As usual, Mexico wipes last year’s slate clean and starts anew, probably because nobody would ever willingly return to any of the items offered at these price points. Surprisingly, drink prices are actually down. Last year’s Margaritas were $10.25 and $10.75 versus the $9 and $10.25 we see this year. Also, unlike last year, tax is included in the prices. So it’s possible that Disney and their partners are seeing some price resistance with the ever-increasing cost involved in attending the Festival. Unfortunately, I think it’s sort of an Oreo Cookies situation where the price might not have gone up, but the size of the package has sneakily decreased by an ounce and a half. Let’s see how things stack up.
Everything on the menu – over $60 worth.
- Short Rib Tostada: Corn Tortilla topped with Short Ribs, Black Beans, Salsa Verde and Spring Onion – $6.50
- Shrimp Quesadilla: Corn Tortilla with Shrimp, Oaxaca Cheese and topped with Spicy Guajillo Sauce and Sesame Seeds – $7.25
- Coconut Rice Pudding served with Mango Coulis – $4.25
- Cerveza Por Favor: Dos Equis Draft Beer with a hint of Almond – $4.75
- Mariachi Loco: Margarita with Libelula Tequila Joven, Mango Purée and Chamoy – $9
- Ay Caramba: Smoky Margarita with Gracias A Dios Mezcal, Lime Juice and Ancho Reyes Chile Liqueur – $10.25
- El Padrino: Blackberry Mexican Punch with Velo Blanco Tequila – $9.50
Short Rib Tostada: Corn Tortilla topped with Short Ribs, Black Beans, Salsa Verde and Spring Onion – $6.50
Mexico’s Tostada is the better of the two savory options this year, but it’s still a reliably small proposition and a tough couple of bites to share unless you particularly like whoever you’re visiting with. In the world of Disney blogging, this never happens, which fortunately means I get the Tostada all to myself as I swat at the hands of those around me trying to grab it.
Fortunately, it’s a pretty delicious offering with tender, nicely-marinated beef in between the layer of crisp, piquant onion and mildly spicy salsa verde on top and the smooth layer of black beans underneath. The crispy, lightly fried tortilla adds more character than your typical tortilla chip, thicker and with a satisfying crunch. It does an admirable job of supporting all of the ingredients while not getting in the way of the flavor.
Still, it’s hard to look past the small portion size. Even at a Mexican restaurant at Disney World, all of which are operated by the same company that runs this booth for Flower/Garden/Food/Wine/Holidays/Arts, you’d get three similar Tostadas as part of an appetizer for $11-$14, or less than five dollars each. So if you’re using a snack credit or don’t mind paying $2 more than it’s arguably worth, this is a fine choice in the grand scheme of things. But it’s hard to recommend for the money. In the future, maybe we’ll see two, smaller tostadas offered that combine to be 25% or 50% more food than the current offering. That plate would be far more shareable and the value would obviously increase. As it stands:
Shrimp Quesadilla: Corn Tortilla with Shrimp, Oaxaca Cheese and topped with Spicy Guajillo Sauce and Sesame Seeds – $7.25
While we can try to use some mental gymnastics and/or try to ignore value proposition on the Tostada, I think the Shrimp Quesadilla is an easy pass given the fact that it’s maybe three inches long and incredibly bland. Inside, you’ll find three or four very small shrimp alongside a little bit of melted cheese and surrounded by an incredibly dry tortilla, the corn flavor of which dominates the rest of the dish. It would work a lot better as an enchilada situation with the cheese melted on top and the sauce placed on top. Overall, I think the dish suffers because it’s made elsewhere and carted over to the Marketplace to be served – the heat lamp isn’t doing the tortilla any favors. An easy skip.
Coconut Rice Pudding served with Mango Coulis – $4.25
Year in and year out, Mexico does dessert well with predictably delicious, refreshing results. This year’s Rice Pudding is no different. It might not look like much in the bowl, but the tender rice combines with the coconut milk to create an effortlessly creamy dish with a result that’s surprisingly light with a tropical vibe that’s appreciated during the heat of the day that will continue at least until the middle of October. On cooler November nights, I might be looking elsewhere. It’s not so much a standout that I would go out of my way to order it, but I’d attach one to an order if you can convince yourself that you want a Tostada. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t give rice pudding a second look, but the Festival is a nice opportunity to be surprised. Hopefully these reviews ensure that fewer of those surprises are negative.
Cerveza Por Favor: Dos Equis Draft Beer with a hint of Almond – $4.75
Mexico’s drink section leads with the beer for the first time in the form of Dos Equis mixed with amaretto liqueur. Unfortunately, the bitter almond flavor overpowered the lager, creating an incredibly unpleasant, lingering flavor profile that nobody in our group enjoyed. My eyes inevitably bulge upon tasting a couple of the items during each Festival, but they probably never bulged quite as wide as this. Mexico seems intent on adding liqueurs to their light lagers during the Festivals – we’ve seen pomegranate, ginger, and coffee, among others, but it never really seems to work given the beer’s light qualities. Anyway, if you want to come over, I’d be happy to add a half ounce of Disaronno to a Bud Light and we can both laugh at how bad it tastes as we pour it out. A pretty easy skip.
Mariachi Loco: Margarita with Libelula Tequila Joven, Mango Purée and Chamoy – $9
It’s the bright, orange-ish pink drink on the end. This was one of my favorite cocktails served at the Festival and the best of the bunch here. The Libélula tequila, which is a blend of 80% blanco and 20% reposado, was specifically created for mixing. The reposado adds just enough of a smoky quality to the drink to make it more interesting, while the smooth flavors of the agave in the blanco let the tequila blend well with the fruit and spice. In this case, the sweet, tropical flavors of the mango play against the spicy quality of the Chimoy, which is a chili-heavy sauce that’s sweetened with a little bit of jam. Be careful with the dried fruit garnish, which is deliciously sweet, salty, and spicy. Overall, it’s one of your best bets at the Festival at a price that’s surprisingly reserved.
Ay Caramba: Smoky Margarita with Gracias A Dios Mezcal, Lime Juice and Ancho Reyes Chile Liqueur – $10.25
This was just fine – there isn’t enough of the smoky mezcal for it to really shine through all of the sweet and sour mix and the flavor from the liqueur is mostly muted by the sugar and syrup. It basically boils down to being your standard lime margarita with a little bit of spice. You could do a lot worse.
La Chancla: Red Wine Sangria mixed with Fruit Juice – $8.75
Second from the end, it’s nice to see a new take on what was a low effort offering in the “Mexican Sangria” that the Marketplace has offered over the last few years. At least the flavors were fresher and more vibrant than I remember with the fruit juices sweetening up the wine just enough to cover up any flavor that might be considered unpleasant. The dried citrus wheel on top is a classy touch. It’s another above average entry, though I’d rather see it served for around $7.50.
El Padrino: Blackberry Mexican Punch with Velo Blanco Tequila – $9.50
Moving the camera’s focus point ever-so-slightly, we key in on the last of the margaritas, which is the red drink with the salt rim up front. I had never heard of Velo Blanco Tequila, but it seemed to mix in just fine into a margarita with a pleasant, subtly sweet flavor. This is your best bet if you’re trying to avoid the spice of a couple of the other margaritas or the sugar of the sangria. A nice compromise.
Overall, Mexico brings its A-game to the drink selections with prices that are either equal to or lower than the last couple of years. In my opinion, the Shrimp Quesadilla is an easy pass at the $7+ price, but you might not let the fact that the Tostada is $2 overpriced deter you from picking one up along with a margarita.
China is up next with the review here.