Completing the vision of the park’s designers, a new dining location has opened on the EPCOT lagoon that offers great food and a terrific view of the nightly water show – Illuminations. The Mexico pavilion is now host to La Hacienda de San Angel and La Cantina de San Angel – two restaurants under one roof.
Overlooking World Showcase Lagoon, the lakeside house, or La Hacienda, is a 250-seat table-service restaurant, while La Cantina is a 150-seat quick-service restaurant. Together, the newly renovated and expanded restaurants, which originally opened in 1982 as a 3,500-square-foot, 288-seat quick-service eatery, will now boast 12,000 square feet, providing more seating capacity and variety of new dining offerings.
“It’s an honor to bring the traditions, style and flavors of Mexico to the World Showcase at Epcot,” said Richard D. Debler, president of San Angel Inn, LLC. “This project is filled with passion, inspiration and pride. As the beauty of the World Showcase has evolved over the past 20 years, so has San Angel Inn and we are thrilled to bring this level of cuisine and cultural exchange to Disney guests from all over the world.”
With the new architectural design, guests can fully enjoy the panoramic waterfront views of “IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth” fireworks and laser light spectacular while they savor authentic Mexican specialties made from the freshest ingredients at La Hacienda de San Angel. Combining two of Mexico’s most important cultural gifts – art and food – the restaurant transports guests back to a different time and place, one in which they are welcomed into the Old World, countryside house of their gracious Mexican hosts. An indoor seating here is perfect for families with young kids who might be scared by the loud noises of the fireworks as most of the explosions are dulled and the shows sound track is pumped in.
The back story of the restaurant is that a couple decided to open their Hacienda and share their love of food and folk art. Original pieces of art adorn each room at La Hacienda, which are filled with zesty aromas set to resemble different living areas such as the living room, grand salon, pantry and artist’s studio. The outdoor, casual environment lends itself to the dazzling sights and sounds of Epcot where guests can indulge in the chef’s interpretations of the traditional flavors of the Mexican taquerias and street food vendors.
“It’s been a pleasure to work with San Angel Inn on this project,” said Dan Cockerell, vice president of Epcot. “Providing another unique, high-quality, authentic experience for our guests, La Hacienda will further enhance the architectural landscape of World Showcase. And, wait till you see the view from this beautiful new restaurant – it’s truly spectacular!”
Guests at the dedication party were treated to samples of the offerings from La Hacienda. The menu features starters like queso fundido (warm cheese with poblano pepper and chorizo) accompanied by fresh homemade tortillas. Entrées include a mixed grill for two with flank steak, chicken, chorizo and vegetables, or a seafood version with grouper, shrimp and scallops; roasted shrimp in pepper garlic broth; flank steak with spring onions, refried beans and cactus leaves; and grilled red snapper with roasted corn and cactus leaves. Dessert specialties include chocolate churros, sweet tamales and fruit empanadas. Refreshing margaritas are available for a mid-day break from the World Showcase journey, or to enjoy as the light of the night sky dances on the water. Dinner starts seating at 4pm.
La Cantina de San Angel opens daily at 11 a.m. and serves both lunch and dinner. The menu features many traditional favorites including chicken and beef tacos on fresh handmade corn tortillas; nachos; cheese empanadas; guacamole and chips, with warm churros and Mexican popsicles for a traditional Mexican treat.
I found the food offerings at the dedication party to be very delicious and full of the authentic flavors of upscale Mexican dining. What I found less appetizing are the prices. While they’re in line with what you find at other sit-down restaurants at EPCOT, which means inflated to help justify the Disney Dining Plan. Also, it remains to be seen how the transition from counter service to sit-down service will function. Finally, the new structure has turned that part of the EPCOT World Showcase pathway into a bit of a canyon. Some additional decoration or authentic elements along what is the back of the restaurant would be welcomed. All that said, I would recommend this location to anyone with the free dining plan, especially if you can get an 8:15pm seating.
Guests can reserve seating through Disney’s main reservation line at 407/WDW-DINE
(929-3463). Reservations are taken for October 15th going forward. Right now they are accepting walk-ups only.