Step inside Epcot’s Mexico pavilion with guest author Rebecca Dolan! Let’s check out her lunch review of San Angel Inn.
If the thought of eating Mexican food at an amusement park brings up images of overstuffed burritos, taco salads, and plastic-cheese nachos, you’re not alone. And while Disney does those things (and does them well), when dining in Epcot you can expect more authentic options.
The Mexico Pavilion is home to two full-service restaurants, San Angel Inn and La Hacienda de San Angel. Today we’re heading deep inside the pyramid for lunch at San Angel Inn.
This spot has been hot and cold for us in the past. On some visits, it’s wonderful; on others, there’s a lot left to be desired. So I’m excited to see how Rebecca got on in one of Epcot’s legacy restaurants!
Once inside the pyramid you’ll step into a town square, where a fiesta is being held under a twilight sky.
There are stores, street vendors, a tequila bar, and the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros boat ride.
To the back of the plaza, overlooking the river and in the shadow of a volcano, is the restaurant.
The restaurant itself looks like a riverside terrace, where boats from the Gran Fiesta Tour float by. It may not actually be open-air dining, but the landscaping and the dim lighting overhead really do give the illusion of eating outside.
That dim lighting does present a bit of a problem, though, as it’s barely enough to see, and the table lanterns aren’t of much help.
You may want to make like my dining companions and use your mobile phones to illuminate your menus.
Like I said before, the food in here is the real deal. You won’t find anything like crispy tacos, bright orange queso dip, or deep-fried chimichangas – things that are really Tex-Mex staples rather than authentic Mexican fare. Instead you can find dishes like Mole Poblano, Tostadas de Tinga, Quesadillas Rebozadas, and Tlacoyos de Chilorio.
After guests are seated, they are greeted with a basket of chips and a duo of salsas. (Yes, a bit of an American touch.) The red salsa is smoky and spicy, while the green tomatillo salsa is better for those who like it mild.
On my visit, my dining companions and I also started with an order of Queso Fundido. Unlike the aforementioned orange queso dip, this is a white squeaky cheese that gets soft and gooey without completely melting. The generous portion of cheese was topped with chorizo, peppers, and onions, and served with soft flour tortillas for scooping.
Most of the flavor comes from the meat, so if you’re vegetarian and forgoing it, try adding some of the salsa. It actually goes quite nicely.
For the main course, I branched out from my usual and ordered Camarones a la Diabla, roasted shrimp served with poblano rice, yuca puree, and cascabel chile sauce. The shrimp weren’t skimpy and the rice had a good flavor, though it was a tad on the dry side. I would have liked a bit more of the smoky sweet chile sauce to add some moisture, and because I enjoyed it. Know that the vegetables are more of a garnish, in case you were expecting them as a side.
The Carne Asada was also a solid dish, one that we order here often. The steak was just steak, but it was cooked perfectly as usual. Likewise, the enchilada was about what you’d expect, stuffed with cheese and topped with red chile sauce, and it was the perfect size for a little something extra on the side. My one tip is to eat it before the cheese gets cold and hard.
The red rice here edged out the poblano rice in terms of flavor, and the beans were nice and tender. There was a hefty scoop of guac on the side, too, which was great with some of the tortilla chips.
We unfortunately hit a misstep with the third entrée, a family favorite that we come back to San Angel Inn specifically to eat. The Pollo a las Rajas is a chicken breast served atop the poblano rice and covered with peppers, onions, and cream sauce, with a touch of cilantro oil and cheese. It doesn’t sound like anything remarkable, but there’s something about that cream sauce and veggies that makes the poblano rice sing.
When the first dish was brought out, my companion bit into the chicken and found that it felt and tasted completely undercooked. We sent it back, and though the replacement looked perfectly fine, I bit into it and was unable to eat it for the same reasons. We sent it back again and the waitress mentioned that a number of those dishes had been sent back that day.
Instead of ordering and waiting for something for the third time, we just all moved on to dessert.
While I do love San Angel Inn, I’ve never been into its dessert menu. To me there’s nothing really exciting on it. But, craving something sweet, we made two choices.
The Pastel de Queso con Cajeta was your everyday cheesecake topped with caramel sauce, and the Mousse de Chocolate was a pretty standard chocolate mousse, topped with whipped cream and almond brittle.
There was a division at our table as to whether or not the chocolate chips that were incorporated into the mousse were overkill or not. For the record, I’m not a huge chocolate lover, but I enjoyed having them in there. They gave it some added texture.
Despite the issue with the chicken, I still very much recommend San Angel Inn. Even if I had to take that dish out of my rotation of Disney dining favorites, I’d still go back. Maybe not everything on the menu is something to get super excited about, but the food is consistently good, and the majority of our meal on this visit didn’t disappoint.
Besides, not only are you going to get a good meal, but you’ll also get to dine in one of Disney World’s most unique spots. It’s worth a try for the atmosphere alone – even if you just get chips, queso, and margaritas.
What dishes do you enjoy at San Angel Inn? Would you give San Angel a try on your next Epcot visit? Chime in; the comments are right below.