Tag Archives: Disney Dining

Disneyland: The FOOD!

It would be remiss if I didn’t mention the food aspect of Disneyland. I mean, this did start off as a food blog, didn’t it?

Magic on the West Coast

Magic on the West Coast

Admittedly, I wasn’t sure what to expect when it came to Disneyland dining. With the introduction of the Disney Dining Plan a few years ago, my return to yearly Disney trips has always included them. When I used to go with my family, there wasn’t a dining plan option. So, we did a variety of quick service and table service meals, while trying not to spend too much money (we would even go to the grocery store and get already cooked chicken and sides for dinner at least one night). The dining plans now really allow you to enjoy all that Disney has to offer when it comes to dining. It’s pretty awesome to know you have X number of meals available to you, to use however you please. At least, that’s the case for Disney World. To be honest, I’m not exactly sure how the Disneyland dining plans work, aside from the fact that they’re different than WDW’s options, and are not worth it (according to multiple people).

That being said, we opted out of a dining plan option while in Disneyland, and just did our own thing. Having never been to Disneyland, I really didn’t know where to start when it came to dining; what restaurants were the best? Who had vegetarian friendly food? Where would we get the most bang for our buck? I did as much research as I could, and decided to book two meals ahead of time: dinner on Saturday night post-10k and pre-half marathon, and breakfast on Sunday morning after the half. I figured those were the two most important meals of the weekend, and I didn’t want to run into any issues by not having reservations.

When we arrived on Friday, we weren’t sure what to have for dinner, after devouring some delicious mini cupcakes at the cupcake meet-up. But as we were walking through Downtown Disney, we spotted Tortilla Jo’s, and knew we had to eat there. When faced with the option to eat Mexican and Southwestern food, we will almost always choose it. There was a bit of a wait, but we were eating so early (we had been up since 2am EDT) we didn’t mind the wait. Once seated, I had no problem enjoying a skinny margarita and guacamole, followed by a delicious veggie burrito. By the time dinner was over we were stuffed to the gills and ready for bed… no dessert necessary.

Does it get any better than this?

Does it get any better than this?

After the race on Saturday morning, by the time we showered and were in the parks and finally hungry, it was around 11am. We headed to Paradise Pier in California Adventure and got ourselves a giant sourdough bread bowl filled with soup. Only after we ordered and started eating did I realize we were enjoying a San Francisco favorite, a city we’d be visiting in just a few days… go figure! The bread was the perfect post-race treat, and the broccoli and cheddar soup that came in it was awesome – just the right amount of cheese and cream to broccoli ratio. Since we had a later meal (we’ll call it brunch?), I opted for ice cream as an early afternoon treat once in Disneyland. I certainly was not a poster child for proper pre and post race fueling on this trip, but hey, you have to live a little.

Rainbow sprinkles. Always.

Rainbow sprinkles. Always.

Dinner reservations on Saturday were at 6pm, which gave us enough time to enjoy the parks before dinner so we could head back to the hotel afterwards for an early bedtime. I had heard wonderful things about the Monte Cristo sandwich served in New Orleans Square, so I knew we had to go. After reading a few reviews and tips, I decided to make a reservation at Cafe Orleans, rather than Blue Bayou (it was noted as slightly cheaper, but pretty much the same). We enjoyed some Parmesan garlic fries to start, and by the time our Monte Cristo’s came out, I was already on my way to being full. As you can see in the picture below, it’s A LOT of (fried) food. I wound up only eating one piece, and brought the rest back to the hotel (we had a fridge and microwave!). It was delicious, but heavy. There were a bunch of tip son FourSquare saying it was big enough to share, and we should have listened. Oh well, next time!

Fried, cheesy deliciousness.

Fried, cheesy deliciousness.

Sunday’s breakfast was planned at Carnation Cafe, another noted favorite by many of the blogs and articles I read while researching. Apparently their head chef has worked in Disneyland for 55+ years! I hadn’t really looked at the menu before (which is rare for me) but I was pleased to see Huevos Rancheros – they are one of my favorite breakfasts! The eggs were perfectly poached and I’m always thrilled to see things like black beans, avocados, and cilantro on my plate. We weren’t rushed at all, and it was nice to sit back and relax after the half marathon.

huevos

Pretty much all of my favorite things.

