Best & Worst Burgers at Disneyland

12 min read

If you’re doing a cheeseburger crawl of Disneyland and California Adventure, you might be disappointed. Despite the classic all-beef entree being a staple of counter service menus, there are only a handful of them that are actually good-to-great. This list covers that issue, highlighting the best & worst burgers in Disneyland Resort’s parks, hotels, Downtown Disney, and beyond.

Burgers are my passion; cheeseburgers are my calling–spreading the good word is perhaps my life’s mission. If it weren’t for my doctor being a total buzzkill, I’d eat burgers for 4 meals per day. I enjoy eating adventurously and trying new cuisine, but nothing hits the spot like a good burger. It is the perfect food and is almost irresistible to me when I spot an intriguing one on a restaurant menu. To that point, I have a lot of experience with burgers at Disneyland Resort, and taste-tested it all: good, bad, and ugly.

In fact, this post has been “in progress” for ages now. The original draft actually predates the pandemic, and part of the reason I’ve been holding off on publishing the last few years was because several one-time favorites have yet to return. At this point, it’s seems increasingly unlikely that they will. So here we are, with a sadly short and limited list.

On a positive note, I’ll continue to taste-test burgers at Disneyland, revisiting familiar favorites to confirm their excellence and evaluating newcomers to determine whether they’re worthy, all for the sake of very important research. As Walt Disney famously said, this list of the best burgers at “Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.”

With that in mind, I do want to start with an important caveat. This list is not nearly as long or useful as its counterpart for Walt Disney World. It’s not as long because, quite simply, there aren’t as many standout burgers at Disneyland. It’s not as useful because the restaurants with the best burgers at Disneyland also often have other menu items that are fantastic. By contrast, the top burgers at Walt Disney World are quite often among the top few menu items.

Just worth keeping that in mind as we dig into this list of the best burgers at Disneyland, Disney California Adventure, Downtown Disney, and the Hotels of Disneyland Resort…

Black Tap Craft Burgers & Shakes – Perhaps the most popular restaurant in Downtown Disney, there’s an almost perpetual line to order at Black Tap Craft Burgers & Shakes. Honestly, I think it’s a bit overrated, but Black Tap is still very good.

Black Tap’s claim to fame is the award-winning Greg Norman, which consists of a 1/2 lb Wagyu Beef Burger, House Buttermilk-Dill, Blue Cheese, and Arugula. That and the Wagyu Steakhouse Burger and Truffle Burger are the most popular options, and they’re all good. But honestly, I think the Pizza Burger or Mexico City might be the best burgers on the menu at Black Tap.

Carnation Cafe – This iconic spot on Main Street in Disneyland is home to two iconic burgers (or burger-adjacent food products), the Parmesan Toasted Patty Melt and the Carnation Café Cheeseburger. Both feature the same mouth-watering Angus Chuck Patty, and are worthy of inclusion on this list.

If I could only order one, it’s gotta be the Parmesan Toasted Patty Melt. It is pure perfection, the quintessential greasy spoon entree. The patties, grilled onions, cheese, and house sauce come together to form a juicy and delicious burger, and one that tests the limits of the Toasted Parmesan Sourdough Bread.

It passes with flying colors, holding up under the weight of all that while adding its own flavors and textures. The Carnation Café Cheeseburger is more straightforward–a classic diner burger, but lacks the addictively delicious and unique flavors of the Patty Melt.

Lamplight Lounge – The popular table service spot overlooking Pixar Pier is home to a variety of beloved items, and it’s difficult to deviate from the iconic Lobster Nachos during a normal meal. Fortunately(?), those aren’t available on Lamplight Lounge’s brunch menu. There are still a variety of great options that can make choosing difficult, but at least the Brunch Burger has a fighting chance here.

The Brunch Burger consists of a Grilled Custom Burger Blend with American Cheese, One Egg-up, Hash Brown Patty, Roasted Green Chile, Lettuce, Caramelized Onions and Paprika Aïoli on a toasted Amish Bun with Fresh Fruit. Now that’s what I call a brunch burger!

