Welcome back guest author Carrie Hayward with a review of breakfast and lunch at Flo’s V-8 Cafe in Cars Land, Disney California Adventure!
This Spring we got to attend an Annual Passholder preview of Cars Land. Everything was open, including new counter-service restaurant Flo’s V-8 Cafe.
We are usually pretty disappointed by the counter-service options at Disney California Adventure and Disneyland (Jolly Holiday Bakery excepted!), but we waited in the 20-minute line with our hopes high. Who wouldn’t want to eat in a life-size replica of the stylish drive-in from Cars?
Flo’s is HUGE inside, with four dining rooms.
The restaurant actually extends halfway down the block, but one wing is themed to an auto clinic so it looks like a separate business.
There is also outdoor seating at the gas pumps in front and a partially covered patio overlooking Ornament Valley in the back.
Flo’s is a traditional counter-service restaurant. You place your order with a cashier and then proceed directly down the lane to the counter to pick it up.
One small distinction is that food is served on real plates with silverware instead of paper and plastic.
I thought I’d stumbled on Japanese-style fake food in the display cases by the cashiers, but it turned out to be real food that only looked fake!
The specialty at Flo’s V-8 Cafe is rotisserie-cooked meats, and you can watch the spits dance between the flames behind the counter.
The lunch and dinner menu offers New York strip loin, pork loin, turkey breast, turkey salad, and a vegetarian casserole.
You get your choice of two sides from hot and cold lists: roasted corn medley, peas and carrots, mashed potatoes, vegetarian baked beans, “Radiatore” pasta salad, or coleslaw.
Kids have a choice of roast beef sandwich, turkey sandwich or macaroni and cheese.
For dessert there are milkshakes and “ugly crust” pies modeled on the roadside specialty Imagineers discovered at MidPoint Cafe on Route 66.
My husband had the New York strip loin with peas and carrots and pasta salad. It was your typical thin, counter-service-style roast beef. You couldn’t call it dry under all that gravy, but the meat was definitely not juicy.
I was surprised to find the pasta in the salad al dente, and the dressing had a more interesting flavor profile than you usually find in deli pasta salad. Overall, my husband said he enjoyed the meal.
I had the pork loin with Coca Cola barbecue sauce, mashed potatoes, and vegetarian baked beans. Like the beef, the pork loin was cut thin and not particularly juicy. The super-sweet barbecue sauce sauce really helped.
At the media preview, the pork was served on Texas toast, but that was missing on Saturday. Good thing, though, since I had some salty mashed potatoes in salty gravy AND a Parker House-style roll to fill my starch quota. (Basically everything we had was either super-salty or super-sweet.)
The roll was also slightly sweet and very buttery-tasting despite there being no butter to put on it. I don’t think I want to know how the mad food scientists made that happen!
The flecks of garlic and chive that may give kids pause were flavorless, so make them try the roll before they turn up their noses. The most disappointing item was the side of vegetarian baked beans, which was basically a dish of barbecue sauce with chunks in it.
For dessert my husband had the Apple-Cheddar Pie-O-Rama. He’d never heard of the tradition of putting a slice of cheddar cheese on apple pie, but the cheese didn’t taste like anything, so it was a non-issue.
The crust was kind of tough and waxy, but the filling was moist and “surprisingly good,” he said. If you can bear to get back in line, it’s better to order this when you’re actually ready to eat it; because after it cools off the cheese gets weirdly crunchy.
I had the Chocolate Mud Pie-O-Rama, which, mercifully, did not have coffee flavoring in it like so many “mud”-themed desserts do.
The flavorless, wafer-like chocolate crust was a total waste of time, but the filling was like a moist, dense flourless brownie. Tasty!
The breakfast menu is short, but it offers a few items that are departures from the typical Disney counter-service breakfast.
For adults there’s an American breakfast (scrambled eggs, bacon, home fries and a biscuit), a chicken tamale, brioche French toast and a fruit plate. The kids menu offers only an American breakfast, waffles, or a fruit plate.
The display menu doesn’t change at breakfast, so they hand out printed menus as you enter the restaurant.
On a later visit, we decided to give Flo’s breakfast a try. After spending an hour dashing around Cars Land during Annual Passholder early entry, it was nice to sit down and fill up.
My husband’s American Breakfast was exactly what you’d expect: rubbery scrambled eggs; that chewy, translucent Disney bacon; a dry biscuit; and breakfast potatoes flavored primarily by bell pepper. He declared it perfectly adequate but nothing to write home about.
My breakfast was hilariously disappointing. I appreciate Disney’s efforts to jump on a trend, but if they’re going to name it “Brioche French Toast with Salted Caramel Sauce,” there should probably be some brioche and some salt involved.
Basically they took a slab of bread-like substance and drenched it in caramel sundae topping, then dropped a split banana on top. I may consider leftover cake to be an acceptable breakfast food, but this was too much sugar shock even for me at that hour.
Overall, I’d say the dinner at Flo’s V-8 Cafe is decent if not thrilling — at least it’s something different than the usual burgers and fries. We’ll probably give it another try and may even order some of the same things to see if the kinks get worked out after Flo’s has been open a while.
But if I need a quick breakfast, I’ll stick to the Grand Californian’s Whitewater Snacks, just outside the gate.
Carrie Hayward is the author of PassPorter’s Disney Weddings & Honeymoons and the host of the Disney Wedding Podcast, a weekly show about planning weddings, honeymoons and other romantic occasions at the Disney parks and resorts. Follow her adventures at Disney Travel Babble and @lurkyloo.