the disney food blog Rotating Header Image

Review: Epcot’s La Hacienda de San Angel

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.

Atmosphere
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.

Artwork on the Outside Wall of La Hacienda

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.

La Hacienda de San Angel painting

Carved Wood Tables

Booth and Artwork

Close-up of Hanging Lights

One of the Main Dining Rooms

View from Our Window Table

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.

Drinks
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 Castillo

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?).

Coffee Margarita sample

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.

Classic Margarita

Orange Mango Fire Margarita

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!

Eats
We wanted to sample everything on the menu, but that would have cost a FORTUNE. This place is NOT cheap.

Appetizer, Entree, Dessert menu -- Click for larger image

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.

Botana Appetizer

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.

Shrimp Tacos

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.

Pollo al Pastor

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!

Chocolate con Churros

The empanada de manzana was a better offering, but the filling was skimpy and the portion size was still rather small for the price.

Empanada de Manzana

Filling inside Pastry

Overall
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!

Other Posts You May Enjoy:

35 Comments

  1. carolyn says:

    Thanks for the review, AJ. I was debating between trying this restaurant or eating inside at the San Angel Inn. I think I’ll stick with San Angel Inn. :) Great pictures! I’m hungry for some salsa now….

  2. James says:

    This was the review I was waiting for, AJ, as you’ve confirmed just about everything I’ve been told and/or read about this place! Being a bit selective about good Mexican cuisine, I’m going to avoid La Hacienda for a while. The food quality does not seem worth the price, especially when you consider similarly priced food right there on the World Showcase.

    I have to add that I am in complete agreement with you when it comes to ordering chicken, especially at Disney World. It pains me to say that the best chicken entrées I’ve eaten there have been from counter service restaurants.

  3. Carla says:

    AJ (and any one else who has eaten there),

    Perhaps La Hacienda would be a good place to just do appetizers and margaritas? We tend to do that quite a bit at Disney World any way so maybe we’ll try that when we go there in November.

    Carla

  4. Brook Monroe says:

    @Carolyn – San Angel Inn has not been the best of venues lately. See http://www.scottjosephorlando.com/home/65-mexican/758-san-angel-inn

    Scott is the former food critic for the Orlando Sentinel.

  5. Mark says:

    Wow! I’ve been behind on reading reviews of the new place but I really thought it was going to be worth it. Hopefully it was just an off night for them. As always, glad to see you being straight up with us regardless of how the food is, no matter how much we want it to be amazing!

  6. Elisabeth says:

    We are definitely trying that when we go next month, but I think we might avoid two common disaster menu items for Mexican restaurants…shrimp and chicken. That is awfully sad about the churros though…I was most looking forward to those.

  7. Sad to hear it’s yet another restaurant in WDW that is “mediocre and overpriced”. Seems to be their modus operandi, especially with the restaurants that aren’t Disney owned.

    Thanks for the in-depth review!

  8. Jo says:

    Oh, that makes me sad. Guess I’ll find out for myself in December.

  9. robin says:

    man, this place is expensive. that’s so disappointing about the food. boo.

    EXCELLENT PICS. looks like someone’s having a lot of fun w/ their new camera. ;)

  10. Sassagoula Billy says:

    It seems to me that Disney’s banking on the Illuminations ADR craze to make up for anything else. Disappointing.

  11. chris says:

    Thanks for the review. I totally trust your opinion. Maybe it will improve?

  12. Brooke says:

    Thanks for the honest review. I’m disappointed that the food isn’t special, but I look forward to trying the margaritas. They all sound really interesting.

  13. Shayne says:

    Great review, AJ. I know you and I share similar tastes in Mexican food, so while I’m sure that I’ll get around to trying La Hacienda someday, it’s not high on my to-do list for the time being. With that said, the presentation of the dishes sure is pretty!

  14. AJ says:

    Carolyn — San Angel isn’t always the best, but I do like the entree I get there better than the one I got at La Hacienda!

    James — Let me know when you DO try it and what you think of it!

    Carla — Absolutely! I think apps and drinks would be a great option at La Hacienda! (But, if you’re going to do that, you could just go over to La Cava del Tequila; I don’t remember if pricing is cheaper, but it may be a good alternative.)

    Brooke — Thanks for the review.

    Mark — Thanks for the feedback!

    Elisabeth — Yes; I think we’ll make different choices when we go back! The churros were definitely a disappointment, too. We had much better at Paradiso 37 in Downtown Disney.

    Matt — I had such high hopes for this one…

    Jo — Let me know what you think! I’d love to hear a glowing review.

    Robin — I AM having SO much fun with my new camera!!!! :-) Now, when are you getting on the plane to get over here for the WDW Foodie Fest?

    Billy — Exactly. And I think the Illuminations craze WILL help this restaurant.

    Chris — Who knows. San Angel and Maya Grill haven’t gotten MUCH better in many years. If you hit Hacienda, let me know what you think. (Are you here now?)

    Brooke — The margaritas are amazing!

