, answerable to no one and nothing. This is carb-loaded hedonism at its finest. Imagine your favorite, childhood-friendly mac & cheese — not the kind that’s been gussied up with breadcrumbs and langoustines and unpronounceable French cheeses, but the Velveeta kind. The Kraft kind. Now pour it into a cone made out of bread. Do you hear?! A CONE MADE OF BREAD. Garnish it with bacon crumbles. Eat the whole thing. Hate yourself only until you return to the park tomorrow to do it again.

Go ahead. We’re not judging. Do be forewarned that the cone isn’t always available, and when it is, it’s not always immediately obvious. Ask. It’s worth it.

Miss Fritter’s Meatball Cone-frontation

Cozy Cone Motel Snacks

Look, the good people at the Cozy Cone are never going to let us go completely gourmet. How do you ignore a bread cone filled with meatballs and garnished with cheese crisps? The only acceptable answer is that you already ate the mac and cheese cone, and you’re trying to avoid a full-on Bacchanalian spree. That said, they’re turkey meatballs, so who’s to say this isn’t the most virtuous menu choice you’ll be making all day.

Tres Leches Parfait

Cocina Cucamonga

Tres Leches cake is arguably the best cake of all time. You know how to make it better? Add a chocolate Dante — Coco‘s charismatic Xoloitscuintle — on top. The DCA tres leches features vanilla cake layered with caramel cream and rum in a neat little package that won’t send you entirely into sugar shock.

Lobster Nachos

Lamplight Lounge

Fans of the beloved Cove Bar were aghast at its closing this year, during the Paradise Pier makeover. Where would we relax during the heat of the day, cocktails in hand, listening to the dulcet screams of guests as they thoroughly regretted choosing the swinging gondolas on Mickey’s Fun Wheel? Where would we go for a killer view of World of Color, minus the crowds and the errant sprays of the water screens? Most importantly, where would we go for the lobster nachos? Thankfully, the newly opened Lamplight Lounge — themed to celebrate Pixar films — continues to serve up this beloved California Adventure Classic.

House-made tortilla chips are smothered in warm lobster, black beans, pico de gallo, aged cheddar, Oaxaca cheese, and a chipotle crema. It’s bomb.

Remy’s Ratatouille

Lamplight Lounge

There’s Cove Bar classics, and then there’s classic cuisine, served Pixar-style. Once you’re inside the Lamplight Lounge, after admiring the napkin sketches, knickknacks, and nods to the famous animation studio, head to the downstairs dining area where you’ll be able to experience the full dinner menu. There’s plenty to choose from, but we think you’d be mad not to sample Remy’s Ratatouille, the French dish that whisked the dreaded critic Anton Ego away to his childhood, and rendered the man absolutely verklempt.

Crispy Piggy Wings

Lamplight Lounge

Alright, we may have been a little bit bitter when it came to the closing of our beloved Cove Bar. Lamplight Lounge? Ha! We’ll visit when pigs fly! Well, they do at the lounge. If you’re looking for something a little heartier than ratatouille, these chili-ginger glazed pork drumettes should do the trick. They’re brand new on the menu, but their praises are already being sung; the cast members already count this one as a favorite!

Infinity Buzz

Lamplight Lounge

So, when we say the best food at Disney California Adventure, you guys know that in some cases we mean “the most Instagrammable,” right? Do you really want to know the ingredients in this non-alcoholic cocktail, because let’s be real, once you do, you’re not going to be proud of yourself for drinking it. But who cares! This is the glass you raise to your inner child — you got a friend in me! — and enjoy wholeheartedly, because dammit, why else are you here in this park but to celebrate the joy, adventurousness, and sheer effervescence of childhood!

It’s Snow-Capped Lemon

Adorable Snowman Frosted Treats

You gotta respect a theme park that builds an entire soft-serve stand off of a yellow snow joke in Monsters Inc. We’d get it just for the laughs, but the fact is, this nondairy frozen treat is the perfect balance of sweet and sour, somehow rich and refreshing all at once. The ice cap of white chocolate is perfection. Go ahead. Eat the yellow snow.

