June 20, 2024

Top 10 Disneyland Counter Service Restaurants

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Looking for the best counter service restaurants at Disneyland for an inexpensive and quick meal? We cover our 10 favorite dining options in California's castle park, offering entree and dessert recommendations, and more! (Updated February

Looking for the best counter service restaurants at Disneyland for an inexpensive and quick meal? We cover our 10 favorite dining options in California’s castle park, offering entree and dessert recommendations, and more! (Updated February 2, 2024.)

Note that if you’re looking for the top options at DCA, consult our list of the Best Disney California Adventure Counter Service Restaurants. Disneyland Resort’s second gate is arguably even more of a foodie park than Disneyland now! Still, Disneyland has some excellent options, especially now that a new restaurant has opened in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

This list is based on our subjective determination of best based upon our opinion of food quality, value, and theme–with an emphasis on food quality. Of course, it’s only based on restaurants where we’ve actually dined (in most cases, several times), but we’ve dined at most counter service restaurants at Disneyland Resort.

In our opinion, food is half the fun at Disneyland. Both parks have great restaurants, iconic snacks, decadent desserts, and great drinks. We typically go all-out when visiting the parks, doing breakfast at one of the hotels (or sometimes in the park), followed by a mid-morning snack, counter service lunch, and table service dinner. You should absolutely make a point of doing not just counter service meals, but also snacks and a table service meal or two during your visit–especially if you have a few days at Disneyland.

As you’ll learn from the entries on this list, the stereotype that all Disneyland cuisine is unhealthy fast food is false. Disneyland has inexpensive unique dining options as well as expensive fine dining. Good dining can help define a trip! To that end, we also strongly recommend checking out our List of the 24 Best Restaurants at Disneyland in 2024.

Those are the spots at which we dine the most and recommend to friends visiting the parks. You’ll find several hidden gems on there, as well as explanations for why we’ve snubbed several hotspots. There’s some overlap between this top 10 list and that one, but also a bunch of spots in both Disneyland and DCA, as well as the hotels and Downtown Disney that are worthy of your time and stomach space!

With that out of the way, here are our top 10 counter or quick service restaurants at Disneyland, along with some specific items we recommend from the various restaurants…

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10. Little Red Wagon – It might seem like a bit of a stretch to include a corn dog stand on a top 10 list like this, but it’s not. Little Red Wagon’s standard corn dog is the gold standard.

Enjoy one in late morning by grabbing a bench facing Sleeping Beauty Castle and decompressing after racing around Fantasyland doing rides. It’s a blissful experience!

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9. Royal Street Veranda – The menu here is basic and simple, but it has a couple of Disneyland fan-favorite items. Sarah eats at Royal Street Veranda often for their vegetable stew, and I have been known to gnaw on the bread bowl that she doesn’t finish. We’re a good combo.

Aside from bread bowl leftovers, I don’t normally dine at Royal Street Veranda because I don’t like having soup/stew/chowder when it’s hot outside, but I’d agree that it’s a solid pick during the winter months!

8. Hungry Bear Restaurant – Hungry Bear Restaurant’s stock has dropped considerably in recent years. First, they eliminated fan favorite desserts like the Lemon Cupcake and Trixie’s Pie. Then, the fatal blow was struck, with the removal of the popular Fried Green Tomato Sandwich.

Nevertheless, there are a few solid choices here if you’re in a pinch. More than anything, we like Hungry Bear Restaurant for the ambiance–there are few better ways to relax than by grabbing a table at the edge of the Rivers of America at sunset.

7. Bengal Barbecue – I think Bengal BBQ is overrated. However, the skewers are undeniably good and Sarah is a pretty big fan of Bengal Barbecue for its tasty and straightforward skewers offering grilled meats and vegetables.

My big hangup with Bengal Barbecue is not cuisine-quality, but price and portion sizes. The Bengal Rice Plate is illustrative here–one of the most expensive entrees at any Disneyland counter service restaurant…and a much smaller portion. Don’t let the skewers “only” costing ~$7-8 fool you–it takes 3 of these to have a normal-sized meal. If you can get past the price, Bengal BBQ is a very good option–I’m partial to the Pork Belly Skewer.

6. Red Rose Taverne – Back in Fantasyland you’ll find Red Rose Taverne, Disneyland’s once temporary but now-permanent Beauty and the Beast-decorated restaurant. The restaurant itself is charming thanks to its original design, even if the overlay is a yawn.

