Thursday, February 20, 2020

Casa Mexicana

I have a group of photos (courtesy of our pal Mr. X) featuring Casa Mexicana in Frontierland. Of course this was the former Casa de Fritos, and later became Rancho El Zocalo.

Casa Mexicana opened in 1982, months after Casa de Fritos closed and after a remodeling of the exterior and interior. Here's a photo of the sign (kind of washed out by our nearby star). All the plants make this look like a very pretty little corner of the park.

The interior was the standard "buffeteria"-style eatery; grab your tray, load it up with whatever you want, pay at the register, and go find a seat! I like the dark wood, ceramic tiles, and muted stucco, brightened with colorful streamers on the ceiling.

Here's what's on the menu! From an image scrounged off of the web.

I'll have two enchiladas, a taco, rice and beans, and a Coke! 

There are more Casa Mexicana to come, so stay tuned.


TokyoMagic! said...

They were charging $1.25 for sour cream? Wow. Where do they get off?

They should have made all of those fake birds hanging from the ceiling, audio-animatronic!

I wonder what the cashier was doing away from her post, in that last pic? Harassing the customers in line, most likely.

That hot chocolate machine behind the counter, was just like the ones we had at Knott's. You know....the ones that dispensed an occasional swimming spider, along with the hot chocolate.

"Lou and Sue" said...

Unique views - thank you Mr. X and Major! While I'm thinking of it, I've been wanting to ask if Mr. X still takes pictures at Disneyland? If yes, it would be fun to see one of his current pictures, as I do love his photography work.

TokyoMagic! I've never had any spiders [that I know of] in my food or drinks, but I have found flies, on multiple occasions, in my salads - at classy restaurants, nonetheless. And I watched my husband, while eating a Dannon yogurt, years ago, pull a grasshopper leg out of his mouth . . . it was probably 2 inches long - an entire thick leg with joints, foot and 'barbs' still nicely attached.

On that happy note, I'll order the Plato Especial, with fresh guacamole and extra sour cream, please. No bugs.


TokyoMagic! said...

Sue, I remember eating at Arby's when I was very little and while we were at the counter waiting for our order, someone came up with their sandwich and showed the clerk that there was a fly in it. I was never taken to Arby's again after that. I did go back on my own as an adult, many years later.

"Lou and Sue" said...

TM! Remember when places used to hang those long, sticky, yellow fly-paper-ribbons (can’t think of what you call them) from the ceiling to catch the flies? Haven’t seen them in ages. Maybe restaurants still use them in their kitchens??

TokyoMagic! said...

Sue, I know what you are talking about, but I don't ever remember seeing those hanging in restaurants. Were they called "No Pest Strips" or was that something else?

"Lou and Sue" said...

TM! No Pest Strips are something else (I had to google them to see). I remember seeing those ribbon things in hot dog joints, many years ago.

Chuck said...

I've just realized that I have never been inside this structure. Does it still look anything like this?

TM!, I remember on my first trip to Disneyland we went to both the Tiki Room and the River Belle Terrace, and I managed to jumble up my memories of the two places for years afterwards, thinking that the birds had come out of the ceiling where we had eaten lunch. I was two and a half years old on that first trip, so hopefully I can be forgiven for that.

Sue, I remember us using one of those fly paper strips in our travel trailer one trip when I was a kid at a campground that was particularly thick with flies. I remember my sister and I kept getting it stuck in our hair. What a mess (but it was effective with the flies).

Andrew said...

Hey, compared to ticket prices, Disneyland food hasn't went much beyond the average inflation rate - in 1982 money (although I understand that these photos are likely from later) a taco and Coke would cost $9.60, and one of those $6 platters would cost about $16! Also, $1.25 sour cream in 1982 is over $3 today!

TM!, Sue, Chuck - One of my earliest childhood memories involves me sticking my hand into one of those flypaper strips on a windowsill at a fast food restaurant because I thought that it had napkins in it (It was in a little plastic container)! I likely wasn't disgusted at 4 or 5, just a little confused.

K. Martinez said...

These are really super nice pics of Casa Mexicana. Especially the interiors. I seem to remember Lawry's was once the sponsor for Casa Mexicana. While I like the idea of having a Mexican restaurant at Disneyland, whether it was Casa de Fritos, Casa Mexicana or Rancho Del Zocalo Restaurante, I've never had a good experience or meal there. My issue wasn't authenticity but that the food was subpar in general.

Thanks Mr. X and Major.

