When: March 6, 2016, 11:30 AM
River Belle Terrace is a table-service restaurant in Frontierland. It’s located near Pirates of the Caribbean, and faces the Rivers of America.
Disney updated the River Belle in early 2016, changing it from a counter service, salad-n-sandwich establishment to a sit-down restaurant that focuses on barbecue, pulled pork, and fried chicken sandwiches. This was done after January’s closure of Big Thunder Barbecue (a casualty of the Star Wars Land expansion), which had historically been the go-to spot for good-quality barbecue in the park. Disney moved the barbecue here, upgraded the entire menu, and, well, there you go.
We loved lunch at Big Thunder Barbecue. So we ordered the Pork Spareribs to see how they survived the move to their new digs here at the River Belle Terrace.
The presentation is simple and clean. You’re treated to six ribs, stacked neatly, with a side of beans and a second side of your choosing. (Options are tangy coleslaw, seasoned tater bits, potato salad, or seasonal vegetables.) Elaine’s a sucker for tots, so we picked the tater bits.
The ribs are very high quality. They’re cooked perfectly: not “fall off the bone,” but close, and they came apart easily with either a knife and a fork (her) or teeth (me). The meat is juicy and tender; the sauce is just the right amount of tangy and sweet. This is delicious stuff.
The baked beans are fine, but nothing special. I preferred the beans at Big Thunder – they seemed heartier and sweeter then these, which feel thin and slightly vinegary.
Finally, the “seasoned tater bits” are straight-up tater tots with a light cajun seasoning on them. They’re not remarkable. Get a side of ketchup to go with them, and you could be eating them anywhere in the US of A.
I absolutely recommend this dish. It’s a solid replacement for Big Thunder Barbecue (Elaine actually thinks it’s a bit better), and certainly the best barbecue in the park. The sides are good accompaniments. Everything works well together.
One final note: you’ll want reservations. With the new menu, River Belle Terrace is popular. We were unable to get reservations through disneyland.com, so elected to go standby … and were lucky, because we arrived right when the restaurant opened. The place got pretty busy almost instantly, and there was a sizable queue of people waiting outside. Plan ahead.