Review: La Hacienda de San Angel in Epcot’s Mexico Pavilion

Recently, I met some friends for a cozy dinner at La Hacienda de San Angel in Epcot’s Mexico Pavilion.

My last visit to La Hacienda proved to be just about the best yet. While my earliest visits to the dinner-only restaurant were largely hit and miss, my experiences during the last couple of years have been very positive.

But you never know when things can shift and change. After all, this is Disney World — not exactly known for being consistent when it comes to dining quality. And La Hacienda is pricey. Does it continue to be worth it?

Let’s head in for dinner and you can see for yourself.

Atmosphere

We arrived on time for our 6:30 advance dining reservation and checked in. We requested a window side table, and they were happy to accommodate us. It only took a little longer to be seated.

Hacienda-sign

La Hacienda de San Angel in Epcot’s Mexico Pavilion

If you haven’t been inside La Hacienda before, be sure to take a look around during your visit, and review the back story. In a nutshell, the restaurant is supposed to be the rambling home of an artistic family, and they’ve opened it up to guests. Seating is a mixture of booths and table/chair combos, all of which are comfortable and inviting.

Dining Room -- Another View

Dining Room and View

Seating

Seating

And I can never get enough of those gorgeous punched tin star lanterns! The homey feel of the backstory definitely comes across in the comfortable setting.

Atmosphere

Seating

Colorful artwork hangs throughout the space, so there are always details to absorb as you await your dinner. I love these elevated booths along the back wall. They offer great views and are perfect for quiet conversations.

Booth and Artwork

Booth and Artwork

When you’re finished looking around inside, don’t forget to take in that view! It’s breathtaking and you have a front row seat for all of the magic of Illuminations — Epcot’s evening fireworks spectacular.

View of World Showcase

View of World Showcase

See what I mean? Water-level views AND air conditioning for the show (and they do pipe in the music). It’s completely amazing.

View of Illuminations from La Hacienda de San Angel

View of Illuminations from La Hacienda de San Angel

But what about the food? Glad you asked. Here we go.

Eats

I don’t know how you feel about it, but I kinda think it’s a travesty not to start a meal with a Margarita at La Hacienda. If you’re a fan of La Cava del Tequila, you’ll certainly recognize the offerings here. And if the Black Ant Salt Rim on the Tamarind Margarita piques your interest, be sure to read all about La Cava’s interesting array of salt in this post.

Drink Menu -- Click to Enlarge

Drink Menu — Click to Enlarge

Ultimately, we gave into temptation, each choosing a tried and true favorite. Clockwise from the top, you’ll see a Classic Margarita (Tequila Blanco, Orange Liqueur, Lime Mix…we ordered ours sans Salt); the Orange Mango Fire Margarita (Tequila, Ginger Liqueur, Orange Juice, Mango Puree, Fresh Lime Juice, a hint of Tabasco) with the incredible Tajin Chili Powder Rim (we LOVE this stuff); and the Maelstrom (Tequila Blanco, Mango Puree, Orange Liquor, Agave Nectar, Habanero Peppers, Blueberries, and Basil). The latter commemorates the closing of the Maelstrom attraction in Epcot’s Norway, Mexico’s next door neighbor. It also sports the Tajin Chili Powder Salt treatment.

Everyone LOVED their choices. And if you shy away from spice, don’t let the Orange Mango Fire or the Maelstrom scare you off. I don’t detect a whole lot of heat in either one. (But then, I mostly like heat. So.)

Trio of Margaritas -- Maelstrom, Classic, and Orange Mango Fire

Trio of Margaritas — Maelstrom, Classic, and Orange Mango Fire

As we sipped on our drinks, our server also brought Chips with two kinds of Salsa (Rojo and Verde, natch) to nibble as we looked over the menu.

Chips and Salsa

Chips and Salsa

While there were some changes to the menu, I was happy to see that all of my favorite dishes remained in place.

Menu -- Click to Enlarge

Menu — Click to Enlarge

We were interested to see a separate menu with Vegetarian Offerings as well.

