Smoosh has been spending a lot of time in Disney California Adventure (DCA) lately for its annual Food & Wine Festival. According to Disney, it “celebrates the bounty of California with irresistible cuisine, beverages, entertainment, and more.” We love California and cuisine, so this festival was made for us.
There are several new Marketplace booths offering unique California food and drink options, similar to the Festival of Holidays and Lunar New Year. Just like the other festivals, annual passholders have the option of purchasing a Sip and Savor Pass, which is $45 and comes with eight coupons that can be used at any of the Marketplace kiosks. It also comes with a lanyard and AP buttons that can be collected at each kiosk upon redemption of a coupon. We did the Sip and Savor pass at Festival of Holidays, as well, and found that it cost about the same if we had just bought each food item separately. However, at Food & Wine, it ended up being a much better value. If you buy the more expensive items, you end up getting about two of the eight for free. The cheaper items, primarily the desserts and non-alcoholic drinks, we paid for separately so we could get the most value out of our Sip and Savor pass. Diane and I both bought one, so, needless to say, we got to try a lot of food! So far, the Food & Wine Festival has been our favorite out of the three we have been to!
We tried a lot of food, so if you need a quick cheat sheet, the BEST 3 items we tried were:
- Jalapeño Popper Mac & Cheese with Bacon ($7.50) from Peppers Cali-ente
- Sweet Corn Nuggets with Beef Chili ($6.75) from Off the Cob
- Avocado & Pepper Jack Petite Guacamole Burger ($7.75) from Avocado Time
The WORST 3 items we tried were:
- Strawberry & Coconut Rice “Frushi” with Sweet Oikos® Greek Nonfat Yogurt Wasabi Sauce from Strawberry Patch ($4.50) from Strawberry Patch
- Crispy Orange Chicken and Rice ($7.50) from Citrus Grove
- Korean Barbecue Beef Short Rib Taco with Kimchi Slaw ($7.50) from L.A. Style
If you want more details (with photos!) on EVERYTHING we ate, keep reading!
Avocado & Pepper Jack Petite Guacamole Burger ($7.75)
This little slider was very tasty. The burger was thick, juicy, and flavorful, and with the combination of the pepper jack cheese and guacamole, it was delicious. The guacamole wasn’t super flavorful, but because avocados are delicious on their own, it was still great. The bun also didn’t seem like a typical hamburger bun; it was almost like a burger bun made of croissants 一 buttery and so good.
California Craft Brews
White Cheddar Lager Soup in a Mini Boudin’s Sourdough Bowl ($6.00)
This soup was so tasty! Warm, cheesy, and perfectly served in a bread bowl. You could really taste the beer but it paired well with the white cheddar and onions in the soup. Definitely enjoyed this one!
Citrus-Brined Pork Roast with Tangy Barbecue Sauce and Lemon Pepper Slaw ($7.00)
Zach and I kept ignoring this even though it was a popular choice, and the booth even ran out of it on more than one occasion. Any kind of roast usually sounds bland and boring to us, but on our final day, with one more coupon to spend, we decided to try it. I’m really happy we did because it was delicious! It had super juicy pork with a nice sweet sauce and was topped with a great contrast of a crunchy, tart slaw. It also had little crunchy chip peices on it 一 I am still not entirely sure what they were (we called them fake cheetos) but were great with it.
Crispy Orange Chicken and Rice ($7.50)
This was bad 一 like, really bad. We are continually burned by Asian food at Disneyland, but it still draws us in with names like “Orange Chicken.” Hoping for something similar to some other famous orange chickens out there, we were incredibly disappointed when we were served some dry fried chicken pieces covered in a flavorless, generic Asian sauce and a few mandarin orange chunks tossed on top. Honestly, the best part of this meal was the rice. Don’t get this. Will we ever learn to not trust Asian food at Disney?
