Today, we are heading into the pyramid once again for dinner at one of Epcot’s most atmospheric restaurants — San Angel Inn Restaurante.
San Angel Inn Restaurante
We have had a myriad of experiences here, ranging from very, very bad to excellent. In the past, San Angel Inn has suffered from a Disney restaurant’s biggest drawback — inconsistency.
We haven’t visited the original Mexico table service restaurant since the pavilion’s latest spot, La Hacienda de San Angel, opened on the waterfront. But we continue to love to drop by La Cava del Tequila and Cantina de San Angel, Mexico’s counter service option, so we thought it was time to give San Angel Inn a try once more.
Besides, they had undergone some changes since our last meal, and we wanted to see them for ourselves.
Walking through Epcot anytime of the day is a treat, but it’s especially beautiful at night. And that’s when we decided to visit Mexico for dinner one evening on a recent trip.
You’ll find San Angel Inn by heading into the Aztec Temple, which serves as the centerpiece for Mexico.
And inside the pyramid, it’s always nighttime. As you make your way toward the back of the building, you come into an open courtyard setting, which feels like the town square of a quaint Mexican Village. In the distance, you’ll spot another Aztec Temple that looks very like the one you just entered. Beyond that, there’s also an active volcano. It’s really quite pretty, and sets the mood for the entire area, which also houses shopping, as well as La Cava del Tequila and the Three Caballeros Attraction.
In fact, boats of riders make their way along the quiet river below the restaurant — very similar to Blue Bayou in Disneyland.
Among the other village building facades that border the square is the entrance to San Angel Inn, through this archway.
Step through the archway, and the floorplan for the restaurant opens up before you. It’s actually a fairly small space. But tables are placed very close together. This was a new detail of the recent renovation and restaurant updates, and I’ve gotta say — it’s not my favorite aspect of dining here. I’m uncomfortable in a restaurant whenever I feel like I can reach out and touch the person at the table next to me.
This table for two, near the rail that overlooks the Three Caballeros attraction, does offer a bit more intimacy. We always recommend requesting a waterside table here!
The layout of the restaurant is quite nice. The floor is actually comprised of varying levels, which lend some interest to the space. I took this photo near the railing, looking back up into the courtyard.
Although tables are uncomfortably close together, they are well dressed. The refresh that San Angel Inn underwent in 2011 resulted in a “casual elegance” in the space. Tables are now set with white tablecloths and blue and white china — design choices inspired by the original San Angel Inn, located in Mexico City.
As a result of the refresh, San Angel looks less like your favorite neighborhood Mexican chain restaurant and more like a fine dining spot.
I’d kinda really like to have a set of these.
But, alas, table settings do not a successful dining experience make, right? (My house at Thanksgiving will teach us that over and over again. ;-D) Time to settle down and see a few dishes.
If you’re interested in learning more about the history of the original San Angel Inn — which dates back to 1692! — check out the top of the Beverage Menu.
Drink choices at San Angel are pretty interesting actually, with a good assortment of Top Shelf Margaritas, Tequila, and even Mezcal. We credit the opening of La Cava del Tequila, with its handcrafted margaritas and amazing tequila assortment, with this development. You can even get their Tequila Flight here!
We asked to see both the Lunch and Dinner Menus just so we could show you the difference. Notice on both, you have the standard Epcot table service prix fixe option. Order the “Traditional Mexican Lunch” or “Traditional Mexican Dinner” for three pre-selected courses and your choice of soft drink or iced tea.
I thought it was kind of interesting that you could only get the Tacos de Pescado — Fish Tacos — in the dinner prix fixe option. That’s something to note if you’re a big fish taco fan.
Chips are still complimentary here, and we were glad to see that they still appeared not to be as pre-packaged as they were on our first visit.
Salsas come in two varieties — a mild red version and a slightly spicier green version, made with tomatillos. Both had a fresh taste, if they were a little lacking in spiciness for our heat-loving palates.
Next, we had to order one of our favorite dishes from our previous visit. Tostadas de Tinga had pleasantly surprised us before with a generous portion and fresh flavors.
Alas, our serving was considerably smaller. And given that we paid nearly twice the price — yes, you read that correctly — this time around, this development was pretty disappointing.
But we shook it off, and continued to anticipate our meals. My husband went for the Carne Asada. The grilled New York Strip is served with a Cheese Enchilada, Black Refried Beans, and Mexican Rice. The plate also comes with Guacamole.
And you know — it was fine. But the steak was on the small side, and overcooked, and the sides were just sort of bland. There was nothing “premium” about the plate that would justify the sticker price.
During my first visit to San Angel, I was bowled over by a fantastic dish, Pollo a las Rajas, and I’ve ordered it on every visit since. (I know — boring.) But they’ve changed the recipe slightly from my first visit, so it’s not nearly as incredible as I remember.
The chicken was fine, but the rice was a more cilantro-based recipe versus a Spanish rice type of flavor. And the topping had previously been a more queso-based sauce versus just a cream sauce. The flavor didn’t wow me as it had before.
And again, a steep price hike since our last visit made everything even worse. More money for less food that simply didn’t taste as good as it had on our previous visit. Not the kind of trend I like to follow.
Dinner had missed the mark, and we had zero confidence in desserts, since they’d never been great here. Still, we forged ahead. The menu had changed up a bit since our last visit.
We tried the Crema Bavaria first. It was basically a square of gelatinous mousse with not much going on. A small square of gelatinous mousse. That cost $8. You can see by the size of the mousse next to the blackberries and blueberries how small it was.
The Pastel de Queso con Cajeta — Cheesecake with Caramel “Cajeta” Sauce — had the potential to be something very special. I mean, Cajeta is fantastic! But it wasn’t all that special. It was just plain cheesecake with the tiniest drizzle of cajeta sauce on top. Sadness. And, again, small.
We wrapped up the meal, still a little hungry, our impressions of this fun spot once more tarnished.
There’s no two ways about it — San Angel Inn Restaurante needs to step up its game. With new, much better fare available, spots like Tutto Gusto, Via Napoli, and Spice Road Table, it would be a good idea for the quality to improve here to compete.
I mean, you’re halfway there, San Angel! You have a primo, beautiful location with lots of foot traffic. This is a fun destination spot, just waiting to live up to its reputation as an Epcot food destination! Here’s hoping that food and service come together to match the prices here on our next stop in.
What are your impressions of San Angel Inn Restaurant? Leave a message and tell us about your experience here.