    Shayne — Thanks! Agreed that the presentation is gorgeous :-) They DO appeal to the visual palate!

  15. Josh says:

    I really like the hanging lights, very decorative and neat.

    It does look like an interesting menu (The food menu) but the prices just seem a bit much. The first thing that my eyes went to were Del Mar plate and I saw the price on that, until I realized it is meant for TWO people.

    Great review AJ, at least we are now all forewarned of what is to come!

  16. John says:

    I completely agree, the atmosphere was really great, very cozy and homey, however the prices and the snafus we had then we were there (about a week ago), made the experience a lot less “magical” than we’d hoped and expected. Overall, I love the place, the food was really good, but nowhere near the prices they are charging…

  17. Galloping Gourmand says:

    I hate to think that my initial skepticism was grounded. This place had the potential to be something really special. It seems that the best thing about the restaurant – the view – can be enjoyed without actually ordering food or simply with a margarita on the outside patio. That’s what I plan to do now. Grab a margarita or something from the pickup window, find a table, and enjoy the view. A simple pleasure and I’m sure it’s a good one.

    As an aside, I’m quite a fan of the San Angel Inn. I think the food is reasonably good but I love it most for the atmosphere.

  18. robin says:

    oh, to be on a plane headed to WDW! I SO WISH i was going this year. :(

    but i am going to DL next tuesday. that counts for something, right? ;)

    do you think you’ll be coming out for CA’s F&W fest next year? if so, we’ll meet up then. :)

  19. Edward says:

    I could not disagree more with nearly every statement you made. My wife and 3 children had dinner there on November 28th, and absolutely loved it. The service was wonderful, our waiter took the time to explain the menu in detail, and also explained to us the design of the restaurant, and how it relates to more common Mexican home. The atmosphere is beautiful, the food, fantastic. My wife had the chicken, which was moist and tendor, and was not by any means a “small” portion. She is a big chicken fan, and said it was possibky the best she has ever had. I had the flank steak, which was spectacular, and again, a sizable portion. The Orange Fire margarita was delicious, as were the deserts (between the 5 of us, we had 1 of each). We also chatted with Hilda, who was charming. Of all of the “sit-down” restaurants in WDW, this ranks up there as one of our favorites, and can’t wait to go back. Maybe they had grand-opening kinks to work out, but I goota tell ya, you are doing yourself a dis-service if you pass this up!

  20. Edward says:

    Why anyone would comment on something being dissappointing, without judging for yourself is short-sighted at best.

  21. AJ says:

    Edward — Thank you so much for the review! Disney restaurants are rarely consistent, so it’s great to hear that Hacienda is working kinks out and offering guests a wonderful experience! Did you guys get to see the fireworks? We loved the Orange Mango Fire margarita, too. So unexpected! And we are always happy when we get the chance to see Hilda. :-)

  22. Jennifer says:

    I completely agree with this review! Ate here on the last weekend of F&W for a bite to eat and to watch the fireworks. Completely agree the margaritas are amazing, got the Margarita flight ($18) and it was a great sampler! We ended up doing drinks and appetizers and was suprised by the price of the food. Food was mediocre for the price, the view was amazing though! The dessert was as well mediocre and overpriced. I payed $7 for a scoop of ice cream and a small piece of Churro that tasted old.

  23. AJ says:

    Thanks for your comment, Jennifer! I hope they take the hint on the desserts sooner than later! :-)

  24. Ghenghy says:

    We just ate there mid-December and thought it was excellent. It is pricey, but the location is fabulous (we had a great view of Illuminations), the service was good, and the food was excellent. The margaritas were a little weak, but decent.

    Dinner started with chips served with both red and green salsas, both of which were very good. Our appetizer was the ‘Chiles toreados y chorizitos’: sweet peppers roasted with lime and salt and served with chorizo sausages. This was very tasty and quite filling. We made ourselves stop eating it or else we wouldn’t have had room for our entree. We enjoyed it so much, I’m going to try to replicate the peppers in this dish at home.

    For the entree, we got the Del Mar platter for two. It consisted of fish, shrimp, & scallops, and is served with beans, rice, corn, and tortillas. It’s a lot of food! Seafood is easy to ruin, but the shrimp and scallops were perfectly done. Even the corn was tasty, it was drizzled with a little sauce that added a tang. I can’t say anything about the fish because I ran out of room before I tried it. The one odd thing is that the platter is specifically for two people, but everything came in odd numbers: 5 tortillas, 9 shrimp, etc. We thought this platter was a winner and I’d happily order it again. We didn’t order dessert, so I can’t comment on that. We enjoyed our dinner and would eat there again given the chance.

  25. Susan says:

    I also have to disagree with the reviewer as our experience was completely different. We dined at La Hacienda during soft opening and had one of the best meals we’ve ever had in a Disney park, and we’ve been to every restaurant on site. The service was excellent, but the food was even better. We tried several things among our group, including the Chiles toreados y chorizitos (appetizer that, IMO, was so good I could have made a meal of it), the Botana, Arrachera (flank steak), Puerco en Salsa de Mole Negro (roasted pork), and the Tamal de Dulce. We tried a Margarita Flight, then returned in the evening for the Rosita (which is probably the most luxuriously tasty margarita I’ve ever had).

