On Thursday, September 5th fans of food, fun, and the Children’s Hospital of Orange County descended on Downtown Disney for the annual Taste of Downtown Disney at the Disneyland Resort. Each year, this special event continues the efforts of the CHOC Walk to raise money for CHOC.
Each year different establishments at Downtown Disney District provides culinary experiences that include tastes from their food and beverage menus. On top of that, there are generally a few premium experiences that give some guests a unique experience on top of the incredible food that is being offered during the event.
The event began for the DAPS MAGIC team at the Disneyland Hotel. Registration was there along with some beverages, a photo op, and a collection of incredible people. Guests chatted with each other while waiting for the event to start.
At 6:00, our group (the red group), began the evening’s culinary adventures at Tortilla Jo’s. It was no surprise that the guacamole would be a highlight there. What was a surprise was the Taquitos de Barbacoa. They were DELICIOUS and one of my favorite tastes of the evening. The accompanying Tomalitos de Mole was also quite good. There were several drinks on hand as well. They included 88 Blanco Tequila Margaritas, Refreshing Alfalfa Pina Water, and Traditional Fresh Strawberry. Everything at Tortilla Jo’s was delicious and really a confirmation of why this restaurant is always busy.
The next stop for us was Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen. As always, a highlight here was the music. They served Cajun Flat Bread and Pan Seared Sea Scallop here. Both were delicious and the sea scallop was actually one of my favorite individual bites of the evening. It was served on a noodle salad which was also good but the scallop was awesome! There was also two types of wine served here. One was a Sauvignon Blanc from Honig in Napa Valley vintage 2018. The other was a Red Wine Blend from Inception in California from 2016.
Catal Restaurant came next. Mini Paellas and Nashville Chicken Sliders were served here. The paellas were definitely the winner between the two. Caitlyn, my photographer for the night, thought it was the best thing she ate all night! They also served a fun fizzy drink (dry ice in the bottom) called a Purple Galaxy or an Old Fashioned. The view at Catal is always beautiful and Thursday night was absolutely no exception.
After Catal, a portion of our group broke off from the rest to experience our premium experience. This was at Pop-Up Disney!. There, we did exactly what you would expect and learned about the creation of ice cream flavors at Salt & Straw. Then we were given a flavor of ice cream uniquely created for the event! It was absolutely delicious and had chocolate cupcake and potato chip flavors combined! Once the ice cream had been consumed, it was photo time. For the next twenty minutes or so we had a blast taking pictures throughout Pop-Up Disney! It really was an unexpected highlight of the night as well. I had no clue just how much fun that experience was for guests visiting it this summer. It really is more than just taking Instagram pictures. It really is almost like a young adult art gallery dedicated to Disney, specifically Mickey Mouse, that you get to interact with and take pictures at.
Really, after Pop-Up Disney!, and the ice cream, of course, we would have been completely satisfied with the evening. However, there was still more to be eaten and experienced. While we were there, our group had moved on to La Brea Bakery, and then Naples Ristorante e Bar. However, we were asked to get some coverage of the SpeakEasy so we made a quick detour there.
The SpeakEasy was in a special room upstairs at Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen. A jazz trio provided absolutely wonderful entertainment. There were also drinks and beignets on hand to enjoy. The ambiance in the room was simply magical. If you like jazz in a great location with incredible food and drinks with it, this is definitely the premium experience to sign up for!
After enjoying some jazz, we made our way over to Splitsville Luxury Lanes to connect with our group. Splitsville is one of my favorite places in Downtown Disney. It has a great atmosphere, the staff is always fun, the view is amazing, and I enjoy the food as well. They were serving an Asian Meatball, Sushi Combo, and The Pig and Fig Flatbread along with Cucumber Fresca and Spiked Watermelon-Mint Lemonade. All of this was enjoyable and definitely made me realize just how much good food I had eaten throughout the course of the evening.
The final destination for the night was the Downtown Disney District main stage. There, DJ Wendy welcomed all in attendance and got the final segment of the night going. There were coffee and desserts available here. However, being so full from everything earlier, I just enjoyed the coffee. This part of the evening consisted of KTLA 5’s Henry DiCarlo thanking all who came, the sponsors, and also the contributing restaurants and establishments for the evening. He then welcomed up artist Jimmy Mulligan who painted a picture right on the spot. The picture was a carousel horse inspired by Mary Poppins and was simply beautiful! It was then auctioned off to raise even more money for CHOC, adding an extra $2,500 to the proceeds of the night that were all destined to support CHOC.
The Taste of Downtown Disney is a yearly tradition that isn’t just a lot of fun, but it also makes a lot of difference. It is something that could easily be offered by Disney as a special hard-ticketed event. However, it is an event that exists solely to help support CHOC and that makes it even better. Everyone comes together to make a difference and have some fun doing it!
There are still a few more days to support this year’s CHOC Walk in the Park. If you would like to support, please go to chocwalk.org/dapsmagic right now and donate any amount you possibly can. Every little bit makes a big difference!
Next year, it will be the 30th annual CHOC Walk in the Park! It probably is reasonable to guess that it will be an extra special year! Make sure to register (preferably for team DAPS MAGIC) as early as you can and also get your tickets for Taste of Downtown Disney as early as possible before it sells out! You won’t want to miss either! They are both incredible experiences that make an incredible difference!