Full Review: La Cava del Tequila in the World Showcase at Epcot

This is really more of a snack/drink post, as that is what La Cava del Tequila sells.  Located in the Mexico Pavilion in the World Showcase at Epcot, La Cava del Tequila is a must try.

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Pyramid in the Mexico Pavilion at Epcot – There are entrances to the left and right.

Depending on your Epcot strategy, you can walk from the front gate of Epcot to the gigantic lake, and take either a right or left into the World Showcase.  If you take a left, you walk into the Mexico Pavilion.  If you take a right, you’ll hit the Canada Pavilion first.  While the Canada Pavilion does have a kiosk serving one of the best rated beers in the world according to Beer Advocate, La Fin du Monde by Unibroue, I recommend going left to Mexico and ending at Canada.  This is partially because the Canada Pavilion is otherwise boring, with the exception of the 360 video featuring Canada’s own Martin Short. If you’re into Martin Short, thats fun…?

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Martin Short is everywhere – O Canada!

Anyway.

Once you take the recommended left hand turn into the World Showcase, you’re greeted with the gigantic mesoamerican pyramid that is the main focus of the area.  The Mexico Pavilion actually has a huge amount of food and drink choices.  Outside the pyramid there is La Cantina de San Angel, a quick-service spot right on the water with tacos, nachos, etc.  We’ve gotten nachos from here before and while they are definitely gigantic, I didn’t think they were anything to write home about.  They were the type with liquid cheese, canned jalapeños, etc.  There is also a sit-down restaurant outside the pyramid, La Hacienda de San Angel, which we have always wanted to try but never have because we always end up at La Cava del Tequila.  Inside the pyramid, there is another sit-down restaurant, The San Angel Inn, that overlooks the Gran Fiesta Tour (or the Mexico boat ride as most people call it).  If you’re there during the Food and Wine Festival, that means you get to sit and eat your lunch or dinner while watching drunken adults get really overly excited on the boat ride.  They will probably wave.  Excitedly.

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Sign for La Cava del Tequila

The final food/drink option is La Cava del Tequila, located inside the pyramid on your right as you come in.  You’ll know you found it due to the giant line of people standing outside.  These people are waiting for drinks to go.  Skip all of them and walk up to the host or hostess and ask for a table.  If there are two of you, you’ll probably get in and sit faster than all those people waiting in line.  I’ve seen parties of 8 get seated in 20 minutes during the Food and Wine Festival when there was a line of at least 50 people reaching outside the pyramid.

 

La Cava del Tequila sells, obviously, a lot of different tequilas.  They also have margaritas. What most people don’t know is that they also serve some food options to go with your tequila-based beverage of choice.

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Behind the bar at Cava del Tequila

We have sampled two margaritas.  The Passion Fruit (tequila, ginger liqueur, passion fruit, mango nectar, fresh lime juice, topped with mango foam, served on the rocks with a Tajín chili powder rim) and the Hibiscus (tequila, hibiscus juice, fresh lemon juice, agave nectar, elderflower liquor and pomegranate liquor served on the rocks with a hibiscus salt rim).

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Hibiscus margarita at La Cava del Tequila – $14.75

I’m going to be honest.  I hate tequila.  I had a very bad and also incredibly stereotypical experience in college with a bottle of Jose Cuervo where two friends of mine and I drunkenly yelled “YOU’RE AWESOME” “NO, YOU’RE AWESOME-ER” for 20 minutes before all simultaneously puking from said tequila.  Regardless of this ridiculous memory,  I love the Hibiscus Margarita.  Mainly, because you cant taste the tequila, and the flavors work really well together between the bitterness of the tequila and the sweetness/tartness of the hibiscus and pomegranate.  The only thing that I prefer about the Passion Fruit Margarita is the chili powder rim.

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Queso blanco from La Cava del Tequila.  Comes with chips, queso, and 2 cups of salsa.  $9.00

You should also definitely get the queso blanco (warm white nacho cheese with pico de gallo sauce and tortilla chips).  You’re going to be super tempted to get the trio (tortilla chips served with salsa, queso, and guacamole).  But, know that the queso blanco actually comes with salsa as well.  The only thing you’re going to miss is the guacamole, and you probably wont miss it that much.  This is seriously a GIANT AMOUNT of chips, salsa, and queso.  Guys, this is the perfect compliment to that margarita you’re drinking. Its amazing.  Just trust me.

