Review: Maelstrom and Tamarind Margaritas at La Cava del Tequila in Epcot’s Mexico Pavilion

I know, I know… we’re officially well into the second full week of 2015 already(!).

And that probably means it’s time for me to stop wishing everyone a “Happy New Year.” But when I think of places I like to toast big occasions such as the arrival of a brand new year (or, you know… a Tuesday), it should come as no surprise that La Cava del Tequila in Epcot’s Mexico Pavilion is at the very top of my list.

So I’d like to take one last opportunity to toast 2015 with you here on the blog with a couple of margaritas from The House of Tequila… the Tamarind Margarita and the Maelstrom Margarita!

La Cava del Tequila Sign

La Cava del Tequila Sign

La Cava del Tequila entrance inside the Mexico Pavilion

La Cava del Tequila entrance inside the Mexico Pavilion

But first, we’ve got to take care of what might be the second most difficult thing to do at this popular tequila haven… and that’s find a seat.

Seating in La Cava

Seating in La Cava

Backs of chairs

Backs of chairs

No matter where you sit, all signs point to the star of the show… tequila! From the mural on the wall depicting the tequila-making process, to the huge array of bottles of tequila spotlighted at the bar.

La Cava Wall Mural

La Cava Wall Mural

La Cava Wall Mural

La Cava Wall Mural

La Cava Wall Mural

La Cava Wall Mural

La Cava del Tequila Bar

La Cava del Tequila Bar

So, what’s the MOST difficult thing to do at La Cava? Naming your poison. You’ve got your choice of over twelve specialty margaritas, and that doesn’t even begin to touch on the selection of straight tequilas.

Now, you know I love the Avocado Margarita.

Avocado Margarita

Avocado Margarita

Other frontrunners for me include the Horchata and the Wild Passion Fruit. But on my most recent visit I just had to start by raising a toast to a much loved (and now extinct) EPCOT Center attraction with the Maelstrom Margarita.

You may recall (of COURSE, you recall ;) ) last October, when the Maelstrom attraction [Read more…]

Review: Pomegranate Lime Frozen Mojito and Empanadas at La Cantina in Epcot’s Mexico Pavilion

Happy NATIONAL MOJITO DAY, EVERYONE!! OK, I’ll be honest. We’d PLANNED to share this post with you on the ACTUAL National Mojito Day, but a big news item came up and we had to bump it. So this is our STAND-IN National Mojito Day. I hope that works for you. :-D

Still, crazy how time flies, isn’t it? I remember last Mojito Day like it was yesterday! It feels like I was just putting up my Mojito Tree, baking mojito cookies and singing all my favorite mojito carols…

Oh, wait, was that just me?

Anyway, on this day as we gather with family and friends to celebrate Mojitos all around the world ;), we thought we’d show you a mojito in Epcot’s Mexico Pavilion that has more than a bit of a twist… the Pomegranate Lime Frozen Mojito found at La Cantina de San Angel.

La Cantina Sign

La Cantina Sign

La Cantina Drink Menu

La Cantina Drink Menu

The drink serving is huge – it fills every inch of the glass and beyond, as you can see. (At $11.50, I should hope so.)  As a bonus, it’s also looks terrific!

Frozen Pomegranate Lime Mojito

Frozen Pomegranate Lime Mojito

A traditional Mojito is a mix of fresh mint, lime, club soda, sugar, and white rum on the rocks. The Pomegranate Lime Frozen Mojito has… well, it’s got lime :) . And pomegranate!

Tequila – as opposed to rum – is the featured liquor here, and I can’t say I picked up one hint of mint. What I did pick up on was a refreshing blast of cold, fruity sweetness nicely balanced by the tart lime.

Pomegranate Lime Frozen Mojito

Pomegranate Lime Frozen Mojito

For all my joking about Mojito Day traditions, I’m actually not a huge mojito fan myself, so this version is far more up my alley.

You know what goes well with a tart-and-sweet beverage like this? Something

[Read more…]

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…]

News! Epcot’s Mexico Pavilion Celebrates Cinco de Mayo with Special Menu Items

Don’t forget to swing by Epcot this week to celebrate Cinco de Mayo in the Mexico pavilion. Special menu items will be offered throughout the pavilion’s restaurants from May 5-11, 2013!

