No matter where you live in this great, big, beautiful world, your hometown probably has a food that locals SWEAR is the best on the planet. Are you from Buffalo? You probably know the best spot for wings. Is New York City your home base? I’ll bet you can tell me where the best pizza in all of the city actually is (Famous Ray’s? Famous Original Ray’s? Which one?! There are Rays everywhere!). And if you’re from Philadelphia (like myself), I’m sure you know where the absolute best cheesesteak in the whole world is (don’t fall for the tourist traps…if you want to know MY place, send me an email and I’ll tell only you). But what about when you’re in Walt Disney World or Disneyland and you’ve got a hankering for one of your favorite foods? With the highly-themed areas, lands, and restaurants in the Disney parks and resorts, the company often offers the local culinary favorites of the area that it’s trying to immerse the guests in. So if you’re passing through the Germany pavilion in Epcot, you can be sure that the food will be as close to actual German food as Disney can possibly get. I’m not telling you that Germans will make a beeline for Biergarten on every WDW trip, but in most cases Disney does a pretty good job of pulling off the local favorites from around the world. So, without further ado, here are the Disney Parks’ Answers To Regional Food Favorites.
Minneapolis House of Blues (WDW)
Juicy Lucy – Minneapolis, MN (House of Blues, Disney Springs) – The local favorite of the Twin Cities is the Juicy (or Jucy) Lucy, a burger that has cheese stuffed into the patty itself before grilling, allowing the melted cheese to ooze out of the burger once it is cut or bitten into (if I’m ever going to have a heart attack, I’d be fine with it as long as I had the opportunity to finish this burger first!) Although quite a few places sell the Juicy Lucy in Minneapolis (and neighboring St. Paul), I haven’t read about one that does it exactly like the House of Blues does it in WDW. Their version is a beef and applewood bacon patty stuffed with provolone cheese, topped with crispy pickled jalapeños and chipotle mayo on a brioche bun (by the way, best combination of words ever may be beef + bacon + cheese + jalapeños). While I haven’t had the original, I have had the HOB version, and hopefully it would make Minneapolitans (I looked it up) feel right at home.
New Orleans French Market (Disneyland)
Shrimp Po’ Boy – New Orleans, LA (French Market, Disneyland) – New Orleans is world-renowned for their food, especially the cajun specialities that are offered on almost every corner throughout the French Quarter neighborhood. And while gumbo and jambalaya might be what pop into your head when thinking about cajun cooking (or crawfish…locals told me to “suck the heads” in New Orleans; were they messing with me?), any true New Orleans lifer would tell you that what the Big Easy is really famous for is the Po’ Boy sandwich. Named for the “poor boys” of New Orleans (street car drivers who went on strike in 1929 and couldn’t afford much to eat), these sandwiches are pretty simple: usually some type of fried seafood with lettuce, mayo, tomatoes, and pickles. Disneyland’s New Orleans Square version is a little bit different with citrus-caper mayonnaise and no pickles. While I’m no expert on Po’ Boys by any means, I thought the one in Disneyland definitely was pretty close to the originals in Louisiana, and I’d recommend giving it a shot on your next trip!
Boston Liberty Tree Tavern (WDW)
New England Clam Chowder – Boston, MA (Liberty Tree Tavern, Magic Kingdom) – Since I’m from Philadelphia and also a HUGE sports fan, I’m supposed to hate Boston. Their teams have torn my heart out (not literally) on so many different occasions it’s hard to even begin to list them. But I don’t hate Boston at all. As a matter of fact, it’s one of my favorite cities in America, and it is known for my favorite foods of all time: New England Clam Chowder. I’ve had Clam Chowder in restaurants all across Boston, so it’s really difficult for me to pick my absolute favorite (and I loved Legal Sea Foods’ take, so real Bostonians may call me a fraud!) I really do believe that Liberty Tree Tavern’s spin on New England Clam Chowder is excellent, and very comparable to any really great chowder I’ve had in Boston. Of course, I may be a little biased because my wife used to be a cast member at Liberty Tree and once wore the famous costume, complete with bonnet (if I get some emails or comments asking, I will put the picture up on my site!)
Baltimore Steakhouse 55 (Disneyland)
Crab Cakes – Baltimore, MD (Steakhouse 55, Disneyland Hotel) – “Crabcakes and football…that’s what Maryland does!” The line from one of my favorite movies (any guesses?) is right about one thing, Maryland does have some amazing crab cakes. If you grew up in the Baltimore area, you were lucky to have Old Bay Seasoning, the Ravens and Orioles (or Colts if you’re a bit older), and some of the best fresh crabs on the planet for your entire life. For those of us who didn’t, however, we’ve been dealing with imitation crab meat (pretty lame) and below par crab cakes forever! Steakhouse 55, an upscale steak place with a vintage feel in the Disneyland Hotel in CA makes a pretty fantastic crab cake as an appetizer that will give any other crab outside Maryland a run for its money! The bonus here is, after you eat the crab cake and do your best with one of their enormous cuts of meat, you can take a quick stroll outside and get to Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar, Disneyland Park, or Disney’s California Adventure within minutes. I’d call that a HUGE win!
New York City Via Napoli (WDW)
Pizza – New York, NY (Via Napoli, Epcot’s Italy Pavilion) – I hear it all the time from the New Yorkers in my family: “There’s just nowhere outside of New York where you can get a good slice of pizza!” Believe it or not, I somewhat agree with this statement. New York does have some fantastic pizza (and bagels, too, but that’s for another blog post!) New Yorkers will offer TONS of reasons for this: there’s something about the water in New York & New Jersey, it’s the way the old Italian recipes were brought over from Italy years ago, etc. (I’d argue that Philadelphia has some great pizza places, but again, a different story for a different time). And while NYC does have amazing pizza, Via Napoli in Epcot really gives it a run for its money. All of Via Napoli’s pizza ingredients (INCLUDING the water) are imported from Naples in Italy! How’s that for authentic Italian?! The pizzas there are enormous so while on the surface it may look pretty expensive, it’s actually one of the better bangs for your buck in all of WDW. When you’re planning your next trip to Walt Disney World, make reservations at Via Napoli 180 days before your trip (or I’ll book that reservation for you, free of charge – as always!)
Let’s face it, folks, we all LOVE to eat, especially on a Disney vacation. Sometimes we love to try all of the new, different foods that the Disney parks have to offer, but sometimes we just want something that we know and love. These were just a sample of the MANY regional favorites that the Disney parks offer their guests. What are your favorite local or regional dishes that Disney either does really well or needs to do a better job with? Please feel free to comment here on this page, send me a Facebook message or comment on the FB page HERE, send me a Tweet on Twitter HERE, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, please also share any or all of my blog posts with whoever you’d like by clicking the social media buttons at the top and bottom of every post.
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