While Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World was transformed into Disney Springs in 2015, the smaller version at Disneyland in California has retained the Downtown Disney name. This retail, shopping, and entertainment district is one of the best places to grab a meal at the Happiest Place on Eart, especially if you don’t happen to have a ticket for the day.
Admission to Downtown Disney at Disneyland Resort is free, you just have to pay for the individual activities, food, etc. It’s a great place to visit during your family vacation.
If you are planning on eating at Downtown Disney, you’ll have plenty of options with indoor and outdoor seating. There are both quick-service restaurants and table-service restaurants with a variety of different cuisines and price ranges. Here are six of the best restaurants in Downtown Disney at Disneyland.
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Location of Downtown Disney
Downtown Disney is located right off the main entrances of both Disneyland Park and Disney’s California Adventure. Although a ticket isn’t required to enter Downtown Disney, you will need to go through a security/bag check. Once you go through this area, you are able to enter both parks and the entertainment district without having to go through again. Therefore, it’s easy to go back and forth.
Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel, the most luxurious of the three resorts on Disneyland property, has an entrance right in Downtown Disney. This is arguably the most convenient of the hotels in the area (both on and off-property). However, are other great hotels and resorts that are perfect for the whole family.
Parking at the Downtown Disney District
Guests driving in can park at the Simba Parking Lot at Disneyland, which is located between West Katella Avenue and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel (another on-property hotel operated by Disney). It’s important to note, however, that a parking fee does apply.
There’s a $10 charge to park for one hour, and then guests are able to get their parking validated for an additional three hours with a $20 purchase from any one of the locations or an additional five hours validation from Downtown Disney restaurants (table-service only). These purchases must be from Downtown Disney and not from the Disneyland resort hotels.
If you stay beyond the time offered through those validations, another fee of $7 per half hour is charged, with a maximum of $66. Note that these prices and details are always subject to change and are valid at the publication time.
If you are staying at any one of the resorts, hotels, motels, and inns in the immediate area, it’s easy to just walk to Downtown Disney. That’s what I have done every time I’ve visited.
The best restaurants in Downtown Disney at Disneyland
Earl of Sandwich and the Earl of Sandwich Tavern
The Earl of Sandwich was actually founded by descendants of the original Earl of Sandwich and offers some of the best sandwiches I’ve had. While there is a large menu with loads of options, my favorites are the hot sandwiches (the Holiday Turkey is my usual order).
Those of you who have visited Downtown Disney in the past may remember that Earl of Sandwich closed several years ago. It has, however, recently reopened in a temporary location.
The Earl of Sandwich is open from breakfast through dinner. At the counter service area, you’ll place your order at the counter and will receive a pager to indicate when your order is ready. There’s lots of seating outside.
Looking for a table service meal? Adjacent to the regular quick-service restaurant is the Earl of Sandwich Tavern. Offering breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the Earl of Sandwich Tavern has a menu with sandwiches, burgers, salads, and entrees. There’s also a full bar.
Black Tap Craft Burgers and Shakes
Black Tap Craft Burgers and Shakes has always been one of our favorite NYC restaurants, so of course, that was my first stop when visiting Disneyland with my son. It is very popular, so you’ll want to arrive at an off-peak time. We got there around 2:30 pm and it was relatively quiet, but it’s very busy with a long line around meal times.
While Black Tap is most known for their Instagram-worth CrazyShake, they also have great food. At this location, you’ll place your order at the counter and then find a seat either inside or on the outdoor patio.
Downtown Disney also is home to the CrazyShake Window by Black Tap. At this window, you can get your shake to go. Be aware, however, that these shakes are huge. It’s hard for one person to eat a whole one, so you may want to get one to share!
Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen
Get a taste of the Big Easy at this table-service restaurant, which is currently being renovated with an expected completion date in the summer. The restaurant will remain open during the renovation.
Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen offers lunch and dinner. Popular entrees include gumbo, shrimp and grits, and jambalaya. Po-boys and sandwiches are also offered as part of the lunch menu. There Advance dining reservations are accepted and are recommended.
Guests can also get beignets and beverages to go at the express counter next door to the restaurant. As part of the renovation, this is now called Beignets Expressed (formerly known as Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen Express) and guests can purchase beignets with their choice of dipping sauce.
Ballast Point Brewing Company
Ballast Point, a popular Southern California brewery, has a location right in the heart of Downtown Disney. It’s the only on-site brewery at Disneyland and offers a nice outdoor rooftop patio. Lunch and dinner are offered with a brunch menu on weekends from 10 am-2 pm
The menu includes salads, sandwiches, entrees, and lots of shareable items. There’s also a kids’ menu with things like mac and cheese, chicken fingers, and corn dogs.
Seating at Ballast Point Brewing Co. is on a first-come, first-served basis, with the exception of parties of 25+. On nice days, the patio is especially popular, so time your arrival accordingly if you want to sit there.
Naples Ristorante e Bar
Looking for some Italian food while at Downtown Disney? Italian food is always a big hit with my family because there’s always something for everyone. Naples Ristorante e Bar is a southern Italian restaurant offering wood-fired pizza, salads, pasta, and other popular Italian entrees. It has daily lunch and dinner, as well as brunch on the weekends.
Advance dining reservations are accepted up to 60 days in advance and are definitely recommended. But if you’d prefer a quicker dining experience, there’s also Napolini Pizzeria, offering a quick service limited menu including pizza slices.
Another popular Downtown Disney restaurant is Tortilla Jo’s, a Mexican restaurant offering Mexican dishes as well as a wide selection of tequilas. It has both a tequila bar and a patio and is an upbeat, delicious place to eat.
Tortilla Jo’s is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It has a kids’ menu which includes popular Mexican food and some American favorites like hot dogs and chicken tenders. They do accept advance dining reservations up to 60 days in advance of your visit.
Other Food at Downtown Disney
In addition to the restaurants listed here, there are other fantastic places to get a meal and a snack. These dining options include:
- Jamba Juice
- Salt & Straw Ice Cream
- Blue Ribbon Corn Dog
- Wetzel’s Pretzels
- Clyde’s Hot Chicken
- Kayla’s Cake
- Diggity Dogs
Changes to Downtown Disney
In 2022, at Disney’s D23 expo, many changes and improvements were announced for Downtown Disney. These include the following updates and changes:
- The addition of Porto’s Bakery and Café, a popular Southern California bakery
- The closure of La Brea Bakery Cafe(which has already closed)
- The addition of Din Tai Fung (known for its soup dumplings)
Frequently Asked Questions about Downtown Disney
Unlike at Disney Springs, its counterpart at Walt Disney World, parking is not free at Downtown Disney. Validation is available, however, after the first hour.
It’s very easy to walk between the two theme parks and Downtown Disney. You’ll only need to go through security once, and then you’ll be all set. It’s a very short walk between all of them.
No, you don’t need any tickets to just walk around Downtown Disney. You’ll just pay for activities, purchases, and food/drinks. You don’t need a park ticket or park reservation unless you want to enter one of the two theme parks (Disney California Adventure Park and Disneyland).
While they are both entertainment, dining, and shopping districts, Disney Springs is significantly larger than Downtown Disney.
Some, but not all of the table service restaurants at Downtown Disney accept reservations made via the app. Check with the individual restaurants to see their policies.