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Walt Disney Ate Here: The Tam O’ Shanter

Located just a few miles away from the Disney Studios in Burbank, The Tam O’ Shanter is Los Angeles’ oldest restaurant that has remained in the same location under the same ownership and management since 1922.

AND Walt Disney ate here. A lot. 

The Tam O’ Shanter was very close to Walt’s Hyperion Studio when it opened. He frequented the restaurant so often that is was commonly referred to as the “studio commissary.”

The Tam O' Shanter

After seeing Beauty and the Beast in 3D at the Disney Studios, my family and I decided head over to The Tam O’ Shanter to check it out — and possibly sit where Walt once sat, Table 31. 

Atmosphere

I made us a reservation, which I highly recommend as the restaurant does get fairly busy. I even requested Table 31. Since it was dark, my pictures really don’t do the building justice. The restaurant looks like a quaint cottage located smack in the middle of a busy Los Feliz Boulevard.

The Tam O' Shanter

The entrance is guarded by a robust lion statue, and an old phone booth stands just to the left of him. As you enter the lobby area, you feel as though you’ve stepped through a time portal… Dark wood adorns the walls where you’ll find tons of awards, traditional Scottish tartans, photos, and even a few drawings of a very famous mouse.

Phone Booth and Lion Statue

Just walking into the restaurant felt like a historical field trip. Not too many restaurants can boast about such a successful timeline. This was the beginning of the prime rib empire, Lawry’s!

75th Anniversary Plaque from Mayor Richard Riordan

Since 1922. Awesome.

The lobby features a reception area and two different seating areas. We chose to hang out in “The Snug,” which was full of fun decor and awards.

Reception Desk

Lobby Area with Fire Place

"The Snug" Lobby Area

Wall Decor Including Scottish Family "Plaids"

So Many Awards & Certificates!

There is also a great display case that showcases the history of the Tam O’ Shanter. It includes the story of The Tam, old menus, photos, napkins, and other fun memorabilia.

Historical Display Case

My favorite lobby items though? The two Disney drawings hanging side by side, near the “Specials” board. One done by Walt himself, and the other a “Happy 75th” birthday wish from the Disney Studios. I love the historical “Mickeys” around the table in the studio piece!

Walt's Tribute to the Tam O' Shanter

Congrats from the Walt Disney Studios for "75 Prime Years"

Two masterpieces hang casually on the wall, next to the daily specials.

Even though we had a reservation for Table 31, we decided not to wait to sit there. The couple still dining there were not even close to being done, so we opted for the table right next to it. This way, I could get good photos when they finally finished!

Our waitress was fabulous. A 15-year veteran of the Tam, I explained to her that I was writing up my experience for the Disney Food Blog. Her response? “Oh you should have been here an hour ago. There were a bunch of old timers just here talking about how they knew a famous Disney artist, Mary something…” AHHH! Mary Blair? Dang. Wish we would have been able to eavesdrop on that convo. 

If only the walls of the Tam O’ Shanter could talk.  It’s been said that over the years Disney (not just Walt, but the studios in general) has gotten inspiration from The Tam, and the Tam has gotten inspiration from Disney as well. I think this is clear if you take one look at the Village Haus! And notice the plaid outfits that the servers wear? Very similar to the plaid ones worn by the Disneyland Tour Guides. Hmmmm. I wonder which came first?

Tam O' Shanter Servers

We were seated in the main dining room, directly across from the bar and near the kitchen. The decor features a cozy fireplace, Scottish paintings, family plaids, flags, and lots of kitchen gadgets!

Friendly Bartender!

Cozy Fire Place Topped with a Scottish Painting

A "Window" to the Kitchen

Eats

We stated our meal with a bread plate. Two types of fresh bread were served: pumpernickel and sourdough. Both were warm out of the oven. Pumpernickel isn’t really my thing, but I did enjoy the sourdough.

Pumpernickel and Sourdough

While munching on the bread, we enjoyed the fun Scottish coloring books they gave the kids. I loved the “Nessie” page! So much fun.

Scotland Coloring Book

Nessie Shout Out!

The menu was nice because it wasn’t at all overwhelming. One “For the Table” page and one Entree page.

"For the Table" Menu

Entree Menu

We started with soup. I had the French Onion and my husband went for the soup of the day, which was a Beef Vegetable Stew. The French Onion was really good; I always love me a big chunk of burnt cheese! I did, however, only eat a little of it, because I knew my entree was coming AND I had to save room for dessert. 

French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup Close Up

My husband also enjoyed his soup — warm and hearty!

Vegetable Beef Stew

As far as entrees go, I can NEVER pass up a turkey dinner. So, I ordered the Slow Roasted Organic Turkey. I should have probably gone with something more signature to the menu, but I have a serious love for “Thanksgiving” foods. Mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberries, a side of veggies and turkey smothered in gravy? Sold.

Turkey Dinner

My turkey dinner was quite good. The turkey was moist, the mashed potatoes were tasty and had a nice consistency (I hate runny mashed potatoes!), and the gravy was really nice. 

I am also a big cranberry fan and their “candied cranberries” were delicious. 

