Cars Land Food: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly (Part 1)

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The neon-soaked source of my favorite Cars Land food. (All photos by Seth Kubersky)

Ever since Disney California Adventure relaunched last month, the park’s new food offerings have been earning almost as much attention as the attractions. Tom Bricker recently reviewed the park’s signature restaurant at Carthay Circle, but there’s also some intriguing automotive-inspired food to be found in Cars Land.

In a sense, Disney has attempted to ape Universal’s overwhelming critical and commercial success in concocting Harry Potter-themed comestibles. Sales of Butterbeer and Cauldron Cakes have help propel profits at Orlando’s Wizarding World to new heights, and I imagine Disney’s chefs hope their dishes will do the same.

After a week spent sampling both sweet and savory from around the town of Radiator Springs, I feel I can report that the results are mixed. Some dishes I delved into earned a firm thumbs up, while a few failed epically. And then, there are the ones that appear awful on the surface, but pleasantly surprise once you dig under the surface.

So, with humblest apologies to Sergio Leone, I submit a spaghetti western of Cars Land’s featured flavors:

The Good,…

I’ve read grumblings in online fan forums that the food in Flo’s V8 Cafe is too “fancy” for the average theme park visitor, who is presumably only interested in hamburgers and chicken nuggets. You won’t find me joining that off-key chorus, because I found Flo’s fare to be fabulous. The menu focuses on old-fashioned, unpretentious comfort food with just the right amount of freshness and southwestern flair. At about $11 an entree it isn’t exactly cheap, but everything I sampled was a fair value, and you even get to eat with silverware off real plates (instead of wasting more plastic).

Take, for example, the citrus turkey salad. In most theme parks, you might expect some wilted iceberg with luncheon meat on top. Instead, Flo’s prepares a sizable portion of flavorful mixed greens, featuring tart arugula, and julienned vegetables including carrots, cucumbers, and yellow peppers. That harvest is topped with generously carved slices of juicy roasted turkey breast, nearly identical to the fine fowl served in Fiddler, Fifer, & Practical Cafe’s turkey Ruben (a sandwich worthy of a blog post of its own). Drizzle the dish with the bright, tangy citrus-tarragon salad dressing served on the side to tie the plate together. For a bonus, you get a cube of flaky, buttery bread that is a step up from your average store-bought dinner roll. As a connoisseur of theme park counter-service salads, I’d judge this is about the tastiest and best-looking that you’ll find in the state.

What is your favorite food in Cars Land, and what do you think is the worst? Leave your answers in the comments below, and check the blog soon for my picks in the conclusion of this series.

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Posted on July 19, 2012

6 Responses to “Cars Land Food: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly (Part 1)”

  • I have only tried breakfast at Flo’s thus far. I had the brioche french toast and it was delicious and a great value with my AP discount.

  • The Ugly: all of the Handwich-style cone sandwiches. So overhyped and so, so bad.

    • Don’t worry, I tackle the conical evil in part 2 ;-)

      • I love the chili cone carne! I thought the chicken cone was okay. But when you get the fresh meat cone, it’s delicious.

        I also liked the dill pickle popcorn.

        For some reason, the food at Flo’s doesn’t appeal to me – except maybe that bbq with the coke sauce. Lol. One day I’m sure I’ll give it a try and probably love it. But I do like that they offer real food and not the usual hot dogs, pizza and hamburgers (the last two of which Disney does NOT do very well).

  • The Chocolate Mud Pie-O-Rama was delicious! I had two during our visit there last week.

  • I tried the pork loin with the Coke BBQ sauce at Flo’s last week and thought it was delicious. The roll, the baked beans and pasta salad were really good too. We weren’t too keen on the beef strip loin because it was a bit fatty and the roasted corn side was overcooked. The apple-cheddar and strawberry-rhubarb pies were good but I probably wouldn’t pay $5 apiece for them again. Overall I enjoyed Flo’s and thought it was a great addition to the dining choices at DCA.

    My favorite snack item in Cars Land was the bacon cheddar popcorn from the Cozy Cones.