If you live in Southern California, then you expect to have occasional house guests. If you have small house guests, chances are that you will be visiting some of our world famous theme parks. This used to mean that your dining options were limited to hot dogs and funnel cakes. Knott’s Berry Farm still has Funnel Cakes on the menu – fully loaded with your choice of strawberry, apple or Knott’s’ legendary boysenberry topping. But now, WOW the options are pretty amazing and can be pretty good values, considering you are a captive audience for a good part of the day or evening. During the Boysenberry Festival at Knott’s Berry Farm in the Spring there are even more options.
Recently a group of food bloggers were invited to a special evening, called “A Taste of Knott’s”, where we were treated to an array of food choices that would send any foodie into a tailspin. I spoke to Jennifer Blazey, Senior Publicist from Knott’s and asked her “Why the focus on food?” She explained that food has always been part of the Knott’s Berry Farm history since June 1934, when Mrs. Knott’s served the first Chicken Dinner and her famous Boysenberry Pie became legendary. They thought it was time to bring the attention back to their food offerings. Instead of an afterthought, they want food to be a selling point when coming to Knott’s Berry Farm. They felt that their audience shouldn’t have to compromise when it comes to food. Smart! I am reading a book right now called “The United States of Arugula”, which chronicles “How we became a gourmet nation”. Yes, consumers are even demanding that theme park food meet new criteria!
I have to admit, Knott’s Berry Farm has some of the best food I’ve tasted at a theme park. We enjoyed a vegetarian Black Bean Burger that was delicious and had a nice spice from the Ghost Town Grill. It tasted freshly made and was topped with mayo, provolone cheese and fried onions. It is served with French fries, mashed potatoes or a green salad for $13.49.
From the Fireman’s Brigade BBQ, they served a Flank Steak Sandwich on a jalapeno and cheddar roll for $13.39 which is full of flavor. It was delicious – spicy and tangy. Served with chips and a fountain drink, this will make a nice on-the-go meal. They also have Slow Cooked Ribs for $11.99 which are slowly smoked for 11 hours. The BBQ sauce was a bit sweet for me, but clings nicely to the tender meat.
My favorite dish – Hawaiian Ahi Poke – $11.99 can be found at Spurs Restaurant, which provides a nice sit-down atmosphere. I was surprised to see that you can get sashimi grade tuna in a theme park! This is served on a crispy wonton with green onions, avocado, sesame vinaigrette and a wasabi cream. Yum!! A nice fresh vegetarian option at Spurs is Bruschetta for $7.99. Fresh marinated tomatoes with herbs, red onions and Parmigiano Reggiano on crostini. I enjoyed the topping, but I hope they will upgrade the bread in the future.
For dessert, I shared the Cookiewich – $5.49 with my sweetie, found at the Chowhouse. Imagine a custom-made-on-the-spot ice cream sandwich made from two crispy chocolate chip cookies and melty, soft-serve ice cream in the center and then rolled in chocolate chips. On a hot day or any day, this certainly will be a welcome and indulgent treat to enjoy with your loved ones.
As anyone who has been to a theme park knows, the entrance fee is a bit pricey – $57.99 for adults and $29.99 for children 3-11. Check the website http://www.knotts.com/tickets/ for considerable discounts. We learned that you can go inside the park for free when you visit Spurs Restaurant. Go to the Guest Relations window and ask for a Shopping/Meal Pass. You must leave your credit card imprint and they won’t run it unless you don’t come back within 45 minutes. If you go over the time limit, your server will give you an extension. This is a nice service if you might like to accompany some youngins or guests in the park, but don’t want to stay for the whole theme park ordeal. Spurs Restaurant is open after 3:00 pm on Saturdays, but has extended hours during the summer and probably the Christmas break.
My sweetie has always loved Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner. We’ve been there more than once on his December 27 birthday. He even offers to wait for us in the holiday week queue–usually about 30 to 45 minutes–while we tour the gift shop. It’s not fancy, but it is a great value for down home cookin and at the end of our dinner, we celebrate his birthday with the well-known Knott’s Boysenberry Pie topped with some vanilla ice cream. For $16.90 per person, this is a great idea for a reasonably priced celebration dinner. P.S. They offer a variety of menu choices beyond chicken in the restaurant also. The Chicken Dinner Restaurant is located outside the main gate, so no theme park ticket is necessary to enter here.
Before we left the park, we couldn’t help but line up to take a spin on the Ghostrider. This is one of the last and largest wood frame coasters in Southern California. After about a 30-minute wait, which was the perfect time for our food to digest, we were riding high with thrills and chills, having enjoyed our Friday night date night at Knott’s.