So Drinking Ever After, what are your thoughts on La Cava del Tequila in the World Showcase at Epcot?

Go.  Seriously.  Just go.  Sit inside, skip the line of people waiting for margaritas to go.  You’ll have a much better time and its a nice break from the sun and the people.  I will say its usually full of adults and couples, I’m assuming that kids are not a fan of sitting in what is essentially a tequila cave watching their parents drink a margarita.  So, if you are an adult or couple, DEFINITELY go.

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Snackin’ Around Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Backlot Express

Hollywood Studios, as many of you may know, is going through a bit of a transitional period.  Here is a somewhat recent article from the Orlando Sentinel describing some of the changes.  Essentially though, Hollywood Studio’s is becoming more and more Star Wars-ey by the day.  Not that that’s a bad thing.

Backlot Express, the old standby of a quick service restaurant near the Jedi Training Academy and the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, is still around, but recently went through a menu overhaul.  While the food is pretty standard, it has gotten a bit of a Star Wars theme, featuring items such as the Royal Guard Burger (1/3 lb Chargrilled Angus Beef Burger, topped with Barbecued Brisket, Pepper Jack Cheese, Lettuce, Tomato and a Pickle on a Dark Bun served with Carrot Sticks or French Fries – I’m not really sure I get Royal Guard from that, but whatever), and the Dark Side Chicken and Waffles (Darth Vader Waffles topped with Chicken Breast Nuggets served with Maple Syrup, this one makes a little more sense).  You can also get the really cool souvenir steins that are pictured in the menu above.

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Chicken Fingers and Fries with various dipping sauces from Backlot Express.  Sorry about the napkin on the left, I think I ate a chicken nugget before I took the picture and then didn’t want to touch my phone.

Because I have a thing where I absolutely need to get chicken fingers and fries at least once at Disney, we got the Chicken Breast Nuggets – 8 Pieces served with your choice of Carrot Sticks or French Fries ($9.49), and split it.  Honestly, chicken fingers and fries are a pretty standard item that doesn’t change much from park to park.  The serving size is decent, and its a solid choice for picky adults or children.  What I like most about Backlot Express is that there is a larger-than-is standard amount of sauces to dip your fries and/or chicken breast nuggets in (including ketchup, yellow mustard, honey mustard, ranch dressing, and BBQ sauce), and the location/theming.  Also, through a little bit of Disney “pixie dust” we got that cool little light up Millennium Falcon that I was super excited about all day.

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Outdoor seating at Backlot Express

I especially like to sit and be able to watch part of the Jedi Training Academy, or just sit in the shadow of a looming AT-AT while I eat my lunch.  Either way, its a pretty great location.  They have also recently added this cool seating area which is pretty great for people watching.

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AT-AT and Jedi Training Academy Stage near Star Tours and Backlot Express

So Drinking Ever After, what are your thoughts on Backlot Express at Hollywood Studios?

I do completely recommend giving Backlot Express a shot if you’re looking for a quick service lunch or dinner at Hollywood Studios.  However, I’m a bit biased because I actually prefer Backlot Express over any of the other quick service food options at Hollywood Studios.  For example, I inexplicably hate ABC Commissary for really no reason, so generally I choose Backlot Express for any quick service dining needs I have.  The Star Wars theming helps with this, because I absolutely love Star Wars.  But overall, the food you’re getting at Backlot Express is pretty standard, there is plenty of seating and the location is great.  So overall, recommended!

On another note, I do also enjoy the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater at Hollywood Studios and highly recommend it if you’re looking for a sit down restaurant!

Snackin’ Around Disney’s Epcot: Germany Pavilion

The Germany Pavilion in the World Showcase at Epcot is one my favorite places to take a break, sit, and people watch.  I love to sit by the fountain with a beer and a bratwurst.