    We’re going back in March, and while it’s fair to say your experience may not have been stellar, La Hacienda does turn out some exceptional dining.

  26. Bill says:

    BLUF: Bad Service, Overpriced and Mediocre Food. We had dinner at La Hacienda on Friday February 18th. We had the Chorizo Fundido appetizer and it was okay at best. The cheese was good, but the peppers and chorizo could have been sprinkled on and added no flavor. The tortillas were cold and only about 4 inches in diameter. For the 2 of us we got 4 tortillas. We ordered the dinner for 2 with chicken, steak and chorizo. The chicken was good, but we only received about a 4 oz. portion. The steak was about the same size and the only spice was about 2 tablespoons of cilantro on top. The chorizo was what appeared to be about 15-20 little smokies, but with less flavor. The service was terrible and rushed. My wife was pummeled in the back because the wait staff and managers rushing the cattle out kept jabbing her as they were rushing by. This place is horribly overpriced. I don’t mind paying extra for a great experience, but I would tell anyone to save your money and go get the counter service around the side of La Hacienda. The service will be better and the food is better. If you want a great experience at a good price go to Boma or Whispering Canyon.

  27. Kimberly says:

    We just dined at San Angel this past week & we LOVED the whole experience! The food was the best I’d ever had at Disney! The portions were large, I couldn’t eat all of my steak nor could my sister in law, but we so desperately wanted to because it was so delish. My Mother In Law & A friend of her’s loved the meal for 2…they couldn’t stop raving about the chicken! My husband & FIL thought the Pork Mojo in banana leaves was one of the best mojos they had ever eaten (Husband travels extensively through the southwest and has had many a mojo). The chocolate custard was good and a very nice portion for dessert.

    The wait staff was kind, courteous…a little slow, but when you are spending this kind of money, I don’t want to be rushed!

    Friends have already made reservations to return during the food & wine fest in Oct….

  28. AJ says:

    Ghenghy, Bill, Susan, and Kimberly — Thank you SO much for your in-depth reviews!! It is so helpful for people to see the different experiences possible at this newer restaurant.

  29. Jill says:

    Thank you, AJ, for the review and the discussion it sparked! My son and I are going to WDW in November and were looking for a new place to try. I think between all the comments here I’ve got a pretty good idea of what to expect–we are going to eat at La Hacienda. Reservations are for 8:45 so hopefully we’ll get a seat near a window! BTW, your photos of the menus were so helpful. Can’t wait to try a mango blueberry basil margarita!

  30. Kevin says:

    Do not listen to this this review..I repeat do not listen to this food critic`s review of this restuarant. If you do, you are doing yourself and your family a disservice !. My wife and 5 year old daughter just got back from Disney and had the dining plan because it was free as part of a special promotion. We actually ordered the same exact dishes as the reviewer. The chicken was very moist, flavorful, the rice and black been dish was delicious. My shrimp tacos were filling and very well done. Neither dish was a small portion size ! The waiter was awesome and very interactive with my daughter. Yes, the view and atmosphere were incredible but the food even better. This was the best meal out of all the restuarants in Disney. The empanada dessert was delicious. This pretentious foodie “critic” does not have a clue.

  31. AJ says:

    Thanks for your feedback Kevin! I hope that most of my readers know that I’ve never billed myself as a “critic.” I’m just a regular Disney fan who’s eaten just about everywhere. :-) My visit to La Hacienda was about a week after it opened, and, as is the case with most restaurants, I’ll bet that they weren’t entirely in the swing of things just yet. That said, I’m sure that the restaurant has listened to a lot of the early feedback and made some significant changes. I look forward to trying the restaurant again in the near future. Thanks again for your personal take on things!

  32. Denise says:

    Just read through all the reviews and I too have to agree that the “critic” missed the mark on this one. As a floridian and WDW fan, who lives in the Orlando area, my family and I have eaten at almost every dining opportunity that WDW offers from counter service to fine dining and La Hacienda is excellent. Their queso is a great starter and if you want a very different margarita – try the Orange Mango Fire- loved it. We tried multiply entrees and enjoyed them all. La Hacienda has become one of our new favs at Epcot.

  33. Cleo says:

    Okay, don’t get the dessert, just order the apps twice. Got it.

    This blows Bistro de Paris out of the running for a Illuminations-viewing meal. MEHICAN!!!

  34. AJ says:

    Cleo — You got it! ;-)

  35. Anne Marie Geary says:

    Ate at La Hacienda San Angel In 2011, with guests, service terrible, never been back. Tried to let them know how upset I was, never turned on their fax machine. Couldn’t get in touched with anyone. I’m going back in Oct. and bringing letter & fax cover sheet and see what they could do..

Leave a Reply

Current month ye@r day *