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Home / Blog / Restaurants & Dining / Best Table-Service Restaurants at Disney California Adventure

Best Table-Service Restaurants at Disney California Adventure

by Mommy Frog on October 5, 2023
Los Angeles

Best Table-Service Restaurants at Disney California Adventure - pinterest

When you are spending a day at the Disneyland Resort, it can be hard to stop and sit down for a nice meal. With so much to see and do, you may feel the urge to press on, but I highly recommend checking out some of the best table-service restaurants at Disney California Adventure. Dining offers you a chance to relax, rest your feet and cool off with either air conditioning or a refreshing drink. Plus, we think some of the best food at Disneyland is at Disney California Adventure!

It is a lot of work keeping the family organized and making sure everyone’s needs are met, but you have to take care of yourself, too. That’s why I always make some reservations at several table-service restaurants at Disney California Adventure (and in Disneyland, too).

When we sit and dine, we find that we get enough rest and energy to hop through a few more hours in the park. Plus, each restaurant offers a completely different way to experience California or Disney history without leaving the park.

Best Table-Service Restaurants at Disney California Adventure

Do you want to dine in the glitz and glammer of historic Hollywood, be swept away to Wine Country and Tuscany for Italian food or to eat gastro-pub style with a water view from a pier? Even these themed table-service restaurants at Disney California Adventure have subcategories within them, with attached bars and lounges with slightly different menus. We'll go over all the options.

Best Table-Service Restaurants at Disney California Adventure - Carthay Circle Steak

The restaurants at Disney California Adventure serve beer wine and themed cocktails. If you don't drink there are plenty of mocktails so you can still feel the vibes without feeling tipsy.

Step into Historic Hollywood at Carthay Circle

Best Table Service Restaurants at Disney California Adventure - Carthay Circle

One of my favorite table-service restaurants at California Adventure is Carthay Circle. It is easy to miss this gem near the entrance to the park. If we don’t have reservations to eat there, we search for walk-up availability in the Disneyland app. But if we still can’t get in — or if we want a smaller meal or lunch— we will go for Alfresco Dining at Carthay Circle Lounge and order delicious bar bites (more on this option below). Since the pandemic, Carthay Circle has been open just for dinner from 4 to 8 p.m., which means there are limited hours to dine here.

This is the priciest restaurant at Disney California Adventure and by far away the nicest. And it is home to the nicest bathroom in the theme park. But normal theme park attire is acceptable here. Due to the pricing, this is a dining experience that Leap and I save for date night or to celebrate a special occasion.

Best Table-Service Restaurants at Disney California Adventure - Carthay PatioYou can order some fun adult cocktails, but the best part about Carthay Circle is that you froget that you are in an amusement park for a while. The crowds and heat stay outside and you enter another era: Hollywood’s Golden Age. The restaurant is designed after a glamorous theatre built in 1926. When you are done eating, surprise! Disney is right outside the door and ready for you to take it back on.

We've had the opportunity to dine on the patio of Carthay Circle. That seating offers you a chance to dine in style but with an ear for the hustle and bustle of entertainment in the theme park below. As it turns out, we had the patio to ourselves, which was fun! It's a little less glamorous than dining inside. However, it's a great option for families with busy tadpoles who might find the inside too quiet for their family.

Look for special items during different seasons. At Halloween Time, there is always a fun novelty such as poison apple glow cubes in specialty drinks or a Spooky Tree Flight.

Carthay Circle Lounge — Alfresco Dining

Best Table Service Restaurants at Disney California Adventure - Carthay Circle

The Alfresco Dining lunch and dinner menu is made of small bites. Portions are small but not priced that way, so that's one thing to keep in mind. While the prices of food items are less than Carthay Circle's main dining room entrées, the portions reflect that. Many items are sized like starters and are designed to be shared. There are kids entrées and a hazelnut crunch Mickey ice cream pop for dessert.

Best Table-Service Restaurants at Disney California Adventure - Outside table with a drink at Carthay Circle Lounge Alfresco Dining

You may be seated indoors in the swanky lounge or outside on the patio, where you'll be entertained by the hoppenings of Buena Vista Street and Hollywood Land. It's a great place to go for upscale snacks and drinks. It's perfect if you do not want a heavy meal, but you'd like to relax and have a nice drink and a dignified snack. You can reserve dining here or join the walk-up list if you are nearby.

Wine Country Trattoria

Wine Country Trattoria serves lunch and dinner in an outdoor patio setting. This Tuscan villa-themed restaurant offers more than 25 wines by the glass. That assures that you will find the perfect one to complement your food. This location offers a dining package with a voucher for reserved viewing areas for World of Color. You can upgrade to the prix fixe meal with your server.

Best Table-Service Restaurants at Disney California Adventure - Rib-Eye with vegetables at Wine Country TrattoriaFrankly, you can get just as good or maybe even better viewing for free by joining the World of Color virtual queue, as long as you are in a theme park by the time the queue opens at noon each day. But if you won't be in the park until after that time, a dining package is the next best way to go. You can also get dining packages on Oogie Boogie Bash nights in the fall for viewing the Frightfully Fun Parade. Our Disneyland dining packages post has more details.

 

Best Table-Service Restaurants at Disney California Adventure - Vegetable lasagna with cheese on topThis dining establishment is more reasonably priced and kid-friendly than Carthay Circle. Pricing is similar to the Lamplight Lounge options. You can make a reservation or try to join the walk-up list. It is one of the easier restaurants to reserve. You may be seated out on the patio or indoors. One of our favorite dishes is the vegetable lasagna. It's not all pasta. You can also get a nice rib-eye steak.