Epcot's Mexico Pavilion

La Hacienda de San Angel and San Angel Inn

Menu items offered for Cinco de Mayo at La Hacienda de San Angel and San Angel Inn are noted below.

Appetizers
Cream of Chile Poblano — Chile Poblano, cilantro, onion, garlic, and Mexican cream. Garnished with tortilla strips, poblano peppers, and cream.

Chalupas de Chicharron — Corn dough topped with roasted chipotle sauce, shredded chicken, pork rind in green tomatillo sauce, fresh cheese, sour cream, and avocado.

San Angel Inn Dining Room

Entrees
Chile en Nogada — Egg battered stuffed poblano pepper with pork, almonds, raisins, apple, pineapple, cinnamon, roasted tomato, and garlic. Topped with a walnut cream sauce.

Enchiladas de Mole Poblano — Corn tortillas filled with marinated chicken. Topped with Mole Poblano sauce, sesame seeds, and Mexican cream.

Pollo Rostizado en Salsa de Mercado — Slow roasted French-chicken breast. Topped with a roasted green tomato, pine nuts, garlic, onion, and saffron sauce.

Carved Wood Tables at Hacienda de San Angel

Dessert
Camotes en Leche Condensada — Sweet potato dessert topped condensed milk. Garnished with almond brittle.

Drinks
Horchata Margarita — Horchata, a traditional Mexican beverage, is water infused with ground up rice and flavored with lime, cinnamon, and sugar. Try this unique Horchata Margarita and let us know what you think!

La Cava del Tequila

Stop by La Cava del Tequila [Read more…]

Epcot Recipe: La Cava del Tequila’s Sangrita

One of our favorite hang-outs at Epcot is La Cava del Tequila in Epcot’s exotic Mexico pavilion. Awesome margaritas, great atmosphere — who wouldn’t love this place?

La Cava del Tequila Bar

Recently, Cava del Tequila (@cavadeltequila) tweeted their Sangrita Recipe when we mentioned that one of our readers had requested it. Thanks, Cava!! We figured others of you might want in on the secret, too!

This lovely drink is featured on the Tequila Flight — it’s the final shooter; the last beverage glass on the right.

Tequila flight

La Cava del Tequila Sangrita Recipe

(makes one gallon)
24 oz. Tomato Juice
6 Serrano Pepper (very fine chopped)
1/2 Red [Read more…]

Review: Epcot’s Mexico Pavilion Margarita Stand

It’s time to pay some homage to the little kiosk that could. The Margarita stand in Epcot’s Mexico pavilion has been churning out frozen drinks for years and years. The location and menu have changed, but the delivery is still the same — a plastic cup filled with a strong, cold, kind of…bad…margarita.

Epcot Margarita Stand

OK, now before you start to argue, let’s look at the facts: since La Cava del Tequila moved in next store, the difference between the fiesta margarita from the Epcot kiosk and an aguacate, pineapple, or even jalapeno margarita from La Cava is pretty stark, right? The flavors and depth of the drinks from La Cava just [Read more…]

San Angel Inn Review

Special thanks today to Chip over at Chip & Co. for this great guest review of San Angel Inn in Epcot’s Mexico pavilion! Also, thanks to Annabel Freeman for contributing the fantastic food photos!

A lot of people overlook San Angel Inn in Epcot’s World Showcase, and I have to ask myself “why?” San Angel Inn Authentic Mexican Cuisine has something for everyone, and if you give me a few moments I will show you some of the nuances that make it a restaurant you will not want to pass by on your walk around the World Showcase.

San Angel Inn Entryway

San Angel Inn Entryway

First off, let me talk about the ambiance:
When you walk into the marketplace you are greeted by what I feel is one of the most breathtaking views in Epcot. A beautiful wishing fountain greets you as you walk down the ramp. You hear the buzz of the people in the marketplace checking out the different wares for sale. The soft glow of the lights makes you feel like you have stepped back in time to Central Mexico. The view of the Aztec Pyramid in the background rises high over the marketplace, and upon walking into the restaurant the bold and beautiful colors of the tables are scattered before you. A gentle glow of the lamps on the table adds a sense of romance to this breath taking view.

