Mexico is a lot of people’s favorite World Showcase Pavilion for a number of reasons. In no particular order:
- A ride
But there’s a lot going on outside the great pyramid too. One of Mexico’s two sit-down restaurants sits outside overlooking the Lagoon.
La Hacienda de San Angel is owned and operated by the same company that runs San Angel Inn, La Cantina de San Angel, La Cava del Tequila, and the restaurants/bars/eateries at Coronado Springs Resort.
The restaurant, which operates from 4pm – close daily, doubles as indoor seating for La Cantina de San Angel earlier in the day. If you choose to eat your quick service food inside, they’ll clear you out by 3:30pm.
Views of the Lagoon are great from some tables, okay from most, and nonexistent from others. Here around 7pm, the blinds are drawn and there isn’t much of a view at all.
A great view of IllumiNations is certainly possible, but far from guaranteed. I’m not sure I would make a reservation with the express purpose of seeing the show from your table. Like Tokyo Dining, a great view would certainly be a nice bonus if you make a reservation around 8pm. Request a window table at check-in and let them know you’re willing to wait a little longer if necessary. They’ll probably give you the, “We can’t make any guarantees and seat people as they arrive…” spiel, but they’re usually good at fulfilling requests for window seats.
Disney, somewhat disingenuously, advertises the opposite on their site: “Tall windows overlooking the lagoon offer diners prime views of IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth.” That’s true if you’re dining during IllumiNations at a window overlooking the lagoon.
But that’s much less true if you’re seated at a booth away from the windows.
Or surrounded by walls, as the case may be.
Unlike Rose & Crown, which has a separate patio for IllumiNations viewing for those sitting inside, La Hacienda has no such thing.
The menu offers just a handful of entrees. Lisa was relieved that we weren’t deciding between 75.4 different items, but you might find the lack of choices limiting. There are no $8.99 tacos, burritos, chimichangas, etc. like you might find at your favorite local restaurant.
The margarita menu is similar to the ones found at San Angel Inn and La Cava with a couple unique takes that both look similar. The far margarita is the Mango Blueberry Basil – Coconut Rum, Tequila, orange juice, mango puree, blueberries, and basil served on the rocks with a Tijin chili powder rim – $13.50. Closer, the Orange Mango Fire – Tequila, ginger liqueur, orange juice, mango puree, fresh lime juice, a hint of Tabasco sauce, served on the rocks with a Tijin chili powder rim. Despite being similar in composition, they could not have tasted more dissimilar. Well, that’s an exaggeration. But they tasted pretty different, okay? Lisa’s Mango Blueberry Basil tasted little of tequila and was potentially better balanced – sweeter and without much of a kick. Mine was entirely unbalanced with a strong tequila flavor tempered only slightly by the orange juice and spiciness from the Tabasco sauce. Since my drinks at home tend to be 9/10th alcohol, I was okay with this, but I’d be surprised if the general population didn’t come up coughing. Having never tried the margaritas before, I couldn’t tell you if this is the norm or just “luck.”
I’m happy to report La Hacienda de San Angel and their quick service arm, La Cantina de San Angel, did away with those ridiculous multicolored tortilla chips some number of months ago. The chips always seemed to be extremely stale, despite “not being.” I’m not worldly enough to be able to tell you if the multicolored iteration is how they’re actually served in Mexico, but I think 99.5% of the people dining at La Hacienda will prefer these fresh, crispy, slightly salty chips. The red salsa has a good kick to it, while the salsa verde is mild.
After some brief deliberation, we decided on the “La Hacienda” Parrillada (serves two people) – Mixed grill offering New York Strip, chicken al pastor, chorizo, and vegetables, served with beans and fresh salsa. I’m not sure the picture captures the size of the platter – it’s immense with a large chicken breast, 12-ounce(?) strip steak, 15+ chorizo, and a ton of corn along with roasted zucchini and some peppers. I have not heard good things about the Del Mar platter.
The Hacienda was served alongside some mostly forgettable, bland Spanish (Mexican) rice.
