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Review: Lunch at Tangaroa Terrace in the Disneyland Hotel

Today, we’re heading into one of my favorite places — the Disneyland Hotel — to enjoy lunch at Tangaroa Terrace.

The counter service spot, billed as “casual island dining”, is a newer addition to this landmark. While the hotel has been around since the beginning of Disneyland time, Tangaroa Terrace opened only a few short years ago as part of a massive renovation.

Tangaroa Terrace

Tangaroa Terrace

Early reviews weren’t extremely positive. But after the kitchen staff settled in a bit, our Dining in Disneyland columnist Heather Sievers visited and had a mostly positive experience here.

Fans of Captain Cook’s Snack Company in Walt Disney World’s Polynesian Resort (nope, apparently the name hasn’t officially changed yet) are going to find the place very familiar. Time to show you around a bit!

Atmosphere

Tangaroa Terrace isn’t just a renovated space — they built it from the ground up. The standalone spot is located adjacent to the hotel’s three pools, making poolside dining for guests of the hotel a snap.

Enter the restaurant, and you’ll see immediately that ordering your food is going to be an interactive experience. That’s because guests CAN place their orders at kiosks. The concept is a familiar one for veterans of Walt Disney World. But kiosk ordering is still pretty rare around Disneyland Resort.

Ordering Kiosks

Ordering Kiosks

The kitchen offers the same open concept like so many other Disney kitchens these days. It’s also worth noting that the staff here service not only Tangaroa Terrace, but Trader Sam’s and poolside orders as well.

A Closer Look at the Kitchen

A Closer Look at the Kitchen

Indoor seating is extremely limited…but hey, the restaurant isn’t called Tangaroa Terrace for nothing.

Taking a page from the Polynesian Islands, they meld the indoor with the outdoor here. Inside, soaring ceilings and big windows let in plenty of light.

Indoor Seating

Indoor Seating

But as far as seating goes, you’ll find most of it outside.

There are a mix of shady spots, and tables located in full, glorious, California sun.

Don’t you love the low tables and couch-like seating? It beckons you to relax and stay awhile.

Patio Seating

Patio Seating

But there are plenty of traditional tables and chairs as well if that’s what you prefer. The teak insets in the chairs are a nice touch.

Disneyland Hotel and Outdoor Seating

Disneyland Hotel and Outdoor Seating

Even if you don’t have the pleasure of taking a dip in one of the surrounding Disneyland pools, you’ll love watching all the action as you dine.

View of the Monorail Waterslides from the Outdoor Seating Area

View of the Monorail Waterslides from the Outdoor Seating Area

But it’s time to get down to business…the business of the food. :-)

Eats

The large overhead menu at Tangaroa Terrace will tell you what’s available for the entire day. You’ll find breakfast, and lunch and dinner selections along with kids’ meals. There’s no difference between the lunch and dinner offerings.

Full Menu -- Click to Enlarge

Full Menu — Click to Enlarge

If you’d like to see just the lunch and dinner menu close up, then grab a laminated menu, which includes pictures to help with the decision-making process.

Menu with Pictures -- Click to Enlarge

Menu with Pictures — Click to Enlarge

Once you have a rough idea of what you’d like, step up to the touchscreen kiosk and commence ordering it.

Ordering Kiosks and Grab and Go

Ordering Kiosks and Grab and Go

The process is very similar to what we’ve experienced in Disney World counter service spots like Captain Cook’s, Pecos Bill’s Tall Tale Inn and Cafe, and Be Our Guest (during lunch).

UPDATE: With the recent renovation of Captain Cook’s, the ordering kiosks have been removed from that location.

Ordering Kiosk -- Up Close

Ordering Kiosk — Up Close

You’ll be led through a series of screens that ask you which items you’d like to purchase, quantities, and any special requests you may have.

An Example of a Kiosk Ordering Screen

An Example of a Kiosk Ordering Screen

Once you complete your order, you’ll receive a receipt for your prepared items from the kiosk, and you’re free to check out the Grab and Go options.

"Transaction Complete" Screen on Kiosk

“Transaction Complete” Screen on Kiosk

An up close look at the refrigerated case shows some prepared foods. If you’re in a hurry or the hot foods menu doesn’t appeal to you, it’s good to know that you have options! There are lots of healthy items to choose from.

Grab and Go Case Up Close

Grab and Go Case Up Close

You can supplement your meal with a Garden Salad.

Garden Salad

Garden Salad

Or opt for a Chef’s Salad for something with a little more substance.

Chef Salad

Chef Salad

There are also a few prepared cold sandwiches, like this Turkey and Cheese.

Turkey and Cheese Grab and Go Sandwich

Turkey and Cheese Grab and Go Sandwich

The Tropical Fruit Plate was enormous! Seriously — that’s like a full-size plate, guys!

In addition to less tropical filler fruit like Grapes and a Strawberry, the plate also includes Kiwi, Pineapple, and Mango. The colors are gorgeous. This would be great to share, I’m thinking.

Tropical Fruit Plate -- Up Close

Tropical Fruit Plate — Up Close

Another healthy option are the Yogurt Parfaits.

I decided right then and there to return the next morning and have one of these for breakfast! Kiwi and strawberries are one of my favorite combos!

Yogurt Parfait -- Up Close

Yogurt Parfait — Up Close

But the Coconut Cake had me at hello. More about that in just a minute.

Coconut Cake in the Clamshell

Coconut Cake in the Clamshell

There were also a few Baked Goods to choose from, or you could grab a piece of Fresh Fruit.

Baked Goods and Fresh Fruit

Baked Goods and Fresh Fruit

And don’t forget the Frozen Lemonade or Mickey Ice Cream Treats!

Frozen Grab and Go Treats

Frozen Grab and Go Treats

Cereal is available anytime of the day for a quick and portable meal and there’s a selection of chips as well.