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The Germany Pavilion at Epcot.  Photo Courtesy: https://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2016/08/a-world-showcase-of-unforgettable-shopping-at-epcot-germany-pavilion/ 

While the Germany Pavilion is known for the buffet style Biergarten Restaurant (which is also awesome), there is a great quick service food option in the back of the Pavilion on the right hand side, called Sommerfest.  The menu isn’t large, but the food you get is plentiful.  We usually get an Oktoberfest, a Schöfferhofer Pink Grapefruit Hefeweizen, and a Bratwurst that we split.  The bratwurst is served on a freshly baked Roll with Sauerkraut and House-made Paprika Chips, and is about $10.00.  We skip the sauerkraut because neither of us are fans.

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Bratwurst from Sommerfest sans sauerkraut with 2 pink grapefruit hefeweizens.

Highly recommended is the Schöfferhofer Pink Grapefruit Hefeweizen, while that might not sound appetizing to some of you, I promise this 50/50 blend of Schöfferhofer Hefeweizen and carbonated juice is refreshing and light, and a perfect beer to sip along with the bratwurst that you totally need to get.

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Okay, sometimes we get 2.  Its a lot of food.

So Drinking Ever After, what are your thoughts on Sommerfest at the Germany Pavilion in Epcot?

We try to go to Sommerfest and sit and people watch at least once per trip, if not twice. We have a tendency to try to do everything during a trip, which means we get tired pretty easily. We make it a point to have this downtime at Epcot to sit and take everything in. Even if you dont decide to stick around in the Germany Pavilion, do yourself a favor and get a Schöfferhofer Pink Grapefruit Hefeweizen for your walk around the World Showcase!

Snackin’ Around Disney’s Magic Kingdom: Pinocchio Village Haus

I actually think the food options at Magic Kingdom are somewhat lacking.  There are some cult favorites like the Sweet and Spicy Chicken Waffle Sandwich from Sleepy Hollow or the Dole Whip at Aloha Isle.  But if you just want a small and quick lunch the options at Magic Kingdom aren’t as great as Animal Kingdom.  Its mostly your standard chicken fingers/etc.  That being said, I have never waited in the ridiculously long lunch line at Be Our Guest, which does look like it has a great menu.

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Pinocchio Village Haus Menu (December 2016)

On our last trip we ended up at Pinocchio Village Haus.  We got a sausage and pepper flatbread as I have a ridiculous aversion to pepperoni, which isn’t listed on the menu anymore.  It was … edible.  For a flatbread pizza.  Nothing to write home about though.  We also got a side of fries which were your standard fries.  Overall it was a good meal to split between 2 people for lunch.

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Sausage and pepper flatbread and side of fries at Pinocchio Village Haus

What stands out a little more about Pinocchio Village Haus is this upstairs seating area which actually has a great view of the back of the castle, carousel, etc.  And it was pretty shady and empty while we were there.

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Upstairs seating at Pinocchio Village Haus
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View from upstairs seating at Pinocchio Village Haus

So Drinking Ever After, what are your thoughts on Pinocchio Village Haus?

Well… If you’re looking for something somewhat cheap, quick, and to provide sustenance, then sure I recommend it.  I’m sure Be Our Guest for quick service lunch is the best option, but this could be a solid choice depending on the circumstances.  If those circumstances are “I am walking by and need some food right now”, I guess.

Snackin’ Around Disney: Animal Kingdom

Many people skip Animal Kingdom on short trips (even we do if we’re there for a weekend), or its a half day park.  Right now, Animal Kingdom closes around 7pm, leaving the evening open for dinner, Disney Springs, or another park.  But, Animal Kingdom is going to debut their new nighttime experience Rivers of Light very soon, which will add some much needed nighttime flair to the park.

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Expedition Everest at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  The seating is for the upcoming nighttime show “Rivers of Light”

That being said, Animal Kingdom is a really fun park with lots of great experiences.  Its one of the best themed parks, with tons of little details to check out.  Be sure to check out the two walking trails, Maharajah Jungle Trek which takes you past tigers, and the Gorilla Falls Exploration trail which takes you past, you guessed it, gorillas.  I also recommend taking the Wildlife Express Train over to the Conservation Station, where you can see live animal encounters (we saw a giant bunny rabbit last time!), meet Rafiki and Chip and Dale, and go to the petting zoo.  Finally, try out the trails around the Tree of Life, you can see the intricate carvings on the tree close up and see some of the animals that live around the tree as well.  All in all, there are tons of places to go and explore in Animal Kingdom, which is one of my favorite things about the park.

