There are literally hundreds of dining options inside the Disneyland California Parks so you will never be stuck for somewhere to eat. However, these dining locations require Park entry and there may well be times when you are at the resort but do not have Valid park entry, such as the night you arrive, the day you leave or if you are taking a rest day in between the park visits. At these times you will not have access to Disney’s in-park dining, fear not however as Disney still has you covered and offers multiple exciting dining options in the resort hotels and Downtown Disney.
In this article, we take you through the Best Disneyland Resort Restaurants and show you where to eat out outside of the parks. There are a ton of really great dining options in the resort area, in the 3 Disney hotels, and in Downtown Disney. So if you do not have a valid ticket you do not need to miss out on Disney Magic.
Where To Eat In Disneyland Resort California
This guide is designed to help you find somewhere great to eat when you don’t have valid admission to the park but still want that great Disney experience. There are many reasons why you would be in the resort and not have a valid ticket. And during these times you may still want to experience Disney Dining.
Most people arrive the night before their first day in the park, ready to get an early night so they can hit rope drop the morning after and smash the park, So a visit to Downtown Disney or one of the park Restaurants is the perfect option.
Maybe you stayed in the parks really late on your last day and are heading off in the morning, a character buffet breakfast is a perfect way to finish off your trip! Or maybe you are at the parks for a few days and are having an off day to recharge at the pool! You can still enjoy Disney Magic.
Finally, the truth is some of Disney’s BEST restaurants are outside the actual park. In Our opinion, the best Fine Dining restaurant is outside the park and the best Character meal is also outside the parks so there are many reasons to think beyond the park dining. Obviously dining outside the park if you DO have a valid Park ticket could be a waste of your park time, but with such great options and the parks being SO close, it is no big deal.
If you are looking for the best dining in the Park then we have articles featuring all the best dining inside both Disneyland Parks:
If you are looking for a specific type of dining and want to know which of a particular type is the best in the whole resort then out below guide will help you find that out:
- Best Character Dining at Disneyland California
- Best Fine Dining at Disneyland California
- Best Table Service Dining at Disneyland California
If you are not sure where to begin then our Disneyland Dining Guide is the place to start:
Disneyland California Dining Guide
However, if you just want to know all the best Disneyland resort Dining options then take a look below as we feature all our favorite Dinsey restaurants that are outside the parks:
Best Signature Dining Disneyland Resort
Napa Rose – Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa
PRICE: Ala Carte $38 – $58 for an Entree, Starters, and Desserts $18-$26, and Kids meals are $8-$15 Chefs Counter -$100 per person (+$55 wine pairing)
For Breakfast and Brunch, the Napa Rose is home to the Princess Breakfast Character meal. While this is a wonderful experience (more on this below) it is not Fine Dining, however, for dinner service the restaurant transforms into a world-class restaurant capable of holding its own with any restaurant in the world. This is theme park Dining like you have not seen before.
Head Chef Andrew Sutton has created a real award-winning menu and dining experience at the Napa Rose. This is no Disney Magic but a Real Chef producing world-class cuisine using top-quality seasonal ingredients. It is fine dining at its best. Being in a theme park can mean this gets a little lost on some who want huge portions, fast service, and gimmicks.
The restaurant is loosely themed around Napa Valley but it is a loose theme as this is simply a Fine-Dining restaurant and does not rely on themeing. There are Italian and French influences on the menu but it focuses mainly on the ingredients rather than a particular cuisine and showcases Andrews’s diverse cooking style.
Pan-Roasted Frogs Legs, Homemade Duck Sausage Pasta, and Wagu Beef Cheeks lead the Appetizers, while Duck Breast, Perfect Steaks, Market Fish, and Lamb Chops, all cooked with flair and precision make up the Entrees. The menu is fluid and changes with the season and availability, like all good fine dining establishments.
Our favorite option is the Chefs counter where you interact with the head Chef who provides a tasting menu based on your likes, dislikes, and the ingredients available. It is a fantastic experience where you will get 5-6 courses tailored to your personal needs. This will set you back $100 per person plus another $55 for wines paired with the dishes but it is a unique experience perfect for a special occasion splurge!
