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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
See what I mean? Water-level views AND air conditioning for the show (and they do pipe in the music). It’s completely amazing.
But what about the food? Glad you asked. Here we go.
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.
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.)
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.
While there were some changes to the menu, I was happy to see that all of my favorite dishes remained in place.
We were interested to see a separate menu with Vegetarian Offerings as well.
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! 😀
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Queso comes with Flour Tortillas, but we liked spreading it onto our Tortilla Chips as well.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
It was almost as good as dessert. And far fewer calories. 🙂
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!