Huzzah! I’ve finally made it to the newest restaurant in Walt Disney World — La Hacienda de San Angel! This Mexican restaurant focuses on Southern Mexican cuisine — fresh staples with a new flair. Home made corn tortillas, incredible margaritas, and a view coveted by every other restaurant in the World Showcase are the major players here.
Located in Epcot’s Mexico in Walt Disney World, the restaurant was built this year as an add-on to an existing counter-service restaurant (La Cantina de San Angel), and now juts out into World Showcase Lagoon.
Externally, the bright yellow building and bright blue tiled cupola look a bit out of place with the muted colors around World Showcase, but they do bring a lively look to that side of the promenade.
Inside, colorful Mexican hacienda tiles, a striking painting of the restaurant itself, and a mish-mosh of heavy, carved wood; thick, bubbled glass; and dark wrought iron set the stage for the soaring ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows looking out onto the lagoon. This view will be the sought-after Illuminations Fireworks Spectacular view for years to come, I’m sure.
The story of the restaurant (every restaurant on Disney property has a story, no matter how thin or contrived it may be) is that the artistic family who owns the hacienda opened it up to dinner guests; the Cantina outside is for overflow. The food is touted as authentic Southern Mexican cuisine complete with home made corn tortillas and fresh, light accents.
Because the restaurant is still in Soft Opening (Disney-speak for “we’re only taking walk-up customers until we work out the kinks”), we arrived at the 4:00pm opening time and were pretty much the only folks there. We were quickly seated and given menus, and then Hilda came out to see us!
Hilda, whom you’ll remember from our Tequila tasting seminar in La Cava del Tequila last year, is now part of the management team at La Hacienda de San Angel. She brought over two complimentary shot glasses of their coffee margarita to start us off (I wonder if this is a perk for those of us who arrived early when they’d just blended the drinks?).
I’m not a big coffee fan, but this was sweet, creamy, and very dessert-like. It tasted a bit like a liquid tiramisu. Very interesting, and a must-get for anyone who’s a coffee or tiramisu fan.
Moving on to more margaritas, the menu here is phenomenal. While not extensive, the choices are all very different and give guests a great opportunity to sample and explore flavors they’ve likely never seen before on a drink menu. (Click the image for a larger size.)
We chose the classic margarita and the orange mango fire variety, which had orange, mango, ginger, and lime flavors with tobasco sauce and a “Tagin Chilli Powder” rim. The former was delicious, and the latter offered a sweet-sour kick followed by a very spicy finish.
Later in the meal, Hilda brought over another shot-glass-sized taste; this time, it was the restaurant’s signature Rosita margarita, with orange and lime flavors and rose infusions (and petals!). This had a sweeter taste, but also had a kick of sour from the lime juice. The rose infusions gave a subtle, light floral taste. It wasn’t “perfume-y,” but it was certainly different!
We wanted to sample everything on the menu, but that would have cost a FORTUNE. This place is NOT cheap.
For our appetizer, we settled on the Botana, “A sampling of traditional Mexican favorites; chicken tostada, Chilorio sope (marinated pork), and cheese empanada. My husband loved the dish; I was mostly taken with the cheese empanada, though all three options were very good. Flavors were consistent with what we’re used to from the mom and pop Mexican we eat in Texas, but portion size and presentation were certainly different.
For entrees, I chose the Pollo al Pastor — Achiote marinated chicken served with roasted vegetables, beans, and pineapple relish. My husband chose the Tacos de Camarones — Fried shrimp, chipotle-lime aioli, cabbage, lime and salsa verde served over flour tortillas.
The shrimp tacos earned a “not bad” from my husband. The shrimp were a bit rubbery, but the mix of salsa and aioli was a winner for him.
Unfortunately, I can’t say all that much about the chicken. I rarely order chicken in a restaurant, because it’s so difficult to deliver it as a tender and juicy main dish. This experience fell victim to that fact.
The meat was dry and overdone, and although I enjoyed the slightly-spicy marinade, dry chicken coupled with bland vegetables and the very slightly sweet, slightly warm pineapple chunks just wasn’t hitting the spot. I’ve heard great reviews of this dish from friends, but my experience was hum-drum at best.
The dessert menus were brought out and I was torn. I’d heard bad reviews of the churros, great reviews of the tamal de dulce, and no reviews of the empanada de manzana — and my husband and I rarely turn down whatever apple dessert is offered!
We went with the Chocolate con churros and the empanada de manzana, both of which were served with beautiful presentation.
The poor reviews of the churros were unfortunately well-founded. Two tiny churros and a small cup of hot chocolate does not a $7.95 dessert make. The churros tasted store-bought and stale, and the hot chocolate — which I was hoping was going to be thick like the Spanish hot chocolate I love — was watery. Also, the promised “caramel” sauce was simply a drizzle on the plate — not a dipping sauce. However — I did like the addition of a sprinkle of chili powder on the hot chocolate’s whipped cream. What a great taste addition!
The empanada de manzana was a better offering, but the filling was skimpy and the portion size was still rather small for the price.
The rumors I’d been hearing were mostly true; the restaurant has small portion sizes of mediocre food for too-high prices. However, I AM a proponent of smaller portion sizes overall. Disney World serves massive portions everywhere else, so it’s nice to have a restaurant offering portions that don’t leave you stuffed! That said, I’d like to pay less for them instead of more.
The food quality at La Hacienda seems high and the home made corn tortillas are delicious. I’m hoping that my less-than-stellar meal simply included a few kinks that will be worked out before the restaurant officially opens on October 15th. But I also have to be honest and say that San Angel Inn, LLC, the company that owns and runs many of the Mexican eateries on Disney property, has really never been known for wowing customers with culinary delights, and, in fact, has a pretty negative reputation. Here’s hoping that La Hacienda de San Angel can be their ace in the hole once the restaurant officially opens.
Right now, the incredible margaritas and stellar Illuminations view are the two main reasons to visit La Hacienda.
Have you dined at La Hacienda de San Angel, or are you planning to head to the restaurant on your next Disney World visit? Let us know what you think in the comments section below!