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Mexican dining in Disneyland park

Rancho del Zocalo Restuarante, located in Frontierland, hosts the park's sole Mexican dining options.
Rancho del Zocalo Restuarante, located in Frontierland, hosts the park's sole Mexican dining options.
Scott J Dennis

When it comes to the topic of Mexican food in Disneyland park there is quite literally only one option. Fortunately it is good one, replete with classic hacienda atmosphere and a menu touting a number of traditional favorites. Easily found on the north side of Frontierland's main thoroughfare, the Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante offers hungry guests the opportunity to dine on Citrus Fire-grilled Chicken or Tostada Salad in a spacious environment with surprising historical significance.

Long before the La Victoria sponsored restaurant opened its doors, Disneyland played host to another purveyor of Mexican meals and snacks. A few months after the park's opening in 1955, Fritos debuted the Casa de Fritos in a block of buildings on the south side of Frontierland, adjoining Aunt Jemima's Pancake House. Popular guest interest soon prompted the Casa to relocate northwards to a new, larger location with more seating and appropriate architecture. At the time Mexican dishes were a bit of an unknown property in most of the United States, making the new restaurant a rather exotic experience for many fifties visitors.

The Casa de Fritos is well remembered too for its iconic mascot/vending machine, the Frito Kid. The coin-operated attraction sold standard bags of classic Fritos chips, delivered from a "Fritos Mine" via chute while the "Kid" and an unseen miner named Klondike conversed about the product. It was another snack, though, that's left a legacy that is still recognized today.

Fritos provided the restaurant with its eponymous corn chips but, needing more to offer guests, outsourced most of the location's food offerings to Anaheim's Alex Foods. It was here then that cooks, reputedly on the advice of a local supplier, began cutting unused tortillas into triangles to be fried and sold as "tortilla chips." The improvised snack proved itself a hit with park patrons, so much so that when the marketing vice president of the newly merged Frito-Lay Co. visited he quickly ordered the tortilla chips to be mass-produced under the name Doritos ("little golden things").

After later losing Fritos sponsorship, the Casa de Fritos changed titles to eventually become the Rancho del Zocalo we know today. The restaurante is open for lunch and dinner, with entrees averaging ten-to-fourteen dollars.