10 Great Disney Restaurants Almost as Fun as the Park

rancho del zocalo
Rancho del Zocalo
It's completely unacceptable: Our son is 7 years old and we still have never taken him to Disneyland or Disney World. But this year we're finally doing it: We're fitting one day at Disneyland into our vacation in Los Angeles. Being the food-obsessed type that I am, I immediately thought: Whatever will we eat? I pictured myself suffering through a day of sticky-sweet, starchy, heavy junk food. But Disney delivers! (Okay, not literally.) There are loads of semi-adventurous and even vaguely healthy options all over the park.

I combed the blogosphere for Disneyland food recommendations and came up with the following list of favorites.

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Classic Disney magic. These restaurants are especially good at transporting you into a magic kingdom, whether it's with extraordinary interiors or with close-encounters with your daughter's favorite princesses. 

Blue Bayou: This restaurant takes you to New Orleans at nighttime, complete with fireflies, any time of day.

Average Cost Per Diner: $20-30

Near: Pirates of the Caribbean

Goofy's Kitchen: Your kids can get up close to their favorite Disney characters at this all-you-can-eat buffet.

Average Cost Per Diner: More than $36.

Near: Inside Disneyland Hotel

 

Crowd pleasers. All the Disneyland restaurants aim to please most palates, but these restaurants are most likely to have something for your health-conscious eaters, your picky eaters, and your adventurous eaters all under one roof.

Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue American Barbecue

Average Cost Per Diner: $20-30

Near: Frontierland

Naples Ristorante e Pizzeria Casual Italian -- especially pizza

Average Cost Per Diner: $15-$35

Near: Downtown Disney

 

Cheap eats/No reservations. Hate planning ahead? Don't want to blow all your dough on dining? Disneyland is full of food carts and counter-service eateries that are a little more affordable than some of the other restaurants in the park. Here are the most-recommended eateries for the frugal-ish spontaneous visitor.

Rancho del Zocalo Casual Mexican in a lovely tiled and garden setting

Average Cost Per Diner: $10-$20

Near: Entrance to Frontierland

Carnation Cafe Old-fashioned comfort food

Average Cost Per Diner: $10-$20

Near: Main Street USA

Award Weiners Hot dog stand

Average Cost Per Diner: $10 or less

Near: Hollywood Pictures Back Lot

 

Especially for Grownups. Not that kids' aren't also welcome at these restaurants, but the following eateries have something special to offer parents. If you're lucky enough to be traveling with grandparents who can babysit you'll definitely want to check out these places.

Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Bar Classic Tiki Bar with pan-Asian snacks

Average Cost Per Diner: $10-$20 

Near: Disneyland Hotel pool area

Reservations? No

Grand California's Napa Rose Civilized dining with a local, seasonal California menu and extensive wine list

Average Cost Per Diner: $50 and up

Near: Disney Grand Californian Hotel 

Tortilla Jo's Mexican casual food with tequila bar

Average Cost Per Diner: $10-$20

Near: Downtown Disney

 

*Reservations are strongly recommended for many of these restaurants. Call: (714) 781-DINE.

What's your favorite Disneyland restaurant?

Image via Eccentric Scholar/Flickr.

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