Meyer Lemon Macaron with Blueberry Marmalade, Meyer Lemon Cream, and Blueberry Dust ($4.75)
I love macarons and will eat any macaron, any flavor, any day. I also love lemon desserts 一 tarts, bars, pies, loaves, muffins; whatever it is, I love lemon desserts. This was made for me. It was so tasty! The the macaron had the perfect crunch on the outside, a soft cookie center, and a creamy filling that was perfectly sweet. I loved the blueberry marmalade, too, which added some freshness and broke up the creamy center, which may have been a little too rich without it. Diane and Zach thought it was a bit too sweet and said they could only handle a few bites, but I honestly could have eaten the entire thing no problem. So I guess it depends how much you like sweets. But if it’s a lot, you’ll be fine.
Salt & Beer Vinegar Parmesan Chicken Wings ($7.50)
For starters, this booth probably had the best name, serving both chicken and beef dishes. We decided to try the salt and beer vinegar wings with parmesan, which tasted great. The combination of tart vinegar and salty parmesan made the wings really flavorful and tasty. They had a nice crispy outside, too, which was surprising since so much of the food at the booths is sitting premade under heat lamps and can get soggy. Overall, a great option at this booth.
Black Garlic Soy-Braised Pork Belly Banh Mi ($7.50)
Remember at Lunar New Year when we said that the banh mi at Paradise Garden Grill was the best food offering there AND one of the best banh mis we’ve ever had?? Well, this one does NOT measure up. Again, burned by Asian food at Disney. It was okay, edible, but in no way worth paying $7.50 for. It tasted painfully generic.
Creamy Mac & Cheese with Garlic Bread Crumble ($7.00)
While burned by Asian food, we are always blessed by mac and cheese. Disney excels at it, and for that, we are grateful. At the Festival of Holidays, the mac was also our favorite. Food & Wine’s garlic mac was absolutely delicious. It was perfectly cheesy and garlicky with delicious bread-crumb toppings. The creamy, soft mac with the crunchy bread crumbs was a beautiful match. It was pretty simple, nothing groundbreaking, but still so good.
I Heart Artichokes
Bourbon Chocolate Whoopie Pie ($4.50)
I thought this one looked delicious in photos but was worried it was going to taste a little boring or like a grocery-store pastry. We’ve had Disney desserts in the past that look impressive but end up tasting pretty boring. The chocolate whoopie pie as actually quite good! It was nice and cold, which was really nice, and the chocolate was deep, rich, and flavorful, making it taste expensive. It’s pretty sweet, but since the chocolate flavor is pretty deep, it’s not too overwhelming. This with a cup of coffee (or glass of wine!) would be a great ending to a day at Food & Wine.
Chicken Teriyaki Slider with Dole Pineapple Jam ($6.50)
We had already tried the orange chicken from Citrus Grove and the banh mi from Garlic Kissed, but we still decided to try the Asian-inspired cuisine from L.A. Style. First up was the Chicken Teriyaki Slider, which was topped with a Dole pineapple jam. It was actually surprisingly, delightfully, really good! The chicken was very juicy, and we enjoyed the flavor of the teriyaki with the pineapple jam. The teriyaki tasted like any you would get at a restaurant, but it was still tasty, especially when combined with the jam.
Korean Barbecue Beef Short Rib Taco with Kimichi Slaw ($7.50)
While pleasantly surprised by the teriyaki slider, we weren’t so impressed by the KBBQ tacos, which were a disappointment. The beef in the tacos was dry, tough, and had some KBBQ flavors but not nearly enough. The slaw was fine, but I couldn’t taste any kimchi. Overall, I would not recommend these.
Mexican Chocolate Custard ($4.50)
For starters, the Mexican chocolate custard served in a little plastic espresso cup is so cute. It’s also topped with a few pieces of chocolate and whipped cream, making it look like a delicious little cappuccino. We didn’t think it was going to be amazing, but it just looked so good that we decided to try it anyway. I’m so happy we did because it was delicious! It was super creamy with a rich, deep chocolate flavor.
