River Belle Terrace is a table service restaurant located in Disneyland’s Frontierland that specializes in Southern cuisine. The menu includes several barbecue staples like chicken, brisket, pulled pork, and even some BBQ Tofu for the vegetarians out there. River Belle Terrace has always been a quick service eatery, but Disney switched the restaurant over to table service after the closure of Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue. The restaurant has been the favorite breakfast spot of a lot of park guests over the years, with many of them enjoying a Mickey Pancake to start of their day, but now all breakfast items have been removed from the menu and lunch service doesn’t start until 11:30 AM. Luckily the same quick service breakfast menu items have been moved over to the nearby Rancho Del Zocalo. If you want to relive the days of enjoying breakfast at River Belle Terrace, you can pick up the food at Rancho Del Zocalo, and then walk over to the seating located outside of River Belle and Stage Door Cafe. Most of the outdoor seating remains open to all guests.
The menu has slightly fewer items than Disneyland’s other table service restaurants but it still offers a good amount of variety with what it does have. I have a feeling River Belle will be popular with picky eaters as it’s hard to go wrong with meat or chicken. Also it’s easy to see the appeal of something like a Pulled Pork Sandwich to power you through a long day of theme park touring.
What is surprising about River Belle Terrace is the price. Entrees hover around $20, which makes it the second most expensive restaurant in the park. Sure, each restaurant needs to be reviewed as it’s own thing, and I’ll get to that. But first lets look at this from inside the Disneyland bubble. What is the “hook” at River Belle Terrace? Why would you eat here over the other table locations? If your answer is simply, “I want to eat barbecue food tonight,” then River Belle will be perfect for you. But I’m thinking about it like a tourist or infrequent-visitor would. At Blue Bayou, entrees are $10 to $15 more, but there you get some generous portions of steak, a beautiful atmosphere, and the novelty of eating inside one of the most iconic theme park attractions on the planet. At Cafe Orleans prices are cheaper, and you can get the legendary Monte Cristo Sandwich, the fan favorite Pommes Frites, or some delicious crepes. At Carnation Cafe, you’ll pay less than River Belle, as well as enjoy some fantastic food (like my favorite Disneyland table service entree, the Homemade Meatloaf), and there’s the novelty of eating on Main Street. What I’m trying to say is that if you’re spending the money and taking time out of your vacation to eat a restaurant in Disneyland, then go for the options that have more to offer because overall this is a relativity bare bones and expensive experience.
As you can see the interior of River Belle Terrace is nothing to sneeze. Nice colors, light fixtures, etc, but in my opinion it’s not as interesting as eating on Main Street at Carnation Cafe or in New Orleans Square at Cafe Orleans.
This is the other side of the restaurant. As you can see, all of the fixtures from River Belle’s counter service days are still inside and in view. Including condiment bars, queue railings, sneeze guards, drink fridges, and more. It makes it look like they could switch back to quick service overnight if they wanted to. This makes me wonder if River Belle is intended to be table service in the long term. It’s worth mention that some changes were made backstage, such as the kitchen equipment from the retired Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue being moved and installed at this location.
With all that being said I did enjoy the food. The meal started off with a basket of biscuits. One for me, and one for my friend I was dining with. We were not offered a refill on biscuits. These are the same biscuits that have always been around at River Belle Terrace. They’re more on the hard side, but still good, and the included honey-butter is a nice topping for them.
I ordered Pork Spareribs because I figured this will end up being the most popular item on the menu, plus I wanted to compare them to the ribs at Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue. Six ribs are included, as well as baked beans (which I opted to substitute for Seasonal Vegetables), and a side. I enjoyed my ribs, the meat was very tender and savory. They’re more on the dry side, not dripping with barbecue sauce, which some of you may like or dislike.
These are the “Seasonal Vegetables.” Yes that is greens beans with a generous helping of bacon bits. The other side I chose was Seasoned Tater Bites, which were way better than I expected. They had a great flavor and were nice and crispy-but-not-too-crispy. I think if they sold these as a regular snack or quick service item in the park that they would be pretty popular.
My friend got the Beef Brisket Sandwich, which includes smoked provolone, fried onions, a toasted onion hoagie roll, and steak sauce-mayo. He commented that the brisket was nice and succulent. He also said he almost asked for no steak sauce-mayo on the sandwich, but was glad he didn’t because he ended up really enjoying that. I tried a bite and thought it tasted very similar to the Market French Dip at French Market (sold for $13.95).
For dessert I chose the Butterscotch Pudding Parfait which was so rich and delicious. The pudding was thick and full of flavor. I especially enjoyed the, what I assume are, some kind of doughnut-like substance in the middle. Great tasting dessert, but the $7 price tag is a bit much.
My friend got the Fried Cheesecake. Neither of us were too impressed with this dish. There wasn’t much crisp too it, the middle was lukewarm, and overall we found it to be a bit bland. For those reasons and the $8 price I’m going to have to say pass on this one.
Overall River Belle Terrace is a good, but expensive-for-what-it-is, dining option that you should try if you only care about the kind of food that is being served. In terms of taste and quality the new menu is definitely a big upgrade over the previous one, which also included Southern-style sandwiches. You probably wont be disappointed with you meal, but as I said before there are better options in Disneyland. Let me know what you think about River Belle Terrace in the comments below.