EPCOT is a treasure trove of dishes and drinks inspired by countries from around the world. If you’re looking to break away from burgers and chicken tenders of Disney World you can find some really stellar food.
One Pavilion positively brimming with flavorful food and drinks is the Mexico Pavilion. And that’s where we’re headed. But stop! We’re not going in the big pyramid. Nope, we’re headed waterfront to dine at this Pavilion’s SECOND, newer sit-down restaurant. For those of you interested in a little spice with a side of atmosphere, come this way!
La Hacienda de San Angel is a sit-down restaurant located in the Mexico Pavilion. This restaurant shouldn’t be confused with San Angel Inn Restaurante which is located inside the Mexico Pavilion pyramid. Yep, there are two different restaurants here in the same Pavilion. They are two very different places with very different atmospheres! San Angel is set under a fake indoor “nighttime” sky and offers great views of the Gran Fiesta Tour boats as they float by while you dine.
La Hacienda, on the other hand, boasts beautiful views of World Showcase and food that we tend to love. It’s also one of EPCOT’s most underrated restaurants. While folks are fawning over the Cheddar Cheese Soup from Le Cellier Steakhouse, we’re over here sipping on margs with a view! (Don’t misunderstand, we heart the cheese soup too!) We haven’t stopped in the restaurant in a while and decided to pay one of our “best-kept secrets” a little visit! Come and see what the restaurant is like since our last visit!
You may walk by without even knowing there’s a restaurant in this building! The entrance is located directly across from the Mexico pyramid with an archway and check-in podium. It’s crammed just to the left of Cantina de San Angel, the resident fast-food MExican spot in EPCOT (yes, all the locations with “San Angel” in the name can make things confusing!).
To check-in, you can scan the QR code located at the host stand. Open your phone camera and it will direct you to the check-in process. From here, you’ll be notified by text when your table is ready. You can also check-in using the My Disney Experience app without entering the entryway.
Once you’re called, you’ll enter the waiting area. The hosts will call you when your table is ready. In the meantime, take a look at the art and decorations in the lobby! (Note, it was the very tail end of the Christmas decor still being up in EPCOT when we visited!)
This a gorgeous restaurant and doesn’t get enough credit. The walls are decorated with brightly colored art, ornate hanging lights, and splashes of color in every corner. You’ll find carved wood structures, wrought iron pieces, and floor-to-ceiling windows. The waiting area welcomes you with spectacular artwork, authentic masks, and iron sconces.
La Hacienda’s backstory is that an artist family owns the hacienda (which means a large estate) and opened it up for dinner guests (lucky us!). You can see a beautiful rendering of the restaurant in the host waiting area.
And remember to look up! There’s art everywhere, including these gorgeous bright blue hanging lanterns!
Heading inside, you’ll see there are three primary dining areas. They are all facing the World Showcase Lagoon (more or less) in the form of booths or tables. Right now, the tables are spaced-out to limit capacity and prevent travel groups from sitting too close together.
You don’t necessarily need a table close to the windows to get a view either. The booths located towards the back walls are elevated so guests sitting here can see the lagoon as well. They’re also super cozy for dinner dates!
Remember what we said about looking up? Check out the BEAUTIFUL hanging lights above the booths on the right. Plus, the ornate ceiling designs in the far room.
Each room offers art and designs to give every guest something to look at while they munch on chips and salsa. You’ll see pottery, artifacts, and framed paintings.
The huge windows offer a spectacular view of World Showcase Lagoon. La Hacienda used to be a majorly sought-after restaurant to book during Illuminations. Disney would pipe in the music and dim the lights so you could enjoy the show as much as possible. Scoring a table RIGHT at the glass during showtime was a big deal. We imagine it will be just as popular when the new nighttime water show, Harmonious, debuts soon.
We can’t wait to come back when nighttime shows return and we can compare our experiences!
The food is inspired by Southern Mexican cuisine with traditional dishes, home-made tortillas, and spicy accents. Right now, all Disney World restaurants are offering limited menus. While some items were removed from the menu, many of our favorite items made the cut! One thing to note: dinner is the only meal being served at La Hacienda right now. The restaurant is not open for breakfast or lunch.
To access the menu, you’ll be given a QR code to scan on your phone. You can ask your server for help should you need it. Restaurants usually have paper menus on hand if you’re having trouble with the app.
The starter menu consists of crowd-favorites like fresh guacamole, tostadas, and their fabulous Queso Fundido! It’s worth noting that both this restaurant and San Angel Inn are, not surprisingly, owned and operated by the same people. This means you’ll see a few menu overlaps. The Queso Fundido can be found at San Angel Inn, for example. Same can be said of many of the margaritas and even the chips and salsa.
Also, a moment to appreciate that THE soup of soups lives here: Crema de Elote. If you eat one soup in Disney World, please make it this one. It’s SO much cream and corn flavor and crunchy bits of tortilla strips. It’s…SO good. If they had a dispenser out front we could pay to get cups or bowls or vats to go, we’d be first in line.
