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Dining in Disneyland Review: Summer Menu Items at Downtown Disney’s ESPN Zone

Located near the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim’s Downtown Disney, the ESPN Zone is a great place to take a pit stop in the middle of a long Disneyland day.  Just a hop, skip and a jump away from the Monorail Station the ESPN Zone has something for everyone in your party.

ESPN Zone in Downtown Disney

ESPN Zone in Downtown Disney

We recently headed over for an afternoon of food and fun.  Upon entering we were greeted by a fabulous team of hostesses who immediately took us to a table.  We visited mid week in the early afternoon and there was no wait.  However, if the World Cup had been playing, we probably couldn’t get near the place!

ESPN Zone Check In

ESPN Zone Check In

The menu at ESPN Zone is full of your traditional American type favorites.  Items include Ribs, Chicken, Burgers, Sandwiches, Salads, & Wraps.

ESPN Zone Menu

ESPN Zone Menu

In addition to their regular menu, ESPN Zone currently has some very tasty Summer menu offerings. AND on this special menu, you can find Bar Highlights (drink suggestions), Special Menu Items, and the all important “Sports on TV” calendar.  These special menus are printed weekly.

ESPN Zone Specials & Sports

ESPN Zone Specials & Sports

 

You don’t have to be a sports fan to enjoy the ESPN Zone.  BUT… If you are a sports fan, that’s a definite bonus for you!  There are visible flat screen TV screens in every direction playing plenty of sports footage for you to enjoy.

The view from our table. Every diner has a screen to look at!

Every diner has a screen to look at!

We started off with the classic Cheese Fries.  A very popular menu item, Cheese fries come smothered with bacon, cheddar, mozzarella, pepper jack cheese.  Served with ranch dressing for dipping, they will be easily devoured.  If your life motto doesn’t happen to match mine: “Everything is better with bacon,” not to worry, you can always opt out!  My favorite thing about the Cheese Fries was that the fries were nice and crispy.  Many times, smothered fries end up being served soggy.  Not these ones. In fact, they never had a chance for sog, they were devoured in no time flat.

Cheese Fries

Cheese Fries

For the entrees we focused on the special Summer Menu items; BBQ Pork Sandwich & The Big Cuban.

The BBQ Pork Sandwich was the biggest hit at the table (excluding desserts of course).  Lucky for us, the ESPN Zone has a brand new meat  smoker and they’re busy testing it out on the Summer Menu items.  The generously sized sandwich is served on a soft Brioche style bun.  It comes to the table open faced topped with a mound of tender roasted pork smothered in Carolina Gold BBQ sauce & coleslaw.  Our table wanted the slaw on the side and that was no problem.  The Sandwich comes with side choice of fries, fresh fruit, a house salad or more coleslaw!

BBQ Pork Sandwich

BBQ Pork Sandwich

The Big Cuban also utilizes that new meat smoker! It comes layered with slow roasted pork and cured smoked ham.  It’s topped with Swiss cheese, mustard and pickled and served on a toasted French roll.  Very rich and flavorful, you need a big appetite to take on this whole meal!  Like the BBQ Pork Sandwich, this meal also comes with your choice of fries, salad, fresh fruit, or coleslaw.

The Big Cuban

The Big Cuban

We ordered the Blue Cheese Apple Walnut Salad for a side, which is basically a meal on its own! Crumbled blue cheese, apples, raisins, candied walnuts, diced red peppers and romaine lettuce are mixed with ESPN Zone’s house vinaigrette dressing  make up this deliciously refreshing salad.

Blue Cheese Apple Walnut Salad Close Up

Blue Cheese Apple Walnut Salad Close Up

In addition to the Summer Menu items, we also tried a few of the more popular classic menu items.  Including the BBQ Ribs and Chicken platter and the Chicken Tender Salad.

When my 10 year old told me he wanted the BBQ Ribs and Chicken, I tried to discourage him because I thought it would be a waste of food. I thought it would be totally impossible for him to finish it off.  The meal consists of a half slab of tender slow roasted BBQ ribs and an enormous chicken breast with a giant side of French fries.  I mean look at this craziness!

