When I first moved to Anaheim 23 years ago, there was a strawberry field where Downtown Disney us now located. The resort added this outdoor dining and shopping mall in 2001, and it was an immediate hit with visitors and locals alike. It's adjacent to both the Disneyland Hotel and Disneyland, with its own monorail station. Best of all, visitors get three hours of free parking, though visitors to the park are discouraged from parking there.
Downtown Disney (DTD from now on) has a number of restaurants including a Rainforest Cafe, House of Blues, ESPN Zone, and my personal favorite, Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen. I love the colorful umbrellas hanging from the ceiling.
You can smell the beignets as you approach the Jazz Kitchen, and the architecture is reminiscent of New Orleans's French Quarter, one of my favorite places in the world. The menu reflects the Big Easy's signature Creole and Cajun cuisine, but with "Disney" spices, probably because DTD caters to families and kids aren't always very adventurous in their food choices. Cajun food can be red hot, but not at DTD. The Jazz Kitchen's food is subtly spiced, much to the relief of my finicky stomach. We went there on Christmas day and dined on Cajun roasted turkey breast, probably the best turkey dinner I've ever had. They're very good about letting people split an order, and believe me, it was more than enough food for the two of us.
We recently returned and split California Club Sandwich: Toasted sourdough bread, smoked bacon, Cajun roasted turkey breast, sliced tomatoes and avocado mayonnaise. (Yes, that's half of the sandwich.) We asked for Creole seasoned French fries instead of the jalapeño and bacon potato salad that normally comes with the club sandwich. The Jazz Kitchen Cheeseburger, made of ground filet mignon cooked to order with Jack cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, onions and pickles is also delicious. LOL, can you tell I love to eat?
DTD also has a movie theater and a number of retail stores, including the Lego Imagination Center, and Compass Books, the only retail bookstore in Anaheim.
There are disadvantages to living in a tourist mecca, bad traffic being the worst one, but there are advantages, too. One of the latter is being able to to visit during the off season. Another is that there's always a restaurant open, even on a national holiday. One of the bad things is the cyclical nature of tourism and it's ups and downs as the economy fluctuates. Anaheim relies on hotel taxes for much of its revenue, and the downturn in the economy has hit hard here. The library system has had to cut back on hours. I don't expect things to bounce back soon, but I'm hoping I'm wrong.
It's spring break, but when my DH and I visited Downtown Disney in late March, the crowd was sparse to say the least. I asked our waiter if business was down this year compared to last and he said that it seemed to be, though things had picked up after a slow winter. Let's hope they pick up soon.
My Town Monday is the brilliant brain child of writer/blogger Travis Erwin. Thanks, Travis! Go to his blog to read his latest post and find links to the other participants.