My Disney Top 5 - Reasons That I Love Dining at the San Angel Inn

by Chris Barry, contributing writer

Hey out there MousePlaneteers, welcome back to another My Disney Top 5. Last time I talked about my Top 5 dining experiences at Walt Disney World. Thanks for all the responses. Many of you agreed with me on my choices. Despite the fact that I haven’t been to Le Cellier yet, and I haven’t had a giant turkey leg, most of you had kind things to say about my choices. However, there was one glaring exception. My inclusion of the San Angel Inn at Epcot’s Mexico pavilion as one of my favorites seemed to elicit outrage amongst many of you. “Worst meal of my life,” was a typical response.

Now, one of the great things about writing an opinion column is just that, it’s my opinion. As a reader, you certainly don’t have to agree with me and as the writer I certainly don’t have to apologize for my opinions. That said, I know many of you turn to places like MousePlanet to stay informed and gather knowledge for your next Disney experience. So I feel it’s my responsibility, as a writer for a site like MousePlanet, to quantify my opinions and explain my thoughts clearly. I’ve been to Walt Disney World many times and have experienced many things and you should all know where I’m coming from.

With that in mind, I answer the slamming I took 2 weeks ago and present to you my Top 5 Reasons That I Love Dining at the San Angel Inn at Epcot’s Mexico Pavilion.

The outside face of the Mexico pavilion. MousePlanet File Photo.

5 – The Mango Margaritas

What’s a Mexican restaurant without a great margarita? My favorite drink in World Showcase is found at The San Angel Inn (followed very closely by the Grand Marnier slush in France.) The Mango Margarita is just the perfect blend of sweetness and bite of tequila. I guess at the ripe old age of 41 I’ve become quite the lightweight because just one of these is all that I can handle after a long day in the parks. It’s also worth mentioning that there is now a full-blown tequila bar, La Cava del Tequila, in the pavilion. I haven’t imbibed there yet, but I intend to on my next trip.

Go with the Mango, trust me. MousePlanet File Photo.

4 - The Food

Let’s go with pure statistics here. I’ve been to Walt Disney World 8 times in the last 7 years. Each of those visits I’ve eaten at the San Angel Inn. Logic dictates that I would have had a bad experience at least one of those times, especially if I were to believe the barrage of emails I received slamming this place. I can honestly say that it just hasn’t happened. The food has always been delicious and fresh. I grew up in Queens, which is part of New York City. Growing up in the shadow of the Big Apple I’ve been exposed to just about every type of food that exists. I’ve eaten in many outstanding Mexican restaurants, both high-end and those bizarre fast food Mexican joints run by Chinese people scattered throughout Manhattan. Of course the point being that I have Mexican food experience. I know I’m not from California and I’m not privy to your killer Mexican food, but I’ve visited the left coast and have had some awesome food from south of the border. I hate to break it to you naysayers, but I’d put the San Angels’ Tacos de Pato (Flour tortillas filled with duck meat marinated with tamarind sauce garnished with avocado, pineapple, and chives) and the Puntas de Filete en Salsa Guajillo (Beef tenderloin tips sautéed with fresh onions and chile Guajillo sauce, served over corn tortillas, black beans, and fresh cheese) up against any Mexican food I’ve had. What can I tell you: it’s good!

3 – The Atmosphere

My favorite pavillion interior in World Showcase. Photo By Frank Anzalone.

The Mexico pavilion is one of my favorite places to walk into in World Showcase. I love the exterior pyramid shape, the artist creating those wonderful animal statues, and the open-air market feeling in the main restaurant room. The feeling of being in an outdoor shopping and dining plaza on a cool night in Mexico is coupled with the river flowing by and the depth of the “landscape” courtesy of the Imagineers. It’s a great place to sit and have a meal. I really feel it provides a total escape. Throw in the strolling mariachi band that happens by and you’ve got one of the most fully realized restaurant settings in all of Walt Disney World.

2 – The Hidden Mickey in the Volcano Smoke

Keep a sharp eye on the smoldering volcano across the river from the restaurant and every couple of minutes the smoke takes on the classic shape of everyone’s favorite mouse. How cool is that? The fact that there’s even a smoldering volcano to look at would be cool enough. The fact that it has one of “The World’s” best Hidden Mickeys is an added plus.

1 – “The Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros”

The Three Cabelleros. Photo By Louis Fico.

There’s a ride in the restaurant. OK, so it goes right by the restaurant, but say that again: there’s a ride right there in the restaurant! Sure, it’s not Space Mountain or Pirates but still, it’s there, it’s a cool ride, there’s never a line and you can go on it before dinner and then after dinner. Heck, on our last trip when all the kids& (there were 8 kids total!) were done with their meals they went on the ride during dinner and left us to quietly finish our margaritas and polish off the last of the chips and guacamole. Then we all rode it again together.

So there you have it. So many of you blasted my choice of the San Angel as one of my Top 5 dining experiences that I just had to counter with this Top 5. I stand by my opinion. Feel free to stand by yours. Maybe, just maybe, next time, after reading this article you’ll give this place another chance. It hasn’t let me down yet.

Maybe on my next trip I’ll finally get to Le Cellier or Boma and my list will change, but in the meantime I’m looking forward to sitting riverside in the San Angel Inn, watching my kids go by in the boats and sipping my Mango Margarita and feeling pretty darn good about life.

That's My Disney Top 5 for today. What's yours? Click on the "Discuss this article on MousePad" link below and share your list!