Where to eat: Lunch at Disneyland's Plaza Inn
Published: October 24, 2013 at 4:43 PM
If Disney World's Plaza Restaurant might be easy to overlook, there's no missing Disneyland's Plaza Inn, which stands prominently on the edge of the hub in the center of the park. That's not the only difference between the two Plazas. In California, you're served at the counter, not the table, and there are no sandwiches to be found on the menu, which specializes in fried chicken and pot roast.
The Plaza Inn opens for lunch at noon, after the restaurant's popular character breakfast closes for the day. Once you choose your meal at the service stations in the restaurant's lobby, you can select a seat in one of the Victoria-styled dining rooms or on the plaza outside.
On an overcast day, we chose to eat inside, where I enjoyed the Plaza Inn's fall seasonal entree, a glazed salmon, with pineapple salsa, mushroom quinoa, and green beans ($16.99).
I love that Disneyland's restaurants feature a variety of seasonal entrees. With the majority of Disneyland's guests being locals, ever-changing menu items go a long way in giving passholders a fresh reason to come back to the park. But I'm sure that many other Disneyland fans would be perfectly happy eating nothing else at the Plaza Inn but the restaurant's fried chicken platter ($14.99 for one-half chicken, with mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, and a biscuit).
For today's lunch, I chose the salmon special, and Laurie the traditional fried chicken. Have you ever had a moment when you sat down to a meal, taken a bite, then thought to yourself, "I'm going to devour every bite of this now"? When you want to eat not just because you like the taste of something, or you feel obligated because you bought or made it, but when your appetites awaken and declare that you need this food?
That's how I felt tearing into the salmon. Balanced with the nutty quinoa, earthy mushrooms, and peppery beans, with a touch of fruity sweetness from the salsa, every bite of the meal worked together to satisfy completely.
And then I tried some of Laurie's chicken.
Southern California's got some great fried chicken. Roscoe's made chicken and waffles famous, and the Knott family built a theme park from its chicken restaurant. But it's been a long time since I've enjoyed a piece of fried chicken as much as I enjoyed the Plaza Inn's. Crispy and salty on the outside, the chicken itself nails that delicate balance of being juicy without crossing over into being greasy. And the combination of mashed potatoes and gravy might as well be dessert for all the richness it adds to the plate. (Yeah, we finished it.)
Even though I cleaned my plate (and helped Laurie with her's), I didn't leave with that stuffed, bloated feeling that follows to mediocre restaurant meals. I just felt, well, satisfied. But we did skip dessert, for which the options today included a red velvet layer cake, a carrot cake, and an apple tart, for $5.19 each.
Someday soon, we'll need to come back to the Plaza and try that pot roast, too.