Vegetarian Menu -- Click to Enlarge

Vegetarian Menu — Click to Enlarge

I immediately decided that I had to have the Crema de Elote, or Cream of Corn Soup, again. In fact, I declared to the table that I wasn’t sharing, so if anyone else wanted some, they’d better get their own bowl! :-D

In a move that’s become pretty standard in restaurant circles, we received our soup in two parts. The bowl arrived first, and contained Corn, Tortilla Strips, Seasoning, Sour Cream, and Hot Sauce. I know — the tortilla strips look like french fries. But they are, I assure you, tortilla strips.

Crema de Elote -- Before the Soup is Poured

Crema de Elote — Before the Soup is Poured

To this, our server added the creamy Soup.

Really, there are just no words to tell you how amazing this soup is. It’s perfectly creamy without being cloying or rich to the point of making you feel ill. The sweet corn flavor comes through as well. But there’s also just a spark of spicy warmth to the seasonings. And the corn and tortilla strips add enough texture to keep the whole thing interesting.

Crema de Elote -- Pouring the Soup

Crema de Elote — Pouring the Soup

This has been one of my favorite dishes in all of Disney since I had it a couple of years ago, and I’m over the moon that it’s still on the menu! So please — RUN to La Ha and get this. I promise you will thank me.

Pouring the Crema de Elote

Pouring the Crema de Elote

We also couldn’t resist sharing another tried and true La Hacienda hit — Queso Fundido.

This is basically a shallow bowl of melted cheese, and not particularly saucy. I say this because you need to mooove when they put it on the table. Dig in right away, or you’ll need to use a knife to cut portions, rather than scooping it out.

Oh — and it’s amazing, with the garnish of Roasted Poblano Peppers, Chorizo Sausage, and Creamy Avocado Puree adding smokey, spicy flavors with just a little heat.

Queso Fundido

Queso Fundido

The Queso comes with Flour Tortillas, but we liked spreading it onto our Tortilla Chips as well.

Flour Tortillas for Queso Fundido

Flour Tortillas for Queso Fundido

After the incredibly rich and filling appetizers and a round of margaritas, we really could have called it a day. But we had entrees coming! And we opted to try a few new things.

One of my friends chose the Carnitas Yucatecas. The all-meat, all-the-time dish is described as Pork Confit. Actually, it’s braised and then during the last bit of cooking time, the meat is browned in its rendered fat on high heat. The result is tender with incredible flavor from the concentrated seasoning, and the caramelization resulting from the cooking brings it all together. The dish was absolutely fantastic.

Carnitas Yucatecas

Carnitas Yucatecas

I almost always favor the red meat option on the menu. I had tried the Braised Short Ribs during my previous visit and really enjoyed them, but this time, I opted for the Sirloin Steak. The steak itself was crusted with a mix of Pumpkin Seeds, Garlic, and Habanero Pepper and was served with a Tequila-Butter Cascabel Reduction and a garnish of Roasted Tomatillos, Onions, and Chiles. Corn Mashed Potatoes completed the plate.

Sirloin Steak

Sirloin Steak

Another friend had a hard time deciding what to try, and ultimately went for the Taquiza, or Taco Sampler. The platter featured four different Soft Tacos: Grilled Chicken, Grilled Steak, Pork Chilorio (braised and fried pork), and Fish.

My friend loved the variety that the dish demonstrated and the care and effort put into each separate taco. While she liked the Fish Taco best of all, each one got high marks.

Taquiza Sampler of Tacos

Taquiza Sampler of Tacos

We also received large bowls of Black Beans and Rice. These are served family style for everyone at the table. They’re delicious, but to be honest, we didn’t have much stomach space to give them their due. They’re good for making mini tacos with the leftover tortillas from the queso fundido!

Shareable Sides of Black Beans and Rice

Shareable Sides of Black Beans and Rice

We had a look at the dessert menu, but decided we were entirely too full from the rest of our meal to do it justice.

Dessert Menu -- Click to Enlarge

Dessert Menu — Click to Enlarge

While we took a pass on the sweets this time, we’ve tried the Empanada de Manzana (Apple Turnover) and the Chocolate Mousse before, and both are quite good, though very small in portion for the price.

Empanada de Manzana with Dulce de Leche Ice Cream and Cajeta

Empanada de Manzana with Dulce de Leche Ice Cream and Cajeta

Chocolate Mousse

Chocolate Mousse

The Helado de Maíz, or Corn Ice Cream, has been replaced by Flan de Maíz. I didn’t like the Corn Ice Cream (although one of my friends is still raving about it), and I’m not a huge Flan fan.

