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Review: La Hacienda de San Angel in Epcot’s Mexico Pavilion, Walt Disney World

I’m gonna be honest. On my last few trips to La Hacienda de San Angel, the cost just wasn’t worth the experience.

But on this visit, things were a bit different. Maybe it’s because I ordered the things I was confident in, or maybe it’s because I had a killer window table and view of IllumiNations. Or maybe it was just the margaritas. (But I’m pretty sure it was the soup. More to come on that.)

But no matter how it happened, this was a night to remember! An expensive night to remember, but a night to remember nonetheless.

Wanna hear about it??

Atmosphere

Start your adventure by heading into Epcot’s World Showcase and swing by the Mexico pavilion. Step up to the archway bearing this sign at the entrance, and you’ll have found the check-in podium. It’s hard to miss.

The check-in podium is underneath this sign!

La Hacienda Sign

Once inside, you’ll receive a pager and take a seat in the waiting area if there’s one available. We were dining on a steamy day and would have appreciated a larger place to hang out. Our table wasn’t quite ready when we arrived, but that was probably due to the fact that we asked for a spot by the window.

We weren’t in a hurry, however. So taking a load off was kind of nice. We’d made a 7:30 reservation with the hopes of seeing the 9:00 fireworks, so we knew we had some time to kill. And we were seated soon enough.

One thing that La Hacienda got right straight from the beginning is the ambiance. Simply put, this is a gorgeous restaurant.

Atmosphere

Inside the Restaurant

The soaring ceilings, heavy furniture, and warm-colored tile floors give a homey feeling to the spot, which totally makes sense. This is La Hacienda, after all. You’re dining in a residence-turned-restaurant. (For more of the backstory, you can see one of my earlier reviews.)

The whimsical hanging lights — both the punched metal star sconces and the paper lanterns — are just beautiful! As the light wanes, they become even more breathtaking, lighting the space with a candlelight-like glow.

One of the Main Dining Rooms at La Hacienda

Another View of the One of the Dining Rooms

Seating is a combination of booths and tables with chairs.

Seating

Seating

Booths line the center of the room, as you can see from an earlier pic. But some of my favorite booth seating is elevated and along the back wall. This is a cozy way to enjoy the view of World Showcase.

Booth and Artwork

Booth Seating

And speaking of the view…here it is! As I mentioned, we waiting for a little while to get this window-side table. And it was totally worth it. Check out our stellar vantage point for sunset. And when Illuminations starts, it only gets better!

View of World Showcase

View of World Showcase

But for now, Let’s talk food!

Eats

We were greeted by our server with handsome menu covers in vibrant green leather. Pretty cool detail, eh?

Menu Cover

Menu Cover

Inside, the menu is fairly small. Page one is exclusively devoted to beverages! Perfect!

Beverage Menu -- Click to Enlarge

Beverage Menu — Click to Enlarge

And while there are many options, my friend and I had kind of a hard time settling on drinks. We knew we wanted margaritas, but the problem is…we’ve had most of these! In the end, we both went for the Classic Margarita. I ordered mine saltless while she requested the Tajin Chili Powder Rim featured on a couple of the margaritas. They happily complied with both requests. Here’s a shot of my saltless version.

The drinks were smooth and well crafted, with the balanced flavors of sweet, sour, and tequila.

Classic Margarita with a View

Classic Margarita with a View

Drinks in hand, we set about ordering our food. There aren’t many options to choose from, but I’ve gotta say — that’s okay with me. Because everything is multi-faceted and full of flavor. And for me at least, there’s enough variety of selection to keep my interest.

Menu -- Click to Enlarge

Menu — Click to Enlarge

We began our meal with complimentary Chips and Salsa. The tri-colored chips from my previous visit had been replaced with regular chips, but the spicy, smoky Red Salsa and the milder Salsa Verde were the same. To be honest, we didn’t really eat many of them! We needed to save our appetites for all the dishes to come.

Chips and Salsa

Chips and Salsa

Our first ordered item soon arrived — the Gorditas. Miniature Corn Cakes are stuffed with Chorizo (huzzah!!), Potatoes, and Arugula, and according to the menu, are topped with a Chipotle Sauce and Sour Cream. I didn’t spy chipotle sauce on ours, but they were sprinkled with Queso Fresco.

Gorditas

Gorditas

They were fine, but nothing to write home about. Flavors were fresh, and for corn cake lovers, these would probably be ideal.

But next — and be honest, you KNEW this was coming — we had to get the Queso Fundido. I mean, how could we not?? You’ve seen it before here on DFB, but it’s always worth getting at La Ha.

