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Feeding Our Family at Downtown Disney - Lunches and Dinners

The Disneyland resort has a huge variety of dining options, but choosing the right ones for your family can be overwhelming. For the most part, our group of four adults and one child opted for mostly moderate meals at casual dining restaurants.
Enjoying the sunshine at Downtown Disney
It is easy to preview menus and make advanced reservations using the Disneyland website and mobile app. Personally, I was surprised by the limited menus at most of the properties inside the Disney theme parks. Each restaurant sticks very closely to its theme, so you'll generally find only 4-10 adult meals and 2-4 kids meal options at each location. If your family has diverse taste preferences, the Downtown Disney restaurants generally offer a larger menu selection.

Lunches and Dinners in the Downtown Disney District
Playing at the Lego store in Downtown Disney

Our family's favorite meal in Downtown Disney was at Tortilla Jo's. This Mexican restaurant has two sides, a full-service restaurant and a quick-service Taqueria. We ate dinner at the restaurant and returned for lunch at the Taqueria.

The full-service restaurant at Tortilla Jo's has indoor and outdoor tables. Advanced reservations are available but we found that they may not be completely accurate. When we checked the mobile app for availability, it reported that the restaurant was full. However, when we asked the hostess at the outdoor patio, she was able to seat our family at a table immediately for dinner. We started the meal with complimentary chips and salsa. The children's menu was more expensive than typical, but Henry enjoyed the Carne Asada meal with corn and Mexican red rice ($10.50). 

The more casual Taqueria at Tortilla Jo's offers outdoor seating only. Items are made to order at the counter, then search for your own table. For lunch, Henry and I shared a generously-sized order of pork nachos ($6.49) and a side of fresh mango slices ($3.95). 

Another affordable option in Downtown Disney is Earl of Sandwich. Henry ordered the grilled cheese sandwich ($3.99) for lunch. For side dishes, our family shared a cup of fresh grapes ($2.49) and a cup of carrot and celery sticks with hummus ($2.49). Their breakfast menu also looked very promising with reasonably-priced breakfast sandwiches, yogurt parfaits and oatmeal.

Our most disappointing meal during our vacation was also the most expensive. We decided to splurge on a dinner reservation at Catal, which has many glowing reviews. No one in our family, however, had a positive experience. First, the wait time to receive our food after we placed our order was so long that Henry ran out of activities on the restaurant coloring page. The most delicious part of the meal was the Bacon Wrapped Dates, but with only four small dates this appetizer was over-priced ($11.00). 
Still waiting for our dinner to arrive at Catal

For our main meal, Henry and I shared the traditional paella ($34.99) since he was very excited for steamer clams. Unfortunately, it only came with 6 small clams and I am fairly certain that they caused him to have a very upset stomach later that night. No one else in our group got sick, but all of our entrees were either under- or over-cooked, and one of the vegetable side dishes arrived about 20 minutes after the rest of our food. 

Our last dinner on our vacation was at the Storyteller Cafe inside Disney's Grand Californian Hotel. The hotel is a beautiful piece of craftsman architecture. Be sure to take the opportunity to stroll through the impressive lobby. Its grandeur prompted Henry to declare "this is like a castle!" The restaurant is hiding in the courtyard near the pool. 

Throughout the day the restaurant offers buffet-style dining, but during dinner you can choose to order from a cooked-to-order menu. Although the buffet was extensive, we opted for the a la carte items. Henry picked macaroni and cheese ($9) from the children's menu. It was served with celery, carrots, grapes and strawberries. He also enjoyed a generous sample of Daddy's stick spareribs ($12).
Henry enjoyed collecting pennies during out trip. Don't miss the penny machines hiding in Downtown Disney.

This is the second in a short series of posts about our family's vacation to the Disneyland Resort. See Henry's breakfast recommendations in the first post. Read about our family's favorite lunches and dinners inside the Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park here. Henry's recommendations for Disney desserts and preschool rides are here.


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