The black beans, sprinkled with a little cheese on top, were flavorful as far as black beans go – not that mushy gunk that sometimes arrives.
Two layers of small, thin tortillas arrived alongside everything should you wish to form little tacos. As an American, I don’t know how to eat this stuff any other way.
The chicken was prepared perfectly and came surprisingly moist with a sort of honey glaze on it. I am not an expert on much of anything, cooking included, but “Al pastor” is usually pork.
The steak, cooked to a medium rare, had a basil salsa topping that added additional flavor. Quality-wise, it was more like a medium quality sirloin than a New York, but there was a lot of it and it had good flavor, even if it was a bit tougher than you’d expect from a New York strip.
The chorizo are a much spicier version of the prototypical American cocktail wiener. These packed a bite, but weren’t overwhelmingly spicy. I didn’t have much use for the vegetables, which were kind of mushy and didn’t have much flavor.
There’s a lot more corn than meets the eye and it’s topped with cheese and some kind of chipotle sour cream on top. I’m not sure I cared much for it personally, but the corn kept a bit of its crunch and you may enjoy it more than I did. The corn may have been pickled or something, which may have been the reason I stuck my nose up at it. It definitely had a “different” flavor about it.
The Hacienda was a ton of food – not enough for four hungry adults probably, but you should certainly be able to feed three hungry people with one of these platters, especially with the chip/salsa prelude. I’m not sure a “picky child” would care much for the flavors here. It’s not exactly a plain grilled chicken breast and mini hot dogs. Overall, I was pleased with the meal and thought it was a good value for the money, all things considered. In some ways, the platter is similar to the all-you-care-to-enjoy family-style buffets like Garden Grill and Whispering Canyon Cafe’s Skillet. Granted it doesn’t come with “free” seconds, but I can’t imagine two people demolishing this and wishing they had more steak.
Mid-meal, I coaxed Lisa into ordering the only margarita I didn’t have a picture of – the Rosita – Rose infusuion, Tequila, orange liqueur, fresh lime juice served on the rocks with salt on the rim. Thinking about it now, I think I do have a picture somewhere. Anyway, the more the merrier. Lisa took a sip, stuck her tongue out, and said “this tastes like turpentine.” She usually reserves this face for when I ask her, “How do I look?” So I knew it was bad. I’m not sure I would go as far as turpentine, but it did have an earthy quality to it and would we would rank it pretty low on the list of best margaritas here in Mexico.
Service was fine, but ultimately forgettable. It was pretty clear that we were “just another table” as staff went through the motions of seating us, taking our orders, and delivering the food. You may have better luck. La Hacienda is another restaurant that suffers a bit from the closeness of the tables. You can see that the table for six next to us is about a foot away. Still, it’s a bit better than San Angel Inn, where you’re lucky to be six inches away from the table next door. Actually, this was the second table they offered us. The first was weaseled in between two pillars in the far left corner of the restaurant. I asked nicely if they had another table and luckily, they did.
While the restaurant might be described as sleek, I’m not sure it’s wow-inducing and the view is YMMV.
La Hacienda de San Angel is harder to quantify than most. On one hand, grabbing margaritas by the window for IllumiNations would be a special night. On the other hand, that table is not guaranteed and the menu is limited. Service is best described as proficient and impersonal. I thought the food was quite good and there was a lot of it. And La Hacienda hasn’t raised the prices on those Parrilladas since the restaurant opened three years ago. They’ve always been $49.95. I guess what I’m saying is that if you’re only spending one day at Epcot, I’m not sure La Hacienda would be the restaurant I would pick. But it’s worth trying. One other caveat – they’re one of the only restaurants that doesn’t accept Tables in Wonderland or an Annual Pass discount. But that may make them a better choice on one of the days Tables in Wonderland isn’t accepted: Mothers Day, Easter Sunday, Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
Back outside to the limited outdoor seating section for La Cantina de San Angel. This fills up quickly in the afternoon. The door inside to La Hacienda is located in the outdoor seating area. Forget about sitting here after 7pm when the table squatters arrive waiting for IllumiNations to begin.
