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??
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.
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.
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.
Seating is a combination of booths and tables with chairs.
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.
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!
But for now, Let’s talk food!
We were greeted by our server with handsome menu covers in vibrant green leather. Pretty cool detail, eh?
Inside, the menu is fairly small. Page one is exclusively devoted to beverages! Perfect!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!!
Delicious, sweet, and creamy, with a perfect amount of seasoning and just a touch of warmth. I am still dreaming about this soup!
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.
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.
Black Beans and Mexican Rice were served in large bowls, family-style.
But honestly, we had so much more interesting food to occupy us, we didn’t really touch either one. 😉
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!