Grab and Go Cereal Selection

Grab and Go Cereal Selection

Grab and Go Chips

Grab and Go Chips

When you’re ready to check out, take your receipt and any grab and go shnackems you’ve amassed to the cashier. You’ll pay and get a number for your table, so your prepared food can find you. (It’s important to note that the kiosks weren’t working on the day I visited, so all guests were ordering and paying for their food here at the cashier spot.)

Payment Area

Payment Area

On your way to your table, grab your beverage, self-serve style.

Drink Station

Drink Station

You can also pick up your silverware, napkins, and any condiments that you’d like to spice things up a bit. (Helloooo, Sriracha.)

Condiments, Napkins, and Silverware

Condiments, Napkins, and Silverware

And what did we end up getting? Ah, so glad you asked!

My dining companion decided to try one of Tangaroa’s Flatbreads. And since we were pretending we were in Hawai’i — for a little bit, anyway — he chose the Big Island Flatbread.

Big Island Flatbread

Big Island Flatbread

He loved the combination of Ham, Caramelized Pineapple, Marinara Sauce, Red Onion, and Mozzarella Cheese.

Big Island Flatbread -- Up Close

Big Island Flatbread — Up Close

Since he knew I’d be asking for a bite, they were kind enough to hold the Cilantro that normally serves as garnish. ;-)

Sadly, while the toppings were good, the flatbread itself was pretty limp and soggy. This definitely tasted like it had been frozen and reheated…almost like a bad frozen meal. Disappointing, definitely.

Big Island Flatbread Crust

Big Island Flatbread Crust

I love the Kālua Pork Sliders that have been featured at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival’s Hawai’i Booth for the last couple of years, so I went with the Slow-Roasted Kālua-Style Pork Sandwich, which comes served with Barbecue Sauce and Tropical Slaw on a Hawaiian Roll.

Burgers and sandwiches all come with your choice of sides: Sweet Potato Fries, Classic French Fries, Island Fruit, or Tropical Slaw. This is a bit of a change from Tangaroa’s opening, when you could only get sweet potato fries or papaya slaw.

Slow Roasted Kalua-Style Pork Sandwich and Sweet Potato Fries

Slow-Roasted Kālua-Style Pork Sandwich and Sweet Potato Fries

The sandwich ingredients were generous, although I would have loved a bit more sauce. Next time, I’ll ask for a side of it.

Slow Roasted Kalua-Style Pork -- Under the Bun

Slow-Roasted Kālua-Style Pork — Under the Bun

The sandwich itself was a good mixture of flavors and texture — the sweet, soft bun and rich, shredded pork worked well with the crunchy, slightly sour slaw. It was barbecue, Hawaiian-style, and I loved it. (The sweet potato fries were perfect as well.)

Slow Roasted Kalua-Style Pork Sandwich -- Cross Section

Slow Roasted Kalua-Style Pork Sandwich — Cross Section

We enjoyed both of our entrees thoroughly. But then there’s the rest of the story — dessert!

While it would be fantastic to find a Dole Whip machine here like they had at Captain Cooks, I did console myself with one of their cake options — Coconut Cake.

Coconut Cake -- Under the Lid

Coconut Cake — Under the Lid

Sticky, sugary white frosting is liberally sprinkled on the outside with finely shredded, sweetened coconut. The frosting was lighter than what I usually prefer, but it worked really well with the cake overall. The whole thing just made me smile. It was just so darn beautiful.

Coconut Cake Again -- Because I Can't Stop Looking at Its Deliciousness

Coconut Cake Again — Because I Can’t Stop Looking at Its Deliciousness

But the beauty is more than frosting-deep. Because then, I cut into it. Holy Moly. They have my number, because this cake is equal parts cake and frosting/filling. YESSS.

Coconut Cake -- Cross Section

Coconut Cake — Cross Section

And that thick, rich filling carries the coconut flavor clean through the eating experience. I would get this one again. And again.

Coconut Cake -- SUPER Up Close

Coconut Cake — SUPER Up Close

In fact, let me look at when my next Disneyland visit is coming up…

Overall

Tangaroa Terrace took some hits early on. With so much anticipation for the new counter service spot, it just didn’t live up to the expectations in my experience. But clearly, the culinary staff is listening. We’ve seen some menu changes from the restaurant’s first days, and I personally think they’re headed in the right direction.

Now, if they would just get some Dole Whip machines, I’d be completely in love.

Have you been to Tangaroa Terrace in Disneyland Hotel? Tell us about your experience in comments below!

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6 Comments

  1. Logan says:

    Just a little FYI – on our last trip to Disneyland, we stayed at the Grand Californian. As you may know, it had a special entrance into the California park. The lines to get in can be quite long on the extra hour mornings, and a breakfast parfait is an easy way to pass the time in line! Even if the line is short, Disney allows guests to bring the parfait (closed) into the park!

  2. Jim says:

    I love Tangaroa Terrace, especially at night! It’s a great place to sit at outside and get some food and listen to the live Hawaiian music. Also I think the food is good and enjoyed the flat breads. It’s breakfast burrito is very good and I don’t think any of their food is reheated as you can see it being made right in front of you. This article is making me miss DL and the DL Hotel!

  3. Essie says:

    The coconut cake looks yummy!

  4. Beth Rang says:

    Do the kiosks allow you to customize items at all? Like leaving the slaw off your pork?

  5. Maureen says:

    I almost cried reading this, we stayed at Disneyland Hotel for a week last summer, it was paradise, I want to go back NOW!

  6. AJ says:

    Beth — The kiosks were actually down the day that we visited! But if I recall correctly, you can customize. If you would run into any problems, Cast Members are more than happy to assist you. :-)

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