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The Tree of Life at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

We didn’t eat a big lunch at Animal Kingdom.  Instead, we had falafel from Mr. Kamal’s in Asia, and the Teriyaki Beef Slider from Caravan Road, which is right across from Mr. Kamal’s.  I believe these are both open seasonally, so if you find them open, definitely try them for some lighter food options.

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Falafel ($4.99) and Teriyaki Beef Slider ($5.49) from Mr. Kamal’s and Caravan Road

Both of these cost a snack credit (we didnt have the dining plan so we paid cash), and you really dont get a ton of food.  If you’re looking for a snack, they are different from the standard Disney options, and quite tasty.  Both the falafel and the teriyaki beef slider had a little bit of spice to them, which added some “flair” to the portion.  The falafel came with tzatziki for dipping (I’ve talked about my love for tzatziki before…), and the teriyaki beef slider came on a soft, pillowy bun with a pickle.  We stood at a table near the food kiosks to eat, but there is a small seating area that overlooks the Tree of Life near Mr. Kamal’s.

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Seating area in the Asia section of Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Let me let you in on a low-key “Disney Hack.”  You can get free ice water from any kiosk that sells fountain soda in the parks.  We rarely ever pay for drinks at Disney unless we want alcohol or soda.  Some bring a refillable bottle in, which is also a good idea, but the ice water on a hot day is pretty great.  Sometimes its a small cup and sometimes its a large, it depends on the kiosk.  Either way its free if you ask for an ice water.

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Free ice water from Mr. Kamal’s in Animal Kingdom.  You can see the famous Animal Kingdom paper straw on the left, used due to the large presence of animals in the park!

So, Drinking Ever After, what are your thoughts on snacks at Animal Kingdom?

I like to eat a light lunch at the parks, as I dont really like the feeling of being overly full and walking around AND I like to sample lots of different things.  These portions are pretty small for the price, but I really liked both options (the falafel was better than the slider, though).  Plus, I loved that they were a different from the standard fries, chicken tenders, etc. options at Disney.  Not that I dont love chicken tenders and fries, but sometimes you want something a little different, you know?!  Anyway, if you can, try the falafel at least.

Snackin’ Around Disney: Epcot Food and Wine Festival (Part 2)

We were at Epcot A LOT on our last trip. If you can make it for the Food and Wine Festival you should definitely do it. In Part 1 of this “Snackin’ Around Disney” series, I talked a little bit about what happens during the Food and Wine Festival, where there are lots of booths from various countries scattered around the World Showcase, each offering small plates and snacks from that country.

I reviewed small plates from Greece, Patagonia, Belgium, and Hawaii in Part 1. In Part 2, I am going to review Germany, Italy, Morocco, Hops and Barley, and Farm Fresh.

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The Italy pavilion is just lovely!

Germany: The Roast Bratwurst in a Hard Roll is a pretty solid option, and consistently good from year to year. It did come on a pretzel roll in previous years but this year’s hard roll wasn’t really a big change. It comes with a dollop of spicy brown mustard (I think its Gulden’s as that is what they have in the Germany pavilion). You can probably split this, but the roll is small.  And they definitely do not give you enough mustard.

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Germany:  Roast Bratwurst in a Hard Roll ($5.00)

Italy: We had the Pennete alla Parmigiana, which is baked ziti and chicken parm with tomato sauce and mozzarella and parmesan cheese. For the Food and Wine Festival, this is a GIANT portion, with plenty of pasta and a large piece of chicken. It is, however, incredibly sub-par. If you’re hungry, consider it, but don’t go out of your way.

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Italy: Pennete alla Parmigiana ($6.25)

Morocco: At the top of my “need to try” list this year was the Spicy Hummus Fries with Cucumber, Tomato, Onions and Tzatziki Sauce from Morocco. When you read that, you might expect French fries with hummus and tzatziki on top (well maybe, I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect). You get something more akin to falafel with a spicy tzatziki sauce. The tzatziki sauce is unlike the cool, cucumberey, minty, tzatziki from Greece, it actually has some spice to it. This was delicious. It was heavy, for the small portion you get I felt satisfied. I hope this makes the cut for next year.  Again, easily split-able as you can just grab one of the fries, but you wont get a ton of the spicy tzatziki sauce.

