REVIEW: Rancho del Zocalo in Disneyland’s Frontierland

Join me in Disneyland’s Frontierland as we go back to one of my much-loved counter service spots: Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante!

Disneyland Rancho del Zocalo Sign

Disneyland Rancho del Zocalo Sign

Before we dig into the eats, let’s take a look around first; because if you’re like me, I think you’ll like what you’re about to see…

Atmosphere

Immediately upon spotting some of the signs and murals for Rancho del Zocalo it’s easy to get an idea of the top-notch setting, even before stepping inside the restaurant.

Disneyland Rancho del Zocalo_15_-Ironwork sign

Rancho del Zocalo sign

Rancho del Zocalo painted mural

Rancho del Zocalo painted mural

From the inviting adobe entranceway to the fountains and flowers dotting the landscape, the general feel is that you’ve been transported to a Spanish oasis.

Walkway Leading into the Restaurant

Walkway Leading into the Restaurant

Rancho del Zocalo Fountain

Fountain

Seating is primarily outdoors. With ample shading for hot days and heat lamps for cooler evenings (and the fact that Disneyland is pretty much in the most temperate place on earth), it’s comfortable just about any time of year.

Outdoor Seating Area

Outdoor Seating Area

Rancho del Zocalo Decor

Rancho del Zocalo Decor

Outdoor Seating

Outdoor Seating

Billowing awnings provide some sun cover during those busy lunch hours, and I love the hanging lanterns! So pretty at night.

Disneyland Rancho del Zocalo_15_-cover for some outdoor seating

Outdoor lanterns

Disneyland Rancho del Zocalo_15_-decor outside

Outdoor lanterns

The beauty of the theming at this Counter Service spot can take on many Disney Table Service restaurants in regard to atmosphere.

But it’s not just the setting that rivals Table Service locations here…

Eats

Rancho del Zocalo offers authentic Mexican dishes and favorites. On this visit, I had a difficult time narrowing down my choices with eight full Platters (which all include Mexican Rice and Refried Beans) to choose from… and this doesn’t even include the entree-sized salad selections!

(By the way, can I say how much I love that they offer both kids’ meals and toddler meals? Genius.)

Rancho del Zocalo Menu

Rancho del Zocalo Menu

Rancho del Zocalo

Rancho del Zocalo menu

Food is served cafeteria-style and made to order. Just grab your tray and silverware (and check out more of the lovely wall murals) first, then proceed to the ordering stations.

Disneyland Rancho del Zocalo_15_-collecting trays and silverware

Trays and silverware

Line at Rancho del Zocalo

Line at Rancho del Zocalo

Ordering and Prep Station

Ordering and Prep Station

It’s easy to get a feel for what you’ll find most appetizing, thanks to the open kitchen and preparation areas. These cast members were honestly having a great time at work that day! Those sorts of things stick in my head. ;-D

Food Preparation Area

Food Preparation Area

Disneyland Rancho del Zocalo_15_-Smiling cast member -- shows cafeteria like set up

Food station

I did mention items being made-to-order, right? I love watching the grill master Cast Members at work!

Carne Asada On The Grill

Carne Asada On The Grill

Fountain beverages are self-serve, or you can opt for grab-and-go bottled drinks.

Self-Serve Beverage Area

Self-Serve Beverage Area

You’ll be able to pick up your souvenir sippers here as well.

Grab and Go Beverages

Grab and Go Beverages

As I mentioned, each platter comes with Mexican Rice and Refried Beans (sautéed vegetables can be substituted, if preferred). But make sure you leave room for a side of Crispy Chips con Limon, which are ridiculously addictive with that hint of salty citrus.

Disneyland Rancho del Zocalo_15_-chips sign

Crispy Chips con Limon sign

Of course, Diamond Anniversary Mickey graces the packaging :)!

Crispy Chips con Limon

Crispy Chips con Limon

Oh, and also leave room for Heather’s favorite Cinnamon Crisps!

Cinnamon Crisps

Cinnamon Crisps

I know, I know… Can we dig in already?! Absolutely! Let’s start with the Burrito Guadalajara: slow-cooked Carnitas with refried beans, rice and cheese are wrapped in a flour tortilla and topped off with a Verde Tomatillo Sauce and sour cream. More rice and beans — along with a nice serving of pico de gallo for more burrito toppings — make up the sides.

Burrito Guadalajara

Burrito Guadalajara

The plate is pretty much the size of a serving platter here, folks. And portions are seriously substantial across the board — this thing is PACKED.

Burrito Guadalajara Cut in Half

Burrito Guadalajara cross section

Not too spicy-hot — but also not at all bland, thanks to the marinade of the carnitas and the tomatillo sauce.

But if you’re looking to turn the heat up juuuust a notch, you might want to consider the Carne Asada and Red Chile Enchilada Platter  bring your appetite for this one. But before we talk about the spice, let’s talk about the fairly ginormous marinated steak on this platter (as an aside, I love the additional soft flour tortillas with this dish).

Carne Asada & Red Chile Enchilada Platter

Carne Asada & Red Chile Enchilada Platter

The meat was not quite medium rare, but it was definitely not overcooked.

Carne Asada

Carne Asada

The Cheese Enchiladas are also rich and filling (and, of course, thick with melty cheese!) and are topped off with a red chile sauce that offers just a bit of nice heat (again, though, not suuuper spicy or anything. Just, you know… “Disney spicy.” ;) ).

Cheese Enchiladas Cut in Half

Cheese Enchiladas cross section

I totally fell for the soft tacos here ages ago, and the cast members told me that I could order just about anything on the menu a la carte; so I also asked for a Carnitas Soft Taco with verde salsa as a side.

