Welcome to those of you joining me from Pursuing The Magic and those of you who have just hopped aboard. I am the third stop on our Magical Blogorail.
This month's topic is an easy one to get behind because it's something near and dear to my heart, and my stomach; my favorite Disney Dining Experience. What throws a little bit of a curve-ball into the ballgame, though, is my choice for favorite dining location. I've eaten at some of the "best" restaurants at The Resort, such as Blue Bayou, Steakhouse 55, and even the most famous (or perhaps infamous) one of them all, Club 33. The food at each is some of the best I've probably ever had in my life, but they still don't make my list as the favorite. So what's the one spot in The Parks that's both tasty enough and fun enough to earn the "favorite" label from me? It's a little spot tucked into my favorite area, New Orleans Square; this is Cafe Orleans.
Cafe Orleans Entrance
Cafe Orleans is nestled in New Orleans Square at the entrance to the Rue Royale (directly across from the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction), which ironically also houses two of the other restaurants I mentioned earlier as competitors in my mind, Club 33 and Blue Bayou, making this possibly my favorite street on the entire planet.
The Cafe itself has both an interior dining room and an exterior dining patio (pictured here) for you to eat in, but for the purposes of this article, we've only pictured the patio since it's probably our favorite place (literally) to eat inside The Parks. Many a night (especially during the "off" season) finds us grabbing a table on the patio just before the restaurant's closing time, enjoying a slow meal (being able to take our time and enjoy our meal is always a plus in my book), and experiencing the weekend fireworks show and later Fantasmic! taking place around us. It's a spot with almost a magical feel to it, and I just love it! I've eaten both inside and outside at Cafe Orleans, and given a choice, I will pick outside each and every time; it's that enjoyable. Seating inside is a little more limited than out (making it arguably the popular choice with most people), but the outside patio is huge with plenty of seating. We like being outside near the action anyways, and it's perfect for participating in quite possibly the greatest sport on the face of the earth, people watching! I should note, however, that the inside of the restaurant is like so many other things in The Parks: beautiful. The decor and atmosphere inside is fantastic, so even though I'm saying eat outside, you're urged to take a poke around inside as well and enjoy the feel of the place.
Cafe Orleans Patio Dining
Now that we've taken care of the seating arrangements, it's on to what makes this truly shine in our minds: the food! In addition to being one of our favorite atmospheres in The Parks, Cafe Orleans is also home to our favorite meal in The Park, but we'll get to that in a minute.
As you can see from the menu (click for a larger photo if you'd like), Cafe Orleans is a veritable cornucopia of Creole-inspired dishes and foods, running in three courses: starters (or appetizers), entrees (main dishes), and even though not pictured here, there is a dessert menu as well. We rarely come without blasting our way through all three. That's how we roll.
I have to be honest here and say that there are only a few items on the menu that we have actually tried. I would have to guess, like so many other things at The Resort, that they're all quite tasty and well worth giving a try if you can. But for us, it's never made it past three primary food groups on the menu: the Pomme Frites, the New Orleans Gumbo, and the Monte Cristo Sandwich. And as ashamed as we are to admit we've never tried anything else, we're okay with that!
Cafe Orleans Menu
Bottom to top: New Orleans Gumbo, Remoulade Sauce (for frites), Kids Mac N Cheese, Pomme Frites, Pomegranate Lemonade and Mint Julep
We've taken the liberty (it was a wrench let me tell you) of dining inside Cafe Orleans, ordering our favorite foods, and taking pictures of said food just for the readers of this article. We hope you're happy! Okay, so that's not entirely true. We just had them lying around; but it sounded magnanimous, right?
