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Where to eat in the Anaheim Resort District?

Posted by on Apr 14, 2015 in Travel | 0 comments

Disneyland may be its own world, but it’s at the center of the Anaheim Resort District, a swirling galaxy of hotels, restaurants, and shops. Which means that, even outside of the Park’s hedge-ringed atmosphere, there are a multitude of places to get something to eat.

Whether you’re attending an event at the Anaheim Convention Center (like Star Wars Celebration this weekend) or finishing up a day at the theme parks, I’ve gathered some suggestions to help you navigate nearby options and locate local flavor.

1. Downtown Disney and Disney Hotels

(or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Mouse)

While I’m always on the lookout for quirky independent eateries, there’s nothing wrong with embracing la vita Disney when you’re in Mickey’s backyard. Here are some noteworthy Disney Resort restaurants with no Park admission required.

In Disney Hotels:

In Downtown Disney:

  • House of Blues – Last time I was in Anaheim, we headed over here after a day of Disneyland with a bunch of relatives. It has an entire 2-level music hall inside. More pertinent to that particular moment, however, they serve alcohol.
  • Earl of SandwichSarah’s pick for a quick bite.
  • Catal Restaurant – frequently recommended as one of the best restaurants in Downtown Disney.

Find character dining, menus, accessibility, hours, etc. on Disneyland Resort’s site.

2. Non-Disney Hotel Restaurants

The whole area is practically solid hotels and most (if not all) of them have a restaurant. Or two. Or their own food court.

  • Pizza Press at Carousel Inn & Suites - Paul Barrie of the Window to the Magic podcast recommended this place, which has a build-your-own-pizza concept that sounds similar to Fired Pie here in Phoenix.
  • Chambers Bar & Bistro at Hotel Indigo Anaheim features a “casual gourmet menu” with sandwiches, local produce, and seasonal desserts. (Full disclosure: Hotel Indigo will be putting us up but didn’t ask for this mention. The menu looks good, though, right?)
  • Anaheim Marriott on southwest side of Convention Center has a bar/restaurant called nFuse, a Starbucks, and a Pizza Hut.
  • Hilton Anaheim on west side of Convention Center:
    • Just Grillin’ Express – Burgers, salads, and fries (spicy or not) made from ingredients delivered daily. The main (and I believe only other) location is about 30 miles north in Alhambra.
    • Submarina – a Southern California based sub sandwich chain
    • Baja Fresh Express
    • Sbarro

3. Food trucks

During Star Wars Celebration, at least 15 chef-owned food trucks local to Southern California will be on the Convention Center’s Grand Plaza. They’ll be open until 9pm Thursday through Saturday and until 5:30p on Sunday. Here’s a sampling:

4. Anaheim Convention Center

While concessions are run by food service giant Aramark, the Convention Center takes its sourcing so seriously that it purchased its own herd of free-range, grass-fed cattle raised through Hearst Ranch and Jack Ranch. The result is local, hormone-free, antibiotic-free beef, certified by the Humane Farm Animal Care and Food Alliance.

Food and beverage may vary by event, but here’s what will be on offer during Star Wars Celebration (admission required):

Hearst Ranch Grill - All-beef hamburgers from the Convention Center’s herd (see above), salmon burgers, veggie burgers, and chicken burgers.

Lobby - ecoGrounds / Java City featuring Rain Forest Allianced Certified, USDA Organic, Fair Trade coffee and espresso drinks, along with all-natural fruit smoothies.

Hall A Food Court

  • In-house sausages and gourmet hot dogs
  • Fresh-baked pizzas and stromboli
  • Hearst Ranch prime rib sandwiches
  • Made-to-order sandwiches
  • “Grab-n-Go” stand: salads, sandwiches, fruit cups, yogurt parfaits, whole fruit, beverages, wraps, pastries, hot pretzels, churros, chips

Hall B

  • Moe’s Southwest Grill – burritos and taco salads.
  • Hearst Ranch Grill
  • “Grab-n-Go” stand – salads, sandwiches, fruit cups, yogurt parfaits, whole fruit, beverages, wraps, pastries, hot pretzels, churros, chips.

Exhibit Hall Courtyards

  • Gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches
  • Street taco stand – beef, chicken and pork tacos and burritos
  • Hearst Ranch barbecue stand

Portable stands throughout Halls

  • Soft serve ice cream stands
  • Urban Wok with flavorful rice bowls
  • Candy store – house-made giant cookies, chocolate, caramel-dipped apples and other sweet treats
  • Bars with local craft beers on tap

- More info -

Where do you like to eat in Anaheim?