Thankfully, what this restaurant lacks in Beauty and the Beast theme it makes up for with an excellent menu full of guilty pleasure indulgences and other surprises. Sarah’s top pick at Red Rose Taverne is the Enchanted Cauli-Flower Sandwich while I’m a big fan of the Slow-cooked Beef Poutine.

5. Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante – Rancho del Zocalo is one of the many Disneyland restaurants that’s technically a counter service restaurant, but has meals that are almost table service quality. The prices at Rancho reflect that, as many options here are priced slightly above what you’d find at an average counter service restaurant. However, the quality and portion size more than explains why the dishes are priced where they are.

Add to that very impressive ambiance in a venue that is (dare we say) romantically lit at night, this could be a great place for a cheap date! If you really want to save money, split the Carne Asada & Red Chile Enchilada (or Tamale, depending upon the season) Platter (our recommendation here) with your date. Or not. Depends upon how your date feels about being taken out for fast food and splitting a meal.

4. Jolly Holiday Bakery & Cafe – It might seem like a surprise to find this in the top 5, but Jolly Holiday Bakery is an excellent option. Several of the items on the lunch and dinner menus are good options, especially once you account for the inevitable seasonal dishes that are almost always better than anything on the permanent menu.

The sandwiches are surprisingly delicious, and one of my favorite items in all of Disneyland is the Beef Birria Toasted Cheese (pictured above). When you add the best selections of baked goods of any restaurant, Jolly Holiday becomes one of the best overall dining options in Disneyland. A winner from start to finish!

3. Plaza Inn – In my opinion, Plaza Inn is the undisputed champion of Disneyland counter service dining. It’s really not even close. The comfort food here is second to none, and it feels like a “table service light” restaurant. The glorious fried chicken is Plaza Inn’s claim to fame, and unlike some Disneyland snacks that get hyped-up, this chicken actually lives up to the hype.

The fried chicken is more addictive than nicotine and more delicious than bacon ice cream. Sarah is not a big fan of Plaza Inn, which is why it didn’t receive a perfect score in our review, but I think most guests will love this place. It falls short of the top slot here largely because of its one-note nature and high prices (that fried chicken is almost $20 now!).

2. Docking Bay 7 Food & Cargo – This large counter service restaurant in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge has high prices–but no higher than Plaza Inn or Rancho del Zocalo. More to the point, Docking Bay 7 has an strong menu with delicious options matching those high price points in quality.

On a cool day, the small courtyard of almost-hidden outdoor seating is your best option. As for menu choices, our top picks are the Felucian Garden Spread (pictured above), which is a great option even for non-vegans. We’re also big fans of the seasonal menu options at Docking Bay 7, and the Cold Brew Black Caf is the best coffee drink at Disneyland. Sadly, the menu is smaller than it used to be, but it still packs a punch!

1. Tiana’s Palace – The newest counter service restaurant at Disneyland is also the best. That happens a lot, actually, as menus are most ambitious and standards are highest when a location first opens or reimagines its menu.

The menu at Tiana’s Palace is far superior to what was available at French Market when it closed. You really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu here–my personal favorites are the Beef Po’Boy, Gulf Shrimp and Grits, or any of the gumbos. The main courses at Tiana’s Palace Restaurant are mostly fantastic–surprisingly ambitious, high-quality, and generously-portioned. The prices are on the higher side, but of the ‘elevated’ counter service restaurants at Disneyland, this is the one that’s most worth the prices.

We’ll be watching and “researching” throughout 2024 to make sure that the quality stays consistently high, but right now, several of the entrees easily would be at home at nearby Cafe Orleans, which is a table service restaurant. Tiana’s Palace Restaurant is that good and ambitious.

Planning a Southern California vacation? For park admission deals, read Tips for Saving Money on Disneyland Tickets. Learn about on-site and off-site hotels in our Anaheim Hotel Reviews & Rankings. For where to eat, check out our Disneyland Restaurant Reviews. For unique ideas of things that’ll improve your trip, check out What to Pack for Disney. For comprehensive advice, consult our Disneyland Vacation Planning Guide. Finally, for guides beyond Disney, check out our Southern California Itineraries for day trips to Los Angeles, Laguna Beach, and many other SoCal cities!

Your Thoughts

Which restaurants would make your list of the top 10 counter service restaurants at Disneyland Resort? Do you agree or disagree with what we’ve listed? Plan on trying some of them when you visit Disneyland? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments!

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