Starting this Friday, Disneyland will begin celebrating its new, not-yet-really-annual buffet of bachanality — their 24-hour Day of Disney (Okay, it's called Rock Your Disney Side, but Day of Disney is a much better name). From 6 a.m. Friday to 6 a.m. Saturday, the Disneyland resort will be in operation — rides will run, guests will crowd, some crazy AP holder(s) will try to stay awake for 24-hours. Really, this list is for them.
To stay up and cheery for 24 hours, you're going to have to eat, and why not eat the best things Disneyland has to offer?
These are the 10 best things to eat at Disneyland.
10. Corn Dogs
Really, corn dogs in general are a winning combination. Anytime you take meat, line it with bread, and then fry the entire thing, you're going to have a good time. Disneyland's version is the pinnacle of corn dog-edness as it should be if I have to pay over $100 just to get a chance to buy the thing.
And now, the worlds of Jonathan Gold.
The corn dogs, definitely the corn dogs. Massive, well-spiced things, dipped and fried to order, can be found at what looks like a converted delivery truck parked near the end of Main Street, right by the Nestlé-sponsored diapering station. I can sincerely say that I've never had a better corn dog, even at a county fair. Afterward, you can walk over to the Enchanted Tiki Room and have a double pineapple whip for dessert.
[If you want to skip the Whip line, just go inside the Enchanted Tiki Room. Or, if you ever spend time just vaguely near Irvine, you can skip all of the lines together and have it whenever you want, just head over to Strikland's]
9. Fried Chicken at the Plaza Inn
The fried chicken at the Plaza Inn is an achievement of high heat and fat. Beautifully fried, the skin is a near Cathedral fragile crisp while the meat is ridiculously moist. How they get it that way, I'm not completely sure. Brining? Faerie magic? Applause?
Whatever it is, Knotts' chicken needs some because the last few years haven't been kind to the food at Orange County's other park.
8. Beignets at Mint Julep Cafe
Ah beignets, what's there not to love. Loveable balls of dough tossed about in rolling oil and finished with powdered sugar, they're a recipe for addiction. Pleasantly sweet, and with a crisp firmness that outclasses any donut or funnel cake, they're one of the most perfect simple foods you can get.
It's not Halloween, but if you're revisiting near then, make sure to try to pumpkin flavored beignets, they might even be better.
Man, three items in and everything's been fried.
7. Ghirardelli Sundae
Of course the first non-fried food would just be ice cream.
Ghirardelli Square is one of the redeeming parts of the tourist trap known as Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, and even the square isn't that safe. Sure, you can plop and rest, but whoever was there before you probably left the table sticky and their trash everywhere.
So, if you're ever craving a Ghirardelli sundae and don't want to deal with the mess (or the 600-mile drive, I guess), you can check out the Ghirardelli Chocolate Shop. There, you'll find many of the same ice creams and toppings. Build your sundae to your heart's content.
But what makes it so good? Come on dude, it's ice cream. Except, just slightly better.
6. Steak at Steakhouse 55
Not everything to eat at Disneyland is all fried dough and sweets. The resort has a set of very good restaurants (that're scheduled to make a few more appearances on this list), that need to be checked out. You can't just spend your life eating carnival food.
The steak at Steakhouse 55 is just wonderful — well-prepared, good quality, and perfectly seasoned. Sure, you could get some of their other entrees, but you're at a steakhouse, what the hell is wrong with you. Get whatever your favorite cut is, I won't judge. Filet? Sure! New York? Go for it. Rib eye, my favorite. Porterhouse? A pain in the ass to cook well, but they'll do it for you.
Just make sure you didn't fill up on churros beforehand.
5. Fried Green Beans at Trader Sam's
The only veg to grace this list and of course it's breaded and fried, but hey, they're delicious.
Served crusted in panko and fried the perfect golden brown and delicious, the fried green beans at Trader Sam's are your guilt-free replacement for french fries that taste better, have a more interesting texture and a crispier crunch, and are probably just as bad for you.
Dip 'em in the sriracha sauce and just hang out poolside. Maybe, uh, just wait a bit before swimming.
4. Fried Biscuits at Carthay Circle
Thank you based Andrew Sutton.
Carthay Circle is a great restaurant with a menu helmed be a great chef and prepared by his — wait for it — great team. It'd hold its own outside of the Resort, you can bet it's some of the best food in it.
But what to eat? Well, whatever main you get, make sure to have it with the fried biscuits.
Innocuous looking on the outside, the biscuits are filled with white cheddar, bacon, and jalapeno with a side of apricot honey butter. They're a beautiful waltz of flavors — salty, savory, spicy, and sweet — and having them fresh is almost like cheating on all other starches.
'Cause really, how are you supposed to go back to other bread after having these biscuits? You might as well be buried now.
3. Châteaubriand at Club 33
Let's get this out of the way — Club 33 is way overrated. It's not the best restaurant in the resort, and exclusivity does not a great time make.
That being said, the châteaubriand, what is probably the most popular dish at Club 33, is perfectly rated. A particularly thick cut of filet, the châteaubriand is ridiculously decadent — perfectly seared outside, perfect doneness inside, rich, well-sauced — and the sides it's served with are just as decadent.
Get an invitation to 33? Well, eat everything if you can, but if you can't? Châteaubriand.
2. Monte Cristo Sandwich at Cafe Orleans
The Monte Cristo is a ridiculous sandwich, even by Disneyland standards.
It's expensive, breaking the $20 level (Cheaper at Cafe Orleans than at Blue Bayou, so go there). It's, again, ridiculous — a behemoth mound of turkey, ham, and swiss that's been battered, fried, then dusted with powdered sugar and topped with berry compote. Yeah, it's an adaptation of the croque monsieur, but it's such an evolution of the sandwich that's it's almost not fair to give it such common roots.
And it's just so good. A few bites in, and the gooey marriage of sweet and savory already has you not regretting the price tab. Just try it once, and you'll see what all the noise is about.
There's even a vegetarian option that holds its own. Replace the meats with two more cheese — mozzarella and a double-cream brie. It's ridiculously rich, but ridiculously good.
God, everything about this sandwich is just so ridiculous.
And the best thing to eat at the Disneyland Resort is…
1. Chef's Tasting Menu at Napa Rose
The chef's tasting menu at Napa Rose is the best dinner you can have at Disneyland (It's been the site of some of my best dinners ever, that's for sure). It's expensive, $120 after tip and tax, but it's worth it (too bad you can't use your AP discount).
Call ahead and make a reservation at the chef's counter that overlooks Napa Rose's very well run kitchen. Take your seats and wait for chef to come over — it mostly likely will be one of Sutton's sous, not the man himself, though he does make appearances from time to time. They'll ask you what you like, what you dislike, and they'll craft a menu just for you.
They'll give you amazing service. If you can, request Saucy, he's the best waiter I've ever had. He'll keep your waters full, give you the provenance of every dish, and by god, he'll even remember if you're left handed.
And then the food. If you're not switching plates with your date halfway through, you'll have an amazing five-course meal. Switch/sample each others plates, and you're basically at 10-courses. And the serving size, there's no pretension here. Yes, you're over looking a kitchen, yes you're menu was designed for you, and yes, this is a very good restaurant, but you're going to be leaving almost uncomfortable full, 'cause if there's one thing Disney doesn't do, it's small.