Mango Agua Fresca (non-alcoholic) ($5.00)
We don’t typically buy many drinks when DCA has the kiosks set up, but this one looked especially refreshing 一 and it was. It literally tasted like drinking an ice-cold mango. I was really happy it didn’t just taste like sweet mango juice but rather the actual fruit!
Off the Cob
Sweet Corn Nuggets with Beef Chili ($6.75)
This was one of our favorites at the Food & Wine Festival. It consisted of tasty little nuggets filled with sweet corn (think corn dog nuggets but with corn instead of dog) and covered in a hearty chili and drizzled with sour cream. It has a very similar flavor profile to cornbread and chili, a true classic, and was a delicious interpretation of it. The corn was super sweet, and the chili was quite meaty and flavorful, with lots of beef chunks. I would love to try and re-create this at home; it was so good.
Popcorn Lemonade with Whipped Cream and Candy Corn Garnish ($5.50)
This was another item I was really skeptical of. Drinking a popcorn-flavored drink doesn’t necessarily sound super appetizing. We kept watching person after person walk away from Off the Cob with these drinks, and we had to know why. Like I’ve said about so many things we tried at Food & Wine, it was surprisingly, shockingly really good. It was weird, that’s for sure, and it literally tasted like popcorn and lemonade. But it was also weirdly delicious and addicting. The popcorn gave it a bit of a butterscotch flavor that seemed to really work with the lemonade.
Jalapeño Popper Mac & Cheese with Bacon ($7.50)
Okay, let’s say it again: Disney excels at mac and cheese. The garlic mac we tried at Garlic Kissed was delicious, but the Jalapeño Popper Mac & Cheese was definitely THE BEST food item we tried at Food & Wine. It’s super creamy and cheesy, with delicious jalapeno crunchies, cream cheese, and bacon. The mixture of flavors and textures is delicious and wonderful. If anything, it could have used a little more heat. We got this one twice because it was that good.
Verlasso™ Sustainable Salmon Peruvian Poke ($7.50)
I am not a huge fan of salmon but have recently been introduced to poke, which I have really enjoyed overall (like eating sushi in a bowl!). Zach really wanted to try this, and I am glad we did! The salmon was really fresh, not fishy at all, and the Peruvian sauces were delicious. It tasted fresh and light, which was nice after trying so many rich foods.
Strawberry & Coconut Rice “Frushi” with Sweet Oikos® Greek Nonfat Yogurt Wasabi Sauce
Based on my Instagram feed and the countless images of this frushie I saw, I expected it to be incredible. It comes from Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival, where it is also very popular. With full expectations that it was going to be delicious and life-changing, I eagerly dug into it. It was GROSS. It literally had no flavor, the coconut rice had a weird texture, and the sauces just weren’t good. The only part that tasted good was the fresh strawberries, and that is simply because strawberries taste good. This was definitely the worst thing we ate, and I would never get it again.
Even after eating all this food, there was still so much we didn’t try, including a ton of beer and wine. As part of the festival, there were several booths serving local beer and wines which looked amazing, but to save money, we didn’t try any (it’s $10-$12 typically for a drink). We also didn’t get anything from Eat Your Greens, a booth that was serving asparagus, cucumbers, and kombucha 一 and the only booth that never had a line (for good reason).
Besides the food, the festival also had several cooking demonstrations going on throughout the day along with live musical performances, an art corner selling Disney prints (which all of Smoosh went nuts for), and Food & Wine merchandise. The merch was incredibly cute, and we absolutely loved the art and branding of Food & Wine this year. It was all pretty pricey, so we decided to not buy anything, but it was hard to walk away from.
Overall, the food at DCA’s Food & Wine Festival was amazing! It definitely had the best food of all the festivals we’ve been to so far (Festival of Holidays, Lunar New Year). It’s now something I hope to attend every year 一 and hopefully one day I’ll get to attend Epcot’s.
Did you have a chance to check out the Food & Wine Festival? Any of these food offerings look interesting? Let me know what you think in the comments!
With mac & cheese,