Choza de Margarita
For a look at all of Epcot’s quick service reviews, see this post.
Choza de Margarita is the name of the popular takeaway bar located to the left of the pyramid in the Mexico Pavilion.
The main Pavilion, with La Cava del Tequila inside, is located on the right. The La Cantina de San Angel quick service is across the way.
Choza replaces the old, much-more-unassuming/much-less-assuming margarita bar that used to sit on the opposite side of the pyramid. You can pull up the current menu at DisneyWorld.com here. The Frozen Margaritas should look familiar to anyone who stopped there over the years. It’s also operated by the same people that run La Cava del Tequila inside of the pyramid, along with all of the other dining in the Mexico Pavilion. So the fact that the Signature Margarita list offers some interesting flavors should be no surprise either.
Two draft beers are offered, in addition to the Michelada, which does not sound particularly appetizing.
Choza mixes up their menu with new selections every couple of months. Chances are, whatever flavors sound good at the time will satisfy. Above is the $14.50 “Acan Grapefruit – Casa Noble Blanco Tequila, Grapefruit Liqueur, Elderflower Cordial, Lemon Juice, Cardamom Bitters, and Ginger Beer.”
All of Choza’s margaritas are pre-mixed and served out of what I suppose is best described as a “margarita gun.” The website has long come down on La Cava inside the pyramid for a similar practice. There, the drinks are generally pre-mixed and served out of large opaque jugs. Considering the premium price, and the fact that they expect a 20% tip on a $15 margarita poured out of a jug, I typically spend my money elsewhere. But unless you’re really paying attention, you won’t even notice the origin story of your margarita out here. A cast member typically finishes the drink with a final ingredient and then quickly shakes it. There’s also no tip line on the receipt. That means the price on the menu is the price you pay. You’ll probably save a few bucks versus going inside.
And Choza’s margaritas are La Cava quality, poured in handsomely-tall glasses in bright, attractive colors. I like the Grapefruit Margarita, named after the Mayan god of wine and intoxication, a lot. The flavors are complex and well-balanced. The citrus and acid of the fruit do a nice job of contrasting with the herbal quality of the elderflower liqueur and fragrant quality of the cardamom. It’s light, refreshing, and most importantly, packs a punch with the bold flavor of the Casa Noble up front. This is on my short list of favorite World Showcase drinks, though the competition these days is scant.
Here’s the $14.25 “Cucumber – El Velo Tequila Blanco, Cucumber Juice, Orange Liqueur, Agave Nectar and Tajin Chile-lime Powder rim.”
Historically, I would kindly ask that you keep your gourds out of my cocktails. While I’ve warmed up to the cucurbitaceae family over the years, this one is a little cucumber-heavy for my personal tastes. It’s also the sweetest of the bunch. The cucumber syrup provides a burst of honeydew and the agave nectar adds quite a bit of sugar. The orange and lime are there to counteract the sweetness, but it’s not quite enough for me. On the other hand, those who enjoy cucumber and like sweeter drinks will be drawn to this. The slice of fresh cucumber is a nice touch.
The “Guava Pink Peppercorn – Zignum Mezcal Reposado, Guava Nectar, Grapefruit Liqueur, Lime Juice, Peychaud’s Bitters, and Pink Peppercorns” was at one time the least expensive option.
As the menu stipulates, the smokiness that’s typical of mezcal is absent. The spirit is clean, smooth, and not unlike an anejo tequila with more of a sweet vanilla rum flavor finished with the wood that you might find in a whiskey. Interestingly, Zignum is made in the Casa Armando Guillermo Prieto Distillery and owned by the same company that bottles Coca-Cola products in Mexico. Anyway, this is the tartest of the margaritas with a little bit of a sweet, mild pepper quality from what are actually berries in the pink peppercorns. They’re fun to nibble on here and there. The drink is a nice respite from the sugar bombs that most other World Showcase Pavilions.
The “Smoky Pineapple – Mezcal Ilegal Blanco, Pineapple-Ginger Juice, Ancho Reyes Chile Liqueur and Tajin Chile-Lime Powdered Rim” is another spicy option. The Tajin Chile-Lime Powdered Rim adds a nice tang that contrasts well with the liqueur.
Overall, with prices increasing so much elsewhere and given the higher quality of the drinks served here, I think the Signature Margaritas offer a lot of value compared to what else is available. You might want to enjoy sipping one as you peruse the Pavilion’s many offerings. Then, pick up a second for the walk over to Norway, where you’ll find just beer, wine, and hot coffee drinks mixed with cordials for the most part.
Choza de Margarita offers three flavors of Frozen Margaritas. You have the ability to mix and match a little of this and a little of that if that’s the way you want to go. And at $2-3 less than the Signature Margaritas, you can save a few bucks and still enjoy some surprisingly nuanced flavors. My favorite is the “Mango Loco – Tequila, Orange Liqueur, Wild Passion Fruit, and Mango Puree; it enjoys a creamier consistency than the other two options with a pleasant, bright tropical fruit flavor.
