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(Viktoria Cichoń / For The Times)

Staying outside the Disneyland Resort? Here’s where to eat close by in Anaheim

I do not like Disneyland.

I do not like its rides. I do not like its lines. I do not like its crowds. I do not like how Disney has tried to influence politics in my hometown of Anaheim for decades. I might be the only person in my life who feels this way.

My sister has an annual pass. My other sister was a regular at Dapper Days before the pandemic. Cousins and friends work for the Mouse; my wife always bugs me about when I’ll take her again.

Craft an epic visit to Disneyland and California Adventure with our comprehensive guide.
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I try not to go, but I go enough to know that the resort’s food has improved dramatically from the days we’d sneak in burritos. And I also know there’s far better food within minutes of the Happiest Place on Earth.

Disneyland’s location right off Harbor Boulevard and right next to the 5 Freeway means great eats are just a short drive to Little Saigon, to the rest of Orange County and north to Los Angeles. But for this list, I wanted to limit my suggestions to places where I’m a regular — in some cases, for most of my life. None of them are more than 10 minutes away. All exemplify the O.C. that I love.


Save money on your Disneyland visit with these quick and affordable dining options that won’t break the bank, including churros, popcorn, corn dogs and more.

April 20, 2023

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Writer and Anaheim local Gustavo Arellano's teenage years as seen in a beef teriyaki bowl from MOS 2, anointed with teriyaki sauce, and Tapatio.
(Gustavo Arellano/Los Angeles Times)

Mos 2

Anaheim Teriyaki $
When I was a kid, this low-slung brick building was a forgettable Mexican spot. Today, it’s the best outpost of an O.C. teriyaki mini-chain — two locations in Santa Ana, two in Anaheim — that‘s fed me since I attended Anaheim High School just down the street in the mid-1990s. It’s such a tradition for me and my cousins that they catered my bachelor party with a tray of the beef teriyaki, which left its Japanese American roots long ago to turn into a Mexican American delight: meat grilled a bit longer, cut a bit thinner, tossed with more scallions than usual, then dumped onto white rice, with ramekins of Tapatío and teriyaki sauce on the side. Drinking horchata with your bowl is mandatory.
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Freshly made falafel on a rectangular tray with orange sauce and sliced tomato and pickled turnip
(Scott Smeltzer / Daily Pilot)


Mediterranean $
Husband-and-wife team Mike Hawari and Nesrine Omari opened their falafel shop in 1996 on Brookhurst Avenue, creating one of the first Middle Eastern restaurants in what would become Anaheim’s Little Arabia district, the largest such enclave west of Michigan. Today, their son Kareem carries on his family’s recipes, adding American twists — jalapeño-studded falafels, falafel fries, a falafel burger — that never lets the flavor of his family’s fluffy, emerald-green stars suffer. Don’t overlook other Palestinian favorites like kibbeh, mosabaha and the fatteh, a massive bowl of steamed chickpeas, grilled beef and toasted pita bread bobbing with pine nuts.
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A hand holds up a paper-wrapped cone with pink ice cream before a sign that says "Tocumbo Ice Cream"
Gansito vasito from Tocumbo Ice Cream at 956 S Euclid, Anaheim.
(Kevin Clausen-Quiroz)

Tocumbo Ice Cream

Anaheim Mexican Ice cream $
Every time I visit my dad, I make sure to stop by this Mexican ice cream shop owned by Jennifer Clausen-Quiroz and her brother Ricky Quiroz. They’re from Tocumbo, Michoacán, the town that birthed all the La Michoacana ice cream emporiums that are as ubiquitous in Southern California nowadays as Baskin-Robbins. The scoops and paletas at this store are memorable, made daily with fresh fruit and reflective of pan-Latino flavors like nance, passion fruit, Mazapán and even Fervi, the almond-based chocolate from my ancestral hometown of Jerez, Zacatecas, that’s the best Mexican chocolate of them all.
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Two plates, one covered in foil with meat and a plastic fork sticking out, and one with tacos on it
(Don Leach / Daily PIlot)

Tacos Los Cholos

Anaheim Mexican $
At a time when my hometown is increasingly cracking down on unlicensed street vendors, places like this always-packed restaurant show that taqueros just need to be left alone. Los Cholos started in 2019 as a street stand, then took its mesquite-kissed meats grilled over an open flame to this location after health officials threatened to shut it down. Los Cholos has one location in Fullerton and is about to open another in Huntington Beach, but the mothership remains the best. Show up 10 minutes before it opens if you don’t want a half-hour wait. Or, maybe you do: Check out the massive grill in the back, and see everyone jostle for a table, from municipal workers to politicians to — yep! — cholos.
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white ice cream rolled up in logs with pistachios
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

Le Mirage Bakery

Bakery $$
Owner Maher Nakhal makes beautiful cakes and delicious cookies, and bakes Middle Eastern pastries ranging from baklava to knafeh to maamouls, plump shortbread cookies stuffed with pistachios, walnuts or dates that are among my favorite cookies of all time. But Nakhal is most famous for his bouza, a Syrian ice cream created by pounding a mixture of orchid flour and mastic with a massive wooden bat inside a freezer shaped like a drum. The result is a dough-like ice cream with a consistency like marshmallow upon which Nakhal sprinkles pistachios before serving it with fruit and rosewater in an elegant glass cup. It’s as sweet and unique as it sounds.
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Chilaquiles doused in sauce

Anepalco Modern Mexican

Mexican $$
I remember chef Danny Godinez when he opened up a small cafe near Children’s Hospital of Orange County in Orange and scandalized O.C.’s dining world with a cylindrical presentation of chilaquiles prepared like duck confit, fatty and spicy and just gorgeous. His take on Alta California food has only gotten better, and this branch of his empire ups the game of the original cafe (which still stands) with stiff cocktails that draw in a parade of out-of-towners from the nearby Anaheim Convention Center and Angel Stadium of Anaheim up the street. Come hungry: Godinez’s platters are as abundant as they are rich.
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pepporoni pizza with fresh basil
(Focaccia Boi)

Foccacia Boi 

Pizza $
I wish I could tell you the address where owner-chef Derek Bracho sets up his pizza pop-up, but I’ve never actually ordered directly from him — I always get his thick, cheesy creations via my siblings, cousins and friends. Bracho has weekly specials, which I really can’t remember because they all showcase what I like in my pizzas: sturdy crust, strong cheese and toppings with a freshness that perfectly plays off the savory crunch and chew of the rest. You need to order ahead and pick it up yourself, but that just makes scarfing it down back at your hotel room or on the drive home even better.
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A swirling chocolate soft-serve ice cream cone outside a shop with a red white and green awning
(Joe’s Italian Ice & Ice Cream)

Joe’s Italian Ice

Anaheim Ice cream $
Did I pick too many ice cream spots? No — now that the rains are gone, it’s going to get hot fast, and you need a late-night, family-friendly attraction for the kiddies anyway. So I like to end my nonalcoholic nights at this bright, loud tourist trap in the midst of hotels and motels. Disregard the silly names — is there an Italian American food provider that doesn’t lean on “Sopranos” references? — and partake in the pebbly Italian ice or silky soft-serve ice cream — or both, with the Joe Latti, a combo as righteous as Mickey and Minnie.
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