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Theme park restaurant review: Disneyland's Cafe Orleans

By Robert Niles
Published: October 26, 2009 at 9:48 AM
The kids took me to Disneyland yesterday for my birthday, and I'll be posting photos and comments about the trip over the next couple of days here at Theme Park Insider.

First up: a lunch review. We ate at New Orleans Square's Cafe Orleans, which after years as a slide-tray cafeteria now serves as the table-service go-to destination for Disneyland's renowned Monte Cristo sandwich.

So, of course we ordered one.

Monte Cristo sandwich at Disneyland

But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Without the NFL, Disneyland is what people in Los Angeles and Orange Counties do on Sundays in the fall. Disneyland was using queues yesterday that I haven't seen filled in years. The park was packed. We waited 30 minutes for a table at Cafe Orleans, shortly after noon - our longest line of the day. (We FastPassed the two special Halloween attractions: Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy and Haunted Mansion Holiday.)

As we looked over the menu, just outside the front door, Natalie inhaled as a hungry look came over her face.

"What's that smell?" she asked.

Scanning the menu, I replied: It's the garlic in the french fries.

"We have GOT to get that."

So, 30 minutes later, when we were seated, we did.

Garlic french fries at Disneyland's Cafe Orleans

Natalie and I tore into them right away. Tangy but not fiery, the garlic added flavor to the crispy fries without overpowering them. And at $5, they ended up being nearly free once I applied my annual pass discount to the meal.

The kids split the $16 Monte Cristo (six bucks cheaper than across the way at the Blue Bayou), and still couldn't finish it. They barely made their way through one piece of the sandwich, each. Then they pulled the ham and turkey from the other pieces, finishing the meat by itself. They left the remaining hunks of fried bread and cheese on their plates.

I can't blame them. This sandwich is rich, a calorie- and fat-laden bomb of tasty goodness that drives most palates into submission after a few bites. Incredibly, Disney offers a non-meat version of the Monte Cristo, filled instead with Swiss, mozzarella and double-creme Brie cheeses.

Just stick a needle in my vein and inject the fat, please.

Trying to be a good boy, I opted for the $16 Crescent City Salmon Salad, a mix of spinach and baby greens, topped with seared Atlantic salmon and an orange vinaigrette.

Crescent City Salmon Salad at Disneyland

I love salmon and salads, and the fish and greens here did not disappoint. Too bad the vinaigrette drowned them in citrusy sweetness. The dressing was so overpowering that I found myself loading the accompanying candied pecans on my fork to cut the sweetness.

Next time, I think I might try one of the crepes, either the Seafood Herb crepe, in a Mornay sauce, or the Chicken Gumbo crepe, with chicken, sausage and ham. Frankly, I can't bring the concepts "crepe" and "gumbo" together in my mind, so I'm curious to see how that dish comes off.

With a birthday cake waiting at home, we skipped the desserts. But the kids loved their half of the Monte Cristo, as well as the fries. And I enjoyed my salad, though the dressing kept me from loving it. Service was infrequent, given the large crowd in the restaurant, but eager and friendly when you could draw attention.

I'd love to hear from other Disneyland diners what they think of Cafe Orleans.

Readers' Opinions

From W McDougal on October 26, 2009 at 10:03 AM
Cafe Orleans is the best meal at DL, and the pommes frites are a must-order every time (the dipping sauce is excellent as well). It doesn't have the atmosphere of the Blue Bayou, but it makes up for it in great food at a reasonable price. And the atmosphere of the Blue Bayou only really kicks in if you're near the water.
From Ben James on October 26, 2009 at 11:28 AM
Robert,

Could you do a review of Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen from Disneyland's Downtown Disney? When I was there in March 2008 I ate there and fell in love with it.

Ben

From Robert Niles on October 26, 2009 at 12:07 PM
I haven't eaten at Brennan's in a couple years, but was going (somewhat) frequently in the early years after it opened. It was a favorite of mine, too. You're right - I need to go back and eat there again soon.
From James Rao on October 26, 2009 at 3:18 PM
Robert - Cafe Orleans was a well kept secret until now! It is the best place at DLR to get a Monte Cristo - just as tasty, quicker, and cheaper!

Although, you do lose something as far as atmosphere is concerned. Hard to beat sitting in the Blue Bayou watching the POTC boats drift by...

PS Glad you had a fun birthday at Disneyland. I think I got to go to Worlds of Fun on mine. Wow. No wonder I am depressed all the time.

From Steven Lee on October 26, 2009 at 3:21 PM
Wow, I think I'm going to go eat some food now. Wish it was as good as the pictures above look! ;)
From Ted Heumann on October 26, 2009 at 3:51 PM
I agree the food there is VERY good, but the wait is usually a long one.
I'm surprised at the resonable prices comment above, I thought it was very expensive.
Those garlic fries are REALLY good! (in fact the first time I went there, I got SERIOUS sticker shock and all I could afford was the fries). On a side note, why doesn't Disneyland clearly post the prices at restaurants like this?!?
I'm glad that in the last few years Disneyland's food quality has gotten MUCH, MUCH better. I don't feel as bad at paying the exoribant prices. Back in the late 80's the food was HORRIBLE and mostly unedible.
I went recently to the quick service window at the Jazz Kitchen and the food was very good and was a little bit cheaper (although they have a VERY limited menu) I especially like the donut things that they have, benyays (something like that).
From Beth Olliges on October 26, 2009 at 10:39 PM
My boyfriend and I discovered Cafe Orleans on our second trip to Disneyland, in 2007. We shared both versions of the Monte Cristo, and loved them so much, we're already planning to indulge again when we visit DL this December! (So the fat & calories are off the scale... vacations are about having fun and indulging, right?) My mouth is already watering...
From 76.172.237.107 on October 26, 2009 at 11:08 PM
Cafe O is one of our favorite restaurants at Disneyland. The salmon salad is one of my favorite dishes (right after the Monte Cristo) and in my experience the amount of dressing was just right. I like more dressing than average, but I wouldn't say it was ever drowned in dressing. So I hope your experience was just a fluke. Pomme Frites make the meal, but the Monte Cristo is just so filling adding them feels like a waste. A delicious waste.
From Joshua Counsil on October 27, 2009 at 9:57 AM
You're killing me, Robert. I'm starving but can't eat for another 2 hours.

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