The “Wild Strawberry with Tequila, Strawberry and Prickly Pear Puree, and Lejay Creme de Cassis” tastes surprisingly natural. There’s none of that overpowering artificial nastiness that you’ll typically find in a 40-ounce frozen strawberry margarita. Not that I have any experience with that sort of thing. Instead, the blackcurrant helps temper the sweetness of the strawberry and there’s enough lime juice in there to cut the sugar. Quite good.
“Lime with Tequila Blanco, Lime Sweet & Sour, Orange Liqueur, and Salt on the Rim” is a classic option. It tastes largely of lime and tequila with just a little bit of orange.
The Frozen Margaritas are a good choice if you’re looking for a cold, sweet option with a little more depth to each sip than you’re probably expecting. They’re very drinkable and a nice pour for the money.
Against my better judgement, I tried the $11 “Michelada – Draft Beer served with a mix of Clamato (Tomato-Clam), Lime and Orange Juice, Maggi, Valentina, Worcestershire, and Soy Sauce.”
And my willingness to order outside of my comfort zone was not rewarded in this instance. The beer had separated from all of the various juices and sauces. There was lime, orange, clam, tomato, Worcestershire, and soy, in addition to the Maggi sauce, which adds a further-unpleasant meaty quality. The Valentina sauce packs a harsh spice against the fruit. Nobody in our group liked it, but if you love Cheladas, this might be just the thing for you.
Choza de Margarita serves about a half dozen food items should you elect to add something to your drink menu. I also prefer the food here to what’s served at La Cantina across the way, for the most part.
The $9.19 “Tacos al Pastor – Al Pastor Marinated Grilled Pork. Served with Corn Tortillas, Green Tomatillo Sauce, Onions, Pineapple, and Cilantro with a side of Corn Esquites” should look familiar to anyone who has tried one of the Mexico Pavilion’s Food/Wine/Flower/Garden taco offerings over the last couple of years.
There’s quite a bit going on here. The pork has a nice smokiness to it, but didn’t offer the comforting crispiness that you might expect. The meat also wasn’t particularly tender. There’s a little bit of a chili spice too, which contrasts nicely with the fresh pineapple chunks and the piquant quality of the diced red onion. The Corn Esquites, which is Mexican Street Corn Salad, has a nice spicy twang to it. The smoky quality is not unlike the pork. The generous sprinkle of cojita cheese adds a coolness to the spicy mayo-based sauce that’s surprisingly sweet on the back end. It’s a nice accompaniment.
Overall, this is a reasonable value compared to what you’d pay for similar food at an Epcot Festival. It’s a larger portion for about the same money.
Here’s the $10.50 “Empanadas de Barbacoa – Empanadas Filled with Barbacoa Beef topped with Chipotle Sauce, Crema Mexicana, and Queso Fresco served with a side of Corn Esquites.”
A cast member fries the Empanadas fresh. They enjoy a surprisingly light, crispy exterior that gives way to an admirable amount of marinated beef inside. There’s just a little bit of a spicy kick along with garlic, clove, and cilantro. The mildly spicy sauce enhances the natural flavor of the beef even more. The Crema Mexicana combines with the Queso Fresco to provide a cool, creamy complement to the other flavors. They’re out favorite food item on the menu.
The delicious Corn Esquites make another appearance.
Here’s the $10 “Guacamole topped with Mango and Pumpkin Seeds. Choza de Margarita now serves the guacamole with tortilla chips. Here, we ordered them with the previous accompaniment, which was a vegetarian flour chicharrón.
The Guacamole is a larger portion than it probably appears in this picture. It’s also a page out of the Frontera Cocina playbook. The same company that runs Frontera operates dining here in the Mexico Pavilion. It seems like a lot of the signature flavors from Chef Rick Bayless have migrated to other restaurants at Epcot.
The freshly-made guac is creamy and refreshing with the mango adding a fruity quality and the pumpkin seeds adding a little bit of an earthy component along with a pleasing crunch. I wasn’t too crazy about the vegetarian flour chicharrón – they’re sort of like eating fried air. While they do a fine job of carrying the guacamole to your mouth, there’s very little substance there. The current side of tortilla chips is a big improvement. Ask for some Valentina sauce on the side if you like a little heat.
Choza de Margarita does not offer dedicated seating. People typically take up residence along the wall on the right leading away from the bar. I prefer to climb the stairs and stand outside the pyramid for a better view.
Overall, Disney and their third-party operators did a nice job of improving upon the old margarita stand. The Signature Margaritas are among the best takeaway beverages available in World Showcase. And while you’ll pay a couple more dollars for the privilege, I think it’s worth it. The food that Choza serves also typically tastes better than what La Cantina offers. I’m not sure that I’d go out of my way for any specific item, but it might be a good idea to add one or two items to your order. The guacamole is the most shareable, while two people can easily divvy up some of the other options. The Frozen Margaritas, which impressed during the winter months, will only taste better as temperatures rise heading into the summer.
Choza de Margarita is a good first stop on your trip around World Showcase. And for many, it will be their first foray into Drinking Around the World.