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Morocco: Spicy Hummus Fries with Cucumber, Tomato, Onions and Tzatziki Sauce ($5.00). It doesn’t look like much here, but it was great, I swear!

Hops and Barley: Epcot also has the Flower and Garden Festival in the spring, which features the Smokehouse at the USA pavilion. Its always a winner, and I think the Food and Wine festival wanted to get in on the action this year with the Smoked Beef Brisket and Pimento Cheese Served on Griddled Garlic Toast. My fiancé had this twice this year and loved it, but I found it incredibly salty. Its an okay portion size, you can split the meat easily.

A note on Hops and Barley. The Freshly Baked Carrot Cake and Cream Cheese Icing ($3.75) has been one of my favorite desserts for years. This year, I didn’t even have it. I love carrot cake, but my favorite part of this carrot cake was that it was baked with Craisins. Ocean Spray didn’t seem to be the Food and Wine sponsor as they were in previous years, so instead, it had pineapple. I try not to complain about change at Disney because there are definitely things that need an upgrade, but damn did I love that Craisin-ey carrot cake.

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Hops and Barley: Smoked Beef Brisket and Pimento Cheese Served on Griddled Garlic Toast ($5.25)

Farm Fresh: Loaded Mac ‘n’ Cheese with Nueske’s® Pepper Bacon, Cheddar Cheese, Peppers and Green Onions. It just sounds awesome, doesn’t it? Admittedly, I hate bacon (I know, I know), but I had a bite of this and it was great. A large size, obviously filling because its Mac ‘n’ Cheese, and completely worth it. Split this if you want, but I recommend a portion for yourself.

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Farm Fresh: Loaded Mac ‘n’ Cheese with Nueske’s® Pepper Bacon, Cheddar Cheese, Peppers and Green Onions ($4.50)

So, Drinking Ever After, what are your thoughts on the Epcot Food and Wine Festival (Part 2)?

I’m going to bring in Part 1 and include my full rankings for the food we tried at the Food and Wine Festival this year.

1. Beer-braised Beef served with Smoked Gouda Mashed Potatoes (Belgium)
2. Chicken Gyro with Tzatziki Sauce featuring Oikos Greek Yogurt (Greece)
3. Kalua Pork Slider with Sweet and Sour Dole Pineapple Chutney and Spicy Mayonnaise (Hawaii)
4. Spicy Hummus Fries with Cucumber, Tomato, Onions and Tzatziki Sauce (Morocco)
5. Roast Bratwurst in a Hard Roll (Germany)
6. Loaded Mac ‘n’ Cheese with Nueske’s® Pepper Bacon, Cheddar Cheese, Peppers and Green Onions (Farm Fresh)
7. Smoked Beef Brisket and Pimento Cheese Served on Griddled Garlic Toast (Hops and Barley)
8. Belgian Waffle with Warm Chocolate Ganache (Belgium)
9. Beef Empanada (Patagonia)
10. Pennete alla Parmigiana (Italy)

Yep.  The Beer-braised Beef served with Smoked Gouda Mashed Potatoes (Belgium) took the top spot this year.  Seriously, you all have to try it!

Snackin’ Around Disney: Epcot Food and Wine Festival (Part 1)

We love the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival.  In fact, we love it so much that we go every year. The main draw for us is the excuse (like we really need one…) to try lots of small food portions from the booths scattered around the World Showcase.

To attend, all you need is a park ticket. The World Showcase features booths from a variety of places and countries, each of which selling small portions of food, beer, wine, desserts, or drinks. You can see all of the booths and their food and beverage offerings here.

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I’m not sure if I want to “Taste Epcot” but the Food and Wine Festival is fun!  Chef Mickey greets you at the entrance to the World Showcase.

Portions and alcohol are both small as the idea is that you can try multiple things, you’ll see in my “Drinkin’” series how small the beers are (6oz, and no there is not an option to buy a bigger one).  There are high-top tables scattered around, and expect to eat most food standing up.  You’ll sometimes see people using a trash can as a table, we can usually avoid this by looking around a bit.

The prices range from around $3 – $10, depending on what you order. Some are over $10, like this Kurt Russell wine.

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Seriously, one of those wines (in a “sample size”!) is $12.50.  Does Kurt Russell serve it to me?  Is he back there?!