Being the bad blogger that I am, there were also a lot of other delicious things we had on our trip that I just didn’t take a picture of. Like an awesome jalapeno stuffed pretzel with a Torpedo IPA at Bayside Brews and an epic java explosion sundae from Ghirardelli, both in California Adventure.

Our final meal wasn’t actually in Disneyland, but rather at Buca di Beppo, about a mile down the road with my cousin and his family. My cousin has lived in California all his life (after my Aunt packed up and moved there when she was 18 – my mom always jokes that she moved across the country with garbage bags full of her stuff), and we don’t get to see each other that often because of the distance. Since he only lives about an hour outside of Disneyland, we made sure to meet up with the whole gang (he has three kids, all under the age of 5!). It was a great way to cap off our Disneyland trip.

Since we spent the next 3 1/2 days in San Francisco, you better believe the eating did not stop there! I can’t wait to share that part of the trip with you as well… I fell completely in love with that city.

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Filed under Food Blogging, Food Review, Travel

Gearing Up

This coming weekend, I’ll be running my fourth marathon, and my fifth half marathon as part of Disney’s Goofy Challenge! If you remember, I ran this race last year; it was fun, but definitely harder than I had anticipated so I wasn’t sure if I’d be giving it a shot again. After minimal persuasion, I signed up. And just like last year, I’m hoping that my fall marathon training will help carry me through the weekend’s races (don’t worry, I’ve been running A LOT since then, but October marathon training is hopefully a solid base). Since this is my third trip to Disney to run, and my 4th trip there in the last 4 years (all in January!), I’m really excited for the familiarity as well as the new changes that I’ll experience both during the races as well as at Disney in general.

In terms of the race, the marathon course is different this year, including a trip to the speedway and ESPN’s Wide World of Sports. I’m looking forward to this for one very big reason – it breaks up the course! The old route spent so much time on service roads, which is not fun at mile 16 of a marathon… especially when it’s really your 29th mile of the weekend. Those service roads were what I like to refer to as “the dark times” of the race last year – I really struggled due to a lack of proper nutrition before the race… So I’m going to be sure not to have a repeat. Of course I’m also looking forward to the mile 20 party (since it’s the 20th anniversary of the race), the medals, and seeing all the ridiculous costumes and characters along the way! I’ll also be keeping my eyes peeled for Joey Fatone and Sean Astin (Rudy!), because you better believe I’ll start singing or chanting, depending on who I find!

For the parks, I’m super pumped to check out the additions to Fantasyland in Magic Kingdom. Since I’m an 8 year old at heart, Magic Kingdom is my absolute favorite. I was able to score a reservation at the new Be Our Guest restaurant to celebrate finishing Goofy, so expect a review on that once I get back! Aside from the update to Fantasyland, I’m just excited to visit all the parks and go on every ride – multiple times. Plus, I’m a huge fan of Disney dining, and have a few new restaurants I’ll be checking out as well as dining in Mexico because it’s my hands-down favorite. Disney food has never disappointed (me), so it’ll be fun approaching it as a vegetarian for the first time.

And, maybe most importantly, this will be my first race (well, first two) representing the Oiselle Team! I wound up sitting out the Hangover 5k due to foot pain and not wanting to risk the upcoming races and vacation, and based on the fact that it feels almost 100%, I’m happy with the decision. I have my racing singlet, Rogas, Lori shorts, arm warmers, and sweet temporary tattoo all ready to go for two days of racing… and lots of other Oiselle shirts packed for my days at the parks. Here’s to hoping I don’t stink up my singlet too much on day one (I’m only half kidding…)!

In addition to running for Oiselle, I’m really looking forward to hopefully meet up with a lot of people I’ve connected with online. I already have plans for a character breakfast with Krissy, and I can’t wait! We started chatting via Twitter after last year’s Disney Marathon, and I’m really excited to finally meet her. So for anyone that’s heading to Disney for this weekend’s races – let me know – I’d love to meet up!