My husband went for the Grilled Rib Eye, which he enjoyed, but he wasn’t quite as thrilled with his meal as I was with mine. I think it’s partially due to the fact that he has been spoiled by Steakhouse 55 at the Disneyland Hotel!

Grilled Rib Eye

The children’s, I mean “Lads and Lassies,” menu was actually quite extensive. Lots of great options, but I knew my little carnivores would go for the prime rib, and they did.

"Lads and Lassies" Menu

My boys devoured their prime rib and french fries. They did, however, refuse to try the Yorkshire Pudding that it came with.

Prime Rib Served with French Fries & Yorkshire Pudding

I myself had never had Yorkshire Pudding before, so I decided that it was a must try. I really didn’t even know exactly what it was. Thank you to Google I learned that it was a “hollow type of British pastry, nothing at all like pudding, made from a batter of eggs, milk, and flour baked in a bath of beef drippings until golden brown.” It really wasn’t too flavorful. Not great, not awful, just kind of blah. Even if my boys would’ve tried it, I don’t think they would’ve liked it.

Yorkshire Pudding Close Up

With all of this hearty food in our bellies, it was tough to even think about dessert, but…. How could we pass up Strawberry Trifle and Chocolate Souffle?

My boys were brought the Tam’s famous Strawberry Trifle. A dish including strawberry sponge cake, whipped cream, custard, and fresh strawberries topped with strawberry syrup.  Unfortunately they thought it was way too sweet and didn’t like it all that much. I, however, thought it was really tasty!  Had I have known, I would have asked them to put the sauce on the side, because it was very sweet.

Strawberry Trifle

Strawberry Trifle Close Up

We were told by our waitress that the Chocolate Souffle is a must have. So, when it was time to order one (mid-meal because it takes a while to prepare) we said sure! 

This was actually the hit dessert of the table. My husband and I thought it was for us, but our boys really preferred this one over the Strawberry Trifle. The souffle comes out hot and fresh from the oven in a ramekin.  It is then portioned onto plates and each piece is topped with fresh whipped cream. Hot, chocolate-y goodness.

Chocolate Souffle HOT out of the oven, "Freshly Popped" and ready for whipped cream.

Chocolate Souffle Portion with Whipped Cream

Not interested in a sit down dinner?  The Tam O’ Shanter also has an Ale and Sandwich Bar with carved to order sandwiches and plates. We happened to be there on “Trivia Tuesday” and the bar was quite crowded. I LOVE the Mickey drawn on the Happy Hour Board!

Ale and Sandwich Bar

Happy Hour Signage

Overall

Overall, The Tam was a very fun experience.  If you ever have the chance, I highly recommend a visit — not only for the food, but really you can’t beat the ambiance. I mean, how often can you sit in the EXACT same place that Walt Disney sat to dine?

Walt's Table 31

Maybe next time we’ll sit at Walt’s table. ;-)

Have you ever visited the Tam O’ Shanter? What was your impression? Did you prefer the food or the ambiance?

Heather Sievers is the Disney Food Blog’s Dining in Disneyland columnist. See more of her columns here!

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17 Comments

  1. Lorraine Pfaller says:

    I’m afraid that your Yorkshire Pudding was not made in a typical homestyle way. It should be baked in the pan that held the meat and that is where all the flavor comes from. Hope you get to try this again when it is done correctly. P. S. I just Love your site!

  2. Silvercat says:

    Interesting review! I had to laugh at the Yorkshire Pudding experience though – I am from the UK, and Yorkshire Pudding is a British staple! It is normally served with roast beef and roast potatoes on a Sunday for lunch, and it originates as a starter which was cheap and easy to make, and in theory filled your family up so that they didn’t need as much meat with their lunch, at a time years ago when meat was too expensive for a lot of families. You had a plate of Yorkshire Pudding, served with gravy, which was hot and tasty and filled you up.

    Personally, I love Yorkshire Pudding, when it is made properly it is crispy on the outside, fluffy and light inside, and has a light, flavourful taste. It is actually a batter, not a pastry, and in its raw state can be poured around sausages before being baked in the oven for traditional Toad in the Hole. Yum!

    I would also like to comment on the Strawberry Trifle, which from your photos looked nothing like traditional British trifle. It should have been served in a bowl, with layers (from the bottom up) of strawberry jelly with sponge cake or fingers set in it, then a layer of custard, and topped off with a layer of cream, sprinkled with sliced fresh strawberries. Double yum!

    Anyway, please don’t take offence, this wasn’t a criticism of your article, merely a couple of observations.!

  3. Kim LaPaglia says:

    Fantastic and interesting, article! Next time we get to California, this is going on our list of places to dine. Thanks, Heather!!

  4. Maureen says:

    Great read… thanks for a the little history lesson :)

  5. Bill White says:

    I really miss this place! When I lived in LA in the nineties and worked in the animation industry, this was a really popular hangout. More for the history and ambience (and drinks!) than the food, IMHO. If you are an animation fan, go Friday after five o’clock. There are always a bunch of animation-types hanging around the bar! :^D

    BTW, I am sure that that drawing is NOT drawn by Walt himself. I’m sure he signed it, but it was probably drawn by someone in the merchandising department at the time.

