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!
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… .
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.
There are vintage touches all around, like the chalkboard notes, which include antique planes and notes from the pilots.
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.
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?
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.
And speaking of ordering, I was ready to do just that. Let’s see what they have to offer.
The Taste Pilots’ menus are kind of cute.
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?
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.
I helped myself to a little barbecue sauce, but decided to hold the mustard.
The toppings bar was pretty well stocked when I visited. There was just about anything you could possibly want for your burger or sandwich.
Seriously! I love all of the options here! I mean green chilies and pico de gallo? This Texas transplant was feeling right at home!
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.
And in addition to chocolate and vanilla milkshakes, there are also pre-packaged desserts for sale, like cookies and brownies.
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.
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!
I had to add a couple of condiments to the mix. I had picked up a little ketchup and barbecue sauce earlier for dunking.
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.
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.
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.)
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!