Melted Cheese, Roasted Poblano Peppers, and Chorizo. This is like cheese heaven. And once again, it was marvelous.

Queso Fundido

Queso Fundido

They come with Flour Tortillas to scoop up the cheesy goodness (actually, I usually use a fork to get the cheese onto the tortilla). But I’ve also enjoyed it with the aforementioned chips. Either dip vehicle works well; just depends on whether you’re in a crunchy or soft state of mind, I guess.

Flour Tortillas

Flour Tortillas For the Queso Fundido

It was just as good as it had been on previous visits.

Next came THE highlight of my meal. Actually, it was the highlight of my WEEK.  The Crema de Elote, or Corn Soup. (This always happens to me. I order an awesome soup and then they take it off the menu a few weeks later. But if you’re going to La Ha anytime soon, I’m hoping and praying you can GET. THIS. SOUP. Do it for me.)

I’m a huge fan of corn bisques and soups anyway. But this had to be just about the best version I have ever tried.

Corn Soup -- Just Poured

Crema de Elote — Corn Soup

Unbelievably creamy — really, this was pretty much a bowl of cream and butter with some corn thrown in — it was actually poured out tableside into a bowl containing the garnish. They say in the menu that the garnish is spicy julienned tortillas, but there was definitely something more! The spice was awesome!!

Pouring the Corn Soup

Pouring the Crema de Elote — Corn Soup

Delicious, sweet, and creamy, with a perfect amount of seasoning and just a touch of warmth. I am still dreaming about this soup!

Corn Soup -- Up Close

Crema de Elote — Up Close

Before long, our entrees arrived. Disney has a love affair happening with Short Ribs right now, so I thought I’d try the Costillas en Salsa de Chile, or Braised Short Ribs. The dish is served on a bed of Pureed Potatoes with a Sauce made of Chile de árbol.

“Pureed” is the right word for the potatoes — they were silky smooth. And while the small arbol chili peppers can be pretty spicy, I thought the sauce delivered just the right amount of heat. I’m usually not a huge fan of short ribs, but this was a wonderful dish.

Braised Short Ribs

Costillas en Salsa de Chile — Braised Short Ribs

My friend decided to go with the Tacos de Camarones, or Shrimp Tacos. These are always a hit at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival!

She enjoyed them very much, noting that the shrimp were sweet and well-prepared. The Chipotle-Lime Aioli and Salsa Verde were excellent garnishes for the lighter shellfish.

Shrimp Tacos

Tacos de Camarones — Shrimp Tacos

Black Beans and Mexican Rice were served in large bowls, family-style.

Black Beans

Black Beans

But honestly, we had so much more interesting food to occupy us, we didn’t really touch either one. ;-)

Mexican Rice

Mexican Rice

So far, this meal was tracking head and shoulders above than any other regular dinner I had had at La Hacienda! And we were both satisfied with our meals to the point that we could have skipped dessert.

But where would the fun in that be? And so we took a look at the menu.

Dessert Menu -- Click to Enlarge

Dessert Menu — Click to Enlarge

The desserts had changed up a bit since our last visit. The Tamal de Dulce is gone, and I’m not all that sad about it. And chocolate has taken a slightly different format; what last was a custard has now morphed into a mousse.

The Empanada de Manzana remains. I’m normally a big apple dessert fan, and I think this one is pretty good, although it could use more sauce.

Empanada de Manzana with Dulce de Leche Ice Cream and Cajeta

Empanada de Manzana with Dulce de Leche Ice Cream and Cajeta

In the end, we went with an updated version of a returning favorite — Helado, or Ice Cream. But this go ’round, it was Helado de Maíz, made with Sweet Corn.

Corn Ice Cream

Helado de Maíz — Corn Ice Cream

We had our reservations, but my friend absolutely loved it! She said that for her, the sprinkle of Sour Chile Seasoning was the key to putting it over the top. And the Caramel Corn was a great garnish, adding crunch and an extra pop of sweetness to the dish, which was somewhat on the mild side from a sugar perspective. Me? I think my palate is a little too immature for this dish. ;-)   I didn’t like it at all.

For our second choice, we figured that we couldn’t really go wrong with Mousse de Chocolate. Served with a garnish of Almond Brittle, the mousse had a deep chocolate flavor and a light consistency.

Chocolate Mousse

Mousse de Chocolate

I thought it was a good option after the heavy meal.

And while we were enjoying our desserts, the lights lowered and we were soon enjoying our other reason for choosing La Hacienda — an unparallelled view of IllumiNations!