Stu29573 said...

I'm pretty sure I've never eaten at Casa anything at Disneyland. I don't remember what we ate when I went there as a kid, but "burgers" seem to almost, maybe, sorta come to mind. And maybe in Fantasyland? Is there a burger place in Fantasyland? (or was there in 1973?) Heck, I don't know.
I also don't typically eat the fast food Mexican fare at WDW. I guess since I live in Texas, Tex-Mex is too boring for me. We eat it five meals a day while riding our horses to work and shooting our six guns in the air, after all. Boring stuff, really. Nice pics, though!

DrGoat said...

Had an experience with fly paper, probably like every kid did back then. Found one of those intriguing little tubes under the sink in the kitchen and proceeded to pull the fly paper out. Hilarity did not ensue.
Grew up with a lot of 'real' Mexican food in Tucson, but it was always fun to have Disneyland Mexican fare.
By the way, does anyone know what happened to the Frito Kid dispenser?
That was a big draw for us kids back then.
Great pics Major. Thank you.

Stefano said...

Given how cutesy Disneyland has gotten, now the last grouping on the menu would be Bebidas Bobidas Bou.

I remember the Mexican food in Fiesta Village at Knott's as pretty good in the 1970s, a bit better than the Del Taco/ Pup 'N' Taco standard. But then the place was still being run by the Knott family.

Tom said...

I'd forgotten there was a restaurant there between the Fritos and the Zocalo periods... awesome pics! Rancho del Zocalo is my hands-down favorite restaurant in the park. Nice to see some 80's love for that space. Big Thunder was relatively new, and bright colors were the thing. Thanks for the unique views!

zach said...

Hola todos!

I have eaten in the various Casas of the day. I don't remember good or bad. But the photos are excellent.

When I saw the menu above jeans shorts lady I wished I could see it. Then I scrolled down. Great anticipation, Major, of what we like to see!

Hasta Luego, Vaqueros!


Major Pepperidge said...

TokyoMagic!, maybe they gave you a LOT of sour cream? Like a whole tub? Seeing those fake birds made me wonder if there had ever been a concept of making them animatronic, like you suggested! Maybe at least one could have just moved its head, kind of like the hornbill in the queue for the Jungle Cruise. Hot chocolate with spiders is the latest fad, and you started it.

Lou and Sue, Mr. X does go to the park on rare occasions, usually to take pictures of something he fears will be removed; I think he went recently to take photos of Storybook Land. How does a grasshopper leg wind up in yogurt?? Pretty gross. I once got a pizza with a cockroach baked right into it, yum.

TokyoMagic!, ha ha, your comment reminded me of a Simpsons gag; I forget the setup, but Homer says, “I’m so hungry I could eat at Arby’s!”.

Lou and Sue, I used to see those flypaper strips a lot when my family would go on fishing trips. They’d be hanging from the beams of our cabin, or inside the bait shop, or pretty much everywhere.

TokyoMagic!, “No Pest Strips” were fancier, and not quite so obviously gross as those flypaper strips.

Lou and Sue, I have a friend who grows rare plants, and he has had problems with gnats that love to lay eggs in the moist soil, so he put those flypaper things nearby. It caught lots of gnats, but there were always plenty more.

Chuck, I am sure I ate there when it was “Casa Mexicana”, and definitely have eaten there now that it is “Rancho del Zocalo”. However, as usual I don’t have a vivid memory of how it looks. I think it’s pretty similar; I remember eating in the dining area on a very cold and rainy day, waiting for them to get the rides back up and running after a power outage. Oh man I can’t imagine getting that sticky flypaper stuff stuck in my hair, how did you wash it out?

Andrew, these days a $16 platter seems like a good deal at Disneyland. I can only imagine what my dad would have thought, since he was notoriously thrifty. Funny how everybody has a flypaper story. I saw that you could buy those little cannisters at the 99 cent store.

K. Martinez, (not skipping you!) yes I remember the Lawry’s sponsorship. Maybe my standards are low, but I always thought the food was OK at Casa Mexicana/Rancho del Zocalo. It doesn’t compare to my local “hole in the wall” restaurant, but it was fine.

Major Pepperidge said...

NOTE: Blogger said my response was too long, so I had to break up my reply into two sections!