There are additional tables up the stairs and outside the pyramid.
Larger: http://www.easywdw.com/reports9/lacantina.jpg. The menu hasn’t changed since last August. Entree portions remain small, but they do load you up on the same tortilla chips and salsa you’ll get inside at La Hacienda.
The margaritas here and at the outdoor margarita bar are, for the most part, hit or miss. This Frozen Lime Margarita will set you back $9.50. It had a strong tequila taste that wasn’t at all unpleasant, tempered a bit by sugar and lime juice. Cold and refreshing, it’ll last a while whether you’re enjoying it with your food or on your way to Norway.
The Frozen Passion Fruit Margarita, also $9.50, had a much creamier texture and tasted much less of tequila. Again, your mileage may vary with these as they’re extremely inconsistent. If I didn’t know better, I’d tell you this was non-alcoholic.
The outdoor margarita bar sells similar margaritas and may be a better choice if lines are long at La Cantina.
I’d skip the itty-bitty flight of unnamed tequilas – we’re not talking 4.5 ounces of straight tequila here. It’s more like two ounces combined.
Unless the line inside at La Cava is absurdly long, your $14.50 is better spent there.
Inside, you’ll find Mexico’s other restaurant, San Angel Inn. The atmosphere is arguably better than La Hacienda as it overlooks a raging volcano and the Gran Fiesta ride if you’re lucky enough to sit near the water. On the other hand, much like La Hacienda, those seated in back enjoy a potentially lesser experience. Menus:
San Angel Inn is attached to La Cantina de San Angel and they should be able to bring you whatever drink or tequila you want from that menu if you don’t see something you like. Otherwise, the seven margaritas offered are identical to what you’d receive at La Cava.
San Angel, for a long time, was considered to be one of the worst restaurants on property. It has improved considerably over the last couple of years and I’ve written positively about past lunches I’ve enjoyed. Today, we’ll take a look back at a dinner I have neglected to write about because the pictures aren’t great. I ran into Mario (you may recognize the TriSeb username from the comments) on the Epcot monorail back in December and he was nice enough to invite me to dinner at San Angel Inn on the Candlelight Processional Dining Package, so we have a lot of food to take a look at.
Even when La Hacienda served their “stale” multicolored chips, San Angel provided guests with these much better (in my opinion) fresh tortilla chips. Tostitos are long gone, thankfully.
The $12.50 Coctel de Camaron – Acapulco-style shrimp cocktail, served with spicy tomato sauce, fried flour chicharron, avocado, and lime.
It’s basically a glass full of small shrimp in a thin, spicy sauce. They had a nice kick to them and although the shrimp were small, there were a lot of them. As good as the shrimp were, I was surprised how much I enjoyed the chicharron, which are lightly fried pork rinds. These were topped with what is probably the same spicy sauce as the shrimp. With about a dozen rinds on top of the shrimp, this is an easily shareable appetizer that is a nice complement to the complimentary chips and salsa.
These pictures are pre-flash and as you may be aware, San Angel Inn is extremely dark. So we sort of have blurry blobs on a plate. A San Angel Inn mainstay, these are the Tostadas de Tinga – Pulled chicken seasoned with roasted tomato and chipotle, served on tostadas with black refried beans, green tomatillo sause, queso fresco and sour cream – 10.50. Also very good with complex flavor, the pulled chicken is amazing and the tostadas provide a nice crunch. Depending on your entree choices, the appetizers may be superfluous with the chips, but both of these are very good on their own. You might even be able to get away with the Tostadas as an entree if you’re not particularly hungry.
People will occasionally ask about sharing meals or about whether it’s “okay to just order dessert.” The bottom line is that you can order whatever you want – they’re not going to kick you out. People share appetizers, entrees, and desserts all the time. Seating two people that share one meal is not a whole lot different than seating a single person that orders the same items. When we were at La Hacienda, a couple ordered margaritas, munched on the chips and salsa, and left without ordering anything else, for example. In fact, they were so chilly in the restaurant that they donned their plastic Mickey ponchos mid-meal. This sort of behavior is probably frowned upon, just like booking Be Our Guest Restaurant for cupcakes will not make your serve particularly happy, even if he smiles and exclaims, “Oh how fun!” The reality is that he’s probably in the back cussing you out to his confederates. But do what you’re comfortable with, tip well ($10 on your 4 x $4 cupcakes for example), and nobody will care in the long run.
