When: July 17, 2015, 11:30 AM
Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue is an “all you
can eat care to enjoy” restaurant in Frontierland. They have two services (lunch and dinner), with a small variation between them in terms of what you get. Lunch service includes:
- Barbecue chicken and ribs
- Cole slaw
- Ranch beans
- Corn bread
Dinner includes all of that, as well as smoked sausage and “corn cob wheels”. (We will do dinner service in a future post, and let you know what we think of those, too.)
UPDATE: Our dinner review is now available.
Big Thunder feels secluded and sedate, mostly due to its location (it’s tucked away from the main park thoroughfares, on the path between Fantasyland and Frontierland, just north of Big Thunder Mountain). If you want a nice respite after a long morning of hard-core Theme Parkin’, you would do well to book a lunch here. Big Thunder Barbecue also has live music and entertainment, and the Cast Members are universally friendly.
Oh, and the food is terrific.
Big Thunder isn’t the cheapest dining option in the park, but I consider it excellent value for the money. They seem to do everything right here:
- The barbecue sauce is tangy and flavorful, without being too sweet or oily;
- The chicken is moist and delicious (and you can ask for thighs or drumsticks, depending on your preference);
- The ribs are perfectly cooked (it’s not fall-off-the-bone, but it’s close):
- The beans are very good, overall (not too dry, not too sugary);
- The cole slaw is light and crisp (they use a vinaigrette instead of a mayonnaise);
- The corn bread is warm, moist, and delicious.
Seriously: not a bad bite in the bunch.
The big “problem” with Big Thunder Barbecue is that the sides are too damn tasty. It’s easy to fill up on corn bread and beans while you wait for your next portion of chicken and ribs to arrive; once the second wave of meat shows up, your stomach is letting you know it might need a bit of time to work off what you’ve already sent down, thankyouverymuch.
A couple of additional notes: if you’ve got a gluten or dairy issue, Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue will swap (or augment) your corn bread with gluten-free/dairy-free rolls (and in fact, when we mentioned that one of our party had a dairy sensitivity, one of the chefs came out to our table to discuss things and make sure they were accommodating — go, Disney!).
For drinks, our party did iced tea and Arnold Palmers. Both were fine.
Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue is one of my favorite lunch spots in Disneyland, and one of the places I like to take friends that are new to the park or just occasional visitors. Try it sometime – you won’t be sorry.
UPDATE: As of January 2016, this dish is no longer available.