La Hacienda de San Angel: The Newest Dining Option in Epcot's Mexico Pavilionby Heather Macdonald, PassPorter Message Board Guide (Moderator)
Last modified 01-13-2011
The shoreline in front of Epcot's Mexico pavilion has long been home to a quick-service restaurant, La Cantina de San Angel, in a small, low building. Nothing stands still at Disney, and the cantina closed, to make way for a bigger restaurant.
Since construction began, over a year ago, there was some concern that the new building would be an eyesore on World Showcase Lagoon, blocking the view of the pyramid that serves as the pavilion's main building. Now the construction has ended and the new building, which houses both the quick-service restaurant, La Cantina de San Angel, and a table-service restaurant, La Hacienda de San Angel. I find the building beautifully done. The outside walls are a cheery, sun-washed yellow, and the roof has terracotta accents and a blue tiled dome. It also has outside seating, under a wood gazebo.
Inside and out of La Hacienda
La Hacienda de San Angel is only open for dinner, beginning at 5:00 pm. During the day the restaurant is used as seating for the counter service restaurant. I dined there during the week before Christmas. I approached the podium and was checked in and handed a pager, which I was told would work throughout the pavilion. Although I was a bit early for my Advance Dining Reservation, my pager went off just a few seconds after it had been handed to me, and we were led inside. The inside of the restaurant is themed to look like a house that has been converted into a restaurant, with several small rooms near the entrance and a larger dining room separated into different sections by decor items. The inside walls are painted a cream color, with dark wood accents. The red and blue tiled ceilings are highlighted by several different glass light fixtures that add a wonderful touch. Throughout the restaurant there are tons of small art pieces that really bring through the theme of a converted house. The pieces, which range from vases and painting to small sculptures, all look like they might belong in a personal collection.
I was seated directly next to a window that overlooked World Showcase Lagoon. I have heard that the view for Illuminations is good. The big picture windows let in lots of light during the day, giving the restaurant an open, airy feeling. I decided to start my meal with one of their specialty margaritas! The options included Rose, Blueberry Basil, and Lime Raspberry, along with a classic. I opted for Orange Mango Fire, which was tasty and included ginger liqueur and a chili powder-dusted rim. It had a nice kick and was a good way to relax into my meal.
Instead of bread service, La Hacienda offered tricolor chips and two types of salsa. The first was a green tomatillo salsa, which I found a bit too sweet for my liking. It's common to add sugar to any tomato-based sauce to cut the acidity, but I think they went a little overboard. The second was a traditional, deep red tomato and chili pepper salsa. This had a good kick, but again I thought it was missing something. I struck gold when I mixed the two together!
I wasn't super hungry when I arrived at La Hacienda. I was more interested in an appetizer than an entree, so my server brought me chiles toreados y chorizitos, sweet roasted peppers and mini chorizo sausages. I was underwhelmed. The peppers were roasted nicely, but needed more basic seasoning; I'm talking salt and pepper here, folks. The mini chorizo sausages lacked the spice and seasoning of authentic chorizo sausage. I'm used to chorizo having quite a good spice profile, and found these bland. The portion size, however, was huge. I probably didn't need to eat that many sausages in one sitting.
I held onto my menu, in case I wanted to add something else to my meal. It gave me time to peruse the rest of the offerings. First thing I noticed right off the bat is that the menu is tiny. There are only seven entree offerings and two of them are designed to be shared by two people. Those are mixed grills -- one offers meats and the other a selection of seafood. I really wish they would rethink this, as a solo traveler is not going to spend $50 on an entree designed for two. The plates coming out of the kitchen looked like they could feed an entire family. The rest of the entrees include a flank steak, a roasted pork tenderloin, fried shrimp tacos, grilled tilapia, and a chili pepper-marinated chicken.
Service was attentive throughout the meal. My food appeared in a timely fashion and my water glass was kept full. My server did appear to be slightly overwhelmed by the demands of the large table next to me, but did a good job keeping up! He did try to entice me into ordering something else, but I was just too full, although I wanted to try the black bean soup. Perhaps I'll give it a shot on another trip.
Overall, the décor in the restaurant is lovely. I just wish a little more thought was put into the quality and quantity of food. While I will return to try the soup and the taco sampler appetizer, it won't be on the list for a repeat visit for a while. I'd like to give them time to work out the kinks in the kitchen. I imagine this restaurant will have the same kind of draw the outside tables at the Rose and Crown have, a view of IllumNations during your dinner.
La Hacienda Margarita
Orange Mango Fire Margarita
About the Author: Heather is a PassPorter Message Board Guide (moderator). She lives in New Orleans and works for a major hotel chain as a bartender. Heather visited Walt Disney World as a child and after surviving Hurrican Katrina, thought it would be the perfect escape vacation! She loved it so much that she has been 10 times in the last five years.
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Thanks for the review. I think I'll wait awhile to try this one.
Our group of 7 enjoyed a very pleasant sunset meal here and the view is pleasant, relaxing, and I am certain is a top spot for Illuminations. I tried the roasted pork tenderloin with an excellent mole sauce and was in heaven for an hour. The food was wonderful and the service was pleasant. This was a good choice for the dining plan. And, although we normally eat at the indoor restaurant, we found this to be a pleasant surprise (with a different menu selection) this year.
In November we had dinner here and even got to view Illuminations from our inside table with the music piped in. This was nice little bonus. We had one of our best servers ever here that night as well. Luke and I shared the La Hacienda, a meal for two, that could have easily fed 4.
We ate at the restaurant in December and wasn't impressed with the food selection, qualiaty of food and the waiter wasn't friendly or helpful. Most of the disney restaurnats are known for their curitious manner and helpfulness with any requests. Not this place. I also took this off my list. I might try again but not for a long time. The decor was nice but waited for 40 mins and had a reserations. Not up to the disney standard. I was disappointed.
We have dined here twice. The first was in November 2010 with my brother and his girlfriend. Wonderful!!! Our server was Aylin and she was fantastic. I had the tilipia and it was the best. Two members of our party had the flank steak. It was done just as they had requested (med. rare) and the last member of the group has the chicken. Everyone was pleased. Portion sizes were more than enough, though I couldn't stop eatng even though I was full.....it was so good.
Second trip was the is January. This time we were joined by our daughter and her husband and a friend. Again, it was a spectacular meal. Both times we were able to watch the fireworks. It is a entirely different perspective.
Thank you for the review. We are still debating if we want to try this, as we had been previously underwhelmed by San Angel. However, the view for Illuminations is enticing. We have made ADR reservations for Oct at 8:30 p.m. We figure that gives us enough time to decide for sure.
I'm glad to hear you only had the drink and appetizer. We find all the meal portions at WDW too large, and always share (it's just my husband and I now). We were actually pondering the same appetizer you tried, and one of the entrees.
We are going to keep following reviews. If we go, we'll provide feedback as well for others down the road.
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Updated 01-13-2011 - Article #563
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