Review: San Angel Inn in Epcot’s Mexico Pavilion

Today, we are heading into the pyramid once again for dinner at one of Epcot’s most atmospheric restaurants — 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.

Atmosphere

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.

Pyramid -- Up Close

Aztec Pyramid in Epcot’s Mexico Pavilion

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.

View of the Aztec Pyramid

View of the Aztec Pyramid Inside

Among the other village building facades that border the square is the entrance to San Angel Inn, through this archway.

San Angel Restaurant Entrance

San Angel Restaurant Entrance

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.

Seating Area and Restaurant Scenery

Seating Area and Restaurant Scenery

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!

Aztec Pyramid, Volcano, and Intimate Seating

Aztec Pyramid, Volcano, and Intimate Seating

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.

Lower Patio Seating Area

Lower Patio Seating Area

Although tables are uncomfortably close together, they are [Read more…]

Guest Review: Via Napoli’s Arancini Appetizer in Epcot

Welcome guest author Paul Kuconis! Today, he shares the popular Arancini Appetizer at Via Napoli in Epcot’s Italy pavilion. Grazie, Paul!

I always look forward to our Walt Disney World visits; and I look forward to the food! One of our ‘go-to’ Epcot restaurants is Via Napoli Pizzeria E Ristorante, or better known as ‘Via Napoli’.

One of the problems with dining here is that we have to walk almost to the very back of Epcot to get to Italy. But that only heightens the anticipation!

Via Napoli - almost there!

Via Napoli entrance.

Atmosphere

Although we had to change our reservation to a more convenient time, we were given a good table close to the pizza station.

Pizza Ovens!

While we waited, we took in the décor!

Intricate, beamed ceiling.

We enjoyed our seats under the watchful eyes of Stromboli, Vesuvio, and Etna. The three pizza ovens are named after active volcanoes in Italy; Stromboli on the Aeolian Islands, Vesuvius near Naples, and Mount Etna in Sicily.

Being Watched By Stromboli, Vesuvio, and Etna.

It was equally interesting to watch the chefs prepare and cook pizzas. They look like they enjoy their jobs and perform them with military precision.

Eats

I would like to share with DFB readers our favorite Via Napoli appetizer – Arancini.

Arancini means ‘little oranges’, which is exactly what these round/oval, deep-fried rice croquettes look like when they are removed from the hot oil.

They are served as snack food in bars and cafes all over Sicily, and their filling can vary — meat and tomato sauce with peas, chopped vegetables and white sauce-cheese, and prosciutto — depending on the cook.

Aranci Menu Item.

We were served by Luca, who came to Epcot via Turin, Italy. Luca agreed, “Good choice!”, and placed the order for the Arancini. I also ordered a glass of Batasiolo Chardonnay.

Chardonnay Batasiolo Menu Item.

If I planned on more that one glass, Luca suggested the quartino. Good idea! I enjoy a nice Chardonnay, but by no means consider myself a wine connoisseur. I drink what I like whether or not it is appropriately paired. It went well with my meal.

Quartino of Basasiolo Chardonnay.

Finally, after what seemed like hours, (but was, in fact only ten minutes!), Luca delivered [Read more…]

Review: Tokyo Dining in Epcot’s Japan

Craving sushi or just need a relaxed and elegant spot for lunch or dinner? It’s time to book Tokyo Dining!

Although we have recommended Tokyo Dining a number of times as a decent spot for catching Illuminations, I’ve never posted my own review of this restaurant. So we made it a priority to head over and dig in — for the sake of the blog. ;-)

This spot is located on the second floor of the Mitsukoshi Department Store building in Epcot’s Japan, adjacent to the Hibachi-style Japanese steakhouse, Teppan Edo.

And while we know it’s a terrific place to stop by for sushi (and it’s rarely crowded), they’ve got plenty on the menu for non-seafood palates as well. Let’s take a look!

Atmosphere

Like a growing number of World Showcase restaurants, Tokyo Dining and Teppan Edo now have an outdoor check-in area for busy days. On our visit, it wasn’t that crowded; so the cast member told us to head on upstairs to check in.

Check-in Desk Outside Teppan Edo and Tokyo Dining

We were met by two very gracious Japanese cast members, signed in, and directed to wait in the lobby of the two restaurants.

The quiet, sleek, and spacious waiting area is a welcome respite from the relative activity of the theme parks. It’s very restful.

Waiting Area

Once your name is called to be seated, you’ll be directed to one of two main dining rooms at Tokyo Dining.

The first room features an on-stage sushi kitchen, where you can watch chefs as they prepare dishes for guests.

Additional Seating and Open Sushi Kitchen

The other dining room features some seriously cool indirect lighting, plus plenty of natural lighting and panoramic views of World Showcase.