Fireworks

Fireworks From the Comfort of Our Air Conditioned Seats!

I have seen Illuminations many, many times, from all points around World Showcase. But on a hot summer day, there is simply no way you can beat the comfort of watching it from an air-conditioned restaurant while wrapping up a great meal.

Beautiful View of the Fireworks

More Fireworks

Really. Stop taking chances on finding a spot, or trying to get a seat at Rose and Crown. La Hacienda is the way to go!

Overall

Well, third time is the charm. I’ve eaten at La Hacienda a few times, and I’ve offered a review of my experience twice before. But hands down, this was the best visit to date. Our service was good, and our food was, well, great! From beginning to end, there were dishes that caused us to rave! And for me, that uniformly positive experience was something to be truly excited about.

One thing to note if you’re planning to make an Advance Dining Reservation here — they do not accept Tables in Wonderland, which is unfortunate. But they do take the Disney Dining Plan.

If you haven’t had a chance to check out La Hacienda, give it a try. A cut above your normal Mexican-Restaurant-in-America experience, coupled with that gorgeous view, means that I’ll certainly be back for more.

Will you be trying La Hacienda for dinner during your next trip to Walt Disney World? Leave a comment and let us know what you think!

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34 Comments

  1. Claire says:

    We ate at La Hacienda last October for my boyfriend’s birthday. The food was terrible and the service worse! Despite having the perfectly timed reservation for Illuminations we left the restaurant before the show started just to get away from our server!

  2. Venessa Hinojosa-Wright says:

    Fancy Mexican Food. Gorditas should not contain arugula period lol. I love my grandmas versions. She would put refried beans and eggs and potatoes in them. We would have then for breakfast. I’ll def have to check this place out seeing it looks better then the one inside. Thanks for the review.

  3. Sarah says:

    We had the worst service ever at the restaurant. When we decided against drinks, our server visibly lost interest in our table. We ordered appetizers and entrees. We never saw our server again. We had to walk around the restaurant twice – once to find someone to ask about the appetizers, which arrived when we were almost through with the entrees, and another time to find someone who would bring the check. Food was not memorable, but the bad service was!

  4. Joni says:

    The Mousse, what is it sitting on? Looks like black beans?

  5. AJ says:

    Joni — Those are blueberries. :-) The dessert was served during the fireworks and the lights were dimmed considerably in the restaurant, so tough to grab pics. :-)

  6. Joni says:

    AJ, thanks that is much better lol

  7. Gary says:

    My wife & I had dinner there for the 1st time Dec 2013. The service was excellent (friendly & attentive). We shared the Parrillada – Del Mar (serves 2) and it was an “excelente comida”! I would order it again & recommend highly to others and goes for the restaurant too.

  8. Gary says:

    That goes for the dessert also,Helado de Maiz – corn ice cream served with candied popcorn.

  9. Jasmine says:

    Love this restaurant! Can’t beat the views =) Also I love the fact that they have a separate printed Vegetarian Menu (upon request) that always has several different options to choose from.

  10. Marion Durham says:

    We enjoyed our visit with La Ha opened and I want to go back, but since they stopped taking TIW, we haven’t bothered. It’s too bad.

  11. Gary says:

    We asked about TIW advised they stopped taking it but then were told and received a 20% discount for being DVC members.

  12. Courtney says:

    I would love to see a review of the vegetarian items they offer – I have never found pictures and I want to see how great they look! Bonus points for no cilantro!!

  13. Tom says:

    Too bad this place doesn’t take TIW so it’s off our list…a 20% DVC discount would work in it’s place…I wonder if this is officially published somewhere.

  14. Lynda Harner says:

    Glad you enjoyed your meal and Illuminations.
    I am guessing this is the restaurant right on
    The water and not the one inside Mexico. Last December
    We ate at La Hacienda the restaurant that is
    Right on the water. It was to say the least
    The most horrible experience we have had. The
    Menu you showed was different, not one
    Item we remeber. We ordered the tacos and
    The food was cold. The waitress was rude and
    We will never waste our time eating there again.
    I am glad your experience was much moreenjoyable than ours.

  15. Michelle says:

    I am so glad to see this great review of La Hacienda in Mexico! I have the same plan of booking a 7:30 pm ADR for Feb 6th. I am glad to hear that they took your request to be seated by a window even if it meant waiting a little longer. I am going to try this when we go. My husband has never seen Illuminations so I thought this would be a real treat. This is one restaurant in the WS that I have not tried yet. We love Mexican! I can’t wait to try one of the specialty Margaritas.
    Thank you so much!