Fan-favorite entrees have been saved including Carne Asada, Pollo al Pastor, and tacos. You can’t have margaritas without tacos, right?!
Cajeta (a Mexican caramel sauce made from goat milk) seems to be used on most of the desserts at La Hacienda! We’re not complaining though. It’s a really tasty addition to the sweets served here.
The handcrafted margarita menu is fairly extensive. We decided to forgo drinks this time and focus on the food. However, we always enjoy the margs here and highly recommend trying one! Again, note the similarities to San Angel Inn or, our other favorite, La Cava del Tequila, just across the way.
Of course, there are a lot of options for kiddos too! The create-your-own entree allows the kids to choose one of the meals…
…and two sides of their choice. And, if they eat all their veggies, there are two desserts offered on the menu including a brownie and Dulce de Leche Ice Cream.
In the end, we opted out of margaritas and went with a huge helping of two appetizers, two entrees, and a dessert!
To start, guests are given an ample supply of chips and salsa. We’re here to tell you the house-made tortilla chips and the fresh salsa are the bomb dot com. The red salsa has a GREAT kick. A few years back, La Hacienda (all the family of restaurants here, actually) used a thicker red salsa with a heavy chipotle flavor that had pretty a pretty divisive fanbase. This salsa is a fresh tomato-based salsa we think more people will prefer. We found ourselves spooning it on our appetizers and entrees for an extra layer of spice. And, the chips are freshly made. No stale chips allowed!
If you want to take your chip game to the next level, the Queso Fundido is fantastic and is the perfect pairing with fresh tortilla chips. It’s basically a scorching hot cast iron skillet of gooey cheese so yes…it’s delightful. We didn’t get it this go-round but you can be sure we will next time.
We tried not to fill up too much on chips because we had some hefty dishes heading our way! We started with two appetizers. The first was the Tlayudas Giant Tostada. (You heard us! GIANT tostadas.) The crispy Oaxacan tostada is topped with barbacoa beef, chipotle black beans, chorizo, Mexican sour cream, a sprinkling of Cojita cheese, green onions, and pickled onions. The app costs $14.
This was our favorite of the two appetizers! The portion is huge. They weren’t lying when they said it was GIANT! The serving of barbacoa formed a mountain of tender beef and paired so well with the spicy chorizo. We were given a big amount of well-seasoned black beans. These aren’t just here to bulk things up — the beans are SUPER flavorful here.
This is fairly spicy, so be warned! You’re given a big helping of sour cream which seemed to cool down the heat a bit. People who are averse to spice might want to try something different though!
We also tried the Flautas. The fried tortillas are filled with potato, chipotle chicken, cheese, Cojita cheese, lettuce, and ranchera sauce. The starter comes with two flautas and costs $13.50. Can you really go wrong with potatoes, chicken, and cheese? Well, let’s find out!
Sorry guys but this appetizer wasn’t super exciting. The app comes with two flautas but we think it wasn’t quite big enough to share. Perhaps you could share with one other person but still…who wants just ONE crunchy flauta? Any group bigger than that and you’ll need to order at least two servings or be OK with just getting a nibble. That said, these had a lovely fried crunch to them. Our favorite part was the crispy fried flour tortilla. It had a good portion of chicken and potato inside the tortillas but the flavor lacked a little bit.
We would have loved to have a few more spices added to the filling. It didn’t necessarily need more heat but needed an extra kick of flavor. We sopped up the ranchera sauces for spices! We absolutely recommend this app if you prefer something a little less spicy and aren’t in the mood to be adventurous.
Now, it’s time for a couple of main courses! We ordered the Pollo al Pastor which is made with adobo-marinated chicken breast topped with a chili Arbol glaze, pineapple relish, watermelon radish, and a side of grilled vegetables. This entree costs $28.
The black beans and rice are served family-style and you’re given enough to share with the table. Order for one person, you get smaller bowls. Order with a large group, you’ll get big bowls. You get it. These are the perfect side pieces for your meal. Load up your tortillas with rice, beans, and some of the fillings from your entrees!
We’ve tried the Pollo al Pastor a few times before and found that the chicken was rather dry and there was a lack of flavor. Something changed this go-around because the chicken was spicy, juicy, and came in a good-sized portion! This was the spice we were searching for from the flautas!
The chili glaze and pineapple worked together as a sweet balance to the adobo-marinated chicken breast. The watermelon radish on top was pretty but didn’t do much other than provide a crunch. The veggies were a mix of bell peppers, onions, squash, and zucchini. All of them were cooked just enough to have a slight crunch (which we loved) and were covered with the glaze.
We liked the sweet glaze but could have used considerably less of it. (We love the spice on the meat and didn’t need to dilute it!) This is definitely a dish is for diners who prefer the combination of sweet and spicy!
We were pleasantly surprised to find this dish came out far better than our previous visits!
