Dine South of the Border in Epcot's Mexican Pavilion
My recent trip to Epcot for my daughter's birthday was an absolute blast! And, what would a trip to Epcot be without experiencing cuisine from one of the numerous countries represented at the park? My daughter chose to celebrate her special day by dining in Mexico at La Hacienda de San Angel. I have to say, it was an excellent choice! We made our dining reservations on the My Disney Experience app once we arrived at Epcot early in the day. A smartphone app I highly recommend for anyone planning to visit the Disney parks. We were seated the moment we arrived for our 5:00 PM reservation. The atmosphere was inherently Mexican and offered a feeling of being in a family run hacienda in Mexico. Being of Mexican descent, I look for authenticity both in ambiance and cuisine when dining at any restaurant claiming to serve authentic Mexican meals. I was definitely not disappointed.
Our server Maria was absolutely charming and greeted us as soon as we sat down with an order of chips and salsa. She acknowledged my daughter's birthday and asked if we were on any Disney Dining Plans. We told her no, but asked if Disney Passholders received a discount. We do! Maria took our drink order, and of course we ordered two beers made in Mexico—a Corona and Modelo Especial. My daughter was delighted she could have a Shirley Temple drink—not Mexican, but Shirley was on the board of directors for The Walt Disney Company (a little trivia). The chips were perfectly crispy and lightly salted. We had the choice of two salsas served with our chips, salsa verde (green) and salsa rojo (red). Maria had warned us the salsas were spicy, and she wasn't kidding. Luckily for us, that's how we like them! I was actually surprised at the level of spicy heat given the fact the restaurant catered to a tourist crowd--Maria was right to offer warning. This shouldn't be a deterrent for any adventurous eaters as both salsas were rich in flavor and obviously freshly made. All too often, spice can take over the meal, burning the taste buds. However, La Hacienda manages to use spices to enhance the flavor of food while offering the robust kick Mexican dishes are known to provide.
I must share that my daughter, who had turned thirteen that day, felt she was ready to order from the adult menu. Let's just say, she wasn't and we requested a kid's menu, which Maria cheerfully provided. As with most children's menus, the offerings were limited, but my daughter was grateful for the simplicity of the items available. Kid's had their own appetizer menu, a fruit cup or salad, whereas the adults had a variety of my personal favorites such as Queso Fundido, a melted cheese dish laden with chorizo and peppers, served with flour tortillas; and, Pork Empanadas made with pork and black beans topped with mole sauce. We decided to forgo the appetizer given that we were stuffing ourselves with chips and salsa. Maria could see how much we enjoyed them and offered to bring us more. I have to say, it was difficult to decline, but we were looking forward to enjoying our meal.
My daughter ordered the grilled chicken from the kid's menu, which came with a side of Mexican rice and steamed green beans. She scrunched her nose at the green beans (which in my opinion were delicious), but quickly downed the rice and chicken. My fiance ordered his favorite, Tacos de Camerones (Shrimp Tacos). La Hacienda fries their shrimp and drizzles them with an amazing chipotle-lime aioli. I found it very difficult to narrow down what I wanted (which was everything), and cleverly decided on Taquiza, a sampler plate with four different tacos. First up was a grilled chicken taco with green tomatillo sauce, followed by a grilled steak taco with roasted Chipotle sauce. The third taco was filled with Chilorio pork served with queso fresco—Chiloro is a seasoning made from ancho chili peppers and garlic. And finally, and my one of my favorites, a fish taco—battered fish served with a mayo-chipotle sauce. If your mouth isn't watering, you're just not eating right!
We also received a serving of zesty black beans and Mexican-style rice for my fiance and me. I should add that I actually shared the bean and rice sides—which I don't normally do when it comes to Mexican food (Think of the seagulls in Finding Nemo, "Mine! Mine!"). In the end, all of our plates were rendered empty (because we ate my daughter's green beans, too). And because it was my daughter's birthday, Maria brought her a serving of dulce de leche ice cream. Birthday or not, I definitely recommend this ice cream! We adults were too full to order our own dessert. However, it was no easy task given the many to choose from. Desserts such as Empanada de Manzana—a puff pastry filled with caramel apples, served with dulce de leche ice cream smothered in caramel sauce. I'm feeling the regret even as I write about it.
When visiting Epcot, you have the opportunity to taste the authentic cuisine from eleven different countries. So, if you are looking to add some spice to your visit, La Hacienda de San Angel is the perfect choice. ¡Viva la Mexico!
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