Best Mexican Food at Disney World
What type of vacation planner are you? The kind who likes to have a plan for every moment of the trip from arrival to departure, or the variety who sees vacations as a chance to leave behind the pocket planner for the week? Be honest with yourself, and know that there are benefits to both when planning for a Walt Disney World vacation. I have another question for you, whether you’re a freak for Fastpass+ reservations or have a knack for winging it: how important are your vacation meals?
At Walt Disney World Resort, there are so, so many restaurants to choose from that it’s really tough to know where to begin. A quick Google search will show you the most popular character dining experiences and the restaurants with the most integrated theming, but what about the actual food? The food is a hugely important part of all of my visits, and on a recent trip, my party decided to travel south of the border and have an all-out Mexican feast on the last night of the vacation! Settling on a specific country’s cuisine, though, is just the beginning. There are so many Mexican restaurants at the Resort to choose from…which is best?
The Battle of the Quick Serves
For an expedited Mexican meal that doesn’t involve reservations or a server (calling all who don’t like to plan!), there are two spots that immediately pop into my mind: Pecos Bills Tall Tale Inn (Magic Kingdom) and La Cantina de San Angel (Epcot). I’ve eaten at both- one twice, and one more times than I can count. Here’s how these two stack up:
Pecos Bill’s Tall Tale Inn
Being one of the maybe 3 quick serve restaurant in Magic Kingdom that offers something different than a burger and chicken fingers, the long lines at Pecos Bill’s aren’t surprising. The line, along with a limited menu, and very VERY slow counter service can all be filed under the ‘cons’ category.
The pros here are a huge, multi-room indoor/outdoor seating plan (you can always find a table), a platter for sharing, and the incredible toppings bar…they all keep me coming back! The menu is relatively limited when it comes to their Mexican offerings: just tacos, a fajita platter, and nachos, though at Magic Kingdom, choices this broad are hard to come by! The fajita platter is my favorite because it comes with both chicken and barbacoa beef, rice, beans, tortillas, and vegetables! For under $15, you can load up the fajita platter at the unlimited toppings bar and make it a shared meal! The incredible toppings bar is free of charge and includes items like salsa, jalapenos, tomatoes, lettuce, pico de gallo, and….drumroll…guac! The best part is that you can go back as many times as you like. As far as quick-serve in Magic Kingdom goes, this is my go-to spot!
La Cantina de San Angel
Maybe it’s because the food competition is crazy at Epcot, or maybe it has something to do with the fact that real Mexicans are cooking the food, but the Cantina de San Angel has Pecos Bill’s beat! While I prefer it, it certainly isn’t perfect; you’ll have to overlook the fact that there are a limited number of tables and that you can wait upwards of 20 minutes to place your order if you hit it at peak time.
Once you do get a table, though, the views of World Showcase Lagoon are unbeatable, so be sure to enjoy it before tucking into your authentic meal! The choices here are much more varied with options like fish tacos and a Mexican salad that I absolutely love. The food has always been served hot and very quickly, and those margaritas on the menu certainly help to eek out its competitor over in Magic Kingdom!
The Sit-Down Show Down
Even though the non-planners should definitely make a few advance dining reservations for their trip (we can help with that!), this section is for the ‘planners’. The table service options for Mexican food are more populous than the quick-serve, and picking the right one isn’t always easy. I’ve narrowed it down to the 2 Mexican restaurants outside park gates that get the most attention from guests…so which should you opt for?
As part of the Disney Springs expansion, Frontera Cocina is the newest Mexican-style eatery at Walt Disney World Resort. The celebrity chef- created menu features many Mexican-inspired dishes from appetizer to dessert. When I visited, my party ordered the carne asada and the carnitas entrees. The carnitas were good, the carne asada was not. Although it was a little fatty, the pork in the carnitas was so tender and flavorful that I didn’t care. The carne asada was small, overcooked, and stringy. The side of refried beans was fine with both sides, but for the hefty price, it wouldn’t have killed them to throw in some rice!
The bright, open floor plan and with ample space around tables makes every party feel like they are privately dining, and the views of the shoppers outside are a lovely backdrop. The drinks we ordered were really good, though for the amount of praise and attention this restaurant receives, my family and I were pretty underwhelmed.
The Maya Grill at Disney’s Coronado Springs is mentioned much less frequently among travel agencies and Disney buffs, making it pretty underpopulated and easy to get a reservation. I hesitated to mention it because I want to keep it that way! The space is a total contrast to Frontera’s- dark and intimate- and does not offer an outdoor option. The restaurant itself is much smaller in size, so when it’s crowded, you feel it.
That’s about all this place has working against it in my opinion, as the food I’ve ordered has always been pretty good. In the two times I’ve dined here, I ordered the vegetarian tacos on my first visit, and shared the pork chop with potatoes on my second. I really enjoyed both dishes- the vegetarian tacos were filling, and the chosen veggies were prepared in a way that maintained some of the chewiness, mimicking a big meaty bite! The bone-in pork chop was cooked well and very juicy as far as pork goes, and the herbed potatoes were a great, filling side. I shared this dish and was not at all hungry at the end of the meal!
So, with all of this knowledge, go forth and plan where you’ll enjoy your Mexican feast- yes, even you non-planners! A plan of some kind is essential when you’re visiting Walt Disney World Resort, though with great quick serve options like the ones above, you can allot for a little wiggle room. Will you choose one of the great quick-serve options? They’re always my favorite! Or would you prefer to sit down to a more grand, drawn out dinner? If so, which restaurant will you dine in? Let us know in the comments below!
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Special thanks to Maria Salerno for writing this article: Hiya pal! I am a NYC-based writer/musician thrilled to be bringing you all things Disney! I’m a WDW Annual Passholder, so you can find me in the parks regularly throughout the year. In addition to being a Disney Parks loving girl, I’m also a Disney toy and merchandise collector, a runDisney enthusiast, and Disney music and movie aficionado. You can follow me on Instagram: NYCtoAP and find me on YouTube: NYCtoAP. Thanks for reading, hope to see ya real soon!