  16. E.J. says:

    I’ve had the veggie tacos and enchiladas off the vegetarian menu and can vouch that these are good options, however, I do find all of the food here (as at most Disney restaurants) very salty.

    Also, if you arrive hungry, your server may continue to provide beans and rice if you ask. At least, ours have in the past!

  17. Laura says:

    We went here for my birthday in May, and we loved it! Our server Pamela was wonderful, and the Tacos de Camerones were my favourite meal of the trip!

    They do accept DVC discount, but only up to for 4people per member, but as we had more than one cardholder they were happy to split the bill to apply the discount to all 8members of our party!

    La Hacienda is definitely on my must do list for our next visit!

  18. Tina says:

    We attended La Hacienda June 2013, we had excellent service and the food was delicious. We will be back.

  19. Kristine says:

    Thanks for the review. Everything looked so great that I instantly signed on to My Disney Experience and booked a table at 7:30 for our last night in the world. I thought it would be a great treat before we head home and my daughter has to move back to campus and eat dining hall food for 9 months. We will definately be getting the Queso Fundido because that is right up our ally and I’ll be getting the Crema de Elote, or Corn Soup as that looked like heaven in a bowl. Not sure what entrees will appeal to us that night but we will probably share the Empanada de Manzana

  20. Justin says:

    Did they get rid of the Avocado Margarita?

  21. Mike V says:

    Ate here in August of 2013 and enjoyed an excellent meal. Service was a bit rough….also got sort of the droopy face once we told her we would not be ordering drinks (I just went from Canada to Mexico what does she expect???).
    Queso Fundido is a no doubt MUST enjoy…..I love those heart attack waiting to happen meals!!!

  22. Avaitor says:

    I’m doing a Disney trip in October, and I’m trying to decide whether to plan an Illuminations dinner at the Rose and Crown or here. It seems that for every glowing review I find for La Hacienda, there’s an equally disappointing review that I find to mesh. It’s especially hard to decide because I enjoy both British and Mexican cuisine!

  23. Michelle says:

    We just ate there on July 4th. My fiancé and I loved it. The service was great and everything we had was delious. They even made me a custom margarita when I didn’t really care for the choices. We had a pretty decent view of the fireworks . I’m pretty sure we’ll go back next time we’re at Epcot.

  24. C. Evans says:

    Eat here for Epcot’s 30th Anniversary…food was great, service was great, and my waiter moved me to an empty window seat to watch Illuminations! Have now gone back several times and have always enjoyed the meal. Always surprised to read so many negative reviews. The shrimp tacos are my favorite! Have to say the desserts are a little lacking, but I tend to feel that way at most of Disney’s restaurants. Guess that’s why I stopped doing the meal plans…wouLd prefer a nice salad (or soup) instead. And yes…Hacienda have a good salad to start off with…that is after a Rosita Margarita!

  25. K.N. says:

    We eat here for the first time just a month ago. As big fans of Mexican food, we were not at all disappointed! I will admit that it is for the more adventureous platate but top to bottom it was our best meal of the trip! Service was outstanding, atmosphere was great- can’t wait to go back! Especially for the Carmel corn ice cream- Delish!

  26. Mike V says:

    Aviator…..nothing negative to say about Rose and Crown, but if I were making that choice, it would be simple for me…La Hacienda!!
    I am guessing you gave R & C a try prior, if so, give L H a try….I think you will be glad that you did!

  27. AJ says:

    Justin — It wasn’t on the menu the evening we visited, but you can still get it at La Cava Del Tequila across the way.

  28. Joe B says:

    Glad you had a great experience this time AJ. La Hacienda is one of our faves & we’ve been going every year since it opened. If you haven’t tried the Horchata, you must on your next visit. Such a unique drink. I enjoyed it so much when I tried it in January that I’ve been making them at home regularly.

  29. Kim says:

    Just wondering…we are going in September and could only get a reservation for 7:00 (latest they had). Do you think if we request a window table and are willing to wait, they would “kick us out” if we ate really, really slowly so we can watch the fireworks at 9:00pm? :) Just not sure how that would work. Thanks!

  30. Lisa says:

    Did they play the music inside for Illuminations? We have someone travelling with us that has never seen it, so we want her to have the “whole experience”.

  31. AJ says:

    Lisa — Yes, they play the music inside!

  32. AJ says:

    Kim — They won’t kick you out. Your server might like you a bit better if you order drinks, though, since the tip would probably increase. ;-D

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