And holy cow does the Brunch Burger deliver on its description and name. The beef blend is tender and juicy, and not the kind of patty that “needs” to be concealed by egg or sauces. To the contrary, those things here only add to and enhance the flavor, providing nice texture, a mild kick–and a huge mess–to this item.

Don’t order the Brunch Burger if you want to eat a tidy and proper meal; do order it if you want something fantastic and don’t mind running to the restroom when you’re finished to wash your hands. The only downside is that it’s paired with fruit–as if to serve as a reminder that you don’t need anything else unhealthy–instead of more breakfast-y deliciousness. (That’s easy enough to “overcome” by ordering the Indulgent French Toast for “dessert.”)

Hearthstone Lounge – The “problem” with each of the next two entries is that they are found on two of the deepest menus in all of Disneyland Resort, making it difficult to recommend them over the other alternatives. However, that’s not an indictment of the burgers themselves. To the contrary, these are two true standouts.

Let’s start with the Seasonal Burger at Hearthstone Lounge, the Grand Californian Hotel’s lobby bar. This Seasonal Burger currently consists of American Wagyu Patty, Sonoma Sharp White Cheddar, Avocado, Lettuce, Tomato, Bacon-Shallot Jam on a Herb Focaccia Bun.

I don’t know what about the Hearthstone burger makes it seasonal–perhaps the toppings differ based on what vegetables are in season? Maybe the wagyu cows wear sweaters in the winter? Does California have a bacon jam season?! (I’m going to feel really stupid when someone shares the very obvious explanation as to why it’s seasonal.)

Regardless, the Seasonal Burger at Hearthstone Lounge is absolutely fantastic. The patty is tender, thick, and juicy with just the right amount of fattiness and a deeply rich flavor. Everything else is just perfect, with the veritable vegetable garden of toppings on a thick foundation of avocado gives this otherwise indulgent burger a quasi-healthy quality. The bun also works really well, managing to contain all of those ingredients with relative ease.

GCH Craftsman Grill & Bar – A stone’s throw from Hearthstone Lounge, you’ll find the GCH Craftsman Bar (outdoor table service lounge by the pool) and GCH Craftsman Grill (indoor/outdoor counter service restaurant beyond the bar). These sister locations are home to the most stacked menu of any mid-tier restaurant at Disneyland Resort.

One of the many highlights here is the Mediterranean Wagyu Burger. This also consists of an American Wagyu Patty, Tzatziki Sauce and Red Onion-Feta Salad on an Herb Bun. This illustrates how you can take the same foundation–an American Wagyu Beef Patty–and turn it into something totally different.

Even the animating idea is similar here to Hearthstone–heavy burger with a deep umami flavor, with lighter toppings to offset that. As is the case there, the Mediterranean Wagyu Burger delivers its contrasting concepts. The tzatziki sauce and feta cheese provides a tangy and refreshing quality that, along with the bun and seasoning, almost provides an earthy quality.

Of the two, this is the more unique burger, but it’s also the more taste-specific one. By contrast, the Hearthstone offering is a crowd-pleaser that everyone is sure to love. (Well, I guess it’s possible some people don’t like avocado.) Personally, I love them both. With that said, the Mediterranean Wagyu Burger is still only my 4th favorite item on the GCH Craftsman menus. (I’ve had it many, many times–we eat at GCH Craftsman Grill more than anywhere at Disneyland Resort.)

Tangaroa Terrace Tropical Bar & Grill – The Angus 1/2 lb Hawaiian Cheeseburger has been on the menu at Tangaroa Terrace for as long as I can remember, surviving multiple menu overhauls. Disney has also highlighted the ‘recipe’ for the burger on multiple occasions, so I can only assume this has a cult following among Disneyland fans.

To be entirely honest, I’m only including it because the list is otherwise way too light on options. The fresh grilled pineapple, sweet & spicy sauce, and havarti cheese help it stand out from a normal counter service burger, but that’s not really saying much. Almost all of the counter service burgers at Disneyland either under or overwhelm thanks to bland patties and too many or too few other toppings. This burger is just fine. The patty is higher quality than the in-park locations, and these flavors of the toppings complement one another well, but it’s nothing truly special.