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Valleys Run through the Mountains

Posted by on Apr 13, 2015 in Life, Travel | 8 comments

Life can be such an off-balance mix of highs and lows, beautiful moments and heartbreaking ones all scrambled together.

A week ago, I was feeling a little sunburned from an Easter picnic with my cousins. I was checking in with my mom about RSVPs for her and my dad’s fast-approaching 60th birthday celebration. I was also helping my brother and sister-in-law in Seattle plan to come into town secretly and make a surprise appearance at the party. I was getting ready for our Anaheim trip.


Then, Thursday evening, I got a text that made the world stop. My cousin was in the ICU, and it didn’t look like she’d make it. My mom picked me up on the way to the hospital, and we joined the family that was already there, hugging and crying and saying goodbye. She passed later that night. It feels heavy and unjust and unreal. 


She had already let her adult children know her wishes, including the fact she didn’t want her memorial service to be gloomy. Everyone is supposed to wear purple. Since it’s not scheduled for this week, we decided to go ahead with our convention plans. Not going wouldn’t bring her back, and a change of scenery could be really good right now.

So we’ll go – with these heavy hearts, this mix of emotions – to just outside the happiest place on earth.  

Microblog Mondays

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Star Wars Geeks Unite!

Posted by on Apr 6, 2015 in Travel | 2 comments

Yes, we are really going to the Star Wars Celebration convention.

It’s held every 2-3 years-ish (bi-triennial? quasi-triennial?) This time it’s at the Anaheim Convention Center, so we’ll be right across from Disneyland without time to actually go to Disneyland. Maybe we’ll catch the fireworks.


I will, of course, be focusing on the makers. And there are a lot of them. (At the Re:Make ConferenceChris Taylor said that most of the Star Wars fan community makes something.)


Anyway, we may sneak in a tiny bit of sightseeing on the way there or back. Either way, I’m sure we’ll have interesting stories to tell you.


Microblog Mondays

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Drinks at a desert dive

Posted by on Apr 1, 2015 in Travel | 0 comments

After a long flight, we wanted to work in some sightseeing during our layover. The suns’ heat was so intense that we ended up just ducking into the first place we found that was open. It turned out to be this dimly lit, somewhat sketchy bar. It was packed full of pilots and travelers, drinking or smoking hookah pipes. They even had live music, which seemed odd at midday.


It was gritty, but actually not too bad for a dive bar in the middle of the desert. The drink menu included local favorites like the Desert Bloom and the Meltdown. I ordered a vegan Juri Juice, which came in a cool collectible jar. Phillip stuck with Blue Milk. I later found out some pretty intense fights had broken out there in the past. But that was a long time ago, and we didn’t have any problems.

One Yelp review called the cantina “a wretched hive of scum and villainy,” which just goes to show, you shouldn’t believe everything you read.


PS For more out-of-this world cocktail ideas, check out this post on Getting Hammered in a Galaxy Far, Far Away.

Disclosure: We did not receive any compensation from the Mos Eisley Cantina for this review. In fact, I can’t even confirm that we ever left our home planet. While April 1st is the only day you’ll hear about our layover on Tatooine, we are actually
headed to Star Wars Celebration in a couple weeks, and we’ll be sure to tell you all about that.

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Open to creativity

Posted by on Mar 30, 2015 in Craft | 2 comments

About a dozen people of all ages showed up for my workshop at Southwest Maker Fest Saturday.


I talked a little about making minimalist travel journals that you can start during your trip. Then I gave everyone an envelope with odds and ends to represent what you might pick up on your travels — attraction flyers, paper scraps, coffee sleeves, Travelcraft Journal stickers, etc. Then I set them loose to create something that told the story of their day.


Because the room I was assigned to was in a children’s museum, some of the parents assumed it was a “kid thing” and were surprised when I handed them an envelope to create one too. Also, the open-endedness of the project freaked a few people out a bit at first.


But, by the end, everyone — kids and adults — really got creative and made some fabulous things. They journaled, they drew, some of them went outside the booklet format and got architectural, building things with their materials.


I love seeing people open up to creativity.


Microblog Mondays

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Wildflower hunt

Posted by on Mar 26, 2015 in Travel | 0 comments

Phillip and I went out looking for wildflowers. We found lots along the roadside and just a few sprinkled beyond that.

We also found the Picket Post trailhead.



We spotted some cactus wrens, some beat up old Saguaros, and the Silly Mountain Botanical Walk. Yes, there’s a Silly Mountain. With its own botanical walk. My state has some of the most ridiculous place names. (Why, Arizona)



Anyway, it was a nice little path with some wildflowers and blooming prickly pear cactus.



image    image



It wasn’t what we’d expected, but I’d still call it a success.


PS The latest edition of the newsletter went out today. If you didn’t get it, let me know.

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