Disneyland Part 2: Grown Ups

My cousin and one of my best friends, Stacey, celebrated her Quarter-Of-A-Century birthday this past weekend, and it was the first time we've been to Disneyland together since I was a baby! I wanted to bring her to places that were more adult-friendly and gave her a bit of a break from mommy-duty. Translation: grown up plates and booze, please. :D

If you ever want to take a breather from the quick-service dining options, the Disney parks and resorts actually have an amazing selection of sit-down establishments with gourmet menus. And, while no liquor is served in Disneyland, California Adventure has several spots where you can acquire your libations. We weren't able to make it to all of them, but we had a blast sampling what we could. Cheers, and here's to good eats!

First up is Cove Bar. This open-air bar is done in the same Victorian style as most of Paradise Pier, reminiscent of seaside villages & yacht clubs, and overlooks Paradise Bay. I loved all of the antique-looking, boardwalk-inspired signs that adorned the walls.

My cocktail of choice was the Raspberry Rain. This crimson drink has freshly muddled raspberries, Rain Organics red grape-hibiscus vodka, Chambord black raspberry liqueur, lychee juice, and freshly squeezed lemon juice. Finally, the concoction is topped off with soda water. It was so refreshing, like a fruit punch or a fruity iced tea! I mean, raspberries are my favorite berries ever. So this drink practically won me over just by the name alone...but the floral hibiscus and lychee notes were a pleasant surprise. Although...Stacey and her husband Charlie had a good time laughing at me while I tried to sip from my two skinny straws. Seeds kept getting stuck. Fail all around. So I finally gave up and drank straight from the glass...

Stacey went with the Magical Star Cocktail, complete with a glowing ice cube! It had X-Fusion Organic mango & passion fruit liqueur, Parrot Bay coconut rum, and pineapple juice. I thought mine was refreshing, but...after I took a sip of this pretty blush-colored cocktail...I just wanted to keep on sipping for more! I kinda really wanted to just steal her drink! :P It's tropical flavor was ideal for the hot, sunny afternoon.

We didn't stop with drinks, though. No, no, of course not. The birthday girl ordered the Bayside Fish Tacos, Charlie and I split the Tri Tip Sliders, and then we all shared the Lobster Nachos. That's right. Lobster nachos. Crispy tortilla chips are smothered in what seems like a few pounds of toppings. Black beans, roasted poblano peppers, fresh slices of jalapeno, pico de gallo, melted gooey cheese, chipotle crema, more cilantro...And, oh yeah, the lobster. Sweet, tender chunks top this monster bowl of nachos.

The fish tacos were made with marinated & grilled Mahi Mahi, shredded cabbage, pico de gallo, radish slices, and more of that chipotle crema. But the big star? Charlie and I could not stop talking about the Tri Tip Sliders. The merlot-marinated tri tip sat on brioche buns and was topped with a mojo criollo and onion strings. The meat was buttery tender and had a savory, robust flavor from the red wine. In contrast to that, the garlicky mojo was bright, herbaceous, and zesty, and the fried onions provided crunch. I love using sweet bread for sliders, and the brioche bun was perfect with a toasted outside yet soft inside.

After indulging in our adults-only happy hour, we went to find the rest of our group. But, first! More drinks! Okay, so we got a little sidetracked on our way to Cars Land. Stacey and I had a couple lime margaritas from Rita's Baja Blenders, but Charlie had the Tower 10 IPA from the Karl Strauss Biergarten.

When we actually did reconnect with the rest of the family, the line for Hollywood Tower of Terror was so short that we couldn't resist getting on. This was going to be either a good thing or a very bad thing......Thankfully, it was the former and not the latter. The only "bad" part was that we literally walked right up to the elevator. No wait. No time to mentally prepare ourselves. (Ughhh, I can't handle this ride!)

The last day of our trip was Stacey's actual birthday, so we got together for a very special lunch at Blue Bayou. I hadn't eaten there in awhile, so I was stoked!  Pirates of the Caribbean--from the drops in the dark, to the catchy tune of "Yo ho! A Pirate's Life for Me"--is my absolute favorite ride. (I mean, the smell of ride water. Come on.) There's just something about eating *in* the middle of the actual ride that is just...So. Cool...Under an eternal "night" sky. With the sounds of crickets and frogs around you, only lit by paper lanterns and candles...Love it.

Blue Bayou has a New Orleans/Cajun-style menu, offering a fine dining experience with staples like Isla Cruces Crab Cakes with lobster beurre blanc & mango slaw, Buccaneer's Short Ribs in a Zinfandel demi-glaze (which Charlie had), and 5-pepper-encrusted Beef Strip Loin roasted over rock salt (which Stacey had).

*I'd like to note that I used the flashlight app on my dad's phone and Stacey as my flashlight-holder in order to take these photos. I tried to do what I could, considering the "nighttime" conditions, without looking ridiculous...
My meal started with the House Salad of mixed greens, shaved red onion and radish, dried cherries, candied pecans, crumbled feta cheese, and a housemade sherry vinaigrette. The combination of different sweet and sour flavors was a great way to wake up my palate. The creamy cheese was definitely necessary to round everything out and relieve my taste buds from a lot of sharp flavors, too.

Off of the seasonal-specials menu, I ordered the Wild Boar Chop with a blood orange-sundried fruit reduction, Tower of Terror potato stack, and sauteed green beans. Our server even notified me that my wait would be a little longer because each generously portioned, double-cut chop is pan-roasted and made to order. The verdict? Absolutely worth the wait. The wild boar had a spiced, golden brown crust, and the meat was tender, juicy, and flavorful (but not overly gamey). I also really enjoyed the sweetness of the red currants, the earthiness of the reduced wine, and the balance from the buttery pine nuts in the sauce. Piling on to the richness, the "Tower of Terror" potato stack wasn't terrifying in the least. Baked with Brie and a touch of cream, I could eat a whole bowl of these thinly-sliced potatoes. By itself. Amazing.

Our lunch came to a sweet end when our server brought out a "surprise" chocolate mousse with Mickey Mouse sprinkles and a candle for Stacey to blow out. :) My nephew Jon, however, ended up eating all of it...

It was a fun-family-and-food-filled weekend, and I was so glad I got to celebrate Stacey's birthday with her! I hope this post gives all of you college students/parents/foodies/etc. some ideas on where to go to take a grown-up break. I can't wait for the next trip and the chance to check out the Disney parks again, the adult way ;)