San Angel Inn Pyramid and Dining Room

San Angel Inn Pyramid and Dining Room

You can hear the sounds of the newly updated Grand Fiesta Ride with Donald Duck in the background, which reminds you that you are not in Mexico, but still at Disney World. For some, this might be a bad thing; but for me, I want to remember I am at one of the greatest places on Earth: Walt Disney World!

Bring on the grub:
I recommend ordering the ceviche with any flavor of Frozen Margarita as an appetizer. If you don’t like seafood, the nachos are great, too. The Margarita is a lifesaver after a long day of trekking around the park. If you are there with a special someone be sure to mix those drinks up so you can sample one of each. You won’t be disappointed.

Tortilla Chips and Salsa are served to every table

Tortilla Chips and Salsa are served to every table

All the entrées are fantastic; I have yet to have anything I didn’t like. A fair warning though: the food here is different from the typical “American-ized” (I hope that’s a word) Mexican food you have back home. My first time eating here I was expecting just a traditional meal that I would have at my local restaurant (which is very good I might add –- shout out to La Hacienda), but I was caught off guard by the flavors and spices used at the San Angel Inn!

Combination Plato -- Enchilada, Burrito, Steak

Combination Plato -- Enchilada, Burrito, Steak

Be daring and try something new is what I always say when on vacation. (Insert cheesy sarcastic comment here!) What my family and I always do is order different items so we can sample more than one dish. Everything on the menu is full of flavor and just blows your taste buds out of the water.

Polly a las Rajas -- Grilled Chicken with Peppers, Onions, and Cheese

Polly a las Rajas -- Grilled Chicken with Peppers, Onions, and Cheese

If you have a child like we do, the childrens’ menu will not disappoint. It is by no means chicken fingers (where is that part on a chicken by the way?) or hamburgers. Your kids will be able to sample some good, authentic, Mexican cuisine.

On to dessert, all I can say is WOW! I could eat the items on the desert menu everyday for the rest of my life. (Of course I would probably weigh 800 pounds if I did.) I have never had Flan before I came to San Angel Inn, and though I have tried it since, none can compare to the texture, smell, and melt in your mouth goodness of the Flan they serve there.

You have heard the good; now on to the bad and the ugly:
For 2010, Disney has dropped the San Angel Inn from its Disney Dining Plan. This makes me quite upset! My family and I absolutely love eating here, but now are going to have to either pay money out of pocket or maybe try to pop in for a drink and dessert. If any Disney Execs are reading this, maybe they could do Chip a favor and add this wonderful restaurant back!

Editor’s Note: See comments below for good discussion on this topic; some restaurants may sign up for the plan later than others. Our fingers are crossed!

Wrap it up already:
OK…OK… Overall, the San Angel Inn dining experience is one of my personal favorites at Disney World. Between the romantic ambiance and the scrumptious food I can think of no better place to take my family. It is good for a romantic couple’s meal (try to get seated near the water) or for a fun family experience. The service there is second to none.

So next time you are on your trek around the World Showcase, stop by Mexico, have a delicious meal at San Angel Inn, and think of me… OK maybe not… Enjoy!

Avocado Margarita at the Epcot Tequila Bar!

You remember from my first Food and Wine Festival post that I had the lucky opportunity to sample an Avocado Margarita in Epcot’s La Cava del Tequila, right?

No?

Here’s a reminder — Cast Member, Rafael, kindly posing with the sample shot!:

Thanks, Rafael!

Thanks, Rafael!

I really enjoyed the sample, and I was looking forward all week to trying a whole margarita. I thought I’d virtually take you with me on my trip to enjoy one!

La Cava del Tequila
But before we order, I wanted to show you around the Cava a little bit. It’s truly an amazing addition to World Showcase. Warm, cozy, and comfortable, I could easily spend a couple of hours here chatting with friends and sampling many of the different Margarita flavors. Of course, the popularity of the place will have to die down before I can do that! Every time I returned to the Cava during my trip, the place was mobbed. Hopefully in the months “post-Festival,” there will be more available seats…or at least enough room to move around in there!

When you head into the Cava, you’re greeted by the bar to your left and a cozy little seating area to your right. There are bar tables in the middle of the room, as well. It seems to be “every man for himself” as far as seating goes here — from what I can tell, nobody’s actually controlling where and when folks sit.