Ordering three courses is a lot of food on the Candlelight Processional dining package, so I went with the Camarones a la Diabla – Roasted diabla-style shrimp with poblano rice, served over yuca puree and cascabel chile sauce – $26. Ordinarily, I tend to shy away from shrimp and scallops because the portion size tends to be on the small side. This came with six large shrimp in a deliciously spicy sauce. More filling than you might expect (and hence the smaller portion), I enjoyed them a lot, though I’m not sure they’re a tremendous value for the money. Still, most any Mexican restaurant would charge you in the neighborhood of $16 for a similar dish. One thing that has really improved at San Angel is the attention to detail and fresh, homemade ingredients. You can really tell nothing comes out of a can.
The shrimp were served with poblano rice, which is a pilaf-style rice made with poblano chilies and cilantro. Spicy on its own,I happily mixed it with the sauce.
Mario ordered the Carne Asada – New York strip served with cheese enchilada, black refried beans, red bell pepper, onions, Mexican rice, and guacamole – $28.50. This is the sort of item I’d order if I was going with a single entree – it’s a nice variety of items and more food than most people could hope to consume.
Pollo a las Rajas – Grilled chicken breast served with red peppers and onion cream sauce, poblano rice, and queso fresco – $23.50. A heavier-than-you-might-expect meal with the cream sauce, the chicken was tender and flavorful and the rice helped soak up the creamy sauce.
Churros, which it looks like they took off the menu (unless they’re on the Kids’ menu)!
Crema Bavaria – Creamy Bavarian mousse served with mixed berries, cinnamon, orange liqueur and vanilla sauce – $8. It tastes and “feels” lighter than it probably is with a subtle caramel flavor. It’s pretty good, but I’m not sure I’d pay $8 for it individually.
Mousse de Chocolate – Chocolate mousse and almond brittle candy – $8. More like ice cream than mousse, I’m not sure this one stood out as memorable.
Finally, Pastel de Queso con Cajeta – Cheesecake with caramel sauce cajeta – $8. A few bites of decadent cheesecake, this is the richest and densest dessert offered. Not overly sweet like a lot of cheesecakes, it would be an excellent end to a meal.
Like La Hacienda, San Angel Inn has a somewhat limited menu. You may want to look them both over and decide which sounds best if you’re planning to visit one or the other. I personally prefer San Angel Inn for the ambiance, food, and (in my opinion) better margaritas. Lunch is also less expensive and less crowded.
Speaking of margaritas, inside the Pavilion is La Cava del Tequila. San Angel is in the back with the entrance to Gran Fiesta Tour to the left.
My personal favorites are the Jalapeno and Blood Orange.
They still offer $5 shots to their Twitter followers. Risking another email from their ridiculous PR department (lol), I would remind you that you don’t actually have to follow them on Twitter to get the $5 shot – they don’t check. And these are pretty serious shots, served with their “sangrita” and a lime. Sangrita is sort of a tomato salsa that’s supposed to be used as a “chaser” after drinking the tequila. I’m not too fond of it personally.
If you prefer to pound your shots back in your room or drink a margarita out of a sippy cup on the bus ride to Epcot, Mexico offers tequila by the bottle.
A 375ml bottle of Cuervo Especial runs $13.95 here versus $14.95 for a 750ml bottle at Total Wine. That’s actually $2 less than it used to be. A 750ml of Sauza Commemorativo runs $35.95 here versus $21.99 at Total Wine. Pricing isn’t absurd, especially compared to some of the prices you’ll see just off property. Try to stick to ABC stores if you can. Total Wine also ships.
That’s what’s going on in Mexico these days as we take a look across the water at what’s coming up next.