Stu29573, (not skipping you either!), yes, it was always hamburgers or hot dogs for my family when I was a kid. I’m sure my parents just ordered something that they knew we would eat. I have a fairly vivid memory of the first time I had Mexican food because we were visiting Olvera Street and I didn’t want to eat anything that looked unfamiliar (in other words, everything on the menu), so my grandma and the waiter convinced me to try a cheese quesadilla, which I really liked! I put butter on it though, ha ha. Maybe you need to eat more sushi there in Texas! And there’s always Olive Garden, makers of the finest Italian food you’ll ever eat.

DrGoat, what IS that sticky stuff that they use on flypaper, anyway? I can’t remember if it washed off easily with soap and water or if one needed kerosene to get it off. I wonder if the Frito company took possession of the Frito Kid dispenser when their sponsorship at the park ended? I hope it exists somewhere!

Stefano, I dislike those cutesy names for shops, something that seems to have started in the 1990’s, or maybe the 1980’s. How about the “Chester Drawers” shop on Main Street? So dumb. “Pup ’N Taco”, my brother still won’t shut up about how much he loved their hamburgers!

Tom, I think one of the things I liked about Casa Mexicana/Rancho del Zocalo is that there was always plenty of seating, so it was not hard to find a corner (maybe even a quiet corner away from the large groups. I don’t mind bright colors in this restaurant, it seems culturally accurate and not just the whims of a color stylist.

dzacher, I feel like if the food had been bad, you’d remember it today! I looked for a photo of a menu because I was curious, and figured some of you would be as well. Now that I think about it, I don’t think I’ve ever seen paper menus, but I guess that makes sense for a counter-service place.

Anonymous said...

What a fine period interior, sums up all my memories of that era, right down to the amber-glazed lanterns.

This version of the restaurant came and went during the years I couldn't visit, so these are completely unfamiliar to me. I love the menu, I'll have Taco Salad.

I know we never went to Casa de Fritos, not sure why. Maybe because we had better Mexican-style food available at home and had it frequently, while the Creole food in NOS was more rare and desirable. I don't know.

We did eat once at the Rancho Zocalo version when we took our nieces to the Park in 2008. They were not big on eating unfamiliar things like Creole food, and the menu here was familiar to them. I don't recall it as bad, but not particularly good either. It was a nice patio for outdoor dining, so that was good.

Major, a minor historical note. My long-winded Dad stories of the glories of Disneyland past, as told to the nieces on that trip, were the beginning of my on-line search for old pictures that led me to GDB in 2009. So there's that.

I remember No-Pest strips, but the coiled flypaper things didn't cross my path till much later. Never interacted with either one, but apple cider vinegar in a shallow dish will eliminate fruit flies.

Thanks Major and Mr. X.


"Lou and Sue" said...

Major, that grasshopper leg was in a Dannon Fruit on the Bottom yogurt, so I’m assuming it rode in on the blueberries and not the cow. Of course that’s still no excuse.

JC Shannon said...

Sorry I'm late, I was out of town. When we were kids, I remember eating at Aunt Jemima's and greasy fries in Tommorowland. If you are bringing a date and really want to impress her, take her to The Blue Bayou. Then stroll around New Orleans Square. But after today's post, I want Mexican. I'll have a #3 with extra hot sauce and a Dos Equis. Gracias Major.

Major Pepperidge said...

JG, I’ve never had a taco salad! Until a few years ago, I’d never had a corn dog either, until an ex-girlfriend insisted that I order one! It was about what I expected. With so many eateries at the park, it’s understandable that you didn’t try them all - I certainly missed many of the places so beloved by many. While I like more authentic Mexican food (we have a little place near here (“Manny’s”) that has good stuff, I also like the Americanized version too (think: El Torito). Fun fact: Dolly Parton and (presumably) her husband were eating at the El Torito in Van Nuys, not more than 15 feet from me! She was so nice to the annoying people who insisted on getting a photo, I already liked her, but my opinion of her went up that day!

Lou and Sue, yeah, that’s pretty terrible. I understand that “stuff happens”, but yikes!

Jonathan, YES, those fries were greasy, but the sparrows loved them anyway. Those poor birds probably have hardening of the arteries. I’ve always wanted to go to the Blue Bayou for a romantic dinner, but it just hasn’t happened. SOMEDAY. I used to get Doz Equis but now I like Negro Modello!

Melissa said...

OK, I snorted at "Bebidas Bobidas Bou."

Flowered rompers and giant clip-on hair bows! Totally rad, like, to the max!

The greenery really is lovely, like a little oasis.

Grandma always had those fly strips in her kitchen. And a comically oversized fly swatter.