BBQ Ribs & Chicken

BBQ Ribs & Chicken

I caved and let him order it.  This is what happened:

He Ate It ALL!

He Ate It ALL!

The final entrée on our table was the Chicken Tender Salad.  The salad includes romaine lettuce tossed with ranch dressing, avocado, tomato, and cheddar cheese.  It’s drizzled with BBQ sauce and topped with a mound of fried onion straws and 3 large chicken tenders. It can also be served with grilled chicken strips instead of fried.  I really enjoy this salad. In fact, I’ve ordered it before.  I consider it a “comfort food” salad!  The portion is enormous, so if you are looking for a salad to share, this is a good one.

Chicken Tender Salad

Chicken Tender Salad

Dessert

For dessert we went with one of the classic regular menu items, the Chocolate Chip Cookie Sundae (which also happens to be the most popular dessert) and the summer special, the Carrot Cake Bread Pudding.

The Chocolate Chip Cookie Sundae is served up fresh from the oven in a hot iron skillet.  Topped with vanilla bean ice cream, hot fudge, caramel sauce, chocolate curls and whipped cream, I barely had enough time to snap a photo.  The thing was gone in about 3 minutes flat.  Definitely a dessert that will make just about anyone happy!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Sundae

Chocolate Chip Cookie Sundae

Look at these vultures!

Cookie Sundae Vultures

Cookie Sundae Vultures

The Carrot Cake Bread Pudding was also delicious, but geared toward a more specific audience.  I happen to love both carrot cake AND bread pudding, so I loved this dessert. The kids, not so much.  It’s a perfect mix of the two desserts. Flavorful like carrot cake (carrot shreds, walnuts, and all) but spongy like bread pudding.  What I do wish?  That the scoop of whipped cream on top was cream cheese frosting. THAT would make it AMAZING!

Carrot Cake Bread Pudding

Carrot Cake Bread Pudding

After dining, if you’ve got some time to kill, load up some game cards and let the kids roam free. There are plenty of fun machines to keep them busy while you enjoy some adult time.  Order a drink, send the kids off to play; it’s a win win situation!

On a side note, now through September 6th, Downtown Disney restaurants are serving up special menu items using Dole ingredients.  Below are ESPN Zone’s offerings.  I’m pretty sure I’ll be going back for a Pineapple Mojito!

Dole Summer Celebration Items

Dole Summer Celebration Items

Overall

I really enjoy the ESPN Zone. I think that it’s a great place with something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for a hearty meal like BBQ chicken and ribs, a great salad, kid pleasing chicken fingers and fries, something a little on the lighter side like a wrap or a bowl of soup, I’m confident that you will find a satisfying meal!  I also love how easy it is to get to.  If you’re not in the parks and craving a visit, it’s located just steps away from the Downtown Disney parking lot, which gives you 3 hours free or 5 hours with validation from the restaurant.

From Disneyland, it’s a quick 3 minute walk from the Downtown Disney Monorail stop, which makes it easy to get out of and right back in to the park.

ESPN Zone does not take reservations, but it is a very large venue with tons of seating.  Unless there is a huge sporting event going on, the wait is usually very tolerable (you can play games while you wait, too!).  Still worried about crowds? Give them a call at (714) 300-3776 to check wait times.

A huge thank you to the ESPN Zone for having us!

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

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4 Comments

  1. Tim says:

    Thanks again for another great post Heather! The lack of cream cheese frosting on the carrot cake bread pudding is a MAJOR omission… but I think I could manage to eat it anyway. That along with, well, everything else.

  2. Heather Sievers says:

    @Tim – Thanks! If they added cream cheese frosting, it would be perfection!

  3. Jere says:

    Heather,
    How are the ribs at the ESPN Zone? The pictures make them look so good.

  4. Heather Sievers says:

    @Jere – My boys LOVED them!

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