The other day I was looking through the pictures from our Disney trips this year and I realized that of the 4 Disney trips I took this year, all three of my trips to Disneyland were without kids (although one was a work trip, so probably shouldn’t count). While I love spending family vacations at Disney, going on “kid-free” trips or even getting a babysitter for the evening allows us to spend some quality time together while experiencing some of the things we don’t usually get to when the kids are with us. It helps us connect as a couple so that, quite honestly, we can be better parents!
To help you plan your own evening out, I thought I would share my top 5 favorite places to have a “kid-free” dinner. All of these places are still “kid-friendly” (this is Disney after all!) so you can certainly feel comfortable taking the kids along if you need to and many of these restaurants provide great kid dining experiences too.
With that, in no real order other than how they came into my head, here are my top 5 picks for a “kid-free” dinner at the Disneyland Resort.
1. Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen in the Downtown Disney district – This is our absolute “must-do” stop on every trip to Anaheim, regardless of if we’re with the kids or not. Both Colorado Dad and I are rather enamored with New Orleans, but since we don’t get to visit nearly as much as we’d like, the Jazz Kitchen is a pretty decent way to get a little bit of that N’Awlins flavor. I honestly don’t think I’ve had a bad meal here, but my favorites are the Gumbo, Jambalaya and the very rich, very decadent “must try it at least once” Double Chocolate Bread Pudding, which takes 25 minutes to prepare, so make sure to order it early! Other than the food though, there is live jazz most evenings and on Thursday nights they have dueling pianos, which is always fun. We’ve spent many a night listening to jazz and enjoying a Mint Julep long after we’ve eaten our last bites! We’ve also done the Sunday Jazz Brunch, which is great brunch food along with live jazz, although I prefer dinner.
2. Napa Rose at the Grand Californian Hotel – Another one of my favorite restaurants, not just at Disneyland, but anywhere. This truly is a fine dining experience and is not cheap by any stretch of the imagination, so we usually save this for special occasions. The waitstaff is always very attentive and are perfectly happy to pace your meal as slowly as you’d like, so you can relax and enjoy your meal. Their wine selection is excellent and their seasonal menus offer delicious choices for pretty much everyone. Don’t miss their famous “best hot chocolate ever” served with mini donuts. They aren’t lying - it really IS the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had. If you can, make a reservation for the Chef’s Counter – providing you with a front row seat to watch all the action in the open kitchen. If you sit here, you also have the option of having Chef Andrew Sutton prepare dinner specially for you, based on your specific likes and dislikes. Definitely a special event treat!
3. Uva Bar at the Downtown Disney district – The Uva Bar is the outdoor bar adjacent to Catal, a Mediterranean restaurant, which I’ve heard is very good but have never actually experienced because we always just head straight to Uva Bar. This is our favorite happy hour/light dinner location, partially because we’re kind of beer snobs and this is one of the few places in Anaheim where we can get beer we like, but also because it’s a great location to sit, relax, have a bite to eat and people watch. Their olives with sea salt and peppers and trio of mediterranean dips are relatively simple, but delicious. Oh, and the bartender wears big gold “Elvis” sunglasses that always crack me up
4. Steakhouse 55 at the Disneyland Hotel – The lure of a good steak is what brought us here the first time, but I particularly enjoy the decor, with all the dark wood and black and white photos of celebrities from the 50s adorning the walls, I feel like I’ve stepped back into the golden age of Hollywood and almost expect to see Marilyn Monroe sitting at one of the tables. The wine list is good and the steaks are very good, although not the best I’ve ever had. In my opinion, this is probably the least kid-friendly restaurant on my list, just because there is quite an upscale feel to it – even more so than at Napa Rose, but with the high-backed booths, it’s definitely a good place for a “date night”.
5. Gandhi Palace at the Ramada Plaza Hotel on the corner of W. Katella and Harbor Blvd - I just recently found this restaurant during a convention trip with a group of coworkers who didn’t want to spend all their time in Disneyland/Downtown Disney. I’m including this restaurant on my list only because my kids are crazy and don’t like Indian food, so this will ONLY be a “kid-free” meal for us, but normally, this seems to be a pretty family-friendly place. We went for dinner (lunch is a buffet, but dinner is not) and although it was a bit of a rocky start when they looked at us like we were crazy when we ordered a BOTTLE of wine, I was pleasantly surprised with our meal. The naan, both plain and garlic, was hot, plentiful and delicious and the chicken korma was some of the best I’ve ever had.
So, that’s my list, at least so far. Club 33 is on my “wish list” right now and I’m hoping to get an opportunity to eat their next year. Who knows if it will end up on my list or not, but I’ll keep you all updated! And now, I’d love to hear what your favorites are. Do you visit the same restaurants we do? Am I missing your absolute favorite? Let me know by leaving a comment below!