Side Carnitas Taco

Side Carnitas Taco

It’s the freshness of the ingredients that continue to stand out for me with this one…buuuuuut I should have requested no cilantro. (Blech, blech, blerg blerg blerg!!!!)

Carnitas Salad

Carnitas  Soft Taco

Now, you know I don’t say this often, but with the size of those platters, I simply didn’t have room for dessert (I know: “Where is AJ and what have you done with her?!”). But I did manage to grab some semi-decent pics for ya! Among the options are Tres Leches Cake, Chocolate Cake (pictured below), and the popular Cinnamon Crisps. This is also one of the spots you can grab a slice of Diamond Celebration Chocolate Cake.

Chocolate Cake

Chocolate Cake

Of course they also offer another Mexican cuisine favorite as well: Flan! By the way, this one is known to change occasionally with the seasons (for example, fall brings an Orange Pumpkin version!).

Flan

Flan

I’ll be sure to save room next time (then again, I always say that whenever I’m leaving Rancho del Zocalo).

Overall

I’m telling you: Rancho del Zocalo was one of my first favorites in Disneyland, and it hasn’t lost its spot in the running: picturesque setting, friendly Cast Members, terrific food and generous portions — this is the real deal. If you haven’t made Rancho del Zocalo part of a Disneyland day, I highly recommend it for your next trip!

What’s your favorite dish at Rancho del Zocalo? Please let us know with a comment!

Comments

  1. Richard says

    It’s a great place, and I’m glad you covered the Carne Asada & Red Chile Enchilada Platter, it’s my favorite lunch!

  2. Michele says

    This is one of my very favorite restaurants at Disneyland. I eat there on almost every visit! The food is consistently great and I love the atmosphere. And last time, thanks to Heather’s recommendation, I finally tried those cinnamon crisps. They were delicious! Great to know that you can order things a la carte; I wasn’t aware of that!

    I am also a fellow cilantro hater… it tastes like soap to me and completely overpowers whatever meal I’m trying to enjoy! I get so sad when I forget to ask for “no cilantro” and have to attempt picking out each tiny, little piece.

  3. shannon says

    This is my absolute favorite restaurant at Disney. I love to dine outside, but I love that there is an inside option. I love the hanging lanterns and heat lamps and beautiful cascading flowers. Big Thunder railroad is so close you can see and hear it as it pulls into the loading area. You get to eat with real plates and real forks. The enchilada platter is delicious and large — last time our family ordered 7 enchilada platters! I LOVE this restaurant: in fact, it is in my top 5 favorite restaurants anywhere!

    If you have one day at Disneyland, break your fast at the Riverbelle. Snack on Fried Green Tomato Sandwiches at the Hungry Bear at lunchtime (on the top deck toward the back where you can wave at the passersby both on the train and the Mark Twain) and definitely do dinner at the Rancho del Zocalo!

  4. Chris F says

    I can safely say that this is THE resturant for me at Disneyland. I have some of my oldest memories tied to eating here as a little boy in it’s previous names, and I STILL love the food. I always make time for a nice dinner here one night of my trips.

  5. Melisa says

    One of our favorite places too, I really love those fish tacos, but one thing I adore is that they have REAL iced tea–not the fountain type, the brewed variety. There are very few places in the park that have it!

  6. Julie Bettencourt says

    Everything you said about the decor is spot on. This is our go-to food spot (especially in summer when those free soda refills come in particularly handy) — and the salads are great. But here’s a passholder tip — BEWARE THE SALAD-MAKING CM’S! For whatever reason, they put the painfully slowest people back there. It’s become an inside joke — can we beat our record for how long the salad takes? Current record is ten minutes. That’s not including the line. Also a couple times they ran out of the premium grilled chicken (which you’re paying for, trust me) and tried to foist tasteless (literally) boiled chicken on us — probably not realizing we get the Caesar EVERY TIME! Anyway, prepare for frustration as your family stands by with their hot food waiting, waiting, waiting for your salad to get finished. It’s worth waiting for — unless you’re “hangry” in which case, best to skip the salad section altogether.

  7. Carole says

    We haven’t been in a few years, but one of our family faves. We’ve had issues with the spicy being a bit too much for the Littles although they are salsa fans in general. I think the spicy tends toward less tomato and more jalapeno. We found that if we ordered a la carte for them and it was too much, the staff was quick to fix us something different. Great food – excellent deal! The portions are huge!

  8. Essie says

    I want to see the DLR so bad and if I ever get there, I would love to go here. Thanks for showing us the atmosphere; it’s beautiful with the flowering trees and lanterns. The food looks very good and I like burritos. Also, how great is a chocolate cake where the icing layers are thicker than the cake layers, right, A.J.? This was a very enjoyable report!

  9. Lauren says

    My boyfriend and I have season passes (though not for much longer) and because we dont currently pay for entry and parking we are more willing to splurge on multiple meals while at the park and we have fun trying new things each time. We had never been to this restaurant because with all the other offerings the park has and being native southern Californian’s who eat good Mexican food a few times a week, we didn’t see the appeal. After seeing this article though I thought maybe we should try it, so we went here last night to cap off a full day in the park. One of the best counter service places we’ve been to in the park. I got the Carne Asada platter and it was soo good. Meat was cooked better than I would have ever imagined from a counter service place. Its a bit on the higher side $13 for the Carne Asada, but not only is the quality great they give you a lot. My only complaint is they could have a bit better lighting at night, great atmosphere but it makes it difficult to see what you are eating and I could tell a lot of people were having trouble finding their parties in the dark..

  10. Bob says

    One of the best food values in the park. Those huge platters are roughly the same price as a smallish and not very good serving of pasta at the Plaza Inn. Even if the food was just okay it would be worth going here for how filling it is, but it’s also very good (as long as you remember to have them leave off the soapweed … How in the name of all that is holy did cilantro get so popular?).

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