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Disneyland Resort’s Winter Food Festival Serves Up Nashville Hot Chicken and Rugelach

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What to eat at California Adventure’s holiday pop-up food fest

Nashville-style hot chicken at Disney California Adventure
Carlye Wisel

It’s December, which means one thing at Disneyland Resort: it’s officially Christmas.

They’ve already spread good tidings across both theme parks, and they’re coated with an explosion of wreaths, Christmas trees, and peppermint-speckled coffees. But it’s the pop-up food fair at Disney California Adventure that’s worthy of braving end-of-year crowds.

The park’s Festival of Holidays features drinks, desserts, and small plates honoring fall and winter holidays from around the world at twelve Festive Food Marketplace booths, but it’s not the culture-melding that’s noteworthy. It’s that the special holiday offerings are simply very good for theme park fare.

Lamb cheeks atop cauliflower rice — which are being served halfway between a meet-and-greet with Goofy and The Little Mermaid ride — are surprisingly tastiest things one can find at a Disney park. The Blissfully Braised booth’s pork belly adobo paired with garlic rice is also spot-on. There’s even a Nashville-style hot chicken, which feels perfectly on trend, though perhaps not necessarily in line with holiday food. There’s enough heat behind the perfect beef corn tamale’s rojo sauce that one can bet Disney’s guest relations counter will hear about it from shell-shocked visitors surprised by the spice.

Braised lamb cheeks over cauliflower rice

As the Festival of Holidays is at California Adventure, which exclusively offers alcoholic beverages at Disneyland Resort, there are plenty of boozy drinks including a winter michelada, holiday sherbet punch, and seasonal beer flights. However, the traditional dessert game is a bit stronger, with a large eggnog macarons and a chocolate Yule log that’s sure to be Instagram bait.

Festival of Holidays also has traditional theme park-style eats, but the high-caliber dishes are executed so much better that more familiar comfort foods like macaroni and cheese with cornbread crust pale in comparison.

Multicultural tastes include pineapple kesari and chana masala with garlic naan to honor Diwali and a rugelach for Hanukkah that’s so good it’s almost unbelievable that they serve it inside the Mouse House. Though horchata fudge and chorizo queso fundido would be typical things to eat after braving California Screamin’, there’s two quick-service stations with Feliz Navidad offerings like horchata, elote, chicken mole, and pozole.

The pricing at California Adventure’s Festival of Holidays is a little pricey — food ranges between $4 and $7 — but portions are pretty good. Disney’s California Adventure will host the Festival of Holidays food fair from now until January 7, 2018.

Pork belly adobo over garlic rice
Fruit and nut rugelach
Mac & Cheese with cornbread crumbles

Disneyland

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