Thrilling rides, lively characters and idyllic tunes have been helping to make Disneyland the Happiest Place on Earth since 1955 — and today, that place is only happier thanks to a serious showcasing of dining options. Copious amounts of restaurants mean there’s something for everyone in your party, but a recent spotlight on fine dining and on-trend tipples (tiki, anyone?) ensures that adults are well covered around the clock. From prime steaks and seafood, to gussied up gastropub fare here are the best places to eat and drink now at Disneyland in Anaheim.
Richard Martin contributed to this report.
Where To Eat
Carthay Circle Restaurant (Disney California Adventure Park)
This restaurant is housed in a detailed reproduction of the historic Carthay Circle Theatre, the original of which played a significant role in the life of Walt Disney (his first feature-length film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, premiered there in 1937). As such, expect décor that reflects old Hollywood glamour and cuisine that is just as inviting, with an emphasis on Southern California ingredients and flavors (think Morro Bay sole with capers and charred tomatoes or cobia ceviche with avocado and tomatillos). Start things off with a classic cocktail at the downstairs lounge, where plenty of pre-dinner snacks are on offer, too.
Catal (Downtown Disney District)
This spacious Mediterranean restaurant features an array of dining experiences, from a more casual bar area to a formal dining room and plenty of outdoor tables on the second floor patio overlooking the bustling Downtown Disney District. (There’s also Uva Bar and Café downstairs.) The menu allows for Spanish-style sharable dining (Catal is short for Catalan), with tasty deviled eggs and “tortilla frites” with Romesco sauce, and there are healthy options worth exploring, including more than a dozen salads. The wine list is comprehensive, and the entrées encompass steaks, seafood and pork standout dishes. —R.M.
Lamplight Lounge (Pixar Pier at Disney California Adventure Park)
Peruse Pixar’s iconic sketches, toys, and animated movie memorabilia at this restaurant, which opened at California Adventure Pixar Pier just this June. Upscale and crowd-pleasing gastropub fare is the focus, as evidenced by plates like deviled eggs and toast, lobster nachos, and salmon PLTs (complete with grilled salmon, crispy pancetta, and lemon-bacon aioli). Pair it up with an array of draft brews or one of the signature sippers, such as the Short — a melding of Plymouth Gin, lime juice, and seasoned veggies.
Napa Rose (Grand Californian Hotel & Spa)
This fine dining destination is best known for its upscale California fare, sprawling wine list, and classed up, white tablecloth environs. Chef Andrew Sutton helms the menu, a collection of seasonally-driven dishes like California Delta asparagus with green garbanzo hummus, spring lamb tartare with mint and smoked yogurt, and strawberry lime rubbed Skuna Bay salmon with summer corn relish. Try to snag a seat at the chef’s counter, where you can order a la carte or opt for a prix-fixe menu tailored by Sutton and team.
Steakhouse 55 (Disneyland Hotel)
Named for the year that Disneyland opened, this restaurant aims to take diners back to a bygone era of decadence by way of serious service, over-the-top steaks, and a dimly lit, dark wood-furnished space. Of all of the cuts, don’t miss the dry rub-seasoned, bone-in rib eye — the house specialty weighs in at 18 ounces. Steak lovers seeking something a bit more modest can opt for the 14-ounce New York strip steak or 8-ounce filet mignon, while options like cold water lobster tail or sautéed sea scallops are available for seafood enthusiasts. For dessert, it’s all about the 24-layer chocolate cake, a rich marriage of chocolate sponge cake, milk and dark chocolates, and Nutella.
Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar (Disneyland Hotel)
This tiki bar is dedicated to innovative drams that call for tropical ingredients and flavor combinations, which show up in the likes of punches, swizzles, and sours. Kick off your evening with a round of HippopotoMai-Tais (with light and dark rums, orange curaçao, and orgeat) before sampling the Mosquito Mojito, a fruit-forward variation on the classic with strawberry rum, falernum, and mint. Sip away and slip away into full on tropical vibes, enhanced on select evenings on the bar’s terrace, thanks to Hawaiian-style harmonies from a live acoustic duo.
Where to Stay
Award-winning dining experiences (see above), a world-class spa and recently refurbished rooms outfit this colossal, California-inspired property, which has its own entrance to Disney’s California Adventure Park. Check out a buffet breakfast at Storytellers before making use of the property’s three themed pools, then book a visit to Mandara Spa, where a series of signature facial and body treatments await. After some park time, book a table at Napa Rose for West Coast fare from chef Andrew Sutton — but not first without a drink at Hearthstone Lounge, the perfect pit-stop for a pre-dinner cocktail.