Join me in Disneyland’s Frontierland as we go back to one of my much-loved counter service spots: Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante!
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…
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.
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.
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.
Billowing awnings provide some sun cover during those busy lunch hours, and I love the hanging lanterns! So pretty at night.
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…
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.)
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.
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
I did mention items being made-to-order, right? I love watching the grill master Cast Members at work!
Fountain beverages are self-serve, or you can opt for grab-and-go bottled drinks.
You’ll be able to pick up your souvenir sippers here as well.
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.
Of course, Diamond Anniversary Mickey graces the packaging :)!
Oh, and also leave room for Heather’s favorite 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.
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.
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).
The meat was not quite medium rare, but it was definitely not overcooked.
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.” ).
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.
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!!!!)
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.
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!).
I’ll be sure to save room next time (then again, I always say that whenever I’m leaving Rancho del Zocalo).
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!