But what we did enjoy instead was the walk through a nearly empty World Showcase! And this beautiful view of the Mexico Pavilion at night.

Mexico Pyramid at Night

Mexico Pyramid at Night

It was almost as good as dessert. And far fewer calories. :-)

Overall

La Hacienda continues to delight, and that’s not something I could have said a few years back.

The menu here is small, but I find that there are fantastic hidden secrets on it. (Really. You can’t even begin to imagine how good that soup is.) Each dish seems to be crafted with care, and you really do encounter some special dishes here. Add to that the good service we’ve been fortunate to enjoy, and those incredible views, and I think you have a solid Epcot dinner option in La Hacienda. We certainly continue to prefer it to the other table service restaurant in Mexico, San Angel Inn. (So pretty. And yet so very underwhelming.)

So, yes: my recommendation still stands. If you’re looking for good food, and especially if a Dining + Illuminations option interests you, then you should definitely check out La Hacienda de San Angel on your next visit to Walt Disney World.

As always though, I’m really interested in hearing what you think! Does La Hacienda de San Angel rate a spot on your Disney Dining schedule? Leave a comment and tell us about it!

Comments

  1. Keith says

    The Mango Fire margarita and corn soup are fantastic. Unfortunately, they stopped offering their most authentic dish several years ago…the puerco de mole

  2. luvf&w says

    Have you ever tried to get the recipe for that soup?? I have a corn soup obsessed sister and she would LOVE it if I could surprise her with it. I’ve tried hunting it down in the past with no luck.

  3. Lee & Robin says

    Perhaps it is better now than when we went a couple of years ago, but…. when we went it was a terrible experience. The food was bland. The service was terrible. We were seated in “steerage” at a bunch of adjoining tables with loud groups on either side of us. The queso fundido was not the creamy, melted cheese one normally gets in a Mexican restaurant, it was cheese that had been melted then allowed to resolidify. We had made our reservation in order to be able to see Imaginations comfortably from inside, but it was clear that wasn’t going to happen with the groups that happened to be surrounding us, so we just left and watched the show from outside. We’re very hesitant to go again.

    On the other hand, our one experience at the San Angel Inn was the total opposite… good service, great food, and relaxed atmosphere.

  4. says

    Sarah — I touched base with AJ just to confirm, and she said that the steak was awesome — perfectly cooked to her medium-rare request, with fantastic seasoning. The accompanying corn mashed potatoes were creamy and rich, and the tomatillos, chiles, and onions were a nice change of pace to what’s normally served with a steak. The reduction gave an extra layer of rich flavor to the whole dish. Definitely a thumbs up. — That said, it’s no Mama Melrose’s! :-D

  5. Jen says

    Hubby & I went to La Hacienda last week. We both ended up choosing the sirloin. It was by far the BEST steak I’ve ever eaten anywhere. The mashed potatoes absolutely melted in my mouth. I can’t recommend that entree enough. The apple turnover was OK, but shone brightly when accompanied by the delicious ice cream and sauce. Our reservation was for 7:15. We were seated in the booth nearest the entrance. Around 8:30, my husband asked the server if our seat was good for IllumiNations. (Our server was extremely efficient and courteous, by the way.) She moved us to an empty booth in the main dining room, nearer the large windows. It was a wonderful evening. More than we normally spend on dinner for two, but the food was excellent and the experience was lovely. Highly recommend.

  6. says

    Gigi — We’re not sure. It’s definitely not dairy free. We’ll try and ask the next time we’re in Epcot — which will be soon!

  7. Mark says

    We love Chef Flores at the festival demos. Last year we went just to see him and then went home. Really looking forward to trying his lunch this year. Need to try this place for dinner.

  8. Phyllis says

    My husband and I were there in May. We did not have reservations but they sat us right away. I had Pollo al Pastor and my husband had Taquiza taco sampler. The food was excellent, service was great and the fireworks view was amazing.

  9. Katy says

    Went based on this review during our thanksgiving trip and had the best dinner! We requested a window view and it took about 30 min longer but the table was well worth the wait for Illuminations. And if anyone gets the recipe for the Crema de Elota I need that because it was amazing!

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