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Review: Taste Pilots’ Grill at Disney California Adventure Park

You’ve just finished another ride on Soarin’ Over California, and something about hang gliding over an entire state has you famished. It’s the perfect time to head to Taste Pilots’ Grill in Disney California Adventure in Disneyland Resort!

Entrance

I was really surprised to find that this oft-maligned counter service spot was actually one of my favorite stops on a recent California Adventure visit! Maybe I’m crazy, but I really had a delicious meal here. Let’s take a look… .

Atmosphere

At first glance, East Coasters may feel like there’s something vaguely familiar about Taste Pilots’ Grill. And then it dawns on you — the set up is vaguely reminiscent of a cross between Studio Catering Company and Backlot Express at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. I don’t know. Maybe it’s all that red and yellow in the decor.

At any rate, the theme here is that you’ve wandered into a hangout for test pilots, which is conveniently located in an airplane hangar. Utilitarian touches like corrugated metal walls and exposed duct work carry across the industrial, back stage feel of the place.

Atmosphere

There are vintage touches all around, like the chalkboard notes, which include antique planes and notes from the pilots.

Atmosphere

Brushed aluminum chairs are lightweight and sturdy. Tables feature diagrams (blueprints?) of planes and their parts, and remind me of old dinette tables from the 1950s.

Seating

Much of the outdoor seating is covered by umbrellas for a respite from the…heat? rain? other things that don’t happen in Southern California?

Outdoor Seating

Back inside, the ordering area is the classic Disney counter service setup. Menu boards aren’t computerized, and the spotlights illuminating them can get in the way a bit, but you shouldn’t have much trouble reading them in preparation for ordering.

Ordering Area

And speaking of ordering, I was ready to do just that. Let’s see what they have to offer.

Eats

The Taste Pilots’ menus are kind of cute.

Menu -- Click to Enlarge

There’s nothing terribly out of the ordinary, but c’mon…listing your food with pilot-y inspired names is a good way to carry the themeing through. And besides, how could you resist something from The Flight Stuff section, a Zero-G Greens salad, or a Mach-3 Angus Burger?

Menu -- Click to Enlarge

Once you make your selection and receive your food, it’s time to pick up some condiments and other toppings. Ramekins are available for you to cart off a supply of ketchup, mustard, and barbecue sauce.

Condiment Bar

I helped myself to a little barbecue sauce, but decided to hold the mustard.

Condiment Dispensers

The toppings bar was pretty well stocked when I visited. There was just about anything you could possibly want for your burger or sandwich.

Toppings for Burgers

Seriously! I love all of the options here! I mean green chilies and pico de gallo? This Texas transplant was feeling right at home!

Toppings for Burgers

You have tons of options for making your burger (or sandwich or chili cheese fries) just the way you like it.

Salt, pepper, and coffee condiments round out the offerings.

Coffee Condiments and Cups for Sauces

And in addition to chocolate and vanilla milkshakes, there are also pre-packaged desserts for sale, like cookies and brownies.

Cookies

We decided to opt for lighter fare with our first entree, and went for the Grilled Chicken Salad.

A grilled Chicken Breast sits atop a salad consisting of Mixed Spring Greens, Feta Cheese, and Tomatoes. Crispy Won Ton Strips add a little crunch, and the salad comes with your choice of Ranch, Blue Cheese, or Fat-Free Italian Dressing.

It was good, fresh, and substantial. The very crowded bowl made it difficult to mix without spilling the contents, but we worked it out okay in the end. I was especially impressed with the taste of the chicken — very fresh and flavorful.

Grilled Chicken Salad

We also went for the Blue Cheese and Bacon Burger. It was served with Steak Sauce, Creamy Blue Cheese, and Bacon Slices. it also came with Fries.

I was really, really enamored with this burger. It looked great, and the creamy blue cheese sauce was just the right touch!

Blue Cheese and Bacon Burger

I had to add a couple of condiments to the mix. I had picked up a little ketchup and barbecue sauce earlier for dunking.

Ketchup and BBQ Sauce

Up close, you can see how creamy the blue cheese is — really more like a dressing. It might make for a messy meal, but I had a feeling it would be worth it.

Blue Cheese and Bacon Burger -- Up Close

In the cross section, you can clearly see all the components, including a little bit of that steak sauce peeking from beneath the burger on the bottom bun. And speaking of buns, this one clearly appears to be freshly made.

Blue Cheese and Bacon Burger -- Cross Section

The burger was fantastic! The meat was flavorful and not at all dry. But I couldn’t resist adding one more layer of flavor to the mix — and dipped it into a bit of barbecue sauce. (Here’s a little secret — I had this meal and went straight to Carthay Circle for dinner…and I liked the burger better than my Carthay meal.)

Cheese Burger Dipped in BBQ Sauce

Overall

I really enjoyed my visit to Taste Pilots’ Grill. Sure, most of the menu items here aren’t terribly original. But the themeing is fun, and in nice weather (a.k.a. all the time in So Cal) it’s fun to take the food to outdoor tables to eat in the sunshine.

And the best thing about Taste Pilots’ Grill — cute menu names aside — is that incredible toppings bar. Spin your burger or chicken or veggie anyway you want. They’ve probably got a topping to satisfy whatever you’re after.

Yep — this place gets a bum rap a lot of the time, but I really enjoyed it on my visit. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Do you like to catch a bite at Taste Pilots’ Grill? Leave a comment with your menu favorites!

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9 Comments

  1. Jenn @ Fairest Run of All says:

    Wait – no mention of plastic cheese? And here I thought I had some competition for Cosmic Ray’s toppings bar…

  2. Andrew says:

    We don’t go to Taste Pilots’ Grill every time we’re in DCA, but it’s a reliable go-to restaurant for us. The burgers are really good, the service is fairly quick, and the location is convenient. Sad to see they seem to have taken the ribs off the menu, though!

  3. samanthae says:

    Its very dissapointing they got rid of the rocket ribs :(

  4. Alyssa says:

    I love this place and I don’t understand why it gets a bad rap either! The Bleu Cheese and Bacon Burger (formerly Wild Bleu Yonder Burger) is definitely my favorite burger at Disneyland. I love all the topping options as well. You’re right, it’s not THAT original but it’s really good!

  5. Essie says:

    LOL When I read Jenn’s comment I had to laugh. The toppings bar looks wonderful with all of those fresh veggies, but I thought to myself that I didn’t see any plastic cheese!

  6. Sara S says:

    My boys loved the Bleu and Bacon burger! I had the chicken and avocado sandwich that was super. Definitely a keeper!

  7. Dio C. says:

    I do like this place a lot. I loved it when they had the criss cut fries; I sure wish they’d bring those back. Otherwise, reliable good eats!

  8. Maureen says:

    We went there for a quick burger, I thought it was fine. Just had the regular bacon cheeseburger-but it was perfect for a quick bite. My husband’s biggest gripe is that all the burgers at Disneyland (and maybe WDW now for all we know) are multigrain. He thinks they fall apart too easily!

  9. Detronyx says:

    There’s no “plastic cheese” on the condiment carts; the cheese is in the kitchen. Cast members put it on the burgers. All produce is at the carts.

    And Sara S., I think you meant the grilled chicken sandwich. Regretfully, there is no avocado at TPG. (If only!)

    I like that Cosmic Rays and Pecos Bill’s both have sauteed mushrooms on their condiment bars. That’s one thing TPG needs, though Ray’s doesn’t have ranch available. At least, not out where guests can get to it.

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