Then, we dug into the Alambre de Res which is flank steak, bacon, poblano and bell peppers with Monterey Jack cheese, lime, pico de gallo, and a side of salsa verde. The entree comes with tortillas and costs $29. Note: only flour tortillas are listed on the menu, but we received corn for our entrees too. If you have a preference, be sure to ask!
We liked the chicken, but we really loved the Alambre de Res. It was by far our favorite of the entree. As quoted by our reporter, “This was a pot of gold in my book!” It’s a skillet full of steak and bacon! YES, it’s good! You’re given tons of steak and tons of bacon. The flavor combination of the rich steak paired with the fatty bacon really hit the spot. The pops of tomato and onion gave it a nice freshness too.
Every once in a while, you get a bite of peppers that added to the spice. Although, besides the peppers, this dish wasn’t very spicy. Those who would rather have flavor instead of heat may like this one.
We could have used a little more spice and more cheese because there’s always room for cheese (Mental note for next visit — order this AND the Queso Fundido and COMBINE!). Also, the salsa verde was fairly heavy on the lime so it was tasted quite tart. We were glad it was on the side so we could use it sparingly. Other than that, we loved it!
Meat lovers will most likely love this dish, as we did. We should note that we weren’t asked how we wanted our meat cooked. It came medium-rare so we might suggest inquiring about the temperature if you’d rather have it cooked more.
We tend to really enjoy the dishes made with red meat at La Hacienda. We’ve had the Sirloin Steak before and found that the meat here is usually rich and well-seasoned. This definitely came through in the Alambre de Res dish!
Finally, the sweet stuff! We topped it all off with the Empanada de Manzana dessert for $9. The puff pastry is filled with sauteed caramel apples, topped with cajeta (that caramel sauce we mentioned!), and dusted with cinnamon. You also get a side of dulce de leche ice cream. This dessert has been a hit with us in the past and we were ready to dive in again!
And it was a hit once more! The puff pastry was warm and the baked apples with caramel were so gooey and full of cinnamon flavors. The ice cream was our favorite part. It was rich with caramel flavors from the dulce de leche. (We would totally order the ice cream by itself!) We loved that it came dusted with cinnamon because it really heightened the taste.
Our one complaint is that the puff pastry wasn’t filled with enough caramel sauteed apples. We would have LOVED that pastry to be packed with baked apples. Also, the caramel was fairly sticky and thick. It would have been nice for it to be thinner, but it still tasted great.
People who love caramel apples will love this dessert! Likewise, people who don’t love the taste of cinnamon and caramel may want to skip it! We don’t always go out of our way for dessert at sit down meals in Disney World but we were not mad we ate this again. 🙂
Nosh or Not?
You might love La Hacienda if:
- You’re looking for a romantic setting for a special night out. The waterfront views, cozy booths, and dim lighting make it uber-romantic here.
- You want some good, well-made Mexican food. The dishes are authentic recipes with kicked-up spice and flavors.
- You’re looking for a fun night with the gang! There are plenty of shareable apps, desserts, and margarita choices!
You might skip La Hacienda if:
- You’re looking for something out of your comfort zone. You can usually find authentic Mexican food readily available back home. If you’re looking to try unique eats, you might want to try Spice Road Table or Chefs de France for more memorable bites.
- You’re looking to keep to a small budget. You can opt for good, less-expensive (but similar) bites next door at La Cantina de San Angel.
- You don’t think you’d like authentic Mexican food and prefer the ubiquitous Tex-Mex. You won’t find the Taco Bell menu here!
Many people think that La Hacienda’s main attraction was the view you got during Illuminations (and WILL get during Harmonious). That IS huge perk but after many visits, we don’t think that’s necessarily the biggest draw. The view is beautiful during the daytime, even without a spectacular show entertaining you.
The food holds up against some of the fancier restaurants in EPCOT. We usually walk away feeling happy with our food choices and our moods are lifted from the atmosphere. That said, this is a Disney World restaurant that usually doesn’t land on a list of “must-dos.” We have a feeling it’s because the menu is full of food you might find at your local Mexican joint. That doesn’t change the fact that it’s well-made and flavorful.
We also want to give a huge shoutout to our server Paola. Service can really make or break a restaurant experience and she was beyond attentive and kind. She was constantly checking in and making sure we had what we needed. Our food was timed perfectly, and she was very patient with us when we were making our very important entree decisions!
Overall, La Hacienda is basically the sleeper-hit of EPCOT. We’ve had readers rave about it and we’re hardly disappointed too. We understand that you may want to try something a little more unique in EPCOT. BUT, keep in mind (even though we held off on our margs here today) that with the current restrictions in Disney World, gone are the days of sitting down in La Cava for a drink or two. HERE, you can sit, nibble on some chips and some well-made apps and entrees, and sip away on those tasty La Cava-style margs. Keyword here is SIT. At a table. Mask-free. It’s a great place to slow down and appreciate some good food and drinks. What you’ll find at La Hacienda is good margs, well-done classic dishes, and queso. Lots of queso. (Never underestimate the power of CHEESE.)