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:
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.