Lamplight Lounge

Home of the famous lobster nachos, Lamplight Lounge is one of our favorite table-service restaurants at Disney California Adventure. It's got great vibes, a nice location on the water and some of the most comfortable seating of all the restaurants. Let's face it, there's nothing better than sinking into a nice seat when you take a break from the park. It is located in the former location of Ariel's Grotto. This restaurant accepts reservations and may have walk-up availability. You can dine indoors amongst Pixar art or outdoors overlooking the water of Paradise Bay.

Best Table-Service Restaurants at Disney California Adventure - Lamplight Brunch

Lamplight Lounge offers a full menu with "Bites" and "Bigger Bites" (entrées). Lunch and dinner are served daily. Brunch is 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday through Sunday only. Mimosa flight anyone? Brunch is our favorite meal here.

Best Table-Service Restaurants at Disney California Adventure - Nachos at Lamplight Lounge substituted with beef

This family-friendly gastropub is located at the entrance to Pixar Pier. It has great views of the water, fun cocktails, creative nonalcoholic mocktails and tasty eats. Plus, it's a feast for the eyes and hearts of Pixar fans.

Share some lobster nachos (you can substitute for steak or vegan options), poke or tasty or bao. Or, dip into the bigger bites. Those include salads, sandwiches, a salmon PLT, a cheddar burger or plant-based items. You also find a kids' menu. Look for special menu seasonal items, especially during festivals, celebrations and holidays. And don't froget to save room for dessert — doughnuts with dipping sauce.

Best Table-Service Restaurants at Disney California Adventure - BurgerThe Lamplight Lounge pays homage to the artists who inspired the Pixar films we love so much, with sketches and artwork to enjoy as you dine. You can't beat the view from the Lamplight Lounge! Here's a hop tip: Lamplight Lounge usually closes before the World of Color begins, but if you have late seating outdoors at night, you might be able to stay in place to watch the show.

Lamplight Lounge  — Boardwalk Dining

The upstairs outside bar is called Lamplight Lounge  — Boardwalk Dining. (It used to be the Cove Bar.) It offers fun drinks and bar bites, or "shorts," to share. This location does not take reservations. You can look for walk-up availability in the Disneyland app. You have to be in the vicinity to join the walk-up list. If you do not see availability, just stick around and keep trying. (We usually see spots open up about 10 minutes after it opens.) This location operates with shorter hours (from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.).

Best Table-Service Restaurants at Disney California Adventure - Lamplight Lounge

Even though it has a smaller menu, you can still get lobster nachos and sliders. We love the barbacoa nachos, which are not available downstairs. We cover some of the mocktails in our Disneyland mocktail post.

Best Table-Service Restaurants at Disney California Adventure - Dole Whip Cocktails

At either Lamplight Lounge location, be sure to ask about the secret drink menu. The secret Dole Whip shot was all the rage for a while. We tried the cocktail version of the shot. and it tasted like a piña colada. We list some options in our Disneyland secret menu items post.

Other Table-Service Options at Disney California Adventure

Here are a few other table-service options and special experiences.

World of Color Dessert Party

Best Table-Service Restaurants at Disney California Adventure - World of Color Dessert Party

Waitstaff will serve you drinks, desserts and cheese (selection may vary seasonally) while you sit at a low-top or high-top table. But this is not a restaurant. It's an experience that is available for people who want to watch World of Color in a reserved section without standing up. You can hop over to our World of Color and Disneyland dining packages posts to learn more.

Magic Key Terrace

Just to the right of Wine Country Trattoria's check-in area is a staircase that leads you to the next stop on our culinary journey. But you'll need to be a Magic Key Holder or have one with you to dine here. This elevated outdoor patio is now reserved just for Magic Key Holders and their guests.

When Leap and I are having a date night (or day!) in the park, we like to park ourselves at the Magic Key Terrace to enjoy the views of Cars Land and the food and wine/cocktails. There is a mix of high-top tables and cozy booths. This dining and lounge experience features signature cocktails (and a fun mocktail) inspired by the history of Disney California Adventure.

Best Table-Service Restaurants at Disney California Adventure - Barbacoa flatbread At Magic Key Terrace

The food bites are toadally tasty. From flatbreads to bone marrow truffle mac and cheese to sliders and charcuterie platters, you'll find something to eat and share.

 

Best Table-Service Restaurants at Disney California Adventure - Sliders and drink at Magic Key Terrace

You can definitely bring your children with you. However, we like to save this table-service restaurant for nights when the kids are busy with their own fun.

Whenever we visit Disneyland, we like to plan at least one meal out at one of these table-service restaurants at Disney California Adventure. If you are considering the Lamplight Lounge, Wine Country Trattoria, Carthay Circle’s dining room or any of the dining packages, make a reservation. Keep in mind that there are also many great California Adventure quick-service restaurants to choose from when you don’t have time to stop ... but it’s definitely worth taking the time to try some of the table-service restaurants! You do so much to take care of the family. Let somebody take care of you, even if it is just for one meal.

Related: Guide to Disneyland Character Dining

Related: Best Disneyland Table Service Restaurants

Hoppy planning!

Keep hopping, Mommy Frog!
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