The International Food and Wine Festival also has the “Eat to the Beat” Concert Series, with gems such as Hanson, Sugar Ray, Billy Ocean, and etc. (but seriously, I was incredibly upset that we missed Sugar Ray this year), the Festival Welcome Center which has merchandise, bottles of wine for purchase, Ghirardelli chocolate (yes you can get a free piece), and a variety of seminars and demonstrations.

We sampled a fair bit of food at the food and wine festival this year, enough that this “Snackin” series is getting 2 parts. In this part, I am going to cover Greece, Patagonia, Belgium, and Hawaii.

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And look at the view you get while you eat!

Greece: The Chicken Gyro with Tzatziki Sauce featuring Oikos Greek Yogurt from Greece has been my favorite for 4 years in a row.  Spoiler!! it is now my second favorite. Regardless, I recommend the chicken gyro. The chicken is nicely marinated, the flatbread is fluffy and flavorful, and the veggies (lettuce and red onion) are fresh. The standout for me is the tzatziki. I LOVE TZATZIKI. This doesn’t disappoint. I just wish they gave you more of it.  Normally we do not split this because its difficult given the setup.

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Greece:  Chicken Gyro with Tzatziki Sauce Featuring Oikos Greek Yogurt ($4.75).  Sorry about the blurry onion on the left.

Patagonia: So, I live in South Florida. I get really good empanadas on a pretty regular basis. I tried the beef empanada at Patagonia anyway. Admittedly, this is a pretty big portion (we easily split it in half), but, I was not impressed. I think it was whatever spices they used in the beef, I just wasn’t a fan. Of part 1, it was my least favorite item.

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Patagonia:  Beef Empanada ($4.75)

Belgium: We actually got 2 items from Belgium, the Belgian Waffle with Warm Chocolate Ganache and Whipped Cream, and the Beer-braised Beef served with Smoked Gouda Mashed Potatoes. The Belgian Waffle is good, but note that it comes with whipped cream from a can. The stand-out here is the Beer-braised beef. This was my favorite from everything we sampled in the entire festival. The beef was tender, the mashed potatoes were flavorful, and it was a substantial portion. Do not skip this. The Belgian waffle can easily be split, but I didn’t share the beer braised beef as you do not get a ton of each item (beef, potatoes, etc).

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Belgian Waffle with Warm Chocolate Ganache and Whipped Cream ($3.75), Beer-braised Beef served with Smoked Gouda Mashed Potatoes ($4.75). The beer-braised beef might not look that appetizing, but just trust me.

Hawaii:  Hawaii never disappoints. We got the Kalua Pork Slider with Sweet and Sour Dole Pineapple Chutney and Spicy Mayonnaise, which is a definite festival favorite for many guests, and has been a standard option for as many years as we can remember. This is my fiancé’s favorite, the flavors work together very well. He hates mayonnaise with a passion and will still eat this, so I count that as a win. In terms of portion size, I suppose this could be split in half with a little difficulty, but he refuses to share more than a bite.

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Hawaii: Kalua Pork Slider with Sweet and Sour Dole Pineapple Chutney and Spicy Mayonnaise ($4.25)

So, Drinking Ever After, what are your thoughts on the Epcot Food and Wine Festival (Part 1)?

From most-to-least favorite, my rankings are:

1. Beer-braised Beef served with Smoked Gouda Mashed Potatoes (Belgium)
2. Chicken Gyro with Tzatziki Sauce featuring Oikos Greek Yogurt (Greece)
3. Kalua Pork Slider with Sweet and Sour Dole Pineapple Chutney and Spicy Mayonnaise (Hawaii)
4. Belgian Waffle with Warm Chocolate Ganache (Belgium)

And a distant 5. Beef Empanada (Patagonia)

If you are visiting Walt Disney World as an adult, the Food and Wine Festival is a must-do.  Though there are some kid-friendly things – there are notes next to items kids may like, and Remy’s Ratatouille Hide & Squeak is a scavenger hunt game that would interest kids – it definitely draws a crowd of adults and locals.  It gives you a chance to sample a lot of food and drinks from various places, and you’ll likely find yourself spending a lot of time in the World Showcase.  Personally, we love that the portions are small enough to sample a lot of things, YMMV, but we highly recommend giving this a shot.