Manhattan (Or Any Classic Cocktail)

Carthay Circle and Carthay Circle Lounge

Need a vacation from your vacation? Book a table at Carthay Circle or step into the lounge, and be immediately transported. This is Disney Imagineering at its finest and most subtle. The restaurant is a detailed reproduction of the Carthay Circle Theater, a movie palace built in Hollywood’s golden age, and host to Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Premiere. The interior is elegant, richly appointed without crossing the line into gaudy, quiet, and pleasantly dim. Relaxing with a cocktail — we like the Manhattan or the Carthay Martini, which bartenders will make for you table-side, if you request — you can easily be forgiven for forgetting you’re in a theme park.

This is our favorite place to recharge during the afternoon if we don’t feel like heading back to the hotel. Of note, Walt’s favorite cocktail, the Scotch Mist, is also on the menu.

Carthay Signature Fried Biscuits

Carthay Signature Fried Biscuits

You know how people always warn you not to fill up on the bread? Here you should probably make an exception. The biscuits are filled with white cheddar, bacon, and jalapeño, and served with an apricot honey butter. They’re like an upgraded Red Lobster biscuit, and yes, that is a compliment.

Chocolate Chip Jack-Jack Cookie Num Num

Jack-Jack Cookie Num Nums

Arriving just in time to celebrate the opening of Pixar Pier and the long-awaited Incredibles sequel, this thick, rich, gooey chocolate chip cookie is served fresh out of the oven. Forget what you’d do for a Klondike Bar; if you’ve seen the devotion these treats inspire in Jack-Jack, you know they’re no joke.

Ignore this kiosk at your own risk, because there’s no edible blackberry-lavender flame retardant on hand to put out your fires of fury if you later decide you’ve missed out.

Piper’s Nest Funnel Cake Fries

Award Wieners

Named for the too-cute Pixar short, these funnel cake fries are like your elementary-school dream breakfast come true. The dough is fried up crispy and light in fry form, tossed in cinnamon and sugar, and drizzled with sweetened condensed milk. Crowned with whipped cream, this whimsical treat is embellished with fruity pebbles. This treat — be it breakfast or dessert — is every bit as sweet as its namesake.

Rose Gold Macaron

Clarabelle’s Hand Scooped Ice Cream

If you follow Disney gossip at all, you’ll know that rose gold ears are the “it” accessories this year, driving shoppers to distraction in their pursuit of the perfectly-hued but often unavailable headpieces. Save yourself the worry and head to Clarabelle’s for this pretty-in-pink treat, filled with strawberry compote and lemon verbena buttercream, accented by a chocolate bow. It looks just as cute in photos and you can eat it. That’s a win in our book.

Monster Mint Shake

Schmoozies!

This mint-chip shake, decorated to celebrate one of Monstropolis’ finest, is only on the menu for a limited time, so be sure to snag yours quickly! Mint, chocolate chips, whipped cream, and assorted sauces combine for a scary-good treat. It may look like Sulley, but a shake this good is guaranteed to disappear as quickly as Randall! (No, you’re the Disney nerd!)

Mich-Helado

Clarabelle’s Hand-Scooped Ice Cream

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When California Adventure does drinks, expect the imaginative. Here the classic michelada gets a decidedly Disney makeover. A spiced tomato and lime sorbet takes a dip in an ice-cold amber lager. The drink might not be sprinkled in pixie dust, but we think you’ll be just as happy with house-made tamarindo sauce and a dash of tajin.

Sandianada

Clarabelle’s Hand-Scooped Ice Cream

Is the Sandianada the best-kept secret at Disney? Not for long! This treat is the Mich-helado’s younger sibling, a refreshing combination of watermelon sorbet and fresh watermelon chunks, garnished with tamarindo sauce and seasoned with tajin.

For pure refreshment, it can’t be beat. Get it while you can; the fruit and flavors change with the seasons.

The Oswald Sundae

Clarabelle’s Hand-Scooped Ice Cream

Mickey’s predecessor, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, is known for making appearances in Disney California Adventure, and like Mickey, Oswald’s famous silhouette is known for making appearances too! Served in a take-home “kitchen sink” (which is both an homage to Mickey’s famous shorts, and, we suspect, Disney World’s famous “Kitchen Sink” dessert at the Beaches and Cream Soda Shop), the Oswald Sundae includes one scoop of chocolate ice cream, one scoop of vanilla, hot fudge, chocolate chips, whipped cream, a maraschino cherry, and of course, “Oswald Ears” made of chocolate-dipped bananas.

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