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Where to eat: Lunch at Disneyland's Plaza Inn

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Published: October 24, 2013 at 4:43 PM

Earlier this week, Amanda Jenkins took us along for lunch at the Plaza Restaurant at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom. Today, let's visit that restaurant's older, west-coast sibling, Disneyland's Plaza Inn.

Plaza Inn

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.

Menu

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.

Interior

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).

Salmon

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).

Fried chicken

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.

Desserts

Someday soon, we'll need to come back to the Plaza and try that pot roast, too.

Readers' Opinions

From Eric G on October 24, 2013 at 6:31 PM
I agree the fried chicken is excellent at Plaza Inn. This restaurant is a good choice for dining inside Disneyland Park. I wish the Magic Kingdom had something comparable.
From Tyler Stover on October 24, 2013 at 6:38 PM
Plaza Inn was always a favorite for my family, and we'll still stop by when we want a bigger meal and don't mind paying more than we normally would for a meal at Disneyland. It never disappoints. The peppery green beans and the chunky mashed potatoes (and oh yes, that wonderfully salty, moist chicken) really are as good as you say.
From 216.2.166.17 on October 24, 2013 at 7:18 PM
Plaza Inn is a regular stop for my husband and I. We usually split the Chicken Dinner, asking for extra beans and a roll which we always get with a cheerful smile and usually the server saying something like "you must like our beans" which we do. We have recommended the Plaza Inn to our family and they have not been disappointed yet.
From Annette Forrest on October 24, 2013 at 11:25 PM
I am just loving all the delicious restaurant reviews lately. And I got a kick out of Robert doing a review of the other Plaza Inn, since I loved Amanda's review so much. This site is the best!!!
From Kelly Muggleton on October 25, 2013 at 3:47 AM
Literally making my mouth water! It's SO on the list!
I absolutely love that Disneyland serve counter service on real plates - always makes food taste better :-)
From Tad Daily on October 25, 2013 at 4:17 AM
I like it! I have a feeling we could see a new feature soon here at TP!: Dueling 'Where to eat' reviews!!!! :) Don't let him win Amanda!

This actually could be a good idea -- in two different ways -- one obvious idea is to compare same name/style resturants found in more than one park (there are not many of these, but enough that it could be a west coast vs. east coast kind of thing) but also a dissenting opinion kind of idea - one good one bad....more opinions make our decisions easier...right? Right?

Thanks for the great review and the shout out to Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner! Still the greatest in Southern California....

From Anon Mouse on October 25, 2013 at 9:22 AM
Is that the dinner menu? It looks expensive for lunch. I don't remember paying that much for lunch. I recall paying around $11 for the chicken. For lunch, you get one less chicken piece and the servings are smaller.

Yes, the chicken is delicious. My favorite. The pasta and salads are terrific. The desserts aren't so bad either. The entrees are perfect for sharing. My family would buy one pasta dish, one chicken dish, and one salad and share all three among us. Then buy one dessert to share.

From Robert Niles on October 25, 2013 at 12:27 PM
That's the current lunch menu. Don't know if it changes for dinner.
From Eric G on October 25, 2013 at 11:46 PM
Lunch and dinner are the same menu. The chicken entree has always been three pieces (Breast, Thigh, Wing or Drumstick). You can request all white or all dark meat if you prefer. Pricing has gone up, but overall not much in the past couple of years. Pricing for most entrees has increased $1.00 in the past year.
From Amanda Jenkins on October 26, 2013 at 1:24 AM
Your meal looks better than mine did ;)
From 69.138.125.122 on October 26, 2013 at 10:13 AM
Just an FYI - a chicken is cut into 8 pieces - the menu and picture show 3 pieces, while a 1/2 chicken would have been 4.. But the flavors sound great.
From Robert Niles on October 26, 2013 at 3:03 PM
Our three pieces were a leg, a thigh, and a breast/wing combo, where the white meat wasn't divided into separate pieces, as it often is for fried chicken. So the three pieces were half the chicken.

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