As a local, you don’t typically think of Downtown Disney as a quiet night out — more like a crowded hullabaloo of wide-eyed children, tourists, promenade shops and eateries. So if there is ever a reason to visit that doesn't involve the Mouse, it’s for Catal Restaurant.
Open now for 16 years (!), Catal just got a new executive chef in Timothy McDowell, who's bringing on bold American-Catalonian flavors.
For tastes that speak on the regionally inspired cuisine and Chef McDowell’s developed menu, start with the calamari. Tender pieces of squid sit in a light crispy spiced-batter, served alongside a pillow of frisee slaw and smoky Aleppo aioli for dipping; leafy greens dressed in a simple vinaigrette, tossed with sweet morsels of corn relish makes a quick salad. The secret to Chef McDowell’s ridiculously delicate calamari — a five-hour buttermilk bath.
Next, slow-roasted suckling pig paella. This cochinillo is soft and succulent with a crispy outer skin and sits atop al dente saffron bomba rice. Add some spicy chorizo de bilbao, plump sweet peas, pickled onions and it’s a rich blend of vibrant flavors.
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If you can squeeze one more course into the rotation, the oxtail ragu is a sumptuous finisher. The slowly braised oxtail is silky and savory, its rich stew base absorbed by crispy masa gnocchi cut with citrusy cilantro pickled slaw. The dish is an imaginative take on a deconstructed tamale, delicious and comforting all at the same time. Reserve a seat on the balcony, enjoy some fantastic wine, eat and take in the fireworks.
Catal Restaurant, 1580 Disneyland Dr., Anaheim, (714)774-4442; patinagroup.com/catal-restaurant