Caity Weaver and Rich Juzwiak, Gawker’s chief restaurant critics, recently ate, drank, and gasped their way through every international pavilion and theme park attraction at Walt Disney World’s Epcot. This is their review.
The Best Restaurant in the World
San Angel Inn Restaurante
Rich: “Hola amigos!” is how our waitress, Rhoi, greeted us. Immediately I felt kinship and boy was it spicy.
Caity: The description of the San Angel Inn Restaurante provided on its official Disney page made me more fired up to eat at a restaurant than I have ever been in my entire life: “Dine in perpetual twilight at this Mexican restaurant, modeled after a 17th-century hacienda at the base of Mayan ruins.” FINE, I WILL.
The fake 17th-century hacienda is indeed situated at the base of 20th-century Mayan ruins. It is bordered to the north by a sprawling gift shop oasis, where sombreros in sizes previously only seen in the imagination are sold at all corners. Another jaw-dropping feature inexplicably omitted in the restaurant’s official description: a small volcano that erupts with what I can only describe as “glow-in-the-dark, neon light” every few minutes.
I loved everything about this meal and restaurant.
Rich: I love perpetual twilight almost as much as I love sitting in giant rooms and staring at things that stare back at you without a trace of life in their eyes (the Disney experience), but a word of caution: avoid perpetual twilight if you are on acid (which I wasn’t...this time). I liked this experience, but really, I didn’t need to travel 1,000 miles for an expensive-ish Mexican restaurant. I live in Williamsburg; in a way, San Angel felt like home to me.
When I ordered a jalapeño margarita with mezcal instead of tequila, Rhoi told me, “I’m sorry we don’t have mezcal here.” Then I pointed to the section of the menu with mezcal and she said, “Oh, you don’t want any tequila.” You messin’ with me Rhoi? Was I on acid?
Caity: One place to whom the Inn de San Angel almost certainly does not feel like home is Rhoi, who, like all World Showcase restaurant servers, is a native of the real country that inspired her restaurant. We asked about her name, and she explained that her full name was too long (or maybe just too complicated?) to put on her nametag.
Rich: Now, Epcot flies in people from ALL over the world to fill their living synopses of real countries. Rhoilynn, I believe she said, is her real name. You’d think they’d be able to fit eight letters on a nametag.
Caity: I couldn’t exactly tell what collection of letters she said to represent her full name, to be honest. (You know what? Her name IS too complicated for the nametag.) I’m almost certain they did not spell out “Rhoilynn.” We weren’t in Wales. We were in Mexico, at the base of Mayan ruins.
Rich: I stand with Rhoilynn. [A/N: We looked it up later. Rhoilen.]
Caity: Rhoi brought us some chips (corn) and salsa (chipotle, verde) to start. To this pre-entree spread, we added an order of guacamole, which was served alongside odd puffed...fingers. This guacamole is not listed on the website menu. Was Rhoi authorized to give it to us? In perpetual twilight, laws and rules can be bent and broken.
Rich: I thought the salsa and guac were Williamsburg levels of adequate. When Rhoi brought me my cocktail, she told me, “It’s gonna be strong. Let me know if you are O.K.” I just ordered a jalapeño margarita with mezcal. I’m not O.K., Rhoi. Not by a longshot.
Caity: I got a Wild Passionfruit Margarita and that’s how it made me feel! I give the Wild Passionfruit Margarita one hundred out of one hundred stars, winking and twinkling in perpetual twilight.
Rich: Yours looked like it was topped with jizz. I am not judging, I’m just saying.
Caity: Fine. For my entree, I chose the Tacos de Carne, which my Wild Passionfruit Margarita compelled me to order in a light Spanish accent. The tacos has scallions on them. I loved them!
Rich: I wanted chilaquiles, but the ones listed on the menu came with steak, which I didn’t want. As a solution, Rhoi proposed—
Caity: Shady deals going on at the night bazaar.
Rich: —that we take the fish of the Pescado a la Veracruz and combine it with the chilaquiles. I didn’t realize that diplomacy was a strong suit of the Mayans, but this was a harmonious collaboration. The chilaquiles were served nacho-style: not a pile of soggy chips, but a few fried tortilla pieces, covered in green sauce and cheese, arranged carefully on the plate. Very nice. The fish was awesome. When I asked Rhoi exactly what it was, she said, “Mahi! It’s delicious!” Thank you for serving me my food and also telling me what I think of my food, Rhoi. They really do everything for you at Disney.
Caity: I wish she had just said “Delicious!” and walked away without identifying the type of fish. She wouldn’t have been wrong.
Rich: We ordered the Crema Bavaria for dessert. While we waited for it, I recounted my misadventures with tequila in college, and the children from the table next to us stared at me with their mouths open the entire time. The guac wasn’t made table-side, but the wonder of Disney sure was!
Caity: While I was suspicious of the choice to include a dish from the little known Bavarian region of Mexico on the menu, the dessert itself (which arrived after a considerable wait) was mahi delicious! The berries on it made the ones in my Norwegian cream puff look like idiots.
Rich: It was basically solid horchata — horchata with a flan texture. What an invention.
Caity: Overall, I have had few lunches more pleasant than that one, at the base of Mayan ruins, in the shadow of an erupting volcano, cloaked in perpetual twilight. It gave me hope that not only might some of the meals we ate at Epcot have specific and identifiable flavors—those flavors might be pleasant to taste.
Is Everything OK?
Questions About the Dining Experience
Would you go back?
Caity: Not only would I go back, I would live there. I would set up a little shop in the marketplace at the base of the Mayan pyramid and marry a local waitress. In the mornings, I would wake up to perpetual twilight, and in the evenings I would sing sweet songs to the stars. One day, the volcano would claim my life.
Rich: I wouldn’t NOT go back, but I also wouldn’t travel 1,000 miles to get those chilaquiles when superior ones await me just blocks away from my apartment.
Is it a good first date spot?
Is it a good place to have an affair?
Caity: Yes. You and your partner will be hands-down the least interesting things in the room.
Rich: You’re running with the shadows of permanent twilight. Go for it, and don’t look back.
Is it a good place to bring the cryogenically frozen corpse of Walt Disney?
Caity: Did Walt Disney always want to see the Mayan pyramids before he died (for real, the second time)? Then YES.
Rich: Yeah. Take advantage of his sway to procure some mezcal without any sass or confusion.