I know that running races “for fun” and taking it easy isn’t for everyone (believe me, I have trouble with it sometimes too), but this is the one time a year I really take the time to enjoy running. I mean, what a benefit to being obsessed with running – a Disney vacation (or vice versa)! I already have my sights set on the Disneyland half in September since I’ve never been to Disneyland, so 2013 may be the year of Run Disney events. I can’t wait to share the race and dining experiences with you when I get back. But in the meantime, tell me:

Have you ever been to Disney (land or world)? What’s your favorite ride? Favorite park? 
Do you ever run races “for fun”? 

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Mexican flavors in Epcot

It’s no secret that I love Mexican food, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise that every time I go to Disney World, I have to eat dinner in Epcot’s Mexico. This has been a tradition my family has followed since the very first time we went to Disney World when I was 5. Whenever I go to make reservations for our trip, the Mexico reservation is the very first one I make. A few years ago they opened a second Mexican restaurant, so I decided this year was finally the year to try it.

La Hacienda de San Angel is located right on the World Showcase lagoon, and is a perfect spot to watch their nightly fireworks, Illuminations. I didn’t think of it when I made the reservations, but seeing the sun set over the water was a nice consolation prize. We started our meal with tortilla chips and salsa (a spicy chipotle sauce and a green tomatillo sauce) as we perused the menu. Since we were on the Dining Plan, we were able to select an entreé and dessert. They have a tequila bar on-site, so naturally my husband and I started off with a margarita. I had the avocado margarita (super creamy and flavorful), and he had the blueberry pomegranate (nice and refreshing). My sister settled for an iced tea since she’s only 19.

When it came to making our dinner selection, we were all stumped. Everything sounded delicious, and we wanted to try everything. Eventually my husband and sister settled on the Puerco en Salsa de Mole Negro, which is roasted pork tenderloin with mole negro sauce, served with esquites (roasted corn), sweet potato mash, beans and vegetables. For myself, I went with the Arrachera, which is top sirloin served with spring onions, tamal with rajas, cactus leaves, and beans. Our table also had two big bowls of rice and beans, as well as some corn tortillas to make our own little tacos. The flavors of everything tasted truly authentic, and my favorite may have been the black beans and tamal that came with mine.

So much food!

You may be thinking to yourself, “Danielle, you said no meat in January! You’re a cheater!.” Why yes, yes I am. I knew going into the Disney trip finding vegetarian options at every turn would be difficult – and it was. There wasn’t one vegetarian option on La Hacienda’s menu, and while I know I could have gone out of my way to request something, because I’m not truly a vegetarian, I ordered off the menu. Disney does have plenty of veggie friendly options and I took advantage of them whenever possible, but I didn’t limit myself – I mean, it was vacation after all. I’ve found the main reason why I haven’t become a full-time vegetarian is the sometimes hassle of eating out, or eating at a friend’s – I especially don’t like to make a fuss when someone else is preparing a meal for me. That may seem like a cop-out, but it’s how I approach the situation. I’m planning to go an extra week into February to make it a truly vegetarian month.

But I digress – back to La Hacienda. We can’t forget about dessert! I decided to go with an apple empanada with caramel ice cream even though I was stuffed and couldn’t bare the thought of eating more. My sister had the same, and my husband ordered a fresh fruit tamale. Even though I only had a few bites, it was delicious and reminded me of an apple turn-over. The ice cream was the star, though, with ribbons of caramel throughout the rich ice cream. Yum.

The atmosphere is warm and inviting, and they certainly don’t rush you. At every restaurant we had a reservation for we arrived a few minutes early, and they were always ready to seat us. It was such a nice change of pace from restaurants around here where despite a reservation, you still wind up waiting. I’m definitely glad we decided to take a bit of a risk and book our traditional Mexico dinner at their new restaurant – it was a delicious change of pace.

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Filed under Food Review, Restaurant, Spanish Food, Travel