Tuesday, December 13, 2011
I have an appreciation for all pavilions in Epcot's World Showcase, but perhaps my favorite among them is Mexico. It's your first stop as you enter the World Showcase from Future World (if you take a left). You can't miss the Aztec pyramid that towers over you, based on a real structure located in Teotihuacan, Mexico.
Upon entering, you are immediately greeted by "Animales Fantasticos," a tremendous display of Mexican artwork and wood-carved animals. Notice the cast members are painting the animals while you can watch, or choose to purchase one of the trinkets and bring it home for display.
Before heading down the steps to peruse the marketplace in La Plaza de los Amigos, be sure to stop and enjoy the view. It's my favorite element to this pavilion - the atmosphere is romantic as it was designed to resemble twilight, and I just adore the dimly lit lanterns hanging overhead.
The marketplace itself is really a treat. I have purchased a number of things here, including an awesome hand-knit blanket and a poncho for one of those chillier-than-expected nights in late February that I was not appropriately dressed for. You can also find everything from pottery, toys, handbags, jewelry and of course tequila! No visit to "Mexico" is complete without an oversized sombrero photo!
There are a few good options for dining in the Mexico pavilion. To your right, there is La Cava del Tequila. Here you can enjoy a various selection of tapas, as well as an unreal variety of tequila (over 70 different kinds!) We gave it a try last year and absolutely loved it. Winner of best restaurant atmosphere definitely goes to San Angel Inn, which seats diners along the River of Time (el Rio del Tiempo). The sister restaurant to the original in Mexico City, the San Angel Inn offers a variety of authentic Mexican dishes for both lunch and dinner. I have dined here on two occasions, but it has been years. I don't recall the food being anything particularly special, but in my opinion the atmosphere well outweighs the cuisine. The margaritas are tasty, and this a great place to go for a romantic meal - if you're lucky, you'll be treated to a fantastic performance by Mariachi Cobre. Recently opened in the fall of 2010 is La Hacienda de San Angel, an outdoor full-service restaurant along the water. This is definitely now on my to-do list.
Mexico is one of the few pavilions to have an actual ride; the Gran Fiesta Tour stars the Three Caballeros, and it's not to be missed. Will it win any awards, or knock your socks off? Probably not. But it's a cute journey with a fun premise. The Three Caballeros are expected to host a concert, only to find that Donald has run off exploring. The scenes are colorful and fun, and the best part is of course riding past the Mayan Pyramid where you can look to your right and witness diners at San Angel Inn.
When leaving the pavilion, refrain from going out the front door and instead, exit to the left. You will be treated to a gorgeous mural on the side of the pyramid - great photo opportunity!
If you're lucky, you may just run into a celebrity or two!
What is your favorite part of Mexico? I'd love to hear your thoughts on the restaurant options!