Here’s a weird tip: the tables by the windows have super cushy padded chairs, while the others are less comfortable. Just an FYI…and one good reason to request a seat by the window.

Another good reason? Illuminations. Yep; you really can see the fireworks from here (albeit they can be slightly obstructed by trees or people standing on the balcony outside).

Dining Room Seating

We were here during the day, however, so I was happy to take in the views from my cushy window seat. ;-)

View From Dining Room

We had lots of items to choose from, so after taking in our surroundings, it was time to settle down and decide [Read more…]

Review: Coral Reef Restaurant

At long last, Coral Reef is finally getting its due on the Disney Food Blog! The last time I visited this restaurant was when I was much, much younger, so I knew it was time to give it a try again. It’s been through a lot of changes, but, from what I can tell, the basics are still the same…

Atmosphere

Coral Reef is one of only a couple of table-service restaurants located in Epcot’s Future World. You’ll find it hidden in the Seas With Nemo and Friends (The Living Seas for those who used to visit in the 80s), tucked back in the right-hand corner. You really need to want to find it; you won’t just stumble over this restaurant by mistake! But after all these years, the sign is still very similar to what it was way back when, so those who have a tinge of Epcot nostalgia like me will be very pleased…

Upon entering the restaurant (using the seahorse door handle of course), you’ll find that the place is themed — as it should be — but in a very stylized manner. Walls and flooring are undulating as if you’re under water. Light fixtures resemble coral and shells. Glass fish sculptures sit inside lit alcoves behind the [Read more…]

New Menu Item: Appetizer Trio at Epcot’s Rose & Crown Restaurant

So, we chatted a few weeks ago about a food trend that seems to be taking Disney World by storm — trios! And we’ve found another new menu trio over at the Rose & Crown Restaurant that we thought was pretty great — almost as good as the English Bulldog!!

While the Yorkshire Dales was definitely on the tip of my tongue to order, that appetizer trio is new on the menu since my last visit, and I couldn’t wait to try it. It included Rose & Crown’s delicious Potato & Leek Soup — a strong contender for my favorite soup on property, scotch eggs, and Beef Pasties. The trio comes “to share,” so there’s two of everything — perfect when you don’t want someone stealing any of your soup!!!

Rose & Crown Appetizer Trio

First, I dug into that delectable soup. That stuff is cream + butter + salt + cream + [Read more…]

Menu Spotlight: English Bulldog at Rose & Crown Pub

Editor’s Note: As of 2013, the English Bulldog is no longer on the Rose & Crown pub menu.

So, I was looking at the Rose & Crown pub menu one day and I saw this:

Yes, PLEASE!

It took a while for me to get back to the World and get my hands on one, but I was thrilled when my buddy Lisa from Babes in Disneyland agreed to head to the pub with me to try one last month!

Rose and Crown

Atmosphere
We arrived right at opening to a nearly deserted pub and quickly [Read more…]

Guest Review: Garden Grill Restaurant

Jeff Kocan, an incredible writer and blogger over at www.CigarettesandCoffee.com (he was the evil photographer of this little ditty — don’t look if you’re hungry), kindly penned and photographed this review of the Garden Grill Restaurant in Epcot’s The Land. This rotating restaurant is in many of our childhood memories, but these days, it’s got a new “spin.” (Couldn’t help it.) Take it away, Jeff!

Garden Grill Restaurant

For too many Walt Disney World visitors, The Land pavilion on the east side of Epcot’s Future World is probably best known as the building you rush through twice per visit – once to get Soarin’ Fastpasses and once to redeem them. It’s worth spending a little extra time here, though, as the building also houses an above-average food court, a more-fun-than-it-sounds agricultural boat ride, and one of the park’s most unique restaurants, the revolving Garden Grill.

The Garden Grill has been around since Epcot’s (or, if you will, EPCOT Center’s) opening day on October 1, 1982. Back then it was known as the Good Turn Restaurant; it became the Land Grille Room in 1986 before taking its current name in ’93. Lunch service here ended in 2008, and the restaurant now exclusively hosts Chip and Dale’s Harvest Feast, a family-style character dinner.

Chip and Dale's Harvest Feast

The Atmosphere
I tend to think of the Garden Grill as one of Disney World’s “forgotten” character meals — it certainly isn’t mentioned as frequently as, say, Chef Mickey’s or Cinderella’s Royal Table. That said, during our Sunday-night visit, the restaurant was full and the adjacent waiting area was packed with diners waiting for their buzzers to buzz. Said waiting area is essentially a vacant corner near the public restrooms, and aside from a couple benches, the ground is the only available seating. Germophobes may prefer to stand.

Once you’re in the restaurant itself, you’re treated to an experience unlike any other in the parks: [Read more…]