  6. Alan says:

    I don’t know where to start Heather but I guess brilliant post would be a good place. Stories like this is why I love the DFB. History, food and spirits – what else could you want. While Irish pubs abound, you rarely see a Scottish pub/restaurant in the U.S. Some folks say that Brittish pubs in America are artificial but one that has been here so long makes it very authentic to my thinking. With the stucco walls and exposed columns and beams it is so much like rural places in the Brittish Isles. And a menu that includes roast goose, I’m on my way.

    I love the fact that the children’s menu has prime rib on it and the rest of that menu has some decent variety for the kiddies. But I wonder about “Beer battered” chicken for under 12 years. The alcohol cooks off but still. And, AJ I like the idea of widening the scope of coverage. You know I feel that way about eating and drinking in Orlando.

  7. Sandra says:

    I really loved this article, although my food choices might have been a little different. For one thing, I would have sucked down the pumpernickel! And you are right that the Yorkshire pudding was blah, because not only was it not cooked under the meat to catch the drippings, but it should have been used to soak up the juices and/or gravy. Yorkshire pudding is pretty much what we know here as popovers, which are also not much until you fill them with butter and jam for a delish breakfast. I also have been served a scoop of trifle in England that looked pretty much like yours, although it definitely was not too sweet, with a nice balance of cake, fruit, custard, alcohol, and fresh whipped cream.

    And Alan, please don’t worry about alchohol in “beer batter.” Remember that beer is liquid bread, basically. It is a flavoring and rising agent (beer=yeast) and the amount of alcohol in it is miniscule if any by the time it gets to the table.

  8. Matt says:

    Back in I think 2006, a whole bunch of us Disney dorks reserved that entire room for lunch on a Saturday, and we reserved Walts table and all of us took photos sitting there. Someone then took those photos and photshopped a ghostly picture of Walt to make it look like we were there with him. Yes, like I said, dorks – lol. But it was a fun lunch and the food and service were fantastic.

  9. Heather Sievers says:

    @Lorraine – So glad you like the blog! I hope I get to try it again too.

    @Silvercat – Thanks for the info! I should have used it to sop up my gravy and mashed potatoes!

    @Kim – Let’s go together!

    @Maureen – Glad you enjoyed it!

    @Bill – The ambiance there is great, like stepping back in time.

    @Alan – Thanks for the awesome compliment! I will take “brilliant” anytime! I do get what you mean about the “beer” batter on a kids menu. We know it cooks off but just the fact of seeing the word “beer” on a children’s menu is a bit surprising. Now, get out here for that goose!

    @Sandra – Yorkshire pudding filled with butter and jam sounds delish!

  10. Heather Sievers says:

    @Matt – Dorks are awesome!

  11. riley70 says:

    I love prime rib and yorkshire pudding (maybe it is an aquired taste, I have Scottish friends)! I have dined at Rose and Crown just to enjoy their version. Thanks for the great article, I was not aware of this restaurant, but I will try it next time I am in that area.

  12. AJ says:

    My husband LURVES Yorkshire pudding. Rose and Crown is a must-do on our list and that’s one of the reasons why. ;-)

  13. Jrriddle says:

    If Disney wants to fill up WDW’s Downtown Disney with 3rd party restaurants they should get Lawrys to build a Tam O’Shanter.

  14. Heather Sievers says:

    @riley70 – You should for sure check it out. Such a historic spot!

    @AJ – Get out here and let’s get that man some Yorkshire Pudding!

    @Jrriddle – Good plan!

  15. Beth says:

    I think it is awesome that in our fickle modern day society that a restaurant could last that long. Would love to eat there. My daughter would love the kids menu. She gets so tired of the same old stuff that is on kids menu (chicken fingers, mac-n-cheese, hot dog). She loves fish and chips and prime rib. Sounds like a great place and fun for all.

  16. Heather Sievers says:

    @Beth – I totally agree with you. I see restaurants come and go so fast. Really awesome to have such staying power. My boys LOVED the kids menu. Such a nice alternative to the typical “kid” dishes.

  17. Nicola says:

    I live in the UK and found the food you ate to be non traditional to my country at all.
    The gravy served on your roast dinner is not at all like what is served upon roasts here.
    A roast is a meal with a certain meat i.e. roast chicken, beef, pork, turkey.. steamed vegetables i.e. sprouts, turnip, carrots, broccoli, roast potatoes.. a Yorkshire pudding and smothered in gravy which is dark brown and allot runnier than what seems to be upon your own; the meal is then accompanied with mint sauces, cranberry or mustard if preferred.

    Also the trifle is an outrage! That should never be called a trifle.
    A trifle is a dessert containing fruit either tinned or fresh (I personally prefer a tinned fruit cocktail)
    Sponge soaked in sherry, jelly, custard, whipped cream and flaked almonds on top.
    You lay the sponge and pour over the sherry, place the fruit on top, pour in the jelly and leave to set. Once set you place the custard and then the whipped cream; to finish you then sprinkle with the flacked almonds. Its delicious.

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