Kids are not really very well catered for in the Napa Rose. The menu lacks the flair seen on the adult’s menu, essentially assuming that most kids do not want Beef cheeks and frog legs and parents don’t want to blow $80 on kids who will turn their noses up at it. Instead, the kids are offered much cheaper fare, cheese pizza, pasta fish, chicken, etc. It may be uninspired but won’t break the back and at least your little ones will enjoy it. However it is not a restaurant geared to kids, so maybe try and hit it without the kids to enjoy a little grown-up time.
Overall the Napa Rose is a top-quality restaurant, recipient of numerous awards, and provides incredible cuisine that will stick in your mind for years to come. However this comes at a price, and if Fine Dining is not your scene it may just come across as expensive pretentious rubbish. But this is a charge you could levy at any fine dining restaurant, in or out of Disneyland. Being in the Resort, Napa Rose seems to be frequented by more people who are probably not the intended clientele and as such suffers a little in its online reviews. Do not let this sway you if you are a fan of the Fine Dining scene then Napa Rose holds up to any restaurant in the So-Cal area, let alone Disneyland!
Other great options:
Steakhouse 55 – Disneyland Hotel
PRICE: Ala Carte $38 – $73 for an Entree, Starters, and Desserts $12-$26, and Kids meals are $10-$17
Falling some way off the Napa Rose pace is Steakhouse 55. The name of this restaurant says it all. It is a Steakhouse, and that is no bad thing at all. While it is not fine dining it is not pretending to be, if you want a Big, perfectly cooked hunk of dead cow, then you are in the right spot!
The restaurant is of the High-end, quality steakhouse ilk, not cheap low-end products served in huge quantities, think Ruth and Chris or Envy style rather than a texas roadhouse kind of joint!
Still, while the steaks are top-quality they are still substantial, such as the 18oz Bone-in Ribeye or a chunky 16oz New York Strip. Our favorite steakhouse staple the Porterhouse for two is present and correct, in 38oz form, along with the Lobster Mac and Cheese and some green beans making for a very happy pair of tourists!
The Sourdough Bread and Butter Pudding and Chocolate Banana Tart are also incredible, but we rarely have room after 19oz of meat each!
Catal Restaurant – Downtown Disney
We really like the Catal Restaurant, it’s debatable if the place falls into Fine-Dining or is just a good restaurant. Certainly, prices are far more manageable than the other high-tier places at Disney. During lunchtime, the restaurant is definitely not Fine Dining but ups its game for the dinner service.
Best Unique or Themed Dining in Disneyland Resort
Storytellers Cafe – Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa
PRICE: Breakfast $35 -$59 Adults – Prices vary with mealtime and season
The Story Tellers Cafe is a Buffet meal with Characters at Breakfast and Brunch. Dinner is still a buffet but you lose the characters. We have included this here as experience dining is a little limited outside the parks and although this is a character meal, it’s not our favorite (see below) and is actually a really fun themed restaurant beside the Character meets.
The All you can eat Buffet is typical Disney fare. Despite being inside Disney’s most upmarket property the food is no better or worse than the other Disney Buffets. The Character meets are fun as they have an adventure type them with Mickey, Minnie Donald, etc, all dressed up in explorer outfits.
We love the restaurant itself, a kind of modern woodcutters type of theme, perfectly fitting to the Grand Californian Hotel. While dinner is not high on our list as we tend to steer to the higher-end options above, or simply eat off the resort if you are looking for a big feed while staying in the resort then All you can eat certainly hits the spot. Breakfast and Brunch are better options in our opinion though and the perfect way to start the day.
Other great options:
Splitsville Luxury Lanes™ – Downtown Disney District
We are a bit torn on this as really you can grab a pizza or burger in just about any bowling alley anywhere in the United States, so is a bowling-themed restaurant really special at all? We are not sure, it is, however, a whole lot of fun so if you are after some good American classic food while grabbing a few games of bowls then Splitsville is a fantastic evening out for the family…if you still have any energy left after a day in the parks!
Best Character Dining in Disneyland Resort
Disney Princess Breakfast Adventures – Napa Rose – Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa
PRICE: Ala Carte $125 for Adults and Kids over 2!