I wouldn’t recommend making a special trip to Tangaroa Terrace to order it, but it’s a worthwhile option if you’re already there and don’t know what to order. (The lunch and dinner menu is not nearly as good as breakfast at Tangaroa Terrace.) At the very least, it’s an ambitious burger that’s a cut above counter service standards. However, this burger absolutely would not make the list at Walt Disney World.

Honorable Mention: In-N-Out Burger – No list of mine concerning the best burgers at Disneyland would be complete without doing some totally unnecessary free advertising for In-N-Out Burger. In case you’ve missed my countless plugs in the past, check out my Consummate Carnivore’s Guide to In-N-Out Burger for why I love the place so much.

Like Disneyland, In-N-Out Burger is a California institution that is a must-do on any Disneyland vacation. That’s true whether you’re venturing beyond the parks or staying on-site in the Grand Californian Hotel and trying to maintain the “Disney Bubble” to the greatest extent possible. It’s worth bursting the bubble for In-N-Out. In fact, I have a sneaking suspicion that one reason Disneyland doesn’t have a competitive burger game is in large part because they know there’s no competing with the fast food of choice for most Californians.

In-N-Out is inexpensive and delicious, with a distinctive taste that you’ll be craving for months afterwards. My standard order here is two Double-Doubles Animal Style with raw onions in addition to grilled. All of that will set you back less than the cost of a standard burger at Galactic Grill, which is downright hilarious if you’ve ever eaten anything in Tomorrowland. The closest In-N-Out Burger to Disneyland is at 1168 State College Blvd. in Anaheim. It is not within walking distance, but it’s absolutely worth the cost of an Uber or Lyft to get there and back.

Worst Burgers at Disneyland – On that note, we’ll conclude with a quick run-through of the less than stellar burgers we’ve had at Disneyland recently. These include the following:

  • Galactic Grill – Bring back the Oktoberfest Burger. Now that was good. The current options…not so much!
  • Smokejumpers Grill – This counter service burger spot serves up three different double cheeseburgers, none of which are even remotely as good as they look in the Mobile Order stock photos.
  • Flo’s V8 Cafe – Nothing here is as good as it used to be. The Spicy Guacamole Bacon Cheeseburger isn’t awful relative to the rest of the menu or other burgers, but it’s not as good as anything at Flo’s V8 Cafe back in the day.

Beyond this, there’s the Classic Angus 1/3 lb Cheeseburger that can be found on a number of menus throughout Disneyland. There are some differences among these, such as a house sauce, different bun, or toppings.

Despite that, they pretty much all taste the same, with dry and overcooked patties and basic buns. These basically have to be drowning in dressing and toppings to overwhelm the meat and taste passable. Few accomplish that feat.

Finally, there’s the Potato & Cheddar Cheeseburger at Hungry Bear Restaurant, which is a new offering for the Disney100 Anniversary Celebration. I have yet to try this–it was my planned lunch for the return day of the Magic Happens Parade, but the weather forecast had other ideas.

I’m actually excited for this one–it sounds similar to the Chili Mac & Cheese Burger at Hungry Bear, which was surprisingly good. Sure, it’s a lot of potato, but I think there’s potential. Either way, I didn’t want to delay this post even longer, so I’ll report back once I have the chance to try that burger. Stay tuned!

Planning a Southern California vacation? For park admission deals, read Tips for Saving Money on Disneyland Tickets. Learn about on-site and off-site hotels in our Anaheim Hotel Reviews & Rankings. For where to eat, check out our Disneyland Restaurant Reviews. For unique ideas of things that’ll improve your trip, check out What to Pack for Disney. For comprehensive advice, consult our Disneyland Vacation Planning Guide. Finally, for guides beyond Disney, check out our Southern California Itineraries for day trips to Los Angeles, Laguna Beach, and many other SoCal cities!

Your Thoughts

Have you an awesome or awful burger at Disneyland Resort? What’s your favorite burger in the parks, hotels, or Downtown Disney? Any burgers you recommend avoiding? Do you agree or disagree with my best burger picks? Any questions? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!

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