First, for the drinks, we always order ourselves (and hence suggest for you) either the Pomegranate Lemonade or a Mint Julep, which they will make here for you. We're not sure, but it might be the only place inside The Park (aside from the Mint Julep Bar at French Market) where they do this. We're sure someone will correct us if we are wrong on that. You can get your regular beverages such as sodas of course, but you can get those anywhere so we always opt for something a little different and special. The Lemonade is absolutely delicious, perfectly blended and is amazingly good, especially on those long, hot days of summer. The Mint Julep ain't half bad, either. We know a lot of people don't like them ("they taste like toothpaste", anyone?), but we think it's a perfect blend of lime and mint (basically a minty lemonade) and we highly recommend them. But that's one you'll have to try and see for yourself on.
The Pomme Frites (pictured in the upper right) are a must! They may look like your average run-of-the-mill everyday french fry, but if you call them that we might have to have a duel to the death. Crusted in garlic, parmesan cheese, parsley, and served with a spicy Creole remoulade sauce on the side, these are what God surely must have intended when He created the french fry. No meal of ours is complete here without these little beauties. The only question we ever ask ourselves is whether we will be sharing an order, or eating an entire basket on our own ("Mine, Mine!").
What we choose as a main course always comes down to two items: the New Orleans Gumbo or the Monte Cristo Sandwich. The Gumbo is a spicy Cajun-style gumbo with chicken, andouille sausage, and tasso ham served in "dirty rice". You can order it in either a cup (small) or bowl (our preferred delivery system), and it's some of the tastiest food we think we've ever had. It's extremely flavorful, has tons of rice and meat in it (no skimping which is always a good thing), and is just spicy enough to remind us we're eating a gumbo and not spicy enough to make us (and others) regret it later in the day.
When we're not dining on Gumbo, though, we opt for the Monte Cristo (pictured below). And yes, it's just what it looks like: a deep fried ham, turkey, and swiss-cheese sandwich with powdered sugar on top. The "doughnut of sandwiches" we call it. I'd like to say that 10/10 dietitians recommend the Monte Cristo, but it just wouldn't be so. But it is served with a side of fruit and berry puree for dipping so it can't be all bad, right? We will say that even we order this, we don't always manage to make it all the way through. Around the midway point we start to feel it. It is very rich, so we often wind up sharing it amongst each other to polish it off. But if you go to Cafe Orleans, and it's your first time there, we always suggest the Monte Cristo straight off. Everyone needs to try it at least once. We ourselves have "tried it once" on numerous occasions.
Monte Cristo and Mint Julep
And for dessert, no trip to the Cafe is complete without an order of Mickey-shaped beignets! Well, maybe a trip where we've already killed a Monte Cristo is okay without, but if you wipe out your meal and still have a sweet-tooth and are looking for something to inject it with, the beignets are always a fantastic option. Fried dough (like a doughnut of course), shaped like Mickey, and sprinkled with confectioner's sugar. What's not to love?
And Mickey-shaped Beignets for dessert!
Now that I've made myself thoroughly miserable and hungry writing this, time to wrap it up! Cafe Orleans is a favorite of mine (and ours) for a lot of great reasons: fantastic atmosphere, terrific food, and lots of options on the menu. It's one of our favorites for a reason, and I'm glad I got the chance to share with you exactly why. If there's only one restaurant in The Park we can suggest to someone who's never been to Disneyland before as a "must try", it is hands-down Cafe Orleans. Just a few things to bear in mind. They do close earlier than a lot of other restaurants in The Park, so check with a Cast Member when you arrive and find out when so you don't miss you opportunity, especially if you are wanting to try dinner there. Also, they do take reservations for the Cafe so you can make sure you have a guaranteed seat. We've never had to wait more than 15-20 minutes for a table, but if you prefer to be 100% sure, you can contact Disney Dining at 714-781-DINE for your own reservations.
Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail is The CanaDisney Blog.
Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:
1st Stop ~ Meet the Magic
2nd Stop ~ Pursuing the Magic
4th Stop ~ The CanaDisney Blog
5th Stop ~ Disney Babies Blog
Final Stop ~ Cooking with Mickey