Our favorite Character meal in all Disney parks the world over is Cinderellas Royal Table at Magic Kingdom Florida, for years the California resort lacked a special character meal of this type and caliber, but not anymore with Disneyland option, the Disney Princess Breakfast Adventures at the magnificent Napa Rose!
At an eye-watering $125 (you could eat at the chef’s counter for dinner at the Napa Rose for less!) this is one of the most expensive things to do in all of Disneyland, however, it is a really fantastic and magical experience and well worth the cost to make your Disney Adventures complete!
The meal is a 3-course banquet with a cold starter selection, a bottomless hot Buffet, and a fantastic Petit four dessert selection. Drinks are included, but apart from a welcome glass of bubbles, you are limited to Soda, Juice tea, and coffee, without paying extra of course.
While kids pay the same price as adults, which seems a little shocking at first they do receive a large amount of extra booty that the adults, annoyingly, do not. You get loads of quality time with up to 6 Princesses during your meal. All in all, it is a fantastic experience and easily the best Character meal in Disneyland, and in all honesty, it gives Cinderella’s Royal Table a real run for its money!
Other great options:
For other Character Dining options see our BEST Character dining in Disneyland Post.
Best Table Service Dining Disneyland Resort
Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen – Downtown Disney
PRICE: Ala Carte $14 – $39 for an Entree, Starters, and Desserts $9.50-$16.50, and Kids meals are $9.95
Ralph Brennan serves up some really good hearty soul food in a lively and boisterous atmosphere accompanied by a little soul music to help wash it down. The Jazz Kitchen is an experience and restaurant in one and a place we really love.
The food is pure soul food with classics such as Jambalaya, Shrimp and Grits, and Rice and Beans for lunch. For dinner, the menu takes a more upmarket approach with the introduction of steaks but there are still some classic Cajon choices such as Blackened Catfish and our favorite the Blackened Chicken “Mac & Cheese”.
Overall it is just a really fun and delicious place to eat. There is no pretense of upmarket sophistication just a bustling atmosphere along with great comfort food.
Other Great Choices:
Catal Restaurant – Downtown Disney
For Breakfast and lunch, the Catal is a high-end table service eatery focussing on solid American classics, Burgers, Chicken, and Waffles, and some excellent salads for lunch with excellent breakfast options such as french toast, Breakfast Burrito, and buttermilk pancakes.
Prices are possibly lightly over what you might find outside the resort but the convenience of being bang in the middle of Downtown Disney means they can charge a little more. Also, the dining is far more civilized than at the Buffet restaurants inside the hotels.
Best Bar in Disneyland Resort
Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar – Disneyland Hotel
If you are regular readers of our site, you will know how utterly biased we are to all things Hawaii or Polynesian. So it is no surprise to find the Enchanted Tiki Bar, our top Bar in Disneyland. The food is OK, it has poke but it’s Cali style, not Hawaiian. There is a PuPu Platter but it is not too reminiscent of anything we eat on the islands so overall the food is not the reason to hit this place up; It is the drinks.
The drinks are really epic. The famous Uh-Oa ($21 – $41 in souvenir mug) which is a flaming volcano spectacle for two is just amazing as the fire crackles and sparkles as you add the cinnamon. The HippopotoMaiTai ($13.25 – $22 in souvenir mug) is one of the best we have had off the islands, and there are some really strong drinks including the Safari Swizzle and the Shrunken Zombie Head ($13.25 – $26.25 in souvenir mug), both featuring 151 rum!
Most drinks come in a choice of standard or souvenir Tiki Mugs, which are pretty expensive but you keep the mug, It can be almost a tradition when visiting Disneyland to buy a mug each time and build up your collection! This makes them really popular and they do sell out. Our favorite is the new Piranha Pool mug which was sold out on our last trip. The drink itself is not our fav, but we need that mug!
Overall the Tiki bar is a pilgrimage and a stop not to be missed on any Disneyland trip.
Have Your Say
What is your favorite Disney Dining location? What are your favorite dishes? Have you experienced any of the restaurants on our list? how was it for you? or maybe you have a favorite we missed out on? whatever you have to say just fire away in the comments below or if you have any questions we would love to hear from you.