Epcot's La Cava del Tequila

Epcot's La Cava del Tequila

Bar Area

Bar Area

Seating Area

Seating Area

Also on your right hand side (as you know from the Tequila Tasting Seminar blog) there’s a brilliant mural depicting the life cycle of Tequila processing.

A Section of the Cava del Tequila Mural

A Section of the Cava del Tequila Mural

All in all, a wonderful place to spend an evening in Epcot. I really think you’ll enjoy it!

Avocado Margarita
So, back to the drink! When I finally found a day when the Tequila Bar was slightly less crowded than it had been all week, I perused the drink menu but decided on that Avocado Margarita that I’d sampled previously.

It’s called the Aguacate; here are the details (it’s the second one listed on the menu photo):
El Mayor Blanco Tequila, Midori melon liquor, fresh avocado mixed with fresh lime juice and agave nectar syrup, served frozen with a hibiscus Himalayan salt rim: $12.50

Avocado Margarita Recipe

Avocado Margarita Recipe

I watched with anticipation as the bartender actually peeled and added two sections of an avocado to the blender in front of me! Is this thing actually going to taste as good as the sample?!?

Blender with Ingredients...Including Ripe Avocado!

Blender with Ingredients...Including Ripe Avocado!

While it was blending, I snapped a photo of some of the salt rimming stations. Apologies for the blurry photo! La Cava del Tequila has loads of salt flavors to add accents to the tequila drinks.

Salt Rimming Stations

Salt Rimming Stations

Finally, my drink was ready! It was very smooth, which I don’t always expect from blender mixing. The only “chunks” in the drink were of avocado; these were tiny — you can see them in the photo below — and actually added texture to the drink, which was interesting. The margarita was very tart, which wasn’t something I expected in an avocado-based drink but was very welcome. As you know, I’m a big fan of sour drinks. And this margarita was the perfect antidote to the scorching day outside — very refreshing and flavorful. In my opinion, this is a great way to escape the Florida heat or just take a break and slow down for a while.

Aguacate

Aguacate

Again, I have nothing but high marks for La Cava del Tequila. The staff are knowledgeable and accommodating, and the atmosphere is very inviting.

I really look forward to hearing about your trips out to the Cava!

Epcot’s La Cava del Tequila

Tequila Variations ©Disney

Tequila Variations ©Disney

It’s finally open! I’m so thrilled that the Cava is ready to serve (and even more thrilled that I get to share with you all the info about my tequila tasting at the Food and Wine Festival later this Fall!). This will be a welcome addition to the beautiful Mexico pavilion — especially for us foodies. Be sure to pick up your sombrero on the way out.

To peruse the Epcot Tequila bar menu, click on the link!

Here’s Disney’s official press release about La Cava del Tequila in Epcot’s Mexico. Enjoy!

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Tasty tequilas and mouthwatering margaritas are on tap at La Cava del Tequila, a new offering for Epcot guests to explore the heritage and tradition of tequila-making in Mexico.

Cava del Tequila munchies ©Disney

Cava del Tequila munchies ©Disney

Tucked away in the Mexico pavilion at Epcot, La Cava del Tequila beckons guests with more than 70 types of authentic tequila, ranging from the simplest to the rarest of them all, aged to perfection and made from the finest distilled spirits from the agave plant. Tequilas range in price from $8 to $50 for a specialty tequila.

Amid warm décor, art work and original artifacts all celebrating the Mexican heritage, a “Tequila Ambassador” is on hand to educate Walt Disney World guests on the history of tequila-making.

Also on the drink menu: Exotic and uniquely blended margaritas, introducing a variety of flavored salts, spices and tropical fresh fruits masterfully prepared by experienced mixologists.

Drinks de Tequila ©Disney

Drinks de Tequila ©Disney

A variety of quick tastes, tapas style, will be available, including freshly made guacamole and ceviche as well as mahi mahi tostadas with diced mango and avocado and blue crab tostados with chipotle mayo and Valentina sauce.

The 30-seat La Cava del Tequila is open from noon until Epcot park closing time. It is connected to the famous San Angel Inn